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, November 23, 2020

Crisp It, Cheese it, And Put an Egg On It


By the Saturday or Sunday following Thanksgiving, after a more than a couple of cranberry topped turkey sandwiches and big pot of turkey soup, I’m ready to be done with Thanksgiving for another year.  But, what about all those potatoes, stuffing, and roast vegetables that always seem to be the last things to go?

Crisp it, cheese it, and put an egg on it I say!  Any gravy left, even better.  If not, a handful of pickled jalapenos or spoonful of kimchi never hurt.

Heat a bit of oil in a large frying pan over medium high heat.  Once hot, spread the leftovers evenly over the bottom of the pan, being sure to chop up any of the larger pieces first…and maybe forgo the creamed spinach.   Be patient, give them time to crisp up, if there’s a lot of butter in the mashed potatoes it may take a bit longer than usual. 

As soon as they’re golden and crispy, flip in sections and brown for another few minutes.  Top with a generous pile of shredded cheddar or other mild cheese then turn down the heat and cover. 

While the cheese is melting, fry or poach your eggs in another pan.  Just before the eggs are done, plate your crispy cheesy leftovers and top with the eggs. 

Now, Thanksgiving 2020 is officially over.

Thursday, November 19, 2020

Dry Brined Turkey


Whether you’re making a big turkey, or a single turkey thigh, dry brining guarantees crisp and juicy results with only a minute or two of effort.  Just make sure you plan for at least 24 hours of brining time, two to three days for a larger bird.

Wash and pat dry your turkey and set aside.  In a small bowl, mix together a teaspoon of sugar with four tablespoons of kosher salt. You can also add black pepper, herbs, or spices to the mixture if you’re looking for some additional flavor. These quantities should give you enough dry rub for a small turkey, adjust accordingly.

Using your hands, rub the mixture all over the turkey, including the cavity if you’re making an unstuffed bird. Place the turkey in a rimmed roasting pan breast side up and refrigerate uncovered…yes, uncovered. Then stuff and roast as you normally would, no need to wash or dry off again.

Thursday, November 12, 2020

Maple Glazed Sweet Potatoes

If being glazed with maple syrup and garlic wasn’t enough, what makes this dish especially perfect for Thanksgiving this year is that quantities can be easily knocked down to one or two servings for smaller gatherings.

Pre-cook your sweet potatoes by baking or boiling them whole for about 25 minutes, or until barely fork tender.  Let cool and cut them into quarter inch chunks.  This step can even be done the day before and refrigerated overnight.

As you’re nearing serving time, heat a little bit of olive oil in a large sauté pan over medium heat.  Once hot, add the sweet potatoes and toss frequently.  When they’re browned to your liking, turn down the heat to medium low and stir in some thinly sliced garlic and a generous pour of maple syrup. 

Continue to cook for another three or four minutes, tossing now and then so they glaze evenly.  Salt and pepper to taste.  Easy!

Tuesday, November 3, 2020

Squash Kale Feta Pizza


Tis’ the season of squash and kale, and together with some feta they make for an exceptional Fall pizza.  And luckily, if you aren’t up for making your own pizza dough, there are two amazing local ready-made pizza crust options available.

Preheat your oven to 400.  Peel and thinly slice some butternut squash then toss with a little bit of olive oil, salt, and pepper and lay out on a parchment lined cookie sheet.  Bake for 15 minutes, then flip and bake for another 10 minutes or so.  Remove and set aside.

To prep the kale, devein about a half a dozen leaves, chop coarsely, and blanch in a pot of simmering water for a couple of minutes.  Transfer to a strainer, let it cool slightly, then squeeze as much of the water out of it as you can.   Combine in a food processor with a clove of garlic, a quarter teaspoon of kosher salt, and an eighth to a quarter cup of extra virgin olive oil…run until smooth.  You’re looking for a spreadable, but not too thin, consistency.

Prep your ready-made crust according to the instructions.  Using a rubber spatula, cover liberally with the kale mixture, followed by the squash slices, and some crumbled feta. 

Bake and enjoy!

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

 

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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.

 

Monday, August 3, 2020

Chocolate Dipped Frozen Bananas

Yowza!  I don’t say that every week, but the dessert maker in our house surprised me with this one and it definitely falls into the yowza category. It’s a must try! However, I have to warn you, they’re incredibly dangerous to have around if you lack will power…which I do.

Peel and cut three to four firm bananas into half inch slices and freeze on parchment lined cookie sheets for about an hour.  In a small metal bowl over simmering water, melt together three and half tablespoons of coconut oil and12 ounces of chocolate chips.  Doesn’t matter what kind of chocolate, milk, dark, bittersweet, whatever you like.  Stir well, and keep the mixture warm until you’re ready to start dipping.

With a toothpick or small fork, individually dip each frozen banana slice into the chocolate and place back on the parchment.  The chocolate hardens quickly so they can be eaten immediately, which I highly recommend. 

To store any extras, place back in the freezer on the trays for thirty minutes then bulk pack in freezer bags.  Happy August!


Wednesday, July 22, 2020

Black Bean Broccoli and Tofu


I’ve recently discovered the beauty of soft tofu, and it works especially well in a saucy stir fry.

For the sauce, I used store bought black bean and garlic. I love it!  It’s super flavorful, lasts for months and months in your fridge, and it only takes a spoonful or two turn your soups, stews, and stir frys into restaurant good Chinese food…it’s all about the condiments.

Have your broccolini or broccoli crowns prepped before you start as things come together quickly.  Heat some vegetable oil in a large pot or wok over medium high heat and sauté the broccoli for a couple of minutes tossing frequently.  Add an 1/8 of a cup of water and a heaping tablespoon of the black bean sauce, turn down the heat to low, and simmer. 

After a few minutes, mix in the soft or silken tofu by squeezing it between your fingers over the broccoli to break it up.  Stir thoroughly, leave on the heat for another few minutes, then serve.


Monday, July 20, 2020

Pork and Basil Chimichurri Stir Fry

With the price of supermarket meat so high these days, now is the time to be buying locally raised meat if you aren’t already. I used some boneless pork loin chops along with some local basil for this dinner for two.

Slice a pound of loin chops into quarter inch thick strips, generously salt and pepper, and set aside in the fridge. Next, quarter and slice a sweet onion, cut the kernels from two cobs of corn, and set aside with an extra-large handful of spinach.

Make the chimichurri in a food processor by combining a cup of fresh basil leaves, a quarter cup of parsley, two garlic cloves, a quarter cup of red wine vinegar or fresh lime juice, a quarter teaspoon of kosher salt, and some red chile flakes and black pepper. With the processor running, drizzle in a quarter cup of olive oil and run until smooth. Salt to taste…now you’re ready to get cooking.

Heat some oil in a wok over medium high heat and cook the onion until translucent. Add the corn, give it a minute, then toss in the pork. Stir frequently until the pork is cooked through, it won’t take long.

Take off the heat and stir in the spinach. Once wilted, serve with a heaping spoonful or two of chimichurri over the top.

Monday, July 13, 2020

Potato and Scape Stir Fry

The scape season is a short one, so don’t miss out…and if you already did, no worries, you can substitute scallions. What I really love about this simple stir fry is the freshness and crunchiness of the potatoes you get from not par-boiling them first.

Set a large frying pan or wok over medium heat, then quarter your russet potatoes. Next, with your sharpest knife or mandolin, cut the potatoes into 1/16 inch slices, and the scapes into one inch pieces. Add some olive oil to the hot pan, then slide in the potatoes and scapes.

Toss often to ensure even cooking. Also, continue to test the potatoes with a fork so you don’t let them get beyond al dente…it should take less than five minutes.

Add some salt and pepper to taste, as well as some chopped garlic if you’re using scallions, and serve immediately.

Tuesday, July 7, 2020

Syrian Red Pepper Dip

Otherwise known as Muhammara, it’s tastier than hummus and a lot more versatile. In addition to serving it as a dip with some toasted pita, you can also pair it with chicken, pork, lamb, and grilled vegetables, or as a side to any salad. It lasts for well over a week in the fridge too.

You could go to the trouble of making your own roasted red peppers, or you could just use a 12 oz. jar of fire roasted peppers…guess it depends on how much time you have on your hands these days. If you do have some time, roast, skin, and seed two medium red peppers.

In a food processor, combine the roast peppers, half of a cup of toasted walnuts or slivered almonds, a quarter of a cup of bread crumbs, a teaspoon of fresh lemon juice, a half teaspoon of smoked paprika, a teaspoon of kosher salt, and a tablespoon each of extra virgin olive oil, pomegranate molasses or honey, and Aleppo or mild red chili flakes.

Run until smooth, then salt to taste.

Monday, June 29, 2020

Parmesan Crisps

What??? Are they really that easy to make? If you’ve ever splurged on a bag of parmesan crisps, or had one garnish your Caesar salad in a restaurant, you’ll know how good they are. And yes, they are that easy to make…one ingredient, five minutes.

Heat a large Teflon pan over medium low heat while you grate about a cup of parmesan. Using your hand, spread thin layers of the cheese into two-inch circles around the pan. If they need tidying, a spatula does the trick.

After a couple of minutes flip and brown the other side. Flip again if the first side isn’t browned to your liking. Once done, set on a plate to cool, and start another batch.

Serve them whole with cocktails, serve them crumbled over eggs, salads, or grilled vegetables, or just eat them straight out of the pan. Yum!

Monday, June 22, 2020

Salmon Roll

A perfectly grilled buttered hot dog bun is critical to a memorable lobster roll…and The Warren Store is doing them right every Friday. So right in fact, I was inspired to get myself some buns and make one at home using last night’s leftover salmon.

To start, you need to buy the ball park style buns with the cut white sides. The brown sided buns aren’t going to do.

For the salmon salad, brake up the cooked fillet into small chunks then toss it together in a bowl with some minced celery, scallion, chopped parsley, fresh lemon juice, a little bit of olive oil, and salt and pepper. You could also substitute mayo for the olive oil.

Grill the buns by melting a quarter inch slice of butter for every roll you’re making in a large sauté pan over medium heat. Once they’re golden brown on both sides, immediately stuff with the salmon salad and serve.

Now that’s summer!

Monday, June 15, 2020

Blue Cheese Dipping Sauce

This creamy mouthwatering sauce isn’t just for chicken wings, you shouldn’t hesitate to smother it on roast potatoes, burgers, steaks, or grilled vegetables. And if you really want to go for it, Von Trapp’s Mad River Blue puts it over the top!

In a large bowl combine a cup of sour cream, half a cup of mayonnaise, a tablespoon of lemon juice, and a minced garlic clove. Mix thoroughly, then stir in approximately 8 ounces of crumbled blue cheese and a quarter teaspoon each of salt and black pepper.

The key here is to make it at least a few hours ahead of time then refrigerate until a half an hour before serving.

Trust me, once you taste it, you’ll wish you had doubled the recipe.

Monday, June 8, 2020

White Bean and Spinach Chicken

Some spinach from your local farmer’s market will make this silky saucy chicken all the more flavorful.

Pound or thinly slice a pound of chicken breasts then salt and pepper liberally. Add enough olive oil to the bottom of a large sauté pan and heat over a medium high flame. When the oil is hot, dust the chicken pieces in some flour and brown for no more than a minute per side. Remove the chicken and turn the heat down to medium.

Add some more oil or butter to the pan then sauté a finely chopped onion or shallot until translucent. Stir in some minced garlic, give it a half a minute, then add a cup of chicken stock, a can of drained cannellini beans, and if you happen to have an open bottle, a couple shots of dry white wine.

Let the liquid reduce for two minutes and add several handfuls of spinach. Using tongs, turn the spinach over in the sauce until it wilts. Next, place the browned chicken in the pan and cover, turn the heat to low and cook until the chicken is cooked all the way through…shouldn’t take more than a minute. Salt and pepper to taste.

Tuesday, June 2, 2020

Steamed Lemon Sesame Broccoli

Grilling season has begun, and this steamed broccoli brings lots of Asian flavor to whatever you’re cooking. It can be served hot, cold, or at room temperature, in fact, it’s even better after the broccoli has had a chance to soak up the dressing for a couple of hours.

To make the dressing, stir together a few tablespoons of vegetable oil, a teaspoon of sesame oil, the juice of one lemon, a splash of soy sauce, and a little rice wine vinegar if you have it.

Cut the broccoli stems into thin slices, the crowns into large florets, then steam for 3 to 7 minutes depending on how tender you like it. If you don’t have a steamer you can also drop it into a pot of simmering water for a couple of minutes. Remember that it will continue cooking unless you run it under cold water for half a minute after removing it from the heat.

Once it’s drained well, toss with the dressing and some sesame seeds.

Monday, May 25, 2020

Lentil Feta Arugula Sauté

Firm lentils are a beautiful thing, mushy lentils, not so much unless you’re making soup. So, you need only boil them for ten to fifteen minutes for al dente. And after placing them in a strainer to drain, immediately rinse with cold water to stop them from cooking further.

Another thing to know about lentils is that they go a long way, so figure about a quarter cup of dry lentils per person.

Ten minutes before your meal, heat some olive oil in large pan and sauté a minced shallot and a couple of cloves of garlic until translucent. Stir in the cooked lentils, a large handful of chopped arugula, some sunflower seeds or slivered almonds, and a generous grind of black pepper.

Cook for another five minutes, salt to taste, then serve with crumbled feta over the top.

Tuesday, May 19, 2020

Fried Corn Tortillas

Freshly fried corn tortillas are in a category of food I call, “why don’t I make these more often?” Because that’s what I say every time I make them.

Recently I’ve layered them under some beans and eggs for brunch, melted cheese on them in the oven and doused with salsa, made leftover veggie tostadas with kimchi, crumbled them on top of a chopped salad, and into chicken soup just before serving. Not to mention the one’s I’ve just eaten hot out of the oil with a little bit of salt.

They couldn’t be easier to make either, and if you use a small soup pot there’s not the mess you would think with frying. Heat a quarter inch of vegetable oil until hot but not smoking, you can test to see if the oil is ready by dropping in a small pinch of a tortilla. It should sizzle immediately; you can always adjust the heat down if it’s too hot once you start.

As they only take a minute or so per side to get golden brown and crispy, it really doesn’t take long to fry up quite a few…even one at a time. I use tongs, and set them to drain on a used paper bag and salt immediately.

Once you taste them, you’ll know why I always have a pack or two of tortillas in the freezer.

Monday, May 11, 2020

Creamy Coconut Greens

I love this recipe I adapted from Food & Wine for all the usual reasons, its easy, super flavorful, versatile, and takes only a few ingredients.

Empty a can of coconut milk into a small sauce pot and whisk until smooth. Bring to a boil then simmer uncovered for thirty minutes to thicken, then remove from the heat.

I used a bunch of collard greens this time around, but kale or Swiss chard would have worked just as well. Cut the leaves from the stems then chop the stems into quarter inch slices and the leaves into larger pieces. Bring a pot of salted water to a boil and drop in the stem slices. After three minutes add the leaves, wait another minute, then drain well and set aside.

Heat some olive or coconut oil in a large sauté pan and cook two finely chopped shallots or a medium onion until translucent. Stir in the greens and creamy coconut milk along with a generous grind of black pepper. Minced ginger and, or, fresh lime juice would add some tanginess, but definitely not required.

Simmer for five minutes then salt to taste. Serve with pork, chicken, salmon, tofu, eggplant, garbanzo beans, and a whole lot more.

Monday, May 4, 2020

Fried Baked Potatoes

If you can bake a potato, you’re half way to making one of the best things you’ll eat this week. No joke, for the amount of effort these fried potatoes take, the results are off the charts.

It’s best to bake your potatoes at least a couple of hours before dinner as you want them to have some time to cool. You could even bake them the day before. Figure about 45 to 55 minutes in a 450 oven, you want them cooked through but still firm. Once cooled slightly, cut them into quarter inch slices and lightly salt both sides.

Heat a large sauté pan over medium heat and add just enough olive oil to barely cover the bottom of the pan. Once the oil is hot, slide the potatoes into the pan and fry approximately three minutes per side, or until golden brown and crispy. Remove from the pan, salt, and serve immediately.

Monday, April 27, 2020

Raw Beets

As far as a ranking of lockdown vegetables go, beets are high on my list; They’re tasty, easy to make, versatile, and most importantly, they last for weeks in the fridge.

I’m sure you’ve roasted, steamed, pickled, or boiled them before, but have you ever eaten a beet raw? What could be easier, right? I’m not recommending eating a peeled beet like an apple, but thinly sliced in a salad is a great way to liven up the routine with color, crunch, and flavor.

A quarter to half inch-thick slice of a medium beet goes a long way. After peeling and cutting it into 1/16th inch strips, give them a quick rinse with cold water to minimize the bleeding if you want…I didn’t as you can see. Then toss with your salad.

Wrap up the rest of the beet with saran and store it back in the fridge, even cut it will be fine for days.

Monday, April 20, 2020

Anchovy Toast

This is the best lunch I’ve had in a while....definitely in a category of one that I didn’t want to end. And I the best part of it all, I dug all the ingredients out of my fridge, pantry, and freezer.

Plan ahead by pulling enough butter out of the fridge for as many pieces of toast that you’re planning on. Once it’s soft enough, use a fork to mash it together with some minced anchovies.

For those of you in the 8 to 10 range on the anchovy loving scale, I’d figure three fillets per slice. For the 4 to 7 range, two fillets, and for those that are 1 to 3 on the scale, just one per slice. Any zero’s at your table? Try half a fillet per slice but don’t tell them what it is. Seriously, I use anchovy paste to punch up a lot of things and those anchovy deniers just gobble it up.

To finish this off, cut an unpeeled garlic clove and half and rub your hot toast with the exposed center of the clove…kind of like lightly greasing a pan. Then smear it with the anchovy butter and serve immediately.

I had it along with a thinly sliced celery, shaved parmesan, and lemon salad. Perfect!

Monday, April 13, 2020

Grits

Are you getting tired of potatoes, beans, and pasta? Then get some grits! You don’t hear much about grits up this way, but I actually prefer them to their closest cousin, polenta. While both are made from corn, grits are a finer ground, making for a creamier more desirable texture…at least I think so.

Cheesy grits are pretty satisfying on their own, but they’re even better topped with shrimp, pork, chicken, or veggies in a tomatoey onion sauce. A bit of spice never hurt either.

To cook, gently boil a cup of grits in four cups of lightly salted water for about 20 minutes….you’re looking for a Cream of Wheat kind of consistency. Remove from the heat and stir in a few tablespoons of butter, a half a cup of shredded cheddar or grated parmesan, and a healthy grind or two of black pepper.

They reheat nicely for days so don’t be shy about making extra.

Tuesday, April 7, 2020

Roast Asparagus

The asparagus is looking mighty fine these days, and just in time for Easter. Whether you’re planning an intimate meal with your fellow self-isolationists, or a larger virtual one, no need to fuss over the veggie. One of my favorite ways to make asparagus is also one of the easiest.

Pre-heat your oven to 400, and cut off the coarse bottom ends from the asparagus spears. Place in a large shallow Pyrex, or on some parchment lined cookie sheets.

Drizzle with a little bit of olive oil then toss until it’s well coated. Generously salt and pepper and roast for approximately 10-15 minutes depending on the thickness. I like it best when it just starting to char at the tips.

You can stop there without feeling like an underachiever, it’s delicious as is right out of the oven or at room temperature. But, if you're looking for a bit more, a big squeeze of fresh lemon juice, or some grated Manchego or parmesan work well.

Wednesday, April 1, 2020

Mushroom Cacio e Pepe

I know many of you have a cabinet full of pasta because there’s hardly any left at the market….so a pasta recipe seems appropriate this week. Cacio e Pepe is one of my favorites, a perfectly simple Roman dish whose main ingredients are spaghetti, pecorino, and black pepper. I added some sautéed mushrooms to make it more of a one dish meal, sautéed spinach would work too.

Thinly slice and sauté some mushrooms in a little bit of olive oil until soft, salt and pepper then set aside. Boil a pound of spaghetti until el dente making sure to save a cup of the pasta water just before draining.

Drain the noodles and slide them back into the pot. Stir in a teaspoon of freshly ground black pepper, 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, stir in the mushrooms, then salt to taste and serve immediately.

Monday, March 23, 2020

Spiced Roast Chicken

Here’s how to make a perfect roast chicken with just ten minutes of prep time.

Rinse and dry your chicken thoroughly, the drier the skin the crispier it will be. If you’re not pressed for time, it would be even better to leave it uncovered in the fridge for at least an hour.

Once it’s dry, season liberally with kosher salt and whatever dry spice you’re in the mood for. You could try some smoked or sweet paprika, cumin, curry, or chili powder, Korean chili pepper, harissa, garlic powder, or black pepper. Old Bay would even work.

Place in a shallow roasting pan and pop it into a preheated 500 degree oven for approximately 35 to 50 minutes depending on the size of your chicken. But at this heat, it doesn’t take as long as you think.

Thursday, March 12, 2020

Parmesan Roast Cabbage

Preheat your oven to 500 while you mix up a dressing of extra virgin olive oil, two minced garlic cloves, and the juice and zest from half a lemon.

Cut a small to medium size cabbage into 8 equal wedges, core and all. Coat a non-stick, or parchment lined baking sheet with some olive oil then space the wedges out evenly. Brush the exposed surfaces with some olive oil, and salt and pepper liberally. Roast until you start to see some char on the edges, approximately ten minutes.

Flip the cabbage wedges onto the other side, roast for another five minutes, then remove and lightly cover with some freshly grated parmesan. Roast for another few minutes and drizzle with the dressing before serving.

Thursday, March 5, 2020

Peanut Noodles

Your food processor is the secret to easy peanut sauce. Throw in all the ingredients, hit the button, and done. For more of a workout, whisk everything together in a large bowl.

Combine a quarter cup each of peanut butter and soy sauce, a teaspoon of sesame oil, two tablespoons each of rice wine vinegar and honey, three minced garlic cloves, and a tablespoon of finely minced fresh ginger. Process or whisk until smooth, then add some Sriracha to taste.

In a large bowl, toss the sauce with a package of cooked lo mein, soba, or half a pound of thin spaghetti, a couple of grated carrots, half a chopped red pepper, two thinly sliced scallions, and some chopped cilantro. Cooked chicken or tofu are also good options.

Tuesday, February 25, 2020

Skirt Steak with Stewed Lima Beans

Skirt steak is one of my favorite cuts! It’s super flavorful simply broiled or grilled with some salt and pepper, and these stewed lima beans made for a great side dish.

In a large straight sided pan or pot sauté a minced shallot in olive oil until translucent. Drain a half a can of anchovies and add to the pot along with several finely chopped garlic cloves. After a minute, break up the anchovies with a wooden spoon then pour in a small can of crushed tomatoes, stir well, and continue to simmer for another ten minutes or so.

Add about 12 oz. of defrosted lima beans, cover, and continue to simmer for at least another ten minutes. Salt and pepper to taste and you’re ready to go.

Monday, February 17, 2020

Potato Cheddar Bacon Soup

Potatoes, cheddar, bacon, what could be bad? And this soup doesn’t take much more than frying some bacon and boiling some potatoes.

Cook six to eight slices of bacon in the bottom of a large soup pot until crisp. Remove the bacon and set aside to cool and crumble, but leave the fat in the pot.

Stir in two chopped onions and six minced garlic cloves and sauté over medium heat for six or seven minutes. Once the onion is translucent, add three cubed unpeeled baking potatoes, a teaspoon of kosher salt, a half teaspoon of black pepper, and a couple of quarts of chicken stock.

Bring to a boil then simmer until the potatoes are tender, about 30 to 40 minutes. Puree until smooth with a stick blender, or transfer in batches to a blender or food processor. Then, with the soup back in the pot and the heat on low, stir in at least 8 ounces of shredded sharp cheddar and the crumbled bacon. Salt and pepper to taste.

Double up on this one so you’ll have plenty left over for the freezer, there’s a lot of winter ahead of us.

Wednesday, February 12, 2020

Honey Roasted Carrots and Feta

Honey and feta are an awesome combination of sweet and salty, and even tastier paired with some sweet roasted carrots.

Preheat the oven to 450 while you toss your carrots with salt, pepper, and a couple of small splashes of olive oil. If you’re looking to spice up your Valentine’s Day, try adding a bit of cayenne pepper as well. Transfer to a large shallow baking dish and roast until they start to caramelize around the edges…about 45 minutes.

Remove the pan from the oven and toss with a few healthy drizzles of honey until well coated, followed by the crumbled feta.

Monday, February 10, 2020

Shelled Edamame

I always have a bag of shelled edamame in the freezer for last minute soups, salads, side dishes and more. I’m a huge fan! Anything a lima bean does, an edamame can do better.

Having a soup, throw them in. Salad, throw them in. Stir fry or pasta, throw them in. You can even substitute them for garbanzo beans in your hummus.

As far as side dishes go, if you’re cooking Asian, saute them with some ginger, scallions, and a splash of soy sauce or sesame oil. Italian, saute with some minced garlic then toss with grated parmesan.

And if you’re turning on the oven anyway, you can toss them with vinegar and salt and roast for thirty minutes. Even easier, boil or steam them quickly then toss with your favorite salsa, sauce, or condiment.

And if you’re having one of those, I can’t bear to cook, kind of days, you can even eat them raw. Just defrost them quickly in a strainer under some tepid running water. But tossing them with some olive oil, salt, and pepper or chili flakes doesn’t take much, and I think you’ll find it much more satisfying.

Tuesday, January 21, 2020

Cheesy Baked Pasta

This cheesy, crusty, super flavorful pasta is the ultimate mid-January satisfier. And, you could easily add some cooked cauliflower or broccoli if you want to balance it out.

Preheat the oven to 400, then boil and drain half a pound of short pasta, cooked al dente. Rinse with cold water to keep it from cooking further.

In a large straight sided pan or pot, sauté a chopped red onion until translucent. Turn the heat down to low and add a couple of cloves of minced garlic, half a tin of chopped anchovies, a couple tablespoons of capers, half a cup of milk, the optional chopped vegetables, and a large pinch of red chili flakes. Cook for two minutes then remove from the heat and set aside to cool slightly.

Thirty minutes before you want to serve, add a cup of shredded Mixed Italian or Mozzarella cheese, the cooked pasta, and a healthy grind of black pepper. Mix well and spoon into a baking dish. Top with a mixture of half a cup each of bread crumbs and grated pecorino or parmesan. Bake for 25 minutes.

Friday, January 10, 2020

Celery Root Remoulade

It’s root vegetable season and they don’t all have to be boiled, baked, or steamed. This classic French bistro salad is served cold, and packed with flavor.

For the sauce, mix together a half cup of mayonnaise, a tablespoon of Dijon mustard, two tablespoons each of chopped capers and relish, a healthy squeeze of fresh lemon juice, and some chopped parsley. Salt and pepper to taste.

Shortly before serving, add about a pound and a half of peeled and shredded celery root and mix well.

Thursday, January 2, 2020

Pickled Pepper Sauce

This is my kind of sauce, easy, tasty, and adaptable…I didn’t change a thing from a Sam Sifton recipe I found in NYT Cooking. I served it on pork chops, but could have also been chicken or beef.

In a small sauce pot, sauté a few sliced garlic cloves in a splash of olive oil. Once translucent, add the brine from a jar of hot pickled red peppers, the halved and seeded peppers, and a cup of white wine. For even more heat, add a pinch or two of chili flakes. Cook on medium heat until the liquid is reduced by half then set aside.

Salt the pork chops and cook over medium-high heat in a large frying pan. Once the meat is browned on both sides and cooked to your desired doneness, remove from the pan.

Turn down the heat to medium-low then pour the reduced sauce into the pan along with a couple tablespoons of butter. Stir until the butter melts and forms a velvety consistency. Salt and pepper to taste, then serve over the chops.