How to Avoid Being a Zombie with Wasabi Avocado Dressing

By all reasonable accounts I should be deathly ill by now.  I’ve been working a lot.  Which means I haven’t been sleeping a lot.  

So how am I not a straight up walking corpse? How am I still using coherent words (mostly) instead of simply grunting or moaning? Why am I still among the living?  I'm trying hard not to suggest that this dressing is behind it all.  I'm trying hard not to suggest that it might possess—what some might call—mythical properties.  I'm also pretty sure I heard somewhere that wasabi had antimicrobial properties.  But I digress.  The fact is, I've been eating it daily.  Okay, sometimes twice per day.

And I’ve been waking up every morning.  Primarily: alive.  Secondarily: not hacking up things. So it could very well be the dressing.  We can't rule anything out, that's all I'm saying.

Don’t get me wrong.  This dressing will not write a 15 page paper for you.  Nor will it pry cold pizza out of your hands at 1 am when you are eating your feelings. 

It's a take on green goddess dressing, it's just been a bit electrified.  In a refreshing way. It’s lovely with cucumbers or even as a spread on a salmon sandwich.  It also goads you to eat your vegetables.  And these are all good things on suboptimal sleep.  Your body needs the extra support.  It’s also a good thing if you seem to be developing a bit of a stress gut.  Hypothetically.  

So my spin on this dressing: while it may not transform you into feeling like a goddess, it may help you feel a little less like a zombie.  

Wasabi Avocado Dressing


Juice of 1 lime
1 avocado
1-2 tbsp wasabi paste
2 scallions, roughly chopped
Handful of Italian parsley leaves (~1/2 cup)
1/2 cup greek yogurt (2%)
3-4 tbsp mayo
1-2 tbsp olive oil
2-4 anchovies, rinsed
splash of rice wine vinegar
Kosher salt and black pepper, to taste


Blend all ingredients in a food processor until smooth and creamy.  Taste and adjust seasoning as needed.

Makes about 1.5 cups

-I gave variable amounts because I've found salad dressings work best for me when I adjust things to taste.  I'm keeping it loose here.

-If you aren't really keen on the kick of wasabi start with 1 tbsp.


Pedaling in Sauteed Cabbage with Apples

The French have a way with words.  So how do you make spinning your wheels sound charming?  You say you are pedaling in sauerkraut. The French say: pédaler dans la choucroute. 

Last year I was shipping off to Paris around this time.  This year it’s not so much Paris as it is work, school, or—perhaps very soon—the looney bin.  Take your pick.  

Safe to say, impossibly chic French women need not apply here.  I’m knee deep in some pretty unglamorous funk at the moment.  But what I’m realizing is that we’re all up to *here* in it, so it’s best to just slap on some waders and trudge around in the muck. 

Thus, I decided to make use of some cabbage.  Because, well, pedaling around in sauerkraut made me hungry.  Except I didn’t feel like waiting for cabbage to ferment into sauerkraut.  Best not to let things fester, anyhow, when you have a short fuse.  So the cabbage got sautéed with some butter and apple slices and finished with apple cider vinegar and cognac.  (After all, a woman can’t live on pure brandy alone.)

It was just what I needed.  An uncomplicated fall dish, both tangy and sweet.  Quite comforting.  So you’ll likely find me at the market stocking up on heads of cabbage and trudging through the next few weeks.  Cabbage is a lot like life.  Sometimes it stinks.  Just add some brown sugar and brandy and make the best of it.

Sautéed Cabbage with Apples

~4 tbsp butter, divided
1 small white onion, thinly sliced
Kosher salt to season
1 apple, cut into thin strips
A pinch of grains of paradise, ground (alternatively, just use freshly ground black pepper)
1/2 head of cabbage, shredded or thinly sliced
2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
2 tbsp brown sugar
Splash of cognac (or other brandy)

Heat a pan on medium heat and add about two tablespoons of butter.  Add onion slices, a sprinkling of salt, and saute onions until they are nearly translucent; stir in apple slices and grains of paradise (or pepper). Cook until apples soften and then add the cabbage and vinegar; season with salt and cook until the cabbage softens.  Add about 2 more tablespoons of butter, brown sugar, and brandy and cook a minute or two more.

Makes about 4 cups

-The grains of paradise add a nice floral note, but don't let not having them derail you from making this dish.  You can easily just substitute black pepper.


The Best is Yet to Plum: A Rosemary Plum Tart Restart

Let me level with you.  Life currently is not so dreamy at the moment.  I’ve neither had my cake nor eaten it recently, should you want a food-related idiom.  In fact, if we’re using cake as an example here, you might say I was holding a big bowl of batter and dropped it.  My life batter has splattered everywhere. 

I’m still cleaning up the little bits from underneath cabinets and between small crevices.   So I don’t have a lot to say except that I'm staying away from recipes that contain batter at the moment.  No need to let my metaphorical life become a true kitchen disaster.  

I'm starting from scratch.   I'm going back to basics.  Back to plums.  And back to Ina Garten.  Her tart recipe was the first dessert I successfully made.  It's the kind of recipe that your cookbook opens up to because the pages have been creased and spread so many times.

The recipe is easy and it delivers every time, which is more than I can say about a lot of other aspects of my life at the moment.  I'm confident this won't always be the case.  And, while I love tarts, I do have more to live for.  I can only hope there will be even better recipes ahead.  You could say, the best is yet to plum.  

Rosemary Plum Tart
Adapted from Ina Garten


2 cups flour
3/4 cup walnuts, chopped
3/4 cup dark brown sugar, lightly packed
3/4 cup cold unsalted butter, diced (1.5 sticks)
1 egg yolk
1 tbsp rosemary, minced
2 pounds ripe Italian prune plums, sliced


Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Combine flour, walnuts, and brown sugar in a large bowl; add butter, egg yolk, and rosemary and mix by hand until the mixture comes together.  Press 3/4 of the mixture into the bottom of a 9" tart pan (or spring form pan).  Spread plum slices over the crumb mixture in circular pattern and sprinkle the remaining butter mixture over top.  Bake for 40-50 minutes until the tart is bubbling and slightly brown.  

Makes 1 tart

-Lavender leaves also works quite nicely here, as well.  (If you know my blog, you know I love the stuff.)

-This tart is best eaten the day it's made.

-If Italian prune plums aren't available, regular run-of-the-mill plums work just fine too.


Olive Oil Chocolate Mousse and Birthday Reflections

I’m a groupie for birthdays. They punctuate another year passing.  A year, quite possibly, filled with trumpets and violins.  And to celebrate this cacophony that is life: you get to eat cake. Or cheesecake.  Or pudding, if that’s your thing.  Which is totally cool.  On your birthday you make the rules. 

As I tend to do around my birthday, I’ve been reflecting a bit.  And so I’ve compiled a list of things I’ve learned over the past year.  Also, I made chocolate olive oil mousse.  (There is no better accomplice for the procrastination of lists than chocolate.)  Two words: worth it. 

It’s rich, dense—yet also still fairly light, as mousses tend to be—and perfect with ... wait for it ... brandy.  “ Surely, this year has been more than chocolate and brandy?” you ask.  Right?  Crickets.  Fair enough.  

Regardless, please find my birthday reflections below.

-When you attempt to compile a list of what you've learned over the span of a year you may start to panic. (If this is the case, I urge you to breath.  Lists are stressful.)

-Just because you can freeze cake doesn’t mean you should.

-Life is short, wear the nice underwear.

-If you drink more than one manhattan, you will wake up looking like you had more than one manhattan.

-Sometimes love does hurt. 

-If you are having trouble sleeping, read Karl Marx (he's better than warm milk).

-Living in a studio apartment curtails sentimentality.  There just isn’t the space. Some tangible memories are bound to be jettisoned.  It's okay.

-Nothing good happens after 12 am.

-When in doubt, a little champagne never hurts.

-You can’t make people like you.  But you can will them to develop unruly sideburns and receding hairlines with abandon.

-Buy flowers more than you think you should.

-If it can’t be fixed with duct tape or a martini, it ain’t worth fixing. 

-When you are in a rotten, no-good mood, ask Billie Holliday to join you. 

-Impose no limits.  (Heaven knows, anything goes.)

-Take chances and lighten up about them.

-If you are feeling like life is just a little too much, remember: breath first.  Make chocolate mousse second.

Olive Oil Chocolate Mousse

Adapted from Tony Maws


11 oz chocolate (70%)
9 egg, yolks and whites separated
3/4 cup sugar, divided
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup brandy
pinch of kosher salt


In the bowl of a kitchen stand mixer, whisk egg whites until they are frothy and then add in 1/4 cup sugar; keep whisking until medium peaks form.  Place egg white mixture into a large bowl.  

Chop the chocolate and melt over simmering water (in a double boiler), stirring occasionally.  While the chocolate is melting, add the yolks to the bowl of the kitchen stand mixer (it should no longer contain the egg whites at this point, but you don't need to wash it) and whisk with 1/2 cup sugar until the mixture becomes thick and pale yellow.  Once the chocolate is melted, slowly pour the chocolate into the egg yolk mixture, being careful that the yolks do not curdle.  Add in the olive oil, brandy, and salt.

Fold in the egg whites and, at this point, you may decide you are done.  I was a tad nervous about leaving raw eggs in my fridge for a few days, so I heated the mixture in a double boiler, over simmering water, stirring (by folding) until it reached 140 degrees.  (Caveat: the next day, I realized the USDA states egg dishes should be heated to 165 degrees.)  Pour into glasses and refrigerate 4 hours before serving.

Yields about 10 (1/2 cup) servings

-I reduced this recipe and only made 1/3 of it.  The proportions worked out great and I didn't have too many leftovers to contend with.  For the recipe above, I figured I'd keep the original amounts, as "about 3 servings" is sort of an odd recipe yield.

-The mixture will look slightly runny when you pour it into your glasses, but it will set up and get fairly thick in the fridge.  

-I realize that heating the egg whites likely reduces some of their "poof" but, for me, I would do exactly the same thing the next time.  (Though, I might try adding a bit more olive oil, it didn't come through as much as I would have expected.  Despite this, I adored this mousse.)