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Taverna Lemony Lentil & Spinach Soup

  • Ingredients:
  • ½ bunch fresh cilantro, washed and stems removed
  • 12 peeled garlic cloves
  • olive oil 2 ½ t
  • Salt
  • Divided 2 large onions, chopped finely
  • 1 lb green lentils, washed and drained (2 cups and ¼)
  • ¾ t ground cinnamon
  • 1 t ground sumac
  • 6 cups prepared vegetable broth
  • 6 cups water
  • 2 bags of frozen chopped spinach
  • 2 medium potatoes
  • 2 lemons

1. Place cilantro leaves, garlic cloves, 3 T olive oil, and ½ t salt in food processor and process until mixture forms a paste.
2. Saute onions in ¼ cup olive oil until translucent and just beginning to brown.
3. Stir lentils into onions. Cook on medium for a few minutes.
4. Add vegetable broth, water, cinnamon, and sumac, stirring in spices until thoroughly blended. Cook uncovered for 40 minutes on medium heat, stirring occasionally.
5. Add potatoes, spinach, cilantro paste, and additional salt. Add more water if you like soupier soup.
6. Cook uncovered on low heat until potatoes are cooked through, about 20 minutes.
7. Add lemon juice and continue cooking, uncovered, for an additional 15 minutes. Adjust salt, spices, and lemon juice to your taste (the recipe is only very mildly spiced and salted).

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  • Ingredients:
  • 2 cups of brown or green lentils (not lentils du Puy), sorted for debris and rinsed
  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 3 medium red onions, thinly sliced
  • salt
  • One cup and a half cup jasmine rice
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • Cinnamon stick
  • Squeeze of fresh lemon juice

1. Throw the lentils into a medium saucepan. Fill with enough cold water to cover the lentils by about an inch. Bring it to a boil over medium-high heat, then turn down to a simmer and cook until the lentils are tender but not mushy, about 20 minutes. Drain and set aside.

2. Right after that, soak the rice in warm water for 30 minutes (soaking the rice beforehand reduces cooking time by half)

3. Meanwhile, as the lentils cook and rice soaks, grab a large skillet. Pop it over medium-high heat and add the oil. Allow the oil to warm for a minute, then add the onions, sprinkle with a dash of salt and cook until they turn dark caramel brown, stirring often. This will take about 15 minutes. Splash the onions with a little water if they stick to the bottom of the pan. You’ll know they’re done both by their deep chestnut color and by the slight crispiness developing on some of the onions.

4. Using a slotted spoon or spatula, remove about half of the onions to a paper towel-lined plate; these are for garnish later. Sprinkle in the ground cumin, cayenne and then add the cinnamon stick; saute for about 1 minute.

5. Mix the rice and lentils and add them to the remaining onions, stirs gently until some rice grains start to brown. Quickly, add water (enough to cover the mix by half an inch and not more since the rice was soaked in water for half an hour) and 1 1/2 teaspoons of salt. Bring the mixture to a boil.

6. Turn the heat down to low so that the pan is at a simmer, cover and cook for 15 minutes. The water should be completely evaporated and rice should be tender. (If there’s still too much water in the bottom, put the lid back on and cook for another 5 minutes.)

7. Turn off the heat, keep the lid on, and allow the rice to steam undisturbed for about 5 minutes. Taste the rice for seasoning. Serve with the reserved caramelized onions, and a little squeeze of lemon juice. I also like to serve this with some Greek yogurt, but that is optional.

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  • 1 head of romaine lettuce (or any other lettuce), torn in pieces
  • a few Persian cucumbers (or English-hothouse, or just plain cucumbers)
  • a few tomatoes, diced
  • a few radishes, sliced
  • green onions, sliced
  • a handful of chopped Italian parsley and a handful of fresh mint
  • a green pepper, diced (optional)
  • a large loaf of pita bread  or 2 small pita breads

For the Fattoush dressing:

  • 2 small lemons, juiced
  • 1/2 cup of extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2  generous tablespoons  of sumac, plus extra to sprinkle on the pita breadsticks

Brush the pita breads with plenty of olive oil; sprinkle plenty of sumac on top. With kitchen scissors, cut the bread into thin breadsticks. Toast in a 325F oven till crispy and golden. Set aside.
Prepare all the salad ingredients; mix the dressing; when ready to serve, toss the salad with the dressing and serve the breadsticks on the side, or break them up the traditional way, and incorporate in the fattoush.

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Vegetarian Lentils


  • 2 1/2 cups of short grain rice.
  • 1 package 16 oz dry Pasta, preferably Ditalini or elbow.
  • 2 cups dry brown lentils.
  • 4 medium onions
  • 3 can 16oz tomato sauce.
  • 1 can of chickpeas
  • 2 1/2 teaspoon garlic crushed.
  • 3/4 cup white vinegar.
  • Ground cumin.
  • Olive oil.

1. Cook Pasta in enough salty water according to package directions, drain then add 2 Tablespoon of oil and adjust seasoning.
2. Prepare rice as indicated on your package.
3. Mix prepared rice and pasta together and set aside.

Put lentils in a colander and wash thoroughly under running cold water.
Place lentils in a pot covered with cold water and bring to a boil.
Reduce heat and cook for 25-30 minutes until just al dente making sure to check on water level and add water whenever necessary.
Drain but do not rinse and in the same pot saute 1 medium onion in oil until fragrant.
Add lentils back to the pot with 1 can 16oz tomato sauce and season.
Continue cooking until done and set aside.
Season with salt.

In a medium sauce pan, sauté 1 1/2 teaspoon garlic crushed garlic in oil until fragrant, about 1 minute.
Add 1/4 cup white vinegar, 2 cans 16oz tomato sauce, water and salt then mix well.

In a small sauce pan, sauté 1 teaspoon garlic and 1 Tablespoon cumin together until fragrant, about 30 seconds.
Add 1/4 cup vinegar, 1/4 cup water then taste to adjust salt.

In a deep pot, add oil to cover the bottom by 1 inch.
Add 3 Large sliced onions and cook on medium-high stirring every now and then making sure not to burn the onions.
Take onions out on a plate lined with kitchen paper towel.
Set aside, it will Harden and get crispier.

7. ASSEMBLE: Serve rice/pasta mix in a bowl. Add lentils and top with onion and sauces.

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Chicken Snow Pea Stir Fry


  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon chili paste
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • 1 teaspoon cornstarch
  • 2 tablespoons sesame oil, divided
  • 1.25 lbs boneless, skinless chicken breasts, sliced crosswise into thin strips
  • 2 tablespoons minced ginger
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 lb snow peas, trimmed, sliced in half on a bias
  • 1 red bell pepper, seeded and sliced into thin strips
  • 1 lime, cut into wedges
  • salt & pepper

In a small bowl, whisk together the soy sauce, chili sauce, water, and cornstarch.
Heat a large skillet over high heat.
Add 1 tablespoon of sesame oil and swirl to coat the pan.
Add the chicken and stir fry until the pieces have separated and are lightly browned and nearly cooked, about 2 minutes. Transfer to a large plate.

Wipe out the pan and heat the remaining tablespoon of sesame oil over medium-high heat. Add the ginger and sauté for a minute, or until softened slightly, stirring continuously. Add the garlic and sauté for an additional 30 seconds or so, or until fragrant. Add the snow peas and bell pepper. Sauté until they are just beginning to soften, roughly 3 to 4 minutes.
Add the chicken back into the pan with the soy sauce -chili paste mixture and cook, stirringly continuously, until the sauce has thickened a bit and lightly coats the chicken. Continue cooking just until the chicken is cooked through. Season to taste fresh lime juice. Add salt & pepper- salt bae style

Serve on top of rice

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Japanese Curry Rice


  • 3 cups uncooked rice Follow the instructions on your rice cooker.
  • 1 packet 100g (3.5oz) Japanese curry sauce mix (you can find at Japanese grocery store, like Sunrise Mart at Japan village) Use any brand you like.
  • 250 g your preferred meat (any protein is good like beef, chicken, fish, shrimp etc)
  • 1 brown onion
  • 300 g (10.5oz) potato
  • 100 g (3.5oz) carrot
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • ¼ cup grated apple (optional)
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • Pinch of salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 cups water approximately 500 ml (17 fl oz)
  • Fukushinduke and/or Rakkyo to accompany condiments  (optional)
  • Worcestershire sauce (optional)
Cut the meat into bite size pieces and set aside. Peel and cut the potatoes, carrot, and onion into large bite size pieces and set aside. Heat olive oil in a pot over medium heat and add garlic When the garlic is fragrant, add the beef and cook until browned. Add the potato, carrot, and onion and stir with a wooden spatula. When the oil has coated evenly on all the ingredients and the outer-edge of the potatoes have become transparent, add the water, honey, and grated apple. Bring it to boil and then turn the heat down to low to simmer until the potatoes become soft and all the other ingredients are cooked. Turn the heat off, break the curry sauce blocks apart and add to the pot.

Serve over prepared rice.

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Beer Batter Crepes

  • 3 eggs
  • 1 cup of milk
  • 1 cup beer (milder beer works better)
  • 1 3/4 cup flour
  • 1 pinch of salt
  • 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil
  • 2 tablespoons of butter

In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk, and beer. Slowly whisk in the flour. Add the salt and oil, and whisk vigorously for about 3 minutes. Let the batter rest for about an hour.

To make the crepes:

In a large skillet, melt a small chunk of butter. Ladle in some about 1/4 cup of batter, and rotate the skillet to spread the batter evenly in the pan. Cook for about 1 to 2 minutes, then flip the crepe in the skillet and continue cooking for about 45 seconds or until golden brown.

Between each crepe, add a little piece of butter, and repeat the process.

The crepes can be served savory (with cheese, for example) or sweet (with nutella!)

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Alsatian Pear Pie


  • Pate Brisee (pie crust: see recipe below)
  • 3 pears
  • 2 eggs
  • 3/4 cup heavy cream
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon Vanilla extract (or to taste)
  • 1.5 tablespoon cornstarch
  • Brown sugar

Prepare the dough (pate brisee below)

Peel the pears and cut in small wedges. Set aside
Whisk the eggs and sugar, add the heavy cream, cornstarch and vanilla extract, and whisk the mixture together.
Put the pear wedges on the prepared pie crust, and cover with the egg and cream mixture. Cover with a thin layer of brown sugar to give the pie color. Bake at 385F for 45 to 55 minutes, or until the custard has set. To test the custard: insert a clean knife in the center of the pie. If nothing sticks to the knife, the pie is ready.

Pate Brisee

  • 1 1/4 cup flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon of sugar
  • 8 tablespoons butter
  • 3 to 4 tablespoons of ice water
  • 1 egg

Combine flour, salt and sugar. Cut the butter in small wedges and add to the flour. With your hands, mix the butter and flour together until all the ingredients are mixed together. Add 2 tbsp of ice water, and mix well. Form the dough into a disk, and place in wax paper, in the fridge for at least 1 hour. When the dough is ready, sprinkle with flour and roll into a thin pie crust. Place in a pie dish that’s been spread with a thin layer of butter.

To prepare the pie crust, pre-heat the oven to 350F. With a fork, prick the dough all over, cover the crust with aluminum foil, and add beans (or rice – anything that will add weight so the crust doesn’t rise). Bake the crust for 10 minutes at 350F. Remove the beans and foil. Separate the egg yoke, and brush the yoke on the bottom of the crust. Bake uncovered for another 5 minutes. This prevents the pear juice from making the pie too soggy… it’s my father’s trick!

The pie crust is now ready for the pears and custard.

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Zucchini Pie

  • 1 cup onions, chopped small
  • 3-4 cloves of garlic
  • 3 cups zucchini, sliced or diced
  • 1/2 cup oil
  • 1 cup Bisquick
  • 1 cup grated cheese (half cheddar, half parmesan)
  • 4 eggs beaten with:
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 tsp. pepper
  • 1 tsp. prepared mustard

Mix together and pour into buttered 8X8 baking dish.
Bake at 400 degrees for approximately 40 minutes.
Test with toothpick in center for doneness.

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Calamari (squid) a la Racioppo

Any of the amounts will vary depending upon how much you want to make:

In a large pot, heat a layer of olive oil
Saute several cubes of garlic
Add 3 pounds of calamari, with lots of tentacles
Add pepper, oregano and basil
Cook for about 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Then add tomato sauce, and cook on a low flame for 2 to 4 hours, stirring occasionally.

To make the sauce, add the following to the calamari:

  • 3 28 oz. cans of diced or crushed tomatoes
  • pepper, oregano and basil
  • a few tea spoons of sugar
  • a few tea spoons of red wine

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Artichoke Chicken

  • 4 skinless boneless chicken breast halves
  • 1 large jar marinated artichoke hearts drained and chopped
  • 3/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 3/4 cup mayonnaise
  • 1 mashed garlic clove
  • Pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 350
Place chicken in greased baking dish
In a medium bowl mix together all ingredients
Cover chicken with artichoke mixture
Bake uncovered for 30 minutes

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French Silk Chocolate Pie

  • 3 oz baking or extra dark chocolate
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 10 tablespoons butter, room temperature
  • 3 eggs
  • Prepared and cooked crust of your choice (we always use graham cracker)

Melt chocolate and let cool slightly.
Cream together butter and sugar. Add vanilla.
Add cooled chocolate (can still be warm, but not hot) to butter and sugar mixture. Mix until well combined.
Using a hand or stand mixer, beat in the eggs one at a time. After you add each egg, beat for 5 minutes at the highest speed, scraping down the sides of the bowl if necessary between each egg. You should beat the eggs in for a total of 15 minutes.
Transfer mixture to pie crust and chill for at least 2 hours, ideally overnight.
Cut into slices and enjoy! Serve with whipped cream or Cool Whip if desired.

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Nicole’s Chocolate Cookies (or magic cookies)

  • 2 1/4 Cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 Tsp. Baking Soda
  • 1 Cup Margerine/Butter or Coconut Oil (softened)
  • 1 Cup Brown Sugar
  • I Package Instant Chocolate Jello
  • I Tsp.Vanilla
  • 2 Eggs
  • I package Semi-sweet Chocolate Morsels
  • 3 TBS. Rum (or a little more)

Bake at 375 for 10-13 minutes. They may seem soft but let them sit out for an hour.

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Cottage Pie

  • 1 1/2 to 2 pounds potatoes (about 3 large potatoes), peeled and quartered
  • 8 Tablespoons (1 stick) butter
  • 1 medium onion, chopped (about 1 1/2 cups)
  • 1-2 cups vegetables—diced carrots, corn, peas1 1/2 lbs ground round beef
  • 1/2 cup beef broth
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • Salt, pepper, other seasonings of choice

Boil the potatoes: Place the peeled and quartered potatoes in medium sized pot. Cover with at least an inch of cold water. Add a teaspoon of salt. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer, and cook until tender (about 20 minutes).

Sauté vegetables: While the potatoes are cooking, melt 4 tablespoons of the butter in a large sauté pan on medium heat. Add the chopped onions and cook until tender, about 6 to 10 minutes.

If you are including vegetables, add them according to their cooking time. Carrots should be cooked with the onions, because they take as long to cook as the onions do.

If you are including peas or corn, add them toward the end of the cooking of the onions, or after the meat starts to cook, as they take very little cooking time.

Add the ground beef, then Worcestershire sauce and broth: Add ground beef to the pan with the onions and vegetables. Cook until no longer pink. Season with salt and pepper.

Add the Worcestershire sauce and beef broth. Bring the broth to a simmer and reduce heat to low. Cook uncovered for 10 minutes, adding more beef broth if necessary to keep the meat from drying out.

Mash the cooked potatoes: When the potatoes are done cooking (a fork can easily pierce), remove them from the pot and place them in a bowl with the remaining 4 Tbsp of butter. Mash with a fork or potato masher, and season with salt and pepper to taste.

Layer the meat mixture and mashed potatoes in a casserole dish: Preheat oven to 400°F. Spread the beef, onions, and vegetables (if using) in an even layer in a large baking dish (8×13 casserole).

Spread the mashed potatoes over the top of the ground beef. Rough up the surface of the mashed potatoes with a fork so there are peaks that will get well browned. You can even use a fork to make creative designs in the mashed potatoes.

Bake in oven: Place in a 400°F oven and cook until browned and bubbling, about 30 minutes. If necessary, broil for the last few minutes to help the surface of the mashed potatoes brown.
(Be careful when broiling using Pyrex or glass dishes, they have been known to shatter under the high heat of the broiler. It’s not a worry if you are using a ceramic or metal casserole dish.)

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