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, August 31, 2022

Spicy Feta Honey Dip

Anyone thinking of throwing some pork, chicken, or veggies on the barbeque this weekend? Or maybe just considering serving a dip alongside some tasty cocktails? Either way, this spicy feta sauce/dip is just the thing with its balance of sweet and spicy…one of my current favorites in fact. And comes together in no time at all.

Bring 8oz. of feta, 4 oz. of ricotta, and 2 oz. of sour cream or yogurt to room temperature then blend smooth with a tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil, a couple tablespoons of fresh lemon juice, a quarter teaspoon of red chili flakes, and a bit of salt and pepper.

After a minute or so, when it’s real smooth, stop and taste to see if it needs anymore salt, pepper, or chili flakes. Once, you’re happy with the flavor, scrape it into a bowl and stir in about five tablespoons of honey. Cover with saran, then refrigerate until you’re ready to go.

As a sauce, puddle it under your grilled meat or veggies. As a dip, garnish with some sesame seeds, za’atar, harissa, or chili flakes and serve with some toasted pita chips.

Happy September!

Wednesday, August 3, 2022

Thai Jicama Pineapple Slaw

Crunch, sweet, spice, sour, this slaw has it all!

For the dressing, combine the juice from two limes with an equal amount of rice wine vinegar, a quarter cup of extra virgin olive oil, three tablespoons of fish sauce, a tablespoon of honey, and salt and pepper to taste.

Cut the skin from half of a ripe pineapple, remove the core, cut into quarter inch slices, then chop into smallish bite-size pieces. Combine with a quarter to a half of a thinly sliced green cabbage depending on the size, some coarsely chopped jicama, scallion, finely minced Thai or serrano pepper, and a generous amount of finely chopped mint or cilantro.

Add the dressing, toss, and salt and pepper to taste. If it seems dry, you can always add some more lime juice.

Happy August!

Monday, June 27, 2022

Zaatar Salmon with Tahini Lemon Vinaigrette


This is a great dish for July 4th as it can be prepared ahead of time, cooked in the oven or on the barbeque, served hot, cold, or at room temperature, and most importantly, it’s a summer crowd pleaser! I used zaatar which is a Middle Eastern mixture of dried herbs, but you could also use dill, tarragon, basil, thyme, sage or rosemary.

Start with the vinaigrette, these quantities will yield enough for the salmon and a salad to serve it over. Mix together the juice of one and a half to two lemons, two minced garlic cloves, two tablespoons of tahini, a quarter cup extra virgin olive oil, and salt and pepper to taste.  Adjust the consistency by adding some more oil or even a little bit of warm water.

Next, place your heaviest oven proof frying pan on the stove over medium heat, or on high if you’re cooking on a gas barbeque. Cut a pound and a quarter of salmon into four serving sized pieces, generously salt both sides, then season the top with zaatar. Swirl a teaspoon of vegetable oil around the hot pan to coat the bottom then place the salmon in skin side down.

After approximately four minutes, no need to flip, simply transfer the pan to a preheated 350-degree oven and cook for another five minutes, or until it’s done to your liking. For grill users, turn the burner off under the pan, leave the far burner on medium, and close the lid of the barbeque. Either way, when it’s done be sure to remove the salmon from the pan immediately to prevent it from cooking further.

For the salad, coarsely chop some endive, radicchio, and cucumber, then toss with a handful of kalamata olives, and the dressing…making sure to save some to drizzle over the salmon when serving.

Monday, June 6, 2022

Lentil Salad

Our local farmers are amazing! It’s only the beginning of June and at last week’s Waitsfield farmer’s market I saw asparagus, spinach, Russian Kale, radishes, broccolini, onions, herbs, scallions, turnips, greens, and more. Be sure to check it out!

I used the parsley, spinach, and onions I bought along with the first of the Florida corn from the grocery store for my first lentil salad of the season. Lentil salads are about three things, lentils, dressing, and all the other stuff.

You want your lentils firm…not hard or mushy.  For a cup of dry lentils, eleven to twelve minutes at a low boil is usually about right. Rinse with cold water and drain after cooking.

The dressing is where most of the flavor comes from, so don’t hold back on the garlic, herbs, and spices! Start by mincing a clove of garlic or two in the Cuisinart. Next, add a full bunch of parsley, stems and all, a quarter teaspoon of kosher salt, and a tablespoon or two of extra virgin olive oil. Pulse into a coarse paste.

The oil and vinegar go in later, but for now, stir the parsley paste together with the drained lentils in a large bowl and set aside. 

As far as all the other stuff goes, there are countless options. Some of my go to ingredients include kale, arugula, squash, sweet potatoes, dried cranberries, scallions, carrots, celery, cucumber, tomatoes, bell pepper, dates, garbanzo beans, corn, feta cheese, olives, capers, and fresh herbs.

For ingredients like squash and sweet potatoes, it’s necessary to either sauté or roast them ahead of time. Corn, onions, and peppers can be used raw or cooked.

This time around I sauteed the onion and corn before mixing them together with the lentils and some sun-dried tomatoes. I then added some extra virgin olive oil, freshly squeezed lemon juice, and red wine vinegar using a 50/50 oil to acid ratio. And as always, salt and pepper to taste.

For an easy one plate meal, throw some spiced shrimp, chicken, or tofu over the top. 

Thursday, May 5, 2022

Asparagus Pea Shoot Salad

Asparagus, pea shoots, feta, mint…this salad epitomizes spring!

In a small bowl or jar with a lid, combine the juice from half a lemon, twice that amount of extra virgin olive oil, a thinly sliced shallot, a handful of finely chopped mint, salt, and pepper. Mix or shake well and set aside.

Remove the coarse bottoms from a pound of asparagus spears, cut into two-inch pieces, then blanch for a minute or two in a pot of simmering salted water. Once the asparagus is tender but still firm, drain in a colander and run under cold water to keep them from cooking any more.

Five minutes before serving, adjust the dressing if needed with more lemon, oil, salt, or pepper. Then, in a large bowl, combine the asparagus, two ounces of pea shoots, four ounces of crumbled feta, another helping of chopped mint, and the dressing. Toss well.

Happiness, right? Spring is here!


Monday, April 11, 2022

Easy Sausage Marinara Pasta

This one comes together quickly with fresh sausage and some pantry staples.

Remove the casings from four Italian sausages by slicing them down one side and peeling them away from the meat.  Heat a little bit of olive oil in a large pot then sauté the ground sausage and a chopped shallot until the meat is nearly cooked through. If you want to spice it up, this would be the time to add some red pepper flakes…or extra garlic as well.

To finish, simply pour in a jar of your favorite marinara, simmer for 10 minutes, then toss with a pound of cooked pasta and some parmesan. 

Monday, April 4, 2022

Brussel Sprout Parmesan Cranberry Salad

Sour, salty, and sweet, soft and crunchy, this salad has it all!

For a raw Brussel sprout salad I figure about six sprouts per person. Start by removing the discolored outer leaves then slicing as thinly as possible and set aside in a salad bowl. Sometimes it easier to cut the Brussel sprout in half first then slice with the flat cut half against the cutting board.

Squeeze the juice from half a lemon into a small bowl, add a handful of dried cranberries and soak for at least five minutes. Next, prep the parmesan using a cheese planer or the coarsest side of a box grater…shave about a half a cup and set aside.

When you’re ready to go, drizzle some extra virgin olive oil onto the sprouts along with the cranberries and lemon juice. Toss well, add the shaved parmesan then salt and pepper to taste. Depending on how wet you like your salads, you may want to add some more lemon juice or olive oil.

Monday, March 28, 2022

Caesar Crusted Baked Cod


Oh baby oh baby, this is a good one! My best customer and most trustworthy critic told me it was the best thing I’ve made in a long time. There’s a little bit of prep, but it’s still easier than making an actual Caesar dressing.

Preheat your oven to 425. In a small bowl, mash together two minced garlic cloves, some black pepper, the zest from half a lemon, two tablespoons of olive oil, and a tablespoon each of room temperature butter, Dijon mustard, and if you’re a real Caesar fan, anchovy paste.

Stir in a half a cup each of grated parmesan and panko and combine well to form a coarse paste. You may have to loosen it up with another splash or two of olive oil.

Cut about a pound of cod into portion sized pieces and put them onto a butter smeared baking sheet or roasting pan. Use your hands to form a quarter inch layer of the mixture on the tops of the fillets and bake for 15 minutes. Turn up the heat to 450 or 500 and cook until you start to see some browning…probably no more than five minutes.

Give each fillet a big squeeze of lemon juice and serve.

Monday, March 21, 2022

Sauteed Lacinato Kale

Sauteed kale is such a simple pleasure, and it’s even simpler if you don’t have to de-stem it. For this method, it’s better to use lacinato over curly kale as the stems are much more delicate.

Warm a few splashes of olive oil in a large heavy bottomed pot over low heat. Add a couple thinly sliced cloves of garlic and cook until fork tender and the flavor is imparted into the oil.

Next, pour in a half a cup of water, vegetable, or chicken stock along with a bunch of coarsely chopped kale. Turn the heat to medium high, cover, and cook for approximately five minutes. Uncover and simmer until all the liquid has evaporated.

Salt and pepper to taste. And if you have it, drizzle with a fine extra virgin olive oil.

Happy spring!

Monday, March 14, 2022

Korean Eggplant

I’m always looking for new ways to make eggplant, and this side dish I recently discovered in the cookbook Korean Home Cooking was so easy and flavorful I’ll definitely be making it regularly.

Slice a large eggplant in half the long way, cut each half into three long triangular wedges, then cut each of those wedges into two-inch long pieces.

Set your heaviest skillet over medium heat.  Once it’s hot, coat lightly with some veggie oil and place the eggplant wedges cut side down.

Being careful not to let them burn, cook for a couple of minutes until they’re charred on the bottom. Flip to the other cut side, cook for another minute, then turn the heat down to low and leave on the heat until they’re tender and cooked through…about two minutes. Set aside and let cool.

In a medium bowl, mix together two thinly sliced scallions, a small thinly sliced deseeded Fresno chili, a teaspoon of fish sauce, and two teaspoons each of minced garlic, toasted sesame seeds, and soy sauce.

Shred the eggplant pieces lengthwise with your fingers and toss together with the dressing…done! They’re as good at room temperature as they are chilled, and last for a few days in the fridge.

Monday, March 7, 2022

White Bean and Broccoli Rabe Soup

I hadn’t made this broccoli rabe soup in years, and boy I have been missing out. Now that broccoli rabe, also known as rapini, is so easy to find, don’t make the same mistake I did.

Cut about a half an inch from the bottom of the broccoli rabe stocks and discard. Cut the remainder of the bunch into thirds and blanch for a couple of minutes in a large pot of salted water. Drain and run under some cold water to keep it from cooking any further.

Heat a generous pour of olive oil in the soup pot then stir in a few good shakes of red pepper flakes and a couple of finely chopped garlic cloves. After a minute, add the broccoli rabe, stir it around a bit, then add about six cups of chicken or vegetable stock.

Bring to a boil, then quickly turn down to a simmer. Stir in a drained can of cannellini, navy, or northern white beans and simmer for another twenty minutes. Salt to taste.

A little parmesan grated over the top is never a bad idea.

Monday, February 28, 2022

Honey Yogurt Squash Puree

On its own, this butternut squash puree is pretty awesome! But combining it with something spicy sent it into another orbit! The something spicy I used this time around were sauteed onions with picante smoked paprika…served them with a couple of lamb chops squeezed in the middle.

But let’s talk about the puree. Peel, deseed, and cut a butternut squash into one-inch chunks, toss with a little olive oil, salt, and pepper, and roast at 400 until very tender. You could boil it, but roasting really brings out the flavor of the squash.

Once it’s cool enough, mash or throw it into the food processor with a couple of tablespoons of honey. The amount of yogurt depends on how thick both your puree and yogurt are, but I would say you should add at least a few tablespoons. Once you’ve got your desired consistency, salt and pepper to taste and reheat in a Teflon pan when you’re ready to serve.

Monday, February 21, 2022

Salsa Verde Smothered Pork Chops


I love my condiments, especially when you want dinner on the table in fifteen minutes...but you want it to taste like you spent an hour.

Salt and pepper the pork chops and place in a hot pan with just a dab of oil to help kickstart the browning. Give them less than a minute on each side then turn down the heat to low. Add a cup of salsa verde, flip the chops a couple of times to coat with the salsa, then cover the pan and let simmer.

Depending on the thickness, they’ll be done in anywhere from two to five minutes. Serve with the salsa verde spooned over the top.

Tuesday, February 15, 2022

Honey Lime Red Cabbage Salad

This honey lime dressing made for a tangy cabbage salad, but it would work just as well on spinach, kale, or roast veggies.

In a jar with a lid, combine the juice from two limes, two tablespoons of honey, a third to a half a cup of extra virgin olive oil, a teaspoon of Dijon, a half a teaspoon of kosher salt, and a quarter teaspoon each of black pepper and cumin.  It’s the cumin that really takes it over the top.

Shake vigorously, taste for salt, then toss with the red cabbage. I didn’t have any on hand, but some chopped scallion or cilantro would have been great.

Tuesday, February 8, 2022

Taiwanese Chicken


This dish is a winner!  Unbelievably delicious…so much bang for the buck. Can’t wait to make it again.

With just a small splash of vegetable oil, lightly brown two pounds of bone in chicken thighs or legs in a large heavy pot and set aside. Add a third of a cup of sesame oil, six to eight peeled whole garlic cloves, five scallions cut into one-inch pieces, a 3-inch piece of ginger, peeled and cut into 1/8” slices, and three halved small Thai red chiles…one if you’re not a fan of spicy. Leave on medium heat for three to four minutes.

Return the chicken to the pot along with any juices that accumulated, a cup of sake or dry white wine, half a cup of soy sauce, and two tablespoons of sugar. Bring to a boil then quickly reduce the heat and simmer uncovered for approximately 15 minutes, or until the chicken is cooked through. 

Set the chicken aside and lightly boil the sauce until it’s a syrupy consistency, shouldn’t take long. Turn off the heat, stir in a few forkfuls of jarred Thai basil leaves, return the chicken to the pot for a few minutes and serve with some rice.

Monday, January 31, 2022

Garlic Scallion Edamame

Shelled edamame are one of my freezer staples. They’re so incredibly versatile, I use them in salads, soups, pastas, curries, stir fries, or simply sauteed as a veggie side dish. In fact, sautéed edamame are one of my go to sides on those, not in the mood to cook, kind of evenings.

They don’t require any prep, just remember to pull them out of the freezer a couple of hours before dinner. And even if you forget, you can put them in a strainer and run them under some warm water to defrost quickly.

Unlike most sauteed vegetables which I do at high heat, I do edamame a little differently. I start with a generous pour of olive oil in a large sauté pan and a couple of minced garlic cloves over low heat to let the garlic impart its flavor into the oil.

Then, after a few minutes I turn up the heat to medium low, add the edamame, a couple of chopped scallions, some salt and pepper, and cook for five minutes and done.


Monday, January 24, 2022

The Best Chili Ever

Bacon, coffee, and beer are amazing on their own, but would you ever think of putting them all in your chili? I gave it a try, and I’ll never make chili any other way again.

Over a medium flame, use a pair of tongs to char two large poblano peppers on one of your stove’s gas burners. Once they are completely blackened place them in a bowl and seal tightly with saran.  Wait ten minutes, remove the charred skin with your hands, deseed, cut into one-inch pieces, then set aside.

In a large pot, lightly brown two pounds of ground beef then remove and set aside. Add a third of a pound of diced bacon and a large chopped onion to the pot, sauté for ten minutes or until the onion starts to brown.

Add a can of tomato paste, a tablespoon of cumin powder, two tablespoons of chili powder, a teaspoon of Dijon mustard, two minced garlic cloves, two chopped jalapeno peppers, and three finely chopped canned chipotle peppers in adobo sauce. Stir often and adjust the heat if necessary to ensure the spices don’t burn.

After a couple of minutes, return the ground beef to the pot along with three14oz. cans of diced tomatoes, a large cup of strong coffee, six cups of chicken stock, and a 12 oz. beer of your choice. Cover, bring to a quick boil, then turn down the heat and simmer for an hour.

Rinse three cans of black or pinto beans in a strainer, stir into the chili with the poblano pepper pieces and simmer for another hour covered.

If it’s too soupy after it’s finished cooking, continue to simmer uncovered until it reduces to your desired thickness.  Salt to taste.

Monday, January 17, 2022

Gochujang Glazed Salmon

Tired of the same old broiled salmon? Create a dinner that’s restaurant worthy, it only takes an extra ten minutes.

Preheat your oven to 400, then, in a small bowl stir together three tablespoons of gochujang paste, half a teaspoon of grated fresh ginger, and a tablespoon each of sesame oil, honey, and rice wine vinegar.

Heat a frying pan over medium heat with just few drops of vegetable oil. Salt and pepper your salmon filet and set it in the pan skin side up. Wait two minutes, flip, brush the glaze over the top, cook for another minute, then pop it into the oven for 10 to 15 more depending on how you like it cooked.

Thursday, January 6, 2022

Gravy

January is all about comfort food, and gravy makes most anything way more comfy. Pour some over pork cutlets, roast chicken, mashed potatoes, meatloaf, biscuits…the list goes on and on.

Gravy comes down to two things, a stock and a roux. As far as a stock goes, I use Better Than Bouillon chicken, beef, vegetable, or mushroom base, all available locally. If you are roasting chicken or beef, you can add the drippings as well. Whichever stock flavor you use, it’s best to dissolve the base in hot water beforehand and set aside to cool slightly while you’re making the roux.

The roux is what will thicken the stock into a gravy, it’s simply equal parts butter and all-purpose flour. For four cups of stock, melt four tablespoons of butter in a medium sauce pan over medium to medium-low heat. Once melted, add four tablespoons of flour and let it cook for approximately ten minutes, whisking frequently. You’ll know it’s done when you get a faint smell of toast and the color starts to brown…but be careful not to let it burn.

When your roux is ready, add the pot of stock a ladle at a time, whisking as you go to keep it from getting lumpy. Then turn the heat to low and simmer for another 15 minutes to let it fully thicken, salt and pepper to taste.