Food & Drink

Weekly Recipes


Simit (Sesame Bread Rings)

1 packet (1/4 ounce) active dry yeast

1/2 teaspoon granulated sugar

3/4 cup lukewarm water, 105 to 115 degrees

1 pound (3 3/4 cups) all-purpose flour, preferably unbleached

1 teaspoon salt

1 tablespoon honey or granulated sugar

1 tablespoon melted butter or sunflower oil

A few drops olive or sunflower oil

1 egg, beaten

1 cup sesame seeds

Serves six.

Mix together the yeast and 1/2 teaspoon granulated sugar in a little of the lukewarm water. Let stand 10 minutes until frothy.

Sift the flour with the salt into a bowl and stir in the honey or additional tablespoon of sugar. Make a well in the center and pour in the yeast, tablespoon of oil and the rest of the water. Use your hands to draw the flour in from the sides. Add more water if necessary, a tablespoon or two at a time; it may take an additional 1/2 cup or more. The dough will be very stiff. Knead well until the dough is very smooth, springy and elastic, about 15 minutes. Roll the ball of dough in a few drops of olive oil in a bowl and cover with a damp towel or plastic wrap. Allow to rise until it doubles in size, about 2 hours.

Punch down dough, knead a few times, and roll into a log. Divide the log into 6 equal pieces. Roll each piece into a tight ball and let rest under a slightly damp towel for 30 minutes.

Roll each ball into a 14-inch long rope. Hold down one end of the rope with one hand while twisting it a few turns with the other. Then form this twisted rope into a ring, pressing and rolling the overlapping ends together on the work surface with one hand to seal. Place rings on 2 greased baking sheets, cover with a damp towel and let rest 1 hour.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spread sesame seeds on a plate. Brush each ring with the beaten egg and then dip into the sesame seeds, coating it heavily. Rotate each ring gently through your hands, enlarging it into a 7-inch circle. Place the rings back on the baking sheets and let rest 15 minutes or until well puffed. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes or until they are golden brown and sound hollow when tapped on the bottom.

Cold Sesame Broccoli

1 tablespoon sesame seeds

1 1/2 pounds (approximately) broccoli

1 tablespoon peanut or vegetable oil

2 teaspoons sesame oil

2 teaspoons finely chopped garlic

1 1/2 tablespoons light soy sauce or regular soy sauce

2 tablespoons finely chopped green onions

Serves four to six.

Place sesame seeds over medium heat in a small skillet. Cook, shaking pan occasionally, until seeds become fragrant and turn a couple of shades darker, about 3 to 5 minutes. Watch carefully to avoid burning. Set aside. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.

Cut off the broccoli heads and break them into small florets. Use a vegetable peeler to peel broccoli stems and then cut them into bite-sized pieces. Cook all broccoli pieces in the boiling water for 4 to 5 minutes; then drain and dry them in a colander or salad spinner. Place in a clean bowl.

Mix the remaining ingredients, including the sesame seeds, in a small bowl. When well-mixed, pour over broccoli and toss. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until cold. May be served the next day.

Sesame-Honey Wafers

1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, softened

1 cup granulated sugar

4 tablespoons honey

1 cup all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon powdered ginger

2 egg whites

2/3 cup sesame seeds

Makes about 40 wafers.

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.

With an electric mixer, cream the butter and sugar at high speed. Add the honey, flour and powdered ginger. When they are fully blended, add the egg whites and mix until all the ingredients are well combined.

Drop mixture by teaspoonfuls onto prepared baking sheets and use a wet finger to spread them into circles about 1/16-inch thick. Sprinkle the circles liberally with sesame seeds, pouring off any excess.

Bake 7 to 10 minutes until golden brown. Depending on placement in the oven, one sheet may be ready before the other.

Slide the parchment paper onto a wire rack and allow to cool. Store wafers in an airtight container.

Tekoua (Sugared Sesame Balls)

2 cups sesame seeds

1 1/4 cups confectioner’s sugar, divided

2 tablespoons water

Makes about 24 balls.

Place sesame seeds over medium heat in a small skillet. Cook, shaking pan occasionally, until seeds become fragrant and turn a couple of shades darker, about 3 to 5 minutes. Watch carefully to avoid burning.

When ready, grind the toasted seeds in a food processor or pound in a mortar with a pestle until they start to break down. Add 1 cup confectioner’s sugar, a little at a time, while continuing to grind or pound until the mixture is a thick paste.

To make a glaze, mix the remaining1/4 cup confectioner’s sugar with the water in a small bowl. Then, taking a small amount of the sesame mixture in your hands, roll the paste into small balls. Finish the balls by rolling them in the glaze.

Jan’s Sesame Bread

1/2 cup sesame seeds

3 cups water

4 tea bags

1 pound (2 cups) pitted prunes

3/4 cup vegetable oil

1 cup granulated sugar

5 eggs

1 1/2 cups plain yogurt

4 cups all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 tablespoon baking soda

Makes 2 loaves.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour 2 medium loaf pans (5 cups or 11/4 liter capacity). Place sesame seeds over medium heat in a small skillet. Cook, shaking pan occasionally, until seeds become fragrant and turn a couple of shades darker, about 3 to 5 minutes. Watch carefully to avoid burning.

Bring water to a boil in a medium saucepan. Remove from heat. Add tea bags and prunes. Let steep 15 minutes. Remove and discard tea bags. Drain prunes and cut into 1-inch pieces.

In a large mixing bowl, beat oil and sugar at medium speed. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add yogurt and prunes. Mix well. In a separate bowl, mix flour, salt, baking soda and sesame seeds. Fold dry ingredients into batter until just incorporated. Pour into prepared loaf pans.

Bake until cake tester or toothpick inserted into center of bread comes out clean, about 40 minutes. Let cool in pans 5 minutes. Unmold and let cool on a wire rack. Serve with butter and honey.



4 large egg whites

3/4 cup superfine sugar

Scant 1/2 cup all-purpose flour

Pinch of salt

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/2 cup ground toasted almonds

5 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature

Makes 30 cookies.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat, or grease with nonstick spray or butter.

In a bowl, whisk egg whites vigorously for 1 minute, until they form soft peaks. Add the sugar, flour, salt, vanilla extract and almonds and stir with a wooden spoon until smooth. Add the softened butter and continue to stir until well-combined. Spoon batter onto prepared baking sheet in discs about 2 inches in diameter, making no more than 6 or 8 cookies in each batch. Leave plenty of space between each cookie. With an offset spatula or table knife, spread the batter into a thin circle.

Bake 7 to 10 minutes until a pale golden brown. Use a spatula to carefully detach the cookies, one at a time, and curl each one while still hot around a pencil-size cylindrical object, such as a pencil.

Spiced Walnuts

1 pound walnut halves

1/2 cup granulated sugar

2 1/2 tablespoons corn oil

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon pepper

1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper, see note

11/4 teaspoons ground cumin

1/4 teaspoon coriander

1/2 teaspoon ginger

1/4 teaspoon ground cloves

1/2 teaspoon chili powder

Serves 15.

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

Blanch the walnuts in a large pot of boiling water for 1 minute and drain well. While still hot, put nuts in a bowl and toss with the sugar and corn oil. Let stand 10 minutes. Meanwhile, combine the salt, pepper, cayenne, cumin, coriander, ginger, cloves and chili powder, and set aside.

Arrange the nuts in a single layer on a rimmed baking tray. Bake 30 to 35 minutes, turning every 5 to 10 minutes. When nuts are brown and crispy, put them into a bowl. While they are still warm, add the seasonings and toss well. Spread the nuts in a single layer to cool completely. Store in an airtight container.

Note: These nuts are quite spicy. If you like your food with less of a kick, use less cayenne.

Classic Fudgy Brownies

1 stick unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces

6 ounces semisweet or bittersweet chocolate (up to 64 percent cacao), finely chopped

2 ounces unsweetened chocolate, finely chopped

1 cup granulated sugar

2 large eggs, at room temperature

1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

1/2 cup all-purpose flour

Pinch of salt

1/2 cup chocolate chips or chunks, optional

1/2 cup chopped nuts, toasted and cooled completely

Serves 16.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and position an oven rack in the center. Line an 8-inch-square cake pan with foil or parchment paper across the bottom and up two of the sides, then lightly coat with unflavored oil or canola-oil spray.

If you have a microwave, place the butter, 6 ounces of the semisweet or bittersweet chocolate and the unsweetened chocolate in a microwave-safe bowl and heat for 1 minute. Stir. If not completely melted, heat 30 more seconds and stir again. If not completely melted, heat 15 more seconds and stir again. Continue until the ingredients are melted and thoroughly mixed together.

If you don’t have a microwave, bring 2 inches of water to a boil in the bottom of a double boiler. Place the butter, 6 ounces of the semisweet or bittersweet chocolate and unsweetened chocolate in the top of a double boiler and turn off the heat. Stir occasionally with a spatula until the chocolate is melted and the mixture is smooth.

Remove the chocolate mixture from the heat and whisk in the sugar. Whisk in the eggs, one at a time, stirring well to incorporate each before adding the next. Stir in the vanilla extract. Whisk in the flour and salt. Continue to stir until the mixture changes from dull and broken-looking to smooth and shiny, about 1 minute. Whisk in the chocolate chips and chopped nuts, if using.

Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and spread evenly. Bake 35 to 40 minutes, until a skewer inserted into the center of the brownies comes out with a few moist crumbs clinging to it (do not overbake). Transfer to a rack and cool completely.

Lift the brownies out of the pan by gently pulling up on the overhanging parchment or foil (you may have to loosen the brownies from the pan by running a thin knife or flexible spatula around the edges). Set the brownies on a cutting surface and use a chef’s knife to cut into 16 equal pieces. Store at room temperature for 2 to 3 days, or in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.

Salted Caramel-Swirled Pumpkin Cheesecake Bars

1 stick unsalted butter

1 cup graham cracker crumbs

3/4 cup light brown sugar, packed

1 tablespoon cornstarch

Pinch salt, optional

1 egg

6 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature and very soft

1/2 cup granulated sugar

1/3 heaping cup pumpkin puree

2 1/2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

1/2 cup thick salted caramel sauce, see note

Serves 12.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line an 8-by-8-inch baking pan with aluminum foil, leaving an overhang on 2 sides, and spray with cooking spray. Set aside.

For the crust: In a medium, microwave-safe bowl, melt the butter, about 1 minute on high power. Add the graham cracker crumbs, brown sugar, cornstarch and salt, if using. Mix well with a fork to combine. Pour the crumbs into the prepared pan and use a spatula to pack the mixture firmly into the pan in an even, flat layer. Set aside.

For the filling: In a medium bowl (you can use the same, unwashed bowl), combine egg, cream cheese, sugar, pumpkin, pumpkin pie spice and vanilla, and whisk (or use a mixer) until smooth and combined. The softer the cream cheese, the easier the mixture comes together. Add the flour and mix just to incorporate. Do not overmix.

Pour the filling into the crust. Top with caramel sauce, swirled in a fanciful design.

Bake 40 minutes or until center is set with very little jiggle; some looseness is OK, but there should be no sloshing in the center. A toothpick inserted in the center should come out mostly clean or with just a few moist crumbs. Cool bars in pan for 1 hour before lifting out, using the foil overhang, and slicing. They are best when served chilled: Cover the pan with foil and refrigerate 2 hours or overnight before slicing and serving. Bars will keep in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.

Note: For caramel sauce, either make your own or use store-bought. But do not use ice cream or sundae sauce made with corn syrup listed as the first ingredient; it will be too thin.


1 (15-ounce) can chickpeas

2 tablespoons olive oil, plus more for serving

2 tablespoons lemon juice

1 clove garlic, minced

1 green onion, chopped fine

1/4 teaspoon ground cumin

2 tablespoons tahini

Salt, to taste

Makes 1 1/2 cups.

Drain the canned chickpeas and reserve the juice. Add the chickpeas to a food processor along with 2 tablespoons of the juice, oil, lemon juice, garlic, green onion, cumin, tahini and salt to taste -- remember, some canned beans are unsalted and will need more salt than others.

Process until as smooth or coarse as you choose. If desired, add more of the reserved juice to make it smoother and thinner. Taste and adjust the amount of salt and lemon juice.

Drizzle more oil on top to serve, and serve with wedges of pita, baby carrots, halved radishes, sliced celery, sliced cucumbers and the like. Overnight refrigeration will lessen the intensity of the garlic and green onion, if you prefer.

Commissary Carrot Cake


1 1/2 cups granulated sugar

1/4 cup all-purpose flour

3/4 teaspoon salt

1 1/2 cups heavy cream

6 ounces (3/4 cup) unsalted butter

11/4 cups chopped pecans

2 teaspoons vanilla extract


11/4 cups corn oil

2 cups granulated sugar

2 cups all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons cinnamon

2 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon salt

4 eggs

4 cups grated carrots

1 cup raisins

1 cup chopped pecans


8 ounces soft unsalted butter

8 ounces soft cream cheese

1 pound powdered sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract


4 ounces (1 1/2 cups) shredded, sweetened coconut

Serves 16.

Make the filling: In a heavy saucepan, blend well the sugar, flour and salt. Gradually stir in the cream. Add the butter. Cook and stir the mixture over low heat until the butter has melted, then let simmer 20 to 30 minutes until golden brown in color, stirring occasionally. Cool to lukewarm. Stir in the nuts and vanilla. Let cool completely and then refrigerate, preferably overnight. If too thick to spread, bring to room temperature before using.

Make the cake: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour a 10-inch tube cake pan. In a large bowl, whisk together the corn oil and sugar. Sift together the flour, cinnamon, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Sift half the dry ingredients into the sugar-oil mixture and blend. Alternately sift in the rest of the dry ingredients while adding the eggs, one by one. Combine well. Add the carrots, raisins and pecans. Pour into the prepared tube pan and bake for exactly 70 minutes. Cool upright in the pan on a cooling rack. If you are not using the cake that day, it can be removed from the pan, wrapped well in plastic wrap and stored at room temperature.

Make the frosting: Cream the butter well. Add the cream cheese and beat until blended. Sift in the sugar and add the vanilla. If too soft to spread, chill a bit. Refrigerate if not using immediately, but bring to a spreadable temperature before using.

Assemble the cake: Preheat the oven to 300 degrees. Spread the coconut on a baking sheet and bake for 10 to 15 minutes until it colors lightly. Toss the coconut occasionally while it is baking so that it browns evenly. Cool completely. Have the filling and frosting at a spreadable consistency. Loosen the cake in its pan and invert onto a serving plate. With a long serrated knife, carefully split the cake into 3 horizontal layers (keep the cake flat while doing this). Spread the filling between the layers. Spread the frosting over the top and sides. Pat the toasted coconut onto the sides of the cake. If desired, reserve 1/2 cup of the frosting and color half with green food coloring and half with orange. Then decorate the top of the cake with green and orange icing piped through a 1/16-inch wide, plain pastry tube to resemble little carrots. Serve the cake at room temperature.

Note: This cake is most easily made if you start it at least a day ahead, because the filling, for one thing, is best left to chill overnight.


Salsa Verde

2 cloves garlic

1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

Zest and juice of 2 limes

1 bunch cilantro, large stems removed

5 ounces raw spinach leaves

1/2 cup olive oil

1/8 cup water, more if needed

Makes about 1 1/2 cups.

Put the garlic, salt, lime zest and juice into a food processor, and process until the garlic is chopped up. Add the cilantro, greens and olive oil, and process until smooth. Add water as needed to achieve the consistency of sauce.

Note: Raw jalapeno can be added for extra heat. Lemons can be substituted for the limes, parsley can be substituted for the cilantro (or use a combination), and one or a combination of other tender greens (such as baby chard, kale, arugula or other herbs) can be substituted for the spinach.