Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Celery Sorbet – It Only Sounds Crazy

If you set out to make an ice cream or sorbet from a vegetable, celery wouldn’t be your first choice, but nevertheless, these unremarkable ribs produce a shockingly delicious frozen treat. And, I said “frozen treat,” instead of dessert for a reason, since this has as many savory applications as sweet ones.

The first time I ever had something like this, it was used to garnish a plate of salmon gravlax. It was presented next to the cold, cured fish, on a pile of crispy rye breadcrumbs, and the combination of tastes, textures, and temperatures truly was incredible. After that meal, I promised myself I’d figure out how to make this stuff no matter how long, or many failed attempts it took. Luckily, Mark Bittman had already posted a recipe for it in the Times, so I ended up nailing it on the first try, but still, promise kept.

If you don’t have an ice cream maker, there are like a hundred hacks online for how to do this without one, or you can simply use the method highlighted in our strawberry granite video, which will produce something closer in texture to a snow cone, but amazing nonetheless. No matter what you use, I really do hope you give this very unusual, but absolutely delicious celery sorbet a try soon. Enjoy!


Ingredients for 6 portions:
1 pound (after trimming) sliced celery
1 cup white sugar
1 cup cold water
pinch of salt (I used 1/8 teaspoon)
1 lime, juiced

Friday, May 18, 2018

Fried Cheese Egg Toast – The Breakfast of Champions (In a Rut)

I’m not sure what your usual breakfast routine entails, but chances are you occasionally get bored with it, and crave something completely different, and when that happens, it doesn’t get much more different than this fast, and easy fried cheese egg toast. Be careful though, since afterwards it’s not easy going back to that bowl of oatmeal.

While pan-frying cheese may not sound particularly healthy, as it caramelizes, it gives up a fair amount of butter fat, which stays behind in the pan. So, you could actually spin this technique as a new, fat-reducing hack – unless you use that to butter the toast, which isn’t a dumb idea.

By the way, I hope you like your yolks runny, since if you don’t, this is not going to be nearly as great. Which reminds me, why do people not like runny yolks? What’s not to like? I hope they don’t think they’re dangerous, because they’re not. Anyway, if you are a fan of the flow, this fried cheese egg toast is the way to go, so I really do hope you give this a try soon. Enjoy!


Ingredients for one Fried Cheese Egg Toast:
1 ounce grated cheddar cheese
pinch red pepper flakes
1 large egg
1 piece of toast
sliced green onions to garnish
pinch of salt

*Note: For best results, rub your non-stick pan with a few drops of olive oil

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Barbarian Beef – Our Oldest Recipe Yet

Ever since I saw Alton Brown grilling skirt steak on hot coals, I’ve wanted to try this technique for a larger hunk of meat, but it was the realization that no one had yet called a recipe “barbarian beef,” that provided the final push. 

By the way, I did no historical research, but I assume your average barbarian was too busy pillaging to lug a grill around, and just cooked their meat right on the coals. So, for the purposes of this post, that's the story we'll be going with.

I used top round for this, and if you’re just going to slice it thin, and make sandwiches it’s fine, but now that I have a little experience, I’d like to try it with a tenderer cut. No matter what you use, you’ll want to take it off a few degrees under whatever your regular internal temp target is, since it definitely continues to cook after you take it off the coals.

It’ll depend on the size/shape of your cut, but use a thermometer to check, as the temp will probably climb by at least 10 degrees. Above and beyond doneness, the flavor of the beef really was great. Very similar to something off a grill, but with a little bit deeper level of smokiness. Even if you don’t cook your steak on the coals, the sauce was quite nice, and comes highly recommended, but officially, I really do hope you give both a try soon. Enjoy!


For the Sauce:
4 cloves garlic
1 Fresno chili pepper, or other fresh hot pepper
2 teaspoons rosemary leaves
1 teaspoon kosher salt
2 tablespoons wine vinegar
2 tablespoons olive oil

Friday, May 11, 2018

Chocolate Granola – Take That, Count Chocula!

I know chocolate granola sort of sounds like candy, but introducing cocoa into the mix not only makes it delicious, it also actually makes it better for you! Possibly. No one is really sure. The point is this really tastes great, and would make a wonderful treat for the chocolate lover, mother or otherwise, in your life.

I showed amazing restraint not adding anything more that oatmeal and almonds, since I really think that’s the best plan for the chocolate base, but I would have no problem with you accessorizing this as you see fit. Coconut flakes are an obvious choice, as are other usual suspects like dried fruit, any and all nuts, and assorted seeds.

If you want a stickier granola, that will more easily clump together, you can up the brown sugar and maple syrup a bit, as I used the bare minimum in this recipe, but I think it’s plenty sweet enough, especially if you’re a fan of dark chocolate.

Speaking of chocolate, I used Guittard’s Cocoa Rouge, a Dutch-process cocoa, which has a lower acidity than regular cocoa, and works perfectly flavor-wise. However, I’ve heard that type of cocoa doesn’t retain as much of the nutritional value, due to the way it’s processed. The good news is, any high-quality cocoa will work here.

By the way, I was only half-kidding about making this for someone, and then keeping it all for yourself, so best play it safe, and make a double, or triple batch. No matter how much you make, or what you add in, I really hope you give this a try soon. Enjoy!



Makes about 3 1/2 cups of Chocolate Granola:
1/3 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 cup maple syrup
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt (or 1/2 teaspoon fine salt)
pinch of cayenne
3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa (Dutch-processed if possible)
2 cups rolled oats
3/4 cup chopped almonds

- Mix, and bake at 250 F. for about an hour, or until as crunchy/chewy as you like.

Tuesday, May 8, 2018

Madame Cristo, I Presume

I was attempting to do a little twist on the venerable Croque Madame, by soaking the toast in a custard batter before frying, instead of topping it with the usual white sauce, but when I’d finished, I realized what I really had created was a Monte Cristo with a poached egg on top. These things will happen.

It was amazingly delicious, but I decided it wasn’t close enough to call a Croque Madame, which is when I turned to Twitter for help. This is never a good idea, but this time it totally worked out, as some dude who goes by the name, Zap Shakur (@zapshakur), suggested I go with “Madame Cristo,” and the rest is history.

If you’re just making one or two, feel free to poach your eggs right before the sandwiches are done, but for larger parties, you’ll want to check out this poached egg video, which shows a great make-ahead method for serving multiple poached eggs at the same time. This is exactly how it’s done in restaurants, where cooking to order would be virtually impossible.

If you are feeding a larger group, you can make your sandwiches ahead, and then just keep them in a warm oven, until you're ready to top with the poached eggs. But, whether you’re making this for two or twenty, I really do hope you give it a try soon. Enjoy!


Ingredients for 2 Madame Cristos:
4 slices white bread, lightly toasted
8 thin slices of Gruyere, Swiss, Cheddar, Havarti, or any other melting cheese
4 ounces thinly sliced honey baked ham or similar meat product
2 tablespoons butter for pan frying
2 poached or fried eggs to top
chives to garnish

For the egg batter:
2 large eggs
5 tablespoons heavy cream or milk
1/2 teaspoon fine salt
pinch of nutmeg and cayenne
1 teaspoon freshly grated lemon zest

Friday, May 4, 2018

The Perfect Margarita, According to Me

Mastering the Margarita requires a certain amount of practice, which is the good news and the bad news, but once you dial-in your perfect ratio, it’s a really easy cocktail to replicate. The classic recipe is three parts tequila, two parts triple sec, and one part freshly squeezed lime juice, and you should probably start off pretty close to that, but my personal favorite proportions are 4-3-2, as you’ll see listed below.

For the best results, be sure to use fresh ice, and of course fresh limes, as well as a nice bottle of triple sec, like Cointreau. That’s my favorite, but if you browse other recipes, you’ll see there are many fine choices. You’ll also want to use a decent white tequila, like the Don Abraham's Single Estate Blanco Tequila I enjoyed, but having said that, feel free to use one with a shorter name.

The other big tips here are shake your cocktail mixer until frost forms on the outside, and then strain it over fresh ice. The ice we use to make the drink will melt too fast in the glass, and so a large, still frozen cube is the way to go. By the way, Cinco de Mayo is tomorrow, so check those ice cube trays before bed.

So whether you’re going to make these for the 5th of May, or another time this summer when you feel like sipping on one of the most refreshing, and delicious adult beverages ever invented, I really do hope you give this Margarita a try. Enjoy!


Ingredients for 1 Perfect Margarita:
2 ounces white tequila
1.5 ounces triple sec
1 ounce fresh squeezed lime juice
1 thin slice of lime
- Some like to add a dash agave nectar for a little extra sweetness, but I do not.

Tuesday, May 1, 2018

The Ultimate Berry Crumble – The Ultimate

I was only half kidding about the “ultimate” designation for this, as it truly was everything I’ve ever wanted in a fresh berry crumble. This has the perfect balance of sweet and tart, tender and crisp, not to mention copious amounts of butter in our double application of crumble.

As I mentioned in the video, if you want a pie-like filling, you’ll want to toss in a few teaspoons of cornstarch, otherwise for a runnier fruit mixture cut it in half, or leave it out altogether. It really depends on what you’re into, but either way, some ice cream on the side is highly recommended.

This really shines with fresh berries, but it will work with the frozen ones. Those tend to be a lot juicier, so keep that in mind when making cornstarch related decisions. And don’t feel like you have to stick to berries, as ripe peaches, and other summer stone fruit would also be fantastic in this. No matter what you use, I really hope you give this a try soon. Enjoy!


Ingredients for 6 to 8 portions (made in 2-quart casserole):
For the crumble:
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon fine salt
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 cup white sugar
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) frozen unsalted butter, grated
1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 large egg yolks
1 to 2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar, or enough for dough to “clump”

For the fruit mixture:
3 generous cups fresh berries
1 teaspoon lemon zest
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
1/3 cup white sugar
1 to 4 teaspoons cornstarch, depending on how firm you want the fruit filling (I used 4 tsp)
pinch of cayenne

- Bake at 375 degrees F. for about 40-45 minutes
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Friday, April 27, 2018

Scottish Oatcakes – The Pancake, Not the Paperweight

If you Google, “Scottish Oatcakes,” you’ll see lots of pictures of what looks like thick, dense, pressed oatmeal cookies, which is the most common version of this recipe. To be honest, I’m not a huge fan of those, since they tend to be very heavy, and filling, and not really something I want to feature as the centerpiece for a fancy brunch menu.

However, there is another pancake-like version, and this is my twist on that. I should’ve probably come up with my own, more appropriate name, but I really love saying “Scottish Oatcakes,” and it just sounds like something you’d want to eat for breakfast.

Once you mix up your batter, you can cook it right away, which produces something that looks identical to what we have here, except the texture will be much more toothsome. I do enjoy that approach, but if you let the mixture sit for a while, the oats continue to soften, resulting in a creamier center. I’ve also let this go overnight, which will give you a texture very similar to actual oatmeal. 

Regardless, you’re still going to get a beautifully browned, crusty exterior; and it’s that contrast that makes this so unique. Some people like to add dried fruit to these, but I do not. The same goes for the traditional pinch of cinnamon, since I really don’t want these to taste like oatmeal raisin cookies. As usual, suit yourself, but either way, I really do hope you give these great oatmeal pancakes a try soon. Enjoy!



Ingredients for 6 Scottish Oatcakes:
(this is only 2 portions, so feel free to double or triple the recipe)
1 cups *rolled oats
1 cup heavy cream
1 teaspoon lemon zest
2 teaspoons lemon juice
1 large egg
1 teaspoon honey
1/4 teaspoon fine salt
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 cup **self-rising flour
1/4 cup melted butter for panfrying

* I used the regular kind, but if you have to use the instant ones, I probably wouldn’t cook them. I’d just mix them with the cream, and let it sit until the mixture thickened up. By the way, this is just a theory, as I’ve never attempted.

** If you don’t have self-rising flour, just add 1/4 cup of all-purpose flour, plus 1/2 teaspoon of baking powder, and an extra pinch of salt.

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Strawberry Semifreddo – Semi-Amazing

I used to tell my students to never try making classic desserts “healthier,” since your guests will always compare it to the unhealthy, and undoubtedly far superior original version. 

And yet that’s exactly what I’ve done with this strawberry semifreddo, although, in fairness, that happened accidentally while I was trying to make the recipe easier.

Traditionally, we’d make an egg custard for the base, as well as cook down our strawberry puree to concentrate the flavors; and while that does produce a fine, and much richer semifreddo, I wanted something simpler, that didn’t require any cooking. Besides saving time, and eggs, I think we also get a little cleaner, more distinct berry flavor.

However, the price we pay for those skipped steps, and the modest amount of sugar, is a less smooth and creamy texture. An extra rich, classically made semifreddo can be quite similar to ice cream, whereas this will be much firmer when frozen. That's why you really do need to let these warm up for at least 10 or 15 minutes before serving.

In the video, I described the texture as something in between strawberry ice cream and a strawberry popsicle, which reminds me, if you do have the molds, this mixture would be perfect frozen on a stick. Regardless of your delivery system, I really do hope you give this a try soon. Enjoy!


Makes 10 Ramekins (mine were 5.5 ounces each):
1 pound fresh strawberries, rinsed and hulled
1/2 cup white sugar
3/4 cup plain Greek yogurt
zest from 1 lemon
2 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
1/8 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon aged balsamic vinegar, optional
1 3/4 cups cold heavy cream, whipped to soft peaks

For the crust:
1 1/2 cups cookie crumbs
3 tablespoons melted butter

For the garnish:
1 1/2 cup diced or sliced strawberries
2 or 3 tablespoons white sugar, or as needed
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Friday, April 20, 2018

Creamy Ricotta Pasta Sauce – Now 100% Cream-Free!

I enjoy the taste and texture of a classic cream sauce, but what I don’t enjoy is that they tend to be very rich, and filling. I mean, come on, I’m trying to save room for the tiramisu. 

However, by using ricotta cheese, and egg, and some boiling pasta water, we can make a sauce that seems every bit as creamy, and delicious, but will still allow us to walk away from the table under our own power.

I added some pesto to mine this time, but that could have been some sun-dried tomato paste, or roasted chilies, or caramelized mushroom, or diced-up, leftover grilled veggies, or…you get the idea. The technique is really the thing to focus on here, and once perfected, you’ll simply be left trying to figure out what else to add in, or on this lovely sauce.

As I mentioned in the video, I love to top this pasta with ricotta salata. If you’ve never had it before, it’s worth a try, and not just for this dish. Ricotta salata is a great summer cheese, since it’s perfect with things like tomato salads, and grilled peaches, just to name a few. So, keep that in mind, but in the meantime, I really hope you give this a try soon. Enjoy!


Ingredients for 2 large or 4 small portions:
For the sauce base:
1/2 cup ricotta cheese
1 large egg
1 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more to taste
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
zest from 1 lemon
cayenne to taste
about 2/3 cup hot pasta water, plus more if needed
For the pasta:
8 ounces dry pasta, cooked 1 minute under
1/4 cup pesto, or to taste
lots of grated ricotta salata to finish

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Miso Honey Chicken – Because Honey Miso Chicken Didn’t Have the Same Ring to It

It’s not hard to make a great marinade with just a few ingredients, as long as one of those ingredients is the magical miso. This super savory paste, made from fermented rice, barley, and soybeans, isn’t that hard to find, but what can be a challenge is understanding the different varieties available.

Miso is sold by “color,” and I’m recommending the white one here, except when you open the container, it’s not white, it’s sort of a golden yellow. They also sell a yellow miso, which is a slightly darker golden yellow, as well as a red miso, which is also a golden yellow. I’m just kidding…it’s actually dark brown.

The point is, the colors don’t refer to the actual color, but rather the processing method, and ratio of ingredients. And that’s basically the extent of my expertise. I choose the white, since it’s the most mild, but I encourage you to do some more research, as well as some experimentation.

After marinating overnight if possible, you’ll definitely want to cook your chicken with indirect heat. Otherwise, it will get too dark – as in black. Roasting in a 375 F. oven would be great, but if you use a charcoal grill, be sure to push your coals all the way over to one side of your grill, and place your chicken on the opposite site. Keep and eye on it, and turn/rotate the pieces as needed.

You can add many other things to this marinade, but maybe try the minimalist version first. I used to tell my students that the older you get, the fewer ingredients you use, so that’s my excuse, but I really want the clean flavors of the miso and honey coming through. Either way, I really hope you find some miso paste, and give this a try soon. Enjoy!


Ingredients for enough marinade for one whole chicken:
3 tablespoons white miso
2 tablespoons honey
1/4 cup rice vinegar
2 teaspoons hot sauce
1 tablespoon kosher salt (about 2 teaspoon fine salt)
lemon wedges and pepper flakes to garnish
- Let marinate overnight before roasting or grilling until the internal temp in the middle of the thigh is 165 F.
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Monday, April 9, 2018

Give Me a Break!

I just wanted to let everyone know that I’ll be off this week, taking what the kids are calling a "Spring Break." While my time off won’t include beaches, tropical drinks, and heavily-autotuned pop music, it will more than make up for that with sweet, sweet inactivity.

I’ll spend most of it getting mentally prepared for the NBA playoffs, but time permitting, I may also test out a few new, exciting recipes to feature in the near future. In the meantime, I’m sure there are plenty of old videos you’ve missed, so maybe go check those out, and as always, enjoy!

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Saturday, April 7, 2018

Sweet Potato Pan-Dumplings with Bacon Butter – Good Save

What started out as a tragic, waterlogged disaster of a sweet potato dumpling attempt, turned into a triumph we’re calling  “pan-dumplings.” As usual, I did little to no research, so someone may have already invented pan-dumplings, but until I hear from you, I’ll be taking the credit.

I really liked being able to spoon the dough/batter directly into the pan, and cutting out the boiling step made these faster, and we have one less pot to wash. The bacon butter was very nice, but I can think of a dozen sauces that would work with these. If you’re doing it as a main course, anything goes, but as a side dish, I’d keep it simple, as we did here.

Since this was sort of an experiment, I wasn’t paying too close to the exact amounts, but the list below must be pretty close. You can play around with more or less flour, and/or cheese, and cook test dumplings until you lock it in. I wanted something with the taste of roasted sweet potatoes, but with more of a gnocchi-like texture, and I think this was pretty close, which is why I hope you give these pan-dumplings a try soon. Enjoy!


Ingredients for 2 large or 4 smaller portions:
12 ounces cooked sweet potato
1 large egg
1/4 cup goat cheese or cream cheese, plus more to garnish
1/2 cup *self -rising flour
1 teaspoon kosher salt, or to taste
freshly ground black pepper and cayenne to taste
sliced green onions to top

* To make your own SRF, for every cup of all-purpose flour combine 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder and 1/2 teaspoon fine table salt.

Tuesday, April 3, 2018

Chicken Spaghetti – Because Cows and Pigs Can’t Fly Either

A big bowl of spaghetti and meat sauce is one of my all-time favorite meals, and like most cooks, I make it a little different every time. The veggies change seasonally, and as far as the meat goes, sometimes it’s beef, or pork, or a combination, but for whatever reason, chicken is rarely considered. It’s usually only when I’m using up leftovers that I think to toss it with noodles. So, I almost forget how great this is when you dedicate a whole bird, and a few hours to the effort.

Other than requiring a little time, this recipe is dead simple, with the only major decision being how thick to make your sauce. I like something fairly light, I guess because it’s chicken, but if you do want something thicker, simply change the ratio of sauce to water when you start the recipe. You can also reduce it longer, but you knew that.

Just be sure to undercook your pasta by at least a minute here, since as you saw we’re going to finish it in hot sauce for a couple minutes at the end. This is a critical step, and allows all those flavors to get sucked up by the still hydrating spaghetti. This is also a great make-ahead meal, as you can prep your sauce one day, and then assemble the finished dish at a later date. Either way, I really do hope you give this chicken spaghetti a try soon. Enjoy!


Ingredients for enough Chicken Spaghetti Sauce for between 1 and 1.5 pounds of pasta, depending on how “saucy” you want it:
1 large whole chicken (4 1/2 to 5 pounds), with bag inside cavity removed
1 jar (24-oz) marinara sauce (about 3 cups)
6 cups water or chicken broth
2 anchovy fillets
2 teaspoons salt, plus more to taste
red chili flakes to taste

To finish the dish, for each person:
4 ounces spaghetti, cooked, drained (not rinsed!)
enough chicken spaghetti sauce and to please you
more grated cheese
1 tablespoon cold butter
1/4 cup thinly sliced basil leaves
salt and hot pepper to taste
at least 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano or Pecorino cheese

Friday, March 30, 2018

Green Quinoa Tabbouleh – Going Against the Grain

Like I said in the intro, I’ve never been a huge fan of quinoa, or tabbouleh, but for some reason absolutely love this green quinoa tabbouleh. Maybe it’s the size of the grain, which is actually a seed, or the less wheaty flavor, but for me this vibrant, bracing salad is significantly better with quinoa instead of the traditional bulgur wheat.

Whether you do this with quinoa or bulgur, I recommend keeping the salad relatively simple, and then using it as a base for other composed salads. Of course, you can mix in diced tomato, cucumber, and chopped green onions the same time you add your herbs, but then you’re sort of stuck with that exact salad.

I prefer to make this as shown, and then add my garnishes when I serve it. That way I can have it as described above one day, and then the next day, enjoy a completely different salad, with new accessories like diced grilled chicken, zucchini, and feta, just to give you an idea off the top my head.

Regardless of how you jazz this up, we’re heading straight into the middle of grilling season, and for me, this is one of the all-time great cold side dishes, since it pairs so perfectly with all those highly-seasoned, smoky meats. So, for those reasons and more, I really do hope you give this green quinoa tabbouleh a try soon. Enjoy!


Ingredients for 6 portions:
2 large bunches curly parsley
1 large bunch mint
1 bunch tarragon
6 cups of boiling water
2 cups rinsed white quinoa
salt as needed to taste
freshly ground black pepper to taste
cayenne taste
2 or 3 garlic cloves
2 or 3 whole lemons, plus more to taste
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil, plus more as needed

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Grilled Pastrami-Spiced Lamb Top Sirloin – New Deli

There are so many things this pastrami inspired rub would work wonderfully with, but these lamb top sirloins have to be right near the top of the list. The subtle gaminess of the meat works perfectly with the aromatic spices, which once activated by the heat and smoke of the grill, really create something fairly pastrami-like; just as long as you “overcook” it. Don’t worry, those quote marks are there for a reason.

By “overcook,” I simply mean longer than we would normally grill a relatively tender cut of lamb. While this would be perfectly fine cooked to a rosy-pink interior, I want to go just past medium for this particular recipe, since not only do I want a pastrami-like flavor profile, I also wanted it to have a firmer texture, and to be able to absorb the maximum amount of smoke.

And yes, I know, we could’ve actually smoked it, but that’s not this video. Anyway, by pulling the meat off at about 140 F. internal temp, with the carryover heat, you’ll still have beautifully moist, tender meat, but won’t have any of that chewiness you sometimes get with rare or medium rare lamb. Of course, suit yourself, but that’s the official recommendation from someone who loves medium-rare meat.

Even if you don’t end up using the same spice rub, I hope at the very least you’ll consider lamb top sirloin the next time you’re looking for something easy, and a little bit different for the grill. It generally comes fully trimmed, and ready to grill, not to mention at a relatively reasonable price compared to lamb chops. So, whether you’re looking for something a little different for your Easter dinner, or upcoming cookout, I really do hope you give this a try soon. Enjoy!


Ingredients for 2 portions:
2 lamb top sirloins (about 8 ounces each)
For the wet rub:
2 tablespoons freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons ground coriander
1 tablespoon kosher salt (about 2 teaspoons table salt)
1 teaspoon paprika
1/4 teaspoon cayenne
2-3 tablespoons olive oil, or enough to make a paste
For the sauce:
1/4 cup plain yogurt
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 minced garlic clove
2 teaspoon freshly minced mint