Tag Archives: celery


Sunday, February 17 –

Last night’s dinner was a good jump-start to my love for this project. Thank you to my friends that continue to support this effort. We had BestestFianceEver, WingWoman (Jollof), ChinUp (Frango de Churrasco de photo(9)Guiné), and MyBuddy – with LightsOn showing up to hang out right at the very end of the evening.

I took one look at the name of this dish, and knew I had to make it. BestestFianceEver LOVES split pea soup, so it was a no-brainer to pick it. I did, however, change the recipe to this one instead – knowing that the flavor of boiling meat is just not my favorite. So I followed the new recipe to the letter except I used bacon fat to cook the onions and celery, and used the cooked bacon in the soup instead of ham. So I pretty much kept with the spirit of the soup, but didn’t stick with the cooking method. Figures, at the rate I’m going, right? Also, I didn’t measure any of the spices I put in (tumeric, thyme, basil, black pepper, salt, cayenne, 2 bay leaves), I just kept shaking until it looked spicy enough for an entire pot of soup.

The soup was thick and very potato-y, but the spices and heat were incredible. I will definitely keep this recipe around, just take out about half of the potatoes. The jollof was a perfect combination of rice and cabbage, and was also a great compliment to the chicken, which was lemony, spicy, goodness. Of all of the plain meals we have had for African countries, this was definitely not one of them. Huge success all the way around.

Can’t wait to move on to the H countries – with more potlucks coming up in the I countries. Exciting!

(recipe borrowed from the cooks at: www.celtnet.org.uk)

Pea Soup and Meat

  • 900g neck of mutton or lamb, sliced
  • 1 small pork shank
  • 4 strips bacon, cut lengthways into strips
  • 450g split dried peas
  • 100g rice
  • 2 large celery sticks, finely chopped
  • 2 large potatoes, coarsely grated
  • 2 large carrots, coarsely grated
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 2 bay leaves
  • salt and pepper to taste

Method: Place all the ingredients (except peas and rice) into a large cast iron casserole pot. Add 2l water, cover and bring to the boil. Lower the heat and allow to simmer for 2 hours. Towards the end of cooking you will need to stir frequently to prevent burning. Add the peas and rice to the pot along with 2.5l water. Season to taste, cover and simmer for 2 hours. Again, stir frequently as the soup thickens to prevent burning. Serve immediately either as a soup, ladled into bowls, or as a stew with rice.



Monday, July 23 –

I swear I’m trying to not fall behind on these posts… life keeps sweeping me away! This post was actually cooked last week. Thank you to RubsWithLove (strawberry cream pie), Mistress Whiskey (salad and wine), Bestie Extraordinaire (salad and wine), Wonderful Boyfriend, and NewOrleans (sinful mango dessert) for coming to this dinner and bringing wonderful dishes.

I decided to make this recipe by cooking the rice in a rice-cooker and cooking the seafood separately. This way I didn’t have to worry about over-cooking shrimp, which is gross. So into the pan went double the amounts of herbs and spices, double the amount of tomato paste, and triple the garlic. I let that warm up and then I put three pounds of shrimp in. I topped the mix off with veggie broth until it was sauce-like instead of paste-like. In next went the veggies, at about 1.5 times the amounts called for originally. I let that simmer until the shrimp were just barely done. I put the rice into a dish to serve, the shrimp mix into another dish, the olives into a dish, the avocados into a dish, and then I put lump crab meat into the final dish.

Onto our plates went the salad and dressing and then the rice and shrimp with whatever toppings sounded good to people. (How could you not want crab meat, after all?) The dinner was a perfect blend of spice, flavor, and texture. I likened it to etouffee at the time, and most everyone seemed to agree that was a close relation to this dish. I highly recommend it, and will look forward to making it again soon.

Our newest blog guest decided to take a trip to the store and buy something that inspired him. (Being a chef in real life has creativity perks that most people who love food envy.) He made a “coconut caramel cream mango flambe” and it was OUT OF CONTROL delicious. There is no photo of it, mostly because it disappeared so quickly into our bellies and also because it was one of those dishes that tasted amazing but didn’t look very pretty. I highly recommend finding a friend that likes to make food like this (unless you are trying to diet, in which case, run very, very far away!). Yum for all the dishes we ate this night!

(recipe borrowed from the cooks at: www.caribbeanchoice.com)

Asopao de Mariscos (spiced shrimp with rice)

  •     2 lbs of shrimp, crab or lobster
  •     1 lemon (may be omitted)
  •     2 1/2 cups of rice
  •     3/4 gallon of water
  •     5 tablespoons oil
  •     4 tablespoons tomato paste
  •    1/4 cup chopped green peppers
  •     1 pinch oregano
  •     1 teaspoon mashed garlic
  •     1 pinch black pepper
  •     1/8 cup chopped seedless olives
  •     1/4 cup chopped celery
  •     1 spoon finely chopped parsley
  •     1 spoon finely chopped coriander
  •     1/2 spoon of thyme leaves
  •     1 cube of chicken stock
  •     Salt


In an iron pot heat the oil (reserve 2 spoons of oil).  Add the herbs, olives, spices, tomato paste, peppers, garlic and salt. Add the shrimps and stir (be careful with hot oil splattering). Cover and wait two minutes, then stir again. Add the remaining water and bring to a boil. Add all remaining ingredients (including the rice). Stir regularly to avoid excessive sticking. Let 3/4 of the water evaporate, by then a grain of rice should be about 3 times its original size. Adjust salt to taste. Serve while hot.

RECIPE NOTES: Serve with a few slices of avocados or tostones.


Wednesday, July 11 –

“More, please and thank you.” Is what I have to say about the dishes from this dinner. I would be happy to eat like this all the time (but my diet probably wouldn’t!).

And also, HOORAY! I MADE IT A WHOLE YEAR! This blog is officially on its 52nd country. That’s amazing and awesome and I’m super, extra proud of myself and my die-hard participants that join us all the time.

On to the recipes and the notes…

I was SO EXCITED about these recipes that I made three of them. And we had lots of amazing friends and food to share: SassyDesserts made an apple crumb cake and vodka raspberry lemonades, Besti Extraordinaire made a veggie salad, Sir VJ and RubsWithLove made pork crackling and quick pickles, and of course my Wonderful Boyfriend did all the dishes and cleanup.

I started with the salmon log because I wanted it to have time to chill before everyone showed up. I cut the recipe in half, so I used two cans of salmon and put that in the food processor with the rest of the ingredients except the parsley and pecans. I got it all whipped together and then I dumped it into a serving bowl. Then I chopped the pecans in the food processor as well and then just mixed it altogether. I left out the parsley because it’s not my favorite flavor to work with and I would rather taste the salmon. Into the fridge that went until people showed up.

Next came the stuffed celery. I cleaned and cut the stalks and lined them up on a platter. I cut this recipe in half as well, so I put all of the ingredients together in a ziplock and smooshed it altogether. Then I snipped the corner of it and used it like a pastry bag to fill the celery. It didn’t really work as well as frosting, so I ended up smoothing them out with my fingers. Then I topped them with finely chopped green bell pepper and put those out for people to snack on.

Last was the chicken fricassee. I used a roasting pan on two burners, just like it says, which was a little weird at first but worked really, really well. It was much better to get everything cooked evenly without having to do it in batches. I used four pounds of chicken breasts and kept the rest of the recipe as it’s written. I had the temperature a little hot so I had to stir in the eggs really, really quickly, but it ended up working out ok anyway.

As you can see by the photos it was colorful and a great variety of flavors and textures. The chicken was moist and tender. The sauce for it was very, very buttery but still good. The salmon dip was perfect and I would happily make it again. The celery sticks were just like any stuffed celery you’ve had, and maybe even a little too bland for our group. Next time I would choose to use a stronger blue cheese to get more kick. The pork crackling was sinful and moist with a vinegar sauce that was perfect on it. The salad was a sharp cut to the fatty flavors and a perfect addition to the plate. The quick pickles were addictive and perfectly crunchy.

And the dessert was so good I almost can’t write a review on it. Imagine the perfect version of a moist apple cake with a little crunch from the walnuts. Now make it better than that. Now finish the sad feeling of staring at your empty plate and using all of your willpower to not lick it. It was THAT good.

On to the next year of great food and wonderful friends. Cheers!

(recipes borrowed from the cooks at: www.mindspring.com)

Chicken Fricassee – Hønsefrikassé

  • 8 pounds chicken — cut in serving piece
  • ½ pound butter
  • 12 pearl onions
  • ½ stalk celery — chopped
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • 2 cups white wine
  • 1 pound mushrooms — sliced
  • 3 tablespoons flour
  • 4 egg yolks — beaten
  • ½ cup light cream
  • Parsley — minced
  • Chives

Directions: Place chicken pieces in roasting pan with ¼ pound of the butter, onions, celery and seasonings. Simmer over low heat on top of stove for 25 minutes. (If necessary, light two adjecent burners and place pan across both.) Add wine and mushrooms. Cover and let cook for 20 minutes more, or until chicken is tender.

Melt the remaining ¼ pount butter in another pan and stir in the flour, a little at a time. Blend until smooth, but do not allow to brown.

Place the chicken with onions, celery and mushrooms on a warm serving platter.

Add the broth to butter and flour a little at a time, mixing thoroughly. Stir constantly until it begins to boil, reduce heat to simmering poinnt and add the beaten egg yolks mixed with the cream. Allow sauce to cook for a moment or two, stirring frequently. Remove from heat and add parsley and chives.

Salmon Log

  • 1 pound red salmon
  • 8 ounces cream cheese — softened
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons onion — grated
  • 1 teaspoon prepared horseradish
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon liquid smoke flavoring
  • Pecans — crushed
  • Chopped parsley
  • Crackers to serve

Directions:  Drain salmon and remove all skin and bones. Mix all ingredients, except pecans and parsley. Roll into a log or ball. Roll in crushed pecans and parsley. Chill overnight. Serve with crackers.

Stuffed Celery

  • 2 bunches celery
  • 8 oz cream cheese
  • ½ cup roquefort cheese or blue cheese
  • 1 tablespoon sour cream or french dressing
  • 1 green pepper or
  • 1 pimiento or
  • paprika

Directions:  Separate hearts into individual stalks. Mash cheese, mix smoothly together, adding a little sour cream or french dressing. Fill stalks, garnish with thin strip pepper or pimiento, or sprinkle with paprika.







Wednesday, June 13 –

First things first, I have to right a wrong from last week’s post. I didn’t give proper (or any) credit to my Wonderful Boyfriend for all of the help he gave me cooking that dinner. Thank you, retroactively, for your wonderful goodness and constant willingness to lend a helping hand. You make this project something that I not only look forward to, but look forward to sharing with you.

This week’s guests also contributed to this adventure, and here are my thanks: Hot Momma brought wine and the turkey breasts. Bestie Extraordinaire brought lots of wine. And Amine Chef and BeatBox brought a wonderful green salad and bread to snack on while the chicken was baking. Thank you!

Now, on to this week’s post. I have to say that I approached this dinner with a huge amount of excitement in my heart. I had a real family recipe given to me and I didn’t want to mess it up. But mess it up I did (sort of). First of all, I didn’t give enough consideration to how long this recipe takes to make and to bake. So my boss said I could skip the part of putting the pan into the double boiler and it would cut down on baking time. Second of all, I tried to accommodate guests with this recipe when I really, really shouldn’t have modified it. And third, I made guesses about the way the structure of the recipe worked and I got them wrong. I did this recipe a disservice and I promise to make it again soon, doing it the right way. If any of my guests for this dinner want to come for the re-do, you are more than welcome.

How it all happened…

This is really a two-day recipe, so let me start at the beginning. I was planning on cooking for Bestie Extraordinaire, Amine Chef, and BeatBox (who, if you remember back several weeks, cannot eat any sort of dairy). So I figured that I could substitute soy milk for the regular cow milk (I love soy milk on cereal, on desserts, and for my coffee drinks, so how could this possibly go wrong?). Wonderful Boyfriend and I cut, toasted, and soaked the bread just like the recipe describes. I was running out of time so I let the bread sit on baking sheets in the fridge to finish soaking up the soy milk. Then we get to Wednesday, and we add Hot Momma, Baby Bear, and Mr. Hero to the dinner. (Eek! Not enough meat on that chicken to feed everyone! So we bought turkey breasts and threw them into the same pan. Makes sense, right?)

I saute the onion, celery, parsley, and garlic as per the instructions. I mix it all into the bowl with the ripped up bread chunks of one of the loaves of bread. It looks like A LOT of stuffing. So my brain told me, “Just don’t use the other loaf. It’ll totally be enough.” However, it didn’t tell me, “Remember to halve the spices because you’re only using half the bread.” So into the bowl went all of the spices and eggs. Mixed up and stuffed into the bird, bacon placed on top, turkey placed on the side, bacon placed on the top of that. Into the oven at 400* for 30 minutes, then I basted with the wine and olive oil. Then stuff the rest of the stuffing around the bird and then an hour in the oven at 350*, basting twice more. My digital thermometer read 155* , so with resting that gets it up to 165* as the food safety sites tell us to get chicken up to. Onto the plates it went, along with a salad from Amine Chef and BeatBox, we were ready to eat.

The chicken was moist, flavorful, and delicious. I don’t remember ever having a baked chicken dish that turned out so incredible. I could have eaten half the bird, I swear! The stuffing, well, wasn’t my best-in-show, that’s for sure. It tasted all wrong because of the soy milk and while most of the people at the table liked it I was crying on the inside. *sniff* It still breaks my heart to think about how amazing that dinner could have been if I hadn’t tried to cut so many corners. If there is anyone out there making these recipes, please, please, please do this recipe how it is written rather than how I tried to do it. As many successes as I have had with this, this is my most heartbreaking failure.

On that note, learn when it’s ok to change recipes and when it is not. It will save you from stories like this.

(recipe borrowed from my boss!)

Croatian Stuffed Chicken

  • 1 whole chicken
  • 1 slice bacon
  • 1 large onion
  • 2-3 cloves garlic
  • Fresh parsley (1/4 – 1/3 of a bunch)
  • 2 stalks celery
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Paprika
  • Olive oil
  • White wine (chardonnay)
  • 2 loaves Albertson’s French Bread (white)
  • 2 eggs
  • 2% milk (3/4 gal. will be used)


(if having more than 4-6 people over, do 2 chickens and 3 loaves Albertson’s French bread, 3 eggs, 1.5 onions, 3 stalks celery, little more milk  – don’t use Safeway bread – turns out mushy)

Day prior:

  • Wash chicken, salt inside and out; place in refrigerator overnight.
  • Cut bread loaves and dry out in oven (approx: 1/2 hr. on 300 & 1 hr. or longer on 200 or less)
  • Finely chop together:  onion, garlic, celery, parsley.
  • In non-stick skillet:

Place 1/2 c – 1 c. olive oil & heat to med. high; add onion/parsley mixture; careful it doesn’t burn – you want the excess moisture to cook up –      approximately 30-40 min.  Towards the end, you will need to turn down the heat to med – low.   Cool mixture.

  • When bread is dried out and cool, place bread in a large broiler and slowly add half the milk; as bread absorbs milk, turn bread pieces over and add the remaining milk.  Every 20 min. or so turn bread pieces over making certain that all pieces absorb milk and let stand for approx. 1.5 hrs. until you can easily mix and crumble the pieces (should not be any hard pieces of bread).  If you think there is too much milk, you can squeeze some out (should not be dripping milk).  Add the sauteed onion/parsley mixture to the bread and mix well; add 1- 2 tablespoon salt, 3-4 tablespoon pepper, 3 tablespoon paprika; continue mixing well; add 2 eggs; mix well.  Place in refrigerator til ready to start cooking chicken.

Cooking Day:

(Chicken will take 4 hrs. to cook on 350, Bake)

  • Place chicken – add slice of bacon on top of chicken — in a large black broiler plan (place as much stuffing as you can fit inside chicken at this time) & let it bake in the oven for 30 min. on 400 degrees.
  • Remove chicken temporarily from the oven while you place a larger, shallower pan with HOT WATER in oven.
  • Take the remaining stuffing mix and place it around the chicken in the large black broiler plan.  Cover and seal with aluminum foil & place into pan with hot water.  TURN OVEN DOWN TO 350 AND KEEP IT THERE FOR THE REMAINING 3.5 HRS.
  • After 1 hr., start basting chicken with olive oil and white wine (place in a bowl approx. 3/4 cup olive oil and 3-4 cups white wine.  After the first hour, baste every hour or so.  Be sure to place olive oil/wine mixture over chicken AND stuffing.

When chicken is done, remove chicken; remove stuffing from inside chicken & add to rest of stuffing.  There will be a lot of juice from the chicken and wine – be sure to mix well this juice into the stuffing.  Enjoy!!!


Friday, February 10 –

As I sit here trying to think of what to say about this dinner, my mouth is literally watering. Just remembering the smell of the food cooking is making me want to make it again for dinner tonight.

I definitely changed this recipe, but I’m sure it would be good as written too! I only made one eggplant for the four of us (Wonderful Boyfriend, Roommate Extraordinaire, and our new guest, LostBoy) and cut the ingredients down accordingly. I used one shredded carrot, two celery stalks, four roma tomatoes, and two sweet onions. I also used one pound of ground lamb and an entire bulb of garlic. So I started with cooking the lamb, then added the onion and garlic, then the celery and carrot, then the tomatoes, and then topped it off with salt, pepper, and crushed red pepper. (I know what you’re thinking… “This isn’t really the recipe at all!” And you’d be mostly right. I used the recipe as the base and expanded it to a full entree from there.) I let the mixture simmer down a little while I scooped out the middles of the eggplant. Then I filled it with the lamb and veggie mix, surrounded it with the rest, topped it with a light sprinkle of parmesan, and baked it for 25 minutes. The smell was intoxicating, let me tell you!

On the side I served a small green salad and some fresh sourdough bread. For LostBoy and I, I also made black pepper mushrooms (olive oil, sliced mushrooms, garlic salt, and a half a ton of black pepper – saute until soft). I felt like it needed a little bit extra (the salad and mushrooms) and something to scoop up the yummy juices (the sourdough). Definitely good choices!

The eggplant was firm but well cooked. The lamb and veggie mix was full of flavor with a slight heat-spice because of the red peppers. The salad was a great starter. And the bread was a great way to soak up the juices!

Things I have learned: You can eat eggplant skin! Weird! Of the few ways I’ve ever cooked it the recipes always said to peel them first. So surprise, surprise, you can eat the skin. It definitely changed the flavor a little, but in a good and interesting way. So next time you think to cook eggplant, don’t be afraid to leave the skin on!

(recipe borrowed from the cooks at: www.findbgfood.com)

Imambayalda (Babaganoush, Stuffed Eggplants)

  • 4 eggplants
  • 6 tomatoes, grated
  • 5 onions, chopped
  • 2 carrots, grated
  • 1 celery, grated
  • 4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • half a lemon,
  • 1 bay leaf,
  • parsley,
  • peppers,
  • half a cupful sunflower oil,
  • salt

Preparation:  Remove the top of the eggplants and scoop out the soft insides (you should end up having 4 hollow eggplants with half of their meat still on the sides). Heat the oil and cook the onions until golden. Add the carrots, celery, tomatoes, garlic and parsley, add the bay leaves and some water and sauté for 5 minutes. Stuff the eggplants with this mixture (you can add some of their meat you scooped out if you don’t have enough ingredients to fill them with), top with a slice of tomato and bake in a 375F oven for 25 minutes. Serve warm or cold.


Monday, August 22 –

First of all, let me just say that Anguilla is so small that it doesn’t even show up on the map, however, their recipes are AH-mazing. This dinner was a race to the finish to make sure that it all came to the table (and warm) at the same time. I only had two recipes, so it should have been a piece of cake, right? Not hardly. My Wonderful Boyfriend and Roommate Extraordinaire were told to go to the dining room table and stay absolutely out of the way or food might have gone flying.

I started with marinating the tuna in the wasabi and olive oil mixture, then covered it and put it back in the fridge. Then I got the oven going for the pita bread and set a timer for it. Next I started on the dough for the johnny cakes and covered it with a kitchen cloth and let it rest on the counter. I moved on to the tomatoes, heating them in the boiling water. I managed to chose really, really big tomatoes so it took about 20 minutes instead of just 10. They started to split apart and the skin started to slide off, but I figured it would taste good anyway. Once the tomatoes were on the counter cooling I got the veggies in the wok with the peanut oil, cooking them until just wilted and not mushy. The veggies went into the tomatoes and got set aside. The johnny cakes were next and I got them rolled out and into patties, placing them into the frying oil in batches. When I was about half way through with the cakes but the rest were ready to go I got the fish out and the oil hot in another pan. I put the fish in and used a timer for 3 minutes on the first side and 2 minutes on the other side, making them nice and seared on each end but still beautiful and pink in the middle. I set the johnny cakes on a paper towel to drain as I took them out and the fish onto a cutting board to rest for a minute. As the last of the cakes were cooking I got the arugula out and coated with the olive oil, salt, and pepper. I got the pita on the plates, the arugula on next, then the fish sliced and placed onto the top. The tomatoes were at room temperature by now but I was sure it would work with the flavors of it. The johnny cakes went into the middle of the table for everyone to share.


The parts that I have to admit, simply because they are the hilarious part of cooking with an audience, are that I apparently have a “happy cooking dance” that I do when I’m racing with timers and trying to get everything together and perfect. The guys tried to get a video of it, but I caught on quickly and managed to not have a ridiculous debut for YouTube. If you want to see the dance you have to come enjoy the cooking and the show at the same time. And I also apparently shouldn’t wear black to cook in, at least not when I’m making something with flour. I ended up wearing some and after some sass, so did my Wonderful Boyfriend. *insert wicked laugh here*

The plate of food without the johnny cakes could have been a complete meal all on its own. I didn’t realize it when I picked them that it would be so filling. It was very, very filling. The tuna had zing but wasn’t really spicy. It was also tender, flaky, and delicious. The arugula and the pita made a nice bed to pick the tuna up with and complimented the flavors really well. The veggies were really good, and you could taste the sesame oil really clearly. It was like a stir-fry in a tomato. I wish I had picked tomatoes that were just a little smaller, but for the amount of sauteed veggies they were perfect. The johnny cakes were like little biscuits of fluffy goodness. I think they would be really good as a breakfast food with some eggs and bacon on the side. I think I’ll keep the left overs and do exactly that. I would definitely recommend any of these recipes for people to try, they made all three of us groan in sated happiness.

Things I have learned: Sometimes having help is a wonderful thing, and I don’t ask for it nearly often enough. Sometimes it’s just better to kick everyone out of the kitchen and let them watch the show from a distance. Also, getting kicked out at the end of the meal so that someone else can do the dishes is a wonderful thing to experience and if it happens to you, remember to say “thank you” more than once (and maybe it’ll happen more than once!). Having recipes like this that require specific timing can be a fun challenge as long as you read the recipes thoroughly before you start cooking. I tend to start the recipe and then get to the end saying, “Oh, that’s what it’s supposed to look like!” Probably not the smartest way of tackling this sort of time-crunch. Must read the recipes the day before so that I know if I have to thaw something, marinade something, and also to know what it’s supposed to look like at the end!

Thoughts about wine: The wines that our Roommate Extraordinaire brought were a perfect pairing for the meal. They were both French, and were crisp and tart in a green apple sort of way. They added a brightness to the dinner that helped cut through the lingering oil on the different dishes. I only got a photo of the first bottle, but the second bottle was a riesling and was a really good flavor as well. These dishes would have been overwhelmed with anything that had a stronger or darker flavor, so definitely choose something like the ones we had if you choose to cook any of these recipes.

(recipes borrowed from the cooks at: www.epicurious.com and http://news.ai)

Spicy Tuna “Tarts” with Stuffed Tomatoes

  • 2 teaspoons wasabi paste
  • 5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 (8-ounce, 1-inch-thick) tuna steaks
  • 4 medium tomatoes
  • 1 3/4 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 pita breads, preferably whole-wheat
  • 2 tablespoons Asian (toasted) sesame oil
  • 1 (1-inch) piece fresh ginger, peeled and finely julienned
  • 2 bunches baby bok choy, cut crosswise into 2-inch pieces and julienned
  • 2 large carrots, peeled, cut crosswise into 2-inch pieces, and julienned
  • 2 stalks celery, cut crosswise into 2-inch pieces and julienned
  • 4 cups (loosely packed) baby arugula (about 4 ounces)

Preparation: In small bowl, whisk together wasabi paste and 3 tablespoons olive oil. Rub wasabi marinade into tuna steaks, then cover with plastic (or place in resealable plastic bag) and refrigerate 30 minutes or up to 2 hours. Preheat oven to 350°F.

Cut thin slice from stem end of each tomato and set tops aside. Bring large saucepan water to boil. Add tomato bottoms and boil, uncovered, until warm and starting to soften, about 1 minute. Drain. Using small spoon, scoop out and discard seeds and pulp from tomatoes. Sprinkle tomato cavities with 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Set aside.

Slice each pita bread crosswise into 2 round halves and transfer to baking sheet. Bake until crisp and starting to brown, about 10 minutes. Set aside.

In large skillet or wok over moderate heat, heat sesame oil until hot but not smoking. Add ginger, bok choy, carrots, and celery, and sauté, stirring frequently, until vegetables just begin to wilt, about 3 minutes. Stir 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Stuff hollowed tomatoes with sautéed vegetables and top with reserved tops.

In large skillet over moderate heat, heat 1 tablespoon olive oil until hot but not smoking. Sprinkle tuna steaks on both sides with ½ teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper and sear until crusty and slightly browned but still pink in center, 1 to 2 minutes per side. Transfer to cutting board and slice, against grain, into 1/4-inch-thick slices.

In large bowl, toss arugula with remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil, ½ teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper.

Divide pita halves among 4 plates and top with arugula. Fan tuna slices atop arugula and place stuffed tomato alongside each “tart.” Serve immediately.

Johnny Cakes

  • 3 Cups Flour
  • ¼ Cup Cornmeal
  • 2 Tablespoons Baking Powder
  • 1 Tablespoon Salt
  • 3 Tablespoons Sugar
  • 1 Tablespoon Margarine
  • 2 Tablespoons Vegetable Oil
  • 1-1/2 Cups Water
  • 1/3 Cup Frying Oil for Cooking

Sift together flour, cornmeal and baking powder. Mix together with salt, sugar and margarine. Make a well in the flour mixture and add vegetable oil. Add water slowly. Mix carefully until mixture is not sticky. Knead into a ball until smooth. Cover and let sit for 15 minutes. Roll dough into a long strip and cut into small pieces. Knead each piece into a small ball. On a floured surface, flatten each ball with a rolling pin or your finger tips and palms. Add about 1/3 frying oil into a frying pan or enough oil to cover bottom of pan. When oil is hot, add flattened cakes. Fry on one side for 2-3 minutes, turn and continue with other side until both sides are golden brown.