Cuban Black Bean Soup

My wife’s side of the family enjoys a spiral cut ham for their Christmas dinner. I love a good Christmas ham, because like a Thanksgiving turkey, it’s the gift that keeps on giving. After I’ve stuffed myself with two days of ham sandwiches and meaningless mid week college bowl games my palate is ready for something new. This recipe is a great change up from most of the traditional holiday fare and makes great use of the ham bone and excess ham trimmings.

I will also throw in a not so-humble brag that this past year I apple-wood smoked our ham in our Big Green Egg. It brought this recipe to the next level!


  • 1 lb dried black beans (or 4 cans 14 oz cans)
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 1 medium green bell pepper, finely chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 ham bone or ham hock
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 1/3 cup distilled white or apple cider vinegar
  • Cooked rice for serving (optional)
  • Sour cream (optional garnish)
  • Chopped raw onion (optional garnish)
  • Chopped red pepper (optional garnish)


  1. Rinse canned beans and place in a heavy pot or dutch oven (If you are using dried beans, the night before rinse with cold water and pick out an rocks or broken beans. Cover in a heavy pot or dutch oven with enough cold water to cover the beans and soak over night. Drain and return to the pot the next morning )
  2. Add enough water to cover the beans by an inch
  3. Add onion, pepper, garlic, cumin, bay leaf, ham and ham bone, olive oil, salt and black pepper. Stir and bring to a boil and skim off any white foam.
  4. Reduce heat to low and cover.
  5. Simmer until beans are creamy, not watery 4-5 hours. Stir occasionally so you don’t burn onto the bottom of your pot. Check after 2 hours, if dry, add another cup of water.You want to cook the beans down so about half of them break apart and create a smooth base. The final consistency should be velvety and thick and the soup should coat the back of your spoon.
  6. 15 minutes before serving, stir in the vinegar and simmer uncovered. Pull the bay leaf and ham bone out of the pot. The meat should fall off the bone easily with the touch of the spoon.
  7. Serve over rice with sour cream, onion and red pepper.

Shanna Tova – Coconut Macaroons


  • Makes ~45
  • Prep Time: 15 min.
  • Total Time: 60 min.


  • 2 – 14 ozs. bags sweetened coconut flakes
  • 2 – 14 ozs. bags sweetened shredded coconut
  • 2 – 14 ozs. cans sweetened condensed milk
  • 1/4 cup sour cream
  • 2 Tablespoons heavy cream
  • 1 Tablespoon Vanilla extract
  • 1 lb. Semi Sweet or Dark Chocolate (optional)


1. Mix all ingredients except chocolate until thoroughly combined

2. Gently press a portion of the batter into a #12 scoop

3. Place the macaroons on a parchment-lined baking sheet

4. Bake at 325 degrees for 40-45 minutes (rotate cookie sheet at 20 minutes) until toasted golden brown and base of macaroon is caramelized

5. Cool. Dip in chocolate.

Chicken Tikka Masala Wings with Yogurt and Lime Dust

This is a two day prep and a bit time consuming for prep, but if you are looking for a creative knock-out dish for your next Superbowl party. This one is worth it. I learned this one from a Modern Gastro pub cooking class at The Pantry. Recipe courtesy of Jay Guerrero.



  • 4 lbs. chicken wings
  • 1 Tablespoon kosher salt
  • 1.5 teaspoon sugar
  • 2 bay leaves, crushed
  • 3 quarts canola oil

For Sauce

  • 1 Tablespoon coriander seed
  • 1.5 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • 2 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 teaspoon cyenne
  • 2 tablespoons onion powder
  • 2 tablespoons canola or peanut oil
  • 1 tablespoon grated ginger
  • 1/2 cup tomato puree
  • 4 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup half and half
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper

Lime Dust

  • 3 limes, juiced and peels zested then dried for 2 days
  • 2 cups greek yogurt
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 clove garlic, grated on a microplane
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt


Wings (Can be done up to 3 days ahead of time)

  1. Combine salt, sugar, and bay leaf and toss with wings. Place uncovered on a baking sheet lined with a rack and refrigerate overnight. The next day rinse the cure off and dry the wings with paper towels
  2. Heat oil and the wings in a large heavy pot like a dutch oven until oil is 220-250 degrees. Cook for 20 min holding the temp constant, stirring occasionally.
  3. Drain on a baking sheet lined with a rack. Cool for an hour or refrigerate up to 3 days.

Sauce (Can be made 1 week ahead of time)

  1. Over medium heat, toast the whole spices in a dry pan until fragrant. let cool and grind in a spice grinder or mortar and pestle. Heat a medium saucepan over medium heat with 2 tablespoons of oil, add the ginger, frying for about 45 seconds. Turn heat to medium low and add the ground spices for 10-15 seconds. Add tomato puree and butter and allow butter to melt. Wisk in the half and half. Add salt as needed (if refrigerating warm the sauce on medium low heat before tossing on the wings)

Lime dust and yogurt

  1. Crush dried peels in spice grinder (dust will keep for 2 months in sealed container)
  2. Whisk yogurt with oil, garlic, lime juice and salt


  1. Place the sauce in large bowl for tossing wings. Heat oil to 400 degrees and add 1/3 of wings to the oil. Gently agitate as they cook to stay close to 400. They should be browned and crispy after about 10 minutes.
  2. Remove and transfer to the bowl with the sauce and gently toss to coat.
  3. Sprinkle with lime dust and serve with yogurt.


Kate Doesn’t Like Brussel Sprouts

When I first started dating my now wife, I was planning dinner and asked if she liked brussel sprouts. She said she didn’t like them to which I replied that I bet this recipe could change her mind. Now a days, when I see brussel sprouts in the grocery bags, I know which recipe to turn to.
  • 1 lb. brussel sprouts
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 2 Tbsp. EVOO
  • 1/4 tsp. red pepper flakes
  • 5 cloves minced garlic
  • 1/4 tsp. nutmeg
  • 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
  1. trim stems, pluck dead leaves and halve brussel sprouts
  2. Bring 2 quarts of water to a boil in a large sauce pan
  3. Boil sprouts with salt in water for 4-5 minutes (so they are just under done)
  4. Drain spouts and set aside
  5. Sauté olive oil, garlic and red pepper for 1 minute
  6. Add nutmeg and sprouts and saute for 1 more minute
  7. Mix in cheese until it melts – about 1 more minue

Dungeness Crab Cakes

Winter holiday weekends in our house often include fresh dungeness crab when it’s in season. My mother always worries we won’t have enough so we inevitably end up with an extra crab or two. It’s quite the pleasant headache, because nobody wants to waste such wonderful crab, but day old crab is a tough sell. Enter these Crabcakes!


  • 1 pound lump dungeness crabmeat, picked over for shells
  • 1/3 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/2 cup panko bread crumbs
  • 1 large egg, beaten
  • 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • 2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 4 dashes Tabasco
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil and/or unsalted butter, plus more as needed
  • Lemon wedges, for serving


  1. In a large mixing bowl, combine half of crabmeat with mayonnaise, panko, egg, mustard, Worcestershire, Tabasco, and paprika. Season with salt and pepper and stir until thoroughly combined.
  2. Gently fold in remaining half of crabmeat until just combined; try not to break apart the lumps of meat any more than necessary as you stir. Form into patties and arrange on a parchment-lined baking sheet.
  3. In a large cast iron or nonstick skillet, heat oil (and/or butter) over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add patties and cook, rotating and flipping occasionally for even browning, until browned and crispy on both sides, about 10 minutes. Lower heat at any point to prevent burning, and add more oil or butter as needed if pan goes dry.
  4. Serve right away with lemon wedges and tartar sauce, if desired.


Cast Iron Skillet Roasted Brussel Sprouts

I got a cast iron skillet from my sister-in-law for Christmas this year and was just happened to have a bunch of brussel sprout I was planning on roasting up for dinner. Now that I have small kids, my old stand by recipe which has red pepper flakes was less of an option so I found this one. The brussel sprouts are nicely browned on the bottom and tender without the bitterness. I was worried that the garlic would be overpowering, but the roasting added a mellow nutty flavor. Delicious!


  • 1 pint brussels sprouts (about a pound)
  • 4 to 6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, to coat bottom of pan
  • 5 cloves garlic, minced
  •  Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • optional: grated parmesan cheese


  1. Heat oven to 400 degrees. Trim bottom of brussels sprouts, and slice each in half top to bottom. Heat oil in cast-iron pan over medium-high heat until it shimmers; put sprouts cut side down in one layer in pan. Put in garlic, and sprinkle with salt and pepper.
  2. Cook, undisturbed, until sprouts begin to brown on bottom, and transfer to oven. Roast, shaking pan every 5 minutes, until sprouts are quite brown and tender, about 15 minutes.
  3. Taste, and add more salt and pepper if necessary. Stir in balsamic vinegar, and serve hot or warm.
  4. If you like sprinkle on parmesan cheese to add a little salty cheesy finish


Plum & Rum Preserves

Serves: 5 half pints


  • 1½ cups grated can­died cit­ron, or­ange or lemon peel
  • 1 cup dark rum
  • 2½ pounds red or black plums, thinly sliced
  • 2½ cups granulated sugar
  • Juice of one lemon
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon


1. Com­bine grated cit­ron and rum in a small bowl. Cover and set aside to soak while the plums mac­er­ate.

2. Toss sliced plums, sugar, lemon juice and cin­na­mon to­gether in a large, non­re­ac­tive bowl. Cover and trans­fer to re­frig­er­a­tor to mac­er­ate at least 6 hours, or overnight.

3. In a large non­re­ac­tive pot over medium-high heat, com­bine plum mix­ture and soft­ened cit­ron along with rum it was soak­ing in. Bring to a boil. Lower heat and sim­mer steadily, stir­ring of­ten, un­til fruit has bro­ken apart, liq­uid has re­duced and mix­ture is glossy, 35-40 min­utes.

4. Spoon mix­ture into ster­il­ized jars and seal. Jam will keep in re­frig­er­a­tor for three months. (To store in the pantry for up to one year, process jars ac­cord­ing to the USDA’s “Com­plete Guide to Home Can­ning,” avail­able at nchf­p.u­

Courtesy Sarah Karnasiewicz wsj food and drink