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, August 15, 2017

Avocado Green Salsa

This tangy avocado sauce will elevate chicken, beef, pork, or veggies…and only takes a few minutes to whip up. In a food processor combine a peeled and pitted avocado, a small handful of cilantro, the juice from one lime, and approximately a half a cup of your favorite green salsa. Blend until creamy smooth then salt to taste. Looking for an appetizer? It’s also perfect alongside tortilla chips.

Friday, August 11, 2017

Roasted Radishes with Radish Greens

I’ve been throwing out radish greens for years, but after reading about this technique, never again. And roasting the radishes makes for a delicious change from the ordinary. Cut the radishes from the greens, trim the radishes, and wash the greens. Preheat your oven to 450.

Lightly char your radishes for a few minutes over high heat in an ovenproof pan with a little bit of olive. Season with salt and pepper then place the pan in the oven and roast for 15 minutes. Using an oven mitt, return the pan to the stove top, add the greens and salt to taste then sauté over medium heat with a bit of oil or butter until wilted. Squeeze half a lemon over the top and serve.

Monday, July 31, 2017

Snap Pea, Mint, and Arugula Salad

The farmer’s market is really starting to get good, and the snap peas topped my list of favorites this week. To trim, simply snap off the stem and pull it down along the length of the pea taking off the string as you go. Then it’s just a matter of cutting them into half inch chunks, shell and all.

Combine the chunks with a handful of chopped mint and toss with fresh lemon or lime juice, extra virgin olive oil, and salt and pepper to taste. Before serving add some chopped arugula and mix well.

Don’t wait; the snap peas won’t be around for long.

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Pan Roasted Swordfish with Garlic and Parsley

Swordfish is incredibly easy to overcook, and no matter how you serve it a dried out piece of swordfish is mighty disappointing. While this preparation doesn’t guarantee success every time, if you pay attention odds are good it will turn out pretty perfect.

Preheat your oven to 400 while you melt a half a stick of butter in a small pan with a couple minced garlic cloves, some chopped parsley, ground black pepper, and salt to taste. Heat a skillet over high heat, salt and pepper your swordfish, add a splash of oil to the pan and brown for about two minutes per side. Immediately transfer the pan to the oven and roast until cooked through, approximately 7 to 10 minutes depending on the thickness of your steaks. Don’t be afraid to check often. Remove them from the hot pan immediately and serve with the butter mixture and a squeeze of lemon.

Monday, July 24, 2017

Kale, Sardine, Potato Salad

Until I had this sardine salad at a local restaurant a while back I never would have thought of using sardines this way, now I do all the time. And they’re a whole lot healthier and more flavorful than canned tuna. Give it a chance you sardine haters out there…you never know.

Cut some white potatoes into small chunks and simmer in salted water until fork tender, then run under some cold water to cool and drain. Empty a can of whole sardines along with the oil they’re packed in into a large bowl and chop up into little pieces with the side of a large spoon. Towel dry the potato chunks, then add to the bowl along with some chopped kale, sliced scallion, a small pour of extra virgin olive oil, fresh lemon juice, and salt and pepper to taste.

Thursday, July 6, 2017

Barbequed Chicken

After many years of experimentation I’m pretty happy with my barbequed chicken, juicy, crispy, and flavorful…what could be bad, right? And it goes without saying my technique isn’t very complicated. After washing and drying your chicken and lighting the barbeque, mix together some of your favorite spices, cumin, chili, paprika, garlic powder, cayenne pepper, or curry. It’s really hard to go wrong as long as you include salt and sugar. Quantities depend on how much chicken you’re cooking but you want to make sure you’re left with a couple of tablespoons of the mixture after liberally dusting your chicken pieces on both sides.

After dusting the chicken stir the remaining spice mixture into a bowl of your favorite barbeque sauce then divide into two parts, one for basting, and the other for serving. Start the dark meat chicken skin side down on the hot grill and cook until it lifts up easily, five minutes on high. Flip each piece, baste the cooked side with your sauce, and then add the white meat pieces skin side down to the grill. Cook all the chicken for another five minutes on high, flip, baste, and then turn the grill to low. Continue to cook, flip and baste every five minutes until the chicken is cooked through; you’re aiming for a good char without overcooking. Serve right off of the grill with the sauce you set aside.

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Fresh Tuna Salad Nicoise

Fresh tuna takes this French summer classic to another level. In addition to potatoes, green beans, olives, and eggs, don’t be shy about serving with some tomatoes, cucumbers, or radishes…whatever is in season. Start by setting a large pot of salted water on the stove to boil while you prepare the vinaigrette; anchovies, garlic, Dijon mustard, lemon juice, extra virgin olive oil, and salt and pepper.

Once the water comes to a boil add the small red potatoes, return to a boil, then carefully add the eggs with a slotted spoon and simmer for exactly seven minutes. Scoop your eggs from the pot, chill in a bowl of ice water for two minutes, then set aside. Continue to cook your potatoes until fork tender, adding the picked green beans to the pot for the last minute of cooking time. Drain the potatoes and beans in a strainer.

Finally, heat a sauté pan over high heat, peel and halve your eggs, quarter your potatoes, set aside your Kalamata olives, then salt and pepper your tuna slices and cook until medium rare…don’t overcook whatever you do, it only takes a couple of minutes per side. Immediately serve everything together with a generous drizzle of the vinaigrette and salt and pepper to taste.

Monday, June 26, 2017

Grilled Vegetables with Parmesan Basil Bread Crumbs

What I love best about this weekly column is it pushes me to search for the new and exciting instead of defaulting to the same old dinner standbys. And in many cases these discoveries are not only easy to prepare, but I already have the ingredients. These Parmesan basil bread crumbs I interpreted from the grill crazy chef Francis Mallmann are exactly what I’m talking about.

Over a medium low burner heat a generous splash of extra virgin olive oil in a large sauté pan. Once hot, add a cup of bread crumbs or panko and toss regularly until toasted and golden brown, about four minutes. Scrape into a bowl and mix with a half a cup each of chopped basil and grated Parmesan then set aside.

Toss your assorted vegetables in some olive oil and salt then grill or broil until they’re cooked through and charred around the edges. Serve warm or at room temperature with a heavy sprinkle of the bread crumb mixture…a dollop or two of garlicky pesto never hurts either. Happy Summer!

Monday, June 19, 2017

Vietnamese Pork Chops

Here’s a marinade that makes it easy to go Asian the next time you grill pork chops. Combine a quarter cup of fish sauce, three tablespoons of rice vinegar, a quarter cup of light brown sugar, a finely chopped shallot, a splash of soy sauce, and a teaspoon of freshly ground black pepper, then use to marinate your pork for thirty minutes.

Remove the pork chops and save the excess marinade. While the chops are grilling bring the marinade to a boil in a small pot until it’s reduced by a third then brush over the meat before serving.

Monday, June 12, 2017

Oriental Sweet Potatoes

I can’t remember the last time I’ve been so excited about a potato, at least one that didn’t involve a lot of cheese and heavy cream. But these Oriental Sweet Potatoes that I only recently noticed at the market are very special, somewhere between a potato, sweet potato, eggplant, and a chestnut. Bake it, mash it, boil it, grate it…it doesn’t matter…you’ve got to try it.

For these sweet potato and black bean tostadas cube a potato, boil in salted water for five minutes, drain, then sauté along with a chopped onion for about ten minutes over medium heat. Add some black beans, a sliced jalapeno, and a little bit of chopped kale. Leave on the heat for another five minutes, salt and pepper to taste, then spoon onto crispy tortillas and top with some cilantro and your favorite salsa. Works just as well for tacos or burritos.

Monday, June 5, 2017

Grilled Ramps

Barbecue season is starting up and ramp season is winding down, but spring onions or small leeks work just as well for this seasonal side dish. Trim the root ends from your onions then toss with some olive oil, salt, and pepper. Grill over medium heat until charred evenly, about five minutes per side, then turn the heat to low and cook for another five minutes to ensure they’re soft all the way through. Serve as is, with a squeeze of lemon and crumbled feta, or your favorite vinaigrette.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Spicy Avocado Toast

Korean chili powder is another spice I find myself reaching for more often these days, just another way to add some zip instead of the same old thing. You can find it at most bulk spice counters. Try it on this simple but incredibly satisfying avocado toast and you’ll see what I’m talking about. If not, you can always use red pepper flakes or cayenne pepper.

Scoop out a perfectly ripe avocado onto some toasted bread or pita and mash down gently with a fork. Drizzle with a little bit of extra virgin olive oil, sprinkle with some kosher salt and chili powder, and enjoy. Good right?

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Roast Brussel Sprouts with Fish Sauce

Okay, here’s a quicky that packed with flavor and crunch…great as an appetizer or side dish. Preheat your oven to 425 degrees then in a small bowl combine a tablespoon each of olive oil, fish sauce, and rice vinegar. After that, coarsely chop a large handful of peanuts.

Next, trim and halve a pound of Brussel sprouts then toss with a bit of olive oil and kosher salt. Spread flat side down on a baking sheet and roast for twenty minutes, flip, then cook for another ten…crispy edges are good. Immediately toss with the sauce and chopped peanuts and serve.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Spaetzle

I always thought you needed a special kitchen gadget to make spaetzle, but according to Mark Bittman you don’t. And it turned out this version of his recipe I adapted was even easier to make than fresh pasta. After setting a large pot of salted water on high heat combine a cup of milk, three eggs, and a half a tablespoon each of salt and black pepper then beat well. Add two cups of flour and stir until it’s the consistency of pancake batter.

Turn the water down to a soft boil then with a spoon drizzle about half of the batter into the pot. Try to cover the bottom evenly, but no problem if it gets a little messy looking. Give it a few minutes, scrape any pieces from the bottom, then scoop out with a slotted spoon directly into a large bowl of ice water. Repeat with the second half of the batter then drain and toss with a little bit of olive oil to keep it from sticking together.

Before serving, brown well in a frying pan with butter or oil. And while it’s plenty good as is, it’s even better combined with some caramelized onions, fresh herbs, or Gruyère cheese. The best side dish ever…at least this week.

Monday, May 1, 2017

African Peanut Stew

If you’ve been looking for a reason to throw that bag of frozen okra into your cart at the market, this is your chance. For this stew it’s best to start with a little prepping, salt six boneless chicken thighs, finely chop an onion and a large piece of ginger , peel and cube a large sweet potato, and defrost a large handful of the okra pieces.

Heat a large splash of oil in a soup pot and brown the chicken for four minutes on each side. Set aside for five minutes then cut into chunks. Add another splash of oil to the pot and sauté the onion and ginger for five minutes. Stir in a few teaspoons of curry powder, a half teaspoon of black pepper, a quarter teaspoon of cayenne pepper then cook for another five minutes on medium low heat.

Next, add a small can of diced tomatoes, two tablespoons of tomato paste or ketchup, a cup of chunky peanut butter, the cubed sweet potato, and six cups of chicken stock. Simmer for thirty minutes. Add the okra and cut up chicken and continue to cook for another twenty minutes or until the chicken is cooked through, add salt and cayenne to taste.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Pea Shoot Pesto

It’s the little things that brighten your day, right? Like finding pea shoots at the market. Talk about a perfect spring pesto, and ready in as much time as it takes to boil pasta.

In a food processor combine a quarter cup of pine nuts, two peeled garlic cloves, a teaspoon of kosher salt, and a 6 oz. container of pea shoots…pulse until you get a coarse paste. With the machine running drizzle in some extra virgin olive oil until it’s smooth, about a half cup. Add a half cup of grated parmesan, pulse a couple of times to mix, and toss with the cooked pasta.

I did garnish with some baby peas from the frozen food section but totally optional, they’re just for looks. The spring flavor is all in the shoots.

Friday, April 21, 2017

Crispy Eggplant with Garlic Marinara

Warning! This one is kind of a pain in the neck…but it’s totally worth it. Preheat the oven to 400 then thinly slice a medium eggplant cross-wise, use a sharp knife so that your slices are no more than a 1/16 of an inch thick. Set up a breading station with a bowl of lightly scrambled eggs and another bowl with a four to one ratio of panko to grated pecorino, salt and pepper are never a bad idea either.

Cover the entire surface of two rimmed cookie sheets with long heavy pours of olive oil. Individually dip the eggplant slices into the egg, followed by the panko mixture, making sure to press the slices down firmly so the breading sticks well to both sides. Lay them out in a single layer on the oiled cookie sheets and bake for approximately thirty minutes. Flip once halfway through and rotate the pans to minimize the chance of burning the edges.

While those are cooking sauté a few cloves of minced garlic until translucent then add a jar of your favorite marinara sauce and simmer. Drain the crispy eggplant slices on paper bags before serving with the sauce. And no worries about leftovers, they’re great the next day in a sandwich or salad.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Asparagus with Smoked Paprika Vinaigrette

If you don’t have any smoked paprika in your spice cabinet yet I only have one thing to say…what are you waiting for? It’s an effortless way to add depth and flavor to grilled meats, sauces, and salads, and turns a simple blanched vegetable like asparagus into something special.

In a mason jar combine half a cup of extra virgin olive oil, the juice from half a lemon, a splash of red wine or balsamic vinegar, two tablespoons of minced shallot, a tablespoon of Dijon mustard, a half teaspoon of kosher salt, and a teaspoon of smoked paprika. Cover, shake vigorously, and set aside.

Cut off the bottom inch and a half from a bunch of asparagus and discard, then cut the stalks into thirds. Steam or blanch in boiling water for one or two minutes depending on the thickness of the stalks. If you’re serving them warm, drain thoroughly then toss with the dressing. If you’re serving them cold or at room temperature drain and set them in an ice bath for five minutes, then drain and toss with the dressing ten minutes before serving. Either way, make sure you shake the dressing well and get all that minced shallot up from the bottom of the jar.

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Lamb with Mint Chimichurri

For this recipe I prefer to cut a boneless leg or lamb shoulder into two inch chunks, it makes for better marinating and more even cooking. The day before, stir together two cups of chopped mint, one cup of chopped parsley, five finely chopped cloves of garlic, a cup of extra virgin olive oil, the juice from a whole lemon, two tablespoons of kosher salt, and a teaspoon each of ground black pepper and chili flakes. In a large bowl rub half of the chimichurri mixture into the lamb, cover, and let marinate in the fridge overnight.

The next day, leave the lamb at room temperature for an hour or so before grilling, broiling, or roasting. Once cooked to your liking, immediately toss with the other half of the chimichurri mixture and serve….and get ready for a mind blowingly tasty Passover, Easter, or family dinner.

Monday, April 3, 2017

Beans and Leeks

I had the pork chops ready for the barbeque but hadn’t thought much about what to serve them with, but I did have a leek in the fridge that looked like it needed to be eaten soon. While heating a large sauté pan over medium heat I quartered, sliced, and cleaned the leek well in cold water.

After a healthy pour of olive oil I added three to four cloves of chopped garlic to the pan, stirred for a minute, then added the leek and a quarter teaspoon of ground black pepper. After stirring occasionally for five minutes in went a drained can of white navy beans and a couple pinches of salt. I immediately turned the heat to low and there they sat until the pork chops were ready. Good stuff!

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Pea and Bacon Risotto

Defrost a box of frozen peas and bring in spring with the help of some creamy bacon goodness. In a small pot boil approximately six cups of chicken stock then turn the heat down to very low. Next, chop a quarter pound of bacon or pancetta into small pieces and sauté in a large pan over medium heat with a bit of oil until crisp, then scoop out the bacon and set aside.

Add two finely chopped garlic cloves and a shallot to the bacon fat and cook for a minute before stirring in a cup and a half of Arborio rice. When the rice is coated completely, pour in a half cup of the chicken stock and simmer briskly until the broth is absorbed. Stir well, then pour in another half cup of stock and repeat the process until the rice is al dente, about twenty minutes. In the end you may not have to use all of the stock.

While still on the heat stir in the peas, wait a few minutes, then mix well with the bacon, a cup of parmesan, and salt and pepper to taste. Serve immediately with some parmesan garnish.

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Chicken with Tzatziki Sauce

Two cups of tzatziki is probably more than you’ll need but it keeps for at least a week and works equally well with lamb, roast veggies, or as a snack on some toasted pita. Peel and dice half an English cucumber and combine with two cups of Greek yogurt, four minced garlic cloves, the juice from half a lemon, a splash of extra virgin olive oil, a teaspoon of kosher salt and pepper to taste. For maximum flavor its best if you give it at least two hours before serving spooned over your grilled chicken. You could also mix things up with some chopped mint or dill.

Monday, March 13, 2017

Broccoli Rabe with Garlic and Lemon

I'm loving that broccoli rabe is so much easier to find these days, it’s so good in pastas, risotto, or as a tasty side dish. Most often though I simply sauté it with garlic, lemon, and chili flakes.  To start trim about an inch from the stocks then cut the remaining bunch into thirds. Heat a generous pour of extra virgin olive oil in a wide pot over medium heat. Add a quarter teaspoon of hot red chili flakes followed by the broccoli rabe and stir frequently for several minutes. 

Turn the heat to low and cover for ten minutes or until the stocks are tender. Increase the heat to medium, stir in three chopped garlic cloves and some more oil if necessary. Cook for another few minutes uncovered then squeeze half a lemon over the top and serve.

Monday, March 6, 2017

Soy Braised Short Ribs

If you’re looking for some Korean inspiration check out The Good Fork cookbook, that’s where I found this one. Salt and pepper four pounds of short ribs then brown over high heat with some oil in a large heavy pot before setting aside. Turn down the heat to medium and stir in a chopped onion, three chopped garlic cloves, and a two inch piece of peeled ginger sliced thin. Cook for five minutes.

Pour in two cups of dry red wine and reduce by half. Add two cups of chicken stock, ¾ cup of soy sauce, ½ a cup of mirin or rice vinegar, ½ a cup of brown sugar, ½ a cup of kimchi, and the cooked ribs along with their juices. Bring to a boil, cover, reduce the heat to low, and simmer for a couple of hours or until the ribs are tender. Serve with rice and a bit of the sauce poured over the top.

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Grilled Halloumi

You may be familiar with Halloumi, on Greek restaurant menus it’s called saganaki.  It's a salty semi-hard cheese that because of its unusually high melting point is amazing for grilling. There’s nothing quite like its warm, chewy goodness.

Place a large pan over medium high heat then halve the square of cheese diagonally. Once your pan is hot add a small splash of olive oil followed by the two triangles of cheese and cook until well browned on both sides. You could also grill it on the barbeque, either way, turning occasionally it will take about ten minutes.

As an appetizer you can simply serve it with a drizzle of your best olive oil, lemon juice, a bit of chopped mint, sautéed garlic, or some caramelized dates or apricots. It’s also a delicious addition to a warm or cold salad. And because it freezes well you can always have one on hand for a spontaneous halloumi fix.

Monday, February 13, 2017

Shrimp and Grits

Although traditionally served for breakfast, these shrimp and grits will satisfy any meal of the day. Peel your shrimp then season with salt and pepper and set aside. Following, boil four and half cups of water, whisk in a cup of grits and a teaspoon of salt, and gently simmer uncovered for thirty minutes.

While that’s cooking prep a cup of grated sharp cheddar, a quarter cup of parmesan, three tablespoons of butter, and half a teaspoon of freshly grated black pepper. Sauté the shrimp in a hot pan until cooked through, for more flavor you could add some bacon, garlic, and or scallions. When your grits are ready remove from the heat, stir in the cheese, butter, and pepper along with a few shakes of tabasco sauce, and serve with the shrimp over the top.

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Shaved Cauliflower Salad with a Lime Vinaigrette

I think I just discovered my new favorite ingredient. Up until coming across this recipe in an old Bon Appetit the only reason we kept nutritional yeast in the pantry was for popcorn, but not anymore…it’s an umami burst worth using again and again.

In a mason jar combine a teaspoon each of lime zest, Dijon mustard, and honey with a quarter cup each of lime juice, and extra virgin olive oil. Shake until combined then add a tablespoon of nutritional yeast, a quarter cup of grated parmesan, and salt and pepper to taste. Shake again.

Quarter a head of cauliflower then with a knife or mandolin cut one of the quarters into 1/8 inch slices then toss with the dressing and let sit for at least ten minutes. To finish, stir in some arugula, spinach, or half a head of frisee. Garnish with some shaved parmesan and prepare to be blown away.

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Turkey, Squash, Black Bean Chili

If you’re having any doubts about straying from your classic Super Bowl chili, don’t, this one is definitely super bowl worthy. In a large pot sauté two medium chopped onions until translucent then add a pound of the fattiest ground turkey you can find breaking it up into small pieces with a large spoon as it cooks.

After five minutes stir in three chopped garlic cloves, a ¼ cup of chili powder, a tablespoon of cumin, and some hot pepper to taste such as chipotle, ancho, or cayenne and cook for another five minutes. Next, add a large can of chopped tomatoes, a small can of tomato paste, and four cups of chicken or veggie stock. While that’s simmering peel and seed a small butternut squash and cut into half inch cubes.

Depending on your bean ratio preference add one or two cans of drained black beans and salt and pepper to taste. Simmer for another fifteen minutes before adding the cubed squash, bring to a boil then turn down and simmer for 40 minutes or until the squash is tender. Before serving stir in a handful of chopped cilantro and top with shredded cheese, sour cream, and or avocado. 

 Go Pats!

Monday, January 23, 2017

Cacio e Pepe

What I love about Italian food is that it’s often the simplest dishes that are the most satisfying; this creamy combination of pasta, cheese, and black pepper is one of my favorites. Boil a pound of noodles until el dente making sure to save a cup of the pasta water just before draining.

Dump the noodles into a strainer and put the pasta pot back on the stove over low heat. Melt a half a stick of butter in the pot then add the drained pasta and toss. Stir in a tablespoon of freshly ground black pepper followed by the reserved pasta water and a cup and a half of parmesan, pecorino, or a combination of both. Mix together until the pasta is completed coated by the butter and cheese then salt to taste and serve immediately.

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Pork Ricotta Meatballs

Ricotta makes lots of things just that much better and these pork meatballs are high on the list. Whether you’re craving spaghetti and meatballs, meatball soup, or fried meatballs give these ricotta enhanced meatballs a try.

In a large bowl stir together a cup of ricotta, a third of a cup of grated parmesan, a half cup of panko, a lightly scrambled egg, a teaspoon of kosher salt and half a teaspoon of pepper. Mix in a about a pound and a half of ground pork and a splash of milk then form into balls. Brown completely in a hot pan then add to your tomato sauce, soup, or deep fryer to finish. Comfort food at it’s best!

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Curry Poached Cod

The holidays are over and I need a break from butter, heavy cream, bacon, sweets, alcohol, and cooking…and not necessarily in that order. This dish takes a little cooking but not much, the most demanding part is making the rice.

In a large pan heat a can of coconut milk and your favorite curry paste or spices. Cut your cod or other white fish into two inch slices, salt both sides, then add to the simmering sauce. Cook for four to five minutes on each side and serve in a bowl along with some sauce and a scoop of rice. If you have any energy left you could garnish with some chopped cilantro.

Cheers to another year of eating!