Dukkah/dukka  (from the Arabic for “to pound”) refers to crushed nuts and seeds traditionally eaten on bread dipped in olive oil; the blend varies from cook to cook.  I had it as an appetizer at a Middle Eastern restaurant once and it was so good I knew I had to find a recipe for it (plus, come on, can you say the word “dukkah” without giggling?) I found several and the combination of nuts and seeds used really does vary from cook to cook.  I used this one basically because I had most of the ingredients on hand.  It makes a lot and it keeps for quite a while in the fridge.  Well, I have to qualify that.  It keeps a while in the fridge if you don’t eat it every single night and/or if you don’t use what’s left to make Smitten Kitchen’s Chicken Skewers with Dukkah-Crust which we did once and it was sheer deliciousness.

It’s easy to make.  It’s delicious.  It’s healthy.  And…it’s just fun to say.



1/4 cup pistachios

1/4 cup cashews

1/4 cup slivered almonds

1/4 cup hazelnuts

1/4 cup coriander seeds

1/4 cup unsweetened shredded coconut

1 1/2 tablespoons cumin seeds

1/4 cup sesame seeds

1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

1/8 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

Olive oil

Crusty bread or pita


Preheat the oven to 350°. Spread the nuts on a baking sheet and toast for about 8 minutes, until golden. Let cool.  Coarsely chop the nuts.  Transfer to the bowl of a food processor.

In a skillet, toast the coriander seeds over moderate heat until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Add to the food processor.

In the skillet, toast the unsweetened shredded coconut and cumin seeds, stirring, until the coconut is golden, 2 minutes; add to the nuts and seeds in the food processor and pulse until coarsely ground. Transfer the dukkah to a bowl.

In the skillet, toast the sesame seeds until golden, 4 minutes. Stir the sesame seeds into the dukkah, season with the salt and pepper.

Make Ahead:

The dukkah can be kept in an airtight container for up to 4 days or refrigerated for up to 1 month.

Serve with olive oil and crusty bread or pita for dipping.


Sam’s Mom’s Lox Dip


You’ve heard me talk about my brother-in-law Sam before and I’ve even mentioned his mom Joy before.  (She’s the creator of that wonderful Caesar Salad dressing that’s been floating around for 20+ years).  Sam definitely inherited the cooking gene from Joy.

Well this dip/spread is another of her recipes that’s been handed down and passed around forever.  It’s on Sam’s website and in his first cookbook.  It’s so easy and so delicious…cream cheese, lox (aka smoked salmon), chopped hard boiled egg and green onion.  Yum.  It’s great as an appetizer served with bagel crisps or pita chips. (I just took some to a friend’s Hanukkah party and everyone loved it…I think every trace of it was eaten and they all wanted the recipe.)  In fact, if you’re going to take it to or serve it at a party, make a double batch and keep some for yourself…it’s yummy for breakfast or brunch or lunch on a bagel too.

Thanks Joy!

Sam’s Mom’s Lox Dip


4 ounces sliced lox, chopped

4 ounces cream cheese, softened

3 tablespoons mayonnaise

3 green onions, white and light green parts only, chopped fine (save some for garnish)

1 hard-boiled egg, grated or chopped fine

Freshly ground pepper

Bagel crisps, pita chips or any other interesting cracker-type thing you like


Combine the lox, cream cheese, mayo, green onion and egg in a bowl and mix well.  Scoop into a serving bowl and garnish with the extra chopped green onion.

Serve with bagel crisps or pita chips for dipping or spread on a bagel (an “everything” bagel is really good here!) for a nosh.

Grilled Avocado

Grilled avocados have been getting a lot of press lately.  The August issue of on Appétit featured an article called “Hecho en Mexico”, about a group of “chefs, mixologists and pro surfers”…getting together for a “week of waves and open-fire cooking”.  Sounds good, right?  There’s a picture of a plate of grilled avocados with the description, “Know what happens when you grill an avocado?  You basically get smoky butter – not to mention the best guacamole ever.”  Tempting.  Then, a couple of days later, I’m paying a visit to my favorite foodtruck, MIHO, and on the menu, they have a salad with grilled avo.  I ask the guy on the truck what’s the deal and he says, “you have to try it…it just brings out the flavor of the avo, adds smokiness, smooth like butter and it turns them the coolest bright green”.  Okay.  Okay.  So that night I tell Tony we’re grilling avocados to use for guacamole.  He thinks I’m nuts (but of course he listens to me anyway!)   

First of all, they are so pretty, all bright green, with grill marks and they smell all smoky and buttery.  I mixed them up with a little lime juice, some seasoning salt and red onions and yes…The. Best. Guacamole. Ever.  EVER.

We’ve added them to the Chipotle Chicken Tostadas…amazing! You can fill the hole left by the pits with salsa and serve as an appetizer…scoop out the flesh with tortilla chips or pita chips.  I saw them on the menu at Kensington Grill, served as an appetizer with ancho chili vinaigrette & lime wedges, to spread on grilled bread.  I’m thinking next we’ll add them to a BLT, with applewood smoked bacon, heirloom tomatoes and arugula, on a thick slice of toasted egg bread.  (Okay, my neighbor Barbara just brought me a whole sack full of avos…guess what we’re having tomorrow night?)

 Grilled Avocado


Avocado (ripe, but firm, not too squishy)

1 tablespoon fresh squeezed lime juice

1 tablespoon olive oil


Preheat a grill to medium-high heat.

Remove the pit of each avocado by cutting into the pit with a large sharp knife and turning the knife counter-clockwise. Once the knife is properly wedged into the avocado pit, it should be easy to remove the pit from the flesh of the avocado, as you twist and remove the knife.

Whisk together the lime juice and olive oil in a small bowl. Brush each avocado half with a little of  the lime juice marinade.

Place each prepared avocado half, flesh side down, over the hot grill. Cook for about 5-7 minutes, or until grill marks appear and the avocado is warm, but not overly mushy.

Remove the avocado halves from the grill and let cool a bit.   From here, your choices are limitless.  Use your imagination.

Oh, and btw, just now see that brother-in-law STCG has a recipe for Chili-Rubbed Chicken with Grilled Avocados in his cookbook Just Grill This.  He says, “I’ll admit that grilled avocados sound kinda creepy, but they’re actually really good.”  There you go.  And I’ll be making that recipe too.

Baked Feta with Tomatoes and Olives

I saw this recipe posted a few weeks ago on my favorite blog Smitten Kitchen.  I’ve already posted my brother-in-law’s Baked Feta recipe and have made that a ton…so easy and so yummy. This has all the goodness of his, with the melty feta, oregano and olive oil, but just “kicked up a notch”, with the addition of tomatoes, olives and red onion.  (And, btw, do not tell Sam I used that expression in a reference to his food!)

Anyway, I love Sam’s version so much, I knew I wanted to try this.  So made it for an appetizer last night and it was a hit.  It was devoured.  I laughed when I re-read SK’s last sentence below, “as it cools, the feta will firm up again. We found that the dish could be returned to the oven to soften it again. We did this with leftovers, too” because it was gobbled up so quickly it never had a chance to cool and there was not a smidgen left over!

Baked Feta with Tomatoes and Olives

1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
1/3 cup chopped, pitted Kalmata olives
1 clove garlic, minced
1/4 cup thinly sliced red onion
2 tablespoons finely-chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley, divided
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon olive oil
Freshly ground black pepper
1 8- to 10-ounce block feta
Crackers, flatbread*, pita chips, or crostini, for dipping


In a bowl, mix the tomatoes, olives, onion, garlic, 1 tablespoon of the parsley, oregano, olive oil and a few grinds of pepper.

Heat oven to 400°F. Check to see that your dish is oven-proof.

Place the block of feta in the middle of your dish. Pile the tomato mixture on top of the feta.

Bake for 15 minutes.

The feta will not melt, just warm and soften. Garnish with parsley and serve with crackers; eat immediately. As it cools, the feta will firm up again. We found that the dish could be returned to the oven to soften it again. We did this with leftovers, too.

You say “to-MAY-to”…I say “to-MAH-to”!! Part Two

Well, tomato season is just about over (in the Bruser backyard anyway…thank goodness we can still buy them at farmer’s markets!)  But back about a month ago, I had so many cherry tomatoes I didn’t know what to do.  I remembered that my stepmother-in-law (yes, you read that right…she’s actually my father-in-law’s wife, not technically a mother-in-law, but I love her just the same.  Really.  I am one of the lucky ones who has not one, but TWO, wonderful mother-in-laws!!)  Okay, where was I?  Oh…I remembered a roasted tomato/olive oil/basil/goat cheese appetizer she had served.

I dug her recipe out of my recipe file and had a hard time deciphering my own writing, so found something similar at Smitten Kitchen and sort of combined the two.  It’s really easy and you can make it with as many tomatoes as you have.  I made a huge batch, just used what I needed that night, poured the extra in a jar, put it in the fridge, and had a second easy-just-pull-it-out-of-the-fridge-spoon-over-goat-cheese appetizer!


Slow Roasted Tomato & Herb Goat Cheese Appetizer


Cherry, grape or small Roma tomatoes
Whole gloves of garlic, unpeeled
Olive oil
Herbs such as thyme, basil or rosemary (optional – I used rosemary)

Goat cheese log

Crackers or sliced baguette


Preheat oven to 225°F. Halve each cherry or grape tomato crosswise, or Roma tomato lengthwise and arrange on a parchment-lined baking sheet along with the cloves of garlic. Drizzle with olive oil, just enough to make the tomatoes glisten.

Bake the tomatoes in the oven for about three hours. You want the tomatoes to be shriveled and dry, but with a little juice left inside–this could take more or less time depending on the size of your tomatoes.  And don’t throw out the roasted garlic cloves!

From here, you have a few options for serving.  You can let them cool a little, spoon them over goat cheese, sprinkle with thinly sliced fresh basil leaves and drizzle with a little olive oil.  Or let them cool, put them in a jar, cover them with some extra olive oil, throw in the roasted garlic cloves and whatever herb you used and keep them in the fridge for the next time!!

Bienvenue! Joyeux Anniversaire! BON APPÉTIT!

Or…Welcome! Happy Birthday! Happy Eating!  This month we celebrate Julia Child’s birthday. Today, August 15, she would have been 100 years old.  Julia is such an icon in the cooking world and I’ve been playing around with and trying to set up this blog for a while now**, so decided that her birthday would be the perfect day to officially launch it.  So, in honor of Julia…Welcome to Eat.Cook.Blog!

I remember watching Julia Child on black & white t.v. as a kid.  I remember her holding up an uncooked chicken by it’s legs an putting it in a big pot with carrots and celery and stuff.  And I remember, of course, her saying, “bon appétit” (which, since the movie Julie and Julia, has been the preferred greeting between myself and my friend Dale, who, btw, is the best baker I know and you’ll definitely hear about her at some later date.)

I admit that up until now, I had never actually made one of Julia’s recipes and am ashamed to say that I don’t even own one of her cookbooks.  Mon dieu!  I do, however, have a Salade Niçoise recipe that I’ve been making forever.  Inspired by the JC100 celebration (all kinds of events, including restaurants across the country featuring Julia’s menus), I looked up Julia’s Niçoise recipe and noticed its not too different from my own.  I do like her vinaigrette better, so I’ve adapted my version a bit to include her recipe.

Salade Niçoise



1 10-oz bag mixed baby greens

1 cup fresh green beans, trimmed & blanched (I actually like to use haricots verts, which are thin green beans, if I can’t find them fresh I use Trader Joe’s frozen.  Occasionally, if we have them, I’ll use Tony’s homemade pickled asparagus or beans)

3 or 4 ripe red tomatoes, quartered (I used cherry tomatoes because we have a zillion of them in the garden)

2 7-oz cans good quality sold white tuna

6 small red potatoes, boiled until tender, cooled and sliced

4 hard-boiled eggs, quartered lengthwise

2-3 flat anchovy filets in oil (sorry, Julia, I leave these out)

1/2 cup Nicoise olives

1-2 tablespoons capers, plus a little brine

1-2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh parsley

Julia’s Vinaigrette

1/2 tablespoon finely minced shallot

1/2 tablespoon Dijon mustard

1/2 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice

1/2 tablespoon white wine vinegar

1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil

salt & pepper to taste



Line a large, wide salad bowl or a roomy platter with lettuce.

Drain the tuna, flake and in a medium bowl, toss with about a tablespoon of olive oil, the capers and a little caper brine.

Decoratively mound the tuna, the beans, potatoes, tomatoes and olives, separately, on the lettuce on the platter.  Garnish with the hard-boiled egg wedges and then sprinkle chopped parsley over everything.  I usually let the whole thing chill in the fridge while I make the vinaigrette.


Shake all of the ingredients together in a screw-topped jar.  Drizzle the vinaigrette over the chilled salad.

So why stop here with my homage to Julia?  Given that we have an over abundance of cherry tomatoes in our garden, I also discovered her Provençal Tomatoes.  I used her original recipe and adapted it for our cherry tomatoes and served them as an appetizer.

Provençal Tomatoes

In the words of Julia (and Dale), BON APPÉTIT!

Provençal Tomatoes


1 pint cherry tomatoes (or 4-5 medium-sized tomatoes)

salt & freshly ground pepper

1 cup bread crumbs (homemade or panko)

2 tablespoons minced shallot

1 teaspoon herbes de Provence

3 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan cheese

2 to 3 tablespoons chopped parsley

3 to 4 tablespoons olive oil


Preheat the oven to 400 degrees

Cut about 1/2″ off the top of the tomatoes (and, if necessary, a little bit off the bottom, so they stand upright).  With a small spoon or melon baller, gently scoop our the inside of the tomatoes.  Place them in a shallow baking dish, and sprinkle with salt and pepper.

In a bowl, stir together the bread crumbs, shallots, dried herbs, grated cheese and chopped parsley.  Add 2 to 3 tablespoons of the olive oil, tossing well to moisten the crumbs evenly.

Spoon the filling into the tomatoes, pushing it down into the cavities and mounding on top.  Drizzle a scant teaspoon of oil over the top of each half.

Bake the tomatoes for 10-15 minutes, or until the topping has browned and the tomatoes are hot but still keep their shape.  Serve hot in the baking dish, or move them carefully to a clean platter.

**I would be remiss to not thank Deprise Brazel and Leah Singer for all their help in tutoring me in WordPress.  (Truth be told, Leah actually did most of the work in getting it set up!)  Merci.

STCG’s Baked Feta

I  give full credit for this one to my brother-in-law Sam (aka, “Sam the Cooking Guy“).  Sam & I married into the same family (I’m married to Tony; Sam is married to Tony’s sister Kelly) and we, along with our other two brothers-in-law call ourselves “the Outlaws” (because, well, just because that’s what happens when you marry into this family…LOL).

Long before he was STCG, Sam and I shared a love of cooking (and meatloaf).  And early on in his career, he’d actually call me for recipe ideas.  Not so much any more.  He doesn’t need my suggestions…he has his own show (with a bookshelf full of Emmy’s he’s won), three cookbooks and now, a Livecast.  AND, if that’s not enough, he still finds time to generously donate his time, talent and celebrity to great community causes (in fact, I owe him HUGE thanks because he spent two evenings this past weekend cooking for people who “bought him” at an auction that benefited the nonprofit I work for!!!)

I gotta hand it to Sam.  He is one of those rare people who took his passion and dream and worked very hard to turn it into a reality.  And, yes, he is exactly like he is on t.v.!

STCG’s Baked Feta


1 (8 ounce) block feta cheese

1 big (or 2 small) cloves garlic, minced

1 tablespoon dried oregano

2 teaspoons red pepper flakes

1-2 tablespoons olive oil


Preheat to oven 350

Place feta in an ovenproof baking dish

Top with crushed garlic, oregano and red pepper – drizzle liberally with olive oil

Bake uncovered until the feta is soft, 15-20 minutes

Remove carefully and serve with something crunchy (like pita crisps, crackers or toasted baguette slices)

Grilled Proscuitto-Wrapped Asparagus with Saffron Aïoli

Grilled Prosciutto-Wrapped Asparagus with Saffron Aïoli?  ‘Nough said.  I can’t remember when or where I first heard about this, but it seems we were making this appetizer every weekend for a while.  I adapted it from a recipe from Gourmet magazine (June 2008) and a Bobby Flay recipe in Bon Appétit (July 2000).



1/4 cup red wine vinegar

1 tablespoon honey

Large pinch of saffron threads (you can buy saffron relatively inexpensively at Trader Joe’s)

1 cup mayonnaise

2 cloves garlic, minced

salt & pepper to taste


1 pound medium asparagus

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

12 to 15 slices prosciutto


For aioli:  Whisk vinegar, honey and saffron threads in heavy small saucepan over medium-high heat.  Bring to a boil.  Remove from heat & cool completely.  Mix mayonnaise and garlic in medium bowl to blend.  Mix in cooled vinegar mixture.  Season with salt & pepper.  (Can be made one day ahead.  cover and refrigerate.)

For asparagus:  Prepare a grill (medium-high heat).  Toss asparagus with oil on rimmed baking sheet.  Sprinkle with salt & pepper.  Wrap middle of each asparagus with one slice of prosciutto.  Grill asparagus until crisp-tender and prosciutto is golden brown in spots, turning occasionally, about 5 minutes.  Transfer to platter.

Serve with aioli for dipping.