Ravioli with Grape Tomatoes Topping

I love to place Grape Tomatoes Topping over Ravino Ravioli. It is more of a topping than a sauce. This recipe makes enough for two portions as a side dish.

Ravioli with Grape Tomatoes Topping © Karen Lee 2016

Ravioli with Grape Tomatoes Topping © Karen Lee 2016


  • 2 ½ tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 Tablespoon sliced garlic
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • pinch cayenne
  • 1 cup grape tomatoes, sliced in circles, preferably Del Cabo brand
  • Ravioli
  • Boiling water
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 8 pieces of ravioli, preferably Ravino
  • Garnish
  • ½ cup or more freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • 2 teaspoons chiffonade of parsley


  1. Heat an 8-inch skillet for 1 minute over medium heat.
  2. Add two tablespoons olive oil and then the garlic. Turn the heat to low. Sauté about 2 minutes or until the garlic has just begun to take on a little color.
  3. Add ¼ teaspoon salt, oregano, black pepper and cayenne. Sauté 1 more minute, but do not allow the garlic to get too dark.
  4. Add the grape tomatoes and simmer about 10 minutes or until they have softened. In order to keep the round shape of the tomato slices, stir no more than 2 times.
  5. In a medium size saucepan, bring one quart of water to a rolling boil. Add ½ teaspoon of salt. Add the ravioli to the boiling salted water.
  6. After the ravioli has come to a boil, set the timer for 4 minutes. Stir once. Remove with a wire strainer or slotted spoon.
  7. Place ravioli on two dishes. Spoon Grape Tomato Topping over ravioli. Drizzle with the remaining ½ tablespoon of olive oil. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese. Garnish with parsley.



Broccolini is a green vegetable similar to broccoli but with a milder taste. It has smaller florets with thinner and more tender stalks. I use the whole vegetable except for the last half-inch of the stems.

Broccolini © Karen Lee 2016

Broccolini © Karen Lee 2016


  • 1 bunch broccolini
  • 1 ½ tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon sliced garlic
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • a pinch of crushed dried chili pepper
  • ¼ to 1/3 cup chicken stock


  1. Wash broccolini by submerging and lifting in a big bowl of water to which a dash of white vinegar has been added.
  2. Let drain in a bowl. Spinning dry is not necessary.
  3. After discarding about ½-inch of the stems, cut the broccolini into ½-inch pieces.
  4. Heat a 10-inch stainless steel or enamel skillet for one minute over medium heat. Add 1 tablespoon oil and then the garlic. Turn heat to medium low and sauté the garlic until it just starts to take on some color. After the garlic has been in the pan for one minute add the salt and the chili pepper.
  5. Add the broccolini and toss; sauté about 1 minute, then add the stock a few tablespoons at a time. Simmer until evaporated then toss and add more stock as needed until the broccolini is tender, approximately 5 minutes. Dish. Drizzle with the remaining ½ tablespoon of olive oil and sprinkle with a little salt.

Chicken Piccata

In my last blog I gave you the tips for successful sautéing. Now here is a recipe for sautéing. Chicken Piccata is a regular on my class menus as it is simple and delicious.


  • 2 whole chicken breasts with skin and bone, weighing 14-16 ounces each (or 1 pound of chicken cutlets, organic or free range)
  • 2 -3 Tbsp. flour for dredging
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • ¼ tsp. freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 ½ – 3 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 ½ Tbsp. butter
  • 3 Tbsp. chopped shallots
  • 1 Tbsp. sliced garlic
  • 1 lemon sliced thinly
  • 2 Tbsp. white wine or vermouth
  • 6 Tbsp. chicken stock
  • 1 Tbsp. freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 2 Tbsp. chopped parsley

Rinse and dry chicken breasts. Bone chicken breasts or have the butcher do this. Save skin and bone for stock. Remove tendon in fillet portion of breast. Slice the cutlet lengthwise to make two thin cutlets. You will have four fillet pieces and eight thin cutlets for a total of twelve pieces. Place a piece of wax paper on the cutlet and pound each cutlet piece slightly to even them out. This can be done with a meat pounder, the side of a heavy cleaver, or a rubber mallet.

Mix the flour, 1/2 tsp. salt and pepper.

Lightly dredge the chicken in the flour seasoning mixture using as little flour as possible. Tap off excess flour. Rinse then place a 12-inch stainless steel skillet over high heat for 1 minute.
Turn the heat to medium.
Add 2 Tbsp. olive oil and ½ tablespoon of butter to the skillet. After adding the chicken, lightly salt and pepper the breasts. Turn the heat to medium high and sauté half the amount of chicken for about 2-3 minutes on each side. Lower the heat if necessary. The chicken should be nicely browned on both sides. Repeat with other half of chicken. Place chicken cutlets on a serving platter.

Turn the heat to low. Pour off the oil if necessary, and then add in same skillet add ½ Tbsp. of extra virgin olive oil; sauté the garlic and shallots; add ½ tsp. salt and black pepper to taste, until they just begin to take on color. Add 2 tsp. olive oil, then add lemon slices and sauté another minute or two turning once until slightly brown. Add the white wine and simmer a few seconds then the chicken stock. Simmer until reduced by half. Then add the 1 Tbsp. lemon juice. Add remaining 1 Tbsp. of butter stir until butter is incorporated into the sauce. Re add the chicken breasts and coat in the sauce for about 30 seconds. Pour sauce over chicken breasts and garnish with chopped parsley and lemon slices.

Learn How to Cook Perfect Fish with Karen on October 18

Sign up for my Saturday October 18th class and learn how to cook fish perfectly. If you overcook fish it is dry. If you undercook fish it is rubbery. You want it cooked through but not overcooked.

In this class you will learn not only all the tips about picking out fresh fish and all the right questions to ask but also how to judge when the fish is perfectly done. The Black Sea Bass with Sweet and Sour Onions is a delectable example of how to do it.

This Saturday class, starting at 10 a.m.and finishing at 2 p.m. we will also be making Sole Meunière… and achieving a crust that you thought could only be produced in a restaurant!

Sea Bass with Sweet and Sour Onions

Sea Bass with Sweet and Sour Onions


  • 1¼ pounds Sea Bass fillets, skin off (you will need one or two whole sea bass, head and tail intact, with a total weight of 2 1/2 pounds as you lose 50 or 60 percent when the fish is filleted)
  • 1 tablespoon flour, spread on a plate mixed with 1 teaspoon salt and 1/16 teaspoon black pepper
  • 5 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, approximately
  • 3 cups onion sliced very thin
  • ½ cup dry white wine
  • 2 teaspoons granulated sugar
  • ¼ cup white wine vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons chopped parsley


  1. Rinse and dry fillets.
  2. Combine on a plate the flour, salt and pepper
  3. Dredge the fish on presentation side in the flour mixture. Tap off excess flour.
  4. Choose a stainless steel sauté pan large enough to accommodate all the fish in a single layer. Heat the pan for one minute over high heat. Add 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Sauté the onions over medium low heat until the onions have wilted. Turn up the heat to medium. Add another 1 tablespoon olive oil and continue cooking. Stir from time to time. Sauté until the onions become a rich golden brown. Push all the onions to the edge of the pan.
  5. Add 1 to 2 more tablespoons of olive oil to the sauté pan then place the fish fillets in pan, presentation side down. Raise the heat to medium high. Sauté fillets for 3 minutes and then turn them over. Pour the wine, vinegar, and sugar into pan over the onions. Turn the heat down. Continue cooking for approximately 2 minutes. Check to see if fish is done. Transfer the fish to a heated serving platter. Reduce drippings in pan if necessary. Arrange onions in-between fish. Pour any pan juices over fish. Then sprinkle with parsley. Drizzle with a little extra virgin olive oil (also known as finishing oil).
  6. © Karen Lee 2014


If you forgot to ask fishmonger to remove the skin, slit the bass in three places (crescent shape slits) on the skin side in order to prevent the fish from curling up too much when it is turned.

Ginger Beef For The Valentine’s Class February 14, 2014

This is an ancient Chinese recipe updated and upgraded. I use prime filet instead of flank steak – less oil, less salt.


ginger-beef-02Flank steak is good, the filet is great. Because the filet is so tender there is no need to marinate more than a few minutes. I cut the filet into thick slices so that in the final dish the meat is medium to medium rare.

If you choose to use flank steak, cut the steak first into two pieces the long way then cut into thin slices against the grain and marinate for 12 to 24 hours in the refrigerator.

Karen Lee Secret: When choosing steak always look for lots of marbling. Marbling is the white threads going through the meat. The more marbling the more tender and juicer the meat will be. The final dish resulting in that big luxurious mouth feel.

Ginger Beef

Ginger Beef


  • 1 lb. filet of beef completely trimmed of fat and silver skin
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons pure olive oil or peanut oil
  • 2 Tablespoons finely shredded ginger
  • A full ½ cup shredded scallion (white and green parts included) 2 ½ inch thin strips
  • Marinade
  • 1 tablespoon light soy
  • 1 ½ teaspoons sugar
  • 1 level teaspoon water chestnut powder or arrowroot
  • Seasoning Sauce
  • 1 teaspoon water chestnut powder or arrowroot dissolved in
  • 2 Tablespoons sherry
  • 1 ½ tablespoons Chinese dark soy
  • Garnish
  • 10 or more V-cut snow peas (blanch and shock)
  • or snow pea shoots ( do not blanch, just wash)
  • or scallion brushes
  • or steamed broccoli flowerets


  1. Slice steak 3/8-inch thick.
  2. Place beef and ingredients for marinade in a bowl and stir with chopsticks.
  3. Refrigerate meat while preparing the rest of the recipe.
  4. Combine ingredients for the seasoning sauce.
  5. Place wok over high heat for 2-3 minutes or until it smokes.
  6. Add 1½ tablespoons oil, swirl to coat wok, then immediately add half the beef slices in a single layer.
  7. Sauté about 30 seconds or until nicely seared. Working quickly, turn each piece of meat and sear another 10 seconds.
  8. Remove the beef from the wok allowing the fat to drain back into the wok. Place beef on serving dish.
  9. Repeat the frying procedure with the remaining beef; remove from the wok.
  10. Add ½ tablespoon oil to the wok and over low heat stir-fry the ginger for two minutes and then add the scallions and continue to sauté for 1 more minute.
  11. While the ginger and the scallions are sautéing, re-stir the seasoning sauce.
  12. Turn the heat to high, and add it to the wok all at once along with the beef; stir-fry for about 5 seconds. During that 5 seconds coat the meat evenly with the seasoning sauce. Empty contents of wok into heated serving dish and serve immediately.
  13. Garnish with blanched snow peas around the beef or a few shredded scallions on top or show pea shoots on the side or steamed broccoli flowerets.

Indian Inspired Split Pea Soup with Spiced Yogurt

I taught a class on February 4th and asked the students at the end, “About which recipe would you like me to blog?”

They overwhelmingly replied, “The Soup!”

This delicious soup lasts five days in the refrigerator, and is packed with healing spices that can have a salutatory effect on the body when used regularly.

  • Cayenne pepper has been given credit for lowering cholesterol, fighting infection and acting as a natural anti-inflammatory.
  • Turmeric has been given credit for preventing cancer, acid reflux, inflammation, and Alzheimer’s.
  • Cumin has also been given credit for preventing Alzheimer’s.
  • Ginger has been given credit for aiding digestion and circulation, lowering cholesterol, and acting as an anti-inflammatory. It also speeds the recovery of a cold and sore throat and settles an upset stomach.
  • Beans are a great source of iron, fiber, and protein and also help lower cholesterol.

Karen Lee Secret: Roasting cumin enhances the flavor. I like to roast ¼ cup cumin seeds in a small iron skillet over low heat for a few minutes or until the seeds are a little darker and smell good. Let cool then pulverize in a Krups electric coffee mill or use a mortar and pestle. Store in refrigerator in a covered brown glass jar. Roasted cumin will keep its aroma for three months.

Split Pea Soup with Spiced Yogurt © Karen Lee 2014

Split Pea Soup with Spiced Yogurt © Karen Lee 2014


  • 1 2/3 cups organic yellow split peas
  • 6-7 cups chicken or vegetable stock
  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic (green stem removed if any), sliced
  • 2 cups diced sweet white onion (such as Vidalia) or half onion and half leek
  • ½ cup carrot, scrubbed but not peeled
  • ½ cup diced celery
  • 1 tablespoon fresh ginger, minced
  • 1/3 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/16 teaspoon cayenne
  • 1 cup diced ripe tomatoes
  • Garnish
  • Spiced yogurt
  • Juice of one lemon
  • Chopped cilantro


  1. Wash split peas, drain and simmer in 5 cups of the stock for 1 hour, cover askew, or until almost soft. Stir every fifteen minutes. Remove from heat; set aside.
  2. Pour the olive oil in a heated skillet over low heat. Sauté garlic and onions for 4 to 5 minutes until they just begin to color. Add carrots and celery, ginger, and continue to sauté for 2 minutes. Add the turmeric, cumin, salt, and cayenne; sauté over low heat for another 3-4 minutes until spices get a little darker and their aroma is released. Take care not to burn the spices. Add the tomatoes and simmer a few minutes. Then add the cooked peas and the remaining stock. With cover askew, simmer until the split peas are soft, approximately 20 minutes.
  3. To serve the soup, place one cup of pea soup in a bowl. Add 1½ teaspoons of lemon juice. Sprinkle with cilantro and a dollop of spiced yogurt.

The Spiced Yogurt recipe is adapted from The Greens Cookbook by Deborah Madison and can be made two days in advance and stored in refrigerator. Yields four to six portions.

Spiced Yogurt

Spiced Yogurt


  • 1 cup plain whole yogurt, hung, or use Greek yogurt
  • ½ teaspoon turmeric
  • ½ teaspoon paprika
  • ½ teaspoon cumin, ground
  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • ¼ teaspoon salt


  1. If using plain yogurt, cut a piece of cheesecloth about an 8-inch square. Rinse in cold-water; squeeze dry. Line strainer with cheesecloth and drain yogurt in strainer for a few hours.
  2. Place the yogurt in a bowl. Using five chopsticks (Chinese wooden whisk), stir in the spices.

Pasta with Roasted Plum Tomatoes © Karen Lee 2013


In my last blog I gave you a recipe for Roasted Plum Tomatoes.

Today I am offering you a suggestion of how to use them in a quick pasta dish.

Here is my recipe for Pasta with Roasted Plum Tomatoes.  This recipe is enough for one or two people as a side dish and can easily be increased.

Cut ½ cup of the roasted tomatoes into large dice. Seeds, skins and all.

Sauté 2 cloves of sliced garlic in 1 ½ tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil over low heat for a few minutes or until the garlic just begins to take on color.

Add ¼ teaspoon salt, a pinch of cayenne pepper and ¼ teaspoon dried oregano.  Sauté one more minute.

Add the roasted tomatoes and simmer 2 minutes.

Turn off heat.

Boil 2 to 3 ounces of dried pasta.  Reserve a few tablespoons pasta water before draining.  Add pasta along with one or more tablespoons pasta water to sauce.  Toss.

Sprinkle with ¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese.  Toss then drizzle with 1 teaspoon of extra virgin oil.

If you prefer add some torn basil leaves to the pasta at the end and omit the oregano.

Food Mill


“You say chunky, I say smooth.”  Some people love a smooth tomato sauce others like it chunky. In my April 20th cooking class we made a smooth tomato sauce by using a food mill.

First we sautéed onions and garlic then added seasonings followed by tomato paste, working it in with the back of a wooden spoon, which brings out the flavor of the paste.  Then we added the fresh and canned tomatoes.  Simmered the sauce for about 30 minutes then put the whole contents of the skillet through a food mill, leaving the skins and the seeds of the tomatoes behind.

Apple sauce is another great use for the food mill.  Don’t peel the apples, just leave out the seeds and the stem.  After the apples are cooked and you mill them,  the skins will be left  behind and your sauce will be vibrant with color and more flavor and vitamins from being cooked with the skins.

Penne Arrabiata ©Karen Lee 2013

 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

4 cloves garlic, sliced

¼ cup diced onions

2 tablespoons diced shallots

½ cup diced leeks (white and light green parts)

1/16 teaspoon cayenne (more if you like spicy)

½ teaspoon sugar

½ teaspoon dried oregano

1 teaspoon salt

1 or 2 jalapeno peppers (seeds and membrane removed), and diced (use rubber gloves)

2 tablespoons tomato paste

1 pound fresh tomatoes, diced

28-oz can whole peeled tomatoes with liquid (remove basil from can if any); use hands to squeeze and crush into large chunks

1 pound Penne

1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

2 tablespoons olive oil to drizzle on pasta before serving

1 teaspoon chili oil (optional)

Heat oil, add garlic, sauté for 2 minutes over low to medium heat.  Add onion, shallots, leeks; sauté for an additional 4 minutes or until the onions just  begin to take on color.  Add cayenne, sugar, oregano and salt; sauté another 2 minutes to bring out the flavor.  Add jalapenos; sauté 1 minute.  Add the tomato paste; let sizzle in pan for two minutes.  Add the diced fresh tomatoes and the canned tomatoes with their juice; simmer for 30-40 minutes or until the sauce separates.

Cook pasta for half the time the package directs and then taste.  Make it al dente.  Drain then add to sauce to coat.  Turn off heat and toss using two wooden spoons.  Place on a serving platter and add the parmesan cheese.  Toss again then drizzle with finishing oil and optional chili oil.  Garnish with whole sprigs of parsley or basil leaves.







La Sauce C’est Tout


The French say, “The sauce is everything”.

For the roasted Poussin I just wrote about on March 18th, a simple but delicious sauce can be made from the natural drippings from the skillet in which you roasted the Poussin (little chicken).

To Make The Sauce

After having removed the Poussin to a plate, add 2 tablespoons white wine or sherry to the drippings in the skillet in which you have roasted the Poussin.  Reduce over low heat for 2 minutes.  Add 3 tablespoons of chicken stock and reduce a few minutes  or by 50 percent.  Dissolve 1 teaspoon arrowroot or water chestnut powder in 1 tablespoon water.  Add this binder to sauce to thicken. Still over low heat pour the binder slowly with one hand while continuously stirring with the other. You could swirl in 2 teaspoons of butter to make the sauce extra delicious but you can also get away without the butter.  Remove sauce from heat immediately lest the butter will break, i.e., will separate from the sauce.  Done.

For sherry I like Savory and James Amontillado, Jerez.   For the white wine I like Mokoroa, Cosecha, 2011.  I buy these two brands at the 67 Wine and Spirits, 212-724-6767.  Ask for Oscar.




Chicken Vindaloo

Chicken Vindaloo

Chicken Vindaloo

 Karen Lee’s adaptation of a Julie Sahni recipe.   Julie Sahni is the author of Indian cookbooks.

You can get a good butcher to cut up the chicken.  If the chicken is 3 pounds or less then leave the thighs whole.   I like to slip the skin off the legs as well.  Easy to do.  I prefer to skin the chicken as the sauce is less fatty this way.

This braised Indian dish is wonderful and flavorful.  A lemon rice pilaf (next week) , mint chutney (soon) and the saag paneer (see table of contents) would make a delicious dinner.

A good opportunity to use healthful Indian spices.  Chicken Vindaloo reheats well and lasts in frig for 3 days.

Julie Sahni says:  “A specialty of Goanese Christians of Portuguese descent, Vindaloo is a very hot and spicy curry flavored dish with cayenne and green chilies.  The Vindaloo sauce by itself may be used over meat and fish.  Combined with an equal portion of tomato sauce it makes a delightful barbecue sauce.”

One 3 to 3½ pound chicken (organic if possible) cut up, skin removed (remove legs and wings then skin the chicken, cut thighs in half and cut breast in 4 pieces)

¼ cup olive oil

2 cups chopped onion

1 Tbsp. chopped garlic, green stem removed if any

2 Tbsp. minced ginger

2 tsp. mustard seeds

1½ tsp. cumin

½ tsp. turmeric

½ tsp. cinnamon

¼ tsp. ground cloves

¼ tsp. cayenne

2 tsp. paprika

½ to 1 cup chicken stock

1  full tsp. tamarind paste

1 Tbsp. rice vinegar

1 tsp. dark brown sugar

1 tsp. salt

Garnish: 2 to 4 jalapeño finely diced, no seeds, no membrane; and cilantro leaves

Wash chicken by submerging and lifting the pieces in a bowl of cold water.  Dry each piece well.  Remove the kidneys if they have not been removed (they look like the color of liver and are lodged in the cavity near the rear end).

Place a 12–inch skillet over high heat for 1 minute.  Add ¼ cup olive oil and then the chicken pieces; spread them out in a single layer with a wooden spoon.  Turn the heat to medium.  Let them build a crust before turning.  Sauté about 8 minutes or until brown. Remove to a plate.

Turn the heat to low and add more oil if necessary; add the garlic and sauté for 2 minutes; then add the onions and sauté for one minute; then add the ginger and continue to sauté for 5 minutes.  Add the cumin, mustard seeds, cinnamon, clove, turmeric, cayenne and paprika.  Sauté for about 3 minutes; then add the tamarind paste, sugar and vinegar and stir a minute; then add the chicken pieces and any resting juices from the plate.  Stir to mix, then add 1 cup of chicken stock.  Bring to a boil.  Lower heat, and cook cover askew until the chicken is tender and the sauce has thickened, about 20 minutes. Transfer to a serving dish and garnish with the chopped hot peppers and cilantro.