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.

Saturday, November 27, 2021

Potato Latkes

Potato latkes were actually one of the first recipes I wrote about ten years ago when I started doing this column. Since then, I’ve tweaked a few things and if I do say so myself, they’re even better than they were all those latkes ago.

I still use russet potatoes, but no longer bother peeling them. And instead of the food processor, I grate everything by hand on a box grater…wearing goggles. I’ve changed up the quantities a bit as well, but otherwise, the ingredients are the same.

Coarsely grate a pound of potatoes and a large onion into a bowl. Add three tablespoons of flour, a half a teaspoon of baking powder, two teaspoons of kosher salt, half a teaspoon of black pepper, and a lightly stirred egg. Mix well, your hands work best.

Place a large heavy skillet on medium low heat with just enough vegetable oil to barely cover the bottom. When the oil is hot, take a quarter cup of the mixture with a slotted spoon and squeeze out as much of the liquid as you can using the palm of your hand. Tip the spoonful of mixture into the pan and flatten slightly with a spatula.  Repeat until your pan is full but not overcrowded.

Cook five to six minutes, flipping, rotating, and adjusting the heat to get them just right. When they’re golden brown on both sides, transfer to a paper bag and sprinkle with some more salt. Serve immediately, or keep them warm in the oven until you’re ready.

Monday, November 22, 2021

Quick and Easy Falafel

Thanksgiving eve can be a little stressful for the cooks of the house, so keep it light and tasty with some quick and easy falafel. The quantities below will yield seven or eight patties, and can be prepped earlier in the day on Wednesday.

Rinse, and drain a can of garbanzo beans. Then, combine a 1/3 of a cup each of parsley and cilantro in a food processor with a large chopped shallot, four chopped garlic cloves, a couple of tablespoons of sesame seeds, a teaspoon and a half of cumin, and a quarter teaspoon each of salt and pepper. Pulse until it forms a coarse spread.

Add the garbanzo beans and four tablespoons of flour to the mixture then pulse in spurts.  You don’t want it to get too smooth, you’re looking for more of a chunky paste. If it seems too runny, add some more flour. Transfer to a bowl, cover with saran, and refrigerate for at least a couple of hours.

To cook, form into two-to-three-inch patties and brown in a large frying pan over medium heat with just enough oil to cover the bottom. They don’t take more than a few minutes per side. Serve with some tzatziki, your favorite hot sauce, or to keep it real light with just a squeeze of lemon.

Monday, November 15, 2021

Shaved Brussel Sprout, Kale, and Pecorino Salad

I’m a big believer in a big fresh crunchy salad as part of our Thanksgiving meal. Don’t get me wrong, I love creamed spinach and green bean casserole, but it’s also nice to have something a little more refreshing at the table.

This one hits all the right texture and flavor buttons with a mix of Brussel Sprouts, lacinato kale, salty pecorino, sweet cranberries, and a citrus dressing. What makes it even more perfect for Thanksgiving is that it can be prepped hours ahead of time, won’t get soggy, and because it has dried cranberries, spares you from having to make cranberry sauce for the two people that actually eat it.

Thanksgiving morning, shave the Brussel Sprouts and devein and finely chop the lacinato…equal amounts of each. Combine and store in a plastic bag in the fridge.  You can also shave the pecorino and do the same.

The vinaigrette is simply some fresh lemon or orange juice with your best extra virgin olive oil, salt, and pepper. Shake well in a mason jar, then set aside.

A half an hour before you sit down, throw the greens and shaved cheese together in a large bowl with some dried cranberries, then dress, toss, and salt to taste.

Monday, November 8, 2021

Egg Kimchi Tacos

While I was savoring every bite of these kimchi egg tacos, I couldn’t help but think of one of my most trustworthy mantras, it doesn’t have to be difficult to be good.  A few quality ingredients and five minutes are all it takes sometimes.   

I always keep a pack of corn tortillas in the freezer, and have learned over the years that it pays to take the time to throw a wax paper divider or two between them so you don’t have to defrost the whole pack when you only want a couple.

Reheat the defrosted tortillas in the toaster oven at 300, or in a dry pan over a low flame on the stove.

When they’re soft, warm, and pliable, top them with a fried egg, salt, a pile of kimchi, and a squirt of Sriracha. A few chopped scallions or sliced avocado are nice too if you have them around.

So perfect…any time of day or night!

Monday, November 1, 2021

Squash, Kale, and Garbanzo Curry

Cold nights and curry go together like stacking wood and The Rolling Stones. What I especially love about this particular combination is the way the sweetness of the butternut squash perfectly balances the spice and heat of the curry paste. 

As far as curry pastes go, my favorite brand is Maesri, particularly the masaman…it’s also the most economical at $2 a can. They often have it at the East Warren Market, but if not, it’s always available at the Asian markets in Burlington and online. But any curry paste will work.

Add a cup of chicken stock and the curry paste to a large pot and bring to a boil. Immediately turn down the heat, stir in half a bunch of deveined and chopped kale and simmer for about twenty minutes.  

Skin and deseed a large butternut squash, cut into ¾” cubes, then add to the pot along with a can of coconut milk and a drained can of garbanzo beans. Continue to simmer, stirring occasionally, until the squash is tender. Salt to taste.

It makes a great meal on its own, over rice, or served with a piece of chicken or beef on top.

Monday, October 25, 2021

Eggplant and Red Pepper Pasta

There are two things that makes this pasta much less boring than it sounds, roasting the veggies, and the red pepper, caper, garlic puree.

Cut up a large eggplant and three red peppers into one-inch chunks, toss with some olive oil and salt, then roast on a cookie sheet for approximately forty minutes at 400.

Remove from the oven and pulse a third of the red pepper in a food processor with a couple splashes of extra virgin olive oil, two tablespoons of drained capers, and a clove or two of garlic until nearly smooth. You could also mash them together if you don’t have a food processor, or do, and just hate to clean it.

Cook a pound of pasta, drain, and immediately toss with the warm eggplant, red peppers, and red pepper puree. Chili flakes are optional.

Salt to taste and serve with grated parmesan.

Monday, October 18, 2021

Hash Browns

As far as comfort foods go, hash browns are way up there on my list. To start with, they’re just as amazing for breakfast as they are for dinner.  Can you say that about mac and cheese?  

And how about their adaptability? They’re incredibly perfect on their own, but if the situation calls for it, can easily embrace some garlic, jalapeno, melted cheese, bacon, fennel, kale…the list goes on and on. You can’t say that about beef stew, can you?

But it does take some patience to get them just right. The size of your potato cubes matters, no bigger than half an inch.  And par boiling the potatoes is necessary, just a few minutes in some simmering salted water. And whatever you do, don’t rush the browning, medium low heat for thirty minutes in a heavy frying pan.

For a pound of potatoes, sauté a large chopped onion for a minute with some oil, salt, and freshly ground black pepper. Add your drained potatoes along with some more salt and pepper and continue to cook. 

You want the potatoes to brown, but without burning the onion, so adjust the heat as necessary. And stir well every five minutes or so…very important! As you near the thirty-minute mark you should start seeing some perfection, now’s the time to salt and pepper to taste.

And it goes without saying, the more local the potato, the better they’ll taste. Last farmer’s market this weekend.

Wednesday, October 13, 2021

White Bean and Garlic Puree

As you’ve heard me preach many times before, it doesn’t necessarily take much to crank your dinner up a notch…and this bean and garlic puree isn’t just easy, but also super versatile. They’re just us good topped with a piece of chicken, beef, fish, or pork as they are with some crumbled feta, chili crunch, or sautéed veggies.

Empty a can of navy or cannellini beans into a strainer and rinse well with cold water. Peel and coarsely chop a clove of garlic and run for five seconds in a food processor with a quarter teaspoon each of kosher salt and black pepper.

Add the drained beans, turn on the processor, and slowly stream in about an eight of a cup of your best olive oil. Remove the lid and check the consistency; stream in more oil if you want it thinner.  Then just salt to taste.

Tuesday, October 5, 2021

Sweet and Sour Cabbage Soup

Soup season has most definitely started, and you can find most of the ingredients for this flavor busting cabbage soup at the farmer’s market.

For enough soup for six, cook a quarter pound of chopped bacon in a large soup pot over medium heat for about five minutes. Add a chopped onion and three chopped carrots and cook for another ten minutes, stirring occasionally.

Next in, a chopped medium cabbage, a tablespoon of caraway seeds, two tablespoons of light brown sugar, and a half a teaspoon of black pepper. Give that a good stir, cook for another ten minutes, then add a third of a cup of apple cider vinegar.

After five minutes, pour in a 28 ounce can of diced tomatoes, juice and all.  Stir, then add about 7 cups of chicken stock. Bring to a boil and reduce to a strong simmer and let it go for thirty minutes uncovered.

Finally, stir in a few squirts of ketchup, a quarter cup of chopped dill, and a large handful of raisins or craisins. To finish, simmer for another thirty minutes and salt to taste...when it comes to soups, sauces, and braises, I’m a big believer of waiting until the very end to salt. 

Monday, September 27, 2021

Roast Sweet Potatoes, Scallions, and Almonds


A single simple ingredient can be the difference between an ordinary and not so ordinary dish, and in this case, it’s toasted almonds.

Cut some sweet potatoes into one-inch chunks, toss with some olive oil, salt, and pepper, then roast at 400 for about thirty minutes.  When they’re barely fork tender, stir in some chopped scallions and roast for another ten minutes.

While that’s cooking, heat a large sauté pan over medium heat.  Once hot, cover the bottom of the pan with a handful of slivered or sliced almonds. Shake, flip, and stir until nicely toasted, about two minutes.  But keep an eye on them, there’s a short window between toasted and burnt.

Toss the potatoes, scallions, and almonds together in a large bowl then salt to taste.

Happy Fall!

Monday, September 20, 2021

Tahini Beans with Crispy Lentils

Summer is nearly over but the beans keep coming, and while this dish takes a bit of prep, it’s one of my new favorites. The cumin and honey spiced tahini alone would be enough to get excited about, and then add the crispy garlic and shallot lentils…wow!

Cut a pound of green beans into one-inch lengths then simmer in salted water for a couple of minutes. Immediately douse with cold water to cool, drain, then set aside.

Boil a third of a cup of beluga lentils until just tender, about 12 minutes. Run under cold water for a minute to cool, drain, then set aside.

In a large bowl whisk together a quarter cup each of tahini and extra virgin olive oil, the juice of one lemon, a tablespoon of honey, a teaspoon of ground cumin, and salt to taste. If necessary, stir in a tablespoon or two of water achieve a runny consistency.

Now you’re ready to start cooking. Toss the beans with some olive oil in a large pan over heavy heat. Once you start to see some searing, slide them into the bowl with the tahini and mix until coated well.

Turn the heat down to medium, add some more oil to the pan, then sauté a large sliced shallot and a few cloves of sliced garlic. After a minute, stir in the drained lentils, turn the heat up to medium-high and cook for another three to four minutes stirring often.

Spread the crispy lentils over the beans and serve.

Monday, September 13, 2021

Leek and Tomato Salad

This one is really about the blanched leeks, once prepped and stored in the fridge, I ended up eating them way more often than I would have. They were great for salads, omelets, enchiladas, on a bagel with cream cheese, or sautéed with some mushrooms and garlic on top of some grilled lamb. So if you’re going to go for it, prep three or four, they will last for days.

Another benefit of blanching, you don’t have to worry about cleaning them. Cut off the dark upper third of each leek and save for a soup or stew, then cut off the root end and discard. 

Cut the leeks down the middle the long way, then into 1/8 to ¼ inch slices. Once you’ve cut up all of your leeks, slide them into a pot of boiling salted water, turn down the heat and simmer for about two minutes. Remove immediately and plunge them into an ice bath. Drain and store.

And we can’t not mention that it’s still tomato season, the blanched leeks along with a lemon vinaigrette make for a delicately flavorful salad.