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.

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.

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.

Turmeric-Cumin Fix For The Day

In a small sauce pan or skillet over low heat, heat 1/4 cup of extra virgin olive oil for 1 minute. Add 1 tablespoon of sliced garlic ( green stem removed), saute for 2 minutes or until garlic softens. Add 1/2  teaspoon  turmeric and 1/2 teaspoon cumin and continue to heat for 3-4 minutes over very low heat. If the bubbles are too rapid remove skillet from heat. The oil must stay green, so it does not become saturated. Use as a dip for bread instead of butter or you can spoon it over rice or a baked potato.

Rosemary Garlic Oil

My recent blog covered my favorite breads in New York City.  Wanted to tell you about a great substitute for butter that is so delicious it has become a regular part of my diet – Rosemary Garlic Oil.

Bubbles are the secret to making perfect Rosemary Garlic Oil.  You want the oil to start out green and end up green.  The slower the bubbles the lower the oil temperature.  You also want the garlic just to take on a light golden brown color, really before the golden brown stage.

In addition to using Rosemary Garlic Oil for dipping your bread, you can spoon it over a baked potato, rice or pasta.  A little parmesan cheese would enhance a side dish of pasta with Rosemary Garlic Oil.  I also like to spoon it into various vegetable based soups.  Whenever you are using fresh rosemary, add it at the end of cooking to preserve all its health benefits.

Rosemary Garlic Oil


  • ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon sliced garlic (crush garlic, remove peeling, cut in half and remove green stem )
  • Pinch of dried chili pepper
  • 1/16 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary


  1. In a small skillet or sauce pan heat the olive over low heat for about 2 minutes. Add the garlic and let it sizzle for a minute. Add the chili pepper and the salt. Stir with a wooden spoon or bamboo chopsticks. If the bubbles are too rapid then take the skillet off the heat. Sauté the garlic for a few minutes or until it just begins to color. Add the rosemary; turn off the heat. Done. Best used the same day but you can save it for a few days in the frig. Rosemary has tremendous health benefits.

Marco Polo

I didn’t check in with you yesterday because I ran out of time.  I took off a few hours to visit the Kublai Kahn exhibit at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.  Kublai Kahn, emperor of the Mongol Empire from 1260 to 1294, welcomed Marco Polo to China.  I became fascinated with this part of history when I read a book on Marco Polo by the historian Laurence Bergreen (Marco Polo:  From Venice to Xanadu).

I met the author when I was catering his book publishing party.   Some points of interest:  It took Marco Polo (father and uncle) three years to travel to China from Venice.  That was in the 13th century.  Now it would take me from New York City to China only 18 hours.  In his estate the items he left to his children were listed in this order:  Spices, Material, Gold and Property.

I was happy to see that spices were first in his list. From a cooks point of view he has his priorities in the right order.

Turkey Fried Rice

A great way to use leftover turkey or chicken or duck is to make Fried Rice.  This recipe is for Turkey Fried Rice made with your leftover Roasted Turkey.

The secret to cooking fried rice is to use cold leftover rice.  Brown rice is considered a whole grain.  Turmeric has been given credit for playing a role in preventing inflammation, acid reflux, and some even say cancer.  Cumin is considered to be a healing spice in regards to the prevention of Alzheimer’s.  Cayenne has been given credit for lowering cholesterol, fighting infection, and inflammation and is easy to digest.

You don’t have to have all these ingredients, just the spice mix, the rice, turkey, turkey skin and a few vegetables (onion, pepper, carrot will suffice).  Sometimes I add corn to the mixture of vegetables.  If adding corn, steam or boil for 4 minutes then shave off the kernels after steaming.  I like to mix 2 or 3 different kinds of brown rice but just one kind is good too.  If you prefer you can use white rice.

Turkey Fried Rice


  • Spice mix
  • Measure all spices by scoop and sweep method i.e. level
  • 1 teaspoon curry powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1/4 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • Pinch of cayenne
  • 1 Tablespoon of peanut oil or pure olive oil
  • 3 ½ cups cooked cold rice (see yesterday’s blog for Steamed Brown Rice)
  • Generous ½ cup of turkey skin (leftover from your roasted turkey), diced
  • 1 ½ tablespoons of peanut oil or pure olive oil
  • 1 medium red onion diced, about 3/4 cup ( green stem removed)
  • 1 leek diced
  • 1/3 cup carrot diced (scrubbed but not peeled if organic)
  • 1 Jalapeño pepper, diced (no seeds no membrane)
  • ¾ cup diced red pepper (no seeds, no membrane)
  • 1 cup diced leftover turkey meat


  1. Mix together the spice mix: curry powder, cumin, turmeric, paprika, salt, cayenne, and 1 tablespoon oil.
  2. Make rice and let cool, then refrigerate until cold. This can be done in the morning or the day before. Or just use left-over rice.
  3. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. To make the roasted turkey skin crisp, place in an iron skillet and roast in the oven about 15-20 minutes.
  4. Heat an iron skillet or a steel wok over high heat for about 2 minutes. Turn the heat to medium and add 1 tablespoon oil. Add red onions and leeks. Sauté until translucent. Add carrots and sauté another minute. Add Jalapeno and red peppers; sauté another minute. Remove contents of wok to a dish.
  5. In the same skillet (or wok), add another 1 ½ tablespoons oil; add rice, turn heat to high. Press down on the top of the rice with a spatula then sauté about 2 minutes breaking up the rice. Turn heat to medium and add the spice mix and continue to stir fry a minute. Then add the turkey; stir a few seconds. Empty contents of skillet (or wok) onto a serving platter.
  6. Drape the vegetables over the rice.
  7. Top with the crispy turkey skin.


Turmeric is a spice used in Indian cooking, one of many included in curry powder. Once purchased, best stored in a glass jar. Given credit for preventing acid reflux, inflammation and cancer. If possible it’s best to include a little turmeric in your diet everyday. Flavor and health benefits are enhanced when added to oil, onion, or garlic, and sauteed over low heat.