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.

How To Sauté

Sautéing is a cooking technique for browning meat in a little bit of oil or a combination of oil and butter. When referring to meat I mean steak, lamb, pork, veal, chicken or fish. This technique is good for a piece of meat up to 3/4-inch thick.


Rinse the pan (iron skillet if not making a sauce otherwise stainless steel).
Dry over high heat.
Turn the heat to medium.
Add a small amount of oil or a combination of oil and butter.
Usually the meat is lightly coated in flour, salt and pepper. Salmon, swordfish, tuna, and steak would be four exceptions; no flour is needed.
I like to tap off the excess flour.
Lower the meat into the pan and sauté for a few minutes. Once nicely browned, turn and then sauté on the other side.
If you have a thin piece of fish you might only sauté on the second side for a few seconds lest the fish be overcooked. Just go for that mahogany brown on one side when you are dealing with a thin piece of fish.
If the pan is smoking, turn down the heat.
If you do not hear anything (a good sizzling sound) then turn up the heat.

Tips for Sautéing Success

  • To avoid sticking, heat the pan before you add the oil.
  • The meat must be dry in order to achieve the desired crusty brown and to avoid sticking.
  • Do not overcrowd the pan because the meat will steam instead of sauté.
  • For a gluten-free option, I coat in water chestnut powder instead of flour.
  • Be mindful of the pan drippings as you don’t want them to get too dark if you are making a sauce.

Answering the Soy Question

Whenever soy sauce is called for in a recipe, students always ask when to use which type of soy. With Chinese, Japanese, Dark, Light, and Tamari variations, no wonder it is confusing!


When to use which soy?

Generally speaking, for marinating I like to use the Chinese Light Soy (Thin) or the Japanese Soy. For seasoning sauces I use either Dark Soy or a combination of Dark and Light.

If you need Dark Soy and if you can’t get to Chinatown, just pick up a bottle of Japanese Soy, empty half of it into a bottle or jar, add 10 percent molasses, then label it Dark Soy.

Chinese Soy is available in Chinatown. Two sources are: Tokyo Market at 91 Mulberry Street and Kam Man at 200 Canal Street.

I buy Japanese Soy at Fairway and Whole Foods. My favorite brand is San-J Shoyu Organic. I also like Eden.

What are the differences?

Dark Soy has molasses in it, which makes it thicker and sweeter. My favorite brand is Koon Chun.

Light Soy, also known as Thin Soy, is thinner and saltier. Koon Chun is my favorite brand.

Tamari is soy made without wheat but it must say on the label “gluten free”. San-J Organic Tamari, gluten free, is my favorite brand.

Chef Secrets

  • Always buy soy in a glass bottle, never plastic. Plastic imparts a bad taste and studies show long-term storage of salty and oily substances in plastic have a carcinogenic effect on food.
  • Store soy at room temperature, up to 3 months, away from heat and light. If keeping longer I recommend refrigeration.
  • Measure precisely as it is so salty it can wreck a dish.
  • Rather than buying low salt soy I just cut the soy called for in a recipe by half and make up the difference with sherry, sake, or homemade salt free chicken stock.

Great Time of Year for Wild Mushrooms

I love old mushrooms. I buy them a week in advance and put them on a plate in the refrigerator.

Karen Lee Wild Mushroom Pasta

The mushrooms will lose moisture while sitting in the frig, instead of giving up lots of water in the sauté pan.

This trick results in a nice and crispy mushroom sauté, and not a soggy one.

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.

My Favorite Yogurts

All my favorite yogurts are organic. They are made in small batches from organic farms.

The cows feed on grass, hay, grains, which produces milk that is better for your heart and tastes better.  The grass on which they graze has not been treated with chemicals. The cows have not been treated with hormones or stimulants.

The milk is pasteurized, but not homogenized so the cream is on top. The taste is superb and superior.

I am reminded of one of my favorite quotes.

The best things and best people rise out of their separateness; I’m against a homogenized society because I want the cream to rise.

— Robert Frost

I eat half a cup of yogurt every day.

If eaten sans sugar, yogurt is probiotic, which means it replaces the good bacteria in your intestines.

I add ½ teaspoon of cinnamon.  Cinnamon has been give credit for lowering the cholesterol and acting as a natural inflammatory.  After eating ½ teaspoon of cinnamon every day for several months, my blood test revealed that my triglycerides had taken a dive.

The yogurt brands I like are:

  • Maple Leaf Creamery
  • Hawthorne
  • Erivan
  • Butterworks

I buy them at Fairway, Gourmet Garage, Whole Foods and Farmers Markets.

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.

Roasted Plum Tomatoes


Roasted Plum Tomatoes are delicious and versatile:

  • As a side to broiled or pan roasted fish.
  • In pasta dishes.
  • Also good to eat with mozzarella or for goat cheese and tomato crostini or in a sandwich.
  • As a flavor enhancer when added to vegetable soup.
  • You can also put them through a food mill for a smooth tomato sauce.

So great to have Roasted Plum Tomatoes on call to use in a variety of dishes. They last for one week in the frig.

You can still find local plum tomatoes at the farmers markets and the price is right. You may not even have to let them ripen this time of the year.

Roasted Plum Tomatoes © Karen Lee 2013

  • 12 ripe plum tomatoes, washed and dried
  • 2-3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • ½ teaspoon salt mixed with 1/8-teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 2-3 cloves of garlic, sliced, green stem removed if any

Drizzle a small amount of olive oil in a stainless steel skillet or a shallow roasting pan. The skillet you choose should be big enough so the tomatoes have a little space between them.

Slice the tomatoes in half lengthwise with a serrated knife and put them in the skillet cut-side up. Do not over crowd. Drizzle with extra virgin olive oil. Season with salt and cayenne. Insert a sliver of garlic in each half.

Roast at 300° for 1-3 hours or until they have shriveled a little, are soft, and are a little brown on the bottom but still holding their shape.

This recipe can be adjusted to a small amount or a large amount of tomatoes. The more tomatoes you have in the oven the longer they will take to finish roasting.