Category Archives: Recipes (Savory)

Shio Koji-Roasted Brussels Sprouts

A hot oven and a rub of shio koji all over the leaves gives these Brussels sprouts extra flavor and crispiness.
A hot oven and a rub of shio koji all over the leaves gives these Brussels sprouts extra flavor and crispiness.

Have you discovered shio koji, the darling ingredient of so many chefs?

Maybe you’ve spotted it at a Japanese store, given it a quizzical look, then moved on.

Next time, pick some up and get cooking.

Shio Koji is rice inoculated with a specific mold commonly used to make soy sauce and miso, then mixed with water and salt, and left to ferment.

Available in the refrigerator section of Asian markets, it comes in whole rice grains, pureed or liquid.

It tastes salty, though less so than miso, with a light sweetness and a moderate pickled sharpness, as well as a slight funkiness.

If you’re wondering what to do with it, pick up a copy of the new “The Modern Larder: From Anchovies to Yuzu, a Guide to Artful and Attainable Home Cooking” (Roost Books), of which I received a review copy.

It’s by Michelle McKenzie, a food writer and professional cook who was formerly the program director and chef at 18 Reasons, a non-profit community cooking school in San Francisco founded by Bi-Rite Market.

This marvelous book will introduce you to 58 ingredients, some familiar and some less so, and show you ingenious ways to use them through more than 260 recipes.

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Kids-Love-It Beefy Chili Mac (And So Do Adults)

Macaroni and ground beef combine with cheese and smoky spices for a one-pot comfort meal.
Macaroni and ground beef combine with cheese and smoky spices for a one-pot comfort meal.

When I was in middle school, my best friend and I would cook dinner together whenever our parents were out spending time with relatives.

Our meal of choice?

Hamburger Helper Chili Macaroni.

We’d tie on aprons and flourish wooden spoons like microphones, pretending we were on our own TV cooking show as we sizzled the hamburger meat, stirred in water, pasta, and the seasoning packet, all the while providing our own commentary along the way.

At the end, like any self-respecting Martha Stewart or Rachael Ray, we dug our spoons in, savored a bite, and flashed the imaginary camera a big contented grin, before bursting into laughter at our hamminess.

Truth be told, that’s probably the last time a box of Hamburger Helper found its way into my kitchen.

But “Kids-Love-It Beefy Chili Mac” had me not only reminiscing about those fond childhood memories, but craving this comforting dish all over again.

The recipe is from the best-selling “Once Upon a Chef: Weeknight/Weekend” (Clarkson Potter), of which I received a review copy. It’s by Maryland-based Jennifer Segal, a classically trained chef and founder of the blog, Once Upon A Chef.

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Nigella’s Chicken In A Pot with Lemon and Orzo

Cook a whole chicken in a big pot with veggies and orzo for an easy, one-pot meal.
Cook a whole chicken in a big pot with veggies and orzo for an easy, one-pot meal.

This is a dish that serves up a warm, enveloping hug — which is just what you want at this time of year when the winds kick up, the clouds turn more ominous, and the skies dim to black much too soon.

But then again, Nigella Lawson always seems to know what we crave, no matter what time of year or occasion.

Her “Chicken In A Pot With Lemons and Orzo” is no exception.

It’s from her newest cookbook, “Cook, Eat, Repeat: Ingredients, Recipes, and Stories” (Ecco), of which I received a review copy.

If you are especially drawn to Lawson’s personable and downright sensual voice, then you will especially love this book. That’s because each of the recipes is preceded by a page-long introduction in which Lawson explains the dish, often including what inspired it, whether it can be scaled down, and what draws her to certain ingredients used in it. In other words, she makes the dish come to life so vividly that you’ll be hard pressed not to run to the kitchen to make it right then and there.

The book isn’t arranged in the conventional format of “Appetizers,” “Salads,” and “Entrees,” etc. Instead there are headings such as “A Is For Anchovy,” where you’ll find delights such as “Spaghetti with Chard, Chiles and Anchovies” and “Celery Root and Anchovy Gratin”; and chapters such as “A Loving Defense of Brown Food,” which includes recipes for “Marrowbone Meat Sauce” and “Beef Cheeks with Port and Chestnuts.”

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Pasta That Does A Body — And Planet — Good

A Japanese-influenced cacio e pepe made with a new high-fiber, nutty tasting artisanal dried pasta.
A Japanese-influenced cacio e pepe made with a new high-fiber, nutty tasting artisanal dried pasta.

Pasta has gotten such an unjust bum rap of late.

Too many carbs. Full of gluten. Way too caloric.

Yet few foods are as craveable, comforting, and lusty.

So, go ahead and indulge, especially when it comes to Semolina Artisanal Pasta Upcycled Strozzapreti, a dried pasta that purports to be good not only for your body, but the planet.

That’s because this pasta was made in partnership with ReGrained, the innovative Bay Area company upcycles or reuses spent grain from beer-making and turns it into nutritious new products such as energy bars and snack crisps. ReGrained’s resulting SuperGrain+ — made of barley, wheat, and rye — has more than three times the fiber of wheat flour, and twice the protein of oats.

Leah Ferrazzani of the Semolina Artisanal Pasta company in Pasadena, whose pasta products are beloved by Southern California chefs, took that SuperGrain+ and combined it with her usual semolina to create strozzapreti, the striking elongated, twisted noodle shape. But it took a few fits and tries to get it just right.

The pasta has a suede-like hue and a singular shape.
The pasta has a suede-like hue and a singular shape.

“We had to find the right ratio of semolina to SuperGrain+, and extrusion speed, to help maintain texture and shape, and to keep a balanced flavor,” Ferrazzani told me in an email. “The resulting pasta packs a punch — the flavor of the SuperGrain+ isn’t subtle — but it’s something truly unique and special.”

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Twice As Nice Artichokes

Now's the time to indulge in artichokes with artichoke aioli.
Now’s the time to indulge in artichokes with artichoke aioli.

Who grew up eating artichokes, leaf by leaf, dunked into Best Foods mayonnaise?

Show of hands, please.

If you’re a native Californian like me, no doubt you did from childhood on.

“Twice As Nice Artichokes” riffs on that favorite combo by grilling the artichokes after first boiling to give them pretty charred edges, then levels up plain mayonnaise by mixing it with garlic, lemon, parsley, and marinated artichoke hearts.

The recipe is from the cookbook, “Malibu Farm Sunrise to Sunset: Simple Recipes All Day” (Clarkson Potter), of which I received a review copy.

The book is by Helene Henderson, chef and owner of Malibu Farm, a restaurant that grew out of the cooking classes and dinners she hosted at her home. Now, Malibu Farm spans eight locations not only in Malibu, but Lanai, Miami, New York, and Tokyo. The African-American, Swedish-born Henderson is self-taught, and is married to actor-director John Stockwell.

The 100 recipes reflect a chill California vibe in dishes such as “Surfers Rancheros,” “Chicken Parm From the Farm,” and “Caffe Latte Ice Cream.” There’s also a delicious dose of Swedish skal (“cheers”) with a whole chapter on fun drinks such as “Rhubarb-Infused Aquavit” and “Coconut Horchata.”

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