Thursday, August 2, 2012

Expensive Diet Continued... Tasty Double Duty Seafood Stew!

When trying to watch her calorie intake my mother would make an amazing codfish dish that was as easy as it was delicious.  I tried to recreate it the other day, but my version came out a bit brothy so I decided to use the leftover broth to create the above seafood stew. The irony of my creation is that I have attempted to make bouillabaisse on several occasions and it never came out as well as I thought it should have.  This dish literally took me 10 minutes to make today and 15-20 minutes the day before.  We were fed two days in a row and there was no guilt since it is incredibly low in fat and calories.  Although I tend to be quite meticulous about ingredients and measurements, this recipe was improvised so I will do my best.  I am not sure that you can mess it up (so long as you don't over cook the seafood) since it is the quality of the ingredients and not the cook, that make this dish shine.  It serves two well, but I am confident that it can serve up to four if you just add extra seafood.  You also may want to add some zucchini (like I did) or serve it over some couscous to make it a heartier dish.

First Meal:


- 10 oz codfish cut in two pieces
- One 22 oz can of peeled tomatoes
- half a yellow onion sliced
- 4 sliced garlic cloves
- 4 oz of white wine
- 4 oz water
- large bay leaf, or two small ones
- handful of fresh basil
- pinch of oregano
- one tablespoon olive oil
- salt and pepper to taste


In a saucier or deep saute pan, saute the garlic and sliced onions until soft. Add the wine and cook for a few minutes until reduced a bit.  Add the tomatoes with their juice, the water, oregano and bay leaf. Cook for about 15-20 minutes until the tomatoes start to break down. Mash them with a fork or spatula. Season with salt and pepper to taste.  You can also add chili flakes. Add the basil and codfish. Cook until the fish is opaque and flakes easily.  Serve the fish with a bit of the sauce over mashed potatoes or couscous.  You can also add sliced zucchini in with the fish to get your veggie and protein all in one dish.

Second Meal:


- Tbs olive oil with a tsp butter
- small fennel bulb, sliced thinly
- remaining tomato sauce from above (or if you prefer you can create the sauce beforehand on the same day and add the fish with the shellfish)
- 4 oz white wine
- 3 oz clam juice
- 6 large shrimp
- 12 clams (scrubbed and cleaned)
- 1/2 lb bay scallops
- tsp chili flakes (optional)
- salt and pepper to taste


Melt the butter and the oil in a large pan that has a lid.  Add the chili flakes and fennel. Cook until the fennel is soft.  Add the white wine and clam juice.  Reduce for a minute or two.  Add the tomato sauce (that you made the day, or up to two days before) and heat through. Season to taste. Once hot add the clams and cover.  When the clams start to open add the shrimp and the scallops. Cover again and cook until the shrimp are pink and curled and the clams have opened. Discard any cracked or unopened clams.

I imagine this would be equally good with calamari or mussels.

Serve with crusty bread, over couscous, or on its own.


Sunday, May 27, 2012

Chicken Tagine with Apricots, Zucchini and Couscous

As a passionate cook and food blogger, I have been very frustrated trying to get my little 16 month old boy to eat. Granted the first year I was lazy and would cook my own dinner after he went to bed, but when we finally started dining together at the dinner table, I became exhausted trying to get him to eat. He hated anything with texture and preferred sheee sheee (Cheerios) and Puuuuffffs to pasta bolognese.  It was getting so bad that at one point it was recommended by his doctor that we take him to a swallow specialist.  We saw the specialist last month and since she had some concerns, we scheduled a tentative Barium x-ray exam for late July.

Well that has all changed and I am pleased to announce that on doctor's orders the exam has been cancelled!!!  Two weeks ago it was a lovely evening in Astoria and I decided to take Christian to Brick Cafe.  I ordered a Coq au Vin (wine cooks out), my husband got the braised short ribs and Christian got a side of mash potatoes.  You can imagine my surprise when Christian ate everything! The chicken, the meat, even the petit pois! I was so excited that I kept telling the waitress how happy I was,  I actually think I scared her a bit. The following week we tried Navrattan Korma, Veggie Samosas and Raita from Seva and he ate it all! Yesterday, Fejoida for lunch and last night a Moroccan chicken tagine with apricots and zucchini (the recipe that I will post today).  Next week he may be back to Cheerios and English Muffins, but for now I am one happy mommy!

Adapted from the "Spicy Chicken Tagine with Apricots, Rosemary and Ginger" Recipe from the book Tagine, by Gillie Basan


- 2 Tbs butter and 2 Tbs olive oil
- 4 chicken thighs and 2 sliced chicken breasts (you can get the pre-sliced chicken tenders, I opted to choose skinless)
- 3 zucchinis sliced in half moons
- 1 yellow onion, finely chopped
- 3 sprigs of rosemary, one chopped the other two cut in half
- 1 1/2 inch piece of ginger, peeled and finely chopped
- 2 cinnamon sticks
- 1 cup quartered dried apricots
- 2 Tbs clear honey
- 1 x 14-oz can plum tomatoes with their juice (I chop the tomatoes a little)
- salt and pepper
- fresh basil leaves

* 2 red chilies (optional) I love using chilies when making this for myself, but omitted them when making this dish for Christian. If you do use them, finely chop them and saute with the onions.

- 1 2/3 cup traditional cous cous
- 1 3/4 cup water (or the broth from above for extra flavor)
- 2 Tbs butter or olive oil
- pinch of salt


Salt and pepper the chicken.  Heat the butter and olive oil until the butter has melted. Add the onion, chopped rosemary and ginger* and saute until the onion has softened.  Add the chicken and brown. Make sure the onions do not burn. Add the tomatoes with their juice, honey, apricots, cinnamon and rosemary sprigs. Add additional water if needed so that the chicken is covered.  I have made this dish in a traditional tagine from Morocco (actually from the Morocco at Epcot) or a saucier.

Bring to a boil and then reduce the heat. Cover and cook gently for 35 to 40 minutes.  About 15 minutes before it is done, add the sliced zucchini. (The broth will sweeten the zucchini which is why Christian ate them). When its done, season to taste and add torn pieces of basil as depicted above.

For the couscous, bring the liquid with the butter or oil and salt to a boil. Stir in couscous and shut off the flame. Cover and let stand for 10 minutes.  Fluff with a fork. You can also make couscous in the oven, or the traditional way in a couscousier (which you can find in a Moroccan market), but stovetop works for me.

In the past I have served this dish with a basic baby arugula salad in a lemon and olive oil dressing.

Hope you and your little ones enjoy this dish as much as we do!


Saturday, February 18, 2012

The Expensive (And it Works) Diet!

Yesterday I went out for lunch with a high school friend and since we are both new mothers, kind of, the conversation inevitably went to how to lose baby weight. In early January 2012, I realized I had to stop telling people that I just had a baby, when in fact it had been over a year! When my friend asked me how I lost weight, I had to contain my laughter when I told her "The Expensive Diet." The Expensive Diet is not something you can register for online, or pay a nutritionist to tell you about, it is simply based on my experiences over the years. I noticed that when I was on a budget, I always put on weight! My diet didn't seem that crazy since we were sitting at the Pesce counter in Eataly, which was amazing btw, eating grilled shrimp and seared scallops.

I believe that when you are trying to lose weight, you cannot cut corners. For example, shrimp, scallops, lobsters are all delicious, but they are not cheap. I find that smaller portions of interesting foods keep my palate engaged and me on track! Even if the diet costs a little more in the long run, it is a lot cheaper than new diet books and a personal trainer. I cook 4-5 days out of the week, usually a small piece of protein, large portions of vegetables and a little bit of rice or bread. For a treat, good chocolate or a glass (or two) of wine. For lunch I make my own (posts to follow) or eat spicy tuna hand rolls (hold the rice), poached salmon from Grand Central Market, salads or wraps from Pret-a-Manger or soups from Cipriani Specialita.

I have decided that since I already have a platform upon which I could share these tips, I will dedicate my next months of posts to new mothers, or anyone else that is trying to lose weight!
Some recipes will be mine, others from books and at the end of this hopefully we will all be ready for bikini (or speedo) season! Feel free to contact me with any questions, or post your own gourmet recipes that have kept you fit!

Today's Post! One egg, one egg white omelette with goat cheese and baby spinach!

-1 egg, 1 egg white
-dash of milk
-1 oz goat cheese
-handful of baby spinach
-cooking spray or good non stick pan (I use a scanpan which you can find in my store below)

Beat the eggs together with a dash of milk and a bit of black pepper. Heat the pan and spray with a thin coat of oil. (Sometimes I will wipe my pan with a thin layer of olive oil.) Add the eggs to the pan and after about 30 seconds, crumble on the goat cheese and add the spinach. Cook until you get a nice golden crust on the underside of the omelette. Roll onto a plate and serve with a small fruit salad, good tea or coffee, half a whole wheat English Muffin, pita or toast.

Other ideas are peppers and onions with cheddar, asparagus and salmon, parmesan with a spritz of truffle oil, feta and tomatoes, or one of my favorites, just Sriracha! Yes, I add Sriracha to almost everything and at least once a week I add it to my eggs.

Follow my Twitter feed @FoodAdvokat for up to the minute tips and updates!
10.5 lbs lost since January 1, 2012 and still counting!

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Dakos Salad

Several years ago I was on the island of Paros, Greece and finally had the opportunity to put a name to one of my favorite salads! It is called Dakosalata and it is delicious! I had eaten it before, but I did not know what it was called. We had just left the beach and were looking for something healthy, yet satisfying and this salad met both our needs. Because we were both so hungry, we ordered two. The first in the classic tomato style and the second was topped with grilled diced zucchini. Both were great! I have provided the recipe for the basic tomato version since you can dress up this salad however you see fit. The only thing that might prove difficult is finding the barley rusk bread which forms the base of the salad. If you cannot find it, I would suggest using large rustic croutons or day old whole wheat bread (not the sliced sandwich style) cut up in large cubes. If you live close to a Greek market you shouldn't have a hard time finding the barley rusk. One market that definitely sells it is Titan Foods in Astoria, They also will have all of the other ingredients, including reasonably priced extra virgin olive oil and excellent oregano. You can also always email me for sources and alternative ingredients!

To make this salad for two you will need,


-1 large piece of Dakos rusk bread (or two to three cups of croutons/bread)

-2 medium sized very ripe tomatoes, grated or finely chopped

-4 oz crumbled feta

-1/2 cup good quality Kalamata olives, you can also use pitted Kalamatas

-Tbs. capers (or more if you like them)

Extra virgin olive oil, and vinegar if you like it. We do!

I have seen some restaurants serve this salad on a bed of arugula which is also nice.

Assemble the bread in the bottom of a bowl and top with the remaining ingredients. Add the olive oil, vinegar and oregano. Salt if you like. The feta usually adds a decent amount of salt, but I always add more as I am a salt feign. Many recipes recommend wetting the bread before you assemble the salad, but I like it crunchy. If you prefer the bread a little soggy, assemble the salad 30 minutes before you want to eat it or wet the bread lightly before you add the other ingredients. As with many of my recipes, there is no exact way to make this salad, so experiment. I have even spread olive tapenade on the bread when I ran out of olives.

Hope you like it!

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Best Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cake Ever!!

The baby is sleeping, the house is clean and I finally have a little time to get back to what I love, food and sharing! In honor of Turkey Day, as I call it in my house, I am posting my Aunt Susan's Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cake recipe. Aunt Susan turns out a mean Turkey Day dinner, but this cake is my favorite dish of them all. It's moist, flavorful and the best thing is that it is super easy to make. In other words, perfect for this and any other mommy! Since I am such a fan of spices, I added a little clove and nutmeg when I made it, but even without it this cake is delicious! Dangerous too, I have been known to keep slicing little slivers until I ended up eating half the cake :)


4 eggs
2 cups sugar
1.5 cups vegetable oil
1 can canned pumpkin (or 1.5 cups fresh cooked pumpkin)
3 cups flour
2 tsp cinnamon
2 tsp baking soda
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1 cup chocolate semi sweet chocolate chips

Directions: Combine the wet ingredients, sift the dry ingredients together and then combine both the wet and dry ingredients together. Add chocolate chips and stir until they are evenly dispersed. Cook at 350 degrees for 45-60 minutes. Add a touch of nutmeg and clove if you want. I used a 1/8 of a tsp of ground clove and 1/4 tsp of ground nutmeg.

Use a well greased/floured bunt pan or a loaf pan. In the above picture I added chocolate chips on the top before I started baking and found out later that they started to burn. Better to just keep them in the batter.

Remember to keep it easy and fun! Better to have good food and great company than perfect food and a stressed out host!


Sunday, July 10, 2011

Awesome Summer Fruit Crisp

It has been awhile since I have posted anything sweet and with summer producing so many luscious fruits and berries, I figured a nice recipe for a fruit crisp was warranted. This recipe came from an old roommate and was initially intended to be used on top of Granny Smith apples. Although I have made it with apples many times, over the years I have experimented with other fruits including, plums, peaches, blueberries and raspberries. They all are equally as good and when topped with homemade vanilla ice cream this dish is divine! This is one of my ,favorite desserts and the only problem with this recipe is that I have been known to wake up in the middle of the night and scarf some down with a glass of cold milk!


- 5 ripe, but slightly firm, medium peaches (if they are super ripe the dish can get mushy)
- 1 cup blueberries
- 1 cup raspberries

For the topping

- 8 Tbs cold butter cut in pieces
- 1 cup sugar (I often make this with 3/4 of sugar if I am serving the crisp with ice cream so it is not too sweet)(brown sugar is nice with apples, but only use 3/4 of a cup)
- 3/4 cup flour, plus 2 tablespoons (you can also do 1/2 flour and half quick cooking oats)
- dash of cinnamon


Butter a baking dish and add sliced peaches, blueberries and raspberries. Sprinkle two tablespoons of flour over the fruit and gently toss.

Cut/blend the sugar, remaining flour and butter together until crumbly. If using a food processor, pulse the ingredients together. I also have used a fork and my hands. If using your hands make sure they are cold! Whatever your method, be careful not to overwork the ingredients or the topping will become one big fat glob!

Add topping over fruit, sprinkle with cinnamon and bake at 350 for 45-60 minutes, until the top is golden brown. Put your baking dish on top of a sheet pan so juices from the fruit do not boil over and end up in the bottom of your oven. You can also make this in individual ramekins, but reduce the cooking time.

Serve with vanilla ice cream or fresh whipped cream! Reheats beautifully if you want to make it the day before! Easier than pie to make and sure to impress your most discerning guests!


Saturday, April 2, 2011

Herbed Greek Meat Patties with Tzaziki Sauce and Feta Oregano French Fries

I cannot believe it has been almost a year since I started my blog. So much has happened, including the birth of my son Christian! I started to blog before I got pregnant and clearly little Christian took up most of my time over the past year. Now that he is out and almost three months old, I can finally get back to my other love, cooking! In honor of baby Christian and my recent move to the Greek community Astoria, I am posting my Grandmother’s recipe for Keftedaki, aka Greek herbed meat patties. These are super kid friendly and can even be made in larger portions to serve as a burger for a summer barbeque. If you do decide to serve them as a burger try topping them with tzaziki sauce or feta. At one point I will post my spicy feta dip recipe which would be equally delicious. If you are desperate for the recipe now, feel free to email me for an immediate response. I like serving the keftedaki with tzaziki sauce, a Greek green salad and French fries topped with oregano and feta.

Keftedaki - Greek Herbed Meat Patties/Burgers/Meatballs


1 lb ground pork

1 lb ground beef

1 lb ground lamb (these proportions can be adjusted to your taste)

¾ cup grated (or super finely chopped) red onion (about one medium onion)

¾ cup finely chopped flat leaf parsley

¼ cup finely chopped mint (not spearmint!)

½ cup to1 cup unseasoned bread crumbs (just enough to absorb the excess moisture)

1 Tbs. olive oil

2 tsp. Greek or Mexican oregano

1 tsp lemon juice

2 beaten eggs

salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

Flour and vegetable oil if pan frying*


Place all ingredients in a bowl and mix, making sure not to overwork the meat. For best results mix the day before (leaving the eggs and breadcrumbs out) and let rest 24 hours so the flavors can combine. When ready to cook add the eggs and breadcrumbs and mix thoroughly. Make little meat balls, patties or burgers. Grill or pan fry. Serve with tzatziki sauce.

I like salt so I put about 2 tablespoons of kosher salt, note that regular table salt is MUCH saltier so use half. After you combine everything make one small meatball and cook it before the rest to taste for seasoning. Adjust accordingly.

*Flour and vegetable oil only if you are going to make little round balls to pan fry. These are great if you are doing a dinner party. Roll the balls and coat them in flour, remove any excess before adding to the oil. Drain on paper towels and then serve them on a platter with the tzaziki sauce for dipping.

Although I like to mix the three meats, feel free to use only one kind if you do not eat pork or do not like the gaminess of lamb. I would, however, try it with the lamb at least once since it adds fabulous flavor. I imagine the recipe would also work with ground turkey or chicken even though I have never tried it.

Best Taziziki Sauce


1 17.6 ounce container of either 0%, 2% or full fat Total Greek strained yogurt. Of course full fat is best. (I highly recommend using this brand since it makes all the difference in the world. You can try other strained yogurts or make your own strained yogurt by using cheese cloth to strain regular yogurt.)

1 cup finely chopped peeled and seeded English cucumber (about a 2 to 1 ratio with yogurt.)

2-3 crushed garlic cloves (if I am not pressed for time I use a mortar and pestle and mash the garlic with a little salt. If I am busy, I use a garlic press)

2 tsp olive oil

1 tsp red wine vinegar

Salt to taste


Combine all the ingredients and let sit in the refrigerator overnight or at least for a couple hours. As the tzaziki sits, the garlic will become more pronounced so if you want to add more garlic I would recommend doing it the next day. Some people prefer grating the cucumber and also adding dill. That is not how my family makes it, but either way is correct. I personally like the crunchiness of the cucumber when it is chopped versus grated.

To seed the cucumber cut it in half and scoop out the seeds with a spoon. If the cucumber is super watery you can remove excess water by placing the chopped cucumber on a paper towel in a colander and letting it sit for a few hours.

Finished tzaziki topped with olive oil

Feta Oregano French Fries


1/2 lb Good Greek or Bulgarian Feta

1 Tbs Greek or Mexican Oregano

salt and freshly ground back pepper

French Fries (follow the link below or use your own favorite recipe.) I like to fry my French fries in olive oil. It is expensive but it tastes so good and that's how we do it in Greece.


As any new mother knows, time is now super limited. In order to conserve energy I have posted a link to my friend Azmina’s recipe for French fries. Simply follow her directions and sprinkle with crumbled feta and oregano as pictured below.

It's good to be back!


Kat and Baby Christian