Sunday May 12, 2018: Dinner No. 112: Lamb Chops, Sweet Pea Soup and Green Salad
May 16th, 2018 by Katekoster

Hi! Welcome to  We’re Max and Alex Koster and this is our blog where we talk about cooking and eating and try to encourage kids to cook.  Today we wanted to make mom a special dinner (since it’s Mother’s Day), so we cooked some of her favorites: grilled lamb chops, sweet pea soup and a fresh green salad with goat cheese and walnuts.  Max made the soup early in the afternoon to let the flavors meld and Alex made the marinade for the lamb and grilled the chops.  We both cooperated on the couscous and green salad.  Happy Mother’s Day to all the moms out there!


Sweet Pea Soup

The recipe for pea soup is really simple.  First you chop an onion and sautee it in butter. Then you add 7 cups of frozen peas and 3 cups chicken broth.  You let that simmer for a while then blend together.  We tried using a hand held immersion blender but it was taking too long so we switched over to the trusty blender.  You can serve it cold, room temperature or warm.  We made it ahead of time and served it at room temperature.

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Marinade for Lamb

I (Alex) wanted to make a simple marinade for the lamb chops to give them a little more flavor so I combined lemon juice, olive oil, chopped garlic and a little rosemary.  I whisked those ingredients all together and then I let the lamb sit in the marinade for about an hour, flipping them over half way through.  Then it was time to grill them.

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Green Salad

While the lamb chops grilled, we both made a simple green salad of butter letuce, walnuts, goat cheese and cranberries and made couscous.  The lamb chops were so thick that we had to finish them in the oven!

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Final Plates

Here’s what the soup looked like when we served it (we had sour cream on the side in case people wanted that)


And here’s the whole family, including Koko, about to dig in.



Saturday, May 5, 2018: Yogurt and Herbs
May 9th, 2018 by Katekoster

Welcome to  We hope you’ve enjoyed what you read so far…

Today we decided to try out mom’s new multicooker (Max got it for mom for Christmas, but really he got it so we could try it).  One of the uses is to make yogurt so we decided to do that. Also, since it’s finally warm outside we bought our favorite herbs and replanted them on our balcony. We love fresh herbs and if they are on our balcony, we can use them whenever we want.


The first step is to heat 5 cups of milk to approximately 180 degrees farenheit.  This is to kill any bad bacteria and make the yogurt taste richer. (We measured it with a meat thermometer, so hopefully that was accurate).  Then we let the milk cool slightly and whisked in 1/2 cup plain yogurt (this is the “starter” yogurt.)  Finally,  you lock the milk-yogurt mixture into your multicooker, hit the yogurt button and let cook for 8 hours.  When we opened the top, we had yogurt.  It was a little liquidy but definitely tasted like yogurt.  To celebrate we made our favorite yogurt-marinated tandoori chicken!

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We bought thyme, rosemary and two basil plants (because basil is our favorite herb) and transplanted them into bigger pots. Now we just have to remember to water them!

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Saturday, April 21, 2018: Dinner No. 111: Lamb Burgers with Clafouti for dessert
Apr 22nd, 2018 by Katekoster

Today I (Alex) actually made dessert in the afternoon (because I had a soccer game at 5:00) and Max was in charge of making lamb burgers later for when Mom and I got back from the soccer game.  I decided to make a dessert called clafoutis because it looked cool and Mom said it was kind of like the Dutch Apple Pancake we made last week.  She was right–it’s like a sweet pancake batter poured over fruit; usually cherries or plums, and then you bake the whole thing in the oven.  However, we don’t like cherries or plums much, plus when we went to the store there were no cherries or plums so we bought frozen mixed berries to use.


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The ingredients are simple: milk, 3 eggs, sugar, vanilla, melted butter and flour. You whisk those all together and pour into an oven proof pan.  Then you add your fruit.

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The recipe didn’t say to butter the pan, but I wish we had because our claufouti stuck to the bottom of the pan a bit.  Also, although the berries tasted delicious, I think the fact that they were frozen and then thawed meant they added a little too much liquid to the batter…so it didn’t puff as much as it might have.  Next time we will use drier, fresh berries. With whipped cream though, it didn’t matter!


Lamb Burgers

I (Max) was in charger of burgers and a salad since Alex and mom were in Brooklyn at Alex’s soccer game.  I shaped the burgers ahead of time, making a little depression in the center so they wouldn’t puff up. And I made simple arugula, goat cheese and tomato salad.  I also measured some quinoa to cook on the side.

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Quinoa is pretty cool.  I love the before and after pictures where it goes from these tiny seeds to puffy circles with a spiral in them.

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When Alex got back from her game, I cooked the burgers on a grill pan on top of the stove (watch out because there is a lot of fat in ground lamb and it sprays off in hot droplets.) And I started the water for the quinoa.  We added goat cheese to a couple of the burgers.  And we always toast the buns on the grill pan at the end.

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Then it was time to eat.  Note: mom and dad were welcome to the quinoa: Alex and I had left over fries from Shake Shack…we were being environmentally thoughtful and using up leftovers (plus we like the fries better:)



Sunday, April 15, 2018: Dutch Apple Pancake
Apr 16th, 2018 by Katekoster

Today we wanted something a little different for breakfast but that was both sweet and sort of healthy.  Mom also had apples that she said we needed to eat or use up so we decided to make a Dutch Apple Pancake. This is a really easy, fun thing to make and it looks super cool when you take it out of the oven (it’s really puffy).  It settles down after about a minute but its still delicious. We first made this when Max was in kindergarten doing an apple study in Eve’s class and it has been one of our favorite morning (or anytime) dishes since then.


The first thing to do is preheat your oven to 425 degrees.  Then assemble the ingredients: apples, butter, cinnamon, eggs, milk, flour and salt. First you peel and slice 3 large or 4 medium apples. Then you toss with 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon.  (If your apples are really tart, you may want to add some sugar.  We used Gala apples and they didn’t need any sugar). Meanwhile melt 6 tablespoons of butter in a pan.  After its melted, remove 2 tablespoons and set aside and then add the apple-cinnamon mix to the saute pan.  Sautee till softening but not floppy.

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Now its time to make the pancake mix: combine 3 eggs, 1/2 cup milk, 1/2 cup flour, the melted butter you set aside and 1/4 teaspoon salt and whisk well.  Helpful hint: try to have the eggs at room temperature. Then pour the batter over the apple mix and pop in the oven for 20 minutes.  Cook until golden brown and puffed up! And if you want sprinkle a little powdered sugar over it before serving, even better.

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Thursday, April 12, 2018: Sumo Orange Challenge
Apr 15th, 2018 by Katekoster

Today we decided to do a taste test between a regular Navel Orange and a Sumo Orange.


Sumo Oranges are oranges that are a little bigger than regular oranges, have a rougher skin and have a “top-not” (sort of like a Sumo wrestler’s top not).  It’s a pretty new citrus varietal that was developed in Japan but is now grown in California.  It is a hybrid of both the mandarin and orange families. We evaluated the two oranges on 1. appearance; 2. ease of peeling; 3.stickiness of hands after eating; and 4. taste.

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  1. Appearance: Sumo won just because it looks so cool
  2. Ease of peeling: Sumo won again: you can essentially peel it in one peel
  3. Stickiness of hands after eating: tie.  We expected the Sumo to win this one but neither orange was particularly sticky
  4. Taste: Navel Orange won by a long shot.  Maybe its just that we don’t like the taste of mandarins? But the Navel Orange was sweet and refreshing…the Sumo Orange not so much.
Saturday, April 7, 2018: Dinner No. 110: Tandoori Chicken with Raita and Spicy Kale
Apr 8th, 2018 by Katekoster

Tonight we wanted to make Indian food for our dad, because it’s one of his favorites and we don’t eat it very often.  We decided to make Tandoori-style chicken served with rice, raita, spicy kale and chickpeas and naan.  We actually started the chicken the day before because it’s best if it marinates overnight.  We based our recipe on one we found in Madhur Jaffrey’s cookbook called Indian Cooking. (See below for our fancy plating…especially the heart shaped rice, with chick pea )

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Tandoori Chicken

The first thing we needed to do was prep the ingredients for the marinade:  We peeled and chopped 1/2 onion into quarters, peeled about an inch of ginger, sliced a clove of garlic and chopped 1/2 a jalapeno pepper.  Then we put all those ingredients in a blender with plain yogurt and a spice called Garam Masala which consits of cardomom seeds, cinnomon, cumin cloves, and nutmeg. This is a very traditional spice that is commonly used in north Indian and Pakistani homes, there are many variations, each tasting wonderful. Anyway, after adding all of the ingredients, we blended them until combined… using the food proseser!

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Meanwhile we put the chicken thighs in a pan and cut 2 slits in each piece (so the marinade could seep in).  Then we salted and peppered them, squeezed a lemon on top and spread the marinade over them.  We added a little tumeric to make the marinade more colorful (because Tandoori Chicken is usually very orange) but then read in Madhur Jaffrey’s cookbook that the deep orange color of Tandoori Chicken comes from food coloring so we added food coloring to the marinade).

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After it marinated overnight, we shook off as much marinade as we could and baked the chicken in a 450 degree oven for 30 minutes.  Note that if you leave a lot of marinade on the chicken, it bakes onto the pan and is hard to clean.  We saved the extra marinade and boiled it (to kill any germs) and added a little chicken broth to make a sauce.

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Raita is a yogurt based dip that we like because it cools down any spicy food.  Traditionally its just cucumber, cumin, plain yogurt (and salt and pepper), but we like to add chopped tomatoes as well.  It’s best if you make it a couple hours ahead of time so the flavors “blend together.”

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Kale and Chickpeas

Mom really likes an Indian dish that combines spinach and chickpeas, but since we didn’t have spinach (and we had kale), we decided to use kale instead.  First we de-stalked the kale and rough chopped it.  Then we sauteed drained chickpeas in olive oil with a little cumin, garlic powder and curry powder.  Then we removed the chickpeas and sauteed the kale in the same pan.  We combined the kale and the chickpeas right before serving.

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Finally we plated the chicken with rice and sauce, along side the kale chickpea combo.  Naan and raita were on the side.


Saturday, March 17, 2018: Dinner No. 109: Shepherd’s Pie and Spinach Salad
Mar 19th, 2018 by Katekoster

Tonight we decided to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day by making Shepherd’s Pie (which seems Irish) and spinach salad (which is green).


The first step in making shepherd’s pie is to start the mashed potatoes for the topping.  So that means peeling 6 potatoes (about 1-1/2 pounds), cutting them into hunks and putting them in water to cook.  Once that’s done, it’s time to chop 1 onion, 2 carrots,  2 gloves of garlic and 2 teaspoons of fresh thyme. Once everything is chopped, sautee the onions and carrots for 5 minutes (or until soft), and then add the garlic.

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Then it’s time to add 2 pounds of ground lamb and cook until no pink shows.  At this point, I recommend spooning out some of the extra fat (see photo of how much there is); otherwise your lamb filling may taste sort of greasy.  We scooped out almost 1/2 cup of extra oil/fat.  Then you can add tomato paste, red wine (or chicken broth) and the thyme.  Let the lamb mix simmer on low while you drain and mash the potatoes (mash them with butter, salt and pepper just like you would if you were going to eat them right then

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Now it’s time to put it all together.  First you put the lamb mix into a baking pan, then its time to put the mashed potatos on top.  You can just scoop them on and spread them but we decided to be “fancy”.  We decided to put them in a pastry bag and pipe them on top of the lamb mix. Then into the oven to brown.

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While the potatoes were browning, we made a spinach salad (with tomatoes, avocado and bacon).  All delicious.

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March 14, 2018: Happy Pi Day
Mar 14th, 2018 by Katekoster

To celebrate Pi Day we made apple pies for Alex’s math class, decorated with the Pi symbol.  Because it was a school night we used store bought pie crust (it was a lot of work just cutting up the apples and making the decorations so we didn’t think we had time to make the pie dough from scratch). And while homemade pie dough is definitely better, the Pillsbury pie dough we used was pretty good.  Here are the two finished pi pies.

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To make the pie filling, we peeled and sliced 10 gala apples.  We squeezed a lemon over the slices so they wouldn’t turn brown and we used gala apples because they are pretty sweet so we didn’t have to add sugar (we wanted them to be tasty but healthy).  Then we tossed the apple slices with 2 tablespoons of flour and 1 teaspoon of cinnamon.


For the pie crust, we rolled out 4 rounds of dough.  We pressed two of the rounds into pie pans and let them chill in the fridge.  Then we trimmed the edges of the dough around the edge of the pan and filled with apples.

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Meanwhile we started working on the top of the pies.  Before we put the top on we cut out one bit pi symbol from each topping.  Then for Pie #1, we cut out little pi symbols out of extra dough to decorate the pie.  For Pie #2, we used the big pi pastry cut-outs to decorate.  (We used egg wash to make sure the decortions stuck and then egg washed the whole pie top.)  Hope Alex’s math class likes them!

Pie #1

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Pie #2

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Saturday, March 3, 2018: Dinner No. 108: Honey-Hoisin Ribs with Broccoli Stir Fry (and Crepes for dessert)
Mar 9th, 2018 by Katekoster

Tonight I (Max) was in charge of dinner and I wanted to make Asian-inspired ribs.  These ribs marinade in a hoisin-ginger marinade for several hours, then roast in the oven and finally get brushed with honey at the very end. We added more honey than suggested because who doesn’t love honey.  On the side I made stir fry broccoli and jasmine rice.  And Alex made delicious and decadent nutella-banana crepes for dessert.

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The hardest part of this recipe was cutting the ribs up (we bought a big slab of them); we had to use a Chef’s knife and meat scissors to cut them into ribs.

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Then we let them sit in a marinade made of chopped ginger, chopped garlic, hoisin sauce and soy sauce.  They need a minimum of two hours in the marinade.  Mom wanted salmon tonight so I experimented by using some of the marinade for a piece of salmon and roasting it too.

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For the ribs, I roasted them in a pan on a rack over a cup of water for about an hour, turning once mid way through.  I also roasted the salmon but only for about 15 minutes.  The final touch was brushing them with honey and letting them cook for 10 more minutes.  Meanwhile I chopped broccoli, blanched it (cooked in boiling hot water briefly) and stir fried it.  We served everything with rice.  Mom liked the ribs but she loved the salmon.  Next time she told me to make more salmon.

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Hi, this is Alex! For the crepes, I made a simple crepe mixture of eggs, milk, flour and salt.  The key is to gradually whisk the wet ingredients into the dry and then strain the whole mix to get out lumps.  It’s also easier to make if you have an electric crepe maker…we got one after we spent a week in Paris and fell in love with the crepe stands on the sidewalks (that had these cool crepe makers: sort of like a smooth grill pan).  If you don’t have an electric crepe maker,  use a crepe pan or shallow nonstick pan.

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After I made the batter, I heated the crepe maker, got all the ingredients ready, and poured a 1/2 cup of batter onto the heated, buttered crepe maker. When the first side was done, I flipped it over.

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Then came the fun part: spreading the nutella and bananas, folding and serving. I like it with whipped cream and strawberries!

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Saturday, February 24, 2018: Dinner No. 107: Saffron Chicken with Pearl Couscous & Goat Cheese Salad
Feb 26th, 2018 by Katekoster

Tonight we combined forces to each make one of our favorite dishes: Alex made chicken with pearl couscous (which is a lot like paella) and Max made goat cheese/walnut/cranberry salad.

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Saffron Chicken with Pearl Couscous (Alex)

Ingredients are chicken, pearl couscous, tomatoes, onions, garlic, saffron, lemon peel, plum tomatoes, white wine and chicken broth:


The first step is to brown the couscous in olive oil. Then you remove the couscous and brown the chicken (we use chicken thighs because we like the taste).  Then you remove the chicken and sautee onions, plum tomatoes, garlic, 4 long strips of lemon peel and a pinch of saffron.  Once the tomatoes start to burst you add back the chicken and 1/2 cup of wine and once that has cooked down, you add chicken broth and the couscous.  It simmers for 12-15 minutes…sometimes we add more chicken broth if the couscous is a little crunchy.  Finally you add frozen peas.

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Butter Lettuce Salad with Goat Cheese, Walnuts & Cranberries

The first step is to tear the butter lettuce into bite size pieces.  Then you toast the walnuts (but keep an eye on them so they don’t burn).  Then, while the walnuts cool, add goat cheese and cranberries to the lettuce and make the salad dressing (3 parts oil/1 part sherry vinegar).  Finally add the walnuts and, just before serving, add the dressing and toss…yum!

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