What’s for supper? Vol. 193: Baklava! Shawarma! Rice pilaf! Banh mi! Italian wedding soup! Pumpkin bread! AND MORE!


Here’s the recipe cards!

Chicken shawarma


  • 8 lbs boned, skinned chicken thighs
  • 4-5 red onions
  • 1.5 cups lemon juice
  • 2 cups olive oil
  • 4 tsp kosher salt
  • 2 Tbs, 2 tsp pepper
  • 2 Tbs, 2 tsp cumin
  • 1 Tbsp red pepper flakes
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 entire head garlic, crushed


  1. Mix marinade ingredients together, then add chicken. Put in ziplock bag and let marinate several hours or overnight.

  2. Preheat the oven to 425.

  3. Grease a shallow pan. Take the chicken out of the marinade and spread it in a single layer on the pan, and top with the onions (sliced or quartered). Cook for 45 minutes or more. 

  4. Chop up the chicken a bit, if you like, and finish cooking it so it crisps up a bit more.

  5. Serve chicken and onions with pita bread triangles, cucumbers, tomatoes, assorted olives, feta cheese, fresh parsley, pomegranates or grapes, fried eggplant, and yogurt sauce.


Yogurt sauce


  • 32 oz full fat Greek yogurt
  • 5 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 3 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • fresh parsley or dill, chopped (optional)


  1. Mix all ingredients together. Use for spreading on grilled meats, dipping pita or vegetables, etc. 


5 from 1 vote

Pork banh mi


  • 5-6 lbs Pork loin
  • 1/2 cup fish sauce
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 minced onion
  • 1/2 head garlic, minced or crushed
  • 2 tsp pepper

Veggies and dressing

  • carrots
  • cucumbers
  • vinegar
  • sugar
  • cilantro
  • mayonnaise
  • Sriracha sauce


  1. Slice the raw pork as thinly as you can. 

  2. Mix together the fish sauce ingredients and add the meat slices. Seal in a ziplock bag to marinate, as it is horrendously stinky. Marinate several hours or overnight. 

  3. Grill the meat over coals or on a pan under a hot broiler. 

  4. Toast a sliced baguette or other crusty bread. 


5 from 1 vote

quick-pickled carrots and/or cucumbers for banh mi, bibimbap, ramen, tacos, etc.

An easy way to add tons of bright flavor and crunch to a meal. We pickle carrots and cucumbers most often, but you can also use radishes, red onions, daikon, or any firm vegetable. 


  • 6-7 medium carrots, peeled
  • 1 lb mini cucumbers (or 1 lg cucumber)

For the brine (make double if pickling both carrots and cukes)

  • 1 cup water
  • 1/2 cup rice vinegar (other vinegars will also work; you'll just get a slightly different flavor)
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 Tbsp kosher salt


  1. Mix brine ingredients together until salt and sugar are dissolved. 

  2. Slice or julienne the vegetables. The thinner they are, the more flavor they pick up, but the more quickly they will go soft, so decide how soon you are going to eat them and cut accordingly!

    Add them to the brine so they are submerged.

  3. Cover and let sit for a few hours or overnight or longer. Refrigerate if you're going to leave them overnight or longer.


Italian wedding soup

A simple, tasty soup subject to many variations


  • 6 cups (1.5 quarts) chicken broth
  • 1-2 handfuls fresh spinach or kale, torn up
  • 1/2 cup small uncooked pasta like ance di pepe
  • freshly-ground pepper and parmesan cheese for finishing

for the meatballs:

  • 1 lb ground turkey (may use ground pork or combination)
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp ground pepper
  • 1 Tbsp minced garlic
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1/2 cup bread crumbs
  • 1/2 cup grated parmesan


  1. Mix together all meatball ingredients with your hands. Form into about 25 small meatballs.

  2. Heat up the chicken broth in a pot.

  3. To cook the meatballs, either bake them on a pan in a 350 oven for about 25 minutes, then add them to the broth, or drop them into boiling broth and cook for about 25 minutes.

  4. When meatballs are cooked through, add pasta and greens and cook for another 15 minutes until pasta is soft.

  5. Serve in bowls and top with more pepper and parmesan cheese.


Pumpkin quick bread or muffins

Makes 2 loaves or 18+ muffins


  • 30 oz canned pumpkin puree
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 cup veg or canola oil
  • 1.5 cups sugar
  • 3.5 cups flour
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 1.5 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp ground cloves
  • 1/4 tsp ground ginger
  • oats, wheat germ, turbinado sugar, chopped dates, almonds, raisins, etc. optional


  1. Preheat oven to 350. Butter two loaf pans or butter or line 18 muffin tins.

  2. In a large bowl, mix together dry ingredients.

  3. In a separate bowl, mix together wet ingredients. Stir wet mixture into dry mixture and mix just to blend. 

  4. Optional: add toppings or stir-ins of your choice. 

  5. Spoon batter into pans or tins. Bake about 25 minutes for muffins, about 40 minutes for loaves. 

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17 thoughts on “What’s for supper? Vol. 193: Baklava! Shawarma! Rice pilaf! Banh mi! Italian wedding soup! Pumpkin bread! AND MORE!”

  1. One of these days I am going to bite the bullet and make shwarama. Maybe on Mother’s Day when I get to pick whatever I want no matter what the picky people say. Otherwise I aim to make food that covers everyone’s likes, which is haaaard.

  2. Make Spanakapita. One of my absolute favorite things to eat. And you might even have extra feta cheese leftover from the shwarma, which would be a bonus.

  3. I just check your blog on the web anyway, but would you consider adding a break to posts so it’s easier to scroll down to older posts? Your old site did that and I found it helpful when searching the archive, and for commenting on a post from a couple days ago (although maybe you’re trying to discourage that, lol).

  4. My mom-in-law used to make baklava. Yours came out looking so nice. Love the presentation of that and the rest of your foods for the teen group’s dinner.

    Thank you for all the work you put into these posts. I thought of you today when baking three Dutch Apple Pies for our parish’s elderly Thanksgiving dinner tomorrow. You make prepping vast quantities of food look so easy!

    For something sweet, Phyllo dough makes great Apple Strudel. For savory, it can be used in Spanakopita. Below is a link to a nice Apple Strudel recipe.


  5. I am cool with your just moving on from our getting the emails now. Also, I didn’t have to click on anything to get the recipe cards; I just kept scrolling and there they were!

  6. Probably an email with the links to posts that people missed would be good, Simcha. I just went ahead and caught up reading them all on your blog but it’s a good idea for others who may want that convenience.

  7. I wonder if WP dropped the ball on my emails too! Hmmm.
    Anyway, cutting the pomegranates up and letting other people pull out the seeds for themselves is BRILLIANT. You may have changed my life. Thank you.

  8. Surveying a bunch of recipes and then winging it describes approximately 99% of my cooking “from a recipe.” Or rather, surveying like three recipes and going from there.

    I am apparently a very egotistical cook. Also, I would have loved to be in that teen group. I have never had homemade baklava.

  9. Hey Simcha, I did notice that I wasn’t getting your emails and was going to figure out what happened but then life got insane here (we live in Sonoma County and had to deal with fires/evacuations) and I just never did. So glad to see you back in my inbox! I have been reading your stuff for years, like 2009 or something crazy like that. You are funny and honest and real and there’s just not enough of that on the Internet, in my opinion.
    One question I have been meaning to ask… My husband and I only have four kids and often cannot manage to pull together a simple dinner even 6x a week, let alone the amazing food you and Damien prepare. We would love to be able to make more adventurous/delicious meals like you guys do. Any tips?

    1. I try to make one new recipe a week, and all the rest is stuff that’s either very easy (hot dogs, chicken nuggets) or something I’ve made so many times, it’s become easy. So that would be a great place to start!

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