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.

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.