Food and Drink

Ode to An Appliance

CuisinartIs it weird to feel gratitude to a kitchen appliance? Because as I hauled out my old Cuisinart this week to make the cranberry/orange relish for Thanksgiving, I felt I should pay tribute. 

My Cuisinart was a wedding gift. I got married in 1983. That means it's more than 36-years-old. I've never had to replace a part and it has never failed me. Nor am I the kind of cook who uses the Cuisinart only on special occasions. That puppy is in frequent use, with all of its different attachments. I'm particularly fond of the grater attachment, a jagged silvery disk that screws onto an odd white plastic stick, which then goes into the machine. I don't know how later models grate. But I digress.

How many appliances do you have in the house that are still going strong more than three and a half decades later? It's a tribute to quality workmanship.

So after a day of thanks for all those things you cannot buy - family, love, and health -  I give thanks to this workhorse of an appliance.

And now, if you'll excuse me, I must go puree some soup.


The All-You-Can-Eat Dilemma

SushiMy family has been debating an ethical dilemma this week. 

It started when my husband sent around this article about a man who went to an all-you-can-eat sushi restaurant. (For now, let's put aside the utter disgustingness of the concept.)

A guy came into the restaurant and ate 100 plates of sushi. The owner then banned him from returning. Evidently the customer was a triathlete who fasts for 20 hours and then pigs out. One hundred plates of sushi translates into roughly 18 lbs of sushi. 

Was banning him from the restaurant fair?

My son said he wasn't sure whose side he was on.

I'm with the restaurant owner. You might as well ask for a "doggy bag" at an all-you-can-eat buffet, to pack up what you didn't finish. There are community standards as to what constitutes a reasonable portion.

My daughter thinks my position makes no sense, arguing that restaurants can't change what they promise just because one person's meal is unprofitable.

My husband has kept his own counsel. 

Anyway, these are the deep issues I like to ponder as the nation seems to be going to hell in a hand basket. Feel free to chime in.




Red Lentil Soup with Lemon

Red lentil soup

Lentil soup can be boring, but not this recipe, which came from the NY Times. Not too time consuming and oh so tasty!

3 tablespoons olive oil, more for drizzling

1 large onion, chopped

2 garlic cloves, minced

1 tablespoon tomato paste

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1/4 teaspoon kosher salt, more to taste

1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

Pinch of ground chili powder or cayenne, more to taste

1 quart chicken or vegetable broth

1 cup red lentils

1 large carrot, peeled and diced

Juice of 1/2 lemon, more to taste

3 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro.


1. In a large pot, heat 3 tablespoons oil over high heat until hot and shimmering. Add onion and garlic, and sauté until golden, about 4 minutes.

2. Stir in tomato paste, cumin, salt, black pepper and chili powder or cayenne, and sauté for 2 minutes longer.

3. Add broth, 2 cups water, lentils and carrot. Bring to a simmer, then partially cover pot and turn heat to medium-low. Simmer until lentils are soft, about 30 minutes. Taste and add salt if necessary.

4. Using an immersion or regular blender or a food processor, purée half the soup then add it back to pot. Soup should be somewhat chunky.

5. Reheat soup if necessary, then stir in lemon juice and cilantro. Serve soup drizzled with good olive oil and dusted lightly with chili powder if desired.

Yield: 4 servings.


Game Hens With Cranberry Stuffing

Christmas 2011 meal

One year I made game hens for Christmas dinner and spent a good chunk of Christmas morning quietly cursing in the kitchen. What was I thinking? It took forever, washing and patting them dry, trying to stuff their slippering little bodies, tieing their recalitrant little legs, and I was serving 13. I swore off game hens for awhile, until my daughter requested them again this year. This time, there were only 4 of us. And I decided to serve the stuffing on the side instead of cooking it inside the hens. Result: easy and delicious!

Game Hens With Maple-Mustard Glaze (courtesy of Epicurious)

  • 4 tablespoons maple syrup
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 2 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 2 teaspoon dried thyme, crumbled
  • 4 Cornish game hens
  • Salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 350°F. Combine first 4 ingredients in small saucepan. Cook over low heat until butter melts, stirring until well combined.

Pat hens dry. Tie legs together to hold shape. Place in small baking pan. Season with salt and pepper. Brush with maple mixture. Roast until juices run clear when hens are pierced in thickest part of thighs, basting occasionally with glaze, about 1 hour.

It was hard to find a recipe for cranberry stuffing that didn't have nuts (my son is allegic) but Betty Crocker came through:

Cranberry Stuffing

1 cup butter or margarine

 3 medium celery stalks (with leaves), chopped (1 1/2 cups)

3/4 cup finely chopped onion
9 cups soft bread cubes (15 slices)
1/2 cup dried cranberries or golden raisins
2 tablespoons chopped fresh or 1 1/2 teaspoons dried sage leaves
1 tablespoon chopped fresh or 1 teaspoon dried thyme leaves
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper

In 10-inch skillet, melt butter over medium heat. Cook celery and onion in butter, stirring frequently, until onion is tender. Stir in about one-third of the bread cubes. Place in large bowl. Add remaining bread cubes and ingredients; toss.

To bake stuffing separately, place in greased 3-quart casserole or rectangular baking dish, 13x9x2 inches. Cover and bake at 325°F for 30 minutes. Uncover and bake 15 minutes longer.




Tomato Pie

Tomato pie

This recipe showed up on my google home page in my daily recipe feed from "Simply Recipes." Perfect for summer tomatoes. By the way, it looks like quiche but tastes like something entirely different. It's slightly sweet, both from the carmelized onions and the great summer tomatoes. So yummy!


1 9-inch pie shell.

1 cup onion, red or yellow

3-4 tomatoes, cut in half horizontally, squeezed to remove excess juice, roughly chopped, to yield approximately 3 cups of chopped tomatoes

1/4 cup sliced basil (about 8 leaves)

2 cups grated cheese (combination of sharp cheddar and Monterey Jack, or Gruyere, or Mozrella)

3/4 cup mayonnaise

1 teaspoon (or more to taste) of Frank's Hot Sauce (or Tabasco)

salt and pepper to taste



-Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Place pie shell in oven and cook 8-10 minutes til golden. (I use Pillsbury Already Pie Crust, and only cooked it about 7 minutes.)

-Squeeze as much moisture as you can out of the chopped tomatoes, using either paper towels, a clean dish towel or a potato ricer. (Do follow the directions on top about squeezing the tomato halves before you chop. This dish would be messed up in the tomatoes are watery.)

-Meanwhile carmelize the onions. This simply involves cooking them in olive oil, until they are browned nicely.

-Sprinkle the bottom of the pre-cooked pie shell with carmelized onion. Spread the chopped tomatoes over the onions. Sprinkle the sliced basil over the tomatoes. (Hint - to cut the basil, lay the leaves on top of each other, roll up like a cigar, and then slice then crossways into thin slices.)

-In a medium bowl, mix together the grated cheese (I just used mozarella), mayonnaise, hot sauce, a sprinkling of salt and freshly ground black pepper. The mixture should be the consistency of a really gooey snow ball. Spread mixture over the tomatoes.

-Bake in oven until browned and bubbly, about 40 minutes.

Grilled Rosemary Chicken and Roast Corn With Manchego & Lome

Overview chick and corn salad
Trying to move away from the same old, same old. Both of these recipes came from the August 2011 Bon Appetit. The chicken was really tasty, but the corn salad - oh boy! It was labor intensive, but not difficult. My only regret was not doubling the recipe.

Grilled Rosemary Chicken

2 3-4 lb. chickens, each cut into four pieces, backbones removed.

3/4 cup olive oil, divided

1/4 cup fresh lemon juice plus one lemon

12 rosemary sprigs, divided

10 garlic cloves, coarsely chopped

Kosher salt and fresh ground pepper

1 large pinch smoked paprika

(The original recipe calls for a homemade tomato jam, but I couldn't be bothered and the chicken was delicious without it. It was great hot, cold and at room temperature. Trust me, I tried all three)

Arrange chicken in a glass baking dish. Drizzle with 1/2 cup oil and lemon juice. Coarsely chop leaves from 10 rosemary sprigs. Toss chopped rosemary and garlic with chicken to coat; season with salt, pepper and paprika. Cover: chill for 3 hours or overnight. (I marinated overnight and I think it makes a difference.)

Build a medium fire in charcoal grill, or heat gas grill to medium high. Let chicken come to room temperature. Brush off marinade: grill chicken, turning occasionally, until browned and almost cooked through, about 20-22 minutes for legs and thighs, 16-18 minutes for breasts. Pour remaining 1/4 cup oil into small bowl. Dip 2 rosemary sprigs in oil; occasionally baste chicken with sprigs until cooked through, about 5 minutes. (I cheated here - just chopped 2 sprigs of rosemary and added it to the oil and basted with that, using a brush.)

Let chicken rest for 15 minutes. Transfer to a bowl. Cut lemon in half lengthwise, then cut thinly crosswise into half-moons. Add to chicken with an left-over basting oil; toss to coat.

Roasted Corn With Manchego & Lime (says it serves 8 but 4 of us ate it in one sitting)

6 ears of sweet yellow corn, unhusked

2 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil

2 Tbsp. unsalted butter

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 jalapeno, seeded, finely diced

1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes

1 lime, cut into 4 wdeges

1 cup finely grated Manchego cheese

1/4 cup thinly sliced chives

2 tsp. finely grated lime zest

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Roast unhusked corn on a baking sheet, turning occasionally, until heated through and crisp-tender,about 15 minutes. Let cool. Shuck corn and cut kernels from cobs. Heat oil in a large skillet over high heat. Add corn kernels and saute until heated through and light golden in spots, 3-5 minutes. Add butter;stir until melted. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Transfer corn to a large wide bowl or deep platter; sprinkle jalapeno and crushed red pepper flakes over. Squeeze lime wedges over; sprinkle with cheese, chives and lime zest. 



New Year's Eve Dinner 2010

This year we went to our friends Libbie and David's house for New Year's Eve. The plan was to have a long, leisurely dinner and to relax and ring in the New Year with old friends. Libbie and I decided to split the cooking, and we planned the relatively simple meal ahead of time in a two-minute phone call. 

Both of us commented on how little preparation was involved and how easy the whole thing was. She would do hors d'ouevres, except for one, which I would bring. She'd make the salmon; I'd make the risotto and a vegetable and bring the bread. She'd make the salad and dessert. David was in charge of the wines and champagne Come to think of it, I think I got off lighter.

Anyway, here is a photo of what I brought over.

Bringing stuff over
You'll note a small round of brie. I didn't take photos of this but I will now admit the very, very shameful thing we did with the cheese. It was dipped in an egg, which had been beaten with some cream, and then covered in bread crumbs, and then pan-fried in butter. Yes, that's right. We had fried brie. It was amazing, savory, gooey, and yes, 90 gazillion calories. What is your point?

Here is the dinner:

I don't have Libbie's salmon recipe, but I do know it was the center cut of wild Alaskan salmon and delicious.

The asparagus was made as follows: After trimming 1 and 1/2 pounds of asparagus, I put them in boiling water for about 5 minutes, and then refreshed them in a bowl of ice water. After draining them, I made a layered casserole. A little olive oil on the bottom, then a layer of asparagus, salt and pepper, and some freshly grated parmesan cheese, then on top of that another layer of asparagus, s and p, and cheese, and then a third layer of the same. Bake for 15-20 minutes at 400 degrees.

Now for a confession about the risotto - I made it in the microwave. The recipe is from Barbara Kafka's Microwave Gourmet and it works like a charm every time:


2 tablespoons unsalted butter        2 teaspoons kosher salt

2 tablespoons olive oil                   Freshly ground pepper

1/2 cup minced yellow onion         Freshly grated parmesan cheese

1 cup arobrio rice

3 cups of chicken broth

1. Heat butter and oil in 10-inch quiche or deep pie dish, uncovered at 100% for 2 minutes. Add onions and stir to coat. Cook, uncovered at 100%, for 4 minutes. Add rice and stir to coat. Cook, uncovered for 4 minutes more. 

2. Stir in the broth. Cook, uncovered at 100% for 9 minutes. Stir well and cook for 9 minutes more. 

3. Remove from oven. Let stand, uncovered, for 5 minutes to let rice absorb remaining liquid, stirring several times. Stir in salt, pepper and Parmesan cheese. I threw in some chopped parsley at the end for color but it's not necessary.

For dessert, Libbie made orange souffles. She served it with a bitter chocolate sauce. What a way to ring in the New Year!

Orange souffles


Pumpkin Muffins With Streusel Topping

Pumpkin muffins
Perfect for a fall breakfast. And dessert. And snack. Well, you get the picture....


2 eggs, slightly beaten

2 and 3/4 cup sugar

3/4 cup oil plus one tablespoon

1 15 ounce can pumpkin puree

4 cups flour

1 teaspoon salt

2 teaspoons baking soda

1 tablespoon cinnamon

3/4 teaspoon ground cloves

3/4 teaspoon allspice

5 tablespoons flour

5 tablespoons sugar

3/4 teaspoon cinnamon

3 tablespoons butter


Preheat oven to 350

1. For streusel, combine 5 tablespoons flour, 5 teaspoons sugar, 3/4 teaspoon cinnamon. Cut in butter until mixture resembles course crumbs. Set aside.

2. Combine eggs, sugar, all of the oil and pumpkin in a mixer bowl. Mix well.

3. Sift together flour, salt, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, and allspice in a different bowl.

4. Add flour mixture to the pumpkin mixture. Combine until just blended.

5. Fill greased or lined muffin tins. 

6. Sprinkle 2 teaspoons of streusel over the top of each muffin.

7. Bake in oven for 35 minutes.

8. Fight over warm muffins.

Chicken Stuffed with Spinach and Swiss Chard

Stuffed chicken
This was a clean-out-the refrigerator inspiration, based on a recipe I read, but ultimately made with different ingredients. Here's what I did:

I sauteed 3 scallions and half an onion in olive oil. (You could use whatever onion-y things you had on hand.) Then I added to the frying pan about 6 cups of fresh greens. Mine were a combination of fresh spinach, swiss chard and some beet greens I had. (Yet again, the farm co-op share has included veggies I don't usually cook with.) Everything cooked down quickly, in about five minutes.

I rinsed and patted dry 8 chicken thighs, and loosened the skin on top. Then I spooned the vegetable mixture under the skin of each thigh. It was much simpler to do than I imagined. After that I melted about 2 tablespoons of butter, into which I put about 2 teaspoons of herbs de provence and some salt and pepper. I brushed the top of each chicken thigh with this mixture. 

Baked at 400 degrees for about 45 minutes. Yum, yum, yum. Served it over rice.

Corn, Tomato and Avocado Salad

Corn avocado salad  This has been a staple all summer. When the corn and tomatoes so good this time of year, it seems a natural. I just made another batch, doubling the recipe, so My Daughter, who is visiting, can take some back to Manhattan with her.


-2 cups fresh cooked corn

-1 avocado

-1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved (or just regular tomatoes, chopped)

-1/2 cup finely diced red onion


-2 tablespoons olive oil

-1/2 teaspoon grated lime zest

-1 tablespoon fresh lime juice

-1/4 cup chopped cilantro

-1/4 teaspoon salt

-1/4 teaspoon pepper

To Make: Combine the corn, avocado, tomatoes and onions in large bowl Mix together the dressing ingredients in another bowl, pour over salad and gently toss to mix. Prepare a bit of ahead of time to allow flavors t meld.

Mahogany Chicken Wings

Mahogny chicken wings
Recently, my book group decided that instead of our traditional pot luck dinner, we would all just bring appetizers instead. I wasn't very enthusiastic about this plan. When I eat a meal of appetizers I tend to eat way too much (after all, they're just appetizers) or I end up vaguely dissatisfied. With this in mind, I decided I would prepare a hardy offering and made these chicken wings. They are a bit messy but tasty. The only hard part of splitting the chicken wings, but you have to do it. Sorry. Also, the ingredient amounts seem odd, but that's because I increased the recipe to feed a crowd. 


4 and 1/4 lbs chicken wings, split and tips discarded

2/3 cup and teaspoons soy sauce

2/3 cup and 2 teaspoons honey

1/3 cup and 1 teaspoon molasses

2 tablespoons and 2 and 1/2 teaspoons chile sauce

1 and 1//2 teaspoons ground ginger

2 and 3/4 cloves garlic, finely chopped


-Place chicken in shallow medium dish.

-In a medium bowl, mix soy sauce, honey, molasses, chile sauce, ground ginger and garlic. Pour the mixture over the chicken. Cover and refrigerate about an hour, turning occasionally.

-Preheat over to 375.

-In a large baking dish, arrange chicken in single layer. Bake about 50 minutes, brushing with remaning mixture and turning often. I served these room temperature. 

Lamb Empadillas

Lamb empadillas

God knows what possessed me to buy ground lamb. I didn't want to make moussaka. I didn't want a Sheppard's pie. So what was I thinking? In desperation I googled "ground lamb recipes" and came up with this. They were really quite good and if I hadn't been rushing, I could have probably made them pretty too.

1 tablespoon olive oil

1/3 cup finely chopped onion

2 cloves garlic, finely chopped

1/4 cup pine nuts

1 pound ground lamb

1/2 cup chopped pimento-stuffed Spanish olives

1 and 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin

1 teaspoon dried oregano leaves, crushed

3/4 teaspoon pepper

5 dashes red pepper sauce

1 eegg

1 tablespoon water

2 recipes pastry for double crust pie, rolled 1/16th of an inch thick (confession - I used Pillsbury Already Pie Crust. It was fine.)

The original recipe called for a teaspoon of salt, but I don't think it needs it.

In a large frying pan, heat oil. Cook onion, garlic and pine nuts for 3 to 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add lamb, finely crumble and cook until lamb is no longer pink. Drain well. Add olives, cumin, oregano, salt pepper and red pepper sauce; set aside.

Preheat oven to 375. In small bowl, make egg wash by beating together egg and water; set aside. Using cookie cutter (I used an upside-down glass), cut 4-inch rounds out of pastry. Top each round with a tablespoon of filling. Fold over to make half moon; crimp edges to seal. Cut three 1-inch slits in top of pastry. Brush with egg wash. Place on greased cookie sheet. Bake in the oven for 20 to 25 minutes until golden brown.

Spicy Turkey Lasagne


My friend Sally made this for me when I went to visit her in North Carolina. When she gave me the recipe (actually she gave me the whole cookbook - "Great Good Food - Luscious Low Fat Cooking" by Julee Rosso) she told me that if I made this, I should make two and freeze one, because it's kind of labor intensive.

This weekend I followed her advice - served one to the family (The Boy and My Daughter were home) and made one to serve next week when my sister and her husband come. REALLY tasty and worth the effort. Serves 6.

3/4 pound Italian turkey sausage, casing removed (I bought spicy)

1/2 cup finely chopped onion

1 teaspoon finely minced garlic

1/2 pound mushrooms, thinly sliced

2 cups chopped, canned Italian tomatoes

3 ounces tomato paste

1 teaspoon dried oregano

1 teaspoon dried basil

2 tablespoons chopped fresh Italian parsley

1/4 teaspoon fennel seeds

Crushed red pepper flakes

salt and fresh ground pepper

9 lasagne noodles, cooked (or I bought the oven ready ones, a major breakthrough)

1/2 pound part-skim mozzarella cheese, thinly sliced

1/2 pound low-fat cottage cheese, drained (I substituted part-skim Ricotta)

1 cup parmesan shards, grated large

In a large pot, brown the sausage until it's no longer pink, breaking up the pieces. Add the onion, garlic and mushrooms, and saute, stirring for about five minutes. Add the tomatoes, the tomato paste, 1/4 cup water ad the rest of the seasonings. Reduce the heat to a simmer, cover, and cook for 1 to 1 1/2 hours, stirring occasionally. (The sauce can be made ahead and refrigerated or frozen.)

Preheat the oven to 350. Lightly spray or wipe a 7 X 11 inch baking dish with oil. Coat the baking dish with a little of the sauce. Cover with three lasagne noodles and cover the noodles with half the mozzarella and half the cottage cheese; sprinkle with 1/3 of the parmesan. Spoon on just enough sauce to cover. Repeat with noodles, cheese and sauce. End this a third layer of noodles, sauce and the remaining parmesan. Bake, covered for 30 minutes. Uncover and bake for 15 minutes longer. Let the lasagne stand for 10 minutes before serving.

Roasted Eggplant Spread

Eggplant dip Tasty, healthy and easy - my kind of recipe. I served it with pita bread for dipping. The recipe comes from the Barefoot Contessa Cook Book.


1 medium eggplant, pealed
2 red bell peppers, seeded
1 red onion, peeled
2 garlic gloves inced
3 tablespoons good olive oil
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
1 tablespoon tomato paste


Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Cut the eggplant, bell pepper and onion into 1 inch cubes. Toss them in a large bowl with the garlic, olive oil, salt and pepper. Spread them on a baking sheet. Roast for 45 minutes, until the vegetables are lightly browned and soft, tossing once during cooking. Cool slightly. 

Place the vegetables in a food processor fitted with a steel blade, add the tomato paste and pulse 3 or 4 times to blend. Taste for salt and pepper. 

Sweet Corn and Basmati Rice Salad

Basmati rice salad Served this along side of grilled sword fish and a salad of sliced tomatoes, mozzarella and fresh basil. The rice salad is labor intensive but very tasty. The thing that almost did me in was taking the stems off the watercress. You might want to substitute parsley - I bet it would be just as good. 

Recipe originally appeared in Bon Appetit in June of 2000. Serves 8.


2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
3 large ears yellow corn, husked
1 cup chopped green onions

2 1/4 cups water
1 1/2 cups basmati rice
1/2 teaspoon salt

1 1/4 cups coarsely chopped toasted pecans
3 bunches watercress, stems discarded


Whisk red wine vinegar and mustard in bowl to blend. Gradually whisk in 1/2 cup oil. Season vinaigrette to taste with salt and pepper. 

Cut corn kernels from cobs. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in heavy large skillet over medium heat. Add green onions, saute 30 seconds. Add corn; saute until corn is crisp-tender, about 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. (Vinaigrette and corn mixture can be prepared 1 day ahead. Cover separately; chill. Re-warm corn mixture and re-whisk vinaigrette before using.)

Bring 2 and 1/4 cups water to boil in saucepan. Rinse rice in strainer. Add rice and salt to boiling water. Reduce heat to low. Cover and cook until water is absorbed and rice is tender, about 20 minutes Remove from heat. Let stand 5 minutes. Fluff with fork.

Mix rice, corn mixture and pecans in large bowl. Mix in vinaigrette and watercress. Season with salt and pepper. Serve warm or at room temperature. 

Chicken and Vegetables with Couscous

Moroccan chicken stew I have GOT to get a new camera. All the food pix keep coming out in these lurid colors. Believe me, this was actually quite pretty in real life. I served it recently at a dinner party - it's pretty soupy. You should plan on serving it in bowls. But it was tasty. All the men had seconds. It comes from The New Basics Cookbook.


2 chickens (2 and 1/2 -3 lbs. each, cut into pieces.) I just used 6 lbs of thighs and legs.
1/4 cup olive oil
2 onions, cut into 1/4 inch dice
6 gloves garlic, chopped
8 cups chicken stock or broth
3 cinnamon sticks
2 teaspoons curry powder
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 carrots, peeled and cut into 1/4 inch dice
2 zucchini, cut into 1/4 inch dice
1 large white turnip, peeled and cut into 1/4 inch dice
1 large red pepper, cored, seeded and cut into 1/4 inch dice
5 ripe plum tomatoes, seeded and cut into 1/2 inch dice
2 cups pitted prunes, halved
1 cup golden raisins
4 cups steamed couscous
2 tablespoons chopped fresh Italian parsley

-Rinse the chicken pieces and remove the skin. Pat dry.

-Heat the oil in a large dutch oven. Cook the chicken in small batches until opaque and slightly golden on both sides. Using a lotted spoon, transfer the chicken to a dish and set aside.

-Add the onions and garlic to the dutch over and cook over low heat for 10 minutes. Then add the stock, cinnamon sticks, curry powder, cumin, turmeric, pepper and salt. Bring slowly to a boil, then continue boiling for 5 minutes.

-Reduce heat to a simmer, than add chicken, carrots ,zucchini, turnip and bell pepper. Simmer for 10 minutes. Then add tomatoes, prunes and raisons, and simmer an additional 10 minutes.

-Remove the cinnamon sticks and serve the stew in deep bowls over the steamed couscous. Give everyone plenty of broth. Garnish with parsley.

I made this the day before which gave the flavors more time to gel, and I also cooked it longer than the recipe recommended, all, I think, to good effect.

Moroccan Chicken With Green Olives and Lemon

Moroccan Chicken I don't know why these food photos come out with such lurid colors, but the real thing is quite pretty, and easy to make. The recipe comes from the May 2009 issue of Bon Appetit.

2 lemons
1 Tablespoon olive oil
1 large onion, halved, thinly sliced
2 garlic cloves pressed
1 Tablespoon paprika
2 Teaspoons ground cumin
1 Teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 Teaspoon ground ginger
2 cups chicken broth
1 4 1/2 pound chicken, cut into 8 pieces, skin removed (I just used thighs and legs)
1/2 cup green olives

Cut 1 lemon into 8 wedges. Squeeze enough juice from second lemon to measure 2 tablespoons; set wedges and juice aside. Heat oil in large skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion and sprinkle with salt and pepper; saute until golden brown. Add next 5 ingredients; stir 1 minute. Add broth; bring to boil. Sprinkle chicken with salt and pepper; add to skillet. Add lemon wedges. Cover, reduce heat to medium low, and simmer until chicken i cooked through, turning occasionally, 25 to 30 minutes. Transfer chicken to platter. Add olives and two tablespoons lemon juice to skillet. Increase heat to high; boil uncovered to thicken slightly, about 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Pour over chicken.

Pasta With Roast Vegetables

Pasta with roast vegetables
Thanks to Helen for the concept of this dish. It was easy to make, and tasty too, and even The Weatherman and The Boy, who tend to go for meat dishes, gave this their full approval. I don't have exact proportions, because I just made this based on Helen's description, and  you can easily alter the quantities according to taste.

Turn the oven up high - I had it at 390 degrees.

Put a good amount of olive oil in the bottom of a large roasting pan. Add chopped onion and minced garlic and let it cook for awhile, stirring occasionally. I used one purple onion and two cloves of garlic.

After about 20 minutes, add some roasting vegetables. I just used zucchini, but eggplant would be good too. While that was cooking (about 20 more minutes) I chopped some cherry tomatoes in half. (I used about two pints.) Then I threw those in the roasting pan, stirred everything up, and added some kosher salt, and let it cook some more.

Then I cooked a pound of farfelle pasta. Of course you could use whatever shape you like. Just before I was going to drain the pasta I added big bunches of fresh spinach leaves to the roasted vegetables. This  gave them just enough time to wilt, but not enough to over-cook.

Valentines cake I tossed the pasta into the roasted vegetables and then seasoned it with fresh Parmesan cheese and freshly ground pepper.

The meal was served with a salad, bread and for dessert - since it was Valentine's Day - this chocolate cake. If you look carefully, you will see that it's actually my Christmas chocolate cake. I just took a sheet of wax paper, cut out a heart, lay it on top of the cooked cake, and sprinkled confectioner's sugar on it.

Pear Crisp

Pear cobbler
This is just a tiny twist on an apple crisp, but the pears are nice right now. Needless to say, this should be served warm, with vanilla ice cream. (If I could find cinnamon ice cream, I would use that instead.)

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Have ready an unbuttered 2-inch deep, 2 quart baking dish. Peel and cut into  slices:

5 large pears (about 2 1/2 pounds)

Spread them evenly in the baking dish. Then combine in a bowl:
3/4 cup of all-purpose flour
3/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 and 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg.

Add 1/2 cup (1 stick) cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces. For Christmas, the Weatherman bought me a pasty blender, which I now use, but if you don't own one, take two knives and cut the butter into the dry ingredients above, until the pieces of butter are a bit smaller than individual peas.  You could also use a food processor, but personally, I don't think it's worth the clean-up involved.

Spread the topping evenly over the fruit. Bake until the topping is golden brown and the juices are bubbling - about 50 to 55 minutes. 

Baked Shrimp Scampi

This was a very blog-worthy dinner. It is from "The Barefoot Contessa." My friend Carin recommended it and she did not steer me wrong.

2 lbs shrimp in the shell
3 Tablespoons olive oil
2 Tablespoons dry white wine
salt and pepper
1 and 1/2 sticks of butter (yes, you read that correctly), room temperature
4 cloves garlic minced
1/4 cup minced shallots (I had none in the house and substituted onion)
3 Tablespoons minced fresh parsley
1 teaspoon minced fresh rosemary
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
2 Tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 egg yolk
2/3 cup panko (I used regular bread crumbs)

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

Peel, devein and butterfly the shrimp, leaving the tails intact. Place in a mixing bowl and mix lightly with the olive oil, wine, 2 teaspoon salt and 1 teaspoon pepper. Let the bowl sit at room temperature, marinating, while making the butter/garlic/panko mixture.

In another bowl, mix the butter, garlic, shallots, parsley, rosemary, red pepper flakes, lemon zest, lemon juice, egg yolk, panko, 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper until well combined.

Arrange the shrimp in a single layer in the gratin dish, cut side down with the tails pointing up. Pour the remaining marinade over the shrimp and evenly sprinkle the topping over the shrimp. Bake for 10-12 minutes or until the shrimp are thoroughly cooked and pink.

Serves six. I served it over pasta.

New Year's Eve Feast - recipes included!

As per a relatively new tradition, The Weatherman and I spent New Year's Eve with our friends Amy and David, putting together an upscale pot luck dinner. We started nibbling on hors d'oeuvres at about 8 p.m., and the meal stretched out until nearly midnight. That gave us just enough time to waddle (er, I mean walk) into their living room, turn on the TV and watch the ball drop.

I brought the appetizers. I sure wish I'd remembered to take a photo of the hot artichoke dip before we were half way through it. It would have looked a lot more elegant. Here it is, half-eaten, along with the smoked salmon on pumpernickel bread:
The smoked salmon had a thin layer of creme fiche under it, and was topped with fresh dill. Here's the recipe for the artichoke dip , which was served with crackers:

Hot Artichoke Dip

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Combine in a medium bowl:
-1 cup mayonnaise, 1 cup grated Parmesan (4 ounces) and 1/2 cup finely chopped onions
Pulse in a food processor until finely chopped:
-One 13 ounce can artichoke hearts, drained
Stir into mayonnaise-cheese mixture, along with 1 tablespoon lemon juice and 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Scrape into small baking dish. Sprinkle over the dip: 3 tablespoons dry bread crumbs and 1 teaspoon olive oil. Bake until browned, about 20 minutes. (Can be prepared ahead of time and warmed in microwave.)

Now, I would be able to have a nice photo of the shrimp and white bean first course that Amy made. Except by that time, we have probably imbibed too much of this:
Trust me, it was pretty and delicious. Next, and the photo does not do justice to the taste, was an incredibly tender and tasty steak. It had been marinating all day, and was cooked on the grill, despite the swirling snow outside. It was served with sauteed mushrooms, with asparagus on the side, and was out of this world.
Somehow, either Amy or David even remembered to photograph the salad, which followed main course:
I was a little nervous when Amy asked me to bring salad, because it is usually not my strong suit. But I decided to use a recipe, and while this was a little labor intensive, it was perfect for a special evening. It comes from Silver Palate New Basics:

Lemony Caesar Salad

1 and 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
1/4 cup walnuts
4 thin slices whole grain bread
1/4 cup anchovy spread (recipe follows)
1/2 large head of lettuce, rinsed and patted dry
1 cup Caesar Dressing (recipe follows)
4 ounces Parmesan cheese

-Heat the olive oil in a small skillet. Add the walnuts and saute over medium heat until lightly toasted, about 3-5 minutes. Set aside.
-Toast the bread: then spread each slice with Anchovy Spread, and scatter with the toasted walnuts.
-Tear the lettuce into pieces and toss with the dressing.
-Place a piece of prepared toast on each plate and top with a portion of the lettuce and dressing. Using a vegetable peeler, shave thin slices of Parmesan over each portion.

Anchovy Spread

12 anchovy fillets,drained
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon coarsely ground pepper
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 clove garlic finely minced

-Using a fork, mash the anchovies in a small bowl.
-In another small bowl, whisk the remaining ingredients together. Add ot the anchovies and mix until a paste has formed.

Caesar Dressing

1 teaspoon lemon zest
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon white wine vinegar
2/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon coarsely ground pepper
1/2 teaspoon salt

Combine the lemon zest, juice, garlic and vinegar in a small bowl, and whisk well. Slowly add the olive oil, whisking constantly until smooth. Add the pepper and salt and set aside. Makes one cup.

OK - are you still with me? Because we are about to get to the most amazing part of the meal. Amy's incredible Baked Alaska. I showed a picture of it last year, and here's this year's version. But great news: Amy has parted with her recipe, which you can find below. Happy New Year!
DSC01156a DSC01159a
Amy's Baked Alaska

1. Bake your favorite brownies, using round 8" or 9" cake pans. (13 x 9 pan size brownie recipe translates to two round pans, and you need just one now. Save the extra for later.) Cool.
2. Press 1/2 gallon of your favorite (slightly melted) ice cream into a bowl lined with wax paper. (Keep 1/2 inch border at top.) Some great favorites are mint chip, coffee or chocolate. Freeze for 30 minutes.
3. Invert the ice cream over the brownies on an oven proof plate and refreeze until next step is completed.
4. Beat 5 egg whites, adding gradually 10 tablespoons of granulated sugar. Beat until stiff peaks form.
5. Totally cover the ice cream dome with meringue, and freeze again until ready to bake/serve.
6. Oven should be preheated to 450 degrees. Bake directly from the freezer for 5 minutes or until lightly brown. Let stand for 5-10 minutes before cutting.

Christmas Chocolate Cake

Christmas cake
Of course you can make this any time of year, but I always serve it for Christmas dinner dessert. It's so easy and can be made a day or two ahead, as long as you keep it wrapped in cellophane.

-Cream one stick of butter with one cup of sugar
-Add 1 large can Hershey's chocolate syrup
-Add 4 eggs
-Add 2 melted squares of semi-sweet chocolate

In a separate bowl, sift together:
-I cup flour
-1 teaspoon baking soda
-pinch salt

Mix wet and dry ingredients. My original recipe says to cook this in a tube pan, but I don't own one. Instead, I bake it in a regular cake pan. Whatever you use, butter and flour the pan. Cook at 375 degrees until done, about 45 minutes.

After the cake cools, you can decorate it with powdered sugar. I like to serve it with fresh whipped cream.

Creamed Spinach

Christmas morning was a little hectic, so I forgot to take a picture of the creamed spinach. But it was as pretty as it was tasty. This is adapted from Laurie Colwin's recipe in "Home Cooking." She adds jalapeno peppers but I omit them.

-Cook two packages of chopped, frozen spinach. Drain, reserving one cup of liquid.
-Melt four tablespoons of butter in a saucepan and add two tablespoons of flour. Blend and cook a little, do not brown.
-Add two tablespoons of chopped onion and one clove of minced garlic and cook for a bit.
-Add one cup of reserved spinach liquid slowly, then add 1/2 cup of evaporated milk, some fresh pepper, 1 teaspoon of celery salt and six ounces of Monterey Jack cheese, cut into cubes. After the cheese is melted, add the spinach. Cook until all is blended.
-Turn into a buttered casserole and bake for about 45 minutes at 300 degrees. Serves eight.

Hearty Winter Borscht

OK, this picture makes this soup (which is a meal in itself) look scary - it's really not a hot orange color, more of a deep red. I think it was the flash. In any case, I had a lot of winter root vegetables (especially beets and cabbage), and it was freezing out and I decided to attempt a Russian borscht. The recipe is from Joy of Cooking. It's not difficult, but it does call for a lot of chopping and takes a lot oftime. My daughter and I liked this more than the Weatherman, but he had his share. We girls liked it with a dollop of sour cream on top.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Scrub 3 to 4 medium beets (12 ounces). Wrap the beets in aluminum foil and roast on baking sheet until they are tender, about 1 hour. While the beets are roasting, lightly dredge:

1 pound boneless beef chuck cubed in all-purpose flour.
Heat in a soup pot over medium-high heat:
2 tablespoons vegetable oil

Add the meat, and brown on all sides. Add:
4 1/2 cups beef stock
One 28-ounce can whole tomatoes
, drained and chopped

Bring to a boil, reduce the heat, and simmer, partially covered, until the meat is almost tender, about 30 minutes. Stir in:
2 cups shredded green or red cabbage
1 medium onion, chopped
2 medium carrots, sliced
1 1/2 teaspoons tomato paste

Simmer, partially covered, until the vegetables and meat are tender, about 30 minutes. Peel the beets, then slice and cut into thin strips. Stir the beets into the soup, along with:
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
2 garlic cloves minced
salt and black pepper
1 and 1/2 teaspoons sugar

Simmer, partially covered, for 15 minutes. Thin the soup with water if necessary. Garnish with:
sour cream

Celeriac, Onion and Potato Casserole

 The Weatherman was reading the newsletter that comes from our co-op farm membership, and he came across this recipe. "This sounds good," he said. "Do you think we should make it?" I gave it a quick once-over and said, "We Kemo Sabe?" And the Weatherman said, "I'll try it." And he did! And it was good! Perfect for a cold, winter's day.

3 medium potatoes, sliced 1/4 inch thick
1 large celeriac (also known as "celery root") peeled, cut into quarters and sliced 1/4 inch thick
1 medium onion, quartered and sliced
2 celery stalks, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 15 ounce can whole tomatoes, chopped, juices reserved
1 cup dry white wine or vegetable broth
1 teaspoon dried basil
salt and pepper to taste

Bring a large pot of water to a boil, then add potatoes and cook until just tender, about 5 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, remove potatoes to a bowl, then add celery root to boiling water and cook until tender, about 4 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, remove celery root and add to bowl with potatoes. Reserve cooking liquid.

In a medium skillet, heat oil over medium heat. Add onion, garlic, celery and basil and season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring often, until softened, about 5 minutes. Add wine or broth, increse heat and cook to reduce liquid until about half, about 5 to 7 minutes.  Add tomatoes and their juices plus 1/2 cup reserved cooking liquid.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Grease a two quart baking dish. Ladle half of the tomato mixture in bottom of prepared pan. Make a layer of alternating potato and celery root slices, season with pepper.Top with some of tomato mixture. Then repeat, using remaining potato and celery root slices. Cover with remaining tomato mixture.

Cover and bake until potatoes and celery root are tender, about 45 minutes. Remove from oven and let stand 10 minutes. Serve warm.

Sweet Potato Biscuits

Sweet potato biscuits
I debated posting this, because I just couldn't get these sweet potato biscuits quite right. That said, they were tasty enough that they were worth making, even though I still need to tinker with the recipe to reach perfection. Here's the recipe I used:

1 lb. cooked sweet potatoes
1 cup light brown sugar
1/4 cup water
2 and 1/4 cup Bisquick

Cool and peel the sweet potatoes. Mix the potatoes, brown sugar, Bisquick mix and water.

Stop here: A few caveats - I attempted to increase this recipe 2 and a half fold, so I may have mixed up my conversions. Because when it came time to follow the next set of directions, which were:

"Flour table, roll biscuit mix o 1/2 inch thickeness, and cut with a 2 and 1/2 inch cutter"

Disaster ensued. The mixture would not roll, it kept sticking the the rolling pin, and all in all, it was an utter failure. SO instead, I just decided to do drop biscuits - that is, I just took a heaping spoonful of the batter, and dropped it onto a buttered baking sheet.

I cooked them for about 10 minutes at 400. So here's the deal. They were really good. But they never did reach biscuit consistency - they were more cake-like than crispy. I experimented by cooking them longer, but this resulted in blackened bottoms and little change.

So, if you like a cake-y sweet potato biscuit, this recipe is for you. If, on the other hand, you have a better recipe that you can share with me, I'd be grateful.

Best Vegetable Soup Ever

Vegetable soup
Ok, I'm bragging. And worse, it may be more a brag than a blog, in that I made this recipe up as I went along, and might have trouble recreating it. But here, more or less, is what I did. I had a bunch of root vegetables from our farm co-op, several of which mystified me. First, I had two squash that looked like this:


I also had two rutabaga, which looked a little scary:

The Weatherman was kind enough to peel and chop these intimidating items. Meanwhile I chopped two small onions and six large carrots. Then I sauted all of it together in some butter and olive oil, until the vegetables began to soften a little. Then I added a big can of chicken broth (if you are a vegetarian, obviously you could use vegetable broth), and brought the whole thing to a boil. Then I added some salt, pepper and thyme, covered the pot and turned it down to a simmer.

The soup simmered for just over an hour, and then five minute before I served it, I threw in a whole bunch of fresh spinach.

I served it with corn muffins for lunch and it was really delicious. I do have to admit that The Boy came home from college last night, and while he loved the soup, he has also eaten three muffins, some salami, cheese and crackers, cookies, and God knows what else since lunch. And we haven't had dinner yet.

Election Night Apple Pie

Applepie It's as American as ... you know. Here's the apple pie I'm bringing to a pot-luck election returns dinner. The recipe is adapted from good old Joy of Cooking.

Prepare two basic pie doughs, or cheat like I do, and buy some Pillsbury Already Pie Crust.
Butter pie dish and line with one pie dough. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

Peel, core and slice 2 1/2 pounds (about 5 or 6 large) apples.

Combine in a bowl with:
3/4 cup sugar
3 Tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt

Pour filling into pie crust. Squeeze about a tablespoon of fresh lemon juice over the apple mixture, then dot it with butter - about 2 tablespoons - cut into small pieces.

Take the second pie crust and cut it into strips. then weave the strips over and under each other like a basket on top of the pie. Once you are done, crimp the crust around the edges, trimming any pieces that are too long. I press the sides with the tines of a fork to give it a little decoration.

Bake for 30 minutes, then slip a baking sheet under the pie and turn the temperature down to 350 degrees. Bake for an additional 30-40 minutes. Note - I had to cover the pie loosely with aluminum foil after half an hour, because it was browning too quickly.

It goes without saying that this should be served warm, with vanilla ice cream on top.

Sweet and Savory Kale

DSCN9444 Kale - it's good for you. But I still wouldn't have bought it at the store. Kale has always intimidated me. But we keep getting it from our farm co-op and I had to figure out how to prepare it. My first effort - simply cooked in olive oil and garlic, was not a great success. Kale is pretty bitter. I fared better with this recipe, which I found online.

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 small onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
4 teaspoons sugar
1 tablespoon cider vinegar
1 1/2 cups chicken broth
4 cups stemmed, torn and rinsed kale
1/4 cup dried cranberries
salt and pepper to taste

Heat olive oil in large pan over medium heat. Stir in onion and galic, cook and stir until the onion softens and turns translucent, about 5 minutes. Stir in the mustard, sugar, vinegar and chicken stock, and bring to a boil over high heat. Stir in the kale, cover, and cook 5 minutes until wilted.

Stir in the dried cranberries (I used Crasins, which I think are the same thing) and continue boiling, uncovered, until the liquid has reduced by about half and the cranberries have softened, about 15 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. The original recipe calls for sprinkling this with 1/4 cup sliced almonds before serving, but I didn't have any, and it tasted fine without them.

Moroccan Lamb Stew

Lamb curry The Weatherman's brother (we could call him "The Stage Manager" but I prefer "Uncle Frank") came up for dinner last night. It was just cold enough that I thought I could get away with serving this lamb stew. It comes from "The Loaves and Fishes Cookbook" and will make your kitchen smell like heaven. I served it over whole-grain couscous.

3 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons butter
3 1/2 pounds lamb from leg, cut into 1 1/2 inch cubes. (Ask the grocery store butcher to cut it for you if you can't find it on the shelves.)
4 cups peeled, finely chopped onion
6 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
2 tablespoons unbleached white flour
3 cups peeled and chopped fresh tomatoes or one 28-ounce can plum tomatoes, drained and chopped
1 cup chicken stock
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 tablespoon chopped fresh coriander or 1/2 teaspoon dried
One 3-inch stick cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 teaspoons salt
1 cup golden raisins

    Preheat oven to 350 degrees
    Heat the oil and butter in a large saute pan, and brown the lamb on all sides over medium-high heat. Do this in two batches. Transfer the lam to an oven-proof casserole.

     Place the onion and garlic in the same pan and saute until they turn light brown, 4 or 5 minutes. Add the flour and stir it in, then add the tomatoes and the chicken stock. Bring the mixture to a boil. Scrape all the brown bits from the bottom of the pan. Remove the pan from the head and add the rest of the ingredients. Stir to mix.

    Pour the sauce over  the lamb. Cover the casserole dish with foil and bake for 2 hours.

    Serves 6.

Apple Crisp

Apple crisp This differs a little from a traditional apple crisp, because it omits oatmeal. But I got no complaints with the results.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Have ready an unbuttered 2-inch deep, 2 quart baking dish. Peel and cut into chunks or slices:

8 medium apples (about 2 1/2 pounds)

Spread them evenly in the baking dish. Then combine in a bowl:
3/4 cup of all-purpose flour
3/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 and 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg.

Add 1/2 cup (1 stick) cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces. One of these days, I'm going to buy a pastry blender. If you have one, now is the time to use it. Otherwise take two knives and cut the butter into the dry ingredients above, until the pieces of butter are a bit smaller than individual peas.  You could also use a food processor, but personally, I don't think it's worth the clean-up involved.

Spread the topping evenly over the fruit. Bake until the topping is golden brown and the juices are bubbling - about 50 to 55 minutes. I don't have to tell you that this is even better when served with vanilla ice cream.