Sunday, November 26, 2017

A New Home for The Walking Cookbook

Hello, friends!

It is with great excitement that I announce the newest home for The Walking Cookbook,

Come stop by!

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Pappardelle with Lamb Ragu and Ricotta

Check out this recipe on my new and improved website:

Ahh, Pisticci. Or in my cool person lingo, "Pisteech." 

I have memories of apartment hunting a few years ago, making my way uptown on the 1 train with an arrogant real estate broker who kept talking about his place on Central Park West. I get it, sir. You are wealthy. As the train moved above ground at 125th Street, he pointed out the window and said, "See that little street? Best Italian place is right up there, and you'd never expect it in this neighborhood." While I did not get my next apartment from him (10% broker's fee? No thanks!), I did get a new spot on my list of must-try restaurants. Fortunately I had the luxury of being walking distance from it for about a year, and I was thisclose to being a regular.

Although it is no longer in my neighborhood, Pisticci is a destination worth traveling to. Oh, and did I mention it is NYC's first carbon neutral restaurant? When I started eating meat again and learned that I knew nothing about lamb, the Maltagliati with Ricotta, Spinach, and Lamb was something I decided to try. Could you resist with a description like this?

It was fabulous! So with nothing but the menu description and my one experience eating it at the restaurant, I decided to give it a go at home. I made my own pappardelle (can't really have maltagliati without pasta scraps), but most gourmet grocery stores have fresh pasta you can buy.

Try it on your own, send your thoughts, and when you are in New York come try it in person!

Pappardelle with Lamb Ragu and Ricotta
A Walking Cookbook original recipe inspired by Pisticci
Recipe assistance from Bon Appetit and Wikipedia
Prep Time: 20 min.
Cook Time: 60 min.
Serves 4-6

  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2/3 cup carrot, finely chopped
  • 2/3 cup celery, finely chopped
  • 2/3 cup onion, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced or grated
  • 2 tsp dried thyme
  • 2 tsp dried oregano
  • 2 tsp dried basil
  • 1 lb lamb shoulder, cut into cubes
  • 1 small can tomato paste
  • 1 cup red wine
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1/2 cup ricotta cheese
  • 1 lb wide, flat pasta (fresh tagliatelle or pappardelle preferable-- here's how)

Mise en Place (prework for those of us who can't multitask):
1. Chop carrots, celery, and onion finely
2. Mince or grate garlic
3. Measure the dried herbs into the same container.
4. Measure wine and chicken broth in separate containers.
5. Cut the lamb shoulder into cubes. I have no tips for doing this... my process wasn't pretty.
6. Fill a pot with salted water so it is ready to boil when you want to cook the pasta.

1. Heat a sautee pan to medium and add the butter and oil.
2. Once the butter is melted, add the garlic, carrot, celery, and onion. Cook on low for 6 minutes, stirring frequently, until slightly softened but not browned. Onions should be translucent.
3. Push the veggies to the side of the pan and increase the heat to medium. Add the lamb cubes and the bone piece if it still has meat on it. Cook for 1 minute on each side to brown the meat. Add the herbs and some salt and pepper.
4. Once the lamb is browned, scoop in the tomato paste and give it a quick stir. Then add the wine and broth, and stir well.
5. Bring the sauce to a low boil, then reduce to a simmer and cover. Cook for 40-50 minutes, turning any pieces of lamb that are not covered by liquid every 10 minutes or so).
6. Once the sauce has been simmering for 35 minutes or so, bring a pot of salted water to a boil. Add the pasta and cook 3-4 minutes for fresh pasta (dried pasta can cook according to the package).
7. Turn off the heat on the pasta and the sauce. With tongs or a pasta serving spoon, transfer the cooked pasta directly into the pan of sauce. Stir well.
8. Serve with a large dollop of ricotta cheese.

All veggies came from my CSA
Mise en place... everything in its place, ready to cook

 Love the pizza cutter for making the pappardelle.
Hearty, warm, and winey... so delicious on a fall evening!
By putting the pasta directly from water to sauce, you get
a little of the starchy cooking water in the sauce... always good!

Monday, October 13, 2014

Out of Hibernation? Renaissance? Resurrection? I'm back!

Check out this recipe on my new and improved website:

Hi friends!

So here's the deal... I have not written since February. I hate quitting. It is the sort of thing that makes me go "mrrhhmmggghhhh." 

With this being my only attempt at blogdom that has come even close to being successful (thank you, friends, family, and readers in other countries that leave nice messages!), I feel a little sad that my poor little site has sat idle for months.

In said months, many wonderful things have happened in my life. Moving to Inwood, a neighborhood in NYC that I adore; a summer job that took most of my free time but helped me extend my skills to a new setting; a trip to Panama; and most excitingly, getting engaged! My cup runneth over, and I could not be happier! It feels only natural to return to blogging, yet another part of life that makes me happy!

I have thought about it and developed a plan… my new take on becoming a Walking Cookbook.

I have never been a creative visionary when it comes to… well, anything! But taking someone else’s idea and making it happen? Now THAT I can handle! Drawing inspiration from the brilliant minds of the restaurant world, I will be turning menu items from interesting restaurants into recipes for anyone to make at home.

A quick disclaimer: these are not copycat recipes… absolutely not. In fact, many of these dishes will not be from restaurants I have ever tried (just dreamt about while buying lottery tickets). However, if you want to elevate your cooking to a new and interesting level, follow my lead! I will only know the basic ingredients, do some research to help with core techniques (reducing sauces, making a coulis), and figure out the rest on my own to share with you!

I hope that you join me in my new cooking adventures… this week's inspiration will be coming from Pisticci, a lovely Italian restaurant off the beaten path in Morningside Heights, NYC. Check you inboxes or click on "Subscribe" (to the right) to receive alerts for all new posts!

I am taking comments on menu items that look tempting, intimidating, mouth-watering, or intriguing to try at home, so please fire away!

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Imprecise Perfection: Roast Chicken Basics

Check out this recipe on my new and improved website:

New to the world of eating meat, I am not very good at eating meat off the bone. But the real question is: can I cook something on the bone and carve it so it does not look like a National Geographic cover story on lions' feeding habits? That was what I set out to answer this week with a roast chicken.

Now, after extensive research on a topic that involves more new vocabulary for me than a physiology course (trussing and innards, anyone?),  I realized that I could save that lesson for another day. I found a number of far more important similarities between a variety of trusted roast chicken recipes. The "recipe" I used drew inspiration from Alton Brown, Jamie Oliver, the Pioneer Woman, and the Kitchn. I found the imprecision to be refreshing, and the results to be mouth watering.

Here are your basic steps:

1. Clean it (aka: take out the bag of giblets from the cavity)
2. Dry it.
3. Rub it down with yummy stuff: herbs, citrus, salt/pepper, and fat (above and below the skin).

          Make a slit in the skin to get underneath as well.
4. Stuff it with yummy stuff (see #3, plus alliums).
5. Put it on top of hunks of root veggies.

         The goal is to have the chicken sit an inch or so 
      above the pan so it doesn't drown in its own juices.
6. Put in the oven at 400° for a little over an hour (for 4 lbs), until the skin is crispy and the inside is 165° (safe chicken temp).
7. Let rest, covered, for 15 minutes.
8. Serve or save roasted veggies.

             Let some of the fat drain on a paper towel 
                so the veggies still count as veggies.
9. Mix pan drippings with wine and stock to make a sauce. Cook in a pan until reduced to the thickness you like. Whisk in flour to make it gravy.

                          Looks like modern art.
10. Figure out how to carve it and serve!

            Nobody needs to know the struggle 
                       that went into this.

There it is-- imprecise, messy (you are literally massaging a raw bird with butter), and versatile.

Below I will share the ingredients I used for each step, but feel free to play around with different flavor combinations to make your roast chicken your own.

Step #3: Yummy stuff rub-down
  • 1 stick butter, softened with the following mixed in (this is called a compound butter and makes life better in all ways)
  • lemon zest
  • lemon juice (1/2 lemon worth)
  • rosemary, savory (the store was out of thyme), and sage (finely chopped)
  • salt & pepper
(Other nice pairings: orange with cinnamon and cloves, lime with coriander and cayenne)

Step #4: Yummy stuff stuffing
  • 2-3 lemons, quartered and peels scored for extra flavor emission
  • rosemary, thyme, and sage (still in their sprig/leaf form)
  • 1 head garlic, cloves separated and peeled
Step #5: Hunks of root veggies (to raise the chicken an inch above the pan)
  • onions/shallots (peeled)
  • carrots
  • celery
  • potatoes
Step #10: Carving Inspiration

For the dramatic version, watch this:

For a much more peaceful version, watch this:

As a disclaimer, both of these make the process look much easier than it is. Don't worry-- it still tastes amazing.

That's all, folks. Serve with salad to make it lighter or biscuits to go crazy. Or both to feel a yin and yang balance. Now that's a new spin on a balanced meal.

Monday, January 20, 2014

2014: Year of the Horse... and pig, and cow, and chicken, and lamb

Check out this recipe on my new and improved website:

Happy 2014! Following an inexcusable hibernation, I am back with a special announcement to make: After 5 years as a pescatarian, 2 years as a vegan, and an additional 7 or 8 years without red meat, I have decided to go whole hog back into the omnivorous world.

That's right-- I am now eating and cooking meat. Don't get me wrong... I have never been and will probably never be a meat-and-potatoes kind of girl. I adore my veggies, crave fish, and don't see that changing any time soon. However, I was beginning to realize that my love for all things food and cooking related was being stifled by my non-meat diet. If my goal is to become a truly proficient cook, I need to know how to cook meat. And if I am going to cook meat, I need to taste it and check the quality. So there we have it. Being my prudent self, I began with a couple bites of chicken breast. I ordered a seafood chowder at DBGB this weekend with little bits of bacon in it. I have not had an entire serving of meat yet, which is probably good. After all, I have my whole life ahead of me!

It has been pretty cold in New York, and it's the post-Christmas winter that gets to me the most. However, I have been thrilled with my winter farm share through the Corbin Hill Food Project and have actually been enjoying winter through its produce. I wanted to kick off the new year (and new dietary horizons) with a lean but quintessential cold-weather dish: Maple Glazed Pork Tenderloin. It just oozes wintery sentiments, doesn't it?

America's Test Kitchen is always a fantastic bet for recipes that thrive on precision and science, and I felt that as a first time pork cooker, I could use that security. So this week I made their version of a Maple Roasted Pork Tenderloin.

About Pork Tenderloin
I used to hear Tenderloin and think of the San Francisco neighborhood. It has a bad reputation, which I always tend to confront with cynicism (just because it is a low-income area doesn't mean it is a dangerous one). But I remember taking a bus through there on a recent visit, having to transfer, and the second I stood up to walk off the bus I heard a gun shot. Needless to say, I did not transfer! So THIS is what used to come to mind when I heard "tenderloin." Time for some re-imaging.

In the meat world, pork tenderloin is considered the most tender of the cuts of pork because it is a lower side/back muscle that is used for posture, not motion. Fascinating! You can see its long, narrow shape in this handy diagram:
Not only can you see the cuts of meat, but you can learn the terms in Swedish too... va ballt! 

Since the tenderloin is so... tender, it can easily cook through and dry up on the stovetop, so most recipes recommend searing the edges and finishing it in the oven.

Alton Brown ran an episode of Good Eats dedicated to pork tenderloin: "Tender is the Pork." It's available on Amazon (for free if you have Prime!) and definitely worth a watch. My key takeaway from the video: Remove the "silverskin," which is the tough, thin, almost iridescent little skin that covers part of the tenderloin. Once you do that, it is ready to go!

Nutrition-wise, pork tenderloin and boneless, skinless chicken breast find themselves the subjects of many comparisons. With a difference of only 20 calories for a 3 ounce portion, pork tenderloin is a little bit leaner. Men's Health (a weird source for me to consult, but men's websites are what come up when searching for meat comparisons) identifies chicken as an excellent source of niacin, leucine, and omega-3s, while pork takes the cake on zinc, B vitamins, and selenium

In sum, these are both lean and healthy cuts of meat. Next time you are walking down the vitamin aisle at Whole Foods, take a stroll over to the butcher and see if you can get your nutrients there!

The Recipe:
You all know that I am an America's Test Kitchen devotee. I love their recipes, watch their shows, listen to their podcast, and can't seem to go shopping for a kitchen device without looking up their product reviews first.

What I liked about ATK's pork tenderloin recipe is that it recognized the issues that arise when trying to glaze a piece of meat-- namely, that the glaze does not stick. They solved that in three ways, which I feel can be applied to any glazed item:

  1. Coat in a corn starch, sugar, and salt mixture that will dry out and caramelize into a nook-filled surface before the glaze is applied (a drier surface keeps the glaze on, while nooks and crannies keep the glaze trapped inside)
  2. Reduce the glaze. Thicker is better, and it can always be softened up in the microwave. In this recipe, 2 cups was reduced to about 1/2 cup.
  3. Layer after layer. First glaze before putting the meat in the oven, second glaze when the meat is almost done, third glaze just before the resting period, and final glaze/sauce right before serving.

Once I felt confident that the glaze would actually stick, I proceeded...

Maple-Glazed Pork Tenderloin
Memorized from America's Test Kitchen
Yield: 6 servings (4 if you are really hungry)


  • 2 pork tenderloins (1.25 lbs each), trimmed and silver skin removed
  • 1/4 cup cornstarch
  • 1 tbsp salt
  • 1 1/2 tbsp sugar
  • a few cracks of black pepper
  • 3/4 cup maple syrup (not the fake stuff)
  • 1/4 cup molasses
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 2 tbsp bourbon
  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 tbsp grainy mustard


  • Preheat the oven to 375°F.
  • Mix the cornstarch, salt, sugar, and pepper in a bowl, then spread out on a rimmed baking sheet.
  • Blot excess moisture from the tenderloins and roll in the cornstarch mixture. Bang against a hard surface so any extra cornstarch falls off (I placed a cutting board vertically in the sink) and discard extra cornstarch.
  • Heat the vegetable oil in a large pan and place the tenderloins in the oil, side by side. Cook for about 2 minutes on each side on medium-high, until all sides are nice and browned.
  • Meanwhile, you can quickly assemble the glaze by pouring the maple syrup, molasses, cinnamon, cayenne, and bourbon into a measuring cup.
  • When the tenderloins are browned on all sides (about 8 minutes), transfer them to a wire rack in a rimmed baking sheet. 
  • Lower the heat under the pan, and pour the maple mixture (all but 1/4 cup) into the pan. Stir frequently as it bubbles and boils, eventually reducing to 1/2 cup. Transfer to a bowl.
  • Brush a healthy dose of the reduced maple glaze on top of each piece of the pork tenderloin. You will be doing this three times, so ration accordingly.
  • After the first glaze, place the tenderloins into the oven (middle rack). Cook for 15-20 minutes, or until the internal temperature is 130°F.
  • Add another layer of glaze and return to the oven until the internal temperature of the pork hovers around 140°F (2-4 minutes)
  • Remove and glaze one more time (you may need to microwave the glaze for 20 seconds if it is too sticky). Let sit, uncovered, to rest.
  • Add mustard to the 1/4 cup of reserved glaze and mix well.
  • Cut into 1/4 inch pieces with a serrated knife. Drizzle with the mustardy glaze and serve with the sides of your choice.

The Results:
This was a huge success! Glazing is obviously more work-intensive than just marinading and baking, but it was well worth the effort. The glaze stuck to the meat, clinging on in luscious layers of sweet maple flavor. It was just a little bit pink inside, keeping it tender (I only used my knife a couple of times) and juicy (not bloody, which has always been and will always be gross in my book).

My roommate and I have a winter farm share, and the pork tenderloin was the perfect protein to accompany our curried parsnip and carrot puree. The dish exuded wintery comfort, and it opened my eyes to the healthy meat possibilities out there. 

Here's to more delicious recipes in 2014. Send me a comment with recommendations for my now omnivorous walking cookbook repertoire! 

The beauty of glaze: 1st layer vs 3rd layer makes a huge difference!

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Whole Roasted Cauliflower: From Drab to Fab

Check out this recipe on my new and improved website:

Throughout my teenage years I had a tendency to read teen magazines that encouraged girls to take their look "from drab to fab!" Of course, my love for denim shorts and my oversized Rancho Bernardo High School hoodie proved more powerful than the influence of Seventeen's rhyming headlines, and my "look" remained about the same until I moved to New York (though if the high school where I now work made a hoodie, I know I would sport it day in and day out).

I'm not a huge fan of trying to get people to change their personal style to meet an arbitrary societal expectation, but in the world of foods there are definitely some ingredients that tend to be "drab" without a little accessorizing. Cauliflower ranks among the most notorious yawn-worthy foods, in my opinion. Sauteed, it never gets quite tender enough. Steamed, it just tastes watery. Even the color is boring. But there is hope for the poor, boring stepsister to broccoli.

My first glimmer of excitement came in the form of a comically enormous head of cauliflower served as a main course at The Fat Radish in the Lower East Side. It was nothing but cauliflower, and it was fabulous! The next ray of hope was a cauliflower sandwich at The Crown Inn in Brooklyn. A tender, roasted, seasoned slab of the crucifer made for a hearty filling. Finally, Num Pang's roasted cauliflower Cambodian sandwich brought new life to the veggie, sealing the deal and creating love at third sight. In fact, I made a version of that sandwich over the summer.

After my love for cauliflower was kindled, Food 52 seduced me further into the world of cauli-cooking by running a recipe for a tender, toasty, and flavorful Whole Roasted Head of Cauliflower. It had always seemed like something that could only be done in restaurants, but after memorizing and trying the recipe I now know the secret. A 15 minute poach provides the flavor and tenderizes the inside, while a nice hot 40 minute roast guarantees the crackly exterior and charred taste without fear of burning. The overall preparation time is long, but the hands-on part is minimal. Plus, it leaves so much leftover broth that I am already planning round two.

Whole Roasted Cauliflower
Memorized and modified from Food 52
Yield: 4 side servings or 2 entree servings


  • 8 1/2 cups water
  • 2 1/2 cups white wine (I used Pinot Grigio)
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 2 heaping tbsp salt
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 heaping tbsp red pepper flakes
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 1 head cauliflower, leaves and stems trimmed


  • Preheat the oven to 475°F.
  • Combine the first eight ingredients in a large pot and bring to a boil.
  • Carefully place the head of cauliflower into the liquid. Reduce the heat to a low flame and simmer for 15-20 minutes, spooning the liquid onto the exposed cauliflower every once in a while. Halfway through the simmer time, carefully turn the cauliflower over (I used a spoon and tongs).
  • Turn off the heat and lift the cauliflower out of the pot. Place in a colander to drain for a couple of minutes.
  • Transfer the cauliflower to a baking dish and put in the oven (middle rack) for 40-50 minutes. Rotate the pan halfway through.
  • Remove from the oven, slice into wedges, and enjoy!

Each step is simple yet valuable in the creation of this beautiful vegetable dish.

The results of this recipe were fabulous. Not only did the cauliflower take on the multiple flavors of the poaching broth, but it also caramelized those flavors around the edges during the roasting process. The single head of cauliflower made four servings, technically, but I wouldn't put it past myself to eat the whole thing. It had the slightest hint of spice, lots of flavor from the wine, and the perfect amount of fat to round out the texture. I served my cauliflower with a kale and split-pea salad and some bread and cheese. Delicious, simple goodness.

The key components of the broth were basic enough that I bet they would transfer to other flavor profiles as well:

  • Water
  • Alcohol for flavor: wine/ sake/ mirin
  • Something salty: salt/ soy sauce/ mustard
  • Fat: olive oil/ vegetable oil mixed with a little sesame oil/ butter only
  • Acid: lemon juice/ lime juice/ orange juice/ grapefruit juice/ vinegar
  • Sweet: sugar/honey/maple syrup
  • Spicy: red pepper flakes/ cayenne/ sriracha

The options are endless, and the flavors end up complex. Play around with it and leave a comment if you try a version of this easy and unique recipe.

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Move over hummus... there's a new high-protein dip in town

Check out this recipe on my new and improved website:

Greetings, cooks! In case you think I have disappeared, I have not! But the school year has begun, redirecting my memorizing efforts to new student names, seating charts, and who has mastered the difference between ser and estar (I am a Spanish teacher, and here's the answer in case you are feeling curious). I continue to cook, however, and once I get back into my teaching groove, my recipe memorization groove will follow close after. Until then, I will try to keep up blogging with some fun little recipes that I either encounter or invent.

Today I bring you my new favorite high-protein snack: Eggamole. OK... that is the only time I am going to call it that, because it sounds kind of gross. But what is a girl to do when she craves guacamole and opens both avocados to find out that they are not good? First, she puts the bad avo in her new favorite place: the food scrap bin!* Then, she stares at the hard-boiled egg sitting in her fridge and says, "I can make guacamole out of you." Fortunately nobody is home to hear this conversation.

After my pep talk with the egg, I got out all of my quick guac fixins (I have a number of guacamole styles) and mashed them all together with the egg. The end result was definitely not guacamole, but I was really excited about how delicious it was. The lime juice cut through a lot of the sulfuric egg flavor and the cilantro kept it fresh. A little sprinkle of salt, garlic powder, and cayenne pepper provided just enough zest to round out the flavor without that lingering garlic taste.

Nutritionally speaking, it is quite healthy: 72 calories, 5 grams of fat and 6 grams of protein for one egg's worth of the dip (2 WW points for you, Mom!). Pair it with tortilla chips to negate all of that information, or enjoy it with some cruditĂ©s and be truly nutritious! 

Here's the less-than-scientific recipe. Modify as you see fit, and remember that you can always add more seasoning, but it is really hard to take away.

Cilantro-Lime Healthy Egg Salad
By The Walking Cookbook
Yield: about 1/2 cup


  • 1 hard boiled egg (this is a good recipe, though I usually only let them sit for 10 minutes)
  • 1-2 tsp lime juice
  • 1-2 tbsp chopped cilantro
  • pinch of salt
  • pinch of garlic powder
  • dusting of cayenne pepper
  • For dipping: tortilla chips or crunchy veggie slices
  • Put the egg in a bowl and add all the other ingredients.
  • With the back of a fork, mash the egg until the yolk is scattered and the egg whites are broken into little bits. The mixture should be mildly spreadable.
  • Taste and adjust seasoning.
  • Dip away!
Let me know if you discover any extra mix-ins for this recipe, and happy cooking!

*I recently learned that food scraps can be saved in the freezer (no smell or bugs!) and taken to a variety of GreenMarkets in the NYC area. It is a new effort on my part, and in one month I have already rerouted over 5 pounds of vegetable peels, banana skins, egg shells, pistachio shells, and coffee grounds to the city's compost heaps rather than the landfill. Of course, the goal is to reduce even that number by making use of every part of a plant and not letting things go bad, but it's an improvement nevertheless! Here's where I collect my scraps to freeze until drop-off day: