Category Archives: Main Course

Wild Rice Salad with Pomegranate & Roasted Squash

January 2013

Though I have visually feasted my way through the food magazines strewn across my dining room table, all too often my meal choices remain unaffected by their inspiration. However, life is all too short to fill with the same old routines. One of my [loosely defined] goals for the new year is to eat better balanced, more varied meals (don’t let blogging fool you, I too fall victim to last minute scraping and convenience), so I started simply. I dogeared one recipe to try; I shopped appropriately, and voila…

Wild Rice Salad 01

A healthy bowl full of colors emerged!

Wild Rice Salad 02

I adapted this recipe ever so slightly from one of the Bon Appétit issues in said dining room collection. This rice salad is substantial enough to stand alone, or pair it with a dijon roasted salmon for a more mixed plate. In an effort to be resourceful (and maybe in some subconscious, knee-jerk reaction to being vegetarian?), I roasted my squash in a cast-iron skillet coated with bacon grease leftover from an artisan cajun bacon, and I used the entire squash versus the prescribed half. Though I do not show it above, I recommend a few crumbles of chèvre as well.

Black and Wild Rice Salad with Roasted Squash
adapted from Bon Appétit


1 1/2 cups black rice
1/2 cup wild rice
Kosher salt

1 medium butternut squash, peeled, seeds removed, cut into pieces
1/2 cup olive oil, divided
Freshly ground black pepper

1/4 cup red wine vinegar
2 teaspoons honey

2 scallions, thinly sliced
1 cup pomegranate seeds
1/2 cup roasted pistachios

organic mixed greens
local chèvre


Preheat oven to 450°.

Cook black rice and wild rice in a large pot of boiling, salted water until tender, 35–40 minutes; drain and rinse, shaking off as much water as possible. Spread out on a rimmed baking sheet and let cool.

Meanwhile, toss squash with 1/4 cup oil on another baking sheet; season with salt and pepper. Roast, tossing once, until golden brown and tender, 20–25 minutes; let cool.

Whisk vinegar, honey, and remaining ¼ cup oil in a large bowl.

Add black rice and wild rice, squash, scallions, pomegranate seeds, and pistachios; season with salt and pepper and toss to combine.

Serve over a bed of mixed greens. Add some chunks/crumbles of chèvre.

Make Ahead:
Salad (without mixed greens) can be made 4 hours ahead. Cover and chill.


Bon Appétit!

Thanksgiving Recipes: Mini Whole Wheat Turkey Pot Pies

November 2013

Thanksgiving and turkey are so synonymous, but for our Harvest & Gather Thanksgiving dinner, my partner and I wanted to serve the traditional bird in a nontraditional way… a la mini pot pies.

Thanksgiving Spread

I never focus on precision when it comes to making pot pie filling. Once the pie crust is in place, I mound ingredients by sight and taste, so the “recipe” below should be taken with an [approximate] grain of salt. When making these for a dinner occasion, it’s helpful to make extra filling to serve to your gluten-free guests (sauté all the ingredients together to serve). I also recommend making a few vegetarian pies with a different scored design to distinguish them from their meaty counterparts.

Mini Pot Pies and Cranberry Sauce

Mini Pot Pies

Mini Pot Pie

Tangy & Flaky Whole-Wheat Pie Crust


2 cups Whole Wheat Pastry Flour
1 teaspoon Sea Salt
3/4 cup organic, unsalted butter, chilled
5-8 Tablespoons Apple Cider Vinegar, chilled


Sift flour and salt into a large mixing bowl.

Cut butter into 12 pieces and rub into dry ingredients until the mixture resembles a coarse meal with some pea-size pieces.

Sprinkle apple cider vinegar over mixture, one Tablespoon at a time and knead lightly just until dough forms.

Form dough into a ball. Cut in half and press each into a disc shape. Wrap each disc in waxed paper or plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes before rolling.

Makes two 9-inch pie crusts (16 slices).

Bake crust following your pie’s instructions or pre-bake at 375°F for 25 – 30 minutes.

Individual Turkey Pot Pies


1 lb butternut squash, cubed, roasted w/ olive oil, salt, pepper & herbs
2 shallots, sliced, roasted w/ the butternut squash
1 lb turkey breast cutlets, seared in local bacon fat & cut into chunks
pre-sliced & pre-cooked chestnuts (available at Trader Joe’s)
fresh sage, to taste
fresh thyme, to taste
organic kale, chopped
shredded organic gruyere cheese


Roll out the pie dough and cut into pieces small enough to press into the individual sections of a cupcake pan (I used a larger sized cupcake pan).

Remove the cupcake pan from the freezer. Add the ingredients to each pie crust. The ingredients can form a mound higher than the pan height.

Use remaining pie dough to form the tops of each pie. Chill in the freezer while preheating the oven.

Preheat oven to 425 F.

Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, or until pastry is golden brown and filling is bubbly.

Cool for 10 minutes before serving.


Bon Appétit!

ps: All photos in this post were taken by my talented friend Chris Goodman

A Low Country Boil with e2 at Bayardstown Social Club

September 2013

If Fräulein Maria had raindrops on roses, whiskers on kittens and warm, woolen mittens all at once, I imagine her sentiment would have matched my excitement for the Pittsburgh Urbanist‘s Low Country Boil. This dinner event definitely encompassed a few of my favorite things..!


A Favorite Location: Bayardstown Social Club

In its own words, Bayardstown is a members-only social club in the Strip District of Pittsburgh that offers a shared backyard space to gather, eat, and drink [also a few of my favorite things]. In my own words, Bayardstown has been a unique and much appreciated addition to my list of summer sites. I’m a big fan of someone else making a campfire and playing great music for me.

Founding Members

The club takes its name from one of the oldest monikers given to the area and its inhabitants, the legendary Bayardstown Boys. Bayardstown was, and is, a group bound by community and while memberships are limited, the club serves as a place for members to hang out. Club members will be young city dwellers who share a love for the outdoors. Think of Bayardstown as a place to connect with those you would not normally encounter at work, at the bar, or down the block. Every night promises a different experience.

Chef Fit

A Favorite Chef/Restaurant: Kate Romane of e2

How do I love Kate and e2? Let me count the ways! Between beignet brunches, saucy dinners, pop-ups, farm dinners and more brunches, this girl has always delivered in a big way, and this night was no exception. This was a BIG low country boil! Forget Cross Fit. These ladies should patent “Chef Fit!”

Take A Picture

Kate Feeds The Masses

Low Country Boil

Ivy and Green Beans

Farm Fresh Tomatoes


Lawn Chairs and Food

Sunset and Lights



Delicious. Relaxed. Beautiful. Affordable.

If you see the Pittsburgh Urbanist or e2 names backing an event, be sure to attend!  I hope this is the first of many food-centric gatherings at Bayardstown because this night was up there with bright, copper kettles and brown-paper packages tied up with strings. It was definitely one of my favorite things!

Best of the PittsBurgers: Burgatory

July 2013

You might not remember May of 2011, but to some, it was nearly the end of the world. Back then, Harold Camping predicted the return of Christ, the emergence of Christians to Heaven, and the dawn of fire and brimstone for those of us below. It just so happened my pal’s birthday fell on Rapture eve. Being the heathens that we were, we decided the event called for a pre-celebration in the form of burgers and cocktails in a very fitting place…

B for Burgatory

Though Christ did not return to earth that fateful May, I have returned quite a few times to Burgatory, making it count amongst my Best of the PittsBurgers locales!


Fox Chapel / Waterworks
932 Freeport Road
Pittsburgh, PA 15238
*This is the location I frequent, but there is a second locale in Robinson.

Blessed Be The Burger


Strategic. Industrial. Witty. A Little Bit Mischievous.
Burgatory channeled the big guns for their branding, and it shows. Infographics and witticisms accent the industrial interior. Its location in a strip mall makes the interior an odd diamond-in-the-rough situation (unless your cups of tea are big-box stores, then diamond-in-a-diamond). Exterior and collocation aside, the interior is energizing but also arranged in such a way that individual tables and conversations feel relatively private, albeit, a bit muffled by said energy.

Honor Thy Burger

Burgatory Booth

Very Important To Note

Sourcing of the Meat

All Natural, Hormone Free Burgers are better for you and the environment. Plus they taste a HELLUVA lot better! Our beef burgers are ground and hand formed daily using our private label blend of sirloin, chuck, brisket and short rib. All of our burgers can be served TOPLESS or NAKED (WE’RE TALKIN’ NO BUN, FOLKS!) upon request. You can also substitute an All Natural Chicken Breast for any burger if you want to cluck it up. 

Burgatory makes a big deal about the purity of its meat, which I appreciate, but what is missing [or in any case, isn’t glaringly obvious] is the name of the meat source(s). Give me that assurance, and my locavore-loving heart will be completely at ease.

Burgatory Burgers

Quality of Meat Preparation

“Red, Pink or No Pink Center”

It’s hard to assess the inherent quality of the juicy, ground beef under all those rich toppings, but the burgers are prepared according to the more playful take on the rare-to-done spectrum and delivered as promised.

Pink Burgers

Toppings (ie: This is why you go to Burgatory!)

Life is all about choices. Do I strive to be a saint or do I revel in sin? Burgatory is all about choices. Do I want Angel Dust or Bourbon BBQ… or both?!? Picky people and confident creatives alike will relish in the control the grill relinquishes to them, and these power grabs span the entire menu. This also makes Burgatory a blessing when dining with kids who might not see the value in Truffled Shallot Aioli. These offerings aren’t limited to “do you want lettuce, tomato and onion?” I’m talking an infographic guided tour through robust flavors and potential combinations. The only danger zone is dining with the easily overwhelmed, indecisive type, in which case, point them to the classics and forbid them from flipping pages.


I revered potato chips as a food group when my lunches still came with notes on the napkins. As a noteless “adult,” these chips strike me as a cheap ploy. Clearly, the obvious companion to a burger is the french fry, so to make me pay extra for the rightful complement is counterintuitive. As expected, the fries also come with their fair share of options, so any inkling of an inner tantrum is quickly reversed.

Free Float for Kids


My most recent trip was a family affair, so I refrained from boozing, but in the past, I’ve partaken in delightful, fresh cocktails. If you’re going for icy decadence, you can also upgrade your milkshake to an adult milkshake. If kids plow through their entire meal to arrive at the clean plate club, they receive a free ice cream float. Burgatory means well with this gesture, but I’m not one to reward gluttony, so I’m on the fence about that incentive.


The standard [but decadently stacked!] menu burgers range from $9-$12, which is consistent with other burger joints around this region and worth the cost of supporting local meat (see Sourcing of the Meat). As mentioned, paying extra to swap fries for chips grates on my sensibilities just a smidgen, but even that fee is pretty harmless. With so many options though, including boozy shakes and cocktails, the numbers can quickly add up to a decent investment.

In Conclusion…

Life is full of contrasting choices, blacks and grays, but sometimes, the middle territory is a helluva good time! Enjoy!

Pulled Pork & Plantains

July 2013

As a child, I met my pulled pork quota in the autumn months, in conjunction with the cider donuts and hayrides of the “Harvest Days” festival at a local farm. The fall association lingers, but lately I’ve been rethinking that timing for a few reasons. First, there is never a bad time for pulled pork unless you’re at a vegan festival (is that even a thing?). Secondly, I’m no grilling expert, so this is a convenient slight-of-hand, meat decoy.

Pork and Onions

Thirdly, even if I were a grilling expert, at some point, I’d want to join the gathering instead of watching it from behind a plume of smoke. Lastly, wouldn’t we all rather be lounging at the pool or in the thick of some summer activity while the meat cooked itself? In conclusion, pulled pork is summer brilliance (everyone knew that already, and I’m just late to the conclusion)!

Barley Beer

I’m also really late to the world of beer (ie: can count on one hand the number of times I’ve finished an entire beer all by myself!!!), but I do know it does wonders for meat, and bourbon does wonders for sauces!

Pulled Pork and Plantains

…and fried plantains do wonders for the whole compilation, so have yourself some summertime pulled pork ‘n plantains and thank me from your poolside lounge location!

Pulled Pork and Plantains and Bourbon

Pulled Pork & Plantains


1 medium red onion, thinly sliced
4.5 lbs boneless pork shoulder (*or 6 lbs pork hip area?!?)
12 fl. oz Uinta Anniversary Barley Wine Ale (or the beer of your choice)
4 Tablespoons organic liquid smoke

Sauce Ingredients

1 cup local apple butter
1 cup organic ketchup (don’t go the corn syrupy ketchup route; just don’t!)
1/2 cup apple-cider vinegar
1/3 cup bourbon
2 Tablespoons Bourbon barrel aged Worcestershire sauce
2 teaspoons all natural Tabasco sauce
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 tsp ground ginger


Place onion slices in an even layer in slow-cooker insert. Trim skin and any excess fat from pork. Lay over onion. Pour in ale and liquid smoke. Cover and cook on low until meat is very tender, about 8 hours.

Remove pork to a large cutting board and onion to a large bowl. Discard liquid. Using two forks, shred pork.

Whisk apple butter with ketchup, vinegar, bourbon, Worcestershire, Tabasco, garlic powder and ground ginger in a large saucepan, then set over medium-high.

Bring to a boil, whisking occasionally, until apple jelly is dissolved and sauce is smooth, 6 to 8 min.

Add shredded pork and onion. Stir until all meat is coated with sauce. Remove from heat.

Serve on a grainy roll with fried plantains. Pork will keep well, refrigerated, up to 3 days.

Fried Plantains


1 plantain
3/4- 1 cup high quality peanut oil (enough to cover the plantains when frying)


Preheat the oil in a large, deep skillet over medium high heat.

Peel the plantain and cut them in slices. Carefully add the slices to the heated oil.

Fry the pieces until browned and tender.

Drain excess oil on paper towels.

Sweet Potato & Red Lentil Curry Stew

April 2013

Like the tumultuous teen years, April brings many ups and downs. April in Pittsburgh feels like summer, then winter, then fall…all in the course of one day, which is why there is still time for a bowl of spicy stew with the fresh, summery accent of basil. Share with friends or feed yourself for a week!

Soup and Spoon

Sweet Potato Curry 01

Sweet Potato & Red Lentil Curry Stew
Adapted from Food52
serves 4-6


1 Tablespoon olive oil
1 yellow onion, diced

3 cloves garlic, crushed
1 1/2 Tablespoons ginger, minced

2 pounds sweet potatoes (about two large), chopped into 1 inch chunks (or a little larger)
1/2 cup dry red lentils, rinsed and drained
1 can diced, fire-roasted tomatoes
1 teaspoon Cinnamon, ground
2 teaspoons Cumin, ground
1/2 teaspoon Turmeric, ground
dashes of Cayenne pepper (to taste)
1/2 teaspoon Sea salt (or to taste)

4-5 cups vegetable stock + extra as needed
1/4 cup creamy almond butter (or nut butter of your choice)

4 cups mixed greens (kale, chard, collards)
fresh basil, to taste
salted peanuts, chopped, to taste


Heat olive oil in a large pot set on medium heat. Add the onion and begin sauteeing until onion is getting translucent (about 3 minutes).

Add the garlic and ginger, and continue to sautee for another 3 minutes, till garlic is fragrant.

Add the sweet potatoes, the red lentils, the tomatoes, the cinnamon, cumin, turmeric, and cayenne and give it all a quick stir to combine.

Add 4 cups vegetable stock and bring mixture to a boil. If there isn’t enough broth to cover everything but at least 1 inch, add another cup of stock.

When soup boils, reduce to a simmer and cook for 40-45 minutes, or until sweet potatoes and lentils are very tender.

If you need more broth as the mixture cooks, add it.

Add almond butter and stir well.

Using an immersion blender or a food processor, blend soup till about half of it is pureed and the other half still has texture. The soup should appear creamy, but chunks of sweet potato should be visible.

Stir in the greens and let it wilt.

Season to taste, adding more salt and pepper as needed.

Serve, topped with fresh basil and crushed peanuts.

Chicken Noodle Soup Like Mom Makes

February 2013

As a child, I had a love-hate relationship with my mom’s soups.

Bowl of Soup and Baguette

The timing of her homemade soup was always perfect. Though she did tell me to put on more layers instead of raising the thermostat (what do I put over a sweatshirt mom?), at least she filled my wintry, cold core with warmth. My childish objection, however, was the ramifications of using a home-cooked chicken- the occasional bone or bit of fat or tendon, which prevented me from slurping recklessly to the bottom of the bowl.

Spoonful of Soup

Then I grew up. I roasted many a chicken and saw how much remained to be used, so finally I did what mom did. I boiled that leftover chicken with plenty of vegetables, added too little salt and mixed in plenty of [brown rice] noodles. As I ate spoonful after spoonful, the warmth of nostalgia superseded all my childhood complaints. Now it’s just a love relationship.

Much like my mom’s main kitchen repertoire, this soup is recipe-less. Just wing it!