Category Archives: Recipes (Savory)

Sponsored Post: Pazazz Apple, Brown Rice, Cranberry & Almond Salad Perks Up Any Day

A hale and hearty salad with Pazazz apples that does a body and spirit good.
A hale and hearty salad with Pazazz apples that does a body and spirit good.

Nothing perks us up like a carefree walk through a verdant park, basking on a sun-warmed beach or pumping up the volume on a favorite tune.

Or best yet, simply biting into a gloriously crunchy and juicy apple.

Indeed, did you know that apples are full of antioxidants that fuel neurotransmitters in the brain that trigger the release of dopamine that boosts mood? All of that makes apples a veritable “happy” fruit.

This month, it especially pays to “don’t worry, be happy” by indulging in your love of apples, which not only can boost your mood, but also help protect against cancer.

After all, February is National Cancer Prevention Month. I’m proud to partner with the American Institute for Cancer Research and Pazazz Apples to help spread the word about how apples are high in fiber and antioxidants that can help reduce the risks of some cancers. To learn more about how nutritious apples are and to assess how your own lifestyle choices affect your risk of cancer, go to the informative health check here.

Crunchy-as-can-be Pazazz apples to enjoy now through June.
Crunchy-as-can-be Pazazz apples to enjoy now through June.

Then, head to Albertsons, Safeway, or Vons to pick up some Pazazz apples, now at peak flavor through June. These beautiful, large, red-skinned apples with yellow-green striations are full of snap, as well as sweet-tangy juice.

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A Pancake Of A Different Sort

Little more than water and chickpea flour combine to make this nutty-tasting, fluffy pancake.
Little more than water and chickpea flour combine to make this nutty-tasting, fluffy pancake.

It never ceases to amaze how little more than flour and water can combine to create a delicious and substantial base for a meal.

Be it bread, pasta, pizza or in this case, “Chickpea Pancake (Farinata).”

This quick and easy recipe is from “At the Table of la Fortezza” (Rizzoli, 2022), of which I received a review copy.

The recipes take inspiration from Lunigiana in the northwest region of Tuscany, where author Annette Joseph, a cooking and entertaining authority, renovated a medieval fortress, La Fortezza, with her husband.

She proudly follows a “zero-kilometer diet,” meaning most everything she consumes is local. With a culinary garden, vineyards, and nearby forests, her ingredients come from a mere 30-mile radius of La Fortezza, with the only exceptions being balsamic vinegar from Modena and Parmesan from Parma.

Bring a taste of this region to your own home with dishes such as “Rosemary-Smoked Branzino,” “Chestnut Ravioli with Chard and Ricotta,” “Braised Chicken and Porcini with Chestnut Polenta,” and “Limoncello Granita with Whipped Cream.”

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Praise for Braised Winter Melon

Juicy, cucumber-like chunks of winter melon get braised gently in this easy dish.
Juicy, cucumber-like chunks of winter melon get braised gently in this easy dish.

Some ingredients like caviar and truffles are unabashedly luxe.

Others like celery decidedly relegated — rightly or wrongly — to mundane.

Winter melon, though, is that rarity that falls equally into high- and low-brow camps.

Like tomatoes, these huge green-skinned melons, which can grow as large as 40 pounds, are actually a fruit that’s most often treated as a vegetable.

As a kid, I still have memories of many a Chinese restaurant Lunar New Year banquet at this time of year, where a waiter would gingerly carry a heaving half winter melon to the Lazy Susan on our table. Its skin would be intricately carved with Chinese characters for a grand presentation and its chasm filled to the brim with bubbling soup fortified with ginko nuts, shredded dried scallops, and the melon’s flesh. It was the epitome of special occasion.

In contrast, I also fondly remember my mom regularly making a much simpler version at home, cutting the melon into chunks to simmer in canned chicken broth with slivers of ginger, and sometimes a little bit of pork or chicken. It was not only an economical way to stretch a meal, but her way of trying to ward off colds and flus, as winter melon is high in Vitamin C.

Whether prepared fancifully or frugally, winter melon is a taste of home for me.

Even though it can be prepared many ways, including in candy and poached in a dessert soup, I’ve mostly had it in savory soups. That’s why this recipe for “Braised Winter Melon” immediately caught my eye as a novel method I just had to try.

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Going Bonkers For Sesame-Crusted Tofu with Spicy Dipping Sauce

Your new favorite way to enjoy tofu.
Your new favorite way to enjoy tofu.

“This is like fried chicken!”

That was the startling remark my husband exclaimed upon digging into “Sesame-Crusted Tofu with Spicy Dipping Sauce.”

And if you know his nickname is Meat Boy, then you know that is truly saying something about this entirely plant-based dish.

Crispy as can be, these pan-fried, sesame seed-coated planks of tofu get dunked into a spicy, garlicky sauce for a dish so addictive that even those wishy-washy about tofu will clamor for seconds and thirds.

This fabulous recipe is from “The Woks of Life” (Clarkson Potter, 2022), of which I received a review copy.

It’s the first cookbook by Bill, Judy, Sarah, and Kaitlin Leung, the New Jersey family who shot to fame with their eponymous The Woks of Life blog. It started out in 2013 as simply a personal way for them to document their family history through food. It has since turned into a sensation, growing into the most popular online English-language resource for Chinese cooking.

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Chinese Homestyle Black Pepper Portobello Mushrooms

A plant-based play on the classic black pepper beef.
A plant-based play on the classic black pepper beef.

Versatile, sizeable, and hefty, portobello mushrooms make a fine and satisfying substitute for meat in so many dishes, including this classic Chinese one.

If you’re a fan of black pepper beef, then you will much enjoy “Black Pepper Portobello Mushrooms,” a plant-based play on the classic that’s absolutely delicious.

The recipe is from “Chinese Homestyle” (Rock Point, 2022), of which I received a review copy.

The cookbook is by Maggie Zhu, a New York food writer and creator of the Omnivore’s Cookbook blog.

It’s a collection of 90 plant-based Chinese recipes that are a breeze to make. They’re perfect for anyone who’s vegetarian or vegan or for any home cook who wants to add a veggie-centric dish to a family-style spread.

Get your chopsticks at the ready for everything from “Baked Crispy Tofu Nuggets,” “Char Siu Baos” (made with button mushrooms instead of pork), and “Egg-Less Egg Drop Soup” (with yuba sheets standing in for the strands of eggs) to “Three-Cup Scrambled Tempeh” and “Creamy Red Bean Ice Pops.”

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