Here’s a quick and easy way to liven up a simple dish of roasted cauliflower and brussel’s sprouts from Bi Rite Market’s Eat Good Food cookbook. But if you enjoy the briny punch of capers, you will probably enjoy this sauce on just about any roasted veg. I cooked these on two separate small sheets to make sure that each would be cooked properly (the cauliflower took about 5 minutes longer than the sprouts), then tossed them together on one sheet with the Caper Lemon Butter for a deliciously dressed up side dish.
If you’ve never baked with browned butter, you are in for a treat here. It’s quite amazing how much flavor can be added to a simple buttercream just by cooking the butter until the milk solids are a toasty brown. And may I suggest that you use one of the European butters that are widely available now (i.e. Plugra, Kerrygold) to really take it over the top!
I’ve paired this wonderful frosting with a very simple cocoa based chocolate cupcake that can be thrown together with a small saucepan, a bowl and a whisk. The flavor is mild, similar to a red velvet cake, and the crumb is tender and moist.
Its an easy bit of baking to warm the soul (and the kitchen) on this frosty day in January.
Anxious to work with beef short ribs more often after the success of my Best Braised BBQ Shortribs, I was happy to find this recipe in the Jan-Feb 2015 issue of Cooks Illustrated. As I’ve come to expect from one of my favorite cooking resources, it did not disappoint.
This stew is all about the meat and sauce as the aromatics used for flavor are discarded after the long braise in the oven. Think of it as the Italian version of Beef Bourguignon. The bottle of Chianti makes for a rich tangy sauce with warm heat and spice from the freshly cracked peppercorns. Author Andrew Janjigian notes that an inexpensive or mid priced Chianti is just fine here ($5 – $12) no need to go pricier. Being the good southern girl that I am, I’ve served it here with creamy grits. But polenta or mashed potatoes would also suit…or perhaps just a big green salad and a loaf of crusty Italian bread.
Comfort food for a cold winter’s night indeed.
1. Taste. These loaves have a wonderfully pumpkin flavor, just the right amount of spices and more importantly, the right amount of sweetness. I find some quick breads cloyingly sweet. Don’t misunderstand, this bread has plenty of sugar, but the buttermilk and olive oil add complexity to the flavor so that while it is definitely a treat, you won’t feel that it is out-of-place on the breakfast table. And the fragrant olive oil may seem strange but it works really well and no one I served this to (kids included) noticed anything other than the wonderful flavor.
2. Texture. Pumpkin bread needs to be moist and have a tender crumb and this one does. It also rises perfectly and cooks through the center before the edges get too dark (one of my pet peeves with some quick bread recipes)
So there you have it. I finally found a keeper of a Pumpkin Bread recipe thanks to Tasia Malakasis and her book, Tasia’s Table, Cooking with the Artisan Cheesecake at Belle Chèvre.
There are two reasons that I return to this delicious side dish, adapted from Food and Wine magazine, year after year for holiday meals. First of all, a bright green vegetable is a very welcome sight on a plate that tends to feature a lot of bland colors with the turkey, rolls, dressing, potatoes and onions. And secondly, although everyone loves it, I’m just not going to add fried leeks, bacon and cream to a vegetable dish unless it is a very special occasion. But with the festive season quickly approaching, this is the perfect time to try these luxurious peas and consider adding them to your repertoire.
Note: The leeks can be fried one day ahead of time and kept in a covered container at room temperature. If they lose their crisp, they can be reheated in a 350 degree oven for a few minutes.
There are only three casseroles with a permanent place in my recipe binder and this is one. Growing up in a big family in small town Mississippi, I ate lots of casseroles and can’t, at the moment, remember one that I didn’t like. So it was surprising to me that all of my children had very anti-casserole attitudes when they were young.
If I was in the mood for a “one pot meal”, I was always careful to rename it. A simple turkey/rice combo could be advertised as Roast Turkey with Rice Pilaf and the classic chicken noodle casserole had to be called Baked Chicken with Pasta. Sometimes this worked…and sometimes it didn’t.
But this recipe was the exception. Baked Chicken with Orzo was always a bit hit, I believe, because of the extra-large pieces of chicken breast that become melt in your mouth tender in the silky buttered tomato sauce. Recipe adapted from Casseroles, Classic to Contempory by Nina Graybill and Maxine Rapoport.
Here’s a great old-fashioned recipe that you will want to make right now and repeat straight through the holidays. It is scribbled on a stained recipe card so I don’t know who deserves the credit, but it is a simple dump and stir cake that will make your kitchen smell divine. The secret ingredient is the baby food (apricots) that combine with the spices to make a warmly flavored, tender and moist cake that is then taken over the top by a simple brown sugar pecan glaze. Can be made ahead and never fails to bring lots of requests for the recipe.
Elegant enough for your holiday dinner table yet quick and easy enough for a week night meal. The small glaze of fig jam is just enough to compliment the salty pancetta, and does not make this a sweet dish. Another excellent recipe from Brassicas, by Laura B. Russell.
Here’s a super-food recipe to balance out the decadent Matchstick Potatoes that I gave you a few days ago. This salad is healthy and full of flavor and texture. You get the chew from the fresh kale, creaminess from the minced egg and a spiced crunch from the almonds. Kale salads are ideal for times that you need a make-ahead fresh dish or something that will travel well…this will last a couple of days without wilting. But this egg/almond combination is also good with arugula or spinach if you want a more delicate salad.
If I’m going to splurge on a big plate of crispy fried anything, it’s got to be amazing, otherwise it’s not worth the calories. And if I’m going to fry up a big batch of something in my kitchen, it’s got to be easy and quick, otherwise it’s not worth the mess. Luckily these wonderful seasoned matchstick potatoes fit the bill on both counts.
As you may know, traditional french fries have to be fried twice, at different temperatures, to get the right combination of fluff interior and crispy exterior. But matchstick fries are so thin that one quick trip to the hot oil is all it takes, saving lots of time and clean up. A simple mandolin, pictured below, can shred 2 Idaho potatoes in seconds and is great for making homemade potato chips as well.
Try offering this deal to your family. “If you’ll cook the chicken (steaks, burgers, fish, fill-in-the-blank) and make a salad…. I’ll make Matchstick Potatoes”. A little teamwork is a lot of fun!
So here’s what I know about chicken. Smaller is easier to cook, more tender and juicer. Free Range is tastier. And bone-in skin-on is far better than the boneless, skinless variety. So why have I so often used “naked” chicken breasts? Convenience would have been my answer, had you asked. And I have lots to marinades and cooking techniques to add flavor and texture so I can usually pull it off.
But this recipe is a game changer. Nothing could be easier to prep or faster to cook, and if you buy decent chicken, season it ahead of time to let the flavor soak in, and use this cooking method, the results will be delicious!
If you need to make this in larger quantities, just multiply the seasoning ingredients accordingly and cook as follows: While you are browning the skin side of the breasts stove top, put a large rimmed baking sheet in the oven to preheat. When all the chicken is ready, place it on the hot baking sheet, skin side up and roast until done.
Note: This chicken is Bell & Evans, from Whole Foods. I have also used Joyce Farms and other free-range and organic birds with excellent results. Try to avoid the very large chicken breasts from the major chicken producers that are so often found in the grocery store.
It occurs to me that while a handful of shredded carrots on a green salad just screams tired salad bar, a whole salad made out of sweet fresh carrots can be a jewel of a side dish. This one is especially flavorful with a miso peanut dressing, fresh cilantro and the added crunch of the salty peanuts.
I’m not a master-griller, but this recipe sure makes me feel like one! These short ribs are braised indoors then grilled and glazed outdoors. The result is a an amazingly tender interior with a wonderful crispy exterior. Since most recipes call for browning the meat before braising, I found this method to be somewhat of a revelation. And taking the time to chill the ribs and the braising liquid before finishing the dish makes removing the fat from both a breeze.
This is slow food, but it’s not complicated food, so give it a try next time you want to impress some barbecue fanatics. And everything except the final grilling and glazing, which takes 10-15 minutes, can be done way ahead of time. Recipe adapted from Weber’s Smoke by Jamie Purviance.
Is it crazy that I completely stopped using Canola oil when I realized that there is no such thing as a canola plant? (Canola = Canadian Oil Low Acid…it’s a marketing thing) And it’s a long story that you can read about online, but basically canola comes from a rapeseed plant that has to be bred to be lower in erucic acid so that it is safe to consume. I’ve listened to both sides of the Canola oil argument and while I don’t believe that it is outrageously bad for you, I still haven’t gone back to it. I like to know what I’m eating.
And I liked something, a concept, that I read in Eating Well this month. Andrew Wilder says foods he eats have to pass the “kitchen test”, meaning that they could have been made in his own kitchen. Not that they have to have been made in his kitchen, just that they could have been. Simple, fresh foods that are what they say they are.
Just like this wonderfully easy and very tasty cauliflower dish from Brassicas, Cooking the World’s Healthiest Vegetables, by Laura B. Russell.
It’s the perfect late summer pasta dish although I can already imagine that I will be throwing this together to bring a little sunshine to a cold winter day as well. Make the crumbs whenever you like…they keep wonderfully in a zip lock in the freezer…then put the tomato salad together an hour before you want to serve to give the flavors time to develop. Last minute just boil the pasta, toss, toss, sprinkle, sprinkle and you’re done!
Although I love this simple combination of sweet cherry tomatoes, spicy baby arugula and nutty red quinoa, it is the wonderful miso vinaigrette that needs to be your take-away keeper recipe from this post. Simple to whisk together, this vinaigrette will keep for several days in a jar in the fridge and is positively addictive. I love to use it as a sauce for the veggie sushi that I pick up at Whole Foods, as a marinade for fish and seafood, or just a super tasty salad dressing. Homemade dressings are infinitely better than the store bought variety and they only take seconds to prepare.
This is a great time to try this old favorite of mine..…the blueberries are big and sweet in our stores right now and often on sale too. The recipe comes from Pure Flavor, by Kurt Beecher Dammeier. It is a wonderfully moist coffee cake….perfect for breakfast, brunch or after school snack. Here are 5 steps you can take the night before so that serving it fresh and warm in the morning will be a breeze.
1. Make the topping and store in a zip lock bag in the frig.
2. Wash the blueberries.
3. Mix the dry ingredients together.
4. Prepare the cake pan and store in the frig.
5. Set the butter out to soften.
Otherwise, it keeps well in the frig for 2 days and can be warmed in the microwave (just a few seconds)
For summertime grilling, this is one of the easiest, quickest and tastiest recipes you will find. It only takes 2-3 minutes per side to cook chicken tenders on a hot grill which is one reason why this marinade from The Farm, by Ian Knauer, is so great…the honey caramelizes very quickly so you get a wonderful glazed char before the chicken is overcooked. Most of the heat in a jalapeño is in the seeds so use them to control the spiciness of this dish. I scrape out most of the seeds, letting just a random few into the marinade and that makes for chicken tenders with just a little kick, suitable for kids and adults alike.
A tartine is simply an open-faced sandwich and here is the perfect one for a glorious spring day. Look for big, meaty spears with tightly closed tips that signify freshness. Did you know that the diameter of asparagus spears relates to the maturity of the plant? I takes 2 or 3 years before asparagus plants are well established enough, with spears big enough, to harvest. And so I do imagine that the day the asparagus begins to nudge its way out of the soil must be one of a gardener’s favorite days! Recipe adapted from Cicchetti, and other small Italian Plates to Share, by Lindy Wildsmith and Valentina Sforza.
Two hearts are better than one in this delicious marinated salad. Hearts of Palm and Artichoke Hearts are the perfect compliment to creamy Cannellini Beans drenched in an Italian Style Vinaigrette. It’s a super make-ahead and/or take-along salad since it keeps well in the frig for a couple of days and is especially good with grilled chicken, beef or seafood. Toss in some fresh spinach or arugula just before serving if you want to turn this into a vegetarian main course.
1/4 cup white balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon whole grain Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon honey
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
1 can artichoke hearts in water, drained and quartered
1 jar hearts of palm, drained and sliced
1 can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
1/2 medium red onion, sliced thinly
In a small bowl, whisk together first six ingredients to make the vinaigrette. Set aside. In a medium bowl, gently toss together the artichoke hearts, hearts of palm, cannellini beans and red onion. Re whisk the vinaigrette and pour over the salad. Toss to combine and season with salt and pepper if needed. Cover and let marinate in the refrigerator for at least one hour. Let the salad sit at room temperature for 15-20 minutes before serving for best flavor. Serves 6-8 as a side dish and 4 as a vegetarian main course.