Add A Sweet Lift to Easter

Easter gets even more fun with Lift's chick truffles.
Easter gets even more fun with Lift’s chick truffles.

Fellow U.S. Marines nicknamed Brandon Busch “The Candy Man” for this lieutenant colonel’s major sweet tooth. It was a passion he took rather seriously, too. So much so that the heavy-lift helicopter pilot spent any downtime during his deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan reading textbooks from the Culinary Institute of America.

So, when he segued into civilian life to pursue a Willy Wonka-like dream, Busch couldn’t resist naming his business Lift Chocolate in a nod to his former occupation, as well as to the feeling he hopes to impart in anyone who enjoys his chocolates.

Indeed, his creations are sure to lift your day, especially on Easter.

I had a chance recently to try samples from this Boulder, CO chocolate shop, opened in 2017 by Busch, a graduate of the pastry program at Johnson & Wales.

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Middle Eastern Lentil Soup To Warm the Soul

A delightfully earthy and fragrant lentil soup garnished with feta and cilantro.
A delightfully earthy and fragrant lentil soup garnished with feta and cilantro.

How satisfying is this vegetarian “Middle Eastern Lentil Soup”?

So much that I didn’t even catch my husband, aka Meat Boy, sneaking slices of salami afterward, as he is wont to do.

That tells you just how delicious this hearty bean and spinach soup — imbued with cumin, coriander, fennel and cayenne — really is.

The recipe is adapted by the Wall St. Journal from “The White Dog Cafe Cookbook” (Running Press, 1998). The cookbook was written by the owners of this Philadelphia restaurant, Judy Wicks and chef Kevin von Klause.

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Where I’ve Been Getting Takeout of Late, Part 25

Part of the makings of the pork souvlaki family meal from Taverna in Palo Alto.
Part of the makings of the pork souvlaki family meal from Taverna in Palo Alto.

Taverna, Palo Alto

If you’re sometimes at a loss as to what exactly to order for takeout, Taverna in downtown Palo Alto makes it easy with its new Family Meal Menu.

Founders Thanasis Pashalidis and Hakan Bala opened this convivial Greek restaurant after working at nearby Evvia in Palo Alto. Besides a la carte options, the restaurant makes it so convenient to enjoy its Hellenic cuisine with its all-in-one meals that serve 2 or more generously.

Choose from souvlaki, roasted chicken, lamb chops or whole fish “family meal,” priced accordingly. Each comes with tzatziki, homemade pita, chicories salad, grandma’s potatoes, and baklava.

We went with the Berkshire pork souvlaki ($55), six skewers of charred chunks of pork that were wonderfully tender, juicy and smoky tasting. Feel free to dollop the pork with a little of the sheep’s milk yogurt-cucumber tzatziki that’s so thick and creamy, and redolent of fresh dill.

Eggplant dip with oregano-scented pita bread.
Eggplant dip with oregano-scented pita bread.

The pita is flat and denser than others, without the characteristic pocket to open up. But what it does sport that others don’t (certainly not store-bought ones) is the great peppery taste of oregano.

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New Potatoes with Mustard Oil Herb Salsa

Get acquainted with mustard oil with this punchy potato salad.
Get acquainted with mustard oil with this punchy potato salad.

Some like it hot.

Not the scorching inferno down the throat type.

But a clear-the-sinuses, combustion-of-the-nose kind of way.

Like wasabi or horseradish.

Only, this happens to be golden, viscous mustard oil.

It offers a similar kick in the nostrils, but also has a sharpness and nuttiness. It also has a high smoke point, making it versatile enough to use either as a finishing or cooking oil.

I had a chance to play around with it after receiving a sample of Yandilla Mustard Seed Oil ($22.95 for a 500ml bottle), made in Australia.

The only FDA-approved mustard oil.
The only FDA-approved mustard oil.

It bills itself as the only food-grade mustard oil in the United States that is FDA approved, thanks to its very low level of erucic acid.

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Striped Bass and Kimchi Stew

Striped bass fillets cooked in a punchy kimchi-laced broth.
Striped bass fillets cooked in a punchy kimchi-laced broth.

When life gives you lemons, make lemonade. When it gives you jars of kimchi, make warming fish and kimchi stew.

I almost always have a jar of kimchi in my fridge. And you should, too. It comes in so handy for everything from fried rice to breakfast eggs to mac ‘n’ cheese.

“Striped Bass and Kimchi Stew” is a recipe by cook and food editor Rick A. Martinez, as published in the New York Times.

This recipe is based on the classic Korean dish, kimchi-jjigae, the stew of kimchi, seafood, pork or tofu that comes bubbling ferociously in an iron pot to your table at a Korean restaurant.

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