For the love of food

Recipes that will set your loved ones’ hearts aflutter

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I grew up in a household that loved to eat. While eating one meal, we planned the next. Lunch was discussed over breakfast, and dinner was an all-day debate. Birthday parties started with menu requests, months in advance. Holiday menus were written, with drafts and edits right up to when the food hit the oven. 

Shopping for ingredients was a family odyssey. Everyone piled into the station wagon and schlepped from store to store. Even as a child, I knew that high-quality meat was best purchased from a butcher and fresh fish from a fishmonger. I knew that food was our family's way of saying "I love you," "I care about you," "Let's celebrate," and "Let's commiserate." We expressed love through homemade dinners, elaborate brunches, weekend BBQs, and decadent birthday cakes. 

I believe that some of the secrets to long lasting love come down to two things: Making and receiving gifts of love. And what is better to give and receive than some delicious homemade edible gift. While food is recognized as a basic human need that affects emotions, it also signifies comfort and builds increased intimacy, friendship, and love. 

Cooking with love and from the heart also means protecting the heart. With that food-mantra in mind, I turn to the Mediterranean Diet. The diet is heart healthy, but also allows for some fun, i.e. chocolate and wine!


Halibut Niçoise

Mild and buttery halibut is only in season for a short time (late March through October) and that time is NOW! 

I love this fish, as it is a perfect canvas for many types of cuisines and techniques. To show how much you love your dining guests, serve them a healthy, Mediterranean style dish that is filling and delicious without being heavy. 

Serves 4 

1 pound green beans

1-pound red skin new potatoes or Yukon Gold potatoes or Peruvian purple potatoes

4 5-ounce halibut filets, skin-off

1 cup pitted Kalamata olives

8 ounces grape or cherry tomatoes, sliced in half

4 hard boiled eggs, quartered

Optional add-ins: roasted red peppers, chickpeas, cucumbers, torn fresh basil, or tarragon

Marinade for potatoes

¼ cup dry white wine

2 teaspoons Dijon style mustard

1 medium shallot, finely chopped

1 / 3 cup extra virgin olive oil

1 teaspoon sea salt

½ teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper

Vinaigrette for salad

1 tablespoon Dijon style mustard

Juice and zest of 1 lemon

½ teaspoon sea salt

½ teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper

1 medium shallot, finely chopped

3 tablespoons white or red wine vinegar

½ cup extra virgin olive oil 

Line a sheet pan with parchment paper. Pre-heat oven to 350F.

  1. Bring a medium sized pot of water to a boil. Add about 2 large pinches of salt.
  2. Blanch green beans for 5 minutes until tender. Strain out beans and plunge (shock) them into ice water. Allow to cool completely before straining. Set aside.
  3. Add potatoes to boiling water, reduce heat, and cook for about 15-20 minutes until tender.
  4. Remove potatoes and place in a mixing bowl. Pour marinade over potatoes. Allow to cool and soak up marinade until you can comfortably slice potatoes, return to marinade, and chill in refrigerator.
  5. Season halibut with salt and pepper. Heat a medium pan, lightly coated with olive oil, over medium high heat. Sear halibut (non-skin side down) until lightly browned.
  6. Transfer halibut to sheet pan and roast in preheated oven for 15 minutes or until halibut feels firm when lightly pressed. Chill halibut before serving.
  7. Whisk together Dijon, zest and lemon juice, shallot, vinegar, and olive oil.
  8. Arrange halibut, potatoes, beans, eggs, tomatoes, and olives on individual plates or a platter. Drizzle with vinaigrette and serve.


Dark Chocolate Pudding Cake

I know! I had you at "pudding cake"! Rich dark chocolate and extra virgin olive oil marry together to create a dense and decadent cake so creamy it's like pudding! Oh, and it is gluten free!

The only catch here is that you must use a chocolate with a cacao content of 70% or above. We need a chocolate that is firm, so it will support the whipped eggs and gorgeous olive oil.

Love and chocolate are besties--and this dessert is heart-healthy, so you can feel good treating yourself and those you love. 

8 servings 

9 ounces bittersweet chocolate, 70% cacao or above

½ cup best quality extra virgin olive oil

3 egg yolks, plus 1 whole egg

5 tablespoons sugar

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Pinch of sea salt

Line a 9x5 loaf pan with parchment paper. Preheat oven to 350F.

  1. In a bowl over simmering water, melt chocolate with olive oil. Remove and set aside to cool.
  2. In a mixer fitted with wire whisk, whip egg yolks, whole egg, and sugar until a ribbon is formed when the beater is lifted. This takes at least 3-5 minutes, so be patient.
  3. Add vanilla and salt to chocolate. Fold in whipped eggs in several additions, taking care not to deflate the mixture.
  4. Gently transfer cake batter to lined pan. Bake for 10 minutes or until lightly set but the batter is still jiggly when the pan is gently shaken.
  5. Cool at room temperature before chilling, for at least 4 hours or overnight.
  6. Scoop pudding cake into dessert glasses and garnish with olive oil and sea salt.
  7. Store leftover cake, covered, in the fridge for up to 4 days.  

Laura Frankel is a noted kosher chef, a cookbook author, and Culinary Director for a media company. Currently, she serves as Director of Catering at Circle of Life catering at North Suburban Synagogue Beth El.

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