If you like teriyaki anything you will love this salmon recipe. However, the flavors are infinitely more complex and fresh tasting than what you might find in a bottled glaze from the Asian food aisle. This is that kind of sweet/tart glaze that is a decadent treat for adults and might just get kids to try fish for the first time. I like to cut the salmon fillets in half crosswise so each piece has an approximately even thickness and can be cooked accordingly. Adapted from The New Cast Iron Skillet Cookbook, by Ellen Brown.
The fact of the matter is that you like what you grew up with, what your mother and grandmother served at Sunday dinner after church, the last thing to come out of the oven as the call to table was sounded. If you timed it right, you could grab one while it was still almost too hot to touch and slice it open to insert a big pat of butter, remembering to put the top back on quickly so the melting butter would permeate both halves at once.
This is my idea of the perfect cornbread muffin. Shatteringly crisp on the bottom and sides with almost a pudding-like moistness on the inside.
The ingredients are basic. It’s the technique that stands between ho-hum and yum-yum.
You know that the Super Bowl party you are going to will have lots of great food…chips and dips, fried things, BBQ things, and sweets galore. So I propose making this absolutely delicious shrimp salad to add something light and fresh to the festivities.
You can make it several hours in advance….just hold off on adding the salt and the fresh cilantro until serving time if you do. The flavors will be perfect with all the traditional party favorites and you will not be packing up any leftovers after the game. Another beautiful recipe adapted from Simply Mexican, by Lourdes Castro.
Although this salad is really quite season-less, it seems particularly well suited to these cold winter months. The red onions, deeply caramelized in a hot oven, are a wonderful match for the buttery Manchego cheese and crispy pine nuts.
The recipe will make twice the dressing that you need so store it into a recycled bottle in the frig and use it on any salad you make this week…it’s an all-around great vinaigrette. If you happen to have the grill fired up, you can grill the onions in about half the time that it takes to roast them.
I’ve lost my appetite for most chain-type Mexican restaurants. So many of the dishes are heavy and rich…looking different but all tasting the same. However, cooking at home with the incredible ingredients and flavors of Mexico is becoming more and more fun.
These meatballs are an example of a warm, comforting and spicy Mexican meal that is also light, fresh and delicious. Lourdes Castro has a wealth of wonderful recipes in her book, Simply Mexican, and I will probably, eventually, try them all. I’ve adapted this one slightly to use canned tomatoes and I’ve brought the heat down a bit (those chipotle chilies pack a punch). Feel free to add more if you dare.
Note: It’s easy to make homemade crema. Just stir together equal amounts of sour cream and heavy cream and season it with a bit of salt.
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!