fish fillets in lemon-ginger sauce


1 pound white fish fillets
1/4 cup unsalted butter
1 lemon
1 large lime
1 tablespoon fresh grated ginger
2 teaspoons sugar
salt and pepper to taste
5 ounces spinach, washed and trimmed
1/4 cup water
Basmati rice, optional

Rinse then dry the fillets on paper towels. Cut each fillet in half.Cut half the lemon and half the lime into thin rounds. Juice the lemon and lime. Grate the ginger.

In a small bowl put the juice, lemon and lime rounds, ginger and sugar. Combine and set aside.

In a large skillet, melt the butter. Sauté the fillets until they are just cooked through, about 2 minutes on each side. It’s cooked when the fish turns opaque. Add the lemon-lime mixture and gently combine. Taste and adjust seasoning.

In a large dish, place the spinach and water. Microwave on high heat for about 2 minutes or until the spinach is just wilted. Place the fish and sauce on top of the spinach. Serve with basmati rice, if desired.

chicken in rice (khao mok gai) low-fat version


Low-Fat Version of Chicken in Rice (Khao Mok Gai)
Prep time: 15 minutes
Marinating time: 2-12 hours
Cooking time: 30 minutes

8 chicken drumsticks with the skin removed
1 package Lobo brand Spicy Chicken-in-Rice Seasoning Mix (2 seasoning packets inside)
8 oz or 250g Greek style yogurt
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 cups white jasmine rice (Recommend basmati rice, if available)
250 ml coconut cream or coconut cream substitute
1 ½ cups water
1 shallot or red onion, sliced and fried (optional)

Equipment: a large pot with a tight fitting lid. If you haven’t got a tight fitting lid, cover the top of the pot with a sheet of tin foil that’s slightly wider than the pot. Then place the lid on top of that.

DSC053261. Remove the skin from the chicken legs. To do this, grasp the top and the bottom of the leg with paper towels and pull down towards the bony end, just like pulling down one’s pants! Pull off the bits of fat. Discard the skin and fat.

Cook’s Note: You can add other chicken pieces like breasts and thighs, but remember they cook at different rates from the legs. It’s better to use all breasts, all thighs, or all legs so that you can control the cooking time.

DSC053282. Open one Lobo seasoning packet in a bowl and spread it on the chicken pieces. Add the yogurt and mix it in thoroughly. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate for a minimum of 2 hours or overnight.

Cook’s Note: Wear a disposable glove to season the chicken because you don’t want to stain your hands with the turmeric in the seasoning packet.

DSC053313. Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. Remove the chicken pieces from the marinade and carefully put them in the hot oil. Do not discard the marinade. Fry the chicken pieces briefly in the oil just to brown them. Remove chicken and set aside.

4. To the hot oil in the skillet add the rice, half the remaining packet of seasoning, and scrape in the remainder of the marinade. Stir fry the rice until it is translucent, about 10 minutes, and the seasonings have been absorbed. If it looks dry, add water 1 tablespoon at a time, up to 1/4 cup of water.

5. Return the chicken to the skillet. Add the coconut cream and the 1 1/2 cups of water. Bring to a boil then reduce the heat to low so that the chicken and rice can cook together, about 15-20 minutes.

Cook’s Note: Do NOT open the pot lid to check it. Only open it after 15 minutes. Taste to see if the rice is cooked. If it isn’t and the rice seems dry, add 1/4 cup of water and cover the pot again. Cook 5 minutes more or until all the water is absorbed.

6. Serve with fried shallots on top of the rice for garnish, if desired. Add sliced cucumber on the side and a sweet-vinegar dipping sauce. This is an easy one to try:

Sweet-Vinegar Dipping Sauce
1/4 cup vinegar
1 teaspoon salt
2-4 tablespoons sugar
1/2 onion, chopped fine
1 clove garlic, chopped fine

In a small saucepan heat the vinegar, salt, and 2 tablespoons sugar until the sugar and salt are dissolved. Set aside to cool. Meanwhile, chop the onion and garlic as fine as possible. Mashing the garlic with a fork helps to make it paste like, even finer. Put the onion and garlic in a small bowl. Pour the cooled vinegar sauce over the onion and garlic. Serve over chicken.

fish tacos with corn-guava-avocado salsa

DSC03876 We woke up this morning to discover one of the neighbors looking in through the window. It’s been pretty quiet in the condo complex because of the switch over in the school year at the university from June to March to August to June. This means that this year’s summer holiday is 5 months long. Not many uni students are back yet of course, and at the high school, we are just beginning our two month summer break. The students seemed quite bewildered, some of them, at suddenly having nothing to do after exams last Tuesday were over. Since some of their friends came back for ROTC on Wednesday afternoon, they decided to show solidarity and showed up at school for old times’ sake. I suppose this curious visitor was doing the same thing, wondering where everybody had gone. What should he do now that his time is his own?

DSC03881With grades in, I’ve been cooking with the electric pan. The lid can open out and double the cooking surface, so I have both a skillet and a griddle. Cooking on the balcony is somewhat challenging because there is no electrical outlet so I have to run an extra long extension cord outside. Plus, there is just a little two-foot square space right next to the sink. If I angle the pan just so I can open it out. Last night for supper I made grilled chicken thighs, but I had made them in Bangkok. We ate them with a mango-avocado salsa. If it seems that we are eating more avocado it is because we found them for Baht 20 apiece at the Suan Luang market yesterday.  We bought 6 and the vendor added 1 more for goodwill. I hope she will be there next weekend. I love avocado.


DSC03885Because I love to eat, I really should exercise more. To respect one’s body is to exercise, and then to eat good food that is fresh and homemade. Today, we rode our bikes around Phuttamonthon, the Buddhist park, and then we each swam 500 meters in the Sirimongkol Pool. We decided to eat in rather than eat out. For lunch today I prepared lightly sauteed pangasius fillets which we ate wrapped inside warm flour tortillas topped with corn-guava-avocado salsa and Greek-style yogurt.  It’s so good to be cooking again!



Fish Tacos with Corn-Guava-Avocado Salsa

Prep time: 20 minutes
Cooking time: 15 minutes (in a double electric pan heated to 180˚C)

2 white fish fillets (e.g. tilapia)
salt and pepper
1 teaspoon rice bran oil
4 flour tortillas

Pat dry the fillets then sprinkle one side with salt and pepper. Lightly sauté in a little oil until the fish flakes easily with a fork. Meanwhile, warm the tortillas. Keep warm until ready to serve. Cut the fillets into large chunks just before eating.

Corn-Guava-Avocado Salsa
1 ear of fresh corn, niblets removed from the cob
1 small Thai guava, peeled, seeded, and chopped (can substitute jicama or mun kaew)
1 medium avocado, peeled, pit removed, and chopped
8 grape tomatoes, chopped
1 cup chopped cilantro
1/4 of a large onion, thinly sliced
the juice of 3 small limes
salt to taste
1 tablespoon minced scallion for garnish
1-2 chopped fresh Thai chilies, optional

Lightly cook the corn in the microwave for 4 minutes, drain the niblets and cool them. In a medium bowl, put the niblets, the guava, avocado, tomatoes, cilantro and onion. Squeeze the lime juice all over. Add salt to taste. Garnish with scallion and chilies, if using, and spoon over fish chunks on top of a warm tortilla. Put a generous dollop of yogurt on top and eat–leave out that steaming side-dish of guilt and enjoy. It’s low in carbs and calories.

khao soi or chiang mai chicken curry noodles, low fat and low carb version

khao soi

This dish is the signature specialty of Chiang Mai in Northern Thailand. I made a few low fat/low carb adjustments to it like swapping chicken breasts for thighs and using whole wheat linguine instead of Chinese egg noodles. However, the key to this dish is the curry-flavored soup. For more authentic flavor, I used dried red Thai chilies although guajillo is recommended in the original recipe. I also used full-fat coconut milk because it is better tasting, but using “lite” coconut milk will surely lower the fat, carbs, and calories in this dish even more. The flavors in this soup should be predominantly coconut-spicy, but smooth; slightly salty, sour, and barely sweet, is my preference. Fish sauce will give it a hint of anchovy. Aroy.

Chicken Khao Soi (adapted from Bon Appetit, March 2013)

Prep time: 35 minutes
Cook time: 25 minutes
Servings: 6-8


Khao Soi Paste
4 -6 dried chilies, stemmed, halved, and seeded, if less heat is desired (or Mexican guajillo chilies)
2 medium shallots, halved
8 garlic cloves
1 2-inch piece ginger, peeled, sliced
1/4 cup chopped cilantro stems (save the leaves for toppings)
1 tablespoon ground coriander
1 tablespoon ground turmeric
1 teaspoon curry powder

2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 14-ounce cans unsweetened coconut milk
2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1 1/2 pounds skinless, boneless chicken breasts, halved lengthwise
1 pound Chinese egg noodles (or whole wheat linguine)
3 tablespoons (or more) fish sauce (such as Tiparos)
1 tablespoon (packed) palm sugar or light brown sugar, optional

Suggested Toppings
Sliced red onion, bean sprouts, cilantro sprigs, crispy fried onions or shallots, chili oil, crispy fried Chinese wonton noodles, and lime wedges


Make khao soi paste. Place chilies in a small bowl and pour boiling water over them. Let stand 30 minutes until softened. Remove the chilies and reserve the soaking liquid. If desired, remove the seeds to make the dish less spicy.

Meanwhile, boil a large pot of water to cook the noodles.

In a blender, purée the chilies, shallots, garlic, ginger, cilantro stems, coriander, turmeric, curry powder, and 2 tablespoons soaking liquid in a food processor. Add more by tablespoonfuls, if needed, blending until smooth. You can add up to 6 tablespoons total.

Make the soup. Heat oil in a large heavy dutch pot over medium heat. Add the khao soi paste, and cook, stirring constantly, until slightly darkened, 4-6 minutes. Add coconut milk and broth. Bring to a boil; add chicken. Reduce heat and simmer until chicken is fork-tender, 20-25 minutes. Transfer chicken to a plate. Let cool slightly; slice meat into 1/4 inch thick chunks.

Cook the noodles according to package directions.

Return chicken to the pot, adding 3 tablespoons fish sauce, and sugar (if using) to soup. Taste and season with more fish sauce or sugar, if needed. Spoon soup and noodles into bowls and serve with toppings.

humpday supper, gluten free too

gluten free chicken tenders with cabbage salad with miso-ginger dressing

What’s not to like about humpday? The temperature went up to a very spring-like 54 degrees today! So of course (why not?) I tried these two new recipes. The chicken was juicy and tender. I loved the taste of the Parmesan cheese with the almond flour.  But the coating unfortunately, was soggy. Hmm. I need to work on that one. Anyway, this meal is also delicious with roasted vegetables: zucchini, summer squash, carrots, and baby bellas tossed in olive oil and salt and pepper to taste. I always do the veggies first, because I never want to forget chicken breast tenders in the oven.

Crunchy Cabbage Salad with Miso-Ginger Dressing
(Adapted from a recipe by Weird & Ravenous via Food52)
The miso-ginger dressing was full of flavor, but I couldn’t taste the ginger very much. So, if you love ginger as I do,  ramp up the flavor.

Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: —

Serves 4

1-2 teaspoons finely grated fresh ginger
2 medium garlic cloves, finely minced or put through a garlic press
2 tablespoons miso paste  (I used 1 tablespoon Chinese soy bean paste)
2 tablespoons rice vinegar (or rice wine vinegar, your preference)
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
2 tablespoons water
3 cups finely shredded cabbage (about 1/2 a small cabbage)
1 large carrot, peeled and cut into very thin matchsticks
1 tablespoon black sesame seeds, toasted (I used white—the black would have made a pretty contrast with the white cabbage and the orange carrot)
1 tablespoon cilantro, chopped
1 tablespoon scallion, sliced thin on the diagonal

In a small bowl, whisk together the ginger, garlic, miso, vinegar, soy sauce, sesame oil and water. Set it aside.

In a large bowl, toss the cabbage, carrots and sesame seeds together with the dressing. Serve immediately if you like it very crunchy or let it sit covered in the refrigerator for up to a few hours if you prefer it more slaw-like.

Garnish with cilantro and scallion.

Gluten-Free Chicken Breast Tenders in Almond Flour (adapted from
For this recipe I swapped 1/2 cup of butter for the egg dip. To save even more calories, I recommend using 2 egg whites. To solve the problem of a soggy coating, I read somewhere that if you let the breaded chicken dry for a few minutes on a wire rack before baking, it will bake up crispy. I haven’t tried this at all so I don’t know how well it works.

Prep time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 20 minutes

Serves 4

1 cup almond flour
1 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 teaspoon dried basil, or to taste
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme, or to taste
salt and ground black pepper to taste
1 1/2 pounds skinless, boneless chicken breast halves, cut into strips
1 egg, well beaten
1 tablespoon water

1. Preheat oven to 400˚ F (200˚ C). Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil.

2. Mix almond flour, Parmesan cheese, basil, thyme, salt, and pepper together in a bowl. In another bowl, mix the egg and water.

3. Dip chicken strips in the egg mixture; press strips into almond flour mixture until completely coated. Transfer coated strips to the prepared baking sheet.

4. Bake in the preheated oven on the middle rack until strips are golden brown and no longer pink in the center, at least 20 minutes or until the tenders reach an internal temperature of 165˚F.

soy ginger rice with tofu, edamame, and mixed vegetables

Soy Ginger Rice with Tofu, Edamame, and Mixed Vegetables (adapted from
Tonight is Election Night and it’s a nail-biter, so naturally, I am cooking something vegan! This is a tasty and hearty dish–even my meat lover allows  “it’s all right.” You can use just about any frozen mixed vegetables that you have in the freezer. I had peas and carrots so I used that. And since the ancestor of this dish is fried rice, that’s a sign to use up leftover vegetables too! Don’t be tempted to cook the ginger-garlic-onions in sesame oil. Sesame oil is delicate and is mainly used for flavoring in Chinese cooking, so a little bit goes a long way. 

Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 25 minutes
Servings: 4-6


2 cups dry brown basmati rice (rice cup measure)
4 cups reduced-sodium vegetable broth (rice cup measure)
1 tablespoon canola oil
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 square inch of ginger, minced (or more if you love ginger!)
1⁄2 yellow onion, chopped
12-oz package of firm tofu, chopped
10-oz package frozen mixed vegetables, thawed
1⁄2 cup frozen shelled edamame, thawed
1 cup chopped peppers (red or green for color)
4 tablespoons organic soy sauce (can substitute tamari)
1⁄4 cup of chopped cilantro
1/4 cup scallion, sliced fine
1 small head of kale, deveined and chopped
1⁄4 cup sunflower seeds, optional
1-2 teaspoons dark sesame oil


Cook brown basmati rice in a rice cooker, using vegetable broth instead of water. When it has finished cooking, it can be left on the stay-warm setting.

Cook’s Note: I’ve always cooked rice the way my mother taught me and it works for rice cookers too. I simply put the rice in the rice cooker liner and fill it with liquid until it comes up to the level of my first finger joint (about 1 inch).

In a large Dutch oven,  heat the canola oil on medium-high heat. Then  add the garlic, ginger, and onion. Sauté for 2 minutes, and then add the tofu, stirring frequently with a silicone spatula so as not to break up the tofu, until browned, about 15-20 minutes. Next, add mixed vegetables, edamame, peppers, soy sauce,  and stir.

Cook’s Note: If you forgot to thaw the frozen vegetables, as I did, just put a small saucepan of water on the stove to boil. Add the frozen vegetable until heated through. Drain and add to the pot!

Once the rice is cooked, add it to the vegetable mixture, turn the heat to low, add salt, pepper, and extra soy sauce or tamari if desired. Sprinkle 1-2 teaspoons sesame oil and toss gently. Turn off the heat but do not cover, since the heat will cook the vegetables.

Meanwhile, steam the kale and then toss with sunflower seeds, if desired. Divide into four or six portions. Serve the rice with the kale on the side, and scallions and cilantro for garnish.

Cook’s Note: I love the fragrance of coconut oil. So instead of steaming, I stir-fried the kale in a tablespoon of coconut oil until it turned bright green–no more than 30 seconds. Then I seasoned the kale with Fleur de Sel (sea salt) and red chili flakes.

sunday dinner

I’m in the mood to cook!

There’s still no news that power has been restored at the office. Train service has been restored to Lower Manhattan this weekend, but after a week off from work, I have all this energy that I’m using up in the kitchen.

Autumn Sweet Potato Cakes adapted from Taranee sent me this recipe for baked sweet potato cakes and said that I had to try this. I could not find frozen kale at the supermarket so I made do with fresh kale. We love kale so the bunch won’t go to waste. Besides kale, this recipe includes dried cranberries and caramelized onion. What a tasty way to eat vegetables.

Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 40 minutes
Servings: 10-12 patties


  • 2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 medium onion, sliced into thin rings
  • 3 medium garnet yams (orange sweet potatoes), peeled and diced
  • 3/4 cup cooked chopped kale
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1/4 cup dried cranberries
  • 1/2 teaspoon each salt and pepper, or to taste
  • 2 fresh sage leaves, minced
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 1/2 cup crumbled goat cheese or feta optional
  • 1/8 cup whole wheat flour (or more, as needed)
  • Cooking spray


  • Heat 2 tbsp olive oil in a medium frying pan over medium-low heat.
  • Add the sliced onions and let cook, stirring very occasionally, until the onions become brown and soft. Reserve the onions for garnish. After removing the onion, add the kale to the pan and lightly sauté until they turn bright green.
  • Preheat the oven to 425˚F. Cover a baking tray with foil and spray with cooking spray. Set aside.
  • Meanwhile, bring a medium pot of salted water to a boil. Add the peeled, diced sweet potatoes and cover.
  • Let the sweet potatoes cook for about 8 minutes, or until fork-tender.
  • Drain the cooked sweet potatoes and transfer to a bowl. Mash with the back of a fork or a potato masher until mostly smooth.
  • Stir in the kale, garlic, cranberries, salt, pepper, sage, egg, goat cheese or feta (if using), and flour.  Stir gently to combine.
  • Use a quarter cup measure to scoop up the mixture and gently shake it out in a mound on the prepared tray. Gently flatten the top with a spatula. Continue scooping, shaking, flattening patties. After about three of these scoops, rinse the scoop in water so the mixture will release easily.
  • Bake in the preheated oven until browned on the bottom, about 20 minutes. Flip the patties and brown on the second side, about 15-20 minutes. Serve warm.

Roasted Turnips and Carrots (adapted from America’s Test Kitchen)
I slightly burned the carrots but I loved the crisp sweetness anyway.

Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 24-30 minutes
Servings: 4-6


  • 2 pounds white turnips, peeled and cut into 1 inch slices
  • 2 pounds carrots, peeled and slivered
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh cilantro, optional


  • Pre-heat the oven to 425˚F. Put oven rack in lower-middle position.
  • Toss turnips and carrots in oil. Season with salt and pepper. Spread vegetables in a single layer on a large rimmed baking sheet.
  • Roast until the bottom of the turnips is golden and the carrots are browned around the edges, 12-15 minutes. Turn the turnips and carrots and continue to roast until they are tender and golden, 12-15 minutes more.
  • Sprinkle with cilantro, if using, and adjust seasonings, adding salt and pepper to taste.


  • Add 2 teaspoons garlic powder and 1 teaspoon brown sugar to the seasonings.
  • Add 1 teaspoon minced or grated fresh ginger to the seasonings. Toss the turnips and carrots with 2 tablespoons maple syrup before serving

Wasabi and Panko Crusted Pork Tenderloin Cutlets (adapted from
To cut calories, I baked the cutlets rather than fry them.

Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 20 minutes
Servings: 8


  • 2/3 cup whole wheat panko (Japanese breadcrumbs)
  • 1/3 cup almond flour
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 large egg white, lightly beaten
  • 8 cutlets from 1 x 1 lb pork tenderloin, trimmed of fat and silver and pounded flat (about 1/2 inch thick)
  • 1 teaspoon canola oil
  • Cooking spray
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh ginger
  • 1/3 cup fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth
  • 2 tablespoons dry sherry, sake, or rice cooking wine
  • 2 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 1 teaspoon wasabi paste
  • 1/3 cup thinly sliced green onions


  • Place panko, almond flour, salt and pepper in a shallow dish. Mix with a fork. Place egg white in another shallow dish. Dip pork in egg white; dredge in panko mixture.
  • Spray a large nonstick skillet with cooking spray. Heat oil in skillet over medium-high heat; add pork. Cook for 4 minutes on each side or until done. Remove pork from pan; sprinkle with salt.
  • Reduce heat to medium. Add ginger to pan; cook 30 seconds, stirring constantly. Combine broth, sherry, soy sauce, sugar, and wasabi in a small bowl, stirring well with a whisk. Add broth mixture to pan, scraping pan to loosen the browned bits called fond. Stir in green onions. Spoon sauce over pork.


  • Instead of frying, spray the cutlets with cooking spray and bake the cutlets 15-20 minutes in 425˚F oven or until the cutlets register 165˚F on an instant read thermometer.

ah! there’s the (spicy chicken) rub

New Yorkers who were in the direct path of Superstorm Sandy are now picking up what she left behind, counting their losses and their blessings. During the storm, I had wished for the support of family, but I never got to test the kindness of strangers. I’m indeed humbled and so thankful that we survived with very little loss. We lost a week of work but we have our lives and the warm little apartment that is beginning to feel like a home away from our home in Bangkok. Whether I am in Bangkok or New York, I like to fill my home with the smells of cooking (and baking) and here is a really spicy chicken rub that can be mixed up in a hurry, sprinkled on chicken, and grilled in my George Foreman indoors. I don’t need an outdoor barbecue to enjoy this, and neither will you.

Spicy Chicken Rub for Grilling (adapted from
3 teaspoons sweet paprika
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 teaspoons ground black pepper
2 teaspoons garlic powder
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon dried thyme

Mix all together. Sprinkle generously on one side of the chicken and grill 3-5 minutes per side.

rotini with ratatouille style vegetables

Rotini with Ratatouille-Style Vegetables (adapted from Shine)
Started to feel a touch of cabin-fever today! I went for a walk to the neighborhood market. It was drizzling, and the stores and restaurants on Amsterdam Avenue were starting to reopen. Still no word on when the subway will come back online or when power will be restored downtown. So, when I am stressed, I cook (or bake). This one is a great vegetarian recipe, but I can see adding ground turkey or ground beef to this would make it a hearty dish that Andy would appreciate more! Asian eggplants are either long and purple or small, round, and green. I used the long purple ones.

Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 35 minutes
Servings: 4

2 tablespoons olive oil, plus more as needed
1 large onion, finely chopped
1 red bell pepper, thinly sliced, slices cut crosswise in thirds
2 cups button mushrooms, halved
2 teaspoons minced fresh thyme
red pepper flakes
coarse kosher salt and freshly-ground black pepper
1 x 28-ounce can Italian tomatoes (preferably San Marzano)
3/4 cup dry white wine
pinch sugar
2 Asian eggplants, cut lengthwise into thirds (can use zucchini)
1/4 cup fresh basil, chopped or 1 tablespoon dried
12 ounces multigrain rotini pasta (can use fusilli)
1/3 cup fresh goat cheese, crumbled

In a large frying pan over medium heat, heat the 2 tablespoons oil. Add the onion, bell pepper, mushrooms, thyme, and a pinch of red pepper flakes; sprinkle with salt and black pepper. Sauté until the peppers are tender, about 15 minutes.

Add the tomatoes with juice, and break them up with a spatula. Add the wine and simmer to blend flavors, 15-20 minutes, stirring frequently. Taste and adjust the seasoning, adding a pinch of sugar if the sauce tastes too acidic.

Prepare a charcoal or gas grill for direct-heat grilling over medium-high heat, or preheat the broiler. Arrange the eggplant on a rimmed baking sheet, brush both sides with olive oil; sprinkle with salt and pepper. Transfer to the grill rack, cover, and grill until tender, about 5 minutes per side. Or broil until tender, about 5 minutes per side. Cut the eggplant and zucchini into bite-size pieces and add to the sauce. Add the basil.

Cook’s Note: I used the George Foreman grill, brushing the cut side with a little olive oil.

Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the pasta, stir well, and cook until al dente, about 11 minutes. Drain the pasta, and then sauce and toss to coat. Return to the pot. Sprinkle generously with cheese and serve right away.

quinoa black bean patties with tzatziki sauce

Quinoa Black Bean Patties with Tzatziki Sauce
Our company has arrived. Hurricane Sandy is howling in the dark outside. The lashing rains I expected has not come yet. We’re not sure what will happen next; the subway system will be shut down again tomorrow. I thought about family and how scattered we are between two continents.  For a brief time this month we came together. Andy flew in from Bangkok for his birthday.  Then Taranee came to NYC for the Rock ‘n Roll New York 10k race and we made this meal together. Good times, remembered.

Prep time: 5 minutes
Cook time: 55 minutes (includes quinoa cooking and resting time)
Makes 8-10 servings

2 1/2 cups cooked quinoa* (1 cup uncooked)
5 large eggs, lightly beaten
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup black beans, rinsed and drained
1 cup shredded Jarlsberg cheese (I used 3/4 cup Monterey Jack and 1/4 cup feta cheeses)
1/2 cup tomato salsa
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 cup whole wheat panko breadcrumbs
2 tablespoons olive oil
cooking spray

Preheat oven to 400˚F.

To cook the quinoa, put the dried quinoa in a large pot. Rinse and drain. Add 1 1/2 cups cold water to the pot. Bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to low, cover and simmer 15 minutes. Turn off the heat and let the quinoa rest, covered, for 5 minutes. Let the quinoa cool, uncovered, about 10 minutes.  You can do this step a day ahead then refrigerate the cooked quinoa until ready to use.

Line a rimmed baking tray with tin foil and spray with cooking spray. Brush with olive oil. Set aside.

Combine all ingredients in a large bowl. Using a third-cup measure, scoop up a level cupful of the quinoa mixture, firmly packed.  Turn it out into your hand, compress and flatten, then gently place the patty on the prepared baking tray. Make another patty and place it about an inch apart from the first patty. Continue making patties.

Put the baking tray in the oven and bake for 20 minutes or until browned on the bottom. Flip. Bake for an additional 5 minutes.

Serve with tzatziki sauce. And, I also recommend whole wheat pita pocket bread and a fresh salad.

Tzatziki Sauce (adapted from the South Beach Diet)

1 cup plain non-fat Greek style yogurt
2/3 cup cucumber, seeded and diced (Use long English cucumber–it’s called Japanese cucumber in Thailand)
1-2 garlic cloves, minced
2 heaping tablespoons of fresh dill or 1 teaspoon of dill seeds
2 heaping tablespoons fresh mint, chopped
2 tablespoons white vinegar, or to taste
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, or to taste
salt and pepper to taste

Put all ingredients in a food processor. Pulse until well blended. The mixture should be slightly thick. If additional thickness is desired, increase the cucumber to 1 cup.