Halibut Oreganata © Karen Lee 2013

In my Saturday April 20th cooking class we made:

Halibut Oreganata


Braised Fava Beans with Herbs

I added this dish to the menu at the last minute when I saw fresh organic Fava beans on the second floor of Fairway).

Sautéed Asparagus with Ramps

I found the ramps at Citeralla much to my surprise.  That saved me 3 hours round trip by not going to the Union Square Market.  Ramps really made the dish, they are so sweet.  I describe them as a cousin to leeks, only much more tender.  They are in season just 3 weeks out of the year and the time is now.

Halibut Oreganata

Wild caught from Canada and purchased from Pisacane (51st and First Avenue, 212-758-1525 ask for Paul) was glistening and fresh as can be.

Pasta with Arabiata Sauce

We used fresh and canned tomatoes.  Best tomatoes right now are Tasti Lee.  I buy them at Gourmet Garage. They are grown in Florida.  Let them ripen a day or two at room temperature.

Linzer Cookies


Halibut Oreganata © Karen Lee 2013

  • 1 pound of halibut, not more than one to 1¼ inches thick, skin off


  • 1½ Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 Tbsp. sliced garlic, green stem removed
  • 3 Tbsp. chopped shallots or cipollini or combination of both
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • A few grindings of black pepper and a pinch of cayenne
  • ¾ tsp. dried oregano (preferably wild-harvested)
  • 3 to 4 Tbsp. of bread crumbs (brioche roll, cubed then pulverized in Cuisinart)
  • 1 tsp. fresh thyme leaves
  • 1 Tbsp. chopped parsley

Final Seasoning

  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • Lemon juice
  • Salt
  • Garnish with snipped chives (optional)

Preheat oven to 425º.

Dip halibut in a bowl of cold water for one second then dry well with paper towels.  Place the fish in a metal roasting pan that has been rubbed with olive oil or in a skillet that just fits the size of the fish (or a little larger).

Place a small sauté pan over low heat for one minute.

Add the 1½ Tbsp. of olive oil and heat slightly.

Add the garlic and sauté for 2 minutes on very low heat, never allowing the oil to get too hot and lose its green color.  Add the shallots and continue to sauté over low heat.  Take the pan off the heat if necessary to lower the heat.  While the shallots are sautéing add the salt, black pepper, cayenne and oregano.  Turn off the heat.  Add the bread crumbs, fresh thyme and fresh parsley. Using an icing spatula, spread the topping over the fish.  Roast fish for about 5 to 10 minutes. Time will vary depending on the thickness of the fish. If necessary run fish under the broiler for 30 seconds to 2 minutes to get the desired crust. Watch like a hawk. You are looking for brown and crusty, it is more about the color and crust than the timing.  Using two spatulas remove the fish from the pan and place on a serving platter.  Drizzle a little extra virgin olive oil over the fish, and then squeeze a little lemon juice and a sprinkling of salt.  Garnish with optional chives.


If roasting more than 1 pound of fish, increase the topping accordingly and the cooking time…anywhere from 15 to 25 minutes roasting time depending on the thickness of the fish and the number of pounds.

You can tell when the halibut is done by inserting the point of the knife into the thickest part of the fish and the knife-point goes through easily.  If the fish stops the knife it is raw in the center.

Also you will see albumen (white liquid protein) form around the fish.

You can undercook the halibut slightly to allow for carry over cooking time.

Spring Vegetarian Delicacy

Fava Beans, one of the treasured parts of spring have arrived. We made these in class recently and they were a big hit. I wanted to share the recipe with you. You can serve them as an appetizer, or a side dish; hot, or room temperature.

Braised Fava Beans

Braised Fava Beans


  • 3 ½ pounds of fava beans (once shelled, blanched and skins slipped off will yield 1 cup and 2 tablespoons)
  • 1 cup leeks (white and light green parts only), split, washed and diced
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • 5 turns of freshly ground black pepper
  • ½ cup (or more) of chicken stock, warmed
  • ½ tsp. chopped fresh thyme or marjoram
  • ½ tsp. chopped fresh rosemary
  • 2 tbsp. chiffonade of fresh basil
  • 1 tbsp. fresh parsley
  • 1 tbsp. finely diced scallions (split lengthwise then sliced into 1/8 inch semi-circles) or snipped chives
  • 2 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil for sautéing
  • 2 tsp. of extra virgin olive oil for finishing


  1. After shelling the fava beans, blanch half of them in 2 cups of rapidly boiling water for 1 minute. Remove with a slotted spoon then repeat with the other half. Slip off the skins. Set aside.
  2. In a 10-inch stainless steel skillet, sauté the leeks for 3 minutes in 2 tbsp. of olive oil over medium low heat or until they have softened. Add the salt and pepper. Add the fava beans to the sauté pan and turn over in the oil for 2 minutes. Add the stock a few tbsp. at a time, using up to ½ cup, as necessary, until the fava beans are cooked through. Total time will be between 7 to 10 minutes, but begin to taste for doneness after the first 5 minutes. Be careful not to stir the beans too often or they will begin to break. Remove from the heat. Add the herbs – the thyme, rosemary, half the basil and half the parsley to the pan.
  3. Place the fava beans on a serving plate. Drizzle the beans with 2 tsp. of olive oil. Season with salt and pepper. Finally, sprinkle the beans with the diced scallions and the rest of the basil chiffonade and parsley.
  4. The dish can be made a few hours ahead and can be served either hot at room temperature.


As an alternative to the fava beans, the dish can be made with any fresh bean, such as cranberry or lima beans, or with any dried beans, such as chick peas or black beans, which will need to be soaked and cooked in advance.

“Last Taste of Summer”

We recently prepared in class this Black Bean and Corn Salad.  Julie Inglis, one of my regular students, commented, “This is delicious. . . . our last taste of summer”.

Black Bean and Corn Salad is great to serve as a side dish, as a first course, for lunch or as an hors d’oeuvres in Belgian endive leaves.  I place the corn salad and the black bean salad along side of each other so the black beans do not bleed into the corn.

You can still buy corn from open air and farmers markets.  During colder months I buy corn from produce stores and some supermarkets.  Always ask: “Was the corn delivered today?” and if the produce person said yes then I buy it. The sugar in corn turns to starch overnight so when you return home, steam or boil it right away to preserve all the sugar and that sweet wonderful appealing taste of corn.

Black Bean and Corn Salad  and Tomato Salad

© Karen Lee 2012

1 cup black beans, washed, drained, covered with water by 7 inches, soaked for 8 hours, drained and simmered covered in 2 cups of water and one bay leaf for 1 hour or until soft. When the beans have cooked through, you should have no more than 2 tablespoons of water in bottom of pan. Add 1 teaspoon of salt to the black beans at the end of the cooking. Allow to cool. This step can be done three days in advance.

4-8 ears of corn (buy and cook same day).  Steam or boil for 4 minutes. Shocking is not necessary.  After cooling, shave off corn kernels.

1 cup cherry tomatoes, cut in half or quarters if they are large

½ cup snipped chives or ¼ cup scallions cut into 1/8- inch rounds

1/3 cup red onion, diced, then soaked in ice water for 15 minutes, drained

2 tablespoons chopped parsley

2 tablespoons chopped cilantro (opt.)

2 tablespoons chopped dill


1 ½ tablespoons rice vinegar

1 ½ tablespoons aged sherry vinegar

3 tablespoons olive oil

1/8 teaspoon black pepper

½ teaspoon ground cumin


Place the tomatoes and corn in one bowl and toss gently with dressing.

Dress the black beans separately.

Scatter arugula or water cress or mesculin on a serving platter or individual plates.

Add herbs and scallions to the black beans and toss.

Place the corn mixture and the black beans side by side over the greens.


Chick Pea Stew

Chick Pea Stew   ©Karen Lee 2011

Today I made for lunch:  Roasted potatoes, braised kale and Chick Pea Stew. I love having a vegetarian lunch. It is light, low in calories and gives you a boost of energy.  Chick Pea Stew is a good way to have your turmeric/cumin fix of the day.

Chick Pea Stew


    For the Stew:
  • 1 cup of cooked chick peas (preferably dried, soaked, and simmered; see recipe below); you can substitute canned
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 clove of garlic (green stem removed), sliced
  • ¼ cup diced leeks or onion
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1/16 teaspoon cayenne or a tablespoon of finely diced fresh hot pepper (no seeds no membrane)
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cumin
  • ¼ teaspoon turmeric
  • 2/3 cup diced ripe tomato
  • 1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil for finishing
  • For the Chick Peas:
  • 1 cup of dry chick peas
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1 bay leaf


  1. Rinse a small saucepan with water and then dry over low heat. When water evaporates add the 1 tablespoon of olive oil and then the garlic; sauté for 2 minutes or until the garlic just begins to take on a light color.
  2. Add the leeks; continue to sauté for another minute.
  3. Then add the salt, cayenne, cumin and turmeric; slowly sauté for about 3 minutes stirring with a wooden spoon every once in a while and taking care not to burn the spices.
  4. Add the tomato; simmer for 5 minutes or until it has made a sauce.
  5. Add the chick peas; simmer another 2 minutes.
  6. Dish then drizzle extra virgin olive oil over all. Taste for salt.
  7. For the chick peas
  8. Measure and wash 1 cup of chick peas. Drain.
  9. Place in a large glass bowl and cover with water generously (about 7 inches).
  10. Place a plate or loose cover over the chick peas and allow to soak for 8 hours.
  11. Drain and discard the water.
  12. Bring 2 cups of water to a boil in a medium size saucepan. Add the chick peas, return to a boil. Add one bay leaf.
  13. With cover askew simmer one hour checking every 15 or so minutes; simmer until soft. You may need to add more water. The finished chick peas should just have a few tablespoons of water in the pan. Add salt at the end of the cooking time.


Anything left over can be stored in the frig for 5 days.

When the Indian spices are allowed to sauté slowly in the oil over low heat it brings out the flavor and health benefits.

½ cup of cooked beans a day is a good goal to have in your diet.  Beans provide protein without fat and they add fiber.  They have been given credit for lowering cholesterol and helping prevent heart disease.  Additionally, chick peas are good for the kidneys.

If you choose canned chick peas, always rinse before using.

I love to have cooked chick peas in the frig ready to go because they are great in salads, soups, or to make hummus.

Never throw out the chick pea liquid:  you can use it in soup or rice or as a substitute for stock in vegetarian cooking.

Cooked chick peas will last for 5 days in the frig.

Vegetable Stock

I love to make vegetable stock.  It is easy (much faster than chicken stock), great to have on hand, and has a wonderful aroma that fills the whole apartment.  As soon as it is ready I pour myself a cup and drink it like tea.  Healthy, sweet, delicious, light, it makes me feel so good.

You can use vegetable stock for soups, rice, and braising vegetables.  It lasts for 5 days in the refrigerator or it can be frozen for several months.  If freezing, freeze in plastic with at least 2 inches of head space to allow for expansion.

Vegetable Stock


  • 3 cups of dried chickpeas
  • 2 ribs of celery cut into ½ inch pieces
  • 2 carrots washed (but not peeled if organic) cut into ½ inch pieces
  • 2 small to medium turnips, washed (but not peeled if organic) cut into ½ inch dice
  • 1 or 2 parsnips, small to medium, cut into ½ inch dice
  • 1 onion, peeled and diced
  • 4 cups or more green part of the leeks, cut into ½ inch pieces
  • Half a bunch of parsley stems
  • 2 bay leaves


  1. Place chickpeas on a white plate and go over for stones and dirt. Wash chickpeas by submerging and lifting in a bowl of cold water, then drain. Soak the chickpeas in water to cover by 7 inches overnight (8 hours).
  2. Drain then add to stockpot. I like to use one that has a 6-quart capacity. Stainless steel or enamel.
  3. Wash, cut, and then add all the vegetables and the bay leaves to the stockpot.
  4. Cover with cold water by 3 inches.
  5. Bring to a boil over high heat. Then turn the heat to medium and cook at a fast simmer for 1 hour, no cover.
  6. Turn off the heat, and allow to steep for 1 hour. Strain, cool and refrigerate.
  7. I like to make secondary stock by placing the drained vegetables in a clean stockpot and adding 1 quart of water and simmering for 20 minutes, then drain. Refrigerated, vegetables stock will last 5 days or it can be frozen for 6 months.
  8. N.B. the cutting of the vegetables does not have to be precise.


Lentil Minestrone Soup

Tips: Do not let the soup boil at any time. Just a lazy simmer. Measure the dried spices level. I prefer to make my own stock but if you wish to buy stock choose one without salt, msg, or chemicals. I like to use a combination of vegetable and chicken stock. Gently heat the stock in a separate saucepan before adding it to the soup.

If possible use organic lentils and vegetables. My first choice lentils are Shiloh Farms black beluga lentils, second choice is  French green lentils, but you could use any kind of lentils. Spread the lentils out on a white plate and look them over for stones and shaft. Then wash them like rice, i.e., you put lentils in a bowl, cover them with cold water; let any dirt particles float to the top and then pour them off along with the water. Soaking lentils over night is not necessary.

For the pasta my first choice is the tortellini made by a company in Bologna, named Bertagni. Their pasta is sold in N.Y.C. at Fairway and Zabars. Or you could use a short dried pasta of your choice. You can store the soup in the frig for 5 days. Great to come home to.

Lentil Minestrone Soup

Serving Size: 4-6


  • ½ cup lentils, washed and drained
  • 2 bay leaves
  • ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil, plus a little extra to finish
  • 4 garlic cloves, sliced (green stem removed, if any)
  • 1 cup diced onion
  • 1 cup diced leek (white and light green parts)
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1/3 tsp. cumin
  • 1/3 tsp. turmeric
  • 1/8 tsp. cayenne
  • 1/2 cup carrots, diced
  • 1 cup celery, diced
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1 cup diced ripe tomatoes (or substitute canned tomatoes)
  • 8-9 cups combination of vegetable and chicken stock
  • ½ bunch Swiss chard, washed and cut finely
  • 1 cup fresh tortellini, boiled and drained
  • Rosemary oil (see recipe on blog) to add at the end or a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil
  • ½ cup (or more) grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
  • Chopped parsley for garnish


  1. Bring 1½ cups of water to a boil. Add the lentils and bring back to a boil. Add the bay leaves; cover, turn heat to low and simmer 35 to 40 minutes; taste to see is they are soft. Turn off heat.
  2. Place a wide pot 10 to 12 inches preferable stainless steel or enamel over high heat for one minute. Turn the heat to medium-low and add 3 tablespoons of oil and then the garlic. Sauté for 2 minutes, then add the onions and leeks and continue to sauté for 3 to 4 minutes. Add the salt, cumin, turmeric, and cayenne; continue to sauté for another 3 minutes. Add the carrots and celery and sauté another minute. Add the tomato paste and move it around with a wooden spoon for 2 minutes then add the tomatoes. Turn the heat to high and add 8 cups of stock, bring to just below boiling and then turn the heat to low and simmer 10 minutes with cover askew; then add the cooked lentils and simmer another 10 to 15 minutes, cover askew.
  3. In a separate 12-inch sauté pan, sauté greens in olive oil for 3-4 minutes adding a little stock as you go. Taste for salt just before serving, add the greens and the pasta to the soup; check the thickness and add more stock if necessary and bring back to a simmer. Serve with extra virgin olive oil drizzled into each bowl, or rosemary oil and grated Parmesan and chopped parsley.