David Doesn't Bake

Baking is science and I don't like formulas, but cooking is art and anything goes...and the simpler the better. It's all about less time at the stove and more time at the table. With a forty year passion for food I'm excited to share what I do in the kitchen nearly every day.

Monday, October 26, 2020

Ginger Vegetable Stir Fry


If you don’t do a lot of stir frys you’re missing out on one of the easiest ways to whip off a last-minute meal.  And the key to a good stir fry is simple, good ingredients, especially when it comes to the ginger and garlic…always go with the fresh stuff.  

Garlic doesn’t take much to deal with, but until someone showed me how easy it was to peel ginger by scraping it with an upside-down teaspoon, I used to think it was kind of a hassle…what a life changing event that was.  Even more life changing, throw a cut up piece of unpeeled ginger root in your food processor, you won’t even notice the skin once it’s minced up.  So, no excuses, use the real deal, and use lots of it.

After prepping all your vegetables, heat some veggie oil over medium-high heat in a wok or large heavy pot.  For this cabbage, shitake mushroom, and scallion stir fry, I started by throwing the chopped cabbage in the wok first as it takes the longest to cook. 

After a couple of minutes, add the mushrooms, scallions, ginger, garlic, and some fresh chili pepper if you want a little heat.  I like the Fresno peppers myself.

Toss the mixture often for another four to six minutes, you don’t want the veggies to soften too much, then salt to taste.  At this point you can also add some sesame seeds, and, or, sesame oil for a bit more flavor. But it doesn’t need it, the ginger and garlic are all it takes.

Tuesday, October 20, 2020

Devil Butter


Holy Shmolly!  Put down that Catalina dressing, your wings deserve better…as do your grilled meats, eggs, roast and steamed vegetables, and a whole lot more.  A friend turned me onto this compound butter recipe in a cookbook I highly recommend, Six Seasons by Joshua McFadden.

You’ll need two sticks of room temperature butter. Now, two sticks might sound like a lot of butter, but trust me, I used one stick and regretted it after the first bite.

Start by draining a quarter cup of pickled banana peppers, pepperoncini, or jalapeno slices in a strainer.  Use your hand to squeeze out as much of the juices as you can then finely chop. 

With a fork or wooden spoon, mash the peppers into the softened butter along with a tablespoon each of red chile flakes, ground black pepper, smoked paprika, and Tobasco sauce, as well as a half a teaspoon of kosher salt. Once it’s well mixed, scrape it into a container and refrigerate until you’re ready to use it.

For these steamed turnips, I simply tossed them right out of the pan with a generous amount of the butter and served immediately.

Wednesday, October 7, 2020

Tomato Butter Puree

It’s time to face a very sad reality, this Saturday is the final farmer’s market of 2020.  Luckily, here in VT, we’re able to find a lot of local produce year-round at our Valley markets, however, what we aren’t going to see until next summer are tomatoes.  While they aren’t what they were a month ago, with some roasting and a little butter you can still create a pretty epic tomato memory to last the winter.

Preheat your oven to 400, then core and quarter about a pound of tomatoes.  In a large bowl, toss the tomatoes with a coarsely chopped onion, a splash or two of olive oil, salt, and pepper. Spread on a cookie sheet or oven proof dish and roast for approximately 30 minutes.

In a food processor, combine the cooked tomatoes and onions with a quarter cup of chicken stock and puree for half a minute.  Cut a couple of half inch slices of butter and with the food processor running, add one to the mixture.  After 10 seconds, add the second and puree until silky smooth.  For a thinner sauce, add some more chicken stock.  Salt and pepper to taste.

You’ll want to immediately eat it with a spoon, but you could also serve it with some roast cauliflower, broccoli, grilled chicken, or beef.

Wednesday, September 30, 2020

Seared Scallops with Potato Mint Hash


After last week’s heavy frost, one of the only edible things left in our yard is mint.  And I have to say, not only does it look good, but it was amazing in these hash browns with seared scallops. Keeping it simple is a rule to cook by!

Wash and cut a large potato into quarter inch cubes, then sauté it along with a chopped onion over medium heat.  Generously salt and pepper and continue to cook until the potatoes are golden and lightly crisped, about ten minutes.

When the potatoes are finished, turn the burner down as low as it will go, then stir in a finely chopped handful of mint and let sit.

Heat another small pan over high heat, then dust your scallops on both sides with salt and pepper.  Lightly oil the pan, and set the scallops in flat side down.  After a minute or so, flip and sear the other side.  Serve immediately over your hash browns.

The scallop, potato, mint combo was prefect, but no doubt some chicken, beef, or a couple of fried eggs on top would have been pretty good too.

Monday, September 28, 2020

Spiced Lamb Pitas


These grilled pitas are as good at room temperature the next day as they are hot out of the skillet. And tzatziki makes for a great dipping sauce too if you happen to have some Greek yogurt and cucumber around.

When it comes to spicing the lamb, you could keep it as simple as some minced onion and garlic, or go a more flavorful route with some cumin, coriander, oregano, harissa, paprika, or cinnamon.  Fresh mint or parsley work well with any of these options, and salt and pepper are a must whichever way you go.

After working your spices into a pound of ground lamb, check your flavors by cooking off a pinch of the mixture in a hot pan.  Once you get it where you want it, gently slice open four pita breads half way around then use your hand to spread a quarter of the mixture evenly around the bottom half of each pita. If it rips a bit, no worries, once cooked it will hold together.

Add a small splash of olive oil to a hot skillet, followed by the first filled pita. Cook for a minute or two per side, adding a little more oil as needed.  When it’s golden and crispy, set aside and start on the next one.

Monday, September 21, 2020

Brussel Sprout and Almond Salad

If you’ve been reading my column for a while you’ve probably figured out that I’m a pretty efficient, otherwise known as lazy, cook.  Less time at the stove, more time at the table.  This salad especially epitomizes my style, but when it comes to toasting the almonds there’s no way around it….it has to be done.

Place a medium sauté pan over medium low heat, once hot, spread a large handful of slivered almonds across the bottom.  No multi-tasking here, you have to stay close because there’s a fine line between toasted and burnt.  Stir them up often until they’re golden and smelling like toasted almonds, then immediately slide them out of the pan into your salad bowl.

Thinly slice five or six raw Brussel sprouts per person and toss with the almonds along with some extra virgin olive oil, fresh lemon juice, and salt and pepper to taste.  Depending on what you’re serving it with, or on top of, some nutritional yeast or shaved parmesan work nicely as well.

Monday, September 14, 2020

Cauliflower Cumin Soup

Whether we’re ready or not, soup season is here.  And this hugely satisfying cauliflower cumin is an easy way to get things started.

Coarsely chop a large onion and a whole head of cauliflower, greens and all, then set aside.  In a large soup pot, sauté the onion over medium heat in a little bit of oil or butter.  Once translucent, add a couple teaspoons of ground cumin and some ground black pepper then sauté for another minute.

Place the chopped cauliflower into the pot followed by enough chicken or vegetable stock to submerge everything by an inch, approximately five or six cups. And as you know by now, I highly recommend Better Than Bouillon condensed stock…the canned or boxed stocks don’t compare.

Simmer for half an hour or until the cauliflower is very tender.  Either puree until smooth with a stick blender, or let cool slightly and use a food processor.  If it’s turns out thicker or more cuminy than you care for, simply add some milk, cream, or more stock.  Salt and pepper to taste. 

Tuesday, September 8, 2020

Quick Pickled Beets and Onions


I know pickled beets don’t exactly sound like something that’s going to make you want to crank up the music and dance alone in your kitchen, but they may just surprise you. 

I love having them around for a last-minute side dish, a snack, or for jazzing up a salad.  And with a quick pickle, they can be ready to go in about an hour…and will last for several weeks in the fridge.

Peel and slice four medium beets.  Boil or steam until fork tender then drain and rinse with cold water. Next, slice and quarter a peeled sweet onion.

In a large bowl, combine a cup of cider or white vinegar with a cup of water, a quarter cup of sugar, and a tablespoon of salt. Stir until the sugar and salt dissolve completely, then add the beets and onions and refrigerate. You could also transfer to a large jar, but either way, make sure the beets and onions are completely submerged in the vinegar.

If you want to get more of a zip, try adding a large pinch of chili flakes, some grated ginger, or fresh dill to the mixture.

Monday, August 31, 2020

Ginger Lime Corn


I’m a huge fan of caramelizing your corn no matter how you’re going to serve it.  But, if you’re in a rush, this will work just fine with raw corn…either way, the more local the better.

To caramelize, rub the shucked corn with a little bit of olive oil and salt, grill it on the barbeque, then cut the kernels from the cob once it’s cooled.  Alternatively, cut the kernels from the cobs first, toss with some olive and salt, then either sauté in a heavy pan over medium high heat or roast at 450 for about 40 minutes.  Whichever way you choose, you’re looking for golden brown edges on your kernels.

In a large bowl, for every two ears of corn you used, combine a tablespoon of minced ginger, a teaspoon of tahini, the juice from one lime, and a generous pour of olive oil.  Whisk until smooth.

Add the corn kernels, two chopped scallions, and salt and pepper to taste. 

Monday, August 24, 2020

Tomato Mozzarella Bruschetta

Olive oil-soaked grilled baguette slices are the secret to making local August tomatoes, bail, and mozzarella even better than a maskless date night…well, maybe not that good, but pretty darn good. 

On a cutting board that will allow you to preserve all the juices, cut the tomatoes and mozzarella into quarter inch chunks. Combine all in a large bowl with lots of chopped basil, your best extra virgin olive oil, and salt to taste. A splash of balsamic vinegar is nice too. 

Place a heavy frying pan over medium heat then cut your baguette into quarter inch slices. Add a generous amount of olive oil to the hot pan along with a light dusting of kosher salt. Place the bread in the pan and brown on both sides, add some more oil if necessary. You’re looking for oil-soaked bread, golden brown, not charred. 

Serve with small plates and lots of napkins, and enjoy one of the best things about August.

Monday, August 17, 2020

Sweet and Spicy Marinade


Add caption
I’ve used this marinade several times for shrimp and boneless chicken and been totally wowed by it…it’s the perfect balance of sweet and spicy. Not only that, it doesn’t have a lot of ingredients, it comes together quickly, and you only need fifteen to thirty minutes of marinating time.

For a pound of shrimp or chicken, coarsely chop three Fresno chiles and six garlic cloves then combine them in the food processor with an 1/8 of a cup of sugar, 2 tablespoons of fish sauce, a teaspoon of kosher salt, and about 3 tablespoons of vegetable oil. Run until smooth, then toss in a glass bowl with the peeled shrimp or chicken.  Cover and refrigerate. 

When you’re ready for dinner, heat a little bit of vegetable oil over high heat in a heavy pan.  When it starts to smoke, add the shrimp or chicken making sure to leave any excess marinade in the bowl. I also recommend stirring in a bunch of chopped basil after everything is cooked through and you’ve removed the pan from the heat.

Monday, August 10, 2020

Tuna and Caramelized Fennel Pasta

Hard to go wrong with caramelized fennel.

Generously salt and pepper a pound of tuna and broil, grill, or sauté on medium heat until cooked to your liking then set aside. If you prefer it on the rarer side, take into account it will cook more when you toss it with the hot pasta.

Thinly slice a medium onion and a bulb of fennel, saving any fronds you may have had on your fennel bulb. Sauté in olive oil with a half teaspoon each of sugar and salt over medium heat. Stir and toss often until everything is evenly browned and caramelized, should take about ten to fifteen minutes.

While the pasta is boiling, add a half a teaspoon of lemon zest, three tablespoons of capers, the juice from one lemon, and a half a cup of clam or fish stock to the fennel and onions and let simmer over low heat.   

Drain your al dente pasta, then toss in a big bowl with the tuna, fennel onion mixture, a handful of chopped parsley, and any leftover finely chopped fennel fronds.  Salt and pepper to taste.