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, September 27, 2021

Roast Sweet Potatoes, Scallions, and Almonds

 

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

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

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

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

Happy Fall!

Monday, September 20, 2021

Tahini Beans with Crispy Lentils


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

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

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

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

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

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

Spread the crispy lentils over the beans and serve.

Monday, September 13, 2021

Leek and Tomato Salad

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, September 8, 2021

Frisee, Corn, and Potato Salad

 


What I love about this salad is the way the frisee wilts a bit when you toss it with the hot corn.  And then with a shallot Dijon vinaigrette…late summer perfection!

To make the vinaigrette, add a small minced shallot to a clean jar followed by a tablespoon of Dijon, a few heavy grinds of black pepper, three tablespoons of red wine vinegar, and six of extra virgin olive oil.  Shake it well, then salt to taste.

Cube or wedge some white or red potatoes into half inch pieces then lightly boil in extra salty water until barely fork tender.  Immediately strain and douse with cold water to keep them from cooking anymore.

Meanwhile, in a large pan, sauté a couple shucked corn and three finely chopped cloves of garlic for three to four minutes. Salt and pepper to taste.

Wash and cut your frisee into bite size pieces. Then, in a large bowl, toss it together with the potatoes and warm corn right out of the hot pan.  Stir in the dressing and serve.

If you add a piece of salmon or chicken on top, douse that with some of the dressing as well.

Tuesday, August 31, 2021

Watermelon and Green Apple Salad

School might be starting but summer isn’t over yet, and this salad is so perfect for a hot, humid evening with family or friends.

In a large bowl, toss together a medium cubed watermelon, two green apples cut into 1/4 pieces, the zest from a lime, the juice from two limes, a couple of splashes of extra virgin olive oil, a small handful each of mint and cilantro, and coarse salt to taste. 

If you happen to have any around, toasted mustard seeds are nice…as are chopped salted peanuts.  And the key to keeping it from getting soggy? Prep everything ahead of time, then wait until the last possible minute to toss it all together.

Monday, August 23, 2021

Mussels with Sausage and White Beans


On their own mussels aren’t really a meal, but they could be with a quick sausage and bean sauce. For two pounds of mussels, figure on two sausages, a can of drained white beans, and about 12 ounces of your favorite store bought or fresh tomato sauce.

Using a sharp knife, slice through the casings and slide the meat from the sausages into a hot sauce pan along with some minced shallot and garlic. Use a spatula to break up the meat while it’s cooking.

When it’s cooked through, add the tomato sauce, drained beans, and for a little heat, some red pepper flakes. Cover and simmer for ten minutes.

In a separate pot, bring a half an inch of clam stock or white wine to a boil, drop in the mussels, turn down the heat to medium, and cover. After four minutes, pour in the sauce and a handful of chopped parsley.  Give it a gentle stir, cover for another minute, check to see that the mussels are sufficiently cooked, then serve.  Grated parmesan is optional.

Monday, August 16, 2021

Tonnato Sauce

After you make this once, everyone in your household will be chanting for it before every meal. Tonnato is the bomb!  It’s awesome on cutlets, but just as amazing on tomato toast, steak, chicken, shrimp, grilled vegetables, pita toasts, a substitute for mayonnaise in egg salad, the list goes on and on. You can’t go wrong, and you’ll have so much fun trying.

Tonnato is reason enough to acquire a food processor if you don’t already have one. Add a half a cup of extra virgin olive oil, a quarter cup of drained capers, two drained cans of premium tuna fish in oil, a tin of drained anchovies, the juice of one lemon, and a half a teaspoon of black pepper. Process until smooth and salt to taste…but it shouldn’t need much.

If you want to thin it out, add some more olive oil.  If you want to thicken it up, add some mayo. But don’t wait, make it now.  I promise you’ll be wondering how you’ve lived this long without it.

Monday, August 9, 2021

Yogurt Herb Marinated Chicken

“I wouldn’t feed white meat to my dog!” A local chef said this to me a while back when we were talking chicken, and I couldn’t argree more. Even fried, dark meat reigns supreme!  However, in the spirit of open mindedness, and the fact that my wife enjoys an occasional chicken breast, I gave this yogurt marinated chicken a try…and it was actually pretty tender and moist.

In a large bowl, stir together a third of a cup of whole milk yogurt, five minced garlic cloves, the zest from a lemon, a small handful of cilantro, a splash of olive oil, four teaspoons of dried oregano or za’atar, and salt and pepper.  Mix in two pounds of chicken breasts or tenders, cover with saran, then put in the fridge for at least a few hours…overnight is even better.

Remove the chicken from the fridge, then broil or grill making sure not to overcook and dry out. To serve, top with a big squeeze of lemon juice and a sprinkle of dried herbs.

In case you’re wondering, chicken thighs work really well too!

Monday, August 2, 2021

Blistered Tomatoes and Basil

Hard to go wrong with anything tomato these days, but this one way exceeded my expectations given how easy it was.  The high heat really brought out the sweetness in the tomatoes, and together with the balsamic and basil…crazy good!

Preheat your oven to 450. Then, in a large bowl, toss together a pint of local cherry tomatoes, enough extra virgin olive oil to lightly coat, a healthy sprinkle of kosher salt, and a tablespoon of balsamic vinegar.

Pop them in the oven for approximately 40 minutes, or until they just start to split. Let cool for a minute, then stir in a large handful of coarsely chopped basil. That’s it!

Serve as a side dish, or pour over some fish, chicken, pork, or beef.  You can’t go wrong; I think they’d even work on vanilla ice cream. And make sure you use a spatula on the pan to get every last drop.

Monday, July 26, 2021

Summer Pea Soup

The peas I picked up at the farmer’s market were so good, I thought, these would make an amazing summer soup. But, being the lazy/practical cook that I am, the reality of shelling all those peas, not to mention the cost, made me think better of it. I bought a bag of frozen baby sweet peas instead…and the soup was still pretty amazing.

In a medium soup pot, sauté a finely chopped sweet onion in olive oil until translucent. Add four cups of chicken stock, bring to a boil, then add the peas and turn the heat down to medium.

Cook for five minutes then take the pot off of the heat. Either puree with a stick blender, or transfer in batches to a food processor. Either way, you don’t want to see any peas floating around in your soup.

Salt and pepper to taste, stir in a half a cup of crème fraiche, reheat and serve.

Tuesday, July 20, 2021

Cauliflower Mint Salad

Sometimes the trickiest part about putting out a meal isn’t making the food, but timing it so everything is ready at the same time. However, you can really increase your chances of getting it right when you include a side dish that can be made well ahead of time and served at room temperature.

Preheat your over to 450 and cut a head of cauliflower into small florets. Toss with some olive oil and salt and pepper, then roast for approximately 40 minutes, or until it’s caramelized around the edges.

Transfer to a large bowl, let cool for ten minutes, then stir together with a large handful of chopped mint.

If you’re eating within a few hours, leave at room temperature, otherwise refrigerate until an hour before you need it. Either way, give it a good squeeze of lemon before serving.  Of, if you’re really feeling it, prep a sauce with tahini, olive oil, lemon juice, salt, and pepper to puddle under the cauliflower on a platter.

Monday, July 12, 2021

Classic Wedge Salad


There’s only one thing to do when friends bring over the largest, crunchiest, most beautiful head of iceberg lettuce from their garden that you’ve ever seen…break out the blue cheese and bacon.  Classics are classics for good reason!

To make the blue cheese dressing, crumble four ounces of blue cheese into a bowl.  Add a half a cup each of mayonnaise and sour cream, a third of a cup of buttermilk, the juice from half a lemon, a half a teaspoon of black pepper, and salt to taste. Mix well, then refrigerated for at least an hour.

While that’s chilling, coarsely chop and crisp up a third of a pound of bacon then set aside on a paper towel or brown bag.

To serve, cut the lettuce into wedges, remove the core and stem from each wedge, then generously dollop with the dressing followed by the bacon bits. 

If there’s any dressing left over, or if you were savvy enough to double the recipe, puddle it under a steak and roast potatoes sometime in the next week.

Tuesday, July 6, 2021

Honey Butter Shrimp with Wilted Greens

Bitter greens really make this dish pop!  This time around I used endive along with some local arugula…gave me a nice color mix. Other greens that would have worked include radicchio, mustard, and collard.

Season a pound of shelled shrimp with salt and pepper. Heat a splash of olive oil over medium heat in a large cast iron skillet or sauté pan, slide in the shrimp and cook for a couple of minutes.

Flip the shrimp and leave on the heat for another minute or so, then stir in two tablespoons of room temperature butter and a tablespoon of honey. Turn the heat down to low and stir to coat well.

Toss the shrimp, and every last drop of the honey butter, together with the greens in a large bowl.  Let sit for a minute so the greens can wilt a bit, salt to taste, then serve.

Tuesday, June 29, 2021

Turmeric Black Pepper Chicken

Give your traditional bbq sauce the year off and give this tangy spice rub a try this holiday weekend…no matter what part of the chicken you’re planning on grilling.

For four pounds of chicken, mix together two teaspoons of ground black pepper, a teaspoon of turmeric, four teaspoons of kosher salt, and a teaspoon of sugar.  About an hour before grilling, use your hands to rub the spice mixture into the chicken.

What really makes this dish pop is fresh lime juice…once the chicken is fully cooked, remove it from the grill and squeeze two limes over the top then serve.

Happy 4th!

Tuesday, June 22, 2021

Roast Squash with Chili Yogurt and Cilantro Puree


Once I turn off my furnace for the summer, I don’t care how cold it gets, there’s no way I’m turning it back on until Fall.  So, when the nights get cool, dinner is all about roasting, and this Ottolenghi squash recipe is one of my new favorites.

Start by washing a large butternut squash as you’ll be leaving the skin on. Wipe dry and cut it in half the long way, remove the seeds, then cut it into wedges 2 to 3 inches long by ¾ inches wide.  Place in a large bowl and toss with a third of a cup of olive oil, a teaspoon of cinnamon, a teaspoon of salt, and some black pepper. 

Roast skin side down on a baking sheet at 425 for about 40 minutes, or until soft, then take out of the oven and let cool.

For the Chili yogurt, stir together a cup of Greek Yogurt and a teaspoon or two of Sriracha. To make the cilantro puree simply combine a half a bunch of cilantro, a clove of garlic, a large drizzle of olive oil, and a few pinches of salt in a food processor. 

To serve, liberally dollop the yogurt and cilantro puree over the squash as well as some toasted almonds or pumpkin seeds…if you happen to have some in the pantry.

Monday, June 14, 2021

Refried Beans

Most of the time it’s the sides that takes grilled meat or veggies to the next level, and some homemade refried beans will do just that.

Drain two cans of black or pinto beans into a strainer and rinse well. In a pot with a little bit of vegetable oil, sauté a small diced onion and four minced garlic cloves until translucent. It’s not necessary, but if you want to add some cumin, chili, or chipotle powder, this is the time to stir them in.

Add the drained beans along with half a cup of chicken or vegetable stock then simmer uncovered for twenty minutes. Salt and pepper to taste, then remove from the heat and either mash them with a potato masher, or transfer them to a food processor and pulse until you’ve reached the consistency you’re looking for.

Put them back on low heat and stir in the juice from a lime wedge or two. Serve topped with some crumbled Queso Fresco of feta if you happen to have some handy.

Monday, June 7, 2021

Roast Broccoli with Everything Bagel Seasoning

 

There’s always so much to do this time of year, and making dinner often becomes more of a chore than the highlight of your evening. We live in an incredible place, but on nights like these, I just wish we could get a pizza delivered.

This is when you need to pull out your secret ingredients, for this one I recommend everything bagel seasoning. It’s all about the condiments, right!

Preheat your oven to 450, then cut up your broccoli and toss well with a little bit of extra virgin olive oil and several generous shakes of salt and pepper. Mix it together with your hands, throw it in the oven, set your timer for 30 minutes, and go pull some weeds or get the kids in the bath. 

After 30 minutes, give it a quick toss and roast for another 10 to 15. You’re looking for some char around the edges. When you get it where you want it, set it on the stove and immediately hit it with the everything bagel seasoning.  Done!  Serve it right away or later at room temperature.

It goes great with cheese and olives too.

Tuesday, June 1, 2021

Soft Shell Crab with Lemon Aioli

Soft shell crab season has begun, and it’s a short one so don’t wait! Anyone that’s made them before knows how easy they are to prepare, as is lemon aioli, the perfect accompaniment. Whether you eat them hot out of the pan, or sandwiched between a grilled buttered bun, soft shell crabs mean the start of summer.

When you get your crabs, ask the folks at the fish counter to clean them for you…much easier. To cook the crabs, generously salt and pepper both sides, dredge in flour, and fry for a few minutes per side in a medium hot pan with just enough vegetable oil to barely cover the bottom. When they’re crispy golden, remove and drain for half a minute on a brown paper bag or paper towel.

The aioli can be made ahead of time and kept in the fridge. Separate a room temperature egg then slide the yolk into a small bowl. Add the juice from a quarter of a lemon and a half a teaspoon of Dijon mustard, whisk well.

Slowly drizzle about a quarter cup olive oil into the bowl while whisking constantly. If it starts to separate, hold off on the oil and whisk until it comes back together. When it’s about the consistency of a thin mayonnaise, season with salt and pepper to taste. 

Depending on what else you’re serving, you may want to also whisk in a minced clove of garlic.


Monday, May 24, 2021

Vietnamese Sauce

This traditional Vietnamese sauce also doubles for a super flavorful marinade as well as a salad dressing. This time around I marinated the steak for an hour, the brown sugar makes for some awesome caramelization. I then served it with a small bowl of the sauce on the side along with some raw cucumber and radish. Yum!

No cooking required, just stir together a half a cup of fish sauce, the juice from three limes and the zest from one, two tablespoon of brown sugar, two minced garlic cloves, and a seeded minced jalapeno. 

Monday, May 17, 2021

Celery Parmesan Soup

 


This is the perfect soup for this time of year, almost spring.

In a large soup pot with some olive oil, sauté a chopped shallot, a minced clove of garlic, and a chopped head or two of celery…leaves and all. Give it about ten minutes then add a quarter teaspoon of black pepper and enough chicken stock to cover the celery by about an inch. As always, the better the stock, the better the soup.

Simmer for approximately thirty minutes or until the celery is very soft, then puree using a stick blender or transfer to a food processor.

Put the soup back on low heat and stir in a cup or two of grated parmesan. It depends on how much soup you made, but it’s hard to add too much. To finish, salt to taste.

Monday, May 10, 2021

Roasted Eggplant with Oregano

Meat, veggies, cheese, beer, salami, tortillas, rum, the list goes on.  The number of food and beverage producers here in the MRV is incredible! And if we cooks weren’t already lucky enough, we can now add dried herbs to the list of local products. The Mad River Botanicals’ dried oregano I picked up at Mehurons for this eggplant roast was the best thing to fresh I’ve ever found on a supermarket shelf.

Preheat your oven to 450 then slice about two pounds of eggplant into ¾ inch rounds. In a large bowl, use your hands to toss the eggplant with a tablespoon of salt and enough olive oil to coat well.  It may take as much as half a cup depending on how thirsty your eggplant is.

Place the slices on parchment lined cookie sheets and bake for approximately 45 minutes.

While those are cooking, mix together six to eight minced anchovy fillets, a tablespoon plus of red wine vinegar, a minced garlic clove, two to three tablespoons of olive oil, a quarter teaspoon of black pepper, and a half a teaspoon of salt.

Pull the eggplant from the oven when they’re golden on the outside and creamy all the way through.  Set aside to cool, then gently toss with the anchovy mixture, a quarter cup of chopped parsley, and a tablespoon of dried oregano. 

Monday, May 3, 2021

Scallion Chicken

This one may look familiar, it’s an exceptionally tasty recipe I saw recently in NYT Cooking. I used a couple of pounds of boneless chicken thighs.

Preheat your oven to 450 while you stir together 4 thinly chopped scallions, 3 tablespoons each of Dijon mustard and fresh minced ginger, 2 tablespoons of minced garlic, a tablespoon of white miso paste, 2 teaspoons of lt. brown sugar, a teaspoon of salt, half a teaspoon of black pepper, and 6 tablespoons of vegetable oil. 

In a large bowl, toss together the chicken and sauce until it’s well coated.  Spread the thighs out in an oven proof baking dish or sheet pan and roast on until they’re cooked through, approximately 25 minutes. 

Tuesday, April 27, 2021

Crispy Potato Veggie Melt

Crispy bottom, creamy middle, gooey top, that’s why you should always throw in a few extra potatoes for later in the week when you’re making baked potatoes. 

Preheat your oven to 500.  Place your fully baked potatoes in an oven proof dish, squash them flat with a potato masher, salt, pepper, and drizzle generously with olive oil. When your oven reaches temperature, roast on a lower rack for approximately twenty minutes.

While your potatoes are cooking, slice up some mushrooms, scallions, spinach, kale, or leftover veggies you may have in the fridge…broccoli, cauliflower, or peppers…nearly anything will work. Sauté together until they’re soft and wilted, then salt and pepper to taste. You could add some chili flakes too for some heat. 

When your potatoes are crispy on the bottom and around the edges, pull from the oven and cover with the sauteed veggies and some shredded cheddar, mozzarella, or Monterey Jack cheese.  Turn the oven down to 350 and bake for another fifteen minutes.

Monday, April 19, 2021

Carrot Ginger Dressing

It was incredibly difficult to hide my emotions when I saw my first bag of local spinach at the market last week, big thanks to those that helped me get back to my feet. 

After I gained my composure, I couldn’t get home fast enough to make a salad. I wasn’t even out of the parking lot before I knew what dressing I’d be going with, carrot ginger…one of my favorites. It’s a sure thing whether you toss it with spinach, kale, iceberg, Brussel sprouts, endive, or grilled asparagus.

Roughly chop a couple of carrots and pulse a few times in a food processor. Add an inch or so of chopped unpeeled ginger, a couple tablespoons of fresh lime juice, three teaspoons of honey, a teaspoon or two of sesame oil, a quarter teaspoon of salt, a third of a cup of extra virgin olive oil, and a third of a cup of rice vinegar. Run until smooth, add more salt to taste.

Support your local farmers!

Monday, April 12, 2021

Bacon and Pea Pasta

 

This pasta is reason enough to always have bacon and peas in your freezer.

Cut a half pound of bacon into quarter inch slices and sauté over medium heat. Once it starts to brown, remove from the pan and set aside.

Add a large finely chopped shallot to the hot pan with the bacon fat and sauté until translucent. Slide in a couple of minced garlic cloves, cook for another minute then turn down the heat to low. Stir in the defrosted peas as well as the cooked bacon and leave on the heat while the noodles are boiling.

Before draining the pasta reserve a cup of the pasta water in a measuring cup and stir in a teaspoon of concentrated chicken stock.

Add a half a cup of the chicken stock to the bacon and peas scraping any bits up from the bottom of the pan. Stir in the drained pasta and a cup of grated parmesan or pecorino. Toss well, adding the rest of the chicken stock as to loosen things up. 

Let it sit for minute, top with a little more cheese, and serve.

Monday, April 5, 2021

Maple Soy Glazed Salmon

 


Maple syrup and mud, must be spring. Time to lighten things up in the kitchen, stew and casserole season is over.

In a small bowl, stir together a minced garlic with a few tablespoons each of maple syrup and soy sauce. Cut a pound and a half of salmon into four pieces then combine with the sauce in a large zip lock bag and marinate for thirty minutes.

Remove the salmon from the bag and pour the sauce into a small sauce pan.  While your roasting, pan frying, or grilling your salmon, reduce the sauce for a few minutes over medium low heat to thicken. Add some Sriracha for a spicier version.

Pour over your cooked salmon just before serving.

Monday, March 29, 2021

Fennel Avocado Salad

One fennel, one avocado, and half a lemon…that’s about all this super satisfying salad takes. A firm, barely ripe avocado will work best.

Cut the stalks from the top of your fennel bulb saving any fronds to add to your salad later.  Remove any wilted or coarse outer layers.  Cut in half, and halves again…quarters are easier to work with…then thinly slice.

Halve the avocado, remove the pit, and cut into quarter inch chunks. Combine the avocado and fennel in a bowl along with the juice from half a lemon, a few pinches of chili flakes, a nice drizzle of your best olive oil, the fennel fronds, and salt to taste. Yum!

Tuesday, March 23, 2021

Polenta with Mushrooms and Arugula Puree

 


I like my polenta soupy, think cream of wheat consistency. So, for a cup of polenta, ignore what the directions on the package say and use six cups of water.

Bring the water to a boil with a teaspoon of salt then slowly stir in the polenta. Turn the heat to very low and cook for around 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. 

While the polenta is cooking, sauté a finely chopped shallot and 12 to 16 ounces of sliced cremini or white mushrooms in a few tablespoons of olive oil.  Once the mushrooms start to brown, remove from the heat.

Peel two cloves of garlic, cut into chunks, then mince in a food processor.  Add two large handfuls of arugula and a quarter teaspoon of kosher salt. With the processor running, drizzle olive oil into the mixture until you get a smooth somewhat loose consistency.

When your polenta is done, stir in a little butter, half a cup of grated parmesan, and salt and pepper to taste. Spoon the polenta onto plates and top with the mushrooms and arugula puree…chicken or shrimp is optional. 

Tuesday, March 16, 2021

White Bean Garlic Soup

 

Dry beans are best as the water you boil them in makes for the richest broth. But canned beans are still good, just make sure you strain them and rinse well before using. Navy, cannellini, or any white bean will work.

If you’re starting with dry beans, soak for six hours, drain, then add them to a soup pot with enough water to cover by several inches.  Lightly boil until the beans are soft, then drain, making sure to reserve all of the bean broth. 

The golden-brown garlic is the key to this soup. Generously cover the bottom of a soup pot with extra virgin olive oil and set over low to medium heat. Add a handful of peeled garlic cloves to the pot and cook for around twenty minutes, stirring occasionally until golden all over…not dark brown.

Add a chopped onion and cook until translucent. Stir in the beans and enough liquid to cover the beans by a couple of inches.  Use either half and half bean broth and chicken stock if you used dry beans, or all chicken stock. 

Simmer for twenty minutes, then blend until silky smooth using a stick blender or food processor. If it’s too thick add some more broth or stock.  If it’s too thin, simmer longer.  Salt and pepper to taste.

Monday, March 8, 2021

Miso Cod

You’re going to be very surprised how easily this miso butter can turn a plain piece of baked cod into something worthy of dinner guests…something we’ll hopefully be thinking about sometime soon.  If you’re not big on cod, it works just as well on salmon, scallops, chicken, steak, cooked veggies, and sweet potatoes.

To make the miso butter, use a fork to mash together 4 tablespoons of room temperature butter with two tablespoons of miso paste. That’s it.

Salt and pepper the cod and bake at 400 for 15 to 20 minutes depending on the thickness of the fillet.  It will flake easily with a fork when cooked through. 

Remove from the oven, transfer to a plate to ensure it doesn’t overcook, and hit it immediately with the miso butter.  Give it a half a minute to melt and serve.

Thursday, March 4, 2021

Chili Crisp

 


If you haven’t yet jumped on the chili crisp rage, get ready to be blown away.  It’s so addictive you’ll want to put it on everything. It will be the last thing you think about before falling sleep, and the first when you wake up.

There are many very good store-bought varieties including the original Lao Gan Ma with a head shot of a Chinese grandma on the label. I’ve heard rumors her spicy chili crisp made her one of the first millionaires in China. 

Trader Joe’s has a take on her sauce as do a lot of celebrity chefs. However, the best one I’ve had so far is one a friend gave me along with this recipe from Bon Appetit magazine.

Thinly slice four shallots and simmer in a small pot over medium heat along with two heads of sliced garlic, one and a half cups of vegetable oil, two cinnamon sticks, and six star anise. Cook for about twenty minutes or until the shallots and garlic are browned.

In a medium bowl, mix together a finely chopped 2” piece of ginger, a quarter cup of red chili flakes, two tablespoons of soy sauce and a tablespoon of sugar.  Drain the shallot mixture through a fine sieve into the ginger mixture.  Let the chunks in the sieve cool, then stir back into the chili oil. 

Store in sealed containers in the fridge for up to a month, but don’t worry it won’t last that long. It even makes poached soft tofu irresistible, and that’s something I didn’t think I’d ever say.

Monday, February 22, 2021

Brussel Sprouts with Lemon Breadcrumbs

 

Ten minutes is all this one takes...and it will soon be your new favorite way to cook Brussel sprouts. 

Set a non-stick pan over medium low heat.  Once hot, add a splash of extra virgin olive, the zest from half a lemon, and enough breadcrumbs to cover the bottom.  Toss frequently with a rubber spatula until toasted golden brown then transfer to a bowl and set aside.

Trim each Brussel sprout by removing any browning outer leaves as well as the very bottom of the stem...no more than a 1/16 of an inch, then slice them all in half.

Wipe the breadcrumb pan clean and place back on the heat with a little bit of olive oil.  Add the halved spouts to the hot pan along with some salt and pepper, toss, then cover with a tight-fitting lid. 

Let them cook for a couple of minutes, toss again, and cook for a minute or two more. When they’re barely fork tender, slide them onto a plate and top with the lemon breadcrumbs. 

Monday, February 15, 2021

Wilted Kale and Garlic

Keeping it real simple this week, which a lot of time is the best way to do it.

Devein and coarsely chop some kale, figure about two stems per person. Heat a generous pour of extra virgin olive oil in a large wok, straight sided pan, or pot, along with some finely chopped garlic.

Until recently, I’ve waited until the oil was hot to add the garlic, but after reading otherwise I find I’m liking putting it in right away and then heating the oil and garlic together. It definitely makes it easier to avoid burning the garlic.

Once the garlic is translucent, add the kale and toss to coat well. Continue to cook for another minute or so. You’ll know it’s done when it’s in between crunchy and soggy….wilted. Salt to taste, toss well, and serve.


Tuesday, February 9, 2021

Braised Gochujang St. Louis Ribs

These St. Louis style ribs only took an hour of stove top braising, and the meat was falling off of the bone. Cut the rack up into pieces of three or four ribs, rub all over with some gochujang, then set aside.  Mince a couple peeled garlic cloves and a thumb sized piece of ginger in the food processor.  Add a few tablespoons of gochujang chili paste, the juice from one lime, and enough rice wine vinegar to get a ketchup consistency. 

Sauté a finely chopped medium onion in a large heavy pot with a lid. Once translucent, add a can of tomato paste, a cup and a half of chicken stock, and the gochujang mixture.  Simmer for a few minutes, add the ribs and cover the pot.  Bring to a boil, then turn down the heat to simmer.

After thirty minutes, turn the ribs over in the sauce and cook for another thirty minutes or until they’re tender.  Serve with some roast potato slices, rice, or something else to soak up all that over-the-top flavorful tangy sauce.

Monday, February 1, 2021

Lemon Sardine Pasta

 

This dish is so good you have to give it a chance, even if you’re sardine adverse…you won’t even know they’re in there.

It comes together quickly so start by getting a half a pound of pasta boiling in a pot of salted water.  In a large pan, sauté a minced shallot and a couple of cloves of minced garlic in a generous pour of extra virgin olive oil.  Once the shallots are translucent, add a few big shakes of chili flakes and the zest from half a lemon, leave on low heat.

When your pasta is ready, reserve a cup of the pasta water then slide the noodles into a strainer. Next, drain the oil from a can of sardines and add the fish to the pan with the shallots.  Break them up well with a rubber spatula then stir them together with the rest of the mixture.

To finish, add the noodles to the pan along with the juice from half a lemon and a couple large handfuls of arugula.  Toss well, adding as much of the reserved pasta water that you need to loosen things up. Top with some grated parmesan.

For a pound of pasta just double up on everything.

Monday, January 25, 2021

Collard Greens and Beans

Collard greens, beans, and bacon...talk about comfort food! It makes for a filling meal on its own, or alongside some beef, pork, chicken, or sausage. And despite rumors to the contrary, collards only need to cook for twenty to thirty minutes.  

Slice between an eight and a quarter pound of bacon into ¼” pieces then cook over medium heat in a large pot or high sided pan. When it starts to brown, stir in a chopped onion and cook for another few minutes. 

To complete, add a couple of finely chopped garlic cloves, a can of white beans, a deveined and chopped bunch of collard greens, and enough chicken stock to nearly cover all. Put a lid on it and simmer for twenty minutes or until the greens are tender. 

If you want it a bit thicker, remove the lid and simmer for a while longer. When you have it where you want it, salt and pepper to taste.

Tuesday, January 19, 2021

Easy Shrimp Tacos


Shrimp, kimchi, and avocado, that’s all it takes for a mighty satisfying taco night. If you’re not big on kimchi, substitute a simple slaw by tossing together some shredded cabbage, carrots, lime juice, honey, and cilantro…minced jalapeno or chili flakes for some heat.

Peel the raw shrimp, cut into half inch pieces, then toss in a bowl with some chili powder, cayenne pepper, or if you’re in the mood for something a little cleaner after the holidays, just some salt and pepper. 

Wrap some soft corn tortillas in aluminum foil and pop them in the toaster oven on 300 for five minutes. Once warmed through, lay them out on your plates.

Slide the shrimp into a lightly oiled sauté pan and toss often over medium heat.  They don’t take more than a few minutes, once cooked through portion them out onto the waiting tortillas.  To finish, pile on the kimchi or slaw, followed by the avocado and your favorite salsa. 

Tuesday, January 5, 2021

Lamb Chops with Braised Celery


Cooked celery is one of those things that every time you make you say, why don’t I make this more often…at least I do.  Not only is it tasty and easy to prepare, but it’s relatively inexpensive and lasts for over a week in the fridge. This braised celery is an easy way to gussy up your dinner whether you’re thinking lamb chops, chicken, or jumbo shrimp.

After washing and removing the coarse ends, slice each celery stalk in half or thirds the long way and coarsely chop.  In a large pan, sauté for a few minutes along with a thinly sliced scallion or shallot over medium heat with a splash or two of extra virgin olive oil.  A couple pinches of chili flakes are nice too if you’re looking for some spice.

Add a half a cup of chicken stock and simmer gently uncovered until the celery is soft, shouldn’t be more than 7 to 10 minutes. Add some more stock if necessary.  Stir in a little chopped parsley, some grated parmesan or crumbled feta, salt and pepper to taste, then simmer for another minute and serve.