Light & Luscious Leek and Potato Soup

leek soup

This is magic soup because with minimal effort you get a big reward. Everything gets put in a soup pot with some water. Voila, after about 30 minutes of simmering, a cozy and deeply flavorful soup appears.

Fresh dill compliments the creamy potatoes. A  splash of wine and a pinch of nutmeg give the soup additional layers of flavor.

leek and potato

Leek and Potato Soup Recipe

Makes a large pot

Some Notes:

Rapunzel No Salt Vegetable Bouillon is what I use in this soup. It has a pure, clean taste that I adore. If you can’t find it then substitute your favorite bouillon or omit the bouillon and replace the water with the same amount of your favorite vegetable broth or stock. I find them online or in Whole Foods markets.

Bob’s Red Mill Potato Starch  is used to thicken this soup. It works like a charm to bring richness and texture without adding additional cream. If you’re vegan, you can omit the dairy and just thicken it with the potato starch. It’ll be great!


4 large leeks, white and pale green parts, rinsed well and chopped

4 large baking potatoes, peeled and chopped

10 cups of water

8 Rapunzel No Salt Vegetable Bouillon Cubes (see notes)

2 1/2 teaspoons of kosher salt

1/3 cup of dry white wine (optional)

1/4-1/3 cup of half and half or heavy cream

2 tablespoons potato starch mixed with two tablespoons of cold water to thicken the soup

A little grated fresh nutmeg (optional but good)

A handful of chopped fresh dill

Couple of grinds of black pepper


Place the chopped leeks and potatoes in 10 cups of cold water with the salt and the bouillon cubes. Bring to a simmer, partially covered, for about ten minutes. Add the white wine. Bring back to a simmer, partially covered. Cook for another 20 minutes or until the potatoes are soft and the leeks are tender. Stir in the potato starch and water mixture. Turn off the heat. Stir in the half and half, chopped dill, grated nutmeg and a couple of grinds of black pepper. Enjoy!

Lemon Scallion Couscous Cakes

scallion lemon cakes

These lemony couscous cakes get their moisture and flavor from lots of scallions, the larger the better. If you can only find small scallions then just use more of them. I like to serve these cakes with my Moroccan Chickpea Tagine, my  Moroccan Eggplant Tagine or a Persian Salad (recipe under salad on the side bar). But, they’re equally good with salsa, chutney, yogurt or creme fraiche and a squeeze of fresh lemon juice or lime juice. Sometimes I make them for lunch and serve them with lemon, creme fraiche and roasted veggies. Harissa is a Moroccan spice blend that gives them a little heat. You can swap the harissa for sriracha sauce or ground red pepper with good results.

I imagine they might be good with some frozen peas tossed in the mix before frying.


Couscous Cakes Recipe

Makes 12 cakes

Ingredients For The Cakes

  • 4 cups of cooked couscous prepared according to the package directions (approximately one box of Near East Original Plain Couscous)
  • 3 large eggs
  • 2 large egg yolks
  • 4 large scallions, minced
  • Zest of one lemon
  • A generous 1/3 cup of shredded cheese. Use a mild cheese such as mozzarella.
  • 4 tablespoons of self rising flour
  • 1 teaspoon of ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon of ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon of dry Harissa Spice, a drizzle of sriracha sauce or some ground red pepper to taste
  • 1/2 teaspoon of dried mint
  • Salt to taste
  • Olive oil for cooking

Serving Suggestions: your favorite chutney, salsa, creme fraiche, Greek yogurt, sour cream, fresh lemon juice or lime juice, Moroccan Chickpea Tagine or Moroccan Eggplant Tagine, Persian Salad


Instructions for the Cakes

Cook the couscous according to the package directions. Fluff with a fork and set aside to cool. Add the minced scallions, the shredded cheese, lemon zest, cumin, cinnamon, harissa and dried mint. Salt to taste. Take a taste, add more salt if needed. Mix in the eggs, egg yolks and self rising flour.

Heat some olive oil in a large nonstick fry pan. I use a measuring cup to form the cakes. Using a 1/3 measuring cup, scoop up some of the mixture. Press the mixture into the measuring cup and then release the cake into your hand and pat down a little. Place the cakes in the pan. Brown on one side and then flip to brown them on the other. Be careful not to overcook them or they’ll be dry. Serve with suggestions and enjoy!


Sticky Sweet & Spicy Turkey Meatball Poppers

honey meatballs

These caramelized meatball poppers come together in a flash. Finely grated onion keeps them ultra moist and tender. Ground turkey keeps them on the lighter side. Sweet and a little bit spicy, these mini meatballs are anything but boring. The sticky honey glaze, cozy cumin and spicy harissa (or sriracha), give them a Moroccan flair. They’re deliciously satisfying, hitting all the right flavor notes.

spicy honey meatballs

 Harissa is a Moroccan spice blend containing hot peppers. If you don’t want to hunt for it then swap it for some sriracha sauce, red chili flakes or ground red pepper. Teeny Tiny Spice Company of Vermont makes a great dry harissa spice blend that I use in this recipe. Serve them with a squeeze of lime or lemon.

honey sriracha meatballs

Meatball Popper Recipe

Makes about 25 meatball poppers


1 pound of ground turkey

1 medium onion, grated on the smallest holes of a box grater

1/3 cup plain breadcrumbs

1 egg

1 teaspoon of dry harissa spice (or a drizzle of sriracha sauce to taste)

1 teaspoon of ground paprika

1 teaspoon of ground cumin

1/4 teaspoon of ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon of dried mint or dried oregano

A couple of drizzles of honey

Salt to taste

Olive oil for cooking

Serving options: Squeeze of lemon or  lime, plain Greek yogurt for dipping


Mix the ground turkey with the grated onion, bread crumbs, egg, harissa or sriracha sauce, paprika, cumin, cinnamon, mint and salt. Wet your hands and form the mixture into the shape of large marbles. Heat a large nonstick fry pan with olive oil. Drop the meatballs in the pan and brown on all sides. The meatballs cook quickly, so adjust the heat as you go. Be careful not to overcook. They should be cooked through but still juicy. When they are almost finished cooking, add a couple of drizzles of honey and swirl the meatballs around in the warm honey to coat. Take off the heat and serve with any of the suggestions.  Enjoy!

Moroccan Chickpea Tagine

Moroccan Chickpea Tagine

Moroccan tagines are beautifully fragrant stews made with key spices and whispers of saffron. The French are very fond of them. I make a lot of tagines! To my delight, a French woman once wrote to me to say that my tagine recipes are some of the best she’s ever tried.

This vegetarian version is quick to make. It reheats well too. Creamy chickpeas give it substance and protein. It’s particularly delicious with a dollop of creme fraiche or Greek yogurt on top. As the stew bubbles away, deliciously spicy aromas linger in the air.

Moroccan Chickpea & Saffron Stew

I like to serve it with bulgur wheat pilaf. I use Trader Joe’s 10 Minute Bulgur to make the pilaf. I saute a large chopped onion in some olive oil with salt and pepper and then proceed with the instructions on the package of their bulgur wheat, adding Rapunzel Vegan Bouillon Cubes to the water.

When the tagine is ready, ladle it into bowls. Serve the bulgur wheat pilaf or freshly steamed rice on top. Dig your fork in and get ready for a cozy, satisfying experience.

Moroccan Tagine

Moroccan Chickpea Tagine Recipe

Serves 4 with rice, couscous, quinoa, bread or bulgur wheat pilaf

Some Notes:

Secret Ingredient Alert: Chickpea flour is used to thicken the stew. I like Bob’s Red Mill brand. Mix it with equal parts water. The more you use, the thicker the stew will be. It also adds protein to the stew. You can also leave this step out with good results, but I highly recommend it. Chickpea flour is a great ingredient to keep in your kitchen. Use it to thicken all sorts of vegetarian stews and chili.

I learned about Rapunzel Bouillon Cubes from the wonderful Heidi Swanson at 101 Cookbooks. They’re vegan and just delicious. I buy them by the case online. If you don’t want to hunt for them, you can leave them out. Use your favorite vegetable broth or stock in place of the water in the recipe.

If all you have is regular yellow onions, then by all means use them. I happen to like the sweetness of a red onion in this recipe.


  • 1 large red onion, chopped
  • 1 small yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 green or red bell pepper, chopped. I like green.
  • 1 inch piece of fresh ginger, peeled and grated (optional)
  • 1 1/2 cups of chopped tomatoes. I use Pomi Brand
  • 1 16 ounce can of chickpeas, rinsed and drained
  • 1 1/2 cups of water
  • 2 vegetable bouillon cubes. I use Rapunzel No Salt Vegan Bouillon (see notes)
  • 1 heaping teaspoon of ground cumin
  • 1 pinch of saffron threads
  • 1 teaspoon of ground turmeric (optional)
  • 1/4 teaspoon of ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon of dried mint
  • Few pinches of sugar or drizzles of honey to balance the acid in the tomatoes
  • Olive oil and/or butter for cooking. I use both.
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 teaspoons of garbanzo bean flour mixed with 2 teaspoons of water to thicken the tagine. (optional)

Serving Options: pita, naan, roti, chapati, couscous, bulgur wheat pilaf, quinoa, rice, fresh parsley, fresh mint, lemon wedges, creme fraiche, lite sour cream or Greek yogurt

 Instructions For The Tagine:

Saute the chopped onions and bell pepper in some butter and olive oil with salt and pepper until soft. Add the cumin, saffron, cinnamon and mint. Stir and saute the spices and herbs for about a minute, being careful not to burn them. Add the chickpeas, tomatoes, ginger, water, bouillon cubes, turmeric, pinches of sugar or drizzles of honey and salt and pepper to taste. Stir. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer for about 15 minutes. Add the chickpea flour and water mixture to thicken the stew (optional but so good). Cook for a minute or two longer. Adjust seasonings, adding a little bit more mint or cinnamon if needed. Serve with any of the above suggestions and enjoy!  

Creamy Fresh Pea Soup with Lime & Basil


dreamy creamy pea soup
This is a creamy, dreamy, fast and easy pea soup. It’s made with frozen peas. They’re elevated to something quite fresh and lovely. White wine, basil and fennel give it a complex flavor. If you don’t love fennel, you can omit it with good results. But, it quietly complements the flavor of the peas and basil.
fresh pea soup with basil
The soup is bright green, a real mood booster. The cooking is unfussy. The results are wonderful. The entire process takes under thirty minutes. The soup also reheats well. Some whole peas are sprinkled in at the end of cooking for a contrast in texture. Serve it with a squeeze of fresh lime, some chives and/or basil and a dollop of creme fraiche. Croutons, crumbled bacon, sauteed crab, shrimp or scallops are also welcome. We like to eat this soup with smoked salmon and boursin cheese tartines. 

Creamy Dreamy Fresh Pea Soup Recipe

serves 4-6 

Some Notes:

Rapunzel No Salt Vegetable Bouillon is what I use in this soup. It has a pure, clean taste that I love. If you can’t find it then substitute your favorite bouillon or omit the bouillon and just use water or use the same amount of your favorite vegetable broth or stock.

You can use a large onion instead of the shallots.  



  • 3 shallots, diced
  • 1 fennel bulb chopped into small pieces (optional)
  • 3 16-ounce bags of frozen petite or baby peas
  • 1 lime
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 1/3 cup light cream
  • 2 cups of water
  • 1 Rapunzel No Salt Bouillon Cube (optional, see notes)
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Olive oil and butter for cooking
  • 1 generous handful of fresh basil, chopped
Serving options: dollop of creme fraiche or sour cream, squeeze of lemon or lime, freshly chopped basil, chives and fennel fronds, sauted shrimp or scallops, croutons, crumbled bacon


Saute the shallots and the fennel with salt and pepper in some olive oil and butter until soft. Add the Rapunzel Bouillon cubes, wine and two cups of water. Salt to taste. Bring to a simmer. Add two 16 ounce bags of frozen peas. Bring back to a simmer. Cook for about 5-8 minutes, until the peas are tender but remain bright green. Take the pot off the heat and add the handful of chopped basil. Puree with an immersion blender or in a regular blender or food processor. Taste and adjust the salt and pepper. Stir in the light cream and about half of the third bag of peas. Stir in a couple of squeezes of fresh lime juice. Serve with a dollop of creme fraiche and chopped basil. If using the fennel bulb in this recipe, you may also garnish the soup with some chopped fennel fronds. Enjoy! 

My Father’s Favorite Salad ~ Tomatoes, Cucumbers & Mint

tomato salad

My dad was a funny, generous and kind man. He was my best friend and my caretaker.  An accountant by trade, he could do long division in his head.  I didn’t inherit his talent for numbers. But I share his love of cooking and nurturing people with good food. I have many fond memories of the delicious meals he prepared for us.  He was famous for his Christmas feasts which included festive punch and lots of fancy desserts.

When I was a kid, I remember him coming home from work, dressed in a jacket and tie with a bunch of tomatoes in one hand, a loaf of Italian bread in the other. He often brought us fresh mozzarella too. He’d prepare this salad with the tomatoes. We’d eat it with pillow-soft fresh mozzarella and crusty bread.  It was his favorite go-to dinner on busy weeknights.

He was Lebanese.  This was his favorite salad.  Adding fresh or dried mint to chopped salads always will be popular with Middle Easterners. Fresh mint adds sparkle. It pairs well with with cucumbers, enhancing their flavor.  If you use dried mint, it’s important to use spearmint, not peppermint.
If you love tabbouleh, chances are you’ll love this one too.  It makes its own light dressing .  It’s high in vitamin C, lycopene and monounsaturated fats. If you’re a tomato lover then this salad is for you.
Eat it like my dad did with crusty bread and mozzarella.  Alternately, sprinkle it with crumbled feta or stuff it into a pita with my creamy restaurant style hummus. It’s a good summertime salad to keep in your recipe box.
You can even add some rinsed and drained canned chickpeas to it for protein.

tomato and cucumber

Lebanese Tomato Salad Recipe

Some notes: 

Make this salad with any variety of ripe tomatoes. Use one pound of small plum tomatoes, tiny grape tomatoes, cherry tomatoes or whatever kind of tomato that floats your boat. Summer heirloom tomatoes are wonderful too.

Persian cucumbers are sweet, crunchy and seedless. There’s no need to peel them as their skins are soft. If all you can find are regular cucumbers then peel them before adding them to the salad.

I find scallions to be easier to work with and much milder than red onions, so that’s what I go for here.
  • 1 pound of ripe tomatoes, chopped or quartered depending on the kind and the size. I used quartered cherry tomatoes.
  • 3 scallions, green and pale-green parts diced
  • 6 Persian cucumbers, chopped into small pieces (see notes)
  • A handful of fresh mint leaves torn or chopped or a pinch or two of dried spearmint, rubbed between your fingers to release its flavor.
  • 3 tablespoons of olive oil
  • 1 lemon, a squeeze or two of fresh lemon juice. Don’t overdo it with the lemon juice, unless you really love lemony salads.
  • Sea salt to taste. Fleur de sel or Celtic gray salt is great.
  • Serving Suggestions: crumbled feta,  chickpeas, crusty bread or pita, sliced mozzarella, black olives, drizzle of good olive oil

Instructions:   Place everything in a bowl and toss to combine. Let stand for 5 minutes. Serve at room temperature with some feta crumbled on top. If you don’t love feta then the other serving suggestions are lovely too. Enjoy!

Moroccan Chickpea Stew with Tomatoes & Warm Spices


Moroccan tagines are savory stews made with spices and vegetables. A bit of a departure from the usual fare,  these stews provide you with welcoming warmth and intoxicating aromas. They  make for good eating.

Chickpeas are simmered in a light tomato sauce infused with several spices. This is no ordinary beans and rice dish. Smoked paprika and a blend of Moroccan spices make it exotic and special. The paprika infuses the stew with a mild smokiness, a pinch of nutmeg offers a subtle sweetness and a Moroccan spice blend lends uniquely North African flavors.
Comforting and hearty, the tagine forms a complete protein when served with rice. It’s good on a chilly evening or for a meatless Monday meal. It’s a wholesome dinner to prepare at the end of the workweek when you’re tired and in need of some healthy, home cooking. For a simple Moroccan dessert, serve Medjool dates and mint tea. Something minty and sweet at the end of the meal is refreshing.

There might seem like a lot of ingredients, but the stew is a one pot dish. If you can make vegetarian chili, you can make a Moroccan tagine. You could swap out the chickpeas for chicken or use a combo of chickpeas and chicken.

The idea here is not to get caught up in searching for different spices, unless you feel like it. Otherwise, use what you can easily find. Think of me as your gentle spice guide. I’m here to suggest things. No pressure. But I believe if you’re making vegetarian/vegan meals on a daily or weekly basis, it’s nice to taste different flavors with the vegetables. It keeps things interesting and exciting. It prevents brown rice and boring broccoli syndrome.  Penzeys Spices is a wonderful source for fresh, fragrant spices.
It’s delicious finished with a dollop of sour cream or thick Greek yogurt, fresh chopped parsley and toasted almonds for crunch.  Serve over couscous, quinoa, basmati or brown rice.
A side of pita bread, olives and feta is never a bad idea either.

The stew reheats well for workday lunches. Keep some steamed rice and the tagine in separate containers. They can be stored in the fridge for two days. Like most stews, it gets better as it sits. If you’re like me, you may want to keep your pantry stocked with a couple of cans of chickpeas, some spices, tomatoes and rice.  Then you can whip this up whenever you get a craving.

This recipe is featured on Healthy Aperture
morccan stew

Moroccan Chickpea Stew Recipe

Makes a pot full
Some notes: 

Paprika and cumin are the only spices essential to this recipe, the rest of the spices are optional but ohhh sooo good.

A Moroccan spice known as ras el hanout is unquestionably North African. It’s actually a blend of over a dozen spices. Zamouri Spices had a good one.  I also love the ras el hanout sold by Soluna Garden Farm.  Ras el hanout lends soft, spicy notes to this stew, giving it much more depth of flavor.
Saffron is also optional. Not everyone likes saffron. If you use it, add just a few strands, maybe 4 tops. It’s very easy to overpower a dish with too much saffron. Saffron is used in many Moroccan, Middle Eastern and Indian dishes.
I learned to add a  pinch of grated nutmeg to my African stews from my Ghanaian friend who just happens to be a wonderful cook. You don’t detect that it’s nutmeg, you just know that the stew tastes savory and flavorful. I include turmeric for its health benefits and pretty color.

I use Pomi Tomatoes in this recipe and most of my recipes now. The company sent me some samples and I was impressed by their taste and texture. They’re 100 percent Italian tomatoes with no added salt or mysterious ingredients.  They come in 26.46 ounce boxes instead of cans. I find them at Whole Foods and in my regular grocery store. You can also buy them online. If you can’t find them, use almost all of a 28 ounce can of best quality chopped tomatoes.

Garbanzo Bean Flour is a wonderful thickener for soups and stews. I highly recommend it here. Mix the flour with equal parts cold water to thicken this tagine. Viola! Instant thickener, which is never a bad thing in vegetarian stews. They often need more body, richness and voluptuousness. The stew can also be thickened by mashing a few of the beans with the back of your spoon too, but it won’t give the same luxurious results. I usually like to thicken all my vegetarian bean stews with either a garbanzo flour/water solution or a potato starch and water solution. Bob’s Red Mill sells both garbanzo bean flour and potato starch online. Bob’s Red Mill also has a gluten free version of the garbanzo bean flour. But I find both at Whole Foods and even in my regular market.

  • 2 16 oz cans of chickpeas, rinsed and drained.
  • 1 26.46 ounce box of Pomi Chopped Tomatoes or almost all of one 28 ounce can of best quality canned chopped tomatoes. (see notes)
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 1 large bell pepper, diced. You pick the color. I used green.
  • 1 small chili pepper, seeded and diced or a pinch of ground red pepper (optional)
  • 2 large garlic cloves minced. I used a microplane zester to mince it.
  • 2 dried bay leaves, torn, remember to remove them before serving.
  • 1/2 teaspoon of ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon of smoked paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon of turmeric (optional)
  • A drizzle or two of honey or a few pinches of sugar to balance the acid in the tomatoes
  • A few saffron threads, crushed between your fingers to release the flavor. (optional)
  • A teeny pinch of nutmeg. I use a microplane zester to grate it from a whole nutmeg.
  • 1/2 teaspoon of Moroccan ras el hannout spice (optional, see notes)
  • Sea salt to taste
  • Olive oil for cooking
  • To thicken the tagine: mash some of the chickpeas with the back of your spoon and/or mix some garbanzo bean flour with cold water (see notes)
  • Serving Suggestions: Greek yogurt, sour cream, chopped flat leaf parsley, slivered almonds, flaky sea salt or grey celtic salt, lemon wedges


Cook a grain of your choice according to the package directions. Couscous, rice and quinoa are lovely with this dish.

Meanwhile, add some olive oil to a large nonstick skillet or pot and saute the onions, bell pepper and chili pepper (if using) with some salt on medium to medium high heat until soft.

When the vegetables are soft, add the bay leaves, spices, rinsed and drained chickpeas tomatoes, minced garlic, honey and the saffron threads (if using). Adjust the salt and bring to a boil. Then turn down the heat to very low and simmer, covered, for about 20-30 minutes or until the flavors meld and mellow. Remove the bay leaves. Thicken the stew with  the garbanzo flour and water solution. Start with one tablespoon of garbanzo bean flour mixed with one tablespoon of cold water. If you’d like it thicker, add more of this mixture. Mash some of the garbanzo beans with the back of a spoon. Taste and adjust salt and seasonings. Serve with accompaniments. Enjoy!