Lemony Greek Meatball Soup (Youvarlakia Avgolemono)

My mom and I absolutely love Greek avgolemono soup. Recently, I made this meatball version when she was visiting. Springtime in a bowl! Light, bright and fresh.

This recipe was adapted from The New York Times, contributed by Melissa Clark. I used homemade stock and modified the method.

Yield: Serves 4

  • 1 pound ground chicken, ground turkey, or beef, very cold
  • 3/4 cup chopped fresh dill or parsley, plus more for garnish, divided
  • 1/2 cup grated yellow onion (from about 1 small onion)
  • 1/4 cup grated carrot (from about 1 carrot)
  • 1/4 cup uncooked long-grain rice, such as Basmati or Carolina, well rinsed and drained
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely grated, pushed through a garlic press, or minced
  • 1 teaspoon fine sea salt, plus more as needed
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more as needed
  • 1/2 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
  • 6 cups chicken stock (I used 4 cups homemade turkey stock + 2 cups chicken stock)
  • 2 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1/3 cup fresh lemon juice (from about 2 lemons)
  • freshly grated nutmeg, for serving, optional
  1. In a large mixing bowl, combine ground chicken, 1/4 cup dill, onion, carrot, rice, garlic, salt, pepper and lemon zest. Gently mix with your hands until well combined.
  2. Gently form the mixture into 24 to 30 meatballs, each about 1 1/4 inches in diameter, placing them on a plate or baking pan. (I used a cookie scoop to evenly ration the meat mixture.)
  3. Cover and chill for at least 20 minutes or up to 24 hours. This helps the meatballs keep their shape while cooking.
  4. In a large pot, bring stock to a boil over high heat. Reduce to medium and use a slotted spoon to carefully add meatballs to the pot. The broth should cover the tops of the meatballs by about 1/2 inch. If not, add a little water. Simmer gently, adjusting the heat so the broth doesn’t boil, until meatballs are cooked through and rice is tender, 25 to 35 minutes. (You can break open a meatball to test it.) Remove pot from heat.
  5. In a medium bowl, whisk together eggs and lemon juice until just mixed. Slowly add a ladle of warm broth to egg-lemon mixture, whisking constantly. Whisk in another two ladles of broth to temper the egg mixture.
  6. Slowly drizzle the egg-lemon mixture back into the pot with the meatballs, stirring gently so you don’t break apart the meatballs.
  7. Return the pot to medium-low heat until it just starts to simmer. (Wait for a bubble or two to appear, but don’t let the pot boil.) The broth should be silky.
  8. Remove from heat, stir in remaining 1/2 cup dill. Taste and add salt and pepper, if needed. (It may need quite a bit of salt if you are starting with unsalted broth.)
  9. Garnish with nutmeg, if you like, and dill, and serve.

Oven-Baked Pearl Couscous with Roasted Tomatoes, Chickpeas & Feta

I have served this flavorful dish as a vegetarian main dish served over baby spinach and as a side dish with rotisserie chicken, roasted cauliflower and green salad. So versatile! I also love that it is made in one pan.

The recipe was adapted from The New York Times, contributed by Melissa Clark. I used Trader Joe’s Harvest Grain Blend with Couscous with Quinoa, Orzo, and Garbanzo Beans and modified the proportions and method. Nice.

Yield: Serves 4 as a main dish or 6 as a side dish

  • 1 pint (2 cups) grape tomatoes, halved (or a combination grape & small Campari- quartered)
  • 1 large shallot, halved and thinly sliced
  • 1/4 cup sliced scallions, for garnish (about 2 large)
  • 2 T extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
  • 1 T balsamic vinegar, plus more for drizzling
  • 2 to 3 large garlic cloves, finely grated or minced
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt, plus more as needed
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more for serving
  • 3 oregano, rosemary or sage sprigs
  • 2 cups vegetable stock or water (I used 1 cup chicken stock and 1 cup water)
  • 1/3 cup chopped cilantro, dill or parsley, plus more for serving
  • 1/2 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest (from 1/2 lemon)
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 8 ounces pearl couscous (1 1/2 cups)(I used Trader Joe’s Harvest Brain blend)
  • 1 (15-ounce) can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 1 1/2 cups feta, crumbled (about 6 ounces)
  • 1/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan (1 1/2 ounces)( I used Parmigiano-Reggiano)
  1. Heat oven to 425 degrees. (I set my oven to convection roast.)
  2. In a 9×13-inch baking dish, cake pan or gratin dish (I used a ceramic 9×13 baking dish), toss together tomatoes, shallot, 2 tablespoons oil, 1 tablespoon vinegar, garlic, 1/2 teaspoon salt, pepper and rosemary, oregano, or sage sprigs. Roast until tomatoes are tender, about 15 minutes.
  3. While tomatoes roast, heat the stock (or stock and water) until it boils, then stir in remaining 1 teaspoon salt, adding more to taste. (You want a well-seasoned broth here to flavor the couscous.)
  4. Stir in cilantro, lemon zest and cumin.
  5. Remove tomatoes from oven and fold in couscous, chickpeas and hot stock mixture. Cover pan tightly with foil, and return to oven for 20 minutes.
  6. Remove foil and fold in the Parmesan and about 3/4ths of the feta (save the rest for garnish). Bake uncovered until feta starts to melt, another 5 minutes.
  7. To serve, pull out and discard herb sprigs if you like, and spoon couscous into bowls. (I served it in the baking dish as a side dish.)
  8. Top with remaining feta, more Parmesan, scallions, more herbs, pepper and a drizzle of olive oil and balsamic vinegar, as desired.

Summer Fruit Buckle

This very special breakfast treat was more clafoutis or bread pudding-like than coffee cake-like. It was eggy, moist, and loaded with fruit. Practically any combination of summer fruit could be used. I used blueberries, strawberries, and a yellow nectarine. Great.

The recipe was adapted from The New York Times, contributed by Melissa Clark. I incorporated whole wheat pastry flour. I also reduced the baking time for a convection oven. The original recipe notes that the sugar can be adjusted by one or two tablespoons, reduced or added, depending upon the sweetness and tartness of the fruit used.

Yield: one 9-inch cake

  • 1/2 cup/114 grams (1 stick) butter, at room temperature, plus more for greasing pan
  • 1/2 cup/100 grams granulated sugar, more for sprinkling
  • 1/4 cup/55 grams light brown sugar
  • 3 large eggs, at room temperature
  • finely grated lemon zest from 1 large lemon
  • 1 teaspoon/5 milliliters vanilla extract
  • 1 1/4 cups/156 grams all-purpose flour (I used 100g all-purpose flour + 56g whole wheat pastry flour)
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon grated nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 4 1/2 cups summer berries and/or chopped fruit (a mix of blueberries, raspberries, blackberries or use any one kind)(peaches, nectarines, figs, or plums can also be incorporated)(I used 2 cups blueberries + 2 cups strawberries + 1 chopped yellow nectarine)
  •  cinnamon, for dusting, optional
  •  Confectioners’ sugar, for dusting
  1. Heat oven to 375 degrees, preferably on convection.
  2. Butter a 9-inch round cake pan. (or coat with cooking oil spray)
  3. In the bowl of an electric mixer, add butter, granulated sugar and brown sugar and beat until light and fluffy.
  4. Add eggs one at a time, then add lemon zest and vanilla and mix until combined.
  5. In a separate bowl, combine flour, salt, nutmeg and baking powder, and whisk to combine.
  6. Add dry ingredients to egg mixture and mix until just combined.
  7. Gently fold fruit into the batter, then spread batter in pan and sprinkle lightly with more granulated sugar.
  8. Bake for 30 to 40 minutes in a convection oven, or up to 50 minutes in a standard oven, or until top is golden and cake is cooked through.
  9. Allow cake to cool, then sprinkle with cinnamon, if using, and confectioners’ sugar.

Blueberry & White Peach Graham Galette

This fabulous galette was oozing with delicious juices. I loved that the crust incorporated crushed graham crackers. It was fabulous with and without vanilla ice cream.

This summer galette recipe was adapted from Bon Appétit, contributed by Samantha Seneviratne. I modified the method, used white peaches, and sprinkled the dough with turbinado sugar. I weighed the dry ingredients as well.

Yield: Serves 8

For the Dough:

  • 4 graham crackers (about 2 oz)
  • 1 cup (125 g) all-purpose flour
  • 1 T granulated sugar
  • 3/4 tsp Diamond Crystal or 1/2 tsp Morton kosher salt
  • 10 T chilled unsalted butter, cut into pieces

For the Filling & to Finish:

  • 2 large peaches (about 12 oz), halved, pitted, & thinly sliced (I used white peaches)
  • 2 cups fresh blueberries
  • 1 T cornstarch
  • pinch of coarse salt
  • 3/4 tsp finely grated lemon zest (I used the zest of 1/2 of a large lemon)
  • 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/3 cup (67 g) granulated sugar
  • all-purpose flour (for rolling dough)
  • 1 large egg, beaten to blend
  • 2 T chilled unsalted butter, cut into pieces
  • turbinado sugar, for sprinkling
  • vanilla ice cream, for serving, optional

To Make the Dough:

  1. Process graham crackers, flour, sugar, and salt in a food processor until crackers become crumbs and mixture is combined.
  2. Add butter; pulse until mixture resembles coarse sand with some larger pieces remaining.
  3. Add ice water by the tablespoonful, pulsing after each addition, until evenly moistened and dough holds together when squeezed (2–4 tablespoons).
  4. Pat into a 1-inch thick disk and wrap tightly in parchment paper or plastic wrap. Chill at least 1 hour.

Do ahead: Dough can be made 3 days ahead. Keep chilled. (I made the dough 2 days in advance.)

To Make the Filling & to Finish:

  1. Preheat oven to 400°, preferably on convection.
  2. Toss peach slices, blueberries, cornstarch, salt, lemon zest, cinnamon, and 1/3 cup (67 g) granulated sugar in a large bowl.
  3. Unwrap dough and roll out between lightly floured sheets of plastic wrap or parchment to a 12″ round. The round will be approximately 1/8-inch thick.
  4. Transfer dough to a piece of parchment paper the size of a rimmed baking sheet.
  5. Arrange fruit on top, leaving a 1 1/4-inch border.
  6. Lift dough edges up and over fruit, pleating as needed.
  7. Using parchment paper, slide galette onto the rimmed baking sheet; chill 10 to 15 minutes.
  8. Brush top of pastry with egg and sprinkle with turbinado sugar.
  9. Dot filling with butter.
  10. Bake galette until fruit is softened and crust is deep golden brown, 40–50 minutes (some juice may leak out). (Tons of juice leaked out of mine!)
  11. Serve galette warm or at room temperature with scoops of ice cream, if desired.

Strawberry-Cornmeal-Olive Oil Snacking Cake

My family really embraces strawberry season. We can’t get enough freshly picked Long Island berries! 🙂 After making our essential Strawberry-Vanilla Bean Jam, I made this super moist, coarse-textured snack cake which incorporated my special jam.

I baked the cake a day in advance and served it for dessert with homemade Fresh Strawberry Gelato. Yes, it was over the top! We ate the leftovers for breakfast. In retrospect, although it is sweet enough to be a dessert, I think that I would serve it for breakfast, or as a special snack with tea or coffee, next time. It was a wonderful breakfast- such a treat.

This recipe was adapted from Bon Appétit, contributed by Sarah Jampel. I modified the baking time and used homemade jam. The jam sinks to the bottom of the cake and, with the granulated sugar coating, forms a crispy, caramelized crust. Yum.

Yield: One 13×9-inch sheet cake

  • 8 to 10 oz strawberries, hulled, thinly sliced lengthwise
  • 238 g (1 cup plus 3 T) granulated sugar, divided, plus more for pan
  • 1 tsp Kosher salt, plus more
  • 3/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for pan (or use cooking spray for pan)
  • 188 g (1 1/2 cups) all-purpose flour
  • 60 g (1/2 cup) cornmeal, preferably finely ground
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 3 large eggs
  • 2 large egg yolks
  • 1/2 cup plus 2 T sour cream
  • finely grated zest of 2 lemons
  • 3 T freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 2 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup strawberry jam, stirred (original recipe recommends Bonne Maman Intense)
  1. Preheat oven to 350°, preferably on convection.
  2. Gently toss strawberries, 1 tablespoon of granulated sugar, and a pinch of coarse salt in a medium bowl. Let sit, stirring occasionally, until ready to use.
  3. Grease a 13×9-inch metal baking pan with oil or cooking spray. Line with parchment paper, leaving an overhang on 2 long sides.
  4. Grease parchment with oil or cooking oil spray. Generously sprinkle pan and parchment with sugar, tilting to coat pan in an even layer; tap out excess.
  5. Whisk flour, cornmeal, baking powder, baking soda, 200 g (1 cup) sugar, and 1 teaspoon coarse salt in a medium bowl.
  6. Whisk eggs, egg yolks, sour cream, lemon zest, lemon juice, and vanilla in a large bowl until well combined.
  7. Add dry ingredients to sour cream mixture and whisk gently to combine.
  8. Using a spatula, gradually fold in 3/4 cup oil until batter is smooth and homogenous with all of the oil incorporated.
  9. Scrape batter into prepared pan and spread evenly.
  10. Stir the strawberry jam to make more fluid. Using a small spoon, dollop jam onto surface. (I made 36 small dollops over the surface of the cake.) Using a butter knife or small offset spatula, gently swirl jam into batter.
  11. Arrange reserved strawberries on top of batter in even rows, touching at widest points. (You may have extra sliced berries; reserve for another use.) See note.
  12. Sprinkle all over with remaining 2 tablespoons of granulated sugar.
  13. Bake cake until risen and deeply bronzed with no damp spots in the middle, the sides begin to pull away from the pan, and a tester inserted into the center comes out clean, about 30 minutes in a convection oven or up to 40–45 minutes in a standard oven.

Note: Because the strawberries will shrink and sink a bit during baking (how much depends on their size and sweetness), make sure they’re placed shoulder to shoulder on top of the batter. (My design didn’t hold up very well during the baking process but no one seemed to mind.)

Do Ahead: Cake can be made 4 days ahead. Cover with foil or plastic wrap and store at room temperature.

Crusty Parmesan Roast Chicken with Lemon & Rosemary

I have made this wonderful roasted chicken twice recently. The grated Parmesan forms a crispy and delicious topping on the skin and the meat is very nicely seasoned with fresh rosemary and lemon zest. I served it with roasted potatoes and vegetables on both occasions.

The recipe was adapted from The New York Times, contributed by Melissa Clark. If roasting vegetables with a short cooking time, such as asparagus, it would be amazing to roast them in some of the pan juices while the chicken is resting. I drizzled my roasted potatoes and other vegetables with the lemony pan juices after they were cooked. Great.

Yield: Serves 4 to 6

  • zest and juice from 1 lemon, divided
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt, plus more to taste
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon chopped rosemary, plus 3 to 4 sprigs
  • large pinch of red-pepper flakes, plus more for serving, optional
  • 1 (3 1/2- to 4-pound) whole chicken, patted dry
  • extra-virgin olive oil, for drizzling
  • 1/3 cup finely grated Parmesan (I used Parmigiano-Reggiano)
  • parsley, for garnish, optional
  1. Finely grate the zest from the lemon and place it in a small bowl. (Save the zested lemon for the drippings.)
  2. Stir in 2 teaspoons salt, pepper, chopped rosemary and red-pepper flakes, if using.
  3. Season the chicken inside and out with salt mixture. Let sit at room temperature for 20 minutes or refrigerate uncovered for up to overnight.
  4. Heat oven to 425 degrees. I set my oven to convection roast.
  5. Place chicken, breast-side up, in a large skillet, sheet pan or roasting pan. (I used a 12-inch cast iron skillet.)
  6. Stuff cavity of chicken with rosemary sprigs. Drizzle breast with a little olive oil.
  7. Roast chicken for 30 minutes.
  8. Remove from the oven and sprinkle chicken all over with Parmesan.
  9. Return pan to the oven and continue roasting until bird’s juices run clear when skin is pierced with a knife and the skin is golden, 25 to 30 minutes longer. (I used an oven probe and cooked the chicken until the breast reached 165 degrees.)
  10. Let chicken rest for 10 minutes. (I tented it with aluminum foil.)
  11. Squeeze juice from the zested lemon, to taste, into the pan drippings and season with more salt and red-pepper flakes if you like.
  12. Carve and serve with drippings spooned over the meat. Garnish with chopped parsley, if desired. (I also had extra drippings available at the table.)

Tunisian Chickpea Soup (Lablabi)

I am a big fan of toppings, so this creamy, earthy, and hearty vegetarian soup caught my eye. It is served over toasted chunks of bread and then garnished with crunchy, spiced chickpeas, lemon zest, parsley, a sprinkle of cumin, and a drizzle of olive oil. I also loved that the soup incorporated a little spice from harissa.

This recipe was adapted from Cool Beans by Joe Yonan, via The New York Times, contributed by Melissa Clark. I used a stove top pressure cooker to cook the beans which significantly expedited the cooking process. I also served the soup over toasted sourdough boule chunks in lieu of rustic bread. Great.

Yield: Serves 4 to 6

For the Crispy Chickpeas:

  • 1 3/4 cup cooked chickpeas, or 1 (15-ounce) can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more to taste
  • 1 teaspoon za’atar, plus more to taste

For the Soup:

  • 1 1/2 cups dried chickpeas, soaked overnight and drained
  • 1/4 cup plus 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for serving
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more to taste
  • 1/2 loaf hearty rustic bread (about 6 to 8 ounces)(I used 1/2 of a sourdough boule)
  • 1 cup chopped onion, from 1 medium onion
  • 6 to 8 large garlic cloves, minced or finely grated
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin, plus more for serving
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1 tablespoon harissa paste, plus more for serving
  • freshly squeezed lemon juice from 1 large lemon (about 3 T)
  • finely grated zest of 1 large lemon (about 1 T), for serving
  • 1/2 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley, for serving

To Prepare the Crispy Chickpeas:

  1. Transfer the rinsed and drained canned chickpeas to a rimmed baking sheet lined with a clean dish towel or paper towels.
  2. Cover with another towel (or paper towels) on top, rubbing gently to dry.
  3. Remove top towel and let air-dry for at least 30 minutes and preferably 1 hour. (I let them dry for 2+ hours.)

To Prepare the Soup:

  1. In a pressure cooker (I used a stove-top pressure cooker), combine soaked chickpeas, 5 cups water, 1 tablespoon olive oil, bay leaves and 1/2 teaspoon salt over high heat. (Alternatively, use a Dutch oven or heavy stockpot.)
  2. Place the pot over high heat, until the pressure cooker reaches the second ring (high). Adjust the heat to maintain the pressure for 35 minutes. (If using a stockpot, bring to a boil for 2 to 3 minutes, then reduce heat to a simmer, cover and cook until chickpeas are tender, about 1 to 2 hours.)
  3. Remove from the heat and let the pressure release naturally.
  4. Heat oven to 400 degrees. (I set my oven to convection roast.)
  5. While chickpeas are cooking, cut bread into thick slices, then tear or cut slices into bite-size pieces.
  6. Place bread in one layer on large rimmed baking sheet and toast until crisp and light brown, about 10 minutes. Let cool on pan and set aside.
  7. Finish the crunchy chickpeas: Raise oven temperature to 425 degrees. (I set my oven to convection roast.)
  8. Remove the towels from baking sheet with the chickpeas, and toss the chickpeas with 2 teaspoons olive oil, 1/2 teaspoon salt and za’atar until well coated.
  9. Roast until golden and crispy, about 13 to 18 minutes, tossing halfway through. When chickpeas are still hot, sprinkle lightly with more salt. Taste and add more salt or za’atar, or both, as desired.
  10. When the chickpeas for the soup are tender, discard bay leaves.
  11. Using a slotted spoon, transfer 2 cups of chickpeas, 1/2 cup of chickpea cooking liquid and 1/4 cup olive oil to a blender or food processor, and purée until smooth. (I used a Vitamix.)
  12. In a large skillet over medium-high, heat the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil until shimmering.
  13. Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 5 minutes.
  14. Add garlic and cook until golden, about 2 minutes.
  15. Add the remaining 1 teaspoon salt, 1 tablespoon cumin and tomato paste and cook, stirring, until fragrant, 1 minute. Add a splash of the chickpea cooking liquid to the pan, and bring to a simmer to deglaze, scraping up the browned bits on the bottom of the pan. Turn off heat.
  16. Add chickpea purée and onion mixture to soup, along with harissa and lemon juice, and stir well. Add a little water if soup seems too thick, and more salt, if needed.
  17. To serve, divide toasted bread pieces among soup bowls, then ladle in soup.
  18. Garnish with lemon zest, parsley, olive oil, more cumin and some of the crispy chickpeas — you’ll have leftovers. Serve hot, with more harissa on the side, as desired.

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