Saturday, September 28, 2019: CroNut Surprise
Oct 25th, 2019 by Katekoster

Sorry  that we haven’t posted for a while: school started and we are both playing varsity soccer so it’s been tough.  So for a surprise and treat this weekend (when I (MAX) didn’t have a game), I decided to get up super early and go to Dominque Ansel Bakery in Soho, NY,  to try the infamous “Cronut”: half croissant/half donut.  (The line was insane, but I got up so early I was first in line.)  I also bought a variety of other treats in case we didn’t like the cronuts.  First, I do want to congratulate Dominque Ansel on the atmosphere and packaging: they put on a good show  — I mean look at this packaging!  It opens up like a flower!

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However, frankly, I am not (nor were the rest of my family) huge fans of the cronut. Apparently they change the color, frosting and filling every month? And this month’s was purple frosting with a grape filling:

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It just didn’t work for us, super sweet.  (Mom scraped off the purple frosting and ate some of the pastry, but I think she was just trying to make me feel good).  I also bought frozen s’mores which looked amazing! But again way too sweet (and we like sweet things).

Fortunately I bought a lot of other things, including an apple puff pastry tart and some sort of nutella twist/circle thing.  Those were delicious! And the staff there were super nice.  Definitely worth visting, but maybe not just for the cronut.



Saturday August 24, 2019: Farmer’s Market Feast
Sep 8th, 2019 by Katekoster

We were upstate and visited a farmer’s market in nearby Hillsdale.  It was great (especially the dumplings) and we bought a lot of great vegetables, including peppers, zucchini, corn and cauliflower  We also had a barbecue turkey breast that good friends in Austin had sent us from Salt Lick Barbecue.  We decided to marinate and grill the peppers & zucchini, make cauliflower steak, boil the corn and (luckily for us, just reheat the turkey.



For the veggie marinade, we combined soy sauce, olive oil, diced garlic and chopped ginger. Then we let everything sit.  Corn was simple: just husk and rinse.  (We also made couscous)

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For the cauliflower we tried to slice it into slices, but most of it crumbled.  We did get one good slice that we drizzled with olive oil and salt and pepper, and then grilled a regular steak.

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For the turkey breast: we just reheated in the oven at low heat for about an hour, took off the netting and sliced (and then we doused it with Salt Lick barbecue sauce.)

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Pretty easy but tasty meal, although considered:


Saturday, August 3, 2018: Simple Moussaka
Aug 16th, 2019 by Katekoster

A couple summers ago we went to Greece and I (Max) tried moussaka, and I really didn’t take to  it. But my dad  really likes it and bought the ingredients so I decided to humor him and make it.  I looked at a couple recipes and I realized why I probably didn’t like it…it had cinnamon in the topping! For me cinnamon is pretty much a dessert spice (like with apple pie…) so it doesn’t work for me in a savory dish. Consequently I didn’t use the cinnamon when I made it, and both my dad and me loved the result.  Even mom liked it, and she doesn’t like egg plant!

First, I  sliced 2 eggplants, salted them, drizzled them with olive oil and put in the oven to roast for 20 minutes.

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Meanwhile I chopped an onion and sauteed it with a pound of ground lamb (you can use ground beef but lamb is better.) When the lamb was cooked through, I added a can of chopped tomatoes. (you can also use plain tomato sauce)

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While the eggplant cooked, I made a white sauce for the top. The white sauce is basically butter, flour and milk:  then when its nice and thick, you add grated parmesan.


When the eggplant was soft and brown, the lamb was cooked, and the white sauce was done, I layered it all together: first the eggplant, then the lamb/tomato sauce and finally the white sauce .. with a little more parmesan grated on top.




I let it cook for about 15 minutes, until golden brown.


DELICIOUS!! And no cinnamon.

July 19, 2019: Chicago Feast
Jul 28th, 2019 by Katekoster

Last weekend I went to Chicago and tried some really good food. We started off at Nando’s Peri-Peri for lunch.  Nando’s is a South African restauarant chain that is really popular world wide but only has restaurants in the US in Chicago and DC.  I ordered 1/2 peri-peri chicken with peri-peri fries. Delicious but a little spicy (pictures courtesy of Nando’s, we were too hungry to take any photos!).  I just want them to open in NYC.

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Then it was off to Wrigley Field to watch the Cubs beat the Padres and have the obligatory hot dog. The hot dog was ok  but I really like the stadium.


For dinner, we of course had to have deep dish pizza.  We had a bunch of recommendations and ended up choosing Giordano’s, which was really good. But man is that pizza cheesy. There was cheese in the crust! I liked it but I am a bigger fan of thin crust, New York style pizza.

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Finally for a late lunch the next day, following a visit to the Aquarium,

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we went to Epic Burgers.  It is a cool concept where you build your own burger: first you select your protein, then choose which “free toppings” you want (like lettuce and tomatoes) and then choose which extra toppings you want (like avocado and bacon). They also have excellent milkshakes.

I got a beef burger with lettuce, tomatoes, cheese and bacon along with fries and a nutella milkshake. Mom got a turkey burger with lettuce, tomatoes, cheese and avocado.

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Friday, July 5, 2019: Roast Lemon Chicken
Jul 27th, 2019 by Katekoster

Thanks for checking out our blog.  Read below for the story of how we created it, or just for some ideas on what to cook, keep reading (this is Max; Alex is still away at sleepaway camp)

Along with the regular barbecue fare we cooked over the July 4 weekend, I (Max) decided to roast a chicken for dinner and for left overs. We had a bunch of lemons so I decided to make roast lemon chicken. (We have been buying spatchcocked lemon rosemary chicken at Trader Joe’s and I wanted to try to recreate that.

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I sliced two lemons into 1/2 inch slices and laid them in the bottom of a roasting pan.  The point was that they would keep the bottom of the chicken from sitting in its own fat.


Then I rinsed the whole chicken with cold water, removed the stuff in a little sack (the liver, etc.) and patted the chicken dry.

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Then I put a little olive oil on the chicken, salt and peppered  it, drizzled it with lemon juice and put lemon slices on top and in the cavity of the bird. Then I washed my hands really well and put the chicken into the oven for an hour and a half at 350 degrees. I check to see if it was done by poking the thickest part of the thigh to see if still red…it wasn’t

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When we ate it, it was pretty good but not as lemony as I thought it would be. I think the secret is probably marinating it in some lemon based marinade to really give it flavor.  To be honest, the Trader Joe’s chicken tasted a little better.

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


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