Mario Batali’s Asparagus Milanese

Mario Batali’s Asparagus Milanese


Mario Batali made this recipe on The Chew.  You can easily make for one or more.  While there are many versions of this recipe out there, this one is utterly delicious and simple.  The runny yolk makes a sauce when it combines with the lemon and cheese.  Wow.


2 bunches asparagus, trimmed

4 Tablespoons extra virgin olive-oil, divided

5 large eggs

2 Tablespoons butter

Parmigiano-Reggiano for serving

Juice of 2 lemons (Meyer Lemons are especilly good.)

Zest of 1 lemon

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Preheat a grill pan to a medium-high heat.

Toss the trimmed asparagus in 3 tablespoons olive oil and season with salt and pepper to taste.  Grill for about 3 minutes per side, the asparagus should be bright green and charred in spots.  (Alternately, you can roast the asparagus in a 400 degree oven.)

In a non-stick skillet over medium heat, add the butter and gently fry the eggs until just set, about 2-4 minutes.  (The key is cook the egg very slowly—no frizzled edges.)

Divide the asparagus among the plates and top each with an egg.  Shave Parmigiano-Reggiano on each serving.  Grate the zest over the plates and squeeze lemon juice over the each serving.  Season with salt coarsely ground pepper.


 Mario Batali's Asparagus Milanese


Susan Spicer’s Duck “PBJ” with Cashew Butter, Pepper Jelly, and Apple-Celery Salad

Susan Spicer is one of my favorite chefs.  Her French Quarter restaurant, Bayona, has special meaning for my husband and me.  We went to dinner there, the night we got engaged.  We have had many wonderful meals there and always try to go whenever we are in New Orleans.  I was so glad when her cookbook, Crescent City Cooking was published and we can now enjoy some of our favorite dishes at home. 

This is a wonderful sandwich! There are various components to prepare but it is worth the effort.


Cashew Butter


1 Cup chopped cashews

½ cup chopped peanuts

3 Tablespoons honey

1 Tablespoon molasses

Kosher Salt

4 Tablespoons (1/2 stick) softened butter


Roast the cashews and peanuts for about 7 minutes at 350 degrees; cool completely.  In a food processor, puree the nuts, honey, molasses, and a pinch of salt.  Then add the softened butter and puree.  Add a splash of warm water, if necessary, to thin the mixture to a spreadable, creamy texture.  Keep in mind that cashew butter will be soft while it is warm and will stiffen up as it chills.  It should be at room temperature when spreading it on the sandwiches.


Grilled Red Onions (I omitted these and the sandwich is still great.)


1 large or 2 small red onions, sliced in ¼” thick rings. 

2 Tablespoons olive oil

Salt & Pepper


Toss the onions with olive oil, and a little salt & pepper.  Grill, broil, or roast for about 5 minutes, until wilted.


Apple-Celery Salad


1 Granny Smith apple

2 celery heart ribs

1 shallot, minced

1 Tablespoon olive oil and 1 Tablespoon walnut oil, optional OR 2 Tablespoons olive oil.

1 Tablespoon apple cider vinegar



Peel, core, and thinly slice the apple.  Slice the celery hearts thinly on the diagonal.  In a medium bowl, toss the apple and celery with the shallot, olive oil, vinegar, and salt to taste.  This salad is best made right before assembling the sandwiches.



The recipe calls for smoked duck that you can mail order from

However, we made this with sautéed duck breast. 

Mary’s is a good brand that can be found at Whole Foods. 

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Buy boneless duck breast with the skin on. Score the skin side in cross hatch pattern.  Season with kosher salt and pepper. 

In a large oven-proof sauté pan, heat olive oil or canola oil over medium heat. Sauté the duck breasts, skin side down, until the fat has rendered and the skin is dark golden brown, about 8-10 minutes.  Turn the duck breasts skin side up and roast in the oven until cooked through, about 5-6 minutes. 


To assemble the sandwiches:

2 teaspoons, softened butter

8 slices multi-grain bread

¾ cup cashew butter, at room temperature

¾ cup hot pepper jelly (My favorite brand is the “Zippy Jalapeño” by Jackie’s Jams, which I’ve found at Whole Foods.)

Apple-Celery Salad

Grilled Red Onions


Spread softened butter on both sides of each slice of bread.  Toast bread to your preference.  Spread 4 slices of bread with cashew butter and the remaining 4 with pepper jelly.  Warm the duck meat (and onions if using) in a 400 degree oven for about 5 minutes.  Divide the meat and onions on the 4 sandwiches.  Season with salt and pepper.  Add a layer of Apple-Celery salad.  Close, cut, and enjoy!






Minted Pea Dip

I know it has been FOREVER since we have posted to our blog.  This recipe inspired me to post.  I found it on a great blog my sister-in-law told me about called

This recipe is so easy and so delicious and to top it all off–good for you too!

2 Cups frozen peas (defrosted)

Zest of one lemon

3 Tablespoons fresh lemon juice

1 small garlic clove, chopped (if you add this to the food process first, you can avoid having to chop it.)

1/4 cup packed fresh mint leaves

2 Tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

2 Tablespoons tahini

1/4 teaspoon sea salt

1.  With the food processor running, add the garlic clove until finely chopped.  Add the rest of the ingredients and puree.

2. Serve with crostini and/or raw crudites.  If you assemble the dip on crostini, you can also shave pecorino or parmesan on top of each hors d’oeuvre or sprinkle grated cheese on top and drizzle a good olive oil over all of them.



Minted Pea Dip

Molasses-Ginger Crisps

I made these in December and they are so delicious!  My husband loves ginger and molasses and when I found this recipe, I knew I had to make them, not to mention the fact that according to the “Martha Stewart Cookie App”, they are among Martha’s all-time favorites.  I used Plugra butter, and regular sugar, because I did not have sanding sugar. 


  • 2 cups plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 sticks (16 tablespoons) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg, plus 1 large egg yolk
  • 1 teaspoon finely grated fresh ginger
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped crystallized ginger
  • 1/3 cup unsulfured molasses
  • 1 cup coarse sanding sugar


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Whisk flour, ground ginger, baking soda, and salt in a bowl.
  2. Beat butter and granulated sugar with an electric mixer on medium-high speed until pale and fluffy. Beat in egg and egg yolk, then the grated and crystallized gingers. Reduce speed to low. Add flour mixture in 3 additions, alternating with the molasses. Beat until well combined.
  3. Shape teaspoons of dough into balls, and roll in sanding sugar. Space 2 inches apart on parchment-lined baking sheets.
  4. Bake until cookies are flattened and edges are dark golden brown, 12 to 14 minutes. Let cool on sheets 5 minutes, then transfer cookies to wire racks to cool completely. Cookies can be stored in airtight containers for up to 2 days or frozen for up to 1 month.

Baked Molasses Ginger CrispsMolasses Ginger Crisps Before Baking

Salted Brown Butter Crispy Treats

This recipe is from the smitten kitchen cookbook, by Deb Perelman that my sister gave us for Christmas.  She is a home cook and blogger who is a self-proclaimed “obsessive home cook”.  (hence the great detail in this recipe).  You might think, Rice Krispy Treats are perfect as they are–they were invented in 1939 by Mildred Day at the Kellogg Company.  The brown butter and flaky sea salt make them even better!  I had never browned butter before and it takes longer than you might think.  With the heat on medium-low, it took over 10 minutes.  I have included this link to simply because it has photographs of the progression from clear to brown.  Simply recipes suggests using medium heat, so it may be a lot quicker.  I took these to a Super Bowl party and they were gone in no time.

8 Tablespoons unsalted butter, plus more for pan (1 stick) (preferably Plugra)

Heaping 1/4 tsp. flaky sea salt

1 10-oz bag large or miniature marshmallows

6 Cups puffed-rice cerial (about half a 12-oz. box)

Butter an 8-inch square cake pan with 2-inch sides.

Brown the butter:  In a large pot, melt 1 stick butter over medium-low heat.  It will melt, then foam, then turn clear golden, and finally start to turn brown and smell nutty.  Stir frequently, scraping up any bits from the bottom as you do.  Don’t take your eyes off the pot: You may be impatient for it to start browning, but the period of time between the time the butter begins to take on color and the point when it burns is often less than a minute.

Make the crispy treats:  As soon as the butter takes on a nutty color, turn off the heat and sprinkle the salt over the butter, and stir in the marshmallows.  The residual heat from the melted butter should be enough to melt them, but if is not, turn it back on over low heat until the marshmallows are smooth.  Be careful not to cook the marshmallows, which will destroy their stretchy softness;  you’re just looking for enough heat so they will melt and smooth out. 

Remove the pot from the stove, and stir in the cereal, folding it gently with the marshmallow mixture until the cereal is evenly coated.  Quickly spread into prepared pan.  I use a piece of waxed or parchment paper that I’ve sprayed with oil to press it firmly and evenly into the edges and corners and smooth the top, though a silicon spatula works almost as well.

Let cool, then cut into squares and get ready to make new friends.Rice Krispy Treats

Sweet Potato Casserole

I made this combination for the first time on  Thanksgiving.  Cook’s has a fantastic recipe for “Smokehouse Sweet Potatoes” with an interesting (and easy) cooking technique for the sweet potatoes which makes them not soggy.  A friend gave me a recipe a few years ago for sweet potato casserole with a great crunchy topping that makes for a great contrast for the slightly spicy and not overly sweet, sweet potatoes.  In the happy chaos of getting Thanksgiving dinner ready, I forgot to take a picture.  I think you won’t mind.


Smokehouse Mashed Sweet Potatoes

From Cook’s Country

December/January 2007

WHY THIS RECIPE WORKS: While developing our Smokehouse Mashed Sweet Potatoes recipe, we found that the right temperature and the right slice were key. We thinly sliced the sweet potatoes and cooked them covered, on the stovetop, on low heat with a small amount of butter and cream. The low heat allowed the potatoes in our recipe to release their liquid, which produced the steam that cooked them.


Serves 4 to 6

Total time:

This recipe can be doubled and prepared in a Dutch oven, but the cooking time will need to be doubled as well.


4 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 4 pieces (Plugra if you can find it.)

3 tablespoons heavy cream

1 teaspoon sugar  (I used brown sugar)

1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper (or slightly more–to taste)

2 pounds sweet potatoes (2 large or 3 medium), peeled, quartered lengthwise, and cut into 1/4-inch-thick slices (I found it easier to cut them into 1/4″ thick slices and then to stack a few slices and cut them into quarters.)


  1. Combine butter, 2 tablespoons cream, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/8 teaspooncayenne pepper, sugar, and sweet potatoes in large saucepan. (I used a large saute pan as well as a large electric skillet–when I triples the recipe on Thanksgiving). Cook, covered, over low heat until potatoes are fall-apart tender, 35 to 40 minutes.
  2. Off heat, add remaining tablespoon cream and mash sweet potatoes with potato masher. Serve—OR

Put into a casserole dish and top with the following:


Pecan Topping for Sweet Potato Souffle


1 Cup corn flakes, crushed slightly  (I really like Trader Joe’s Organic Corn Flakes, but any will be fine.)

1/2 Cup light brown sugar

1/3 Cup melted butter  (Plugra, if you can find it)

3/4 Cup chopped pecans  (If you don’t like nuts, or are allergic, you can leave them out.)

Put the cornflakes into a ziplock bag and crush slightly.  In a bowl, combine cornflakes, brown sugar, melted butter and pecans and mix with clean hands.  Put topping over sweet potatoes and bake in a 350 degree oven until topping is lightly browned, about 20-30 minutes (please keep an eye on it).

Pumpkin Muffins



 It is cold and rainy afternoon and I thought–hey–it’s been a little while since Thanksgiving–time for more pumpkin!  I used demerara sugar instead of white and I wish I had “white whole wheat flour” in the pantry, because I think they would be even better.  Making this recipe reminded me of another recipe for Sweet Potato Muffins from Southern Living magazine that my mother, sister and I first made about 15 or 20 years ago.  I will try to find the recipe and post it soon. 

Zabar’s Recipes


Fall Pumpkin Muffins by Tiffany Ludwig

Makes 12 muffins.


1 1/2 cup white whole wheat flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 eggs

1 cup sugar

1 cup pureed pumpkin

1/3 cup vegetable oil

1 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon ground ginger

1/4 teaspoon cloves

1/2 teaspoon nutmeg


Preheat your oven to 350°F. Prepare a muffin tray with either muffin cup liners or cooking spray.

Combine the dry ingredients (flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt) and blend with a whisk.

Next whisk together the eggs and sugar. Add the vegetable oil, pumpkin and spices until smooth. Add the dry ingredients mixing just until combined.

Fill all the muffin cups to an equal height. Sprinkle a little sugar on the top of each muffin batter. Bake until golden and a wooden pick inserted into the center comes out clean, 25-30 minutes.

* Notes

1. You could alternatively use white flour or a mixture of whole wheat and white flour. I like white whole wheat flour because it has the lightness of white flour with more whole wheat,d…

Baked Pumpkin Muffins

Pear Cranberry Avocado Quinoa


This is a perfect dish for the Fall. It tastes very  much like guacamole (It really does, really!). I read a tip on pinterest about soaking quinoa for a few minutes prior to cooking it and rubbing it with your fingers to release the bitter taste into the water that you then rinse off. This tip was helpful as the quinoa was not bitter at all. Feel free to be creative with additions into your quinoa recipes. Quinoa is so versatile. It is healthy, easy, quick, and delicious. I will be making this again for my family soon.


1 cup quinoa (soaked in water for 3 minutes and rinsed well)

1 and 1/2 cup water

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

juice of 1 lemon

1 teaspoon cumin

kosher salt and ground black pepper to taste

1/2 cup fresh cilantro, rinsed and chopped

2 green onions, rinsed and chopped

1/2 cup dried cranberries, chopped

1 pear, diced

1/2 large avocado, diced

Soak quinoa for a few minutes (3-5) and rub quinoa seeds between your fingers to release bitter coating. Rinse well and place in a saucepan with water. Cook for 10-12 minutes. Drain excess water. Place quinoa in a large salad bowl and add remaining ingredients. Toss. Serve. Enjoy!






Chipotle Mashed Potatoes

Great for Thanksgiving or any time of year.

This recipe is adapted from Pati’s Mexican Table, a great show on Create. Here is a link to her original recipe.

I made these for Thanksgiving dinner and they were delicious but I like to make them any time of year. I use two chiles from a can of Chipotle Peppers in Adobo Sauce (or Chiles Chipotles Adobados) by La Costena. These chiles are my new favorite ingredient. You can add them to tortilla soup, enchiladas, tacos, chalupas, etc. The flavor is warm, sweet, spicy, and complex. If you want to tone down the spiciness but maintain the rich flavor, simple rinse the seeds out of the chile prior to adding it your food. For my version, I use one complete chile, seeds and all and one rinsed chile (seeds removed). This level of spice works for my family although I reserve a little extra on the side to add extra spice for myself.

1 bag (2 lbs) small red potatoes

3 tablespoons butter

5 scallions/green onions, chopped (white part and the light green part), save the stem parts for a garnish

2 chiles from a can of Chipotle Peppers in Adobo Sauce. chopped

1/2 cup milk

kosher salt and pepper to taste


Rinse and drain potatoes. Pat dry. Cut into quarters. In a large pot, bring water to boil. Add potatoes and cook for 20 minutes in boiling water until cooked and soft. In a large skillet, melt butter (or olive oil). Add in scallions and cook for 2-3 minutes until they are soft and translucent. Add chopped chiles. Add the cooked potatoes and add milk in slowly until mixture is well blended. Potatoes will be chunky. Garnish with chopped stems of scallions. Enjoy!

Pumpkin Cookies with Cream Cheese Frosting

 This recipe is adapted from a recipe from Martha Stewart Living magazine, October 2004)

These cookies really make the season.  They are even better with cream cheese frosting.  There is a synergy that happens when you add this frosting to them.  When my sister and I were young, our mother took us to a bakery somewhere on either Palm Blvd or Central Blvd. in Brownsville, Texas that made soft carrot cake cookies with cream cheese icing.  These cookies remind me of these a little.  They are soft, like mini cakes, with yummy frosting.

2 ¾ Cups all-purpose flour

1 tsp. baking powder

1 tsp. baking soda

1 ¼ tsp. kosher salt

2 ¼ tsp. ground cinnamon

1 ½ tsp. ground ginger

¾ tsp. ground nutmeg

1 ½ sticks unsalted butter, preferably Plugra, softened

2 ¼ cups packed light brown sugar

2 large eggs

1 ½ cups (14 ounces) canned solid-pack pumpkin, preferably organic

¾ cup, evaporated milk

1 tsp. vanilla



Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

Line baking sheets with parchment paper.

Fit a pastry bag with a large coupler and a ½ -inch plain round tip (such as Ateco #806).

(You can also use a Ziplock freezer bag, fill it with batter, and snip off a corner of the bag and pipe the cookie rounds this way.)

 Whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, ginger, and nutmeg in a medium bowl.  Set aside.

 Cream 12 tablespoons (1 ½ sticks) butter, and brown sugar on medium speed in the bowl of electric mixer with paddle attachment, until pale, about 3 minutes.  Mix in eggs, scraping down sides of bowl, as needed.  On low speed, add pumpkin, ¾ cup evaporated milk, and 1 tsp. vanilla; mix until combined about 2 minutes.  Add flour mixture; mix, scraping down sides and bottom of bowl as needed until well-combined. 

 Transfer 1 ½ cups of batter to pastry bag, or into Ziplock bag.  Holding tip close to parchment paper, pipe 1 ½ inch rounds 1 inch apart.  Repeat with the remaining batter.   I made mine 12 cookies per sheet.

 Bake until tops are springy to the touch, about 9 minutes.  Let cool on sheets 5 minutes;  transfer to wire racks to cool completely.

 Frost with cream cheese frosting. (recipe follows)



Cream Cheese Frosting



Have the cream cheese cold and butter at room temperature


In a medium bowl of an electric mixer, beat with wire whisk attachment until just blended:


8 oz cream cheese

5 Tbs. butter

2 tsp. vanilla

pinch of kosher salt


Add one-third at a time, and beat until just smooth and the desired consistency:


2        to 2 ½ Cups powdered sugar, sifted.


If needed, add a tablespoon or two of whole milk or cream.


If frosting is too stiff, beat for a few seconds longer.  Do not overbeat.


This keeps refrigerated, up to one week, or freeze for up to three months.  Soften and stir until smooth before using.