Sunday May 12, 2019: Mother’s Day Meal (Salmon & Veggies)
Jun 23rd, 2019 by Katekoster

Tonight I wanted to make something special for mom (since it was Mother’s Day…) so I went to our nearby Trader Joe’s and bought a chunk of salmon and a bunch of vegetables to make a simple, healthy and tasty meal.  I also bought couscous as our carb, and a bunch of flowers in case I messed up dinner…

The biggest challenge was figuring out how to cut the salmon into serving size pieces…I ended up using meat scissors and a knife.  Here are the ingredients:

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(See below: after several attempts with the scissors, I resorted to our biggest butcher knife)

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After I prepped the salmon, I drizzled olive oil over it and salt and peppered it.  I also chopped all the vegetables and did the same (olive oil and salt and pepper) and everything in the oven to roast.  Here’s a trick for prepping asparagus that my mom taught me.  You shouldn’t chop the ends off, you should hold a spear in your fingertips and gently bend down the end: it will snap off just where it’s too woody to eat.  Takes longer than cutting but tastes better.

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Meanwhile, I started water boiling for couscous, and checked on the salmon. In retrospect, I should have broiled it to get a little more color on it, but I didn’t want to burn it, and when I cut into it, it was perfectly cooked through, so I pulled it out.

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Here’s the final plate (except for the brussel sprouts…I must have forgotten them, or this was my plate and I’m not a fan.)



Monday, April 29, 2019: Moroccan Adventure
May 27th, 2019 by Katekoster

We just got back from a week in Morocco so I (Max) thought I would describe some of our favorite foods and favorite restaurants.  Our first taste of Morocca was mint tea (or atai) offered to us by our hosts at our Riad in Fez (see below…straight off the plane).  I liked it (but added sugar) and we drank a lot of it over the course of our trip.  Our other favorite drink was fresh squeezed orange juice.  Wherever we went there was always plenty of it and it was always delicious. The dish we ate the most was tagine with couscous. A tagine is a stew, usually with  chicken, beef, lamb or vegetables: we liked the lamb the best.  There was another dish called a pastilla: it is a pastry traditionally prepared with pigeon (note we tried it with chicken…living in NYC, it’s a little hard to imagine eating pigeon).  It has cinnamon and ground almonds and it’s actually sweet…we didn’t love it.   We also ate a lot of chicken or lamb skewers with rice or couscous. Dessert was usually a platter of fruit. Pork is forbidden in Islam so we didn’t see or try anything with pork in it. (Alcohol is forbidden as well, but mom and dad managed to find wine to drink most nights.)


Favorite Restaurants:

The Blue Patio (Fez)

We ate lunch at the Blue Patio (on a terrace overlooking the media)  and it was really authentic and delicious.  We started with mixed salads, that were a bunch of different cooked vegetables (cauliflowers, beets, cucumbers), chick peas, and olives  and breads, and then we each had tagine and a plate of skewers. Finally we finished up with fruit and yogurt.

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Desert Luxury Camp (the Sahara)

One of the best meals we had was at our camp in the Sahara.  We started with lentil soup and then moved on to a chicken dish that was like the best fried chicken ever, an angel hair pasta dish that is hard to describe but tasted good (it had cinnamon and powdered sugar on the plate next to it, but I didn’t mix that in), and then vegetable/cheese tagine.  Plus the setting was pretty awesome

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Dar Anika Restaurant (Marrakesh)

We loved our riad in Marrakesh (called Dar Anika).  It had a beautiful courtyard, and on the top floor, a great, light-filled restaurant.  We ate lunch there our first day in Marakkesh.  We started with a trio of dips (goat cheese, tomato and tapenade) with bread (batbout…like a mini pita pocket)and then had a great salad, some tasty pastries called briouat and I ordered pasta (I was craving it after all the tagine and couscous).  It was sort of like a fettucine alfredo, except it had tomatoes and chicken in it and truffle salt on top.  I really liked it and so did Alex…we are going to try to recreate it when we get back to NYC.

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Azar (Marrakesh)

Azar is a restaurant/nightclub. Apparently belly dancers come out at 10 PM (but we didn’t stay that late).  It’s very glitzy: red, black and gold, and the menu is mainly Lebanese. We ordered a bunch of starters (falafel, hummus, hummus with avocado, chick pea salad)  and then Alex had filet mignon with mushroom sauce, Mom and Dad had lamb shoulder and I had lamb shawarma.   We felt underdressed: people were definitely there to party.

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Other favorites in Marrakesh were Cafe 16 on the edge of the Marrakesh Plaza: good for a sandwich or ice cream and Pepenero in the Medina for surprisingly good Italian.

Monday, April 1, 2019: Quick & Easy Dinners: De Luxe Mac and Cheese
Apr 5th, 2019 by Katekoster

Tonight I continued to try and come up with delicious dinners that didn’t have a lot of ingredients and maybe could be made quickly in a dorm room or dorm kitchen. Everybody loves mac and cheese and its certainly a one pot easy dinner but I wanted to make it special by adding pancetta and gruyere to a regular box of Annie’s mac and cheese. (Probably in college I would stick to cheaper bacon and cheddar, but mom was buying.)…Anway here’s the ingredients: Grated Parmesan (optional); box of mac & cheese, gruyere and pancetta (also need water and olive oil…but those don’t really count.)


First step was to start the water boiling and sautee the pancetta in a little olive oil. (You could also cook it or bacon in a microwave).  After the pancetta was crispy, I put it on paper towels to absorb the extra oil.

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Meanwhile the water was boiling so I added the pasta shells to cook. While the pasta cooked, I grated the gruyere cheese (you can use any type of cheese here, including  pre-grated cheese if you are lazy or don’t have a cheese grater) and prepped my toppings.

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When the pasta was done, I made the sauce that came in the box, mixed in half the grated gruyere and then the pasta.

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The almost final step was to top with the pancetta (another great addition is chopped fresh tomatoes, or my sister’s favorite: truffle salt).


And the final step was to serve, sprinkle a little grated parmesan cheese on,  and eat.  The great thing is, that in the same amount of time it takes to make a normal box of mac and cheese, you can make a really tasty version!  The only thing I would change with this recipe, however, is to DOUBLE the pancetta.



Saturday March 16, 2019: Quick and Easy Dinners: Sloppy Joes
Mar 30th, 2019 by Katekoster

I (Max) am trying to practice making quick and easy dinners that don’t take a lot of time, or ingredients, or cooking pans. Even though I still have a couple of years of high school left, I am thinking dorm room specials, that I would only need a microwave or electric cooking plate, so tonight I came up with: Quick & Easy Sloppy Joes.  For this meal you need 4 ingredients: ground turkey (or ground beef), tomato sauce, olive oil and rolls or buns.


These are the steps:  heat the olive oil and then saute the ground turkey until there is no pink.  I like to use a metal spatula to break up the ground beef but don’t use metal if you are cooking in a non stick pan.  If there is a lot of oil in the pan, spoon some of it out and discard. Otherwise your sloppy joes will be sloppy and greasy.

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The next step is to pour in a little of the tomato sauce and let it all simmer together for 15-20 minutes.  (It’s ok if you pour in too much, but then its more like a bolognese sauce, and you might need spaghetti instead of buns to eat it.)

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Finally, you serve it on your favorite buns. Note if you have more time, you can make the tomato sauce from scratch (but I know I will be busy studying, so sauce in a jar will have to do for me.)



Monday, February 18, 2019: Roast Chicken with Mashed,Baked Potatoes
Mar 9th, 2019 by Katekoster

We were upstate for President’s Day weekend and decided to roast a chicken to serve with mashed potatoes.  Unfortunately mom forgot to buy potatoes.  Fortunately we had made baked potatoes the night before and had some left so we decided to turn those into mashed potatoes….slightly unorthodox but pretty delicious.

For the chicken, we removed the liver and neck and washed the chicken in cold water. Then we patted it dry with paper towels and put it in our pan.  (Then we washed our hands).  Normally we would put lemon slices and herbs inside (but again, mom forgot to buy them…to be fair we didn’t tell her, and since we in the country, we couldn’t just run to Trader Joes or Whole Foods to get them).   Anyway, we just decided to do a good salt and pepper of it, and stuck it in the oven.  (note the photo of the liver…we didn’t cook or eat that!).  We cooked the chicken at 350 degrees for about 60 minutes: until it was golden brown and the thigh juices were clear.

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About 45 minutes into the cooking time for the chicken, we tackled the potatoes.  First we peeled the already baked potatoes.  Then we chopped them up, added milk and butter and heated in the microwave. And then we mashed them. Pretty simple, right.  If you want mashed potatoes, but don’t have time to boil potatoes for 30 minutes: just bake a potatoe in the microwave and add butter and milk and mash, just like we did.

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We also made biscuits (but from a Pillsbury package): They were very good but we can’t really claim credit.  The only skill involved there was NOT burning them


Sunday, February 3, 2019: SuperBowl Pulled Pork
Feb 23rd, 2019 by Katekoster

While Max was working on the chili for the SuperBowl Party (see blog entry below), I decided to make pulled pork in the insta-pot.  The hardest part of this recipe was cutting the fat off the pork shoulder…there was a lot of it and it took a while.  After that it was easy: rub a good spice mix on the pork, sautee it and put it in the insta-pot for about 60 minutes.  Usually this takes hours in the oven or crock pot, so it was amazing how quickly it cooked.  We served it with brioche buns.


The ingredients are pretty simple: whatever spices you want to rub in (I used paprika, cumin, onion powder, garlic powder and salt and pepper); vegetable oil to sautee the pork in, tomato paste, brown sugar and apple cider vinegar to cut the pork in (along with water)…and that was it.  Like I said the hardest part was getting the fat off the pork though.

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(Me cutting away)  After I finally got the fat off, I decided to cut the shoulder up into a couple pieces so it would be easier to sautee…and would fit in the insta-pot.

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Then I rubbed my spice mix on,  gave the pieces of pork a quick sautee.  After Imixed the tomato paste/brown sugar/vinegar/water mix in the insta-pot, I added the meat.  One key thing to remember when using an insta-pot is that you have to use rubber utensils so you don’t scratch the non-stick surface of the pot (we even bought a special teflon whisk since all the other whisks we had were metal.)

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The pork cooked for 63 minutes, then I removed it and shredded it.  The last step was to separate the fat from the cooking liquid (so I could add the cooking liquid back to the pork if necessary).  I served it with barbecue sauce on the side.

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Sunday February 3, 2019: SuperBowl Chili
Feb 23rd, 2019 by Katekoster

Tonight we had our friends, the Coronas, over to watch the SuperBowl.  We decided to make turkey chili because a) that’s what you do for the SuperBowl and b) you can make it ahead of time and not worry about it during the game.  Unfortunately the game was pretty boring.  Fortunately the chili was really good and the Coronas brought home made guacamole that was delicious!  We also had pulled pork on the side (see related blog entry) for those few people who don’t like Chili!

Our recipe for turkey chili is pretty easy: ground turkey, onions, tomato sauce, chopped tomatoes and 3 kinds of beans (black, red kidney and cannelini..but you can use whatever kind you like.  We also added frozen corn (not pictured).


First step is to chop the onions, then you sautee the turkey and the onions.

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Next step open all the cans, add the turkey/onions to the crock pot and then add all the other ingredients…let cook for 4-6 hours on high and, if you want to add corn, add it during the last 1/2 hour of cooking.

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We served it with rice, grated cheese, sour cream, chopped scallions and sliced avocados…sorry no photos: we were watching the half time show.



Sunday, January 20, 2019: Fondue Night!
Feb 9th, 2019 by Katekoster

Hi all, since we are half Swiss, one of our favorite meals to make and eat is cheese fondue, and it’s super easy.  Over MLK weekend we went skiing and what better cold weather/ski meal is there than cheese fondue? We also roasted some vegetables for Mom (she’s not Swiss so she doesn’t love cheese as much as we do).

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The first step was to set the table with our Swiss napkins and placemats.  Then we grated a lot of gruyere and cut up a baguette into chunks.  Sometimes we use half gruyere cheese and half vacherin (that is called moitie-moitie…or half-half, but we didn’t have vacherin.)

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Then we cut a piece of garlic in half and ran it around the inside of our swiss pot (called a caquelon) and we added the cheese (and a little white wine) and stirred constantly.  (We also chopped the veggies and put them in the oven with a little olive oil.)  When the cheese was completely melted and at the right gooey consistency, we transferred the pot to our fondue stand with a little heater underneath and enjoyed!  You don’t want the cheese to burn but you do want it liquid. Dad (who is Swiss) particularly likes the crust at the bottom of the caquelon…sort of like a cheesey cracker.  It’s called “la religieuse”, which means nun in french and none of us could figure out why.


January 12, 2019: Instapot Chicken Parmesan
Jan 23rd, 2019 by Katekoster

Tonight we contined our adventures with the instapot…this time trying to make chicken parmesan, using another of Melissa Clark’s recipes.  The ingredients were pretty simple: chicken breasts, garlic, mozarella, parmesan cheese, olive oil and tomato sauce.   (The only fresh mozarella we could find was fresh mozarella sticks so we chopped those up.)  We also started some water to cook pasta on the side.


First step was to slice the garlic and sautee it in olive oil (on the sautee function of the instapot) ( and this was probably the hardest part of the recipe!)

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Next step was to add the tomato sauce and the thin sliced chicken breasts…we also added some grated parmesan on top, and used the pressure cooker function to fast cook the chicken:

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After 5 minutes of pressure cooking, we manually released the steam, stirred the chicken and sprinkled with the fresh, chopped mozarella sticks (we also put some mozarella in our salad).  We just let the mozarella melt into the tomato sauce for a few minutes  (top on).

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Finally, it was ready to serve (pasta ready too).  It was pretty good but we kind of missed the breadcrumb topping that usually accompanies chicken parmesan.  The good news was that the chicken was PERFECTLY cooked…super most and delicious.  We probably like Melissa’s  meatballs recipe better though (just being honest) but we will continue to experiment!

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January 7, 2019: InstaPot Spaghetti & Meatballs
Jan 13th, 2019 by Katekoster

Tonight we had so much fun making spaghetti and meatballs in our equivalent of an InstaPot.  It was so much easier and faster than making normal spaghetti and meatballs and delicious as well. We followed a recipe we found in the New York Times by Melissa Clark (and took a few shortcuts because it was a school night (and Mom was working late).  The ingredients are simple: dried pasta, parmesan cheese, ground beef, mozarella cheese, panko bread crumbs, chopped garlic, one egg, and a bottle of good tomato sauce (or if you have time, you can make your own tomato sauce in the instapot thingy).


So the first step (if you are using bottled tomato sauce) is to make the meatballs: chop the garlic and then combine ground beef, chopped garlic, bread crumbs, parmesan cheese and one egg and form into balls a little bigger than one inch.  Don’t forget salt and pepper too.

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The next step is to pour the tomato sauce in your InstaPot and then put uncooked spaghetti on top.  Then you drizzle olive oil on top of the spaghetti noodes and spread it around (so they don’t stick while they are cooking).  Finally add the meatballs and one cup water.

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The you cover and cook on high pressure for 5 miuntes.  When that’s done, let the pressure out and stir to separate the spaghetti (if you have a plastic pasta fork, that’s the best thing).  Sprinke grated parmesan on top and let sit for 5 minutes and then add slices of fresh mozarella (Melissa Clark said ricotta but we decided mozarella would taste better) and let sit for another 5 minutes with the top loosely on.

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Finally, serve it up on a nice plate and enjoy! (Add more cheese if you like!)


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