Leeks recently pulled

Contributed by Katy Morris

We are very excited to introduce a brand new series…Seasonal Snippets! These monthly posts will provide you with everything you need to know about the most interesting seasonal fruits and veggies so that locavores can continue to eat the diverse bounties of our land all year long.

What the heck is kohlrabi? How should I incorporate fresh figs into a recipe…and where can I even get them? Rutabaga-whata? And how do I handle celeriac? We will answer these questions and much more…

Now, you’re probably thinking it’s odd to launch this series in the dead of winter when the ground is frozen under a foot of snow. It’s my own sneaky way of trying to get you excited about some local ingredients that you may not have paid much attention to.  Take a walk through your farmers’ market and you will be pleasantly surprised by the shift of sights, fragrances and energy as we appreciate mid-winter ingredients and their subtle pleasures.

We kick off this exciting new series with the versatile cold weather crop, leeks.


What exactly are leeks?

You’ve probably heard of leeks as they are pretty popular in soups, but there are lots of creative ways to incorporate this vegetable into a variety of dishes, like the one we featured in September, Imam Bayeldi.  Leeks belong to the allium family – the same as onions. Although they look nothing alike and are cooked very differently, they indeed share a botanical relation and are also both aromatics.  Most of the time, people eat the white and lighter green parts of leeks, but the darker greens also have great flavor (more on this later).


What do they taste like?

Raw leeks have a pretty sharp taste similar to onions, but when cooked properly, they have a much more subtle and sweet flavor.


Are “wild leeks” and “leeks” the same thing?

Nope, they are not. Wild leeks or “ramps” are a different variety and have a much stronger aroma and flavor.


When do leeks grow?

Although they are available for growing year round, leeks are at their best starting in the fall through the early part of spring, so January is primetime.


 What do I look for when buying leeks?

Just like scallions, leeks are generally sold in bunches. Keep in mind that younger leeks tend to have a more delicate texture and flavor. You can tell the maturity of a leek by its bottom; if they are becoming bulbous, they have matured a little bit too much.

Select leeks that have deep, vibrant green leaves with cream-colored bottoms – these are the freshest – and stay away from dulled, yellowing ones. The best ones will also be firm and free of blemishes.


How do I store them?

You should not trim or wash the leeks before storing. Leeks’ strong aroma can permeate the refrigerator and be absorbed by other foods, so it’s best to store them uncooked in plastic wrap in the veggie crisper. Depending on how mature your leeks are, they can be stored anywhere from 1-2 weeks. If you are going to use your leeks for a main dish, don’t freeze them, as this tends to give them a bitter taste.


Walk me through the parts of this vegetable.

There are four main parts to a leek, and the only part that is unusable is the root end.


  • Generally, the dark outer leaves have been removed when sold in grocery stores. You will likely still see the outer leaves still on at the farmer’s market though. Keep in mind that these can be great for flavoring veggie stocks.
  • Greens tend to be removed and not used, but these can also be great in a number of ways (see below). Don’t get rid of these.
  • Light green/white parts are called for in most recipes.
  • Root ends can be thrown away and are not used in cooking.


How do I clean them?

Leeks attract dirt, so especially if you are buying them from your local farmer’s market, you need to wash them thoroughly. It’s important to keep in mind that you can’t simply rinse and cook leeks since the dirt tends to get deep inside them; this is because soil gets piled up around them when grown ( called “blanching”) so that the majority of the leek is hidden from the sun . This makes them lighter in color and increases their tenderness.


The methods for cleaning depend on the way you are using them in the dish you are preparing. When using them chopped (common for soups), you should first cut off the roots, slice lengthwise, then cross cut. Put the chopped leeks into a bowl filled with cold water and toss them to remove any stuck pieces of dirt. Finally, scoop out the leeks with a slotted spoon and put in a dry bowl.


For prepping whole leeks, you will approach it a little differently: slice lengthwise about two or so inches from each end, leaving the center in tact. Then, while rinsing under cold water, fan out and rub the leaves to get the dirt off.


How are they used in cooking?

This vegetable is extremely versatile. You can steam ‘em, bake ’em, sauté ‘em, chop ‘em, braise ‘em, use ‘em in stews and soups, as a garnish, side dish, or even a main. With its subtle flavor, leeks tend to pair particularly well with fish, potatoes and sometimes even raw in salads.

As we mentioned above, while many people think only the white parts of a leek should be used, there are great ways to use the green parts as well – making this a great two-in-one vegetable.

leeks browned

Tell me more about the green parts…

The green parts are generally long and flat and hence can be cut up in various ways, depending on the recipe.  They also have a flavor difference: the white part tends to be more delicate and the green more robust, which is why many people use them for stock. You can simply sauté them (low heat is recommended) for about 5-7 minutes, stir-fry (cook briefly), simmer (with 1 cup great vegetable broth and a dash of salt and pepper for 3-5 minutes), or add them in your favorite casserole or soup.


What does “sweating” mean?

This is very important. When recipes call for sautéed leeks, it really means you should “sweat” them. Just like sautéing, when you are sweating leeks, you start with a little bit of oil. But unlike sautéing, you should continue to simmer them over low heat, covered, in their own juices for about 10-20 minutes (depending on quantity) such that they are soft and tender but not browned.


Interesting Tidbits:


  • Leeks have been around since 4000 B.C. and were a big part of the Egyptians’ and Mesopotamia diet.
  • The leek is the national emblem of Wales; the cap badge of the Welsh Guards is actually a leek.
  • From our September post: Leeks are traditional on Sephardic tables on Rosh Hashanah. Click to read more.



Here’s a recipe from Cecily Gans, a well known chef and foods educator, certified holistic health counselor and executive chef/owner of The Main Course Catering in Fairfield, CT. She has taught Culinary Arts at Staples High School for almost 15 years and developed the curriculum for that program.

Roasted Cod with Caramelized Leeks over Puréed Yukon Gold Potatoes

3-4 servings fish, 4 servings potatoes

Roasted Cod with Caramelized Leeks over Puréed Yukon Gold Potatoes

Cecily Gans' recipe marries the bright flavors of leeks with mild, moist fish. She doubled the potato recipe with plenty to spare for those not watching their carb and fat intake.


  • 1 pound cod loin, in 2 portions – monk fish or sea bass will also work well
  • 2 small sprigs fresh thyme, picked
  • Maldon salt, to taste
  • Grains of paradise, to taste (or freshly ground black pepper)
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 6 leeks, trimmed to below the light green border, cut into ¼” rounds
  • 1 small head fennel bulb, trimmed, core removed, finely julienned
  • 1 small bunch Tuscan kale, finely julienned
  • 2-3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 2-3 tablespoons butter
  • 2 sprigs fresh thyme, picked
  • ¼ cup extra dry Vermouth
  • 1 ½-2 pounds yukon gold potatoes, peeled, halved if large
  • Up to 1 ½ cups heavy cream
  • Up to 2 tablespoons butter


  1. Preheat the oven to 375º, (for the fish) ‘convection roast’ if you have that setting.
  2. Boil the potatoes, starting in an ample amount of cold water until fork tender (20-25 minutes, depending on your stovetop and size of potato).
  3. While you are waiting for the potatoes, coat the fish in the olive oil and place on a parchment covered pan. Sprinkle with salt, thyme and ground grains of paradise (or pepper) and place in the oven.
  4. In a large sauté pan, add the olive oil and heat until the viscosity lightens, add the leeks and sauté until wilted. Reduce the heat and caramelize slowly until golden brown. Move them to one side and add the butter.
  5. Add the fennel and thyme and combine, continuing until the fennel is cooked, but not wilted.
  6. Add the vermouth, stir and add the kale, continuing to mix until the kale is also cooked, but still has some volume. Season to taste.
  7. Place the cream in a small saucepan and heat with the allotted butter to a simmer.
  8. Drain the potatoes when tender.
  9. Remove the fish from the oven when it begins to flake if pressed very gently (approximately 15 minutes, depending on your oven).
  10. Place the potatoes through a fine ricer, add cream/butter mix slowly and gently fold in until the potatoes are soft and light. Depending on starch content, you may have some cream leftover. Do not over-mix, season with salt.
  11. To plate, put your potatoes on the bottom, approximately ¾ cup. Using a spatula gently place a piece of fish over the top of the potatoes and place the leek, fennel and kale mix on top.


This recipe is dairy, but can be made parve by using non-dairy margarine and almond milk instead of butter and cream.









Originally Posted in “Seasonal Snippets: Leeks in Midwinter


photo courtesy of  The Schoolhouse

photo courtesy of The Schoolhouse

Contributed by Katy Morris

In a charming New England setting alongside the whispering Norwalk River in Wilton, Connecticut, sits a quaint and humble looking one-room schoolhouse that is home to a superior dining experience. The Schoolhouse of Cannondale, owned and operated by Tim LaBant since 2006, offers hungry patrons an upscale yet homey surrounding in which to enjoy thoughtfully constructed fare using familiar, mostly organic, seasonal ingredients in creative ways.

papardelle with mushroom ragout and fried kale

Liz offered the opportunity to join her for one of her fave CT. vegetarian experiences, by posting on her facebook page once we set the reservation. A friendly group of readers and like-minded eaters gathered over an extraordinary meal and became acquainted as we dished about the scrumptious food and more. These fixed price Vegetarian Wednesdays (which are going to continue indefinately given the excellent reception from diners) have become a winter tradition at the Schoolhouse.

baby carrots, watercress puree, orange and smoked celeraic

Think perfectly plated, vibrantly deep orange carrots, freshly pulled from the cold winter soil, alongside a smoked celeriac “cake” and juicy blood orange slices, drizzled with a luminous green emulsion of watercress puree adorning the plate; sautéed cauliflower slices mixed with nutty house made walnut milk and complemented by the unique taste of pickled cauliflower and warm sautéed dark greens. We’re talking an eye-and-palate pleasing impressive tutorial that earned the Schoolhouse an easy A+.

The four course vegetarian menu,  printed on a single sheet with easy to read and concise descriptions, warmly welcomed the Rueven party at the top of the page. The menu offered two enticing options for each course. Luckily, between all of us, we were able to order everything on the menu, which consisted of a thoughtful balance of heavy versus light options that were perfectly portioned on generously sized plates. And all of this, fairly priced (maybe even a bargain) at $40. per person.

lentil soup with saffron creme

First dishes up were the hot lentil soup with a saffron crème, and a roasted beet tartar with tarragon emulsion and arugula. The lentil soup was hearty and tasty, quite a comforting option for one of the crazy frigid days we’ve been experiencing here in the Northeast.

roasted beet tartar over arugula, tarragon emulsion and citrus

As we ate the beet tartar, made with capers, red onions, lemon juice, pickle juice, and a little bit of vinegar, dressed with a tarragon emulsion, and paired with locally sourced arugula and little bit of grapefruit, our palates perked up with the wonderfully balanced, earthy taste of the unique combination.

fried duck egg , confit potatoes, thyme butter leeks and fresh herbs (nasturtium)

The choices for course two consisted of a fried duck egg with confit potatoes, thyme butter leeks, and fresh herbs (wow!) or baby carrots with watercress puree, blood orange, and smoked celeriac. We couldn’t believe the delectable richness of the duck egg. We could instantly taste and see the difference from a chicken egg, as it was noticeably bigger and overall had a distinct, lush taste (head on over to The Speckled Rooster in Westport to buy them!)

Cauliflower steaks over wilted greens, walnut milk and pickled cauliflower

We were impressed, again with course three: a house made pappardelle pasta with a mushroom ragout (including shiitake and trumpet), topped with fried kale; OR wilted greens dish with cauliflower “steaks”, house made walnut milk, and pickled cauliflower. Both were fantastic, but the pasta would be our valedictorian (recipe below).

Chef LeBant makes the pasta in-house from scratch and shared his simple recipe, below. The hefty pasta combined with the “meaty” mushrooms in a light, creamy sauce topped with light, crispy kale was simply divine.

The crunchy sautéed cauliflower paired with the sautéed greens was also a veggie-loaded delight. Note that the walnut milk is made in house and actually does contain dairy. They create it by steeping walnuts in milk and pureeing it such that it can add an appropriate amount of woodsy, nutty protein to the dish.

warm orange toffee cake, blood orange curd, warm passion fruit cream, coconut sorbet


Choices for dessert were a warm orange toffee cake with blood orange curd, warm passion fruit cream, and coconut sorbet, OR a rosemary caramel & white chocolate custard with pink grapefruit and grapefruit cava sorbet. Both choices rendered us speechless. There were a lot of flying forks reaching for tastes of shared bites .

The icy cold, super clean coconut sorbet –really, a refreshing palate cleanser – paired exceptionally well with the warm, smooth passion fruit cream and the moist orange toffee cake, which was robed in a citrus glaze and had a flawlessly thin layer of crunch on top. This was a generous portion and perfectly balanced with contrasting flavors and textures – the cherry on top of our fantastic meal if you will. The smooth, creamy rosemary-infused custard contrasted with the tangy grapefruit to create a delectable juxtaposition of flavors – a perfect conclusion to a wonderfully executed dinner.

rosemary caramel and white chocolate custard, pink grapefruit, grapefruit cava sorbet

Tim LeBant and his crew (including Sous Chef, Nick Verdisco who is the creative mastermind of the vegetarian menu) strive to ensure they offer wide-ranging options that provide a variety of flavors, textures, colors, and richness. As always, LaBant makes every effort to obtain organic, locally sourced ingredients (many from Millstone Farm, just up the road in Wilton), but at times that tends to be a challenge. I had to ask why “Substitutions Politely Declined” was noted on their menu, to which the answer was that they spend a considerable amount of time and effort constructing a given dish to ensure optimal flavor, and texture, and if a customer requests a change to an ingredient, it could throw off the whole dish.

That being said, Tim assured me that they are 100% able to accommodate vegetarian diners with a smile…we love that. Call ahead for reservations (way ahead) and for special requests.

Schoolhouse Restaurant:

34 Cannon Rd, Wilton, CT 06897 | email: Chef@schoolhouseatcannondale.com | call: (203) 834-9816


Tim was kind enough to share the recipe for our favorite dish of the night, the Pappardelle Pasta with Mushroom Ragout. Enjoy!

Pappardelle Pasta Dough

Pappardelle Pasta Dough

Serves 8-10, dairy

Pappardelle is a fat, wide pasta, perfect for handling this hefty mushroom ragout, below. These broad noodles are named pappardelle from the Italian root "pappare", meaning "to gobble up". You get the picture.


  • 18.75 oz. flour
  • 3 oz. Semolina
  • 5 Lg eggs
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1 t milk
  • 2 t salt


  1. Pulse in a Cuisinart 15-20 times
  2. Knead 20 minutes by hand
  3. Wrap in plastic rest 30 minutes to rest at room temp
  4. Roll pasta out ,cut in to pappardelle and dust with semolina


This Pappardelle recipe and the Mushroom Ragout recipe that follows, were provided by Tim LaBant, owner and Chef at The Schoolhouse, Cannondale, CT.

Thank you, Tim, for sharing the recipes for our favorite dish!

Tip: If you are not up for making your own pasta, buy fresh sheets of lasagna and cut them into wide strips, modeled after pappardelle.


Mushroom Ragout

6 servings

This is a Dairy recipe.

Using a variety of mushrooms provides a complexity of flavors and textures. These less common varieties are well worth seeking out for their meaty textures and subtle nutty, herbaceous flavors.


  • mixed mushrooms (Trumpet Royals, Hen of the Woods, Black Trumpets, Beech, Honshimeji) any fresh mushrooms can be used
  • 2 avg sized shallots
  • 4 cloves garlic minced
  • 1/4 C Sherry
  • 1/2 T fresh thyme
  • 1/4 C of fresh parsley leaves (packed) minced after measuring
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • 1 T Balsamic
  • 1 T Cream
  • Parmesan cheese to taste


  1. Start a pot of water for cooking pasta
  2. In a large skillet sautee mushrooms, & shallots on high heat to caramelize
  3. Add garlic & saute 1 min
  4. Add sherry and reduce
  5. When most of sherry has cooked out add thyme and balsamic vinegar, reduce again
  6. Once liquid has become thick, add cream and parsley; remove from heat.
  7. Cook pasta and test for doneness. When done, add strained pasta to mushrooms and incorporate pasta into mushroom ragout. Toss gently making sure not to break up the pappardelle.

Originally Posted in “Vegetarian Wednesdays Deserve an A Plus

 watermelon and bike

While in Costa Rica last week, the directions I received to the closest frutteria went something like this, “Stay on the paved road. Follow all of the twists and turns until you see it on your left. If you find yourself on a dirt road get back on the paved one.”

After a few bumpy miles, we hit the frutteria and the food portion of our adventure began.


We rarely stay in hotels anymore. We prefer to have a kitchen where we can prepare our own food with whatever tempts us at the local markets.  For kosher keepers, vegetarians and anyone else with sensitivities or preferences, this can be a perfect solution to the maddening and endless questions you find yourselves posing three times a day when dining out on vacation.

You know what I mean.

kosher chicken in Costa Rica (1)

Kosher in Costa Rica? I found the country’s only kosher mart in San Jose, the capital city, a 5 hour drive from where we were  crashing on a beach on the northern Pacific coast. We arranged to have kosher chicken delivered to our temporary digs in the province of Guanacaste. We figured that we would scout out some fresh tilapia and mahi mahi, grill chicken for a few nights and explore the super casual restaurants, beach bars and small towns dotting the coast.


So with nothing more than strong mountain grown Costa Rican coffee and multiple bags of chicken parts in the freezer, we began our first morning by heading to our local frutteria to check out the scene and begin planning some marathon grill sessions.

I can’t think of a better way to meet the locals, share recipes and explore the wealth of another’s soil.

star fruit

We found mangos, star fruit and avocados piled high on wooden tables. There was a selection of white and sweet potatoes and plantains, both green and sweet. Oversized heads of  leafy greens and unfamiliar feathery herbs, bottles of unmarked local honey and a few loaves of round, whole grain bread fed our imaginations.

 presenting and tastes


Among the most unfamiliar discovery were mangostines. We were offered a taste of this little beauty. It looks like a nut with a stem and has smooth, translucent pearls of wet fruit nestled within the hard shell.

Rangpur or lemandarin

Fragrant, 14 inch long papayas sat alongside watermelons and mounds of oranges, grapefruit and Rangpur Limes, not really limes at all but a bright orange fleshed cross between lemon and mandarin orange.

freshly squeezed limeade and yerba buena

They are extremely sour and abundantly juicy with unexpected floral notes. We alternated squeezing Rangpur and fresh green limes we picked from a tree on our sunny porch each day. Blended with Yerba Buena (“good herb”), a minty herb known for its medicinal properties, lots of ice and sugar, it was a cooling drink that provided relief from the powerful midday sun.

fresh fruit

freshly blended juices

We discovered that blended fruit drinks were the norm for breakfast and after school snacks for the kids in Costa Rica.  We kept our blender whirling with cut fruit and freshly squeezed oranges and grapefruits.  We couldn’t argue with this great base for rum drinks at sunset, either.

Matteo grilling fresh mahi

We grabbed snorkels and enjoyed a long sail with Matteo and his snorkeling and fishing crew one day. They were cool with our request for kosher friendly snacks and local beer. We loved that Matteo grilled fresh mahi-mahi for us. He served  it in chunks alongside guacamole and cubes of mango drizzled with lime.

lunch after palo verde boat

On the days that we ate out, we found the local cuisine was super simple with a filet of fish (chicken or meat) served alongside rice and simmered red beans, perhaps fried platanos and icy cerveza to wash it down.  Salads are mostly chopped tomatoes or shredded cabbage. We ate more of them in our vacation kitchen than what we saw offered at any cafes or restaurants.

plantanos fritas

We were tempted to fry some green plantains after enjoying them at a roadside café following our expedition to Palo Verde National Park. Yes, we saw monkeys and gators, bats and white herons. The white face monkeys are irresistibly adorable and the howler monkeys make deep throated moans that are haunting.




howlers hangin'

I turned to a local who kindly showed me how simple it is to fry green plantains. It’s not even a recipe as there are 3 ingredients: green plantains, oil for frying, and salt.  

If you’re yearning for a taste of the tropics, these are a great crispy treat. Follow the illustrations here:

green plantains

platanos fritos peel



los plantanos fritos

Want to know more? Ask me in the comments section below. Be sure to check these links, too.

Resources for kosher and vegetarian in Costa Rica:

 For Costa Rica Kosher Center click here  or email Miriam koshercenter@gmail.com
 To order in advance of your visit call her US Cell: (845) 282-3437.

Lands in Love, a 280 acre vegetarian eco -resort founded by a small group of Israeli friends, welcomes special requests for kosher, gluten-free and vegan eaters. All veggies and eggs are sourced from organic farms.

Raw Jungle Passover Retreat at Nosara April 17-23. Join like-minded celebrants for this vegan, spiritual retreat with plenty of options for prayer, study, yoga and surfing.

Congregacion B’nei Israel is the reform congregation in San Jose.

Centro Israelita Sionista de Costa Rica is the orthodox umbrella organization and synagogue, San Jose.

Chabad of Costa Rica runs a wide range of activities, both educational and social, and operates a  strictly kosher bed and breakfast. Click here for more info.

There’s a surfer dude who calls himself  The Surfing Rabbi, who runs kosher surfer camps and more.  Learn more about Rabbi Shifrin by clicking here.

For more information about the Jewish community and its resources in Costa Rica check out Hadassah Magazine’s informative article here.

Originally Posted in “La Frutteria In Costa Rica

Chicken Cereza

I love it when my readers speak to me. Recently a bunch of you mentioned in your comments that you were looking for some new chicken recipes. So I turned to the generous chefs at Marcia Selden Catering and asked for a selection of chicken recipes that were simple to make, family friendly and delicious.  I made all of them and I can attest to how easy and flavor packed they are.

Add brown rice pilaf or roasted potatoes, a salad and roasted veggies and you’ll be all set.

And by now you know that I encourage you to purchase organic kosher chicken. My choice is Grow and Behold.

Let me know in the comments section, which appeals to you most and why. I love your feedback and suggestions.

Lemon Baked Chicken

6 servings

Lemon Baked Chicken

Forget about ordering out, make this no-fuss, family friendly dinner which is sure to please even your pickiest eater.


  • 6 boneless, skinless chicken breast , halved
  • 2 Tbs. olive oil
  • 1 lemon + zest
  • ¼ C. margarine
  • 3 C. sliced mushrooms
  • ½ C. chicken broth
  • 2 Tbs. flour
  • 1 tbs. chopped parsley
  • Kosher salt and pepper
  • 1 tbs. capers


  1. Preheat oven to 400.
  2. Season each breast with salt and pepper and drizzle with 1 Tbs. olive oil.
  3. Add the lemon zest, then slice lemon in half, squeeze juice from ½ of the lemon, and thinly slice remaining ½ of the lemon into rounds.
  4. Bake for 25-30 minutes.
  5. In a large skillet, melt margarine and olive oil and sauté mushrooms until brown, about 6 minutes.
  6. Sprinkle with flour and stir to combine. Add chicken broth and capers, stirring until sauce thickens, about 3-4 minutes.
  7. Add fresh parsley before spooning sauce over chicken and serve.

Chicken Cereza

4-5 servings

Chicken Cereza

A delicious hearty one-pot dish. Perfect with a bold red wine and a fire.


  • 1 chicken – cut into 8 pieces
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1 tsp. each- dried oregano and thyme
  • Kosher salt and pepper
  • 2 Tbs. olive oil
  • 2 tsp. balsamic vinegar
  • ½ C. olive tapenade
  • ½ C. dried cherries
  • 3 Tbs. brown sugar
  • ½ C. white wine
  • ½ C. pomegranate seeds


  1. Preheat oven to 375.
  2. Season chicken with salt, pepper, oregano, thyme, garlic and olive oil.
  3. Arrange chicken pieces in a shallow glass baking pan and add balsamic vinegar, olive tapenade, dried cherries, brown sugar and white wine.
  4. Bake for 40-45 minutes or until chicken skin is golden brown.
  5. Garnish with pomegranate seeds before serving.

Chinese Chicken Lettuce Wraps

4-5 servings

Chinese Chicken Lettuce Wraps

These healthy lettuce wraps are a breeze to make. If you don’t have a wok, don’t worry, a large pan works well too.


  • 1 lb. ground chicken breast
  • ½ medium onion, minced
  • Salt and pepper
  • 2 large garlic cloves, minced
  • 1” nob fresh ginger, peeled and minced
  • 1 Tbs. sesame oil
  • 2½ tbs. soy sauce
  • ½ tsp. water
  • 1 Tbs. hoisin
  • 1 Tbs. peanut butter
  • ½ Tbs. honey
  • 1 tbs. rice wine vinegar
  • 1 tsp. chili garlic sauce - optional
  • 3 green onions
  • ½ lb. thinly sliced shitake mushrooms
  • 2 8 oz. cans sliced water chestnuts,
  • drained and chopped
  • ¼ C. peanuts, chopped
  • 10-12 large leaves, Boston lettuce, rinsed and patted dry.


  1. Stir fry the first six ingredients in a preheated wok until lightly browned and chicken is cooked through, approximately 6-8 minutes.
  2. Add all of the remaining ingredients except for lettuce leaves and continue to stir fry for another 2-3 minutes.
  3. Spoon the chicken into the lettuce leaves, roll and enjoy!

All recipes, courtesy of Marcia Selden Catering, Stamford , CT. All photos, Liz Rueven.


Earth Day in January?  Well, in Israel, the promise of spring is waking up the senses as warmer air pushes buds forth, even in January. For those of us caught in the frozen tundra of the Northeast, we can try to connect with the beauty of Spring’s promise of regeneration by celebrating the holiday of Tu b’Shvat on January 15.

cherry tree buds

It’s a minor holiday celebrated with customs that connect locavores more deeply to the land. School children plant trees while home cooks and chefs dream up new ideas for celebrating the seven edible species mentioned in the Torah:









When M. brought plump, moist figs home from Israel last week, I was inspired to find a fig-centric recipe to help you celebrate. I must really love figs because I forgot that I highlighted figs last year here,  with this easy recipe for Pecan Fig Biscotti from Kim Kushner.

Molly Katzen taking time to sign and chat

This year, I turned to the magnificent new cookbook, The Heart of the Plate, by Mollie Katzen. I met her at the 92Y this fall, where she spoke with great warmth and animation about her history as the author of the Moosewood and Enchanted Broccoli Forest cookbooks. Her latest volume is a renewal of her celebration of the most flavorful and colorful ingredients on our plates. The recipes are inspiring and flexible.

You don’t have to be a vegetarian to want to add this to your library. If you’re looking for ways to integrate more veg centric cooking into your repertoire, The Heart of the Plate will provide you with plenty of inspiration and delight.


Grilled Bread and Kale Salad with Red Onions, Walnuts and Figs

2 main or 4 sides

Grilled Bread and Kale Salad with Red Onions, Walnuts and Figs

This dairy salad was shared by Mollie Katzen, The Heart of the Plate


  • 5-6 ripe figs (dried are fine)
  • 1-2 tablespoons fresh lemon or lime
  • 1 3oz. piece of parmesan
  • 1 loaf ciabatta or sourdough baguette (fresh or day-old)
  • 1 large or 2 small bunches lacinato kale (1/2 pound total)
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 small red onion, cut in half and then into 1/4 inch thick slices
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts, lightly toasted
  • black pepper
  • lemon or lime wedges


  1. Stem the figs and slice them lengthwise into about 5 wedges apiece. Place them in a medium dish and sprinkle with lemon or line juice. Toss gently to coat and set aside.
  2. Shave strips of parmesan from the block of cheese, using a sturdy vegetable peeler. Lovely cheese ribbons will ensue. Set aside.
  3. Slice the bread into approximately a dozen thin (as in almost see-through) slices. Larger slices from ciabatta can be halved for easier handling and consumption. Set aside.
  4. Hold each kale leaf by the stem and use a very sharp knife to release the leaf from the stem (it's OK to leave the narrow part of the stem that blends into the leaf farther up).
  5. Make a pile of leaves, roll them tightly, and cut crosswise into thin strips. Transfer to a large bowl of cold water and swish around to clean. Spin very dry and transfer to a large bowl. Set aside.
  6. Place a large deep skillet over medium heat for about a minute. Add 2 tablespoons of the olive oil and swirl to coat the pan. Turn up the heat to medium-high and add the onion and 1/8 teaspoon of the salt.
  7. Cook, stirring and/or shaking the pan a little, for 2-3 minutes, until the onion becomes shiny and is still this side of tender.
  8. Transfer the hot onion to the kale in the bowl and stir everything around for a bit, then return the entire bowlful of kale-plus-onion to the pan. Stir-fry quickly - for just a minute or so - over medium-high heat until the kale turns an even deeper shade of green and wilts slightly.
  9. Return it all to the bowl, tossing in the remaining 1/8 teaspoon salt. You can add some of the parmesan ribbons at this point, if you like them to melt in slightly.
  10. Remove the pan from the heat, wait a minute or two, then add the vinegar to the pan (stand back - it will sizzle), swirl it around, and pour what's left of it onto the kale. (It will most likely evaporate.)
  11. Without bothering to clean the pan, return it to the stove over medium heat. Wait another minute, then add the remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil and swirl to coat the pan.
  12. Add the bread slices in a single layer and grill on each side until lightly golden and perfectly crisp.
  13. Transfer the toasts to the kale, along with the figs and all their juice.
  14. Toss quickly (no need to get things uniform), adding the remaining cheese and walnuts as you go.
  15. Serve right away, passing a pepper mill and offering wedges of lemon or lime to be aimed straight at the figs.






Originally Posted in “Celebrating with Figs in Winter Salad

IMG_2219Maybe it was my recent visit to the famous NYC vegetarian restaurant, Dirt Candy, that influenced my decision to NOT doll these baby carrots up too much. They had been pulled from the winter ground the day before by organic farmer, Patti Popp, Sport Hill Farm, CT,  and I like showing their roots and straggly tails.


Late season carrots need a little help in order to bring out their sweetness. I tossed them with organic maple syrup and my favorite local honey from Red Bee Apiary,  located right up the road from where I live. Once I sweetened them, I wanted them a little spicy, too.

I love the bright color on grey winter days. Anyone else dreaming of spring flowers  yet?

Roasted Local Carrots

Roasted Local Carrots

Just pulled farm fresh carrots are a staple at farmers’ markets. You may want to trim them to tidy them up, but I prefer to show the messiness of their roots and tips.

Season them with a little more or a little less, depending on your palate for sweet or spicy. Feel free to sub in curry, coriander, and a sprinkle of cinnamon if you prefer.


  • 1 pound baby carrots
  • ½ teaspoon salt (I love Farmer Freed’s Vanilla Bean Salt)
  • cracked fresh pepper to taste
  • ½- 1 teaspoon Ras El Hanout **
  • ¾ teaspoon fresh ginger, grated
  • 2 tablespoons maple syrup
  • 2 tablespoons honey


  1. If using farm fresh carrots, wash and trim them. If using bagged baby carrots, rinse and pat dry.
  2. Line cookie sheet with foil.
  3. In a large bowl, toss carrots with seasonings, maple syrup and honey.
  4. Place carrots in single layer on lined cookie sheet and roast at 375 F for 15 mins. Toss with tongs and roast another 15 minutes or until they yield to fork poke.
  5. Place on a brightly colored plate and enjoy nature’s candy.


**Ras El Hanout is a Moroccan spice blend that translates as “head of the shop”. The double meaning is that the owner of the shop blends the best of his spices and you receive the best goods.

Ras El Hanout is a blend of many spices which come together to yield a complex, slightly sweet, distinctly Middle Eastern flavor. The shortcut? Buy it at your local Whole Foods Market.

Don’t feel like shopping? Ras El Hanout is predominantly coriander, turmeric, cardamom, black pepper, clove, cinnamon and nutmeg. Pick and choose your favorites and season your carrots liberally.


Into the Fire

contributed by Katy Morris; photos: Liz Rueven

Farm to table is right up Jeff Borofsky’s alley…literally.

Jeff is the proud founder of Skinny Pines, LLC, Fairfield County’s only farm to table focused mobile wood-fired brick pizza oven. He uses only local, seasonal ingredients to create simple and fresh concoctions whilst incorporating sustainability in every aspect of the business.  I sat down with Jeff recently to get the skinny on his concept and unique pizza.


Local greens: Sport Hill Farm and Riverbank Farm, CT.

Local greens: Sport Hill Farm and Riverbank Farm, CT.

What a great concept, Jeff! Tell me how this all originated.

We started about five years ago when we purchased our first mobile brick oven in Boulder, Colorado. The idea was to have something casual, portable, and family friendly rather than starting just another traditional restaurant. We also knew we didn’t want to be just another food truck. Our open-aired set up with the brick oven creates a really intimate and unique experience.

Amy Franquet checks the Breakfast Scramble with local greens and Jeff's eggs

Amy Franquet checks the Breakfast Scramble with local greens and Jeff’s eggs

We can just bring it wherever we need to for our customers. We now have two mobile ovens and 6 part-time employees during the busy season (summer) to make it all run smoothly.


Jeff Borofsky, owner, Skinny Pines Pizza

Jeff Borofsky, owner, Skinny Pines Pizza

Being mobile surely sets you apart from typical food joints, but what else makes you so different and popular?

What really sets us apart is our dedication to using only locally sourced produce from CT and NY farms (the only exception being our Grande cheese, which comes from Wisconsin), most of which are certified organic. This means our menu is never the same and depends on what we can get from our farmers. About our cheese – we are starting to incorporate Mystic cheese as well, which I am very excited about (especially the soft ripened Melville). And yes, I make my own ricotta (recipe below)!

From the very beginning, we have always sourced from Sport Hill Farm, Fort Hill, and Riverbank, and since then, we have tried out other farms around the area to add to our list. This year, Gilbertie’s in Easton, CT grew a lot of our seasonal produce for us, which was great.

Breakfast scramble

We really care about how we prepare our food and what we are serving. Our goal is to try to make it as delicious and wholesome as possible. In fact, I spent about 3 years trying to nail the dough formula to get it just right. I was able to work with other owners of mobile wood-fired ovens from across the country to get tips and tricks and I think we’ve finally mastered it. We get our 100% whole-wheat grain milled to 00 through the Wild Hive Grain Project, which is set up in a CSA model [Community Supported Agriculture]. We make our tomato sauce out of crushed tomatoes from a certified organic farm in Washington, CT called Waldingfield Farm.


And you are big on sustainability as well, right?

Yes…from the locally sourced ingredients in every dish and our involvement with CSA (which I think is a fantastic model for our kids and really helps build community), to the wood we burn in our oven, and even the renewable, biodegradable paper goods and plates, everything we do incorporates sustainability in some way.

Breakfast scramble (1)

That is so great! Tell me a little about your menu.

We do not have a set menu as it depends on what ingredients are available from the farms each season; however, we always have a variety of pizzas, frittatas (which are made with eggs from Ox Hollow Farm in Roxbury, CT), and gluten-free wraps, but of course the toppings change week to week. We always have lots of vegetables and greens available; examples include kale, arugula, onions, tomatoes, and much more.

We do make desserts as well. Right now, we are serving up S’mores made in the oven and assorted cups of Gelato Guiliana, which is made in New Haven, CT [dairy-free options available].


Breakfast Pie with CT greens and Jeff's eggs

Breakfast Pie with CT greens and Jeff’s eggs

Yum. What is the most popular item?

 Our pizzas are definitely our best sellers and our customers come out even in snowstorms to get them in the winter! My favorite vegetarian pie is one we make with shredded mozzarella, organic red onion, kalamata olives, Gilbertie’s rosemary and extra virgin olive oil. Our most popular one when we are at markets is our classic cheese, but our customers really do enjoy all of our seasonal creations…anything with fresh seasonal heirloom tomatoes from Sport Hill Farm, Fort Hill, or Riverbank is always a winner.


Posing as American Gothic: Amy Franquet and Vic Malindretos

Posing as American Gothic: Amy Franquet and Vic Malindretos

Where can we find you?

We are at the Westport Winter Farmer’s Market every Saturday from 10am-2pm at Gilbertie’s (you can find us right outside firing up our pizzas and other items bundled up under a tent…snow or shine!) and then we will be doing the New Canaan Farmer’s Market as well. You can check in on any other events we will be at on our website. We also do catering for parties with 30-300 people.


What are the next steps for Skinny Pines?

A lot of folks ask if we will open a restaurant at some point. For now, Skinny Pines will stay the way it is as a unique mobile oven, but we are thinking up ways to expand, so stay tuned.


Could you provide some suggestions for making their own pizza at home?

 My tip for people who want to make their own pizza at home would be to source the best ingredients from your local farmer’s markets and use those to create artisan pizzas. I can’t recommend a specific store-bought dough since I make my own, but I’d imagine calling up your favorite local pizzeria to get the dough would be a good start as they often sell it. Our favorite crushed tomatoes for a sauce is the Jersey sourced ones of La Fede from Whole Foods.

Local greens and house made ricotta

Jeff also gave us some of his favorite veggie combinations that make great pizza toppings – all can be accompanied by shredded mozzarella and a bit of parmesan:


  • Olive, onion, arugula or kale – tastes great with or without sauce
  • Sweet potato or winter squash, chili powder, red onion, and sage
  • Simply fresh tomatoes with pesto
  • Roasted thinly sliced potatoes with pesto


Want to try your hand at making your own ricotta cheese? It tastes infinitely well, milkier, than store bought. And the creamy texture cannot be compared to anything you’ve ever tasted.

Whole Milk Ricotta Cheese

1 1/2- 2 pounds

Whole Milk Ricotta Cheese

Traditionally, ricotta is made by reheating the whey after making cheese from ewe’s milk. This simple variation uses whole milk instead of whey; the resulting ricotta has a good flavor and a high yield.


  • 1 gallon whole milk (Jeff uses Sankow’s Raw Whole Milk)
  • 1 teaspoon citric acid dissolved in ¼ cup cool water
  • 1 teaspoon cheese salt (optional)
  • 1-2 tablespoons heavy cream (optional)


  1. Combine the milk, citric acid solution, and salt (if using) in a large pot and mix thoroughly.
  2. Directly heat the milk to 185 – 195 F (do not boil). Stir often to prevent scorching.
  3. As soon as the curds and whey begin to separate (make sure there is no milky whey), turn off the heat. Allow to set, undisturbed, for 10 minutes.
  4. Line a colander with butter muslin. Carefully lade the curds into the colander. Tie the corners of the muslin into a knot and hang the bag to drain for 20 to 30 minutes, or until the cheese has reached the desired consistency.
  5. For a creamier consistency, add the cream and mix thoroughly.
  6. Store in a covered container in the refrigerator for 1 to 2 weeks.


From Ricki Carroll’s “Making Cheese, Butter & Yogurt”















photo courtesy of eleven 14 Kitchen

photo courtesy of eleven 14 Kitchen

contributed by Katy Morris

With its elegantly cozy ambiance, welcoming staff, and a distinctive menu chock full of locally sourced, seasonal options with a global twist crafted by renowned Chef Francois Kwaku-Dongo, the eleven14 Kitchen hits all the marks for a great dining experience.

Kosher Like Me was invited to try out the restaurant, located in Greenwich, CT, at  JHouse Hotel. We were delighted to learn that Chef Francois had created our very own vegetarian line up, taking us on a colorful veggie-loaded journey of American dishes inspired by cuisine from across the globe.

Chef Francois

Born and raised on a cocoa farm in West Africa, Chef Francois had never even thought of cooking – that was the traditional job of his mother and sisters. Little did he imagine that many years later he would be working alongside the one and only Wolfgang Puck and serving celebrities on a nightly basis in West Hollywood.

Lucky for Fairfield County, Chef Francois is now at the helm of the Greenwich eatery and has taken his years of food experiences and combined them with fresh, New England  inspired offerings to create delectable and diverse dishes.

“I have created a melting pot of cuisine from all over based on the farm to table concept. I hope that it brings people together and ignites memories and experiences,” the Chef explained.


photo courtesy of eleven14 Kitchen

photo courtesy of eleven14 Kitchen

Our tasting was appropriately accompanied by vibrant live jazz in the background. Jazz is said to be one of the most significant musical expressions in American culture and is derived from beats and melodies originally from African, American, and European music. Similarly, each dish at eleven14 incorporates elements of Italian, Asian, American, and even African cuisine.

rosemary garlic parmesan flatbread sticks

To whet our appetites, we started with deliciously crunchy J-shaped rosemary flatbread and Parmesan encrusted breadsticks paired with olive oil.

lentil faro and wild mushrooms

Next came a petite portion of faro and lentil, topped with wild mushrooms. This was surprisingly hearty with a nutty flavor.

Avocado, roasted squash, candied walnut salad with beet vinaigrette..

Then, out came what was my favorite dish of the night – an avocado, roasted butternut squash & candied walnut salad with a unique beet vinaigrette. What a perfect combination of textures and tastes: buttery, sweet, crunchy, savory, and even a little tangy from the dressing. I was delighted that Chef shared the recipe (below).

Harvest Tomato Soup with a veggie crouton (bread, squash, eggplant, zucchini)

The harvest tomato soup, topped with a mini vegetable crouton (made with squash, eggplant, and zucchini) and adorned with a beautiful purple pansy, was delightfully creamy. The original crouton contrasted with crispy crunch.


Our main dish was a colorful medley of sautéed vegetables (cauliflower, broccoli, Brussels sprouts), with tasty spring rolls, on top of pickled radish and dressed in a sweet and sour sauce. This Asian-inspired plate had a welcome kick from the cayenne pepper used in the sauce.


Just when we thought we were done, Chef Francois presented us with a sampling plate from The JHouse’s Chocolate Lab . He kindly walked us through each sweet morsel: an apple tart with cinnamon, sea salt, and caramel; a trio of house made fruit sorbets; a mini NY style cheesecake with brown sugar brulee topping; an old-fashioned carrot cake.

Our favorite, the eleven14 chocolate cake,  is made with the world’s first country of origin chocolate made and grown in Ghana from the Chef’s own family cocoa farm in the Ivory Coast. How’s that for farm to table?

Unfortunately, I dug in quite quickly and couldn’t get that shots. Mea culpa.


While the dishes we had were not on the regular menu, Chef assured us that they would happily accommodate any vegetarian requests and can recreate dishes similar to the ones we enjoyed here.

Thank you to Chef Francois and the staff at eleven14 for a great night and for providing this recipe for our readers.

eleven14 Kitchen:
(inside the J House)
1114 E. Putnam Ave, Greenwich, CT 06878

open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner seven days a week

check out their website for specific hours and directions.

Roasted Squash, Candied Walnuts and Avocado Salad with Beet Vinaigrette

4-6 side servings

This recipe is parve (dairy free), gluten-free and vegetarian.


    Roasted Squash and Avocado
  • 1 medium butternut squash
  • 1 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 ½ tsp. honey
  • ½ avocado, diced and sprinkled with salt
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Candied Walnuts
  • ¼ cup powdered sugar
  • 1/8 tsp. cayenne pepper
  • 1/8 tsp. salt
  • 4 ounces walnuts (about one heaping cup)


    Roast the squash
  1. Preheat oven to 400F.
  2. Remove the ends from squash. Cut lengthwise, and discard seeds.
  3. Slice squash into ½ inch circles/semicircles.
  4. Season with salt and pepper.
  5. Bake 35-40 minutes, until squash are tender but not overly soft/mushy.
  6. Once Squash is finished, remove from oven, and cut into cubes while still warm.
  7. Drizzle honey on top.
  8. Candy the walnuts
  9. Preheat the oven to 350F.
  10. In medium sized bowl mix together sugar, cayenne and salt.
  11. Bring a small saucepan of water to boil. Add the walnuts and blanch then for three minutes.
  12. Drain well, then immediately roll the walnuts in the sugar mixture until thoroughly coated. The sugar will melt slightly.
  13. Transfer the walnuts to a baking sheet or pan and bake, stirring occasionally, until they are a deep golden brown (about 10 minutes). Note: watch carefully because sugar can burn easily.
  14. Assemble
  15. Gently mix roasted squash, avocado, and candied walnuts together, Toss with vinaigrette(below)


Recipe courtesy of: eleven 14 Kitchen, Greenwich, CT


Beet Vinaigrette


  • 1 beet (fresh, peeled, and trimmed)
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 2 tbsp. red wine vinegar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp. pepper


  1. Cut the beet into thin wedges, toss with 1 tablespoon oil
  2. Place in pan
  3. Bake at 400F for 35 minutes, or until tender.
  4. Cool for 15 minutes.
  5. Process beet, remaining olive oil, vinegar, salt, and pepper in a food processor until smooth.
  6. Pour mixture through a wire-mesh strainer into a bowl, discarding solids.






Briana Pennell, owner/baker at Steam

Briana Pennell, owner/baker at Steam

text and photos by Katy Morris

“Locally acquired, Chef inspired” is their mantra and it is perfectly fitting. Steam Coffee Bar, which first opened at the Greens Farms train station and is now also at the Westport station in CT. It  is full of locally sourced, healthy and delicious treats, and of course, steaming hot coffee. Co-owner and Chef Briana Pennell was kind enough to sit down with me to give me an inside peek on what makes their place so unique.

She also shared recipes. We love that.

I was surprised and impressed that this energetic and joyful woman had been here since 5am that morning (just like every other morning…), warming up sleepy-eyed commuters with her contagious smile and a cup of organic coffee, and nourishing their appetites with handmade baked goods made in the tiniest little oven I’ve ever seen (besides an “easy bake” oven!).


KLM:  So, how did Steam Coffee Bar start? 

Last year about this time, Chis Barrett [co-owner] and I saw a request for proposal in a local newspaper for a contract with the town to open up a new coffee concession here at Greens Farms, and we jumped right on it.  I have always wanted to start my own business, and this was the perfect opportunity. With Chris’ expertise in the hospitality and restaurant industry, combined with my experience and love of baking, we knew we had something special and could make it work. Now, the place is completely jam-packed every single morning, and I am familiar with nearly all of our customers at this point.


KLM:  What is your food philosophy? 

I am a big yoga practitioner and a strong believer in the connection between the mind, body, and soul. I think that eating healthy and nourishing your body can help you live a fulfilled and happy life. Personally, I eat mostly eat vegan but at times can be a “flexatarian” and eat some fish like salmon. I have always loved to make healthy sweet treats for friends and family and was able to improve my pastry techniques after attending the Culinary Institute and working at Rebecca’s of Greenwich and other local café’s around Fairfield County.


Today, I base my menu and recipes on a direct connection with our clientele; I love to get instant feedback and truly listen to the needs and preferences of our customers. I can cater to any type of food restriction or preference and actually have found that many of our local Westport customers are into a very healthy lifestyle as well and prefer to eat organic and local foods.


KLM:  What is your bestseller and why do you think that is? 

By far our best baked good seller is the Classic Blueberry Muffin. I make about a dozen each morning and they are gone within a couple of hours!


KLM:  What is the best coffee and snack pairing you suggest? 

A cappuccino with my homemade almond milk using our La Marzocco espresso machine (it’s like my second baby!) paired with my vegan, gluten-free, refined sugar free Morning Glory muffin would be my pick.


KLM:  Tell me about the other offerings here. 

Basically everything we sell is made and sourced from local vendors, and we try to get healthy and organic options when we can. Our teas are provided by Westport’s Arogya, our dairy comes from Lebanon’s the Farmer’s Cow, our coffee is from Shearwater which is the only certified organic coffee roaster in Fairfield County.

We also sell Nothin’ But granola bars  (We LOVE these. Check out Liz’s post from last Spring), Wave Hill Bread, 8 to the Bar, and a few other items. The baked goods that I make in my little oven and sell [“Briana’s Baked Goods”] include gluten-free, vegan, refined sugar-free power muffins and granola bars, croissants, espresso brownies, and a variety of cookies.

I experiment with recipes all the time but my first priority is to cater to exactly what customers want. I can do gluten-free, vegan, organic…anything they’d like!


check out the size of this oven and work space

check out the size of this oven and work space

KLM:  And you really bake everything in that tiny oven?! 

Yes, I do [with a little laugh]. And I prep using about one square foot of counter space. I’ve gotten very good at improvising over the years! As long as I’ve got my electric mixer and an oven, I’m good to go. But I must say, I’m excited to have a bigger oven at the Westport location.


KLM:  Tell me more about the new Steam Coffee Bar at the Westport train station…how is it different? I take off to the City from that station all the time and am so happy you will be there! 


We are extremely excited about opening our new location. It is about three times the size of the Greens Farms and we will be open from approximately 5am – 7:30pm  (maybe even longer) in an effort to catch returning commuters and either invite them in to relax after a long work day, or stop in and pick up a ‘grab-n-go’ dinner on their way home. Dinners will include quinoa & veggie burgers, roasted vegetable terrine with tomato coulis, mac & cheese, soups, roasted vegetables, hummus and more.

The space is flexible and extremely beautiful with many oversized windows and original light fixtures and wood trim. It was renovated with green practices and respectful of it’s history (built in 1908).

The space is available for rent!

Think birthday celebrations, cocktails, wine tastings, book club gatherings and much much more. Be sure to speak to Briana about food options. She is deeply creative and open to any and all ideas.

Hours may be in flux for a while so please check Steam’s facebook page for confirmed times of operation. See below.


Steam Coffee Bar has 2 locations in  Westport, CT:

Greens Farm RR Station, westbound side (New York bound)  2 Post Office Lane, Westport. Open at 5 AM- noonish.

Westport RR Station, eastbound (New Haven bound), 45 Railroad Place.  5 AM-7:30 PM.  Confirm cafe’s hours of operation on their Facebook page.

For special orders and special occasion cakes contact Briana Pennell here.


Briana was kind enough to share this simple, healthy, and delicious cookie recipe with Kosher Like Me readers. Enjoy!

Healthy Banana Nut Oatmeal Cookies

16 small cookies

Healthy Banana Nut Oatmeal Cookies

These parve cookies are soft and chock full of all good things. They are gluten-free, refined sugar-free and vegan


  • 2 cups of gluten free oats
  • 2 medium sized bananas
  • ¼ cup oil (olive or grape seed)
  • ¼ cup honey
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • Handful of raisins
  • Handful of pecans
  • ¼ teaspoon baking soda
  • ¼ teaspoon cinnamon


  1. Preheat oven to 350 F.
  2. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.
  3. In the bowl of a stand mixer (or use an electric mixer), mix all ingredients together until well combined.
  4. Scoop and flatten dough onto the cookie sheet (Briana recommends using a ¾ oz. ice cream scoop.)
  5. Bake for about 10 minutes, or until slightly golden around the edges.

Originally Posted in “You Bake in THAT Oven? Tell Me More.

Gravlax LG (1)

contributed by Katy Morris

photos courtesy of Sugar and Olives

On an inconspicuous side street in Norwalk, CT, sits an eccentric French-inspired culinary “kitchen and lounge” that serves delicious, locally sourced, organic fare.  Sugar & Olives, owned by Jennifer Balin, opened after she bought and transformed a former factory space into an open commercial kitchen and dining area using sustainable and recycled materials when possible.

Sugar & Olives

She then crafted an impressive menu based on a “seasonal philosophy” filled with lots of vegetarian friendly options.  Lucky for locals, Balin has launched her own “prep school” cooking classes so cooking enthusiasts can learn the secrets of some of her best techniques and culinary creations.


Kosher Like Me was recently invited to attend a Scrumptious Brunch class – very timely as I start to plan my New Year’s Day Brunch menu. The class was simply fantastic; very hands on, and intimate, and I was luckily able to ask all the questions I had directly to her and her French Chef, Luis.

morning trifle

They worked side by side with us to make a delish morning trifle with oatmeal cookie granola and lemon curd, eggs benedict served on a “johnny cake” (kind of like a heavenly biscuit), and house cured gravlax.


Jennifer made the gravlax since it had to sit for hours before. She was generous enough to share her easy recipe, below.

She recommends serving the gravlax alongside herbed goat cheese from Beltane Farm, one of our favorite sources for local cheese. Adding in a mix of fresh herbs, including thyme, dill, fronds (tops of fennel) and crushed pink peppercorns makes for a beautiful, festive, and delicious combination.

Serve with some flatbread or simple crackers to add some crunch. Or drape these tender slices over farm fresh greens for the perfect lunch. Of course, this gravlax will blow your guests away on New Year’s Eve or as a highlight of your first brunch of 2014.


Click on Sugar and Olives for the full menu and more deets on cooking classes.

NOTE: Sugar and Olives is extremely accommodating for diners with any type of food preferences or restrictions.

Breakfast and lunch: Tuesday – Friday from 8am – 3pm

Brunch: Saturdays and Sundays from 10am – 3pm

Dinner: Fridays and Saturdays starting at 6pm…reservations are highly recommended.

House Cured Gravlax

House Cured Gravlax

This recipe is non-dairy, PARVE

Curing Salmon is virtually effortless to make and will impress your guests.

It is perfect on crackers, bagels, or draped over a salad.


  • 1 pint kosher salt
  • 1 pint sugar
  • zest of 2 lemons or limes
  • 2 bunches dill
  • 1 tablespoon white peppercorns
  • 1 2-1lb center-cut loin of Scottish Salmon, or other farm raised Atlantic Salmon


  1. Combine kosher salt, sugar, and 1 ½ pints water with the lemon zest, dill, and white peppercorns. Place the mixture in a pot and bring it to a simmer, stirring occasionally until all the sugar and salt is dissolved.
  2. Remove from heat and let it sit until room temperature. Then, chill it in the fridge. (Note: this cure can be made a day ahead.)
  3. Submerge the Salmon in the curing liquid. Refrigerate for 4 hours, turning the fish each hour.
  4. Remove the Salmon loin from the cure and wash it under cold water. The Salmon should be bright pink in hue and look slightly dehydrated; when you cut through it, it shouldn’t leave a trail of fat on the knife. (Optional: wrap the fish in clean kitchen towel and cover in plastic wrap; refrigerate overnight to firm up the fish.)
  5. Using a shark knife, slice the fish into ¼-inch thick pieces.
  6. Serve with crackers or bread and mustard, and lemon segments.


This recipe is via Jennifer Balin, owner of Sugar and Olives in Norwalk, CT. Thanks, Jen!








Originally Posted in “Gravlax: The Easy Cure for New Year’s