The laws of cooking

Peruvian Lomo Saltado Stir-fry with Potatoes and Mexican Hot Chocolate Pudding

Editorial Note

As sung in my favorite movie “The Sound of Music,” I leave and heave a sigh and say goodbye, the time has come for me to say goodbye. I’ve been writing this column now for two years and I love it and hate it at the same time. I love expressing myself through the written word and sharing my love of cooking with all of you, but at the same time I feel so much pressure to outdo the column before and to write or make the perfect recipes that will be loved by all of our readers. I know this is an impossible feat, and yet, every single month, I do the same thing. It is literally insanity. Well, I’m getting off the crazy train, graduating with my B.A. in Jurisprudence, and if all goes as planned, heading to law school in the fall—destination unknown. But, that means that if someone out there has a flair for writing and loves to cook, and is a student at UB, of course, I will gladly bequeath my column in your capable hands.

Okay, let’s get into the reason that you’re actually reading my column in the first place—the food! This month, as promised last month, I am reviewing Plated. Plated is a meal box subscription that sends weekly meals, you can skip whatever weeks you want for any reason in your personal dashboard. Ordering is easy—simply review the menu for the upcoming weeks (usually they have four weeks available) and make your selections. Once added to your cart, you check out and pay, and just wait for your box to arrive. Two of the best things about Plated is their fantastic customer service and the fact that they offer desserts.

The few times I have had to contact customer service, they have been expeditious, helpful, and have more than made up for any issue that I might have had. I walked away with the unfortunately rare nowadays positive customer service experience feeling like, “yeah, I am the customer and I’m always right,” but without the arrogance and entitlement that often goes along with it.

When checking out, you must spend $50.00 in order to get free shipping (shipping is $6.00 otherwise). That’s not a hard task. They have fantastic menu items and lots of choices. Each menu item has to be ordered for a minimum of two plates and cost $12.00 per plate (yeah, they’re a little pricier than some of the others). They also offer two specialty meals that are usually between $18.00 and $30.00 per plate and include items like scallops or lamb chops. So, if you order two regular menu items ($12.00 each) x two people, you end up at $48.00, press checkout and BAM, you’re taken to the checkout screen which offers…desserts! Desserts run $4.00 per plate with a minimum of two plates per item. There’s your free shipping.

This month, I figured since UB Denit Honors students went to Nicaragua, we would have a Latin American flair in our menu. We are making Lomo Saltado, a Peruvian steak stir-fry dish and Mexican Hot Chocolate Pudding.

*Note: It’s important to mention that Plated reached out to its customers this week to notify us that the soy sauce which was included in our box was intended to be gluten free, but in fact, the wrong soy sauce was included and it is not gluten free. For those of you like me who do not have Celiac’s Disease, or not gluten intolerant, or simply not “off” gluten, this is not an issue.

Bon Appétit!

Peruvian Lomo Saltado Stir-fry with Potatoes

Makes 2 servings
Roughly 530 calories per serving

Screen Shot 2015-03-31 at 12.28.08 PM


8 ounces Yukon Gold potatoes

10 ounces inside round steak

1 packet spice mix

11⁄2 teaspoons ground cumin

1⁄2 teaspoon ground coriander

11⁄2 teaspoons ají amarillo

1 red onion

1 green bell pepper

2 plum tomatoes

1/6 bunch cilantro

2 cloves garlic

1⁄4 cup red wine
1 packet soy sauce (gluten-free)

*See note above
3 tablespoons canola oil Kosher salt
Black pepper


Boil Potatoes:

Cut potatoes into 1⁄2-inch pieces. Place in a medium pot and cover with cold water. Add a generous pinch salt and bring to a boil over high heat. Cook until mostly tender when pierced with the tip of a knife, about 5 minutes. Drain and set aside.

Marinate Steak:

While potatoes boil, rinse steak and pat dry with paper towel. Cut against the grain into 1⁄4-inch slices. Season with spice mix and ají amarillo and set aside to marinate at room temperature for at least 10 minutes or up to 1 hour.

Prepare Ingredients:

While steak marinates, peel onion, halve, and thinly slice. Rinse bell pepper, halve lengthwise, and discard seeds. Cut into 1⁄4-inch slices. Rinse tomatoes and cut into 1⁄2-inch pieces. Pick cilantro leaves, discarding stems. Smash garlic using the flat side of a knife.

Cook steak:

Heat 1 tablespoon canola oil in a large pan over medium-heat. Season steak on both sides with salt and pepper. When oil is shimmering, add steak in a single layer and cook until browned, about 1 minute per side. Remove from pan and set aside.

Sauté Vegetables:

Add 2 tablespoons canola oil to pan from steak over medium-high heat. When oil is shimmering, add potato, onion, bell pepper, and garlic.

Sauté until bell pepper and onion are softening and potato is beginning to brown, about 5 minutes. Add tomato and cook until beginning to soften, about 2 minutes more. Return steak to pan and stir to combine.

Plate Stir-Fry:

Add red wine and soy sauce to pan with steak, scraping up any browned bits from bottom. Simmer until reduced by half, about 1 minute. Taste and add salt and pepper as needed. Divide stir-fry evenly between 2 plates, garnish with cilantro, and serve.

Lomo saltado, ready to eat.
Lomo saltado, ready to eat.

 Mexican Hot Chocolate Pudding

Makes 2 Servings (actually made a lot more for me)
About 240 calories per serving


Screen Shot 2015-03-31 at 12.38.47 PM

1 cup whole milk
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1⁄2 teaspoon vanilla extract ( I used my own that I picked up in Mexico in January of this year)

2 tablespoons flour
1 packet spice mix
1⁄2 teaspoon chili powder
1⁄2 teaspoon cinnamon
2 tablespoons semisweet chocolate

1 egg yolk


Make Pudding Base:

Add milk and 1 egg yolk to a small pot over medium heat. Whisk continuously until milk begins to thicken, 2-3 minutes.

Cook Pudding:

Add granulated sugar, vanilla extract, flour, spice mix, and a pinch of salt to pot with milk and whisk to combine. Continue whisking until pudding is bubbling, about 5 minutes more.

Melt Chocolate:

Remove pot from heat and add chocolate chips. Stir until melted.

Plate Pudding:

Divide pudding evenly between 2 bowls or glasses and serve warm.

Screen Shot 2015-03-31 at 12.36.15 PM

All photos courtesy of Jessica Greenstein.

The laws of cooking

Roast Beef with Treviso-Pear Salad & Horseradish Sour Cream and Chopped Chicken & Brussels Sprout Salad with Blue Cheese, Currants, and Crispy Shallots

This break felt both long and short for me. Long, because a lot happened and I got a lot accomplished during it; short, because it wasn’t enough time for me to complete everything that I needed to do. Related to this column two things happened: first, I ordered the book Hungry Students, a cookbook that focuses on college students, working within the typical college student budget… low… and the typical college student timeframe to cook dinner… almost non-existent…and delivers some great fast and easy recipes; second, and this goes hand-in-hand with our subscription box review column Battle of the Boxes, I decided to start subscribing to some of the food subscription boxes that send you fresh ingredients already portioned out along with the recipe card and you just go to town cooking the meal.

So, this month I bring you the latter, two recipes from Blue Apron, the first of the three companies I plan to try. Next month I will bring you two recipes from Hello Fresh, and the following month two from Plated. This way, you get a review and recipes and you can decide for yourselves which you like best.

The great thing about these subscriptions is that they send you recipes with the actual proportions that you would need to recreate the meal again in the future as opposed to just sending you the properly portioned ingredients and claiming trade secrets or proprietary information!

Specifically with Blue Apron, you choose between their Omnivore and Vegetarian option. If you choose their Omnivore option, they will send you three meals (for two people each) that include a mix of meat and seafood and occasionally, a vegetarian one. They provide you with the recipes for the week in advance so that you can skip it, if you wish, and the cost is low, starting at $8.74 per plate for their family plan (four meals for four people; a total of $139.84) or $9.99 per plate for their two person plan (three meals a week; a total of $59.94). The second option is the one that I have; although I’m one person, their portion sizes are such that I have found that I not only end up having an extra serving for lunch the next day, sometimes I get a third or a fourth serving out of it too!

This month, I made Blue Apron’s Roast Beef with Treviso-Pear Salad & Horseradish Sour Cream as well as their Chopped Chicken & Brussels Sprout Salad with Blue Cheese, Currants, and Crispy Shallots. The roast beef was fantastic and I expected to not like the horseradish sour cream as I don’t like spicy foods and horseradish tends to make the list of dislikes, but I absolutely loved their portions and found that it gave the sour cream just the perfect amount of tang and bite. Unfortunately, I did not like the treviso of the Treviso-Pear Salad— it was too bitter, although the pear sweetened it up a bit, combined with the vinaigrette, it was just too far- leaning toward the bitter spectrum for me. I found myself eating the pears and shallot vinaigrette and leaving the treviso.

The Brussels sprout salad was incredible. I would not change one thing. I was surprised that the Brussels sprouts were completely raw, but that didn’t detract from my enjoyment of the recipe.

All in all, I’d say the recipes were wins, although in the future, I would definitely substitute the treviso for a different type of lettuce. I hope you enjoy as much as I did. Bon Appetit!

Roast Beef with Treviso-Pear Salad & Horseradish Sour Cream

Makes 3 servings
Roughly 560 calories per serving


• 1 eye round roast, tied • 1 Anjou pear
• 1 head treviso
• 1 bunch tarragon

• 1 shallot
• 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar • 1 tablespoon prepared horseradish

• 1⁄4 cup sour cream • 1⁄4 cup walnuts


Prepare the ingredients:

Preheat the oven to 450°F. Wash and dry the fresh produce. Remove the beef from the refrigerator to bring to room temperature. Core and thinly slice the pear. Halve the treviso lengthwise, leaving the core intact. Pick the tarragon leaves off the stems; discard the stems and roughly chop the leaves. Roughly chop the walnuts. Peel and mince the shallot to get 2 tablespoons of minced shallot (you may have extra shallot); place in a bowl with the vinegar.

Roast the beef:

Place the beef on a sheet pan; drizzle with olive oil and thoroughly season on all sides with salt and pepper. Roast 22 to 24 minutes, or until the beef has reached your desired degree of doneness. (An instant-read thermometer should register 130°F for medium.) Transfer to a cutting board and loosely cover with aluminum foil. Rest for at least 10 minutes.

Make the vinaigrette & horseradish sour cream:

Chopped Chicken & Brussels Sprout Salad with Blue Cheese, Currants, and Crispy Shallots

Makes 2 Servings (actually made a lot more for me)

About 575 calories per serving


  • 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 3 ounces Brussels sprouts
  • 1⁄2 head escarole
  • 1 bunch parsley
  • 3 tablespoons dried currants
  • 3 tablespoons pecans
  • 2 shallots
  • 1 tablespoon sherry vinegar
  • 1⁄2 cup crumbled blue cheese


1⁄4 cup all-purpose flour


Prepare the Ingredients:

Wash and dry the fresh produce. Halve and thinly slice the Brussels sprouts. Chop the escarole into bite-sized pieces. Place the currants in a bowl of warm water. Roughly chop the pecans. Peel the shallots. Mince 1 shallot; place in a heat- proof bowl with the vinegar. Thinly slice the remaining shallot; place in a medium bowl and toss with the flour, separating the sliced shallot into rings. Pick the parsley leaves off the stems; discard the stems.

Toast the pecans:

Heat a medium, dry pan (nonstick, if you have one) on medium-high until hot. Add the pecans and toast, stirring frequently, 2 to 3 minutes, or until fragrant. Transfer to a bowl. Wipe out the pan.

Cook the chicken:

Season both sides of the chicken breasts with salt and pepper. In the same pan used to toast the pecans, heat 2 teaspoons of olive oil on medium until hot. Add the seasoned chicken breasts; cook 4 to 6 minutes per side or until golden brown and cooked through. Transfer to a plate, leaving any drippings in the pan. When cool enough to handle, chop the chicken breasts into bite-sized pieces.

Deglaze the pan:

Add 2 tablespoons of water to the pan of reserved drippings. Cook on medium, stirring occasionally to scrape up any browned bits from the bottom of the pan, 30 seconds to 1 minute, or until slightly reduced in volume. Transfer to the bowl of shallot and vinegar; stir to combine and set aside. Wipe out the pan.

Cook the shallots:

In the same pan, heat a thin layer of olive oil on medium-high until hot. Add the coated shallots (shaking off any excess flour); cook 30 seconds to 1 minute, or until lightly browned. Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate and immediately season with salt.

A finished version of the salad.
A finished version of the salad.

Finish & plate your dish:

Season the shallot-vinegar-drippings mixture with salt and pepper to taste; slowly whisk in 2 tablespoons of olive oil until well combined. In a large bowl, combine the chopped chicken, escarole, blue cheese, Brussels sprouts, toasted pecans, parsley and currants (draining before adding). Season with salt and pepper. Add enough of the dressing to coat the greens (you may have extra dressing); toss to thoroughly coat. Divide the salad between 2 dishes. Garnish with the crispy shallots.

While the beef roasts, season the shallot-vinegar mixture with salt and pepper to taste; slowly whisk in 2 tablespoons of olive oil until well combined. In a small bowl, whisk together the sour cream and horseradish; season with salt and pepper to taste.

Toast the walnuts:

While the beef continues to roast, heat a large, dry pan on medium-high until hot. Add the chopped walnuts and toast, stirring occasionally, 1 to 2 minutes, or until fragrant and lightly browned. Transfer to a small bowl. Wipe out the pan.

Cook the treviso & warm the pear:

While the beef rests, drizzle the treviso with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. In the same pan used to toast the walnuts, heat 2 teaspoons of oil on high until hot, but not smoking. Add the treviso halves, cut side down; cook 30 seconds to 1 minute, or until browned. Transfer to a large bowl. Remove the pan from heat. Off the heat (but while the pan is still hot), add a drizzle of olive oil and the pear; season with salt and pepper. Toss the pear to coat it in the oil, 30 seconds to 1 minute, or until warmed through and slightly softened. Transfer to a plate.

Finish & plate your dish:

The finished dish.
The finished dish.

To the bowl of cooked treviso, add the toasted walnuts, warmed pear, half the tarragon and as much of the vinaigrette as you’d like (you may have extra vinaigrette). Toss to combine and season with salt and pepper to taste. Once the beef has rested, cut off and discard the string. Find the lines of muscle (or grain) of the beef; thinly slice the beef crosswise against the grain. Divide the sliced beef and treviso-pear salad between plates. Garnish with the remaining tarragon and serve with the horseradish sour cream on the side.

All photos courtesy of Jessica Greenstein

The laws of cooking: Lavender Pound Cake and Hash Brown Quiche

By Jessica Greenstein

Although the lazy days of summer are almost technically behind us and they feel even further away with the start of fall classes, I wanted to give you guys one last easy and delicious summer recipe. Lavender Pound Cake is one of my absolute favorite recipes and something I make every year; it’s the perfect dish to bring to a potluck summer barbeque or to enjoy at home. I originally found this recipe on and like every recipe I use, I made some tweaks to make it my own. Fortunately, my Aunt Sheryl has a lively lavender bush and supplies me with a fresh stash whenever I need it, but for those of you not so fortunate, you can get dried lavender (works just as well) from, Whole Foods, Wegmans, and some farmer’s markets.

Over the past year you’ve gotten to know me pretty well (at least I hope so) and so I feel it necessary to disclose that as I prepared for this month’s column I was in the middle of moving with absolutely no access to my plethora of cookbooks or the comfort of my normal arsenal of culinary supplies. As I wracked my brain trying to figure out a second recipe, I started to daydream about how I wished there was more hours in a day, like 40 maybe. Okay, I won’t be greedy, I’ll settle for 30. Always looking to be more efficient with my time, I came upon Paula Deen’s recipe for Hash Brown Quiche. Never having time for breakfast myself, I thought this was the perfect idea; I could make this quiche—which takes all of five minutes to prep—while doing laundry on a Sunday afternoon and then pop a slice in the microwave for 45 seconds an I’d have breakfast for days! I tested it out and while Ms. Deen may have some ongoing legal and PR issues, her recipe did not disappoint. The original recipe called for ham, but I substituted it with my favorite food group, bacon. I think the recipe would also taste divine with prosciutto or any other cured pork product. With that being said, I present you with this month’s must try recipes!

Bon Appetite!


Lavender Pound Cake

Based on a recipe originally found on




2 cups all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

2 sticks (1 cup) salted butter, softened

1 1/2 cups sugar

3 large eggs, at room temperature

1 teaspoon finely grated fresh lemon zest

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 vanilla bean (seeds only scraped from bean)

1/2 cup whole milk, at room temperature


3/4 cup water

1/2 cup sugar

5 teaspoons dried edible lavender flowers or 3 tablespoons fresh edible lavender flowers

2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice

1 pint of blueberries

Special equipment: a 9- by 5- by 3-inch metal loaf pan


Make cake:

Preheat oven to 350°F with oven rack in center of oven. Generously butter and flour loaf pan. Remove any excess flour.

Whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside. Beat together butter and sugar with an electric mixer at medium-high speed until light and fluffy (about 3 minutes in a stand mixer or 5 with a handheld). Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each. Beat in zest, vanilla extract, and vanilla bean. Reduce speed to low and add flour mixture and milk alternately in batches (beginning and ending with flour) and mixing until just incorporated.

Spoon batter into loaf pan and bake until golden (approximately one to 1 to 1 1⁄4 hours). Test doneness by inserting a toothpick or skewer in center; if it comes out with crumbs adhering, it’s done Cool cake in pan on a rack 30 minutes, then invert onto rack and cool completely.

Prepare syrup:

Bring water and sugar to a boil in a small saucepan, stirring until sugar is dissolved. Remove from heat and stir in lavender; steep for 30 minutes for dried lavender or 40 minutes for fresh. Pour syrup through a fine-mesh sieve or cheesecloth into a bowl and discard lavender. Stir in lemon juice and blueberries.

Spoon berries and syrup over slices of cake just before serving.


Hash Brown Quiche

Based on a recipe originally found on



3 cups, shredded frozen hash browns, thawed and drained

4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) butter, melted

3 large eggs, beaten

1 cup half-and-half

3/4 cup diced cooked thick-cut bacon

1/2 cup diced green onions

1 cup shredded Cheddar

Salt and white pepper (be conservative with white pepper; it’s much stronger than its black

alter ego)


Preheat oven to 450°F.

Press the hash browns between paper towels to eliminate as much liquid as possible. In a 9-inch pie pan, toss the hash browns with the melted butter into the pan. Press them into the bottom and up the sides to form a crust. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes until golden brown and starting to crisp.

In a large mixing bowl, combine the remaining ingredients. When the hash brown crust is ready pour the egg mixture over it and return to the oven.

Lower the oven temperature to 350°F and bake for about 30 minutes until the quiche is light golden brown on top and puffed.

All photos courtesy of Jessica Greenstein