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.

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

American Chop Suey

What better way to start the new year than with one of the ultimate comfort foods, American Chop Suey. Preheat your oven to 350 then boil a pound of elbow noodles for a couple of minutes less time than it says on the box for al dente. Remove and immediately rinse the noodles with cold water and drain well.

Sauté a chopped onion, a green pepper, and some sliced mushrooms for five minutes before adding a quarter teaspoon of red pepper flakes, several cloves of minced garlic, and a pound of hamburger. Once the meat is cooked through add a jar of your favorite marinara, simmer for five minutes then salt and pepper to taste.

In a large bowl combine the saucy vegetables, noodles, and two cups of shredded mozzarella. Transfer to a baking dish then cover the top with grated parmesan…more is better. Bake uncovered for 35 to 45 minutes or until the top is slightly brown and crusty. Happy 2015!

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Salmon Tartare

As easy is Salmon Tartare is to prepare it just seems too special to have it on just any old day, but New Year’s Eve isn’t just any old day. Of course your tartare is only going to be as good as your salmon so splurge on the best salmon available.

Start by cutting your skinless salmon into quarter inch chunks, it’s a lot easier to cut if you throw it in the freezer for twenty minutes first. I think a little bit of lime juice, minced shallot, diced cucumber, kosher salt, black pepper, and your best extra virgin olive oil are essential but after that what you toss it with is all about personal preference; Options include cilantro, ginger, jalapeno, sesame oil or lime zest.

For a special presentation form the tartare using a clean empty tuna can with the lids cut off and plate individually with homemade tortilla or potato chips. Cheers!

Friday, December 19, 2014

Warm Squash, Red Onion, and Apple Salad

Anyone who has cooked a holiday dinner knows it takes hours to plan, shop, and cook, and on average it’s over in about 45 minutes…unless of course it’s prolonged by a heated family argument. For Thanksgiving this year I served five smaller courses over seven hours with plenty of time in between for football, board games, walks, naps, and heated arguments…not sure we’ll ever go back to the monster feast again. But whether you stay traditional or break it up into courses this squash, onion, and apple salad is a fantastic seasonal combination.

Preheat your oven to 450 then seed and slice your delicata or acorn squash into quarter inch pieces. Peel and sixteenth an equal amount of red onion halves trying to leave as much of the stem ends intact so your layers stay together. Toss both with a little bit of extra virgin olive oil and salt and pepper and roast in a single layer on parchment lined cookie sheets for about 25 minutes, flip and roast for another 20.

To serve toss the squash with some thinly sliced apple, chopped mint, and a lemon vinaigrette before topping with Vermont's own crumbled Bayley Hazen Blue cheese. Happy Merry!

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Sweet Potato Latkes with Corn and Scallions

I know I ask this every December, but why don’t I make latkes all year long? They’re so good on their own, as a side dish, or with an egg on top and there are so many ways to go with them including this sweet potato version with corn and scallions.

It doesn’t take much vegetable oil, just enough to barely cover the bottom of your frying pan. While that’s getting hot coarsely grate a couple of sweet potatoes on a box grater then mix well in a large bowl with a box of corn, three chopped scallions, two lightly scrambled eggs, a half cup of flour, a tablespoon of salt, and a teaspoon of pepper.

I have found the best technique is to fill a large slotted spoon with a small amount of the mixture and squeeze out any excess liquid by pressing it into the spoon with your hand. Then simply turn out into the hot oil, flatten with a spatula, and brown for a few minutes on each side. Some curried sour cream would be a perfect accompaniment. Let the holidays begin….

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Edamame with Feta and Grape Tomatoes

Whether you spent way too much time cooking, eating, or cleaning up last week this refreshing veggie side dish totally satisfies with the most minimal of effort. You can find the shelled edamame in the frozen food section of the market.

Defrost and bring your edamame to room temperature by leaving out for a few hours or soaking the package in a bowl of warm water. Just before you’re ready to serve toss them in bowl with crumbled feta, tomatoes, scallions, the juice of half a lemon, extra virgin olive oil, and salt and pepper to taste.

That’s it! I know, way too easy for such a great little dish right?

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Maple-Whipped Sweet Potatoes

You have enough to think about on Thanksgiving and sweet potatoes shouldn't be one of them. Adapted from, An American Place, this simple preparation demonstrates how good they can be with just a bit of butter, sour cream, and maple syrup.
Bake four large sweet potatoes until soft before scooping the pulp into a bowl along with a tablespoon of melted butter and two tablespoons each of sour cream and maple syrup. Mash and beat until smooth, salt and pepper to taste, then transfer to a baking dish for reheating before serving.
This dish can be prepared a day ahead of time as well so you have more time to make sure your green beans are crisp and your Turkey isn’t overcooked. And depending on your tastes you could easily jazz things up with some fresh ginger, cardamom, or hot sauce. Happy Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Blackened Cod

With Thanksgiving a week away I’m thinking light and easy, and blackened cod fits the bill on both of those counts. If you don’t have a cast iron skillet your heaviest frying pan will do, regardless, the key is to get it real hot.

While you’re heating your pan combine enough of the following spices in a small bowl to completely cover your filets: paprika, granulated onion, granulated garlic, black pepper, cayenne pepper, chipotle or regular chili powder, oregano, thyme, and salt. No need to worry about exact quantities but use less oregano and thyme than the other spices and just a little bit of salt.

Lightly salt both sides of the fish before covering both sides with your spice mixture then fry in a couple tablespoons of butter and olive oil. Four minutes per side should be enough to get them good and black as well as cooked through. Serve with lemon.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Kimchi Rice

If you don't eat lots of kimchi you should, not only does it make everything taste special but it's also really good for you. For this dish start by making half a cup of rice and once fully cooked set aside to cool, last night’s rice would be even better. Next, splash some oil into a large frying pan then sauté a sliced shallot and some minced garlic until translucent before adding a third to a half bottle of kimchi. 

Continue to sauté over medium heat until everything begins to brown. Ten minutes before you’re ready to serve add the rice to the hot pan and stir everything together with a little bit of soy sauce and sriracha to taste. I recommend serving with a piece of red good!

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Covered Eggs

It’s a great time of year for brunch and there’s never a hesitation about my eggs when I go out, it’s always over easy. But they don’t always work out for me at home, turning out four pairs of over easy eggs simultaneously just isn’t that easy with just two pans, and even if it’s just me I still end up breaking a yolk half the time. I asked a professional breakfast cook about it and she said it’s all about having the right pans in perfect condition.

Since that’s not a reality I’ve resorted to the next best thing, covering my eggs. Add a little bit of oil or butter to a Teflon pan and heat on medium for a couple of minutes. Break two eggs into a small bowl then gently slide them into the pan and immediately cover with a tight fitting lid. Within a few minutes your eggs will be perfect, and depending on the size of your pan you can cook two or three pairs of eggs all at once. No need to ruin your Sunday morning with a broken yolk any longer.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Curried Squash Soup

It’s a great night to go orange and your local farm stands still has a lot of squash to choose from for this tasty curry soup. Heat a few tablespoons of vegetable oil in a large soup pot before adding two peeled and chopped squash, a chopped onion, and some freshly ground black pepper.

After ten minutes add about six cups of chicken stock or enough to cover your squash, as well as a couple of heaping teaspoons of Thai red curry paste. Bring to a boil, add a can of coconut milk and simmer for at least 30 minutes. Add salt and Sriracha to taste in addition to more curry paste if needed. Puree with a stick blender or food processor, if it’s too thick you can always thin it out with some more chicken stock. Serve topped with crispy spiders.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Couscous with Pistachios and Mint

It doesn't get any easier than couscous and the last of the mint from the garden along with some nearly stale pistachios made for the perfect last minute side dish.

The hardest thing about cooking couscous is measuring; it’s a cup and a half of water for each cup of couscous. Add the water and a tablespoon of butter or oil to a saucepan and bring to a boil. Then remove from the heat, stir in the couscous along with a half a teaspoon of salt, cover, and let sit for at least ten minutes. That’s it.

At this point I stirred in a quarter cup of chopped pistachios, mint, and the juice of half a lime. However the possibilities are endless; herbs, dates, apricots, raisins, olives, pine nuts, fennel, and lemon come immediately to mind. And probably lots more possibilities lingering in the back corners of your fridge or pantry…you just need to have the couscous on hand.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Italian Sausage with Peppers and Onions

Here’s a great one for the world series regardless of your team, Italian sausage with peppers and onions. Heat up a bit of olive oil in a large non-stick pan while slicing half an onion and green pepper for each sausage you’ll be making. Sauté over medium heat with salt, black pepper, and a pinch of chili flakes for at least thirty minutes while stirring frequently. Add a couple of minced garlic cloves ten minutes before serving.

In the end your onions and peppers should be very soft and brown around the edges. There are no shortcuts, better to start early and leave them on a low heat to ensure perfection. Grill or fry your sausages until cooked through and serve. Bun is optional…cold beer is not.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Caramelized Cauliflower Steaks

This preparation is so easy and adaptable it has instantly become part of my veggie repertoire. From a head of cauliflower cut away the green outer leaves and cut into half inch slices, don’t worry if some of the end pieces break apart. Place in a large straight sided pan and add a quarter inch of water, a tablespoon of sugar, a teaspoon of cumin powder, three tablespoons of butter or olive oil, the juice from half a lemon, and salt and pepper to taste.

Cook over high heat for about fifteen minutes or until the water evaporates, once the cauliflower is browned flip and turn the heat down to medium low and brown the other side. Instead of cumin powder you could substitute smoked paprika, garlic powder, chili flakes, ground ginger, or five spice powder depending on what else you’re cooking. You could even top it with grated parmesan cheese. Have fun with it!

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Maple Glazed Root Vegetables

There are lots of root vegetables at the farmer’s market these days and this preparation adapted from a David Chang recipe is a fantastic combination of salt and sweet. While you’re preheating your oven to 375 cut approximately two pounds combined of parsnips, carrots, and potatoes into ¾ inch chunks. Add them to some hot oil in a large ovenproof skillet and cook over moderately high heat until lightly browned, about 8 minutes. 

Transfer the skillet to the oven and roast until the vegetables are tender, about 20 minutes. Return them to the stove top and add a ¼ cup each of soy sauce and maple syrup and leave on medium heat until the sauce becomes syrupy, approximately ten minutes. Before serving stir in a couple of chopped scallions, a few drops of sesame oil, and a tablespoon of sesame seeds.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Stewed Squid and Potatoes

For me cooking dinner is a lot like golf, most shots are okay but every once in a while you really nail one…and I hit the sweet spot with this squid stew. In a large pot sauté a chopped shallot in some olive oil until translucent before adding the zest of a quarter of a lemon, a quarter teaspoon of dried chili flakes, and at least three minced garlic cloves.

While that’s cooking cube six small red potatoes, finely chop a half a bunch of parsley, and open a 28 oz. can of chopped tomatoes. Next, slice a pound of squid into half inch pieces and add to the pot followed by the potatoes, tomatoes, and a bottle of clam juice then simmer for 45 minutes. Add the parsley fifteen minutes before serving along with a great piece of bread.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Chicken Parmesan

Chicken Parmesan is such a satisfying combination of flavors and textures, and this time of year it provides a great excuse to turn on your oven. Preheat your oven to 400 while heating about an 1/8 of an inch of olive oil in a large frying pan. Next, pound your boneless chicken breasts or tenders between a couple of sheets of saran to a ¼ inch thickness then liberally salt and pepper.

For the breading add a cup of flour, three lightly beaten eggs with a splash of milk, and two cups of breadcrumbs or panko to three separate bowls. When your oil is hot individually dredge each piece of chicken in the flour, egg and breadcrumb mixtures in that order and fry on each side until golden, about three or four minutes. Lay them all out in a large baking dish and top with tomato sauce and sliced mozzarella and bake at 350 for fifteen minutes. Serve with pasta, in this case I did an orzo with basil pesto.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Bread with Tomatoes

If it’s this easy to achieve food bliss why try any harder? But if you’re going to get there you can’t skimp on the ingredients: Local tomatoes, local artisan bread, extra virgin olive oil, garlic, and flaky Maldon salt.

It’s important not to slice your bread too thick, right around a 1/4 inch, then toast on medium. Your tomatoes should be sliced even thinner, about an 1/8th of an inch. Once out of the toaster drizzle your bread with olive oil then cut a garlic clove in half and rub each slice with the exposed side of the clove…like an eraser on a chalk board.

After that simply lay on your sliced tomatoes, squish them gently into the bread with the flat side of a chef’s knife, and sprinkle liberally with flaky salt. Chew slowly, they’re only going to be available for a couple more weeks.

Friday, September 5, 2014

Charred Eggplant Dip

This is one of the best ways I’ve found to prepare eggplants for a dip or side veggie. I adapted it from a recipe on one of my favorite foodie web sites, Smitten Kitchen.

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees. Then prick two medium sized eggplants with a fork and char by rotating over a gas flame or under your broiler until there’s no purple visible. Once they’re cool enough to handle take off the stem, cut lengthwise, and place cut side down on a lightly oiled baking sheet. Roast for 35 minutes then let cool to room temperature before scraping the flesh from the skin and chopping coarsely.

In a bowl whisk until smooth two finely mince garlic cloves, a handful of chopped parsley, the juice of one lemon, three tablespoons of tahini, a couple tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil and a pinch each of cayenne and ground cumin. Combine with the chopped eggplant, salt to taste, and serve with toasted pita.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Zesty Zucchini and Pasta

Wondering what to do with all those zucchinis? Here’s a zesty way to use four of them. Finely chop a red onion and sauté over medium heat with some extra virgin olive oil. While that’s cooking mince five cloves of garlic then on the coarse side of a box grater shred four cucumber sized zucchinis.

Add the garlic to the pot with the onion along with a can of anchovies and a tablespoon of capers. Once the anchovies have dissolved stir in your shredded zucchini along with some black pepper.

What’s going to make this sauce great is to let the zucchini cook down and sporadically scrape the bottom of the pot with a spatula to work the caramelized bits into the sauce. Let it go for about fifteen minutes but make sure the heat isn’t so high that you burn it. Before serving over pasta add an eighth of a cup of your best olive oil and salt to taste…alongside a tomato salad. It is August after all.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Quinoa Tabouli

There’s no better time of year to make tabouli and while it’s traditionally made with barley, quinoa is both quicker and lighter for a summer meal. Start by cooking a cup of quinoa in 1 ¼ cups of water with a bit of salt in a covered saucepan, after ten minutes remove from the heat and leave covered.

While your quinoa rests mince a garlic clove and combine with the juice of half a lemon in a small bowl. After that, fluff up your quinoa with a fork and place it in a large bowl to cool. Now it’s all about chopping. Into a separate large bowl chop up a couple medium tomatoes, a large cucumber, a full bunch of parsley, a handful of mint, and half a red onion. I had some green beans around so I chopped those up and threw them in as well.

When you’re ready to serve combine all of your chopped veggies and herbs with the cooled quinoa then toss with the lemon juice, half a cup of extra virgin olive oil, and salt and pepper to taste. This is the bounty of summer at its best.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Steak with Shallots and Garlic

Next time you throw a steak on the barbecue take a few minutes extra to make it into a restaurant worthy meal with some shallots, garlic, and butter. Fifteen minutes before you start grilling your steak peel, halve, and cut six shallots into 1/8 inch slices and sauté with some extra virgin olive oil over medium heat. Give them a stir every few minutes until they’re translucent and just starting to brown.

At this point turn the heat to low and add a couple of minced garlic cloves and a ¼ inch piece of butter…or two.  It will be ready to go once the butter has melted but if you're not going to serve it immediately turn the heat down to simmer so you don’t brown it. Onions of any kind would substitute nicely but shallots really stand up to the meat.

Friday, August 8, 2014

Scallop Carpaccio with Lemon Chive Oil

This refreshing summer appetizer is a special treat and brings the taste of the ocean to your table. The key is starting with the freshest and largest sea scallops you can find and a sharp knife, and as long as they’re fairly large you only need to buy one per person.

Before you begin put your plates in the fridge to chill, one for each person. Next, gently heat some extra virgin olive oil in a small pot and add a couple tablespoons of lemon zest and some minced chives. Immediately remove from the heat and let sit for at least an hour or even overnight.

To serve, slice each scallop as thinly as possible and lay the slices out on your chilled plates making sure they barely overlap. Then simply spoon enough of your infused oil mixture over the top to coat each slice and top with a generous sprinkle of coarse salt.

Use any leftover oil for steamed veggies or a salad dressing.

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Green Beans with Feta and Olives

The green beans are here, the green beans are here, and this combination with feta and Kalamata olives is great served warm or at room temperature. Start by coarsely chopping a half a cup of pitted Kalamata olives while your steamer or water for blanching is heating up.

Next, snap the stems off of your beans and steam for five minutes or blanch for one and immediately drain and combine with the chopped olives, some crumbled feta, and a little bit of extra virgin olive oil and coarse salt. That’s it, when the local vegetables are this good less is best.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Red Wine Vinaigrette

Mason jars aren’t only for canning and Bloody Mary’s, they also make the perfect gadget for making and storing salad dressings. And this one like most vinaigrettes will keep for weeks in the fridge, even with a bit of red wine.

To your mason jar add a quarter cup of extra virgin olive oil, a couple tablespoons of both red wine vinegar and Dijon mustard, two teaspoons of red wine, a pinch of sugar, and salt and pepper to taste. Screw on the lid and shake vigorously for about ten seconds or until the dressing looks opaque. It will pretty much taste great on any salad including this endive, corn, cucumber, and scallion combination.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Macerated Strawberries

If you think strawberries are incredible as is you should try macerating them…wow! Sounds technical but it couldn’t be easier, although you do have to plan ahead as they should sit for at least an hour. 

In a large bowl quarter and toss a quart of strawberries with a teaspoon of sugar and a quarter cup of Limoncello, Rum, Vodka, or tequila. If kids are involved you may want to opt for a white Balsamic vinegar. That’s it...just them sit at room temperature until you’re ready to serve.

But don’t stop there, top them with a scoop of lemon sorbet and crumbled Lazzaroni Amaretti cookies. The combinations of sweet and sour, warm and cold, soft and crunchy will definitely make this one of your go to summer desserts.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Pimento Cheese Dip

July 4th brings out the best and worst in me food-wise, but no matter how you see it this classic dip from the South is undeniably satisfying….especially on a Ritz. In a large bowl stir together an 8 ounce bag each of shredded sharp white and sharp orange cheddar, half a cup of mayonnaise, 2 cups of finely chopped roasted peppers(jarred is fine), half a teaspoon of celery seeds, a splash of Tabasco sauce, and salt to taste. If there’s any left on July 5th it makes for an awesome grilled cheese and bacon sandwich. Happy 4th!

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Thai Beef Salad

This is a great summer salad whether you’re grilling or using last night’s leftovers. For the dressing stir together the juice of two limes, a couple tablespoons of vegetable oil, a teaspoon each of soy sauce, fish sauce, sesame oil, rice wine vinegar, Sriracha, and half a teaspoon of sugar. Grill and thinly slice a half pound of flank steak and let rest in your salad bowl with half of your dressing. 

To serve add some chopped romaine, minced red onion or scallion, half a peeled and seeded cucumber, and a half cup of chopped mint, then simply toss with the remainder of the dressing. A sprinkle of sesame seeds are nice too if you happen to have them in the cupboard.

Friday, June 20, 2014

Parmesan Tater Tots

This is a great one now that the kids are out of school and you’ll enjoy them as much as they will. Start by piercing and roasting 1 1/2 pounds of red potatoes for approximately 45 minutes at 400, throw in a few unpeeled garlic cloves ten minutes before they’re done. Once fork tender transfer the potatoes immediately to an ice bath to cool rapidly while you peel and mash the softened garlic. Next, grate the unpeeled potatoes coarsely with a box grater and combine with the mashed garlic, a teaspoon of kosher salt, and half a cup of grated Parmesan.

With about a teaspoon of the potato mixture form into cylinders about an inch long and place on a generously olive oiled baking sheet until all the tots are made then bake for 40 minutes turning once halfway through. I highly recommend doubling up on this one, they disappeared way too quickly.

Monday, June 16, 2014

Octopus and White Beans with an Arugula Puree

Octopus is one of those things that until you try it you won’t believe how good it can be. Having only ever had it in restaurants I wasn't sure exactly how to attack it but as our local fish market had already cleaned and poached it all it really took was ten minutes on the grill.

While you’re warming up the grill puree two cloves of garlic, a quarter cup of extra virgin olive oil, kosher salt, and two heaping handfuls of arugula in a Cuisinart or blender until it’s a smooth runny consistency. Drain and rinse a can of white beans and combine with the puree.

For grilling halve your octopus making sure to remove the small mouth area, sprinkle with salt, pepper, or smoked paprika, and grill for about five minutes per side or until firm. Then simply cut into small pieces and toss with your bean mixture and serve. If you prefer to sauté I would cut it into pieces first, and if arugula isn't your thing then extra virgin olive oil, kosher salt, and lemon juice would do just fine.

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Grilled Vegetables

Grilling season has arrived, time to clean off the barbeque and stock up on charcoal or propane. And whether its steaks, fish, or chicken you might as well throw on some veggies if you’re going to be grilling anyway. Onions, zucchinis, and red peppers are a great combination and all it takes is tossing them with a little bit of extra virgin olive oil, salt, and pepper before placing them over the heat.

I find that slicing them on the thicker side helps to keep them from falling apart and a pair of long tongs makes for easy flipping. It’s also best to grill them before your meat and set them to the side so you don’t have to worry about managing different temps and the centers can continue to cook away from the direct heat. A drizzle of your best olive oil before serving isn’t such a bad idea either.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Stove Top Chicken Cacciatore

For this stove top version of Chicken Cacciatore cut your boneless chicken breasts in half and pound to a quarter inch thick before salting and browning each side for a few minutes in a large skillet then set aside. In the same pan sauté a chopped onion for approximately five minutes then add two thinly sliced green peppers and sauté for another ten to fifteen.  When they’re soft and starting to brown around the edges throw in three to five chopped garlic cloves and a half a teaspoon of ground black pepper. 

 Next, turn down the heat and add a half bottle of your favorite marinara and half a cup of chicken stock. Ten minutes before serving slide the chicken pieces into the heated sauce, simmer, salt to taste, and serve over egg noodles, rice, or polenta.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Tossed Salmon, Edamame, Fennel, and Olives

This is an amazingly perfect dish for a summer night.. Heat a non-stick frying pan on medium high for several minutes before salt and peppering a couple of salmon filets and setting them in skin side up for approximately five minutes. Then flip and cook for another five.

Meanwhile, combine in a small bowl the juice of half an orange, a splash of rice wine or white vinegar, some extra virgin olive oil and salt and pepper to taste. Chili flakes are optional but recommended. Then in a large bowl add a thinly sliced fennel bulb, a bag of shelled edamame, a dozen chopped Kalamata olives, a scallion, and a generous handful of either basil or mint.

By this time your salmon should be cooked through. With a spatula place the filets on a side plate being careful to leave the salmon skins in the hot pan. Having removed the filets flip the skins and cook for another minute, they should be crispy but not burnt. To serve break up your salmon and along with the dressing add and toss with the other ingredients, then sprinkle your finely chopped crispy salmon skin over the top. Japanese Bacos…trust me, this is a good one.

Monday, May 19, 2014

Asian Chicken Salad

So great to see those chives in the garden this time of year…perfect for an Asian chicken salad. If you don’t have any chicken leftovers it’s easy enough to poach a couple of breasts, simply cover with water and simmer for ten minutes then turn off the heat and let them sit for another fifteen before cooling and dicing.

In a small bowl stir together until smooth a tablespoon of peanut butter, a tablespoon of rice wine vinegar, a tablespoon of soy sauce, and two tablespoons of mayonnaise. Hot sauce is optional. In a larger bowl add the chicken, a generous handful of chopped chives, a chopped carrot, a chopped stalk of celery, and a half cup of finely chopped salted peanuts. Before serving pour in the mayonnaise mixture, stir together, then salt and pepper to taste. Crunch away.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Carrot Cilantro Lime Salad

I think carrots are often taken for granted, relegated to coleslaw, soups, and stews. But as some of you probably know they can be pretty satisfying as the main ingredient, and not only do they last for a couple of weeks in the fridge but they’re super easy to prepare. Take for example roasted carrots and garlic, simply wash, cut, toss with oil and salt and throw in the oven at 350. Add your chopped garlic after thirty minutes and serve after forty…what could be easier?
But with the warmer temps and the perennials popping a cold carrot salad seems more of the way to go these days, and this simple one with lime juice and cilantro is especially refreshing. Julienne your carrots in a mandolin, shred on the coarse side of a box grater, or cut by hand. Sixteenth inch slices are best. Toss with fresh lime juice, chopped cilantro, and coarse salt and pepper to taste. So crunchy and so tasty.

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Parmesan Encrusted Cod

Parmesan with anything is good and cod is no exception, nether are tilapia, pollock or haddock which would all be great substitutes.
Start with three shallow bowls, the first one with a cup of flour, the next with three lightly scrambled eggs, and the third with a cup of panko and half a cup of grated parmesan. Pour enough oil into a large frying pan to nearly cover the bottom and heat on medium until hot but not smoking.
Cut your fillets into four inch pieces and season both sides with salt and pepper before dusting with flour, dipping in the egg, and coating with the panko cheese mixture. They should sizzle when you place them in the oil, and depending on the thickness will only take three to four minutes per side. If you’re frying more than one batch heat up your oven to keep the earlier batches hot while you finish the rest.
Serve with some potatoes and lemon, that’s it.

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Pasta with Ground Lamb and Mustard Greens

I recently toured Green Mountain Harvest Hydroponics here in Waitsfield, a year-round greenhouse operation owned by Dave Hartshorn and John and Ted Farr. I was totally impressed by the operation that turns out lettuce, kale, basil as well as other assorted greens year round. I was excited to find mustard greens as they’re one of my favorites to make with lamb and you don’t see them around much this time of year.
While my pasta was boiling I sautéed a chopped shallot and two garlic cloves for a few minutes in some extra virgin olive oil before adding a pound of ground lamb. Once the lamb was cooked through and my pasta was two minutes from being done I dropped the mustard greens into the pot with the pasta. After draining the noodles and greens together I tossed them with the lamb mixture then added a generous amount of grated pecorino and salt and pepper to taste.
Local greens year round in in the Valley just keeps getting better.

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Maple "Baked" Beans

We don’t always have five hours to make traditional Baked Beans but this thirty minute stove top version is perfect for the arrival of both sugaring and BBQ season in Vermont.

In a small pot sauté a finely chopped shallot and two cloves garlic until translucent before stirring in a quarter teaspoon of chili pepper flakes (chipotle pepper flakes if you have them).

Drain and add two 15 oz. cans of pinto beans and a quarter cup of both ketchup and maple syrup.

Then it’s just a matter of simmering over low heat until it reduces to your preferred consistency, salt and pepper to taste before serving.

For an even richer flavor start with two strips of smoked bacon cut into half inch pieces, fry until nearly crispy, then add your shallot and garlic.

Either way you’ll wonder why you don’t make them more often...these aren’t your typical canned beans.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Chicken Patties

Whether you serve them with eggs or between a bun a chicken patty is a nice way to change things up a little. 

Pour a half a cup of milk into a cup of panko or bread crumbs and let sit. 

Then, in your Cuisinart pulse a couple of garlic cloves, half a bunch of scallions, kosher salt, pepper, a teaspoon of spice such as Lawry’s or Old Bay, and a couple squirts of your favorite hot sauce. Cut up a pound of chicken into one inch chunks, it’s best to use all thighs or at least a 2 to 1 mixture of thighs to breast meat, then pulse them together with your garlic scallion spice mixture until coarse. Scrape your chicken mixture into a bowl and stir together with a lightly scrambled egg and your soaked bread crumbs. 

Before making the patties I like to taste the mixture by placing a small spoonful into a hot pan until cooked through. Add more salt or spice if necessary, form your patties, and cook on the stove top or BBQ.

You can easily change these up to suit your mood by substituting Indian, Mexican, or Asian spices instead of the Lowry’s or Old Bay.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Ricotta Gnocchi

These are the lightest fluffiest and easiest gnocchi I’ve ever made, so if you’ve never made gnocchi I implore you to give them a try.  They may change your life…or at the very least, fill you up.  In a large bowl stir together to form a wet dough:  a cup and a quarter of flour, two cups of ricotta(Maplebrook Farm will make them taste best), two lightly scrambled eggs, a cup of grated parmesan, and a quarter teaspoon each of salt and pepper.  On a lightly floured surface split the dough ball in two and roll each half into one inch thick ropes then cut each rope into one inch nuggets.  Spread the nuggets on a parchment lined baking sheet while you bring a pot of salted water to a boil and melt three tablespoons of butter in large pan.  Working in batches lightly boil the gnocchi for four minutes, drain, then brown in the butter over medium heat.  I served them with a mint pea puree but they would have been great with a red sauce, rosemary butter, or pretty much anything.  I’ll never rice another potato to make gnocchi again.

Thursday, March 27, 2014


It’s so satisfying to successfully transform unappetizing leftovers into a great meal, and enchiladas are a great way to do it.  Whether its veggies, steak, chicken, burger, or rice I start by sautéing a chopped onion with some garlic, cilantro, jalapeno, salt, pepper, and chili powder before adding a drained can of black beans and cooking on low heat for five minutes.  Preheat your oven to 350 then cover the bottom of a baking dish with some enchilada sauce right out of the can to keep your corn tortillas from sticking.  One by one fill each tortilla with your chopped leftovers along with a spoonful of your black bean mixture, roll, and place in the baking dish seam side down.  When you’ve filled them all cover with the remaining enchilada sauce, a generous heaping of shredded cheese, and bake uncovered for thirty minutes.  They make great leftover leftovers as well.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Pancetta and Pea Risotto

It’s still comfort food weather and there’s nothing like a bit of parmesan with your bacon, or pancetta.  If you don’t happen to have some homemade chicken stock in the freezer (which I don’t) I recommend Better Than Bouillon, either way warm about three cups in a small pot.  Add approximately a third of a pound of diced bacon or pancetta to a large sauté pan, brown, pour off half of the accumulated fat, then add a minced shallot and a couple of cloves of garlic.  After a minute stir in a cup of risotto and toss to coat.  This would be the time to add a cup of white wine if you happen to have one open but it’s not necessary, but if you do continue to cook on medium low heat until most of the wine has been absorbed.  Add a half cup of stock to the rice, stir, wait until it’s nearly absorbed, then repeat. After forty minutes or so the rice should be firm but not crunchy, stir in a cup of defrosted sweet peas…and lots of grated parmesan.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Fried Artichoke Hearts

The Cabin Fever has set in, not knowing where else to turn I wandered the frozen food aisle at the market looking for an escape.  Artichoke hearts, how could I have not noticed these before?  After defrosting them in a plastic bag submerged in warm water I threw them into a frying pan on medium heat with enough extra virgin olive oil to coat the bottom.  I’ve never been a big a fan of the soggy canned artichoke hearts but these frozen ones crisped up beautifully tasting very much like a fresh artichoke.  Towards the end I added a minced garlic clove, a pinch of chili flakes, and a squeeze of lemon and savored them one by one.  They would have been nice in a pasta dish, salad, or served with fish or chicken but I just couldn’t wait.  The next day I bought two more boxes to keep in the freezer for when I again need a reminder of warmer days…I don’t think they’ll be in there for long.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Roast Monkfish with Fennel and Tomatoes

Monkfish has a consistency similar to lobster and is perfect for roasting.  Begin by cutting your fillets into four inch pieces and dust liberally with salt and pepper while you preheat your oven to 350.  Halve 8 to 10 grape tomatoes and slice a fennel bulb thinly along with a shallot and a couple cloves of garlic.  In a large frying pan over medium heat add olive oil or butter and brown your monkfish by searing for about a minute on one side.  Add the tomatoes, fennel, shallot and garlic to the pan then flip to sear the other side of your fillets for another minute.  Pour a half cup of white wine and the juice from half a lemon into the pan then place in the oven for 25 minutes, a knife should slide through the center of the fish easily when it’s done.  Simply salt and pepper to taste and serve over rice, potatoes, beans, or couscous.  It’s a great one pan meal and is adaptable to any firm white fish and a variety of veggies.  Just one note of caution, remember the handle of your frying pan will be very hot when you go to remove it from the oven.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Garlic Anchovy Butter

There aren’t many things you can prepare for dinner that are as easy as a steak weather it’s on the grill, frying pan, or broiler.  Next time try taking it the next level with a garlic anchovy butter.  Simply sauté a minced garlic clove and a teaspoon of anchovy paste or a few fillets in two tablespoons of butter and pour over your steak before serving.  Like salt anchovies are a natural flavor enhancer, that’s why they’re included in every decent stew and pot roast recipe.  If you really get into it you don’t even need the steak, a crusty baguette will allow you to sop up every drop.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Brined Turkey Thighs

Where has brining been all my life?  I only got turned onto it a couple of years ago and can’t believe I’ve lived so long without it, it guarantees you moist and flavorful poultry every time.  In a large pot add a cup each of sugar and salt to a quart of water and boil until both are dissolved, remove from heat and if you like add some red pepper flakes, chopped onion, celery, or fennel seeds then fill the pot with cold water and cool.  In this case I submerged two skinless turkey thighs in the brine overnight but it works the same for a whole chicken or turkey although a larger vessel such as a cooler may be necessary.  After removing from the brine pat dry with paper towels and cook as you would normally.  Plan ahead, it’s worth it.

Monday, February 24, 2014

Fresh Pasta

Fresh pasta is such a treat and much easier than you think, you don’t even need a machine.  Mound four cups of all-purpose flour on a wooden surface, make a well in the middle and add four whole eggs, a splash of extra virgin olive oil and a half teaspoon of kosher salt.  Beat the eggs with a fork as you slowly incorporate the flour from the sides of the well careful to maintain the form by pushing up more flour from the bottom of the mound.  The dough will come together when about half the flour has been incorporated.  At this point knead the dough with the palms of your hands for about five minutes, cleaning and redusting your surface with flour if necessary.  When it’s elastic and just a little sticky wrap it in plastic wrap and let sit at room temperature for at least twenty minutes.  On a clean freshly floured surface cut your dough ball into quarters and roll as thin as possible with a rolling pin or empty wine bottle before cutting into your desired shape with a butter knife.  It can sit for minutes or hours while you prepare your sauce and unlike dry pasta only takes minutes to cook. 

Monday, February 10, 2014

Beet, Fennel, and Orange Salad

The warmer temps this week had me thinking salads instead of stews for a change, and even though it may have been a bit premature it is the best time of year to eat oranges.  Step 1, peel and boil or boil and peel four large beets and let cool before cutting them into bite size pieces.  Step 2, take off the rough outer leaves and thinly slice one fennel bulb.  Step 3, peel or cut away the skin with a knife from two oranges before cutting them into chunks.  Step 4, chop a handful of fresh mint.  Step 5, combine all with your best extra virgin olive oil, white balsamic vinegar, and kosher salt.  Step 6, think spring…we’re over the hump.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

New England Clam Chowder

I’ve been making this clam chowder recipe for years and while it may not be as good as the chowder at the hostel it’s pretty darn close.  It’s adapted from the award winning Venus De Milo recipe and only takes an hour to make…perfect for Super Bowl Sunday.  Peel and dice two Idaho baking potatoes and submerge in cold water while you mince half an onion, two celery stalks, and two garlic cloves.  While you heat 1 ½ cups of clam juice pull your other ingredients:  5 cups of clams, 4 ounces of butter, ½ cup of flour, 2 ½ cups of light cream or a mixture of milk and heavy cream, 2 teaspoons of black pepper and some fresh dill.  When you’re ready to go drain the potatoes and boil them in the clam stock until tender, then add the chopped clams and turn down the heat to low.  Heat up the butter in a large soup pot and sauté the onion, celery and garlic until the onions are translucent.  Stir in your flour to make a roux and leave on low heat for a few minutes before adding a cup of the clam stock and whisking until smooth.  Add the remaining stock along with the potatoes and clams and bring to a simmer before adding the cream, pepper, and several tablespoons of fresh dill.  Salt to taste and don’t forget the oyster crackers.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Cheesy Grits

Might as well have a great breakfast as long as there aren’t a lot of reasons to hit the trail early these days in Vermont…and these grits will make you glad you did.  After all, is anything with lots of cheese and butter ever bad?  Whisk a cup of grits and a teaspoon of salt into four cups of boiling water and simmer gently for approximately 30 minutes.  While that’s going grate a cup of sharp cheddar along with a quarter cup of parmesan and set aside with three tablespoons of butter and a teaspoon of freshly grated black pepper.  Crisp up your Andouille or sausage of choice and when your grits are ready remove from the heat and stir in the cheese, butter and pepper along with a few shakes of tabasco sauce.  Fry the eggs in butter on low heat in a covered pan making sure to keep the yolks runny. While they’re cooking plate your grits so you’re ready to go when the eggs are done and serve all with your hot sauce of choice and enjoy. These grits are well worth the mess for breakfast or dinner.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Roast Cauliflower with Parmesan

I’m always surprised by how much family and friends love this dish given how simple it is to prepare, I really have to remember to make it more often.  Preheat your oven to 400 while cutting your cauliflower into individual florets.  Toss with a little bit of extra virgin olive oil, kosher salt, and pepper then arrange in a single layer in a large oven proof baking dish.  Bake for 30 minutes, flip the florets so they brown evenly, bake for another 20, then grate some parmesan over the top and bake for ten more.  That’s it…you see what I mean.  Leftovers are great the next day in an omelet or salad too.