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.

Saturday, November 27, 2021

Potato Latkes

Potato latkes were actually one of the first recipes I wrote about ten years ago when I started doing this column. Since then, I’ve tweaked a few things and if I do say so myself, they’re even better than they were all those latkes ago.

I still use russet potatoes, but no longer bother peeling them. And instead of the food processor, I grate everything by hand on a box grater…wearing goggles. I’ve changed up the quantities a bit as well, but otherwise, the ingredients are the same.

Coarsely grate a pound of potatoes and a large onion into a bowl. Add three tablespoons of flour, a half a teaspoon of baking powder, two teaspoons of kosher salt, half a teaspoon of black pepper, and a lightly stirred egg. Mix well, your hands work best.

Place a large heavy skillet on medium low heat with just enough vegetable oil to barely cover the bottom. When the oil is hot, take a quarter cup of the mixture with a slotted spoon and squeeze out as much of the liquid as you can using the palm of your hand. Tip the spoonful of mixture into the pan and flatten slightly with a spatula.  Repeat until your pan is full but not overcrowded.

Cook five to six minutes, flipping, rotating, and adjusting the heat to get them just right. When they’re golden brown on both sides, transfer to a paper bag and sprinkle with some more salt. Serve immediately, or keep them warm in the oven until you’re ready.

Monday, November 22, 2021

Quick and Easy Falafel

Thanksgiving eve can be a little stressful for the cooks of the house, so keep it light and tasty with some quick and easy falafel. The quantities below will yield seven or eight patties, and can be prepped earlier in the day on Wednesday.

Rinse, and drain a can of garbanzo beans. Then, combine a 1/3 of a cup each of parsley and cilantro in a food processor with a large chopped shallot, four chopped garlic cloves, a couple of tablespoons of sesame seeds, a teaspoon and a half of cumin, and a quarter teaspoon each of salt and pepper. Pulse until it forms a coarse spread.

Add the garbanzo beans and four tablespoons of flour to the mixture then pulse in spurts.  You don’t want it to get too smooth, you’re looking for more of a chunky paste. If it seems too runny, add some more flour. Transfer to a bowl, cover with saran, and refrigerate for at least a couple of hours.

To cook, form into two-to-three-inch patties and brown in a large frying pan over medium heat with just enough oil to cover the bottom. They don’t take more than a few minutes per side. Serve with some tzatziki, your favorite hot sauce, or to keep it real light with just a squeeze of lemon.

Monday, November 15, 2021

Shaved Brussel Sprout, Kale, and Pecorino Salad

I’m a big believer in a big fresh crunchy salad as part of our Thanksgiving meal. Don’t get me wrong, I love creamed spinach and green bean casserole, but it’s also nice to have something a little more refreshing at the table.

This one hits all the right texture and flavor buttons with a mix of Brussel Sprouts, lacinato kale, salty pecorino, sweet cranberries, and a citrus dressing. What makes it even more perfect for Thanksgiving is that it can be prepped hours ahead of time, won’t get soggy, and because it has dried cranberries, spares you from having to make cranberry sauce for the two people that actually eat it.

Thanksgiving morning, shave the Brussel Sprouts and devein and finely chop the lacinato…equal amounts of each. Combine and store in a plastic bag in the fridge.  You can also shave the pecorino and do the same.

The vinaigrette is simply some fresh lemon or orange juice with your best extra virgin olive oil, salt, and pepper. Shake well in a mason jar, then set aside.

A half an hour before you sit down, throw the greens and shaved cheese together in a large bowl with some dried cranberries, then dress, toss, and salt to taste.

Monday, November 8, 2021

Egg Kimchi Tacos

While I was savoring every bite of these kimchi egg tacos, I couldn’t help but think of one of my most trustworthy mantras, it doesn’t have to be difficult to be good.  A few quality ingredients and five minutes are all it takes sometimes.   

I always keep a pack of corn tortillas in the freezer, and have learned over the years that it pays to take the time to throw a wax paper divider or two between them so you don’t have to defrost the whole pack when you only want a couple.

Reheat the defrosted tortillas in the toaster oven at 300, or in a dry pan over a low flame on the stove.

When they’re soft, warm, and pliable, top them with a fried egg, salt, a pile of kimchi, and a squirt of Sriracha. A few chopped scallions or sliced avocado are nice too if you have them around.

So perfect…any time of day or night!

Monday, November 1, 2021

Squash, Kale, and Garbanzo Curry

Cold nights and curry go together like stacking wood and The Rolling Stones. What I especially love about this particular combination is the way the sweetness of the butternut squash perfectly balances the spice and heat of the curry paste. 

As far as curry pastes go, my favorite brand is Maesri, particularly the masaman…it’s also the most economical at $2 a can. They often have it at the East Warren Market, but if not, it’s always available at the Asian markets in Burlington and online. But any curry paste will work.

Add a cup of chicken stock and the curry paste to a large pot and bring to a boil. Immediately turn down the heat, stir in half a bunch of deveined and chopped kale and simmer for about twenty minutes.  

Skin and deseed a large butternut squash, cut into ¾” cubes, then add to the pot along with a can of coconut milk and a drained can of garbanzo beans. Continue to simmer, stirring occasionally, until the squash is tender. Salt to taste.

It makes a great meal on its own, over rice, or served with a piece of chicken or beef on top.