Roasted Butternut Squash Soup

Photo of Ai-Mei's Butternut Squash Soup

Roasted Butternut Squash Soup


  • 1 medium butternut squash
  • 2 TBS butter
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 1 TBS fresh ginger, grated
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
  • 3 TBS dry sherry
  • 3 cups broth (chicken or vegetable) plus more as needed
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/4 cup cream


  • Toasted pumpkin seeds
  • Dry sherry

Preheat oven to 350°. Wash squash and cut in half. Remove all seeds and pith and place squash cut side down on a jelly roll pan covered with a Silpat or parchment paper. Roast squash for 1 hour, or until very tender (test with knife inserted into squash half). Cool just enough to handle and remove peel from squash and discard. Set aside.

In a 3 quart saucepan over low heat, melt butter and sauté diced onion just until soft. Add grated ginger, salt and pepper to taste. Add dry sherry and reduce for 5-8 minutes.

Stir in roasted squash until incorporated with onion mixture. Slowly add broth whisking until smooth. Add milk and cream and heat through. If soup is too thick, add more broth to reach desired consistency. Serve with toasted pumpkin seeds and dry sherry if desired.

Kale Salad with Chickpeas


Kale Salad with Roasted Chickpeas



  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 1-2 TBS water
  • 1 1/2 TBS fresh lemon juice
  • 1 clove garlic minced or slivered
  • 1/2 tsp Dijon mustard
  • 1 tsp anchovy paste
  • 1/4 tsp lemon zest (zest from about 1/2 of a lemon)


  • 1 large bunch Tuscan (Lacinato) kale


  • 1 can chickpeas rinsed, drained and dried on paper towels
  • 1 TB olive oil
  • 1/4 – 1/2 tsp hot smoked paprika*

Combine all ingredients for salad dressing and refrigerate. There will be enough dressing left for more salads.

Preheat oven to 450°. Once oven is heated, place the 1 TB olive oil in a cast iron skillet, heat and add chickpeas and hot smoked paprika. Toss over medium high heat until completely coated. Roast in oven for 20 minutes.

Wash and dry kale, remove stems and thinly sliver leaves. Place kale in large bowl, sprinkle with a tiny bit of sea salt and gently massage leaves for a couple of minutes. Add salad dressing just to coat. Add chickpeas and if needed, a bit more salad dressing, again just to coat all ingredients. Serve immediately.

*Heat may vary by brand, so perhaps start with ¼ tsp of hot smoked paprika the first time. This ingredient is crucial to the overall taste of the dish.

Morning Glory Baked Oatmeal


Morning Glory Baked Oatmeal
Recipe from Ellie Krieger


  • Cooking spray
  • 1 cup pecan pieces, chopped, divided
  • 1/4 cup shredded unsweetened coconut, divided
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon, divided
  • 1 tablespoon light brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon plus 1 pinch salt, divided
  • 2 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 2 cups 1% low-fat milk
  • 1/3 cup pure maple syrup
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 tablespoons canola oil
  • 1 and 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1 medium golden delicious apples, unpeeled, cored and cut into 1/2 inch piece (1 cup)*
  • 1 cup shredded carrot (2 medium carrots)
  • 1/2 cup raisins

Preheat the oven to 375°. Coat an 8-inch square baking dish or 9-inch deep dish pie plate with cooking spray.

In a small bowl, mix together 1/2 cup of the pecans, 2 tablespoons of the coconut, 1/4 teaspoon of cinnamon, the brown sugar and a pinch of salt.

In a medium bowl stir together the oats, baking powder, the remaining 3/4 teaspoon of the cinnamon and the remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt. In another bowl whisk together the milk, maple syrup, egg, oil and vanilla. Pour the liquid ingredients over the oat mixture and stir to combine. Stir in the remaining 1/2 cup pecans, remaining 2 tablespoons coconut, apple, carrot and raisins.

*Rather than cut up the apple, we shredded it along with the carrots.

Pour into the prepared baking dish. Top with the pecan-coconut mixture. Bake for 40-45 minutes, until it is set and the top is golden.

Makes 8 servings
Serving size: about 1 cup

MAKE AHEAD: The baked oatmeal can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 4 days. Cover with foil and reheat in a 350° oven for 20 minutes, or microwave individual portions on HIGH for 1 minute.

Ai-Mei’s Vinaigrette Salad Dressing

Photo of ingredients for Ai-Mei's  famous salad dressing



2 TBS champagne vinegar
1 tsp Dijon mustard
6 TBS (1/3 cup) olive oil
Freshly ground pepper and salt to taste

Combine vinegar and mustard in a small container; slowly add olive oil while mixing** to make an emulsion. Season to taste.

When a recipe calls for just a few ingredients, use the best quality available. My preferred champagne vinegar is “O” and when I am very fortunate, I have olive oil from Chile (thank you Marcelo and Gisela) to use in this recipe.

** A small battery-operated whisk by Bonjour ( is perfect to quickly mix the dressing.

New Recipe from Ai-Mei







Broccoli with Spiced Breadcrumbs


1 lb broccoli cut into flowerets
3/4 cup fine bread crumbs (whole wheat)
3 TBS olive oil
1 tsp cardamom
3/4 tsp sea salt
1 cup plain yogurt, drained


Steam the broccoli just until crisp-tender and immediately run under cold water. Drain and dry on paper towels.

In a small skillet, heat the olive oil and add the bread crumbs. Saute until golden brown. Combine the crumbs with the cardamom and salt.

To serve, put bread crumbs in one small bowl and yogurt in another. Dip broccoli in sour cream and then bread crumbs.

This is an incredible recipe and when we make our breadcrumbs, we prefer using whole wheat bread or a fresh baguette from Bread Furst.



Roast Chicken on French Bread


Roasted Chicken on a Bed of French Bread









Roast Chicken on French Bread


1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
3 large onions (halved, sliced into half-moons)
2 cups celery, sliced
2 tsp lemon zest, minced
1 3/4 tsp coarse sea or kosher salt
1 tsp garlic, minced
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
1/4 cup fresh Italian parsley, chopped

1 chicken (3-4 lb), butterflied
2 TBS extra-virgin olive oil
1 tsp freshly round pepper
1/2 tsp coarse sea or kosher salt

1/2 loaf crusty French bread, sliced 3/4 inches thick
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice

Preheat oven to 375°. Lightly oil a 12 inch cast-iron skilet. Saute onions and celery in 1/4 cup oil over medium heat for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add zest, salt, garlic, pepper, thyme, and red pepper flakes. Continue to saute until onions and celery are soft and translucent, about 5 more minutes. Remove from heat. Stir in parsley and set aside.

Rub chicken on both sides with olive oil; season with pepper and salt.

Layer bread (fit pieces together snugly), onion mixture, and then chicken in lightly oiled pan. Pour lemon juice over the chicken and roast, uncovered, for 1 1/2 hours, or until golden brown (at least 165°). Check for doneness during last fifteen minutes.

Remove from oven; let stand for 10 minutes.

Note: To butterfly the chicken, first remove the backbone with kitchen shears, then flatten it so it’s spread out.

Chicken over Potatoes and Kale


Photo of Ai-Mei and her hot smoked parika



Or alternatively, Potatoes and Kale


  • 1 bunch lacinato/flat kale, stems and inner ribs removed, coarsely chopped
  • 4 medium Yukon Gold potatoes, sliced 1/8 inch thick
  • 1 medium onion, thinly sliced
  • 2-3 TBS extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 – 1 teaspoon hot smoked paprika (the single most important ingredient)
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 4 boneless, skinless chicken thighs (or boneless breasts if you prefer) (optional)


Preheat the oven to 450°. In a large roasting pan, toss the kale, potatoes and onion with the olive oil and hot smoked paprika. Season with salt (optional) and pepper and spread in an even layer.

Place chicken (if using) over veggies.

Cover the pan with foil. Roast in the upper third of the oven for 20 minutes. Remove the foil and roast for 30 minutes longer, until the chicken (if using) is cooked through and the vegetables are tender. At this point, everything should be cooked through with some caramelization on the potatoes and onions with kale crispy around the edges.

We made this recipe with chicken the first couple of times and when realized that we didn’t particularly care about the chicken, it then became a vegetarian favorite! It is good as a leftover, but the kale, of course, will no longer be crispy. And as noted in the ingredient list, without the hot smoked paprika, this would be very boring…


Sweet and Spicy Candied Pecans

Spicy and Sweet Pecans Photo


3 TBS honey
1 TBS sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp (generous) freshly ground black pepper
1/4 tsp (generous) cayenne pepper
1 and 1/2 cups pecan pieces


Preheat oven to 325°F. Place Silpat or parchment paper on a jelly roll pan. Combine honey and next 4 ingredients in large bowl. Stir to blend. Add pecans; stir gently to coat. Transfer to baking sheet.

Place large piece of foil on work surface. Bake pecans 5 minutes. Using fork, stir pecans to coat with melted spice mixture. Continue baking until pecans are golden and coating bubbles, about 10 minutes. Watch carefully to avoid burning the pecans. Transfer to foil. Working quickly, separate nuts with fork. Cool. (Can be made 3-5 days ahead. Store airtight at room temperature.)

Crispy Eggplant

Crispy Eggplant



2 small eggplants, sliced into 1/4-inch thick rounds
Sea salt, enough to “salt” the eggplant
Extra virgin olive oil, for drizzling
All-purpose flour, about 1/2 cup (145 grams)
Panko breadcrumbs, about 1 1/2 cups (140 grams)
2 large eggs
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste


Thirty minutes before you’re ready to coat and bake the eggplant, you’ll need to “salt” them. We generally place the slices on a large cutting board, salt, cover with a second cutting board and place a heavy weight on top. Let the eggplant sit, undisturbed, for 20 minutes. Remove the weight, and don’t worry about the brownish liquid that has collected on the slices—that was the goal. Transfer the eggplant to a colander in the sink. Run cold water over the slices, making sure to rinse off all of the salt. Lay the slices on a double layer of paper towels. Blot to dry thoroughly.


Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 475°F. Top a jelly roll pan with either a Silpat, or parchment paper. Place the flour and breadcrumbs on separate sheets of waxed paper.


Add the eggs and pepper to a bowl, and beat with a fork to combine.


Coat each slice of eggplant as follows: gently press into the flour, flip and gently press again to coat both sides. Dip the slice in the egg and lightly coat both sides, shaking off any excess egg. Dip the slice into the panko, using your fingers to brush some crumbs on top, and gently press the eggplant so the crumbs stick. Place the fully-coated slice on the prepared baking sheet.


Drizzle the slices very lightly with olive oil. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, turning halfway through, until golden on both sides. Serve immediately.


This recipe also can be found in Crispy Eggplant Recipe.

Sometimes simple is better

Photo of a potato pancakeWe rarely eat potatoes, so when we have them it is important that they are perfectly cooked.  In this case, we wanted something to have with a salad for dinner and since we had a few potatoes on hand, we turned to the very basic potato pancake.  With just four or five potatoes (red in this instance), some olive oil, and salt and pepper, you can create something this lovely that tastes terrific.  This really isn’t a recipe, but as simple to execute as it is, a dish we should think of a little more often.

Peel and grate potatoes on large holes of a box grater (best done on a cutting board with an edge).  Squeeze as much liquid from the grated potatoes as possible.  Heat a couple of tablespoons of olive oil in a large non-stick skillet, add grated potatoes and sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Push the potatoes into a circular shape with a spatula, and cook over medium-low heat for ~15 minutes.  Resist the urge to cook this quickly…   Place a plate on top of the pancake, carefully turn pan over so that the pancake is on the plate, then slide the pancake (uncooked side down) back into the pan.  We should have taken a video of this process which looks somewhat terrifying, but works very well.  Continue to cook the pancake for another 15 minutes.  At that point, you can check the internal temperature with a kitchen thermometer and if it is at 210 Fahrenheit, you are probably ready to slide it out of the pan.  The result should be a crispy crust on the outside and creamy, perfectly cooked potatoes on the inside.