Prelude to Valentine’s Day with Red Food: Harissa; and Quinoa Salad with Fennel and Pomegranate

Category : holiday, main dish · (2) Comments · by Feb 12th, 2012
Prelude to Valentine’s Day with Red Food: Harissa; and Quinoa Salad with Fennel and Pomegranate

This Saturday, the weekend before the much loved/dreaded Valentine’s Day, my sister had a potluck with her work friends. As…

Merry Solstice! Some Sweet Links.

Category : holiday · No Comments · by Dec 21st, 2011
Merry Solstice! Some Sweet Links.

Tonight is the longest night of the year. It’s dreary, dark and rainy today, which seems almost as perfect as…

Persephone Salad

Category : holiday, salads, veggies and sides · No Comments · by Dec 16th, 2011
Persephone Salad

Whenever my husband and his friends are putting dinner together, they always put me in charge of salad. I guess…

Holiday Quick Breads

Category : baking and desserts, holiday · No Comments · by Dec 8th, 2011
Holiday Quick Breads

One way to get the holiday spirit swirling through your home is through scent, especially scents wafting from your oven…

Independence Day

Category : holiday, menus · No Comments · by Jul 5th, 2011
Independence Day

This weekend we celebrated America’s birthday. Although I don’t think our country is inherently superior to others, and I don’t…

Black and Cream, a St. Patrick’s Day Cocktail

Category : drinks, holiday · No Comments · by Mar 19th, 2011

Everyone knows the Black and Tan, but the Black and Cream was invented by myself and my dear friend (then roommate) Denise, one sunny afternoon many years ago. We had one Guinness and one cream soda in the fridge and decided to combine the two. The result is this delightful drink, that has the ice-cream taste of a car bomb without the curdle. Also something you can sip like a lady instead of chugging like a frat boy.

Black and Cream

Equal parts Guinness and cream soda

Zoeya’s Birthday – the Menu

Category : holiday · No Comments · by Aug 9th, 2010

My darling little baby is now a little girl. I cannot fully express how delightful it has been watching her grow, and each day she amazes me with her intelligence and her sweet nature. She is a talky, naughty, beautiful girl and I feel so lucky to be her mommy. This past Saturday, August 7, 2010, we celebrated her second birthday at home with family and friends. As Ilene Beckerman remembers the events of her life by what she wore, I think I can eventually title my memoirs “Love, Loss, and What We Ate” – and this event was nothing but Love.

Since Zoeya’s birthday falls in the summertime, it is the perfect occasion to grill out. Shan and I are known for our barbecues – he loves to grill up meat, meat, meat, and I like to make a bunch of salads, so it’s perfect for both of us. Zoeya likes dip. That pretty much sums it up.

Mmm dip.


Not exactly for two year olds, but I always make a sangria for our summer parties. I usually go the red route, but this time decided to try out this Ginger Sangria with peaches – and was not disappointed.

So, grilled meat:

We had tandoori chicken but I won’t bother with the “recipe” because I just marinated it in some yogurt, tandoori masala (Shan brand of course), lemon juice and olive oil. It was pretty good, but Shan’s is better.

We also had burgers. Say what you will about Rachael Ray – my opinion is that she is way too crazy and fake to watch, but I actually have a couple of her cookbooks and for the most part love her recipes. She has a whole bunch of burger recipes, and we made the Provençal Chicken Burgers with Pizzaladière Topping – (ground chicken burgers with herbs and fennel, with Swiss cheese, caramelized onions and olives). The first time we made them they were AMAZING, but this time they were a little dry. Still, I really love the herbs de Provence, and the caramelized onions, so this is definitely worth a try.


Of course I tossed some greens with avocado, lime juice, olive oil and octopus, for what is a party without octopus salad?

I turned to Food52 for a couple more ideas, and ended up making:
Creamy Cucumber “Side” (cucumbers, onions, yogurt, dill, Meyer lemon) and Spanish Roasted Potato Salad (roasted potatoes with a garlicky mayo). The cucumbers were pretty good, and even better the next day as leftovers. The potatoes, however, were AWESOME and we had no leftovers.

I also made a fruit salad/dessert – “Mojito” Fruit – that I found the recipe for on the basil packet. I balled a honeydew, tossed in a pint of blueberries, and poured a basil and lime simple syrup over it. It was simple, elegant, and refreshing.

And for the cake.

This was very important. For one thing, Zoeya was very, very excited about the cake. In the weeks leading up to her birthday, whenever anyone asked her about her birthday, no matter if the question was “Who’s having a birthday?” , “How old are you?” , “What do you want for your birthday?” – the answer always ended up at “Cake.” For another thing, Shan tried to convince me again and again to buy a cake. Something about if I messed it up I would get stressed out and cry, which is probably true, but I told him by God I’m making a cake for my daughter and stop mentioning the sheet cakes at Sams because I will not be thwarted.

I made Nigella’s Old Fashioned Chocolate Cake and it came out very nice. Very simple, no bells and whistles, just a few sugar jungle animals on top, but my little Zoeya loved it and that’s all I care about.

Happy Birthday, little Jojo, Mommy and Daddy love you and wish you a beautiful, happy year.

Hot Mami – a Mother’s Day Cocktail

Category : drinks, holiday · (2) Comments · by May 11th, 2010

A couple of years ago I made a mess of a cocktail with Rooh Afza, a rose-flavored syrup used to make yummy (non-alcoholic) summer drinks. It was a few of days after the end of Ramadan, during which we had been abstaining from alcohol, but drinking lots of Rooh Afza. We had a few friends over, and I mixed up some concoction with the syrup and vodka – you know, just to be funny in an inappropriate way – but I was rightfully smote.

Luckily, I got the chance to redeem myself this year at a BBQ we were having on Mother’s Day. We had made up a pitcher of Rooh Afza for the nondrinkers, so I decided to try again. This drink features Absolut Mandarin, with Rooh Afza already made up (mixed with sugar, water, and lemon juice), and is topped off with Sprite. The ratio is about 1 to 2 to 2. The result was sparkly and sweet, and I made up a cute name for it as I was carrying one over to my mother.

Shan also liked it, and as unofficial bartender began mixing them to distribute to the rest of our guests. It was delish, but to tell the truth maybe a little too sweet. Instead of Sprite I’d like to try it with orange seltzer. Happy Mother’s Day!

Thanksgiving Prep

Category : holiday · No Comments · by Nov 15th, 2009

Now that I have the currency of being married with a baby, I won the privilege of hosting Thanksgiving this year. For the first time! I’m so excited! I’ve promised to cook my ass off. Of course other family members are bringing things but my plan is to provide a base meal that they can add to. I also have to consider that one of my aunts is a vegan, and although she’s bringing food as well, I want her to be able to eat as much as possible without the rest of my family noticing which dishes are vegan.

I’m making the turkey (of course – and actually I might delegate this to Shan with “sage” as a direction, because he did such a good job cooking the turkey his work gifted us last year), potatoes, green beans, sweet potatoes, salad, appetizer and dessert. I don’t really have a whole lot of Thanksgivingy dishes in my repertoire, so I’m trying out a few before the day.

First off – green beans and potatoes.

Last night I made the haricots verts with toasted walnuts and walnut oil (no recipe, the name says it all) from Amanda Hesser’s Cooking for Mr. Latte and they were fantastic. I actually used just regular green beans for poor me and Zoeya the test-tasters, but I’ll actually procure haricot verts for the day which will be prettier and more delicate. I worry this dish is too simple, because we all know Thanksgiving is about side dishes on crack, but I think something simple and elegant – that doesn’t require valuable oven real-estate – will be a good addition and definitely more delicious than our traditional green bean casserole from a can.

The other dish I made was the Scalloped Potato and Fennel which I saw in Bon Appetit. This came out beautiful! You line a buttered baking dish with garlic and rosemary, layer slices of fennel and potatoes, and pour a cream mixture over the whole thing. Bake. The rosemary permeated the dish without being overpowering, and made the house smell amazing. I hadn’t bought enough cream so substituted half with milk, and it was still incredibly decadent. Find the Scalloped Potato and Fennel recipe at Bon Appetit – I give it four forks. I was also impressed with my $10 Wal-Mart mandolin.

I’m off to a good start, and looking forward to trying more holiday goodies.