Sunday, November 15, 2015


I’m going to try not to dwell on how far behind I am. Recapping all this summer’s successful recipes is apparently going to be an impossible task, so let’s skip ahead to fall—but first, I’d be remiss if I didn’t tell you about the year’s top salad, as far as our household is concerned. Coincidentally, it’s the second recipe in a row I’ve posted from the New York Times, which I normally don’t follow foodwise, but considering it’s given me double slam dunks, I may need to remedy that.

This salad shares some DNA with our fave peanut-lime chicken rice noodle salad, including, unfortunately, being something of a pain in the ass to put together. I’m not going to lie: Assembling the marinade is pretty time-consuming. I’ve made recipes with longer lists of ingredients and more steps, but somehow this one contains just the right combination of chopping and mincing and juicing and zesting to add up to a massive time suck. I recommend doing it the night before, so the pork can marinate for 24 hours, but make sure you’ve got something quick and easy planned for dinner that evening, because this marinade is a full-time kitchen job in itself.

The good news is that everything else about this recipe is A+. In a genius move, some of that laborious marinade will be reserved (separate from the raw pork, of course) to serve as your dressing as well. The resulting salad is flavorful, refreshingly crunchy, chock-full of a rainbow of vegetables, and enjoyable year-round (perfect for bridging the awkward, sweltering gap that lies between summer and actual fall in SoCal, and which I complain about annually). It’s a champion leftover generator in both quantity and quality—with sturdy cabbage as the base, you can store it all mixed together in grab-and-go servings (I hate dragging a million different little containers to work for meals that can’t be assembled until just before eating). It has pork, which I’m getting more and more fond of (a nice break from the 74 chicken recipes I’ve accumulated over the years), and yields the most perfectly cooked tenderloin I’ve ever managed to make, with little to no effort. Also, cashews and toasted coconut will never fail to delight me.

A few other notes:
  • The original recipe was titled “Spicy Thai Pork Tenderloin Salad,” but I didn’t detect much heat either time I made this. I used just one jalapeno, so next time I might try two, or the Thai bird peppers instead.
  • I couldn’t fit 8 cups of sliced cabbage in my largest mixing bowl, so I had to scale back to 6, which turns out to be plenty for six generous main-dish servings.
  • I also cut back on the herbs. I’m usually the one doubling the cilantro in recipes, but 4 cups of herbs to 8 cups (or 6 in my base) of cabbage seemed a bit excessive, especially when that included a full 1½ cups of mint, which can be so overpowering.
1½ pounds boneless pork tenderloin
⅔ cup thinly sliced shallots (about 4 shallots)
⅔ cup chopped cilantro leaves and tender stems
5 tablespoons light brown sugar
6 garlic cloves, minced
5 tablespoons soy sauce
5 tablespoons peanut or grapeseed oil (I just used olive oil)
Juice and zest of 4 limes
3-inch piece peeled ginger root, minced
2 tablespoons Asian fish sauce
½ teaspoon kosher salt
1 to 2 Thai bird, serrano or jalapeño chile peppers, seeded and minced

6-8 cups Napa or regular cabbage, thinly sliced
5 scallions, trimmed and thinly sliced
2 small Kirby or Persian cucumbers, thinly sliced
1 red bell pepper, thinly sliced
1 cup cilantro leaves
¾ cup mint leaves
1 cup basil leaves
1¼ cups roasted cashews or peanuts, toasted and chopped
¼ cup unsweetened coconut chips or large flakes, toasted
  1. Pat pork dry with paper towel. In a bowl, combine shallot, cilantro, 2 tablespoons sugar, garlic, soy sauce, oil, lime zest and juice, ginger, fish sauce, salt and chile. Pour a quarter of the mixture into a blender, add remaining sugar and purée until a smooth, loose paste forms. Place tenderloin in a large bowl and spread the paste all over pork. Marinate at room temperature for 2 hours, or cover and refrigerate up to 24 hours; turn the tenderloin occasionally.
  2. Save the remaining, unblended mixture to use as dressing (store, covered, in the refrigerator).
  3. When ready to cook the pork, preheat the broiler and arrange the oven rack at least 4 inches from the heat. Place the pork on a wire rack and place the rack on a foil-lined baking sheet. Broil pork, turning occasionally, until well browned and meat reaches an internal temperature of 135 degrees, 4 to 10 minutes per side depending upon the heat of your broiler. Keep an eye on it so it doesn’t overcook. (You can grill the pork instead if you prefer.) Let meat rest while you prepare the salad.
  4. In a large bowl, combine the salad ingredients, reserving the herbs, cashews and coconut. Whisk the dressing and use just enough to dress the salad, tossing to combine. Let sit for a few minutes for the flavors to meld, then right before serving, add herbs and toss again.
  5. To serve, slice the pork. Arrange salad on a platter and top with sliced pork. Scatter cashews and coconut on top, and drizzle with a little more of the remaining dressing, to taste.
Serves: 6-8
Time: 2 hours, plus 2 to 24 hours of marinating
Leftover potential: Great. The mixed and dressed salad will stay relatively intact in the refrigerator for at least three to four days.

Monday, October 05, 2015


With—holy cow!—565 posts here already, I sometimes wonder exactly how many more recipes I have room for in my life. I would have thought my chicken-on-a-pita niche was already amply filled by the painstakingly perfected chicken gyros, but then in some food blog roundup I spotted this photo from The Gourmet RD and realized my world would not be complete without a chicken-and-hummus-on-a-pita version. The original recipe is from Sam Sifton at the New York Times, and it is both easy and fabulous: A lengthy marinade in lemon and spices followed by a stint in a hot oven (be forewarned, it will spatter and smoke) yields chicken that’s tender yet crispy-edged and ultra-flavorful. I nestled it atop some creamy hummus on a chewy flatbread, dotted it with cucumber and tomato slices, drizzled on a quick garlic-lemon-yogurt sauce, and was very happy. You might add hot sauce, feta, olives, baba ganoush or lettuce, or serve it all over rice or greens instead. But do try it, because it’s pretty magical.

2 lemons, juiced
½ cup plus 1 tablespoon olive oil
6 cloves garlic, peeled, smashed, and minced
1 teaspoon kosher salt
2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
2 teaspoons ground cumin
2 teaspoons paprika
½ teaspoon turmeric
1 pinch ground cinnamon
Red pepper flakes, to taste
1½ to 2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs
1 large red onion, peeled and quartered
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
Pita bread
Toppings as desired (I like sliced cucumber, chopped tomato, hummus, and garlicky yogurt sauce)
  1. For the chicken marinade, combine the lemon juice, ½ cup olive oil, garlic, salt, pepper, cumin, paprika, turmeric, cinnamon and red pepper flakes in a large bowl, then whisk to combine. Add the chicken and toss well to coat. Cover, and store in refrigerator for at least 1 hour and up to 24 hours.
  2. When ready to cook, preheat oven to 425 degrees. Use the remaining tablespoon of olive oil to grease a rimmed sheet pan (I recommend lining it with foil first). Add the quartered onion to the chicken and marinade, and toss once to combine. Remove the chicken and onion from the marinade, and place on the pan, spreading everything evenly across it.
  3. Put the chicken in the oven, and roast until it is browned, crisp at the edges and cooked through, about 30 to 40 minutes. Remove from the oven, allow to rest 5 minutes, then slice into bits. Scatter the parsley over the top and serve on pita with the toppings of your choice.
Serves: 5-6
Time: 1 hour, plus 1 to 24 hours of marinating
Leftover potential: Good (store chicken/onion mixture separate from pita, sauce and other toppings; reheat and assemble when ready to eat)

Monday, September 28, 2015


I’m always on the lookout for more veggie pizza recipes, especially ones that can work as somewhat light, summery fare—since pizza is about the only thing I’ll suffer turning the oven on for during even the worst heatwave. This recipe from Annie’s Eats meets both criteria, with a colorful confetti of seasonal bounty. You could use goat cheese, feta, or another crumbly cheese instead if you must, but I love the creamy-garlicky Boursin here. (A is not a fan, however, so I’ll be scarfing this one solo.)

I highly recommend using a mandoline to get the summer squash slices as thin as possible; I was always too scared to use one, but I recently acquired this Oxo slicer/grater set and only belatedly realized it was basically a mandoline in disguise. Surprise, surprise, I love it! The cheese graters are just OK, but I could slice and julienne things all day long. However, you’re going to have to slice your cherry tomatoes by hand, and it’s just as much of a pain as you think it would be. If you want to use Roma or another larger tomato instead, I’d understand.

The only change I’ve made to the recipe is to thinly slice the red onion. Against my better judgment, I followed the original instructions to chop it, and the oniony flavor ended up almost overwhelming the whole pizza. Thin slices are less intrusive—and as a bonus, you can use your mandoline for that too! I also garnished with more basil, because nothing beats that fresh green taste with summer vegetables.

2 tablespoons olive oil, plus extra to taste
2 cloves garlic, finely minced
½ teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 pound pizza dough
1 very small zucchini, very thinly sliced
1 very small yellow squash, very thinly sliced
1 teaspoon kosher salt
6 ounces mozzarella cheese, shredded
1 cup grape or cherry tomatoes, sliced
½ red onion, thinly sliced
2-3 ounces soft garlic herb cheese, such as Boursin
¼ cup chopped fresh basil leaves, plus extra to taste
  1. Heat the oil in a small skillet over medium-low heat. Stir in the garlic and red pepper flakes. Let the oil infuse for about 5 to 10 minutes, reducing the heat if the garlic starts to brown. Remove from the heat.
  2. Meanwhile, place the zucchini and squash slices in a colander and toss with the salt. Let stand 15 to 20 minutes to allow excess water to drain from the vegetables. Lay the slices out on a clean kitchen towel and blot the surface to remove additional water and the salt.
  3. To make the pizza, heat the oven to 450 degrees. Roll out the pizza dough on a baking sheet dusted with cornmeal. Brush the center of the dough with the garlic-infused oil. Evenly sprinkle on the mozzarella, then layer the zucchini and squash slices in concentric circles over the cheese. Top with the tomatoes, red onion, Boursin and basil.
  4. Bake 10 to 12 minutes, or until the cheese is melted and bubbling and the crust is lightly browned. Remove from the oven, let cool slightly, slice, and garnish with additional fresh basil.
Serves: 4
Time: 1 hour
Leftover potential: Good.

Sunday, September 20, 2015


Is it too late in the summer to talk about strawberry shortcake? Too bad. I’ve avoided baking traditional biscuits for most of my life, my irrational fear of making pie crust extending to any recipe that involved cutting butter into other ingredients. I made drop biscuits and cream biscuits, and even made “shortcake” using Bisquick in the very early days of this blog. That was all fine, but as soon as I successfully overcame my pie fear, it was time to unlock the top level of buttery flakiness in one of my favorite desserts.

There are an overwhelming number of strawberry shortcake formulas in the world, so I stuck with the always straightforward and reliable Simply Recipes, and was not disappointed. Because I was home alone for the week, I ate one biscuit straight out of the oven and froze the rest. Each night I’d defrost one, macerate a single serving of berries, whip a single serving of cream (Did you know you can do this? Immersion blenders are magical), and enjoy my solo dessert. Thus I can’t vouch for the exact accuracy of the berry and cream quantities listed here, since I was winging it from day to day. I suspect I used more than 6 cups of berries—I like a lot of fruit on my shortcake. I even used peaches once, when the berries ran out, and that was also tasty.

I took the opportunity to try Food52’s nifty recipe for yogurt whipped cream, which is as tangily delicious as promised, but you can of course use regular whipped cream too.

3 pints (about 6 cups) strawberries
½ cup sugar, or to taste
3 cups all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons sugar
1½ tablespoons baking powder
¾ teaspoon salt
¾ cup (1½ sticks) cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
1½ cups heavy cream
1½ teaspoons vanilla extract
Yogurt whipped cream:
1 cup heavy cream, chilled
½ cup plain yogurt, Greek or otherwise, full-fat or otherwise, chilled
A few pinches of sugar (optional)
  1. Cut the stems away from the strawberries and discard. Cut the strawberries in half, and then in either quarters or thick slices. Put the cut strawberries into a large bowl and sprinkle with ¼ cup sugar. Taste, and add up to another ¼ cup sugar depending on how sweet your strawberries are and how sweet you want them. Gently stir until coated and let sit at room temperature for about 20 minutes, until the berries soften and begin to release their juices.
  2. Meanwhile, to make the biscuits, vigorously whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl. Cut the butter into the flour mixture, either using your fingers, a pastry cutter, a fork, or a food processor, until the largest pieces of butter are pea-sized.
  3. Mix the vanilla and cream together. Make a well in the center of the flour and pour the cream into it. Mix with a fork until the mixture is just combined. It should look rather shaggy and feel a little dry. Gently knead by hand a few times to form a loose ball of dough.
  4. Place the dough on a lightly floured surface and form it into an 8-inch square, about ¾ inch to 1 inch thick. Place it on a parchment- or silicone-lined baking sheet, cover with plastic wrap, and chill for 20 minutes.
  5. Mash about half of the berries in the bowl and stir to mix. Let sit while you bake the biscuits.
  6. Heat the oven to 425 degrees. Remove the biscuit dough from refrigerator, cut into 9 even squares, and spread them about 2 inches apart on the baking sheet. Bake until medium golden brown, 18 to 20 minutes. Let cool on a wire rack.
  7. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a whisk (or using a hand mixer or immersion blender, or by hand), beat heavy cream and yogurt (with a little sugar if desired) on medium-high speed until soft peaks form. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate until ready to serve.
  8. To serve, slice each biscuit in half horizontally and place cut side up in a wide, shallow bowl. Ladle strawberries over each biscuit and add a dollop of whipped cream.
Serves: 9
Time: 1 hour 15 minutes
Leftover potential: OK. Biscuits are best freshly baked, but they can be frozen and defrosted in the microwave; the texture will suffer a bit, but the flavor is still good and macerated strawberries hide a multitude of sins. (You might also try freezing the unbaked dough squares and baking them in small quantities as needed.) If eating them singly, use about 1/3 to ½ cup macerated with ½ to 1 tablespoon sugar per biscuit. If you have an immersion blender, it’s easy to make whipped cream in small quantities; per serving, I use a few tablespoons of cream whipped with a heaping tablespoon of yogurt.

Thursday, September 03, 2015


 September still feels like summer here in L.A., but I know the rest of the country will be moving on to apples and pumpkins soon, so I’m going to make a push to clear my backlog of summer recipes ASAP, and save you from having to read about strawberries and stone fruit while you’re busy raking leaves and building bonfires.

I missed the boat on posting this one last year, which is a little silly because it’s so simple it barely needs writing down at all, but it’s well worth noting as an easy, colorful, produce-showcasing, super-summery side to have in your back pocket. The basic recipe, which I believe I found by simply Googling peach-arugula-prosciutto salads on a whim one day, is from Papawow. I used feta instead of goat cheese, varied the quantities slightly, and crisped my prosciutto on the stovetop because it was too damn hot to turn on the oven. The result is more than the sum of its few parts—a perfect blend of sweet, peppery, tart, and salty notes that’s almost enough to make me wish summer would stick around even longer.

2 to 4 slices of prosciutto
Juice from 1 lemon
1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
¼ teaspoon sugar
¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
4 to 5 ounces arugula leaves
1 or 2 ripe peaches, sliced
2 to 4 ounces feta cheese, crumbled
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees, lay prosciutto slices on a parchment-lined sheet pan, and bake until crisp, about 8-12 minutes. (If you prefer, you can crisp the prosciutto slices on the stovetop instead, in a very lightly oiled skillet over medium heat.) Let cool, then crumble into small pieces.
  2. In a small bowl, whisk together lemon juice, balsamic vinegar, mustard, sugar, and salt and pepper, then slowly stream in olive oil, whisking until dressing is well combined.
  3. In a large bowl, lightly toss the arugula leaves with dressing, then top with peaches, feta, and crispy prosciutto.
Serves: 4
Time: 20 minutes
Leftover potential: Not great, unless you store all the components separately. The dressing will keep in a jar in the fridge for the better part of a week, and the salad is so easy to assemble you may as well just make as much as you need and put together another batch later if you have extra ingredients.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015


Do I really need to explain why cheese-and-greens-stuffed dough is a good thing? I felt like putting a new spin on my pizza routine while A was out of town, and this recipe from Annie’s Eats seemed just the ticket. I’d made calzones filled with basic pizza toppings before and been underwhelmed, but I think leaving out the tomato sauce and using it as a dip instead might be the key to success, with less mess and risk of sogginess. Rolling out and folding each piece of dough is a little more work than making one big flat crust, but other than that, this is a cinch and makes a great dinner (and handy leftovers that I bet would also freeze well) year-round.

The original recipe made two calzones, but I liked the idea of four single-serving ones better, even if it means more futzing with dough. I also used a full pound of spinach, because that’s how big the bags are at Trader Joe’s; it makes the calzones a bit more filling-centric and, of course, greener, but I like them that way. Other than that, the only tweak I made was to use dried oregano because I had a lot of other fresh herbs on the shopping list already. Plus, I actually enjoy the taste of dried oregano—it’s the quintessential pizza flavor! The first time I made these I also threw in a little fresh basil, just because I had some that needed to be used up, and the second time I tried a little dried basil, which was good too. And while the vegetarian nature of these was part of the appeal for me, A has made it very clear that some pepperoni or sausage would not go amiss as far as he’s concerned, so that may be a future variation.

10-16 ounces frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
8 ounces (1 cup) whole-milk ricotta cheese
4 ounces mozzarella cheese, shredded
1 ounce Parmesan cheese, grated
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 large egg yolk
2 cloves garlic, minced
1½ teaspoons minced fresh oregano, or 1 teaspoon dried oregano
¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes
Salt and pepper to taste
1 pound pizza dough
1 large egg lightly beaten with 2 tablespoons water, for egg wash
Pizza sauce (this one is my current go-to), for serving
  1. Preheat the oven to 500 degrees.
  2. In a bowl, combine the spinach, ricotta, mozzarella, Parmesan, olive oil, egg yolk, garlic, oregano, and red pepper flakes. Stir well until evenly combined, and season with salt and pepper to taste.
  3. Place the dough on a lightly floured surface and divide it into quarters. Working with one piece of dough at a time, use a rolling pin to flatten the dough into a thin round, about 6 to 8 inches in diameter. Repeat with the other portions of dough.
  4. Spread a quarter of the spinach filling over half of each dough round, leaving a 1-inch border at the edge. Brush the edge with the egg wash. Fold the other half of the dough over the filling, leaving ½-inch border of the bottom edge uncovered. Press the edges of the dough together and crimp to seal.
  5. Carefully transfer the sealed calzones to a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Using a sharp knife, cut 5 steam vents in the top of the each calzone. Brush the tops with the remaining egg wash.
  6. Bake until golden brown, about 15 minutes, rotating the baking sheet halfway through. Transfer the calzones to a wire rack and let cool for 5 minutes. Serve warm with pizza sauce.
Serves: 4
Time: 1 hour
Leftover potential: Good. Calzones are best reheated in the oven at 350 degrees for 10 minutes or until warmed through.

Thursday, August 20, 2015


I have a bad habit of trying new vegetable side dishes and forgetting to note them here, either because I didn’t bother to snap a photo or because the recipe seemed so simple I doubted whether it was worth singling out for posterity. Then, of course, the next time I want a vegetable side dish I look at my archives and just see the same old handful of options, so I figure I’ll try something new and the whole cycle begins again.

This pattern is particularly prevalent with green beans, because I love green beans so much that I have a hard time resisting the allure of new variations. I have three perfectly good ones languishing in my “try again” file right now (and may as well link to them for the record, as I might never get around to them again). But now I’ve found one that I’m so excited about, I’m going to break with tradition and post it in a timely and enthusiastic fashion.

When I saw this recipe at Smitten Kitchen, it looked good enough to bookmark, but I’ll admit that I figured Deb’s rave reviews were partly due to her pregnancy cravings; how revolutionary can green beans with almonds really be? Then I tried it … and was blown away. There’s something about that almond pesto—The salty Parmesan? The garlic? The hint of thyme or bright pop of vinegar?—that makes it so much more than the sum of its already-plenty-delicious parts.

I halved the recipe, more or less (a little more cheese, garlic, and thyme never hurt anyone). My tiny food processor tried to balk when it came to breaking down whole almonds, so I gave it a hand by chopping them first. Still, I wouldn’t switch to sliced or slivered ones; there’s something about the nubbly, clumpy texture of the finished pesto I really enjoy. It doesn’t always cling that well to the beans (don’t skip the extra drizzle of oil—it really helps) and you’ll end up scraping a bunch out of the bottom of your bowl afterward, but that’s fine with me because I can happily eat that stuff with a spoon. This is one new side dish that’s going to make it into heavy rotation.

1 pound green beans, trimmed, cut in half if really long
½ cup (2½ ounces) whole almonds, toasted, cooled, and roughly chopped
¼ cup (3/4 ounce) grated Parmesan or aged Pecorino cheese
1 small garlic clove, peeled and crushed
Leaves from a sprig or two of thyme
Pinches of red pepper flakes, to taste
¼ teaspoon coarse sea or kosher salt
2 teaspoons white wine vinegar
3 tablespoons olive oil, plus extra for drizzling
  1. Bring a large pot of salted water to boil. Add beans and cook until crisp-tender, about 3 to 4 minutes. Plunge into an ice-water bath to fully cool. Drain and pat dry.
  2. In a food processor, grind almonds, cheese, garlic, thyme, red pepper, and salt to a coarse paste. Add vinegar and pulse again. Stir in oil and adjust seasonings to taste (I add more salt at this point).
  3. Toss cooled green beans with almond pesto and drizzle with extra olive oil.
Serves: 4
Time: 20 minutes
Leftover potential: Good; my leftover servings stayed just fine in the fridge for a few days, and the original recipe mentions that you can keep the almond pesto on its own, refrigerated, for up to a week.