Category Archives: beef and lamb

Mushroom and Stilton Pasties

mushroom and stilton pasties

Mushroom and Stilton Pasties

This recipe was one of an entire feast prepared in my recent “Pubs and Taverns” class at The Huntington Library, Art Collections and Botanical Gardens after a discussion in the special exhibition Bruce Davidson|Paul Caponigro: Two American Photographers in Britain and Ireland. (Guinness Stout not pictured.)

English cheeses, though far fewer in numbers than the cheeses of France, have an important place in their diet, with Stilton being one of the finest. Pasties, or turnovers, are common fare in pubs and taverns. In the Middle Ages, mushrooms only appear in pasty recipes. This is not to say that they weren’t prepared other ways, but the vegetable was not considered appropriate for the wealthy table. Because of their mysterious growth and the fact that they lack visible roots, mushrooms were considered excrementa terrae, or excrements of the earth.

For the dough:
3 cups flour
1 stick butter
½ teaspoon salt
½ cup water
1 egg

For the mushroom filling:
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 large yellow onion, thinly sliced
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 pound white button mushrooms, thinly sliced
1 clove garlic, chopped
½ tablespoon fresh thyme
salt and pepper to taste
1 cup crumbled Stilton cheese
1 egg mixed with 1 tablespoon water for egg wash

Prepare the dough. Place the butter and the water in a small saucepan and simmer until the butter melts. (This can also be done in a bowl in the microwave). When cool, whisk in one egg. Place the flour and salt in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and slowly add the liquid while kneading. Gather the dough and chill.

Preheat oven to 450º F and line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

Prepare the mushroom filling. Heat the olive oil in a wide pan over medium-low heat and add the onions. Cook, stirring occasionally, until they begin to caramelize, about 20 minutes. Add the butter to the pan. Once melted, add the mushrooms and sauté, stirring occasionally, until they are completely soft and all of the liquid evaporates, about 20 minutes. Add the garlic and thyme and sauté until fragrant, about 1 minute. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Remove from heat and stir in the cheese.

Roll the dough out until about 1/8-inch thick. Cut out circles and place about a tablespoon of the filling in the center of each circle. Use your finger to brush a little of the egg wash onto the inner rim of the circle. Fold in half, pinch the edges together with your fingers and use a fork to seal. Brush the top with egg wash and bake for 20 minutes or until golden brown.

(Skip the egg wash if you choose to deep fry the pasties. Instead, heat about 2 inches of grapeseed oil in a deep pot to 365º F and fry in batches until golden brown on both sides. Drain on paper towels and serve hot.)

Makes about 24 pasties

Chiles en Nogada (Stuffed Poblano Peppers with a Walnut Sauce)

chiles en nogada

Chiles en Nogada (Stuffed Poblano Peppers with a Walnut Sauce)

In an attempt to recreate European foods, colonial cooks in Mexico developed a highly innovative culinary repertoire. Forced to use native ingredients such as chiles and low-status European ones like pork fat, they improvised dishes that were both delicious and distinct from those eaten in Spain. The perfect marriage of both cuisines, the dish represents the colors of the Mexican flag. It happens to be one of Diego Rivera’s favorite dishes and one that Frida Kahlo often prepared.

This dish is laborious but I promise the end result is worth the work. It could be one of the most delicious and beautiful dishes EVER.

For the peppers:
6 poblano peppers
½ pound ground beef
½ pound ground pork
1 – 8 ounce can tomato sauce
1 small yellow onion, diced
2 garlic cloves, chopped
½ cup mixed dried fruit, diced (I like to use dried apples, dates and apricots)
½ cup toasted almonds or pine nuts, or a combination of both
handful of parsley, chopped
salt and pepper
seeds of one pomegranate

For the walnut sauce:
10 ounces queso fresco
1 cup walnuts
¼ cup sugar
2 cups milk

Roast the peppers directly over an open flame, turning regularly until the skin has blistered and blackened on all sides. Place in a plastic bag and let sweat for 3 to 5 minutes. Rub off the blackened skin, and then cut an incision in the side of each one, starting ½-inch below the stem end and continuing to within ½-inch of the tip. Dislodge all seeds clustered below the stem with your finger. Rinse off any stray seeds and bits of skin, being careful not to rip or the opening any wider.

Prepare the stuffing by heating about 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large skillet set over medium heat. Add the onions and sauté until translucent. Add the garlic and cook for another minute. Add the nuts and fruit and stir. Add meat and cook, draining off any excess fat. Season with salt and pepper. When the meat is close to being done, stir in the tomato sauce. Add parsley, taste and adjust seasoning.

While the meat is cooking, place all of the ingredients for the walnut sauce in a blender and blend until smooth.

Stuff the peppers with ¼ to ½ cup of the filling (depending on their size). When ready to serve, pour the walnut sauce over the warm peppers and garnish with pomegranate seeds.

Serves 6




We prepared these beef fajitas on Friday night at my GraffEATi class at ESMoA. A conversation about LA graffiti and 16th century manuscripts followed by the preparation and feasting of street foods made for a truly unforgettable nights. One of my favorite classes to date.  

Grilled meats are sold by street vendors from Asia to Africa to Latin America. Grilling involves applying dry heat to the surface of the food caramelizing its surface and creating lots of flavor.

1/2 cup olive oil
1/3 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup lime juice
2 large cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon black pepper
2 pounds skirt or flank steak

Whisk together the olive oil, soy sauce, lime juice, garlic and pepper. Place in a large Ziploc bag and pour in marinade. Massage the meat and allow to marinate for at least 30 minutes in the refrigerator. The longer it marinates, the better the flavor.

Remove the steak from the bag and pat dry with paper towels. Heat a gas grill to high. Brush the grill grate with oil. Place the meat on the hot grill and cook until meat is nicely charred – 3 to 4 minutes per side for medium-rare.

Transfer the steak to a cutting board and let rest for 5 to 10 minutes. Slice thinly against the grain and serve with corn tortillas.

Serves 6

Eggplants Stuffed with Spiced Lamb


Eggplants Stuffed with Spiced Lamb

Native to Iran, the pomegranate has been cultivated and appreciated since antiquity where it appears in many myths and legends. In Ancient Persia, walnuts were reserved only for the delectation of the king. Walnut trees were planted on the edges of royal palaces to define their borders.

3 small eggplants
½ cup chopped walnuts
2 to 3 tablespoons olive oil
1 onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, chopped
¾ pound ground lamb or beef or a combination of both
salt and pepper
1 ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon, or more to taste
1 teaspoon ground cardamom, or more to taste
1 28-ounce can diced tomatoes (preferably San Marzano)
½ cup chicken broth
2 teaspoons sugar
2 tablespoons pomegranate molasses
2 tablespoons pomegranate seeds, for garnish
2 tablespoons chopped parsley, for garnish

Slice each eggplant in half and hollow out leaving a wall about ¼ inch thick. Be careful not to pierce the skin. Set aside and prepare the meat. Heat a large skillet over medium heat. Add the walnuts and toast until fragrant. Set aside. Return the skillet to the flame. Add oil, heat and add the chopped onion. Cook until translucent but not browned. Add the garlic and cook for another minute. Add the meat, salt, pepper, cinnamon and cardamom and cook heat until the liquid evaporates. Taste, adjust seasoning, and stir in the toasted walnuts. In a separate pan bring the diced tomatoes, chicken broth, sugar and pomegranate molasses to a simmer for about 5 minutes. Taste and add salt and pepper if needed. Stuff the eggplants with the meat. Add to the skillet with the tomato mixture, bring to a simmer, cover and cook until the eggplant is cooked through – about 30 minutes. Garnish with pomegranate seeds and parsley before serving.

Serves 6