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, 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.