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 case) 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 145 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.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015


I tend to operate under the guideline that I can eat as much dessert if I want, as long as I make it myself. My laziness usually balances out my gluttony enough to maintain a healthy moderation, but this doesn’t work as well in the summer, when it takes only a few minutes to transform ripe fruit into a delicious treat. (And when you can fool yourself into believing that it’s perfectly good for you because it has fruit in it.) Thanks to recipes like this one, I’ve now had to switch to my other rule, which dictates skipping dessert on weekdays unless it’s a special occasion.

I did a lot of cooking experimentation while A was in Indiana on his annual July 4 visit. While he’s usually supportive of my incessant recipe testing, but it still feels extra freeing when there’s no one around to witness any potential food flops. This clever one-serving shortcut peach crisp recipe from Joy the Baker seemed like perfect single-lady fare, and indeed I ended up repeating it at least three times in the course of a couple of weeks (single ladies find themselves with a lot of extra ripe peaches sitting around).

I couldn’t manage to heap all of the topping on the two halves of a single peach without half of it sliding off, so in my view this can easily make two servings—bake both at once if you want to share with a friend, or store half of the topping mixture in the fridge overnight and bake yourself a second peach the next day. But if you were to go ahead and pile it high enough to eat it all in one sitting, no one would blame you. The fruit softens in the oven, the buttery oat-almond-coconut topping crisps and caramelizes, and just like that, you’ve treated yourself to a nice warm dessert.

This would be downright fantastic with vanilla ice cream on top, but I poured a little cold heavy cream over mine and that was lovely, too.

1 ripe peach (or 2 if you’re nice enough to share)
¼ cup all-purpose flour
¼ cup packed light brown sugar
3 tablespoons old-fashioned oats
¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
Pinch of salt
1 tablespoon shredded coconut
1 tablespoon sliced almonds
2 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cubed
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Slice peach(es) in half and remove the pit. With a small spoon, scoop out the dark red pit center, creating just a bit more room for the crumble topping. (You can skip the scooping if you’re really lazy, or if you’re making two peaches.)
  3. In a small bowl, whisk together flour, brown sugar, oats, cinnamon, salt, coconut, and almonds. Add butter and, with your fingers, work it into the dry ingredients, quickly breaking it up until it is well combined. Some of the butter bits will be the size of oat flakes; others will be the size of small peas.
  4. Place peach halves, cut side up, in a small, oven-safe dish. Top each peach half with a generous portion of topping.
  5. Bake for 20 minutes, until topping is golden brown.
  6. Remove from the oven and serve warm with vanilla ice cream or a drizzle of heavy cream.
Serves: 1-2
Time: 30 minutes
Leftover potential: The peaches are best eaten warm from the oven; however, if you make one peach and have enough topping left over to make another one tomorrow, you can store the crisp topping overnight in a sealed container in the fridge.

Tuesday, August 04, 2015


You’d think I would have tried every possible variety of pasta recipe by now, but no—in fact, despite having 73 already logged here, my eye has been roving lately. I’ve stumbled across several new additions to my collection, and this concoction from Smitten Kitchen is the best of them. It may sound crazy to consider making baked pasta in the summer, and sure, I wouldn’t tackle this in the midst of a heat wave, but when the first zucchini start to appear in the spring or you’re still trying to use up the last of your bumper crop in September (or if you’re lucky enough to have air conditioning in the dog days), this is just the thing to satisfy a craving for warm, chewy cheesiness while still keeping things on the lighter, brighter, fresher side with a two-to-one ratio of squash to pasta and a lemony, herb-speckled béchamel. I was surprised how big the flavors were (zucchini and pasta in white sauce might easily add up to bland + bland + bland), and how much I was reminded of mac and cheese—but peppier.

The recipe involves a bit of prep work but not as much as I feared, especially if you have a skillet that can go right from stovetop to oven (I used my enameled cast-iron workhorse). I’d be tempted to double it next time, especially since the recipe notes that it freezes well. I had a bunch of basil to use up, so I sprinkled some over the top before serving, and was definitely not sorry. I made this while A was out of town, scarfed down all four servings during the course of a week, and missed it when it was gone. As soon as the heat dies down, I’ll fire up my oven and make it again…and maybe share it this time, although the chef retains the prerogative to scrape all the crusty toasted cheesy bits from the bottom of the baking pan directly into her mouth.

8 ounces pasta (rotini or other small, curly shape)
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 pound mixed summer squash, halved lengthwise and sliced thin
1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
Juice of half a lemon
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 large or 5 skinny scallions, sliced thin, white/pale green parts and dark green tops in separate piles
Pinches of red pepper flakes, to taste
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1½ cups milk
¼ cup chopped flat-leaf parsley, divided
1 tablespoon finely chopped mixed herbs of your choice (I used thyme and basil)
Salt and more pepper to taste
¾ cup finely grated Parmesan or Pecorino Romano cheese, divided
4 ounces mozzarella, cut into small cubes
  1. Bring a medium-large pot of well-salted water to a boil. Add pasta and cook until just al dente. Drain and set aside.
  2. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
  3. Heat a large skillet (oven-safe if you have it) over medium-high heat. Add olive oil, and let it heat until almost smoking. Add sliced squash, season with salt and red pepper flakes, and let it sear underneath, unmoved, until golden brown. Continue to sauté until browned and somewhat wilted, about 10 minutes, trying to get some color on each layer before moving it around. Transfer to a bowl and squeeze lemon juice over it. Add more salt or pepper if needed.
  4. Reheat the same skillet over medium heat and melt the butter in it. Add the scallion white and pale green parts and garlic and sauté for 1 to 2 minutes. Add flour and stir until it all has been dampened and absorbed. Add milk, a very small splash at a time, stirring constantly with a spoon. Make sure each splash has been fully incorporated into the mixture, scraping from the bottom of the pan and all around, before adding the next splash. Repeat until all milk has been added, then add lemon zest, salt and pepper to taste. Let mixture simmer for 2 minutes, stirring frequently; the sauce will thicken. Remove pan from heat and stir in half of chopped parsley, all of mixed herbs and reserved scallion greens. Adjust seasoning to taste.
  5. Off the heat, add drained pasta, summer squash, ½ cup grated Parmesan and all of the mozzarella to the pot, stirring to combine. If your skillet is not oven-safe, transfer mixture to a 2- to 3-quart baking dish. Sprinkle with remaining ¼ cup Parmesan.
  6. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, until edges of pasta are golden brown. Sprinkle with reserved parsley (I also added some fresh basil) and serve hot. Reheat as needed.
Serves: 4
Time: 1 hour 15 minutes
Leftover potential: Good. To freeze, let dish fully cool to room temperature, then transfer, wrapped well, to the freezer. Let defrost in fridge for a day before rewarming in oven to rewarm at 300 to 325 degrees with the foil on, then finish it for the last 10 minutes or so at a higher heat without the foil.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015


I’ve had my old reliable bread-and-tomato salad recipe for more than a decade now, but there’s always room for innovation. I usually serve my panzanella alongside grilled chicken, so when I saw a Serious Eats recipe that just put the chicken right into the salad, it seemed like the logical next step. I do so love a one-dish meal.

Through three rounds of trial and (not very much) error, I’ve evolved the perfect hybrid between old and new. From my previous version, I kept the herb mixture (cilantro and dill as well as basil) and the trick of adding a couple of tablespoons of water to extend the dressing without making it too oily. I also swiped a simple grilled-chicken marinade from other recipes in my arsenal, and used my usual stovetop method of toasting the croutons. The new recipe not only adds the chicken, but also crisp cucumbers and a sweet hit of balsamic in the red-wine vinaigrette. The result might be one of my favorite summer salads, colorful, juicy, deeply flavorful and perfectly filling.

2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 large garlic cloves, smashed, plus 1 small garlic clove, minced
12 tablespoons olive oil, divided
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
1 to 1½ pounds boneless, skinless, chicken breasts (about 2 large), halved lengthwise
4 cups 1-inch cubed French bread
3 to 4 large ripe tomatoes, cored and cut into 1-inch cubes
2 large Persian cucumbers, halved and cut into ½-inch-thick half-moons
½ small red onion, sliced thinly
½ cup chopped basil
¼ cup chopped cilantro
2-3 tablespoons chopped fresh dill
3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  1. In a large zip-top bag or a large glass bowl with a lid, mix together the lemon juice, 2 smashed cloves garlic, ¼ cup olive oil, 1 teaspoon salt, and pepper to taste. Add the chicken breasts, make sure they get thoroughly coated with the marinade, and let them marinate at least one hour.
  2. Meanwhile, heat 2 tablespoons oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add bread cubes, toss well, and sauté until lightly toasted, stirring occasionally. Season with salt and pepper, and let cool to room temperature.
  3. Grill the chicken until cooked through, let cool to room temperature, and cut into 1-inch cubes.
  4. Place tomatoes, cucumbers, onion, herbs, and chicken in a large bowl.
  5. Whisk remaining 6 tablespoons oil, red wine vinegar, balsamic vinegar, 1 small clove minced garlic, 2-3 tablespoons water, 1 teaspoon salt, and pepper to taste in a medium bowl until combined.
  6. Pour about ¾ of the dressing over the salad and toss thoroughly to moisten. Add bread cubes, toss well, add remaining dressing if needed, season to taste with salt and pepper, and let sit for about 15 minutes before eating.
Serves: 4 to 6
Time: 1½ hours
Leftover potential: Good, but store bread cubes separately, adding to the leftover portions about 15 minutes before you eat them.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015


 Or, My First Pie, Part II.

Blueberry is not my favorite pie flavor; that honor goes to strawberry, followed by lemon meringue. As a child, I also favored banana and coconut cream, and of course French silk; now I lean more toward peach and apple. But since I didn’t start really liking blueberry baked goods until 2008 or so, blueberry pie has never really been on my radar. It is, however, A’s favorite pie. And more pressingly, we had 10 pounds of blueberries in the fridge, because I happened to have some very helpful out-of-town guests on hand when berry-picking day rolled around, and it turns out that when conditions are favorable, five adults can gather a heck of a lot of blueberries in a very short time. So, blueberry cake, jam, crisp, salad, crumble, oatmeal, and then pie.

There are a lot of blueberry pie recipes in the world, and not being a connoisseur, I wasn’t sure what to look for in a good one, but I trust Annie’s Eats and this one looked solid. I love lemon with blueberries, and cinnamon seemed like a good idea (I of course added a pinch of cardamom as well). It came out well—a bit on the juicy side, but not too runny. And it turns out I like blueberry pie quite a lot, especially when it’s my own handiwork.

2 rolled-out rounds pie dough
4 cups blueberries (If fresh blueberries are unavailable, you can use frozen blueberries without thawing, increasing the baking time by 10-15 minutes.)
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
¾ cup sugar
3 tablespoons cornstarch
½ teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon cinnamon
1 tablespoon cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1 egg
1 tablespoon water
  1. Line the bottom of a 9-inch pie pan with one of the rolled-out dough rounds. Refrigerate pan until ready to fill.
  2. Place the blueberries in a large bowl, sprinkle with the lemon juice and toss to coat evenly. In a small bowl, stir together the sugar, cornstarch, lemon zest, salt and cinnamon. Sprinkle the sugar mixture over the berries and toss to distribute evenly.
  3. Immediately transfer filling to the dough-lined pan. Dot with butter pieces. Place the remaining dough round on top of the pie and and crimp the dough rounds together to seal the edges. Be sure to cut vents in the top crust to allow steam to escape during baking. Refrigerate the pie until the dough is firm, 20 to 30 minutes.
  4. Position a rack in the lower third of the oven and preheat to 375 degrees. In a small bowl, beat the egg and water with a fork to make an egg wash. Brush onto the top crust just before baking.
  5. Bake the pie until the crust is golden and the filling is thick and bubbling, 50 to 60 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack and let cool completely to set, 1 to 2 hours. Serve at room temperature or rewarm in a 350-degree oven for 10 to 15 minutes just before serving.
Serves: 8
Time: 1 hour 45 minutes, plus cooling time
Leftover potential: OK; keeps for a few days in a sealed container at room temperature or in the fridge, although it will get a bit soggier over time.

Sunday, July 19, 2015


I’m baaaack! I’ll skip the boring excuses because I have a huge backlog of recipes to record—starting with pie! I don’t usually post photos of myself here, but this picture is the best way to sum up how excited I was last month when I finally overcame my lifelong fear of making pie crust. It was an irrational fear, I’ll admit, born mostly of the difficulties my mother had with pie-baking when I was a child. Luckily, her mother was a pie master, so whenever she came to visit, Grandma would spend a day mass-producing dough for us to stockpile in the freezer. This was always hotly anticipated by me, because she’d make cinnamon-sugar-sprinkled cookies out of the dough scraps and I’d get to scarf them down straight out of the oven. (To this day, those cookies remain one of my most vivid and nostalgic food memories.) But from all this rigmarole, I got the idea that piecrust was tricky, even though dozens of people have since sworn to me that it’s not so hard.

Guess what? It’s easy. Granted, I may have overprepared, studying dozens of recipes and tutorials before following one solid authority (the always-reliable Smitten Kitchen) with military precision; I was so ready for frustrating disaster that surpassing my low expectations was probably inevitable. There are a host of pie-crust tips and tricks out there—use oil or shortening, freeze and grate your butter, add vodka or vinegar, mix in a food processor—but I’m pleased with this simple and sensible route. The recipe itself is just flour, sugar, salt, butter and water; the technique basically hinges on keeping everything cold, cold, cold. Stay calm and believe it will all work out. (Perhaps pie dough can smell fear?) I’ve rolled out three pie crusts now with no tearing or cracking, so I’m tempted to dub this method foolproof.

And of course I made pie crust cookies, and they tasted just like I remembered. My mother later told me Grandma always used lard in her dough, so it’s not an exact replica, but still enough to inspire a Proustian reverie.

Pictured is a blueberry pie; I’ll post the filling recipe separately, because this list of instructions is long enough. The level of detail will make you doubt my claims of simplicity, but it was helpful to me as a pie newbie. The one place where I fell down was sealing the two crusts together, and you can see there was some leakage as a result. The Smitten Kitchen instructions were sadly silent on how to add the top crust, and I foolishly tried to punt. Google would have set me straight, but instead I tried to fold the bottom crust over the top instead of vice versa, and didn’t think to use water to adhere them. I’ve clarified these fine points below to save you (and future me) from my mistakes. Fortunately, a leaky pie is still a plenty delicious one.

2½ cups (315 grams) flour, plus extra as needed
1 tablespoon (15 grams) sugar
1 teaspoon (5 grams) table salt
2 sticks (8 ounces or 225 grams) unsalted butter, very cold
  1. Fill a 1-cup liquid measuring cup with cold water and add a few ice cubes, or place in the freezer for 15-30 minutes.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar and salt. If your kitchen is warm, place the bowl of dry ingredients in the refrigerator for 15-30 minutes.
  3. Dice the butter into ½-inch pieces. If your kitchen is warm, rechill the butter cubes in the fridge or freezer.
  4. Sprinkle the cold butter cubes over the flour and begin working them in with a pastry blender, using it to scoop and redistribute the mixture as needed. When all of the butter pieces are the size of tiny peas, stop. (This won’t take long, and it’s OK if the mixture looks uneven.)
  5. Remove any ice cubes from the water and drizzle ½ cup over the butter and flour mixture. Using a rubber or silicon spatula, gather the dough together. Add more cold water a tablespoon at a time (you’ll probably need an additional ¼ cup or so) until the mixture comes together. Once you’re pulling large clumps with the spatula, use your hands to gather the clumps into one mound, kneading them gently together without overworking the dough.
  6. Divide the dough in half and wrap each piece in plastic wrap. Refrigerate the dough for at least two hours, preferably overnight, before rolling it out. (Dough will keep in the fridge for about a week, and in the freezer longer, well wrapped in additional plastic wrap or a freezer bag. To defrost dough, move it to the fridge for one day before using it.)
  7. When ready to roll out the dough, generously flour your work surface. Unwrap the chilled dough (if you’re making a double-crust pie, only take half the dough out of the fridge at a time). Put it in the middle of your work area and flour the top of it too.
  8. Start rolling out the dough by pressing down lightly with the rolling pin and moving it from the center out. (You’re not going to get it all flat in one roll, so be patient.) Roll it a few times in one direction, lift it up and rotate it a quarter-turn. Keep repeating this process, re-flouring the counter and the top of the dough as needed—you should be leaving no bits of dough on the counter or your pin. If the dough sticks to the work surface, run a bench scraper underneath the stuck part, peel it back, and flour that area before continuing.
  9. For a standard-size pie pan, trim your dough into a 12-inch circle with the tip of a knife.
  10. Transfer your crust to the pie pan. This should be no problem if you’ve worked briskly and your dough is still cool, but if you need help, you can roll it around your rolling pin and unroll it in the pan, or fold it very loosely into quarters and unfold it into the pan. Press the dough gently into the pan, making sure it is centered.
  11. For a single-crust pie: You should have a half-inch overhang; fold it under so that the dough becomes the size of the pan. Crimp the edge by forming a “V” with the tips of the thumb and index finger of one hand and pressing the dough into it with the index finger of your other hand, continuing around the edge of the whole pie. Return the pan to the fridge while you prepare your filling.
  12. For a double-crust pie: Place the pan with the bottom crust in the fridge while you repeat the rolling-out process with the other half of your dough. Before transferring the top crust to the pan, brush a little water around the edge of the bottom crust to help the two pieces seal. Gently tuck the top crust edge under the bottom crust edge, then crimp the two pieces together. Brush the top crust with an egg wash (1 egg beaten with a tablespoon or two of water), sprinkle with sugar if desired, and cut a few vents in it.
  13. Make pie-crust cookies with the excess dough: Gather the scraps into a ball, roll it out, cut it into circles using the top of a glass (or cookie cutters, if you’re fancy), continuing the gather the scraps, re-roll and cut it until you’ve used as much as you can. Sprinkle with cinnamon sugar, and bake at 350 degrees until crisp and lightly golden brown around the edges, about 8-12 minutes.
Makes enough dough for one double- or two single-crust pies.

Saturday, April 04, 2015


So it’s official: I don’t hate cabbage anymore. I’m not apt to look at a recipe and think, “Ooh, cabbage!” but I’m willing to admit that there situations when its cool crunch is welcome. Each time I make fish tacos, I find myself piling on more and more cilantro-lime slaw, and maybe eating any leftovers straight out of the serving bowl with a spoon. And when I saw a photo of a barbecue chicken pizza topped with slaw in Cooking Light last year, it actually looked like a good idea. I always feel the need to serve a salad with my BBQ pizza since it’s the rare meal in my arsenal that’s pretty much vegetable-free, so why not just throw the salad right on top?

I didn’t use CL’s recipe, but I’m grateful for the inspiration. Fresh, crisp, colorful, and tangy, an easy cilantro-spiked slaw plays perfectly with the sweet heat of the barbecue sauce and elevates the pizza from good to fantastic. The first time I made this, I cautiously sprinkled a pinch onto each slice; now I pile on as much as the crust will bear. Trust me, as a reformed slaw-phobe: If you’re making this pizza, you should make the slaw too.

2 teaspoons cider vinegar
2 teaspoons olive oil (or canola oil)
1 dash sugar
Salt to taste
¼ to 1/3 small head of cabbage, cored and thinly sliced
1 medium carrot, grated or julienned
1 generous handful chopped cilantro (or to taste)
  1. In a medium-large bowl, whisk together the vinegar, oil, sugar, and salt to taste. Add the cabbage, carrot and cilantro and toss well.
  2. Let sit for at least 15 minutes, until the cabbage is softened. While it’s marinating, make the BBQ Chicken Pizza.
  3. Before serving pizza, top each slice with a generous spoonful of slaw.
Serves: 4 (you may have a little slaw left over)
Time: 5 minutes for the slaw, about 1 hour for the pizza
Leftover potential: Good! One of the things I like about cabbage is that, like kale, it makes a great do-ahead salad because it can sit in its dressing with no ill effects; the slaw will keep in a covered container in the refrigerator for several days. Store it separately from the pizza, and spoon it on after you reheat the pizza.

Thursday, February 12, 2015


Meet our new favorite salad. I feel a little silly being like, “Hey guys, look what I just discovered!” when Cobb salad has been around since the 1930s, but the addition of kale makes it hip, right?

Having grown up with a horror of so many ingredients all mixed together, especially cold meat and eggs, I never really gained much familiarity with the classic salads of yore, and I certainly never saw a Cobb look remotely appealing until I paged to this recipe in Dinner: The Playbook (yes, again; and here is the original post at Dinner: A Love Story). It was so pretty, and I realized, Wait! I like avocado and bacon and tomatoes and cheese and eggs and chicken! I also love kale, and swapping it in for lettuce here isn’t just blind trend-following—it gives you a definitive green presence that stands up to the weight of all those hefty toppings and, better still, lasts for days without wilting so you can stash the leftovers all ready to go. We’ve already eaten this twice in one month, and it’s destined to become a year-round staple. I love the rainbow of wholesome ingredients and fact that it makes a perfectly easy, protein-packed work lunch that’s hearty without being heavy; A loves that it’s a satisfying meal with a variety of flavors and textures, especially bacon and blue cheese to help temper his kale skepticism.

I made a few slight modifications—omitted sugar from the vinaigrette, massaged the kale with half the dressing right away and let it marinate a bit (key, in my view, to a successful kale salad), and increased some of the toppings to make an even more substantial main dish—one egg and one slice of bacon per serving, and more tomatoes to amp up the color. And I went a bit easy on the cheese, because blue isn’t my favorite, although it definitely adds an important flavor contrast here. The original recipe says you can use feta instead, and the second time around I tried that and preferred it, with just a light dusting of blue for a hint of funk.

A came in just now to prod me to go to bed on time, but granted me a reprieve as soon as he saw what I was working on, saying, “The world needs to know about Cobb salad.” So there you have it! It may not be breaking news, but just in case you weren’t aware, Cobb salad—this one, at least—is delicious.

1 heaping teaspoon Dijon mustard
¼ cup red wine vinegar
A squeeze of lemon juice
Salt and pepper to taste
1/3 cup olive oil
1 large bunch Tuscan kale, stemmed and thinly sliced
2-4 hard-boiled eggs, peeled and chopped
1 to 1½ cups poached, grilled, or roasted chicken breast, shredded or cubed
3-4 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled
2-4 tablespoons thinly sliced scallions or minced chives
½ to 1 cup cherry or grape tomatoes, halved (or quartered if large)
1 avocado, diced
¼ to ½ cup crumbled blue or feta cheese
  1. In a small bowl, mix the mustard, vinegar, and lemon juice, then season generously with salt and pepper to taste. Gradually whisk in the olive oil until emulsified.
  2. Place the shredded kale in a large bowl and drizzle with about half of the vinaigrette. Mix thoroughly with your hands until the leaves are evenly coated, and let sit for at least 15 minutes while you assemble the remaining ingredients.
  3. Portion out the dressed kale equally into four salad bowls. Top each portion with a quarter of the eggs, chicken, bacon, scallions, tomato, avocado, and cheese, then drizzle with a quarter of the remaining dressing and toss gently. (If you prefer, you can just mix all the ingredients together in a very large serving bowl and go from there. Or you can place each component in a separate bowl and let everyone assemble their own, salad-bar style, especially if you have picky eaters on hand.)
Serves: 4
Time: 30 minutes (1 hour if you need to boil the eggs, cook the bacon and poach the chicken)
Leftover potential: Awesome. 

Wednesday, January 28, 2015


I don’t get the big deal with chicken Parm, so it wasn’t the title of this recipe that drew me in—just the alluring photo of cheese-blanketed tomato-sauce-glazed chicken meatballs nestled alongside wilted spinach I spotted while paging through Dinner: The Playbook at the library. Apparently this is one of the most popular recipes at Dinner: A Love Story, but had somehow missed it until the book version. I figured meatballs are always a crowd-pleaser, and not surprisingly, our crowd of two was very pleased with this light, easy weeknight comfort meal.

Of course you can serve the meatballs with any vegetable side you want, but I like the red-and-green color contrast and the way the tomato sauce spills over and infuses the spinach. It’s pretty basic; I just heated 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat; added 12 ounces fresh spinach, 1 minced garlic clove and a pinch of red pepper flakes; stirred until wilted and seasoned with salt and pepper. You can do it while the meatballs bake.

1¼ pounds ground chicken
½ cup dried breadcrumbs (I used panko)
3 tablespoons minced onion
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
½ cup grated Parmesan
1 clove garlic, minced
1 teaspoon fennel seeds
1 egg, whisked
Grated zest of ½ lemon
Salt and pepper to taste
3 tablespoons olive oil
14 ounces pizza sauce (I just doctored canned tomato sauce with dried oregano and basil, but this sauce would be even better)
About 4 ounces fresh mozzarella (16 thin slices)
  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
  2. In a large bowl, using your hands, gently mix together the chicken, breadcrumbs, onions, parsley, Parmesan, garlic, fennel, egg, lemon zest, and salt and pepper to taste. Shape into 16 golfball-size balls and place a few inches from each other on a lightly oiled foil-lined rimmed baking sheet.
  3. In a small bowl, mix a few tablespoons of your pizza sauce with the olive oil. Brush this mixture on top of each meatball. Bake for 15 minutes.
  4. Remove meatballs from oven and turn on the broiler. Spoon some pizza sauce on top of each meatball, and cover each with a slice of cheese. Broil for 3 to 5 minutes until cheese is bubbly and golden.
  5. Warm remaining sauce in a small saucepan. Serve meatballs with a dollop of sauce.
Serves: 4
Time: 40 minutes
Leftover potential: Good. You can also freeze the baked meatballs after Step 3. Thaw them in the fridge the day you want to eat them, then heat up in a 350-degree oven for 15 minutes before continuing with the remaining steps.

Thursday, January 15, 2015


 I messed up big time. I first made this dish (by Melissa Clark via Elly Says Opa) on May 7, 2013. I took a photo. I recall enjoying my meal. Then, for some reason, the recipe languished untouched in my “Try Again” file for the next year and a half—so long I couldn’t even remember why it was there anymore. Was it blogworthy? Was it worth revisiting? When are blood oranges in season, again?

At last, seized by a recent fit of New Year’s-inspired mental housecleaning, I spotted blood oranges at the farmers’ market and decided to release the recipe from its limbo one way or another. And the joke’s on me, because this is one of the most delicious chicken recipes I’ve made in recent memory, and we all could have been eating it on the regular for the past 18 months if I hadn’t been such a putz. An unusual assortment of super-flavored ingredients are pureed into a vibrant green paste somewhat reminiscent of Cuban mojo sauce, but with the spicy bite of ginger in there too. I actually wouldn’t say the smoked paprika and blood orange of the title are the dominant tastes (in fact, I don’t see much reason why you couldn’t just use a regular orange, except that blood oranges are cool and I never remember to buy them otherwise)—cilantro and jalapeno are at the forefront for me, but maybe that’s just because I can’t resist using double or more the quantity of cilantro (2 tablespoons just looks so scant!). I’ve always been a sucker for tomatillo salsa, green chutney and Peruvian green sauce, and this fit right into that family.

After some marinating (a whole day is preferable) and a stint in the oven, you get tender, burnished, brightly flavored roasted chicken and a sauce so fantastic you’ll want to make sure you have something to soak it up. I highly recommend baking a batch of Smoked Paprika Roasted Potatoes along with the chicken and then drizzling them with the pan juices. Throw in something green (asparagus or green beans or salad) and you’ve got a lively, mostly hands-off dinner for just about any season. I can’t believe I’ve been missing out on it for so long.

1 teaspoon orange zest
¼ cup freshly squeezed orange juice, preferably blood orange
2 tablespoons olive oil
3 cloves garlic, chopped
2-4 tablespoons cilantro
1 jalapeño, seeded if desired, chopped
1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger root
1¼ teaspoons kosher salt
¾ teaspoon smoked paprika
1¾ to 2 pounds bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs, drumsticks, or whole legs
Sliced scallions, cilantro, and orange wedges for serving
  1. In a blender or food processor, combine the orange zest and juice, olive oil, garlic, cilantro, jalapeño, ginger, salt, and paprika. Blend until pureed. Combine the chicken and marinade in a large bowl; cover and refrigerate 1 to 24 hours.
  2. Preheat the oven to 475 degrees. Place the chicken and its marinade in a 9-by-12-inch baking dish and roast until skin is browned and meat juices are no longer pink, about 45 minutes. Serve drizzled with juices and sprinkled with scallions and cilantro, with orange wedges for squeezing over the meat.
Serves: 4
Time: 1 hour, plus 1 to 24 hours of marinating
Leftover potential: Good.

Thursday, January 08, 2015


Let’s just forget about my previous cauliflower soup. That perfectly serviceable recipe made cauliflower palatable to me, but this curry-spiked one (from Food and Wine via Joy the Baker) renders it downright delicious. All of you who are freezing your butts off in the wintery parts of the country should cook this ASAP. Rich and creamy (but not heavy), with warming toasted spices (my first time using cumin seeds and I’m a convert!) and a gentle sunny hue, it’s a bowl of comfort and cheer that fits right in with your eat-more-vegetables resolutions. I know I’m as guilty as any food blogger of tossing around clichés and hyperbole, but this soup honestly was a revelation for me. If I’d managed to post it before the 31st, it would have made the 2014 favorites list, even in a field of heavyweight contenders.

I suspect you could leave out the butter if you want to lighten things up, but I wanted to make the recipe as written the first time and it was so wonderful I’m not sure I dare to mess with it—but maybe I’ll try decreasing to 2 tablespoons and see how it goes. I added about ½ to 1 cup more broth, because I like my pureed soups on the thinner side, and probably a bit more yogurt as well, because it really is a genius finishing touch—adding creaminess (especially if you use Greek yogurt) but also that zip of acidity that most pureed vegetable soups cry out for. Joy suggested pairing this with “some sort of cheesy bread situation,” and following her advice is an excellent call; alternating spoonfuls of soup with bites of melted sharp cheddar on baguette was heavenly.

1 large head cauliflower (1½ to 2 pounds), halved, cored, and cut into 1.5-inch florets
1 heaping teaspoon cumin seeds
1 heaping teaspoon curry powder
4 tablespoons olive oil, divided
Salt and crushed red pepper flakes to taste
1 small to medium onion, diced (about 1 cup)
1 clove garlic, minced
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 bay leaf
4 cups chicken or vegetable broth
¼ cup plain yogurt
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Spread cauliflower florets on a large rimmed baking sheet (lined with parchment if desired for easier cleanup) and sprinkle with cumin seeds and curry powder. Drizzle with 3 tablespoons olive oil and toss to coat. Season with a big pinch of salt and another of red pepper flakes. Place in the oven and roast until just tender, about 25 minutes
  2. In a large pot over medium heat, warm the last tablespoon of olive oil. Add the onions and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the minced garlic and cook for 1 minute more. Add the roasted cauliflower to the pot along with the butter, bay leaf, and broth. Simmer over medium heat until liquid has reduced some and the cauliflower is very tender, about 15 minutes. Pick out and discard the bay leaf.
  3. In a blender, carefully puree the soup in two or three batches until very smooth. Return the soup to the saucepan and stir in the yogurt. Rewarm over medium heat, adding more broth to create a thinner consistency if you’d like. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Serves: 4 to 6
Time: 1 hour
Leftover potential: Great; freezes well.

Sunday, January 04, 2015


In my 2013 roundup, I spent a lot of time lamenting how infrequently I’d blogged that year. In 2014, I reached a new all-time low of just 32 posts. I still want to write more, but this year I’m not beating myself as much up over it. Reviewing those 32 recipes, I realized that nearly all of them are solid-gold keepers. Having limited time to blog can be frustrating, but at least it’s really helping the cream rise to the top. I try a lot of recipes that I never even bother to write about, because when I look back at the photos a month later (which is about how long I’m usually running behind on posting), I don’t feel like saying anything about them—a good sign that I might never bother cooking them again, either. With 550 recipes in my archives, I don’t have room in my life for new ones that are just OK.

The recipes that make it to Bookcook these days are the ones I can’t wait to tell someone about, the ones I want to urge everyone to try, the ones I’ve already made several times and already want to eat again. So even though this year only yielded a small pool of new posts, it was tough to choose favorites when so many have already become standbys. But here are the 10 that stood out as so magically tasty I can’t imagine life without them anymore.
  1. Chocolate Coconut Oatmeal Cookies: This was the first recipe I posted in 2014, and I correctly pegged it as a contender for the year-end best list. With three of my favorite cookie ingredients, how could they not be great? I did also used the word “favorite” a few months later to describe Soft Frosted Sugar Cookies, but ultimately, if I had to choose just one cookie to eat for the rest of my life, it would be these.  
  2. Carnitas: Meltingly tender, super-flavorful pork with very little effort = Miraculous.
  3. Roasted Tomato Pizza Margherita: A game changer. As written, it helped me use up extra cherry tomatoes all summer long. Even without the roasted tomato topping, the sauce is so good it’s become my go-to, supplanting the recipe I’d been using for 10 years. I haven’t looked back.
  4. Winter Panzanella: When I want a main-dish kale salad, this is it. The cheese, croutons, squash, and apple give it satisfying substance, and the flavors are phenomenal. Forget winter; I’ve been eating it year-round.
  5. Baked Egg Rolls: Deliciously crunchy and fairly wholesome, these made A especially happy and helped me get more comfortable with cabbage.
  6. Chicken Fajitas: An invaluably easy and crowd-pleasing weeknight staple.
  7. Potato Salad: The recipe that overcame my lifelong aversion, made me an instant convert, and got me through the interminable Southern California summer.
  8. Chocolate Peanut Butter Pudding: I love pudding, and I love chocolate with peanut butter. Win-win.
  9. Vanilla Roasted Pears: It doesn’t get much simpler or more transformative than this. Fruit for dessert will never be a letdown with this recipe.
  10. White Bean Chicken Chili: I got this one in just under the wire because I knew it was listworthy. A smart, vivid iteration of the comfort-food standard.