Category Archives: Recipes (Savory)

“Cooking For Good Times” — Sort Of

Quinoa with cauliflower, olives, oranges, and herbs -- a dish for good times and more challenging ones.
Quinoa with cauliflower, olives, oranges, and herbs — a dish for good times and more challenging ones.

Ah, yes, it seems like a lifetime ago — though it was merely a few bewilderingly months back — that I was contemplating a trip to Chicago later this year.

How I looked forward to taking one of those architecture-themed boat ride tours on the lake that I’d heard so many good things about. How my husband was salivating at the thought of deep-dish pizza and loaded Chicago-style hot dogs. How I had looked forward to trying one of the restaurants by chefs Stephanie Izard and Paul Kahan. How I had already circled on my calendar the exact week I should start trying to snag a coveted reservation for my bucket-list meal at Alinea.

So much for that.

I have friends who swear they’re curtailing any traveling whatsoever until a vaccine is available to defeat this deadly virus. Me? I can’t say that getting on an airplane holds any appeal for the foreseeable future. If I do venture out of my area when restrictions are finally lifted, I think the car is the way to go, because I wouldn’t want to be too far from home with so many ifs, ands or buts still looming on this precarious horizon.

So for now, I’ll just experience Chicago vicariously, through Kahan’s newest cookbook, “Cooking for Good Times: Super Delicious, Super Simple” (Lorena Jones, 2019) by Kahan.

There’s a sweet irony to the title, isn’t there? Because many would say that we as far from good times as it gets.

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It Looks Like Hell, But…

Don't let the blackened appearance keep you from trying this incredible charred cabbage dish.
Don’t let the blackened appearance keep you from trying this incredible charred cabbage dish.

…Yes, it tastes like pure heaven.

Consider this the ultimate ugly-delicious dish.

“Charred Cabbage with Miso and Lime” is by Portland, OR chef Jenn Louis. It’s from her cookbook, “The Book of Greens: A Cook’s Compendium of 40 Varieties, from Arugula to Watercress, with More Than 175 Recipes” (Ten Speed Press, 2017).

I love deeply charred cabbage because hitting it with fierce heat brings out its inherent sweetness as it caramelizes.

As such, I’m always looking for new ways to flavor it. This one especially appealed at this time because all it takes is red miso, butter, and lime — all of which I had handy already, which is no small miracle these days.

This recipe was originally intended for one green cabbage, cut into 8 wedges, and cooked in two pans. I actually used an arrowhead cabbage, an heirloom variety, that’s indeed shaped like a pointy arrowhead or cone. Grown by Pescadero’s Fifth Crow Farm, it tastes like green cabbage, but is just a tad sweeter.

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Simmered Asparagus with Orange and Mint

A classy little asparagus dish that requires barely any time at all.
A classy little asparagus dish that requires barely any time at all.

My favorite way to enjoy asparagus is grilled. The high heat brings out the natural sweetness of the spears, while the lick of smoke makes anything tastier.

But now and again, it’s nice to swap primal and rustic for elegant and lady-like.

That’s where “Simmered Asparagus with Orange and Mint” comes in.

It’s much like glazed carrots — pan-simmered with a little water and aromatics until the liquid evaporates and turns to steam, leaving behind perfectly tender spears coated with deliciousness.

The recipe is from “All About Dinner: Simple Meals, Expert Advice” (W.W. Norton, 2019), of which I received a review copy. It’s by award-winning cooking instructor, cookbook author, and recipe developer Molly Stevens.

It’s one of 150 recipes in this indispensable book that offers up approachable and thoughtful dishes for home-cooks that make use of vegetables, grains, meats, fish, and sweets.

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Cooking In The Time of Grocery Delivery

Melissa Clark's easy and delicious honey-roasted carrot salad with toasted almonds.
Melissa Clark’s easy and delicious honey-roasted carrot salad with toasted almonds.

I love carrots — now more so than ever before, too.

That’s because during this unprecedented shelter-in-place mandate, I’ve been relying on delivery services to get all of my groceries.

As someone who’s used to combing through new cookbooks to hone in on an inspired recipe to try, then racing out the door to a grocery store or two to find just the right ingredients called for, this has been an adjustment.

Now, I let the ingredients solely dictate what I make. And because I only schedule deliveries once every 7 to 10 days, it requires a lot more planning. I covet peak-season produce, of course. But because so much of that is quite perishable, I also need a mix of sturdier fruits and veggies that will last at least until the next delivery.

Nantes carrots are worth seeking out.
Nantes carrots are worth seeking out.

That’s where carrots are a godsend. They hold up well in the crisper drawer for weeks, and they can be used in so many ways, both raw and cooked.

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Wasabi Soy Sauce Pasta

A plain looking pasta turned irresistible with soy sauce, wasabi, and butter.
A plain looking pasta turned irresistible with soy sauce, wasabi, and butter.

These days, when a trip to the grocery store demands the detailed preparation and stealthy movements of a crown jewel heist, we are all trying to make do with what we have on hand as much as possible.

That’s why I fell hard for this simple recipe for “Wasabi Soy Sauce Pasta.” Think of it as a Japanese version of Italian aglio e olio. It’s equally addictive, too.

It’s from the new “Rika’s Modern Japanese Home Cooking: Simplifying Authentic Recipes” (Rizzoli), of which I received a review copy.

The book is by chef and TV personality Rika Yukimasa, a Japan-native and graduate of the University of California at Berkeley.

While working as a commercial producer for a huge advertising firm in Japan, Yukimasa wrote cookbooks on the side. It wasn’t long before that became her vocation. She’s now written more than 50 cookbooks. She also hosts a popular cooking show, “Dining with the Chef,” which airs in 150 countries, including on PBS in the United States.

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