Monthly Archives: May 2014

Turkey Biryani

Fine Cooking, July 2014

In India, the aromatic rice dish known as biryani consists of layering cooked rice with spiced meat or vegetables before baking it. In this simplified version, Turkey Biryani, everything is cooked in one pot on the stove.

I have to confess, we both absolutely loved this dish — in fact, we both had seconds! While it is very easy to make, however, there are a lot of ingredients, and since we cook a LOT, we had most of them. One ingredient we had to purchase was the golden raisins. Not having “green cardamom pods” we used the dried brown ones that we did have. Next time however, we would peel the cardamom pods and toast the inside seeds for maximum flavor.

Another switch out would be to exchange the ground turkey for ground pork, veal, lamb or chicken. And because I adore cashews, I upped the quantity from a 1/2 cup to about 3/4 cup.



  • 3 Tbs. unsalted butter
  • 1 16- to 20-oz. package ground turkey
  • 2 Tbs. curry powder
  • Kosher salt
  • 1 cup frozen peas
  • 1 medium onion, thinly sliced
  • 6 green cardamom pods
  • 4 whole cloves
  • 1 3-inch cinnamon stick
  • 4 medium cloves garlic, very thinly sliced
  • 1 Tbs. minced fresh ginger
  • 1 cup basmati rice
  • 2 cups lower-salt chicken broth
  • 1/4 cup golden raisins
  • 1/2 cup roasted cashews
  • 1/3 cup chopped fresh cilantro



In a heavy-duty 5-quart pot, heat 1 Tbs. of the butter over medium-high heat. Add the turkey, 1 Tbs. of the curry powder, and 1/2 tsp. salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the turkey is lightly browned and cooked through, 5 to 8 minutes. Transfer to a bowl, stir in the peas, and set aside.

Heat the remaining 2 Tbs. butter in the pot over medium-high heat. Add the onion, cardamom pods, cloves, cinnamon stick, and 1/2 tsp. salt and cook, stirring frequently, until the onion begins to brown, about 3 minutes. Add the garlic and ginger, and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Stir in the rice and the remaining 1 Tbs. curry powder. Add the broth and raisins, and bring to a simmer. Turn the heat down to low, cover, and cook until the rice is just tender and the liquid is absorbed, 10 to 12 minutes.

Discard the cinnamon stick. Fold the turkey mixture, cashews, and cilantro into the rice, and cook just until the turkey and peas are warm. Season to taste with salt and serve.


Rice and Lentils with Ham

Ready to dig in and eat!
Ready to dig in and eat!

As promised in my Roasted or Cider-Braised Ham blog, here is the recipe for one of the leftover meals from an article in the April-May issue of Fine Cooking. We had enough leftover ham from the main menu to make two of the “Lucky Leftover” meals and a ham bone for soup. This Rice and Lentils with Ham recipe is definitely a “keeper” and easy to make for a weekday dinner.

Ham brings a salty-sweet savoriness to this twist on the Arabic dish mujaddara, a mix of lentils, rice, and aromatics found throughout the Middle East. Serve with a fresh green salad.

Prepped ingredients.
Prepped ingredients.


  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 tsp. coriander seeds
  • 1 tsp. cumin seeds
  • 1 tsp. granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
  • 10 saffron threads
  • 1/4 tsp. turmeric
  • 1/2 cup French green lentils (lentils du Puy) or brown lentils
  • 3 cups lower-salt chicken broth
  • 1 cup white basmati rice
  • 3 medium yellow onions, halved and thinly sliced
  • 2 tsp. minced fresh ginger
  • 3/4 lb. leftover ham, glaze removed and chopped (2 cups)
  • Kosher salt
  • 2 Tbs. white balsamic vinegar
All the seasonings simmering in oil.
All the seasonings simmering in oil.
Green lentils added to the seasonings.
Green lentils added to the seasonings.
Carmelized onions.
Carmelized onions.


  1. Heat 2 Tbs. of the oil in a 4-quart heavy-duty saucepan over medium heat. Add the coriander seeds, cumin seeds, sugar, pepper, saffron, and turmeric and cook, stirring, until a shade darker, about 1 minute.
  2. Stir in the lentils, and then add the broth. Bring to a simmer and cook for 5 minutes. Stir in the rice, bring back to a simmer, and then cook, covered, over low heat until the liquid is absorbed and the rice and lentils are tender, about 22 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, heat the remaining 2 Tbs. oil in a 12-inch skillet over medium-low heat. Add the onions and ginger, cover, and cook, stirring once or twice, for 10 minutes. Uncover and continue to cook, stirring often, until very browned and caramelized, about 30 minutes.
  4. When the rice and lentils are ready, sprinkle the ham on top, cover, and set aside off the heat to warm the ham through, about 10 minutes.
  5. Use a fork to fluff the rice-lentil mixture, and season to taste with salt. Serve topped with the onions and sprinkled with the vinegar.

Don’t wait around until you have ham leftover from some other dinner. You could always buy a single pre-cooked ham steak and cut that up. And if you don’t eat pork, try using a smoked turkey steak instead!
Next time, I would start cooking the onions and ginger before other ingredients because they did take over 30 minutes to caramelize. In fact, turn up the heat to medium-high, stirring often, to cut down on the cooking time.
Oh, and don’t omit the final step of adding the white balsamic vinegar because it really does add a wonderful depth of flavor.

Skillet of finished Rice and Lentils with Ham recipe.
Skillet of finished Rice and Lentils with Ham recipe.

Gas-grilled Tuna Steaks with Red Wine Vinegar and Mustard Vinaigrette

From Cook’s Illustrated May 2010 Issue

“Meatless Monday” was on the horizon and the weather was promising to be conducive to grilling, so after delving into our online recipe sites for some possible grilled tuna recipes — this one rose to the top. The 1 ½” thick ahi tuna steaks were paired with grilled hearts of romaine and a pre-made mediterranean barley salad purchased at McCaffrey’s Supermarket (they have a wonderful selection of pre-made, healthy salads!)



Russ and I prefer our tuna served medium-rare. If you like your fish cooked medium, observe the timing for medium-rare, then tent the steaks loosely with foil for 5 minutes before serving. To achieve a nicely grilled exterior and a rare center, it is important to use fish steaks that are at least 1 inch thick.


  • Vegetable oil for cooking grate
  • tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon red wine vinegar
  • Table salt
  • tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • teaspoons honey
  • tablespoons chopped fresh thyme or rosemary leaves
  • 3/4 cup olive oil
  • tuna steaks, 1 inch thick (about 8 ounces each)
  • Ground black pepper


  1. Loosely cover cooking grate with large piece of heavy-duty aluminum foil. Turn all burners to high, cover, and heat grill until very hot, about 15 minutes. Remove foil with tongs and discard; scrape grate clean with grill brush. Lightly dip wad of paper towels in oil; holding wad with tongs, wipe grate. Continue to wipe grate with oiled paper towels, redipping towels in oil between applications, until grate is black and glossy, 5 to 10 times. Grill is ready when you can hold your hand 5 inches above grate for 3 to 4 seconds.
  2. While grill heats, whisk vinegar, ½ teaspoon salt, mustard, honey, and thyme or rosemary together in large bowl. While whisking constantly, slowly drizzle oil into vinegar mixture until lightly thickened and emulsified. Measure out ¾ cup vinaigrette and set aside for cooking fish. Reserve remaining vinaigrette for serving.
  3. Brush both sides of fish liberally with vinaigrette and season with salt and pepper to taste. Grill fish with lid down and burners on high without moving until grill marks form and bottom surface is opaque, about 1½ minutes. Carefully flip, cooking until grill marks form on second side, about 1½ minutes longer for rare (opaque at perimeter and translucent red at center when checked with tip of paring knife) or 3 minutes for medium-rare (opaque at perimeter and reddish pink at center). Transfer to large plate and serve immediately, passing reserved vinaigrette.
The marinade makes enough for 6 tuna steaks and since we only cooked two, we had a good amount leftover. We’re thinking it might make a tasty drizzle over veggies, or perhaps on grilled chicken.  For the grilled hearts of romaine, leave the base stems intact and slice down the middle. Sprinkle both sides lightly with olive oil and add a dash of salt. When the tuna is almost done, lay the lettuce on the hot grill, turning once after a few short minutes – they cook quickly! Move to a platter after the lettuce gets some nice char lines and dress with your favorite vinaigrette. 

Grillin’ and Chillin’ Time


We love it when the weather finally breaks and you can start grilling outside on a regular basis. And the weekend we decided to try this recipe was picture perfect — a few fluffy clouds, sunny but not hot, with low humidity — bring it on!

Found in our online Fine Cooking site, this flank steak recipe, ‘Mo J’ Marinated & Grilled Flank Steak, by Norman Van Aken, immediately caught our attention mainly due to the “Mojo” sauce which contains some of our favorite ingredients. And at the suggestion of the author, we also grilled bermuda onions and made a salad of sliced tomatoes, seedless cucumbers and a smattering of snipped fresh chives drizzled with a homemade vinaigrette. While we made it just for the two of us, it is sure to be a crowd pleaser if cooking for more.


And for those who don’t eat red meat, you can use this versatile mojo on chicken (which we plan to do in the near future.)

For the mojo:

12 cloves garlic (or 4 Tbs. minced garlic)
2 habaneros or other spicy chiles, cored, seeded, and minced (wear rubber gloves)
1 tsp. kosher salt
4 tsp. whole cumin seeds, toasted
1 cup olive oil
2/3 cup sour orange juice (or 1/3 cup fresh lime juice plus 1/3 cup fresh orange juice)
1-1/2 Tbs. sherry vinegar
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

For the steak:

1-1/2 lb. flank steak
1 or 2 large Bermuda onions, thickly sliced and brushed with olive oil (optional)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
To make the mojo:

Mash the raw garlic, chiles, salt, and cumin together in a mortar and pestle until fairly smooth. (Alternatively, use a food processor, pulsing until the ingredients are finely chopped but not puréed.) Scrape the mixture into a bowl and set aside.

Heat the olive oil until fairly hot but not smoking, and pour it over the garlic-chile mixture (the oil should sizzle when it hits the cool ingredients — and it truly did when we made it!), stir, and let stand 10 minutes. This will cook the garlic slightly. Whisk in the sour orange juice and vinegar. Season with salt and pepper and set aside to cool completely. (We put the sauce in the refrigerator to expedite the cooling process.)

Put the steak in a zip-top bag or a shallow bowl and pour in 1 cup of the cooled mojo. Seal and refrigerate for at least 2 hours or overnight, turning occasionally. Refrigerate the remaining 1 cup of mojo.


To cook and serve:

Light a charcoal or gas grill. When the grill is very hot, remove the steak from the marinade (discard the marinade), pat dry, and season with salt and pepper; cook 5 to 7 minutes on one side and 3 to 4 minutes on the other for medium rare. Remove from the grill and let rest for 5 minutes (If you like, grill the Bermuda onions as well—you can put them on at the same time as the flank steak; grill 6 to 7 minutes per side.) Meanwhile, warm the reserved mojo over low heat. Slice the flank steak very thinly on the bias and serve with the reserved mojo and the grilled onions.



Couldn’t have been a better meal to end a beautiful weekend!

Moorish Kebabs

2014-05-11 08.05.36

Tired of grilling the same old thing? Here’s a fantastic pork kebab recipe that’s sure to win you over. To tone it down a touch, just eliminate the smoked hot paprika (or cayenne) and increase the sweet paprika! Don’t eat pork? …substitute chicken, lamb or fish…
Find the recipe under the Savory Side of Life tab.