Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Raisin Cookies

Yum! I do love oatmeal raisin cookies, but what I like more about them is when they also contain chocolate. This recipe does this fairly well and are extremely lovely right out of the oven. They’re good a few days afterward too because they are cookies, but newly out of the oven is incomparable.  Continue reading


Healthier Granola

The main ingredients

We’ve been on a granola kick in the home of the Spice Raconteurs. It is crunchy, delicious, high in fiber, high in (mostly) good fats and is a nice alternative to boring ole’ cereal or oatmeal in the morning.

I looked at a lot of recipes and finally zeroed in on this tasty recipe that is just asking for you to add your own touch. This version is pretty low on oil/butter and sugar/honey compared to a lot of recipes out there. I don’t miss it, but I don’t like things that are super sweet. If you do, you can, of course add more. Continue reading

Moroccan Chicken with Kumquats and Prunes

Original recipe from Bon Appétit  | November 1992

I read about this dish on the Serious Eats blog much earlier in the year. Like, when kumquats were actually in the grocery stores? That’s when. Kumquats should start showing up again sometime in November so when they do, you can be prepared with this luscious, warming, fragrant stew. Continue reading

Quinoa Pancakes

Quinoa Pancakes

So, we eat a lot of quinoa ’round these parts. It has higher quality protein, fewer carbohydrates, more nutrients, and the real winner: it cooks faster than brown rice. So, we eat it quite a bit as a side-dish. But what we’ve found, is that it is particularly good in pancakes. These pancakes end up having more protein and tend to make me feel better than other pancakes after eating them. Plus, the quinoa adds a bit of texture to the pancakes for a bit of added interest.

This recipe is one we developed in the Spice Raconteurs Kitchen!  Continue reading

Walnut Herb Encrusted Halibut

Adapted from Bon Appétit | October 2007

Walnut Herb Encrusted Halibut

This is a really great topping for any white fish, but of course it is particularly nice with a lovely halibut. It is crunchy, nutty, herby and delicious. And it is a nice change from simple (but of course, lovely) grilled treatment with lemon juice. We ate this with an herby green salad and garden tomatoes. If you wanted to get fancy, I think it would be really good nestled on a turnip puree, or served with roasted fingerling potatoes. Continue reading

Shrimp with Spicy Creole Sauce

Adapted from Bon Appétit | April 1997

New Orleans BBQ Shrimp

Well, the regular followers of this blog (all 5 of you) probably know that we went to New Orleans for our Honeymoon. Or have we forgotten to mention that? It appears that we have. Well, after we got married this May, we headed to the Big Easy for a short but sweet trip. It was just after the oil-spill spill started,  right after a big holiday and it was really pretty chill. Have you ever heard  New Orleans described that way? Me neither, but it was.

It was my first time there and I’m already excited for our next trip. We ate and ate and ate. We ate the best Red Beans and Rice, Gumbo, Po’Boys, oysters and creole shrimp I’ve ever had. Although we did visit the famous Arnaud’s, we were more impressed by how much everything cost rather than how good everything was. I mean, everything was very nicely prepared, but doesn’t all food taste good when it’s drenched in butter? Yes. It does.

Our most memorable meal was actually brunch at a new restaurant called the Green Goddess.  It was there that we drank “Solidarity Sunshine” which featured Polish SobieskiVodka, Sparkling Meyer Lemon Juice and muddled basil. It was seriously amazing and where a good quarter of our garden’s basil ended up this summer. For the food portion of the meal, I ate the “Acadian Country Breakfast” with two small patties of crispy Boudin sausage nestled inside two buttery sweet potato biscuits. Served with pepper jelly and Steen’s cane syrup and grits on the side. It was devine– salty, sweet, hot, crispy, and grits! All for $9. That was certainly the theme of our trip, in which less expensive food impressed us the most.

But, I’ve gotten off track haven’t I? In a moment of lustfulness for the tastes of New Orleans, we made some shrimp with Spicy Creole Sauce the other day. I adapted the recipe from a Bon Appétit (April 1997) recipe which was in take on the ones served at Mr. B’s Bistro in New Orleans. I took out about half of the butter and we still had a very tasty meal so don’t feel timid about it. We also ended up with shrimp with the peels already removed. I actually preferred this as it made it easier and less messy to eat, but it certainly wasn’t as authentic. Make the decisions for you and your family based on your own preferences.

What you Need:

  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 3/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/8 teaspoon onion powder
  • Pinch (or more!) cayenne pepper
  • Pinch dried thyme
  • 28 uncooked large shrimp (shells on, or off depending on your preference)
  • 4 tablespoons chilled unsalted butter cut into 1/2 inch pieces
  • 3 tablespoon Worcestershire Sauce
  • 3 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 2 teaspoons chopped garlic
  • hot french bread (or rice)
  • Green onions, sliced for garnish (optional)
Cajun Spices

What to do:
  1. Combine first 8 ingredients in a large bowl. Add shrimp and toss to coat.
  2. Melt 2 tablespoons of butter in a large skillet over medium heat. (I used our big cast iron skillet.)
  3. Add Worcestershire sauce, lemon juice and garlic.
  4. Saute until garlic is tender– about 2 minutes.
  5. Add shrimp and saute until opaque in center– about 3 minutes.
  6. Add remaining 2 tablespoons of butter and stir until melted.
  7. Transfer shrimp to a large bowl and pour sauce over shrimp.
  8. Serve with hot French bread for dipping, or over the top of brown rice. (We used Forbidden rice because it happens to be pretty.
  9. Garnish with green onions if you so choose.
New Orleans BBQ Shrimp

Quinoa & Black-eyed Pea Summer Salad

Black-eyed peas & Qunoa Salad
This is one of those lovely salads that sings of summer and summons the vision of (ideally) sitting on the coast of the Mediterranean Sea. It is lovely with herby oregano, acidic lemon and red wine vinegar, salty olives and feta, matched with earthy quinoa and cool cucumber. It is a delcious mix and can be eaten all on it’s own as a vegetarian main dish (for about 2 people) or as a side dish (for about 4). I’d recommend a simply grilled fish to go along with this. If you want to get fancy: fresh fruit, mint and vanilla ice cream for dessert.
This recipe comes from the August 2008 issue of Gourmet Magazine and can be found here. I changed the orzo to quinoa for added fiber and protein (and general whole-grain goodness). The original recipe also recommends constructing the salad in two layers so I’ll describe the recipe in that way as well if you want to do something similar to what I did in the photo and make it all pretty. If you just want to get on with the eating, you can most certainly just mix everything together all at once. 
(*Note that you do have to make the quinoa ahead of time, so get that started before anything else if you don’t have any lying around as left-overs).
Black-eyed Pea Layer (layer 1):
  • 1 15 ounce can black-eyed peas, drained and rinsed (other salad beans like kindney and garbanzos can work well here too) 
  • 1 large tomato, chopped (~1 cup)
  • 2 tablespoons flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

 Mix everything together and let sit at room temperature about 15 minutes while you chop everything and mix up the other layer. 

Quinoa Layer (layer 2):

  • 1/2 seedless cucumber, halved lengthwise, cored, and diced (1 cup)
  • 1/2 cup pitted Kalamata olives, slivered
  • 1/3 cup thinly sliced red onion
  • 1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped oregano
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Mix all this together. 

 Assemble the salad: 

  • 2-3 cups of romaine or other salad green
  • 1/4- 1/2 lb of feta, crumbled (1/2 – 1 cup)
  • 4-8 pepperocini
  1. Layer some of the black-eyed pea mixture in a glass bowl or jar. 
  2. Layer some of the quinoa mixture on top.
  3. Top with a good handful of romaine leaves or other delicate salad green, and some feta crumbles.
  4. Dig in.

Chicken Meatball Banh Mi (Vietnamese Sandwiches)


I remember my first Banh Mi sandwich that I devoured in San Francisco while traipsing around the city with my dear friend Carly. She took me to a fabled store in the Tenderloin district where the sandwiches cost about $2 (but probably could have been sold for $9.) My first taste was that of love. Herby, sweet, salty, cruchy and fresh, these sandwiches are a perfect way to utilize some of the garden veggies you may be growing out back, or the farmer’s market produce you might pick up on the weekends.

This recipe comes from the January 2010 edition of Bon Appétit. You can find the original recipe here. I stayed pretty true to the original recipe, but substituted ground chicken breast instead of the ground pork. This saved about 100 calories (of fat) per serving so I thought it was worth it. You put so much goodness into the meat, that I didn’t miss the fatty porky flavor and neither did Edward.

Next time I make these, I might try cooking the meat on the grill, although I’ll have to figure out some way to bind the meat– as it is, it is a little too gloppy to make solid burger (maybe panko?) I’m also interested in exploring vegetarian versions of this sandwich. In San Fran, I sampled a tofu Banh Mi that had deliciously marinated and sweet grilled or fried tofu.

There are several components for the sandwiches and the ingredients are divided accordingly…

Carrot & Daikon Slaw: 

  • 2 cups coarsely grated carrots
  • 2 cups coarsely grated peeled daikon radish (or plain old red radishes)
  • 1 very thinly sliced small cucumber (optional)
  • 1/4 cup unseasoned rice vinegar
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon coarse kosher salt

Mix these ingredients together in a medium bowl and let sit at room temperature for about an hour. 


Hot Chili Mayo:

  • 2/3 cup mayonnaise
  • 2 green onions, finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon hot chili sauce (such as sriracha)

Mix these ingredients together and set aside in the refrigerator. 


  • 1 pound ground pork
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped fresh basil
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 3 green onions, finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon fish sauce (such as nam pla or nuoc nam)*
  • 1 tablespoon hot chili sauce (such as sriracha)
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 2 teaspoons cornstarch
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon coarse kosher salt

Mix these ingredients together and then shape into 1-inch balls. When ready to cook, coat a large pan with about a tablespoon of Asian sesame oil and fry/saute about half of the meatballs until they are browned on all sides and cooked through. This will take about 15 minutes. Remove the first batch from the pan to a clean plate and tent with foil, or place in a 300 degree oven. Then repeat with the other meatballs.


Other ingredients for the sandwiches:

  • 4 10-inch-long individual baguettes or four 10-inch-long pieces French-bread baguette (cut from 2 baguettes)
  • Thinly sliced jalapeño chiles
  • 16 large fresh cilantro sprigs
Assemble the sandwiches: 
  1. Cut the baguettes in half and then hollow them out so only about  a 1/2 inch of bread is on the circumfrence of the crust. 
  2. Spread the mayo on each side of the baguette halves. It is okay to get wild and spread a lot on there. 
  3. Place the jalapeño slices on the bottom half along with about 4 sprigs of cilantro. (Go easy on the jalapeño if you’re sensitive to spice!) I think some mint might be good here too.
  4. Place a 1/4 of the meatballs on each baguette half. 
  5. Drain the slaw and cover the meatballs with a heafty portion. 
  6. Slap on the other baguette half and enjoy!! 

These make a tasty lunch or summer dinner. I’d recommend serving with some fresh fruit dressed up with a little few mint or basil.