Monthly Archives: December 2018

A Real Neat Treat: Caper-Anchovy Butter

Here’s a ridiculously-easy-to-make flavored butter that elevates your steak from ordinary to elegant. And with some of the leftovers you can put a schmear on your side vegetables too. With the holidays approaching, it’s a simple way to impress your guests.


Anchovies pack big flavor for such small fish. They’re so strong that only a small amount of anchovy is needed to add flavor to sauces, salad dressings, pasta and pizza. That same small amount also delivers health benefits in the form of essential fatty acids, protein and other nutrients.

Hubby even went a step further with the anchovies topping his side salad with several whole ones. Me, like many other people I know, only like them when they are mashed up, and can’t abide eating them whole.


As far as the butter compound, make extra and freeze the remainder. Slice off as needed and let come to room temperature for future uses on potatoes, in eggs or pasta dishes, schmeared on bagels… you get the idea.


Sirloin Steak with Caper-Achovy Butter

  • Servings: 2+
  • Difficulty: easy
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  • 2 anchovy fillets, rinsed and mashed
  • 1/4 tsp. chopped garlic
  • Kosher salt
  • 3 Tbs. unsalted butter, cut into 3 pieces
  • 2 tsp. finely chopped fresh parsley
  • 1/2 tsp. capers, rinsed and finely chopped
  • 1/4 tsp. finely grated lemon zest
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 Tbs. canola oil
  • 1-lb. Sirloin steak


  1. Mash the anchovy fillets into a paste on a cutting board with the side of a chef’s knife. Sprinkle the garlic with a pinch of kosher salt and mash it into a paste.
  2. Bring the butter to room temperature; or put the butter in a small microwave-safe bowl and microwave it on high in 10-second bursts until it just begins to melt. Mash the butter with a fork and stir in the anchovy paste, garlic, parsley, capers, lemon zest, and a few grinds of black pepper.
  3. Heat the oil in a 12-inch cast iron skillet over high heat. Season the steak generously with salt and pepper.
  4. Sear the steak on both sides until a meat thermometer reads 120°F for rare or 125°F for medium rare, 8 to 10 minutes total.
  5. Tent the meat with foil and let rest for 5 minutes. Cut the steak at an angle against the grain into 1/2″ slices and top with the butter compound.

Adapted from a recipe found in Fine Cooking


Your Curry Is Calling

Up the ante by using boneless, skinless chicken, which cooks quickly but can lack flavor compared to bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs. Yes, thigh meat tends to have more essence, but I’m an aficionado of the white meat (while Hubby likes the dark meat), so recipes utilizing the fairer flesh appeal to me.

The depth of flavor starts right off the bat with your cooking fat—be it ghee, or oil. You need this bit of fat when you have this lean cut of meat and a lot of seasoning going on. While the honey lends a sweet, caramelize-y twist to this quick curry, if you want to up the heat, add a big pinch of cayenne pepper.


Spices not only bring ample seasoning but texture to dishes. The triumvirate of onion, ginger, and garlic provides the deep base flavor of most curries, equivalent to onion, carrot and celery in the French tradition. (Note: garlic is not essential. Some Indians eschew it completely on account of its pungency and it is often left out of food served at weddings to avoid offending guests.) 

One hour to make dinner may not be everyone’s idea of a “quick” meal. Yes, you can use a rotisserie chicken and jarred sauce, but to achieve more authentic results, you need to step up your game. The complex flavors of curries include generous spicing of onion, ginger and garlic; and something to give it body. Here, it is the combination of tomatoes, honey, yogurt and coconut milk.

Bon Appétit says canned tomatoes are one of the easiest ways to build a sauce from a handful of ingredients, and coconut milk helps out too. You really want to get the sauce to a thick place, so reduce until it coats the spoon.

The original recipe calls for adding the raw chicken after the coconut milk has been cooked which would release moisture back into the thickened sauce. But I sear the meat first, leaving the luscious browned bits in the pan, and then add it back in toward the end, so no extra moisture thins the sauce.

For another layer of flavor, after portioning out, add a generous squeeze of fresh lime juice and scatter on some sliced scallions with the chopped cilantro and drizzle of yogurt sauce. Then have some thick, crusty bread handy to scoop up all the extra sauce, or serve alongside a pile of rice for a low-maintenance comfort food dinner. Speaking of rice, if you steam it in homemade chicken stock, you’ll add even more luscious depth to the dish. We can’t wait until we make this again!

Quick Tomato Chicken Curry

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: moderate
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  • 4 tablespoons ghee, coconut oil, or extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • 1 large red onion, cut into ½-inch wedges
  • 1 yellow bell pepper, seeded, stemmed, cut across the equator then into ½-inch strips
  • 1 2-inch piece ginger, peeled, finely grated
  • 4 garlic cloves, crushed
  • Kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon garam masala
  • 1 bay leaf
  • ½ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 1 28-ounce can whole peeled tomatoes
  • 1 15-ounce can coconut milk
  • 3 skinless, boneless chicken breasts (about 1½ pounds total), cut into 1-inch-thick pieces
  • ½ cup whole-milk Greek yogurt
  • 2 scallions, thinly sliced on diagonal
  • ½ cup coarsely chopped cilantro


  1. Heat 1 tablespoon ghee/oil in a large wide saucepan over medium-high. Add chicken pieces and brown on all sides, about 3 minutes total, remove from pan and set aside. (You may have to do this in two batches so that the chicken browns instead of steams.)
  2. Add remaining ghee/oil, onion and pepper strips and cook, turning occasionally, until undersides are golden brown, about 4 minutes.
  3. Add ginger and garlic and cook, stirring, until softened, about 2 minutes; season with salt.
  4. Add garam masala, bay leaf, and crushed red pepper and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Stir in honey and cook until slightly caramelized, about 1 minute.
  5. Add tomatoes along with juices and bring to a boil, smashing down on tomatoes with a wooden spoon until pieces are no bigger than 1″. Reduce heat to medium and cook, stirring often and scraping up browned bits from bottom of pot, until sauce thickens, 8–10 minutes.
  6. Add coconut milk and cook, stirring occasionally and simmer for 15 minutes.
  7. Add browned chicken strips and any accumulated juices and reduce heat to low.
  8. Cook, partially covered, until chicken is cooked through, 8–10 minutes. Season with salt.
  9. Stir yogurt, a big pinch of salt, and 2 Tbsp. water in a small bowl.
  10. Drizzle yogurt sauce over stew. Top with sliced scallions and cilantro. Serve over rice or noodles if desired.

Do Ahead: Curry (without yogurt sauce) can be made 2 days ahead. Cover and chill.

Adapted from a recipe by Andy Baraghani from Bon Appétit

Kickin’ Off Cocktail Hour

When the weather outside is frightful, or even when it’s not, kick your cocktail hour up a notch with festive pomegranate seeds. The pomegranate is typically in season in the Northern Hemisphere from September to February, and in the Southern Hemisphere from March to May. So for us here in the Northeast US, ’tis the season!


The name for the fruit is derived from Latin and literally means “seeded apple.” Only the seeds are edible and are found inside this large, rounded red fruit. An average pomegranate contains about 600 juicy seeds, also known as arils, which are encapsulated in white pith.

One of the essential benefits of pomegranate seeds is that this fruit is a powerhouse of various nutrients like calcium, potassium, phosphorus, vitamins C, B complex and K, folic acid, iron, protein, etc. It is also a rich source of dietary fibers, zinc, magnesium and carbohydrates. Also the bright red juice extracted from the pomegranate fruit has been proven to possess medicinal properties in a number of studies (TMI for this blog.)

I’m enthralled with many of the health benefits of pomegranate seeds and juice that have been attributed to their extremely strong antioxidant properties. But the antioxidants in pomegranate can also provide beauty benefits! Due to their ability to destroy free radicals, the antioxidants in pomegranate can help fight wrinkles and fine lines on the skin. Got your attention now?


OK, so how do you extract those luscious arils and what do you do with them? The process is fairly easy, and the list of uses is only limited by your imagination, but I’m going to focus on how to dress up your cocktail hour for the holiday season with festive ice cubes.


IMG_9346First, slice all around the equator piercing the tough skin but do not cut through, you don’t want to slice through the seeds inside.

IMG_9347Twist the the halves in opposite directions until you can pull it apart. Then pull the skin outward to help loosen the insides.

Place one of the halves upside down in your palm over a large bowl and tap often and sharply. This forces the arils to pop out into the bowl.


Repeat with other half. Remove any white pith that may have fallen into the bowl.

IMG_9353You’ll end up with around 600 seeds and some juice.

IMG_9354Place 5-7 seeds in each ice cube square then freeze for a few hours or overnight. When completely solid, pop the frozen cubes into a ziploc bag until ready to use.


Store the leftover seeds in an airtight container in the fridge for 5-7 days, or in the freezer for up to 4 months. Use them to in salads, cereal, smoothies—or more ice cubes!

Three Amigo Meatballs

Quite a while back, when I penned this blog, I’d been on a fennel kick, so when I saw this recipe in Redbook Magazine, it caught my eye immediately. Always looking to expand our repertoire of quick, tasty weeknight meals, the “three amigos” of Pork, Veal and Fennel Meatballs seem to fit the bill perfectly.


It calls for a pound each of pork and veal, but since the meat we bought was prepackaged in certain amounts, we ended up with slightly more pork, and slightly less veal, which truth be told, didn’t seem to make a lick of difference! We also found it odd that the recipe calls for grated lemon rind—and rind usually is bitter, so we used lemon zest instead (which I noted below).

Pork, Veal and Fennel Meatballs

  • Servings: 60 mini meatballs
  • Difficulty: easy
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  • 1 cup fresh breadcrumbs (we used prepared panko breadcrumbs)
  • ¼ cup whole milk
  • 2 tsp sea salt
  • 2 tsp fennel seeds
  • 1 tsp dried chile flakes
  • 1 lb ground pork
  • 1 lb ground veal
  • 1 Tbsp finely grated lemon zest
  • 1 egg yolk
  • ½ cup finely grated Parmesan cheese, plus extra for serving
  • 2 Tbsp chopped thyme
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • Cracked black pepper
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 28-oz can tomato puree

The mixture made 59 small meatballs.

If you are cooking all of the meatballs, you will have to sautée in batches. We froze half of them for a later meal.

While the directions didn’t specify, we let the meatballs sit in the sauce for about 5 minutes to make sure they were heated through.


  1. Place breadcrumbs and milk in a large bowl and allow to stand 5 minutes.
  2. Place salt, fennel, and chile flakes in a mortar and pestle and grind to combine.
  3. Add salt mixture to breadcrumbs with pork, veal, lemon rind, egg yolk, Parmesan cheese, thyme, garlic, and pepper to taste and mix 2 to 3 minutes or until combined. Roll tablespoons of mixture into balls.
  4. Heat olive oil in a large, nonstick frying pan over high heat. Cook meatballs, in batches, 5 to 6 minutes until browned. Remove from pan and keep warm.
  5. Add tomato puree to pan and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium; cook 5 minutes.
  6. While sauce is cooking, cook pasta in a large saucepan of salted, boiling water 10 to 12 minutes or until al dente. Drain and transfer to a large dish. Add meatballs to sauce and stir gently to combine. Top pasta with meatballs and sauce and sprinkle with Parmesan to serve.

Makes 4 to 6 servings.


The recipe pairs it with spaghetti, but not having any on hand, we opted to use a Black Pepper Fettucini from our pantry, and it made a great companion to the sauce.