Burrata with Pickled Cherry Peppers and Tomatoes





Yield: 1-2 as a main course salad, 4 as an appetizer

Hey friends, I know I’ve been absent for a bit.  Life got ahold of me and wouldn’t let go.  But what better way to get back into it than with…

Burrata…oh how I love thee.  My life was forever changed when I had my first taste of this creamy masterpiece of a cheese.  I remember everything about that day.  Now, my life’s mission is to incorporate burrata into every possible dish I can.  This is a beautiful light appetizer that can easily double as a salad for one to two people (I mean, I can eat the whole thing by myself…don’t kid yourself).  The pickled peppers and tomatoes cut through the richness of the creamy cheese, and the arugula provides a peppery bite, and turns this into a more substantial starter.  It’s a Caprese salad reinvented with burrata, arugula and pickled peppers and tomatoes.


1 ounce baby arugula

1/4 cup loosely packed basil, cut into chiffonade

1 to 2 balls of burrata

2 tablespoons thick balsamic vinegar (glaze), plus more to taste*

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper


16 cherry peppers, rinsed

2 cups white vinegar

1/2 cup water

2 tablespoons sugar

2 cloves garlic, cut into thirds

1 teaspoon salt

3/4 teaspoon whole black peppercorns

1 bay leaf

1 cup cherry tomatoes, rinsed and halved/quartered (depending on the size)


1/2 baguette, sliced thinly into 1/4-inch-thick slices

Extra-virgin olive oil, for drizzling

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper


*If you do not have a high-quality thick balsamic vinegar, you can reduce your balsamic over medium heat for approximately 9 to 12 minutes, or until thick and syrupy.  Take care not to boil for too long or over too high of heat, or you will end up with balsamic caramel.


**For a quicker recipe, Trader Joe’s sells pickled cherry peppers.  Drain the peppers and cut into slices; halve the cherry tomatoes.  Pour some of the pickling liquid from the jar over both the peppers and tomatoes in a small bowl and sprinkle with salt.  Allow to sit in the liquid for at least 30 minutes to pick up the flavors.


To make the pickled peppers and tomatoes: remove the stems of the cherry peppers.  Combine the peppers, vinegar, water and sugar in a small saucepan and bring to a boil.  In the meantime, put the garlic, salt, peppercorns, and bay leaf in a jar large enough to hold all the peppers and liquid.  Once the mixture has come to a boil, pour into the jar and cool with the lid off for at least 30 minutes.  Store in the refrigerator once cooled and reserve until ready to use.  Approximately 30 minutes before you want to serve, remove about 8 cherry peppers and slice into thin strips.  Place into a bowl with about 1/2 cup of the brine and the quartered cherry tomatoes and allow to sit until ready to serve.  You will have about twice the amount you need for this recipe, but you can store in the refrigerator for several weeks.  Alternatively, if you can find high-quality store-bought pickled cherry peppers, you can use these, following the recipe at the point of removing the cherry peppers from the brine to prepare to serve.


Preheat the oven to 400°.  Lay the sliced baguette on a large baking sheet, drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Bake for approximately 7 to 9 minutes, until the crostini are golden brown.


Drizzle about 1 tablespoon of the balsamic around the plate.  Arrange the arugula and basil on a serving plate.  Place the burrata in the center and arrange the pickled peppers and tomatoes around the burrata, ensuring to drain the brine before adding to the platter.  Sprinkle with salt and freshly ground black pepper and drizzle the remaining 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar over the top of the salad.  Serve with the crostini.


Caramelized Brown Butter Rice Krispies Treats





Yield: 25 to 30 squares

This has an absolutely obscene, almost embarrassing amount of butter.  These are so rich that you really can only eat just one, so this will serve a crowd.  I love Rice Krispies that are soft and gooey long after they cool, and these are just that.  For an extra-rich treat, go ahead and add a full pound of butter…it makes the treats even gooier!


3/4 pound (3 sticks), salted butter

Two 10-1/2-ounce bag marshmallows

1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

One 12-ounce box Rice Krispies cereal


Prepare a large rimmed baking sheet by buttering the bottom and sides.  Melt the butter in a large pot over medium heat.  It will melt, separate into milk solids and clear butter, foam and then start browning.  It will take a lot longer than you think it will, but do not venture far and stir often, because once it starts to brown, it will go quickly.  Once the butter is browned and smells nutty, add the marshmallows.  Cook, stirring frequently, until the marshmallows melt.  Once the marshmallows melt, begin whisking until the butter and marshmallows are a homogenous mixture.  Add the salt and vanilla extract, and continue to cook the mixture until lightly browned, about 4 to 6 minutes.


Turn off the heat and add the Rice Krispies.  Mix well using a silicone spatula.  Scrape the mixture into the prepared baking sheet and press down lightly. Let cool, and cut into small squares.


Inspiration: Caramelized Brown Butter Rice Krispies Treats, The Essential New York Times Cookbook by Amanda Hesser


Mozzarella en Carozza




Yield: 2 to 4 servings, depending on the size of your loaf of bread and if you serve half sandwiches

In Italian, mozzarella en carozza means mozzarella in a carriage.  This sandwich is basically the baby of grilled cheese and French toast. I know it sounds weird to fry a grilled cheese, but remember, the temperature of the oil is the key to frying, and having the oil at the proper temperature significantly reduces the amount of oil absorbed by whatever you’re frying.


4 ounces whole-milk or fresh mozzarella, thinly sliced

4 slices good sandwich bread (like from a bakery!)

4 eggs, stirred with salt and pepper

1/2 cup flour, stirred with salt and pepper

Basil and/or microgreens for garnish, if desired


Preheat the oven to 300°.  Add vegetable oil to a large cast-iron skillet until you have about 1/2-inch of oil.  Heat over medium heat until the temperature reaches about 350°.  Dredge sandwiches in flour mixture and pass through the egg mixture right before you are going to fry them.  Place sandwiches in skillet and cook for 3 to 4 minutes per side, until lightly golden.  Line a large baking sheet with paper towels and drain the sandwiches after frying.  Place the pan in oven for about 5 minutes to melt the cheese, or for the amount of time it takes you to load the dishwasher!  Let stand for 2 minutes before slicing in half so your cheese stays in the sandwich.  Garnish with basil or microgreens and marinara sauce, if you like.  Serve each person a half sandwich for a starter!


Toffee-Butterscotch Scones




Yield: 8 to 10 scones

This is by far the best scone recipe I’ve ever tried!  I gave a few to my neighbor after he mowed my law and he told me there were the best scones he’s ever had, so I have proof.  And they’re a snap to make!  Substitute with whatever mix-ins you like, or cut these in half and serve strawberry shortcake-style.  These are quite sweet, so try to stick to the smaller size (or don’t).  You can add slightly more cream to these and make them in more of a drop fashion, as the original recipe calls for; just use a cookie scoop to portion the dough.


2 cups all-purpose flour

1 tablespoon baking powder

3/4 teaspoon salt

1/3 cup light brown sugar, packed

1/2 cup unsalted butter, diced and kept chilled

1/4 cup toffee bits

2/3 cup butterscotch chips

1/2 cup heavy cream, chilled (you may need up to 1/4 cup more)

1 large egg

1 to 2 tablespoons heavy cream, to brush on top

Turbinado (raw cane) sugar, for sprinkling on top


Preheat the oven to 400° and line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.  Sift together the flour, baking powder and salt in a large mixing bowl.  Add the brown sugar to the flour and mix to combine.   Cut the butter into the flour mixture with a pastry blender or your fingers, until the mixture resembles coarse meal.  Add the toffee bits and butterscotch chips and stir again to combine.  Mix the heavy cream and egg together and add to the flour mixture.  Using a fork, mix until dough begins to come together into moist clumps, using up to an additional 1/4 cup heavy cream (added a tablespoon at a time), to achieve the right consistency. The dough should just begin to come together and should not be sticky.  Turn the dough onto a lightly floured surface and pat into a circle about 3/4-inch thick.  Cut into 8 wedges and place on the baking sheet.  Brush with heavy cream and, with a light hand, sprinkle turbinado sugar on top. Bake for 20 minutes, or until golden brown.


Inspiration: Butterscotch Drop Scones on


Creamy Coconut Rice




Yield: 4 to 6 servings

I have a confession: rice is not my favorite thing.  Fried rice is about the only exception I make…until now.  This is the rice of your coconut dreams!  Make this immediately.


1-1/2 cups jasmine rice, rinsed and drained

One 14-ounce can coconut milk

1/4 cup sugar

2 teaspoons kosher salt


One 14-ounce can coconut cream (substituting with coconut milk is fine), shaken or stirred to combine

1/2 to 1 teaspoon salt

1 tablespoon sugar


In a medium saucepan, combine the rice, coconut milk, 1-3/4 cups water, sugar and salt and bring to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally.  Reduce the heat to medium-low, so the liquid is barely bubbling, cover and simmer until the rice is cooked and liquid is mostly absorbed, about 18 to 20 minutes. Remove from the heat and use a fork to fluff the rice. Add about 1/4 of the can of coconut milk, salt and sugar, and fluff again.  Taste to ensure you don’t need more salt. Cover and let stand for 5 minutes.


Inspiration: Sweet & Salty Coconut Rice, Cravings by Chrissy Tiegen


Korean Short Ribs




Yield: 4 to 6 servings

I have a slight obsession with short ribs in any form, but Korean short ribs might be one of my favorites.  I first had these at a football tailgate, when my mom’s half-Korean friend brought them, using his mom’s recipe.  I’ve begged for the recipe for years, and all I’ve gotten was a list of ingredients. I try to be in attendance any time I know he’s bringing the ribs, but once a year doesn’t satisfy my regular cravings for these. I came across a recipe in Chrissy Teigen’s Cravings cookbook and haven’t looked back since!



2-1/2 to 3 pounds flanken-style short ribs*

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1/2 cup packed dark brown sugar


3/4 cup low-sodium soy sauce

1/2 cup packed dark brown sugar

1/3 cup finely minced garlic

1/4 cup mirin

3 tablespoons finely grated fresh ginger

3 tablespoons coarsely grated yellow onion

One 8-ounce can crushed pineapple

2 tablespoons Sriracha

1 tablespoon sesame oil


1 tablespoon white sesame seeds

2 scallions, finely chopped


*Flanken-style ribs are cut across the bone in thin strips.  These will be the opposite of the short ribs used for braising that you regularly see in the grocery store.


Prepare the ribs by placing in a large baking dish and sprinkling with the brown sugar, salt and pepper, rubbing into the meat and flipping the meat around to coat both sides. Let sit for at least 15 minutes to allow the flavors to become one with the meat.


In a blender or food processor, combine all the marinade ingredients.  Process until relatively smooth, but still slightly chunky.  Pour over the meat, ensuring it touches both the bottom and top.  Cover and refrigerate overnight at a minimum..the longer, the better!


Remove the ribs from the refrigerator 30 minutes to 1 hour before you want to grill.  Preheat a grill pan over medium-high heat for at least 15 minutes.  Scrape off the marinade flavorings from the meat before grilling; you don’t want burned garlic anywhere near your ribs!  Allow the excess liquid marinade to drain off before placing on the grill pan. Grill for 3 to 4 minutes per side, until the marinade is caramelized and the ribs are a mahogany brown.  Sprinkle with the chopped scallions and sesame seeds before serving.


Inspiration: Pineapple-Grilled Short Ribs, Cravings by Chrissy Teigen


Fontina Grilled Cheese




Yield: 2 servings

It’s a cold day here and nothing sounded better than a melty, gooey sandwich with some hot tomato soup.  This sandwich is a re-creation of one of my favorite sandwiches from a well-known nationwide café that also makes bread (can you figure it out?).  It was removed from the menu long-ago, but every time I find myself grabbing lunch there, I pine for it; nothing else I order ever satisfies me when I have this sandwich on the brain.  This is a really quick dinner for two that can be very easily adjusted to serve more or less.  P.S. the secret to a great golden-brown grilled cheese is spreading mayonnaise instead of butter on the outside!


4 ounces cream cheese, softened

1 tablespoon finely chopped chives (about 7-8 chives)

1 tablespoon finely chopped green onions (about 2 onions)

4 ounces fontina cheese, grated

4 slices good-quality sandwich bread

3 tablespoons mayonnaise

3 tablespoons Parmesan, finely grated


Preheat a cast-iron or nonstick skillet for 10 minutes over medium-low to medium heat.  The spread on the outside contains cheese, so it’s important to use something that will allow for an easy release.  Mix the cream cheese, chives and green onions until combined; season lightly with salt.  Spread on two slices of the bread.  Layer the Fontina cheese on top and close the sandwich.  Mix together the mayonnaise and Parmesan and spread on the outside of each slice of bread.  Place in the skillet for 3 to 5 minutes per side, until golden brown and melty.  You can keep this warm in the oven if you’re cooking a few or your cheese hasn’t melted all the way through; it’s better to take it out of the skillet when your crust is golden brown and finish in the oven if the cheese is not melted through.