Monthly Archives: March 2022

Shawarma Roast Chicken with Shallots and Lemons

Yogurt is a common marinade throughout the Levant region, a large area in the Eastern Mediterranean region of Western Asia. Not only does it act as a tenderizer, but it also creates a crust on the meat and carries the flavor of the spices (here those are the shawarma heavy-hitters like cumin, coriander, and turmeric).

The chicken can marinate for as little as 30 minutes, or up to 12 hours in the fridge if you’re not in a rush, making it quite doable without tons of planning. Roasting the bird alongside halved shallots and sliced lemons means you get jammy and crispy accompanying bites built right in, cooked in the rich chicken juices.

The original recipe called for 3 shallots, but we more than doubled them to 7 (noted below), all their jammy goodness paired wonderfully with the seasoned chicken, as did the lemon. As sides, we prepared a Warm Farro with Lemon and Herbs dish, and some charred broccoli.

Shawarma Roast Chicken with Shallots and Lemons

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
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  • 1 Tbsp. coriander seeds
  • 1½ tsp. cumin seeds
  • 1½ tsp. black peppercorns
  • 1½ tsp. smoked paprika
  • ¾ tsp. ground turmeric
  • 4 garlic cloves, finely grated
  • ¼ cup whole-milk plain Greek yogurt or sour cream
  • 4 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • 1 3½–4-lb. whole chicken, patted dry
  • Kosher salt
  • 6-7 medium shallots, halved lengthwise
  • 1 lemon, sliced into ¼”-thick rounds, seeds removed
  • 1⁄2 cup water
  • 4 oregano or thyme sprigs, plus leaves for serving
  • Flaky sea salt (for serving)


  1. Finely grind coriander seeds, cumin seeds, peppercorns, paprika, and turmeric in a spice mill. Transfer spice mixture to a small bowl; whisk in garlic, yogurt, and 2 Tbsp. oil.
  2. Generously season chicken with salt, then smear yogurt mixture all over. Let sit on a rimmed baking sheet at room temperature at least 30 minutes, or chill, uncovered, up to 12 hours. If chilling, let chicken sit at room temperature 30 minutes before roasting.
  3. Preheat oven to 425°. Heat remaining 2 Tbsp. oil in a large skillet over medium-high. Place chicken, breast side up, in pan, then nestle shallots, cut side down, and lemon slices around. Season shallots and lemon with salt. Tuck in oregano sprigs and cook, undisturbed, until shallots are starting to brown, about 3 minutes.
  4. Pour ½ cup water into pan; transfer skillet to oven, arranging so legs are pointing toward back of oven. Roast until skin has taken on some color, 10–15 minutes. Reduce heat to 325°; continue to roast until chicken is cooked through and tender (an instant-read thermometer inserted into thickest part of breast should register 155°; it will climb to 165° as the chicken rests) and shallots are jammy, 60–70 minutes. Let rest 15 minutes.
  5. Transfer chicken to a cutting board and carve as desired. Arrange on a platter; tuck shallots and lemon slices around. Spoon juices in pan over, top with oregano leaves, and sprinkle with sea salt.

Recipe by Andy Baraghani for Bon Appétit

Warm Farro with Lemon and Herbs

For this dish, use whole farro, in which the grain’s germ and bran have been retained. It has a nutty flavor and delicately chewy texture, and some brands cook in as little as 20 minutes, making it one of the fastest-cooking whole grains. (Ours took 30 minutes.)

The simplest cooking method is best: Just boil in salted water for about 20-30 minutes until tender and drain well. Warm farro can be tossed with sautéed aromatics, olive oil and herbs for a simple but satisfying side dish such as this one. It went wonderfully with our Shawarma Chicken.

We were fresh out of mint, so in lieu of making an extra trip to the grocery store, we just substituted two tablespoons of fresh oregano, which was one of the herbs in our main chicken entrée.

Warm Farro with Lemon and Herbs

  • Servings: 6
  • Difficulty: easy
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  • 3 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1 1⁄2 cups whole farro
  • ¼ cup chopped fresh parsley
  • ¼ cup chopped fresh mint
  • 1 Tbsp. lemon juice


  1. Bring 4 quarts water to a boil in a Dutch oven. Add farro and 1 tablespoon salt, return to boil, and cook until grains are tender with a slight chew, 20-30 minutes. Drain farro, return to now empty pot, and cover to keep warm.
  2. Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in 12-inch skillet over medium heat, until shimmering. Add onion and 1/4 teaspoon salt and cook, stirring frequently, until onion is softened and slightly golden, 6 to 8 minutes.
  3. Add garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute.
  4. Add remaining 1 tablespoon oil and cooked farro, stirring frequently until heated through, 3 to 5 minutes.
  5. Remove from heat and stir in parsley, mint, and lemon juice. Season with salt and pepper to taste, and serve.

Recipe from America’s Test Kitchen The Complete Mediterranean Cookbook

Roasted Mushroom Pizza with Fontina and Scallions

Having a ready-made pizza delivered to your doorstep is certainly the easy route. But often times we love a culinary challenge, and this pizza recipe from Milk Street proved to be just that. We made our dough from scratch, even warmed it up to a perfect 75° in a sous vide bath, but it still was tricky to stretch out. You can always purchase a pre-made dough and save yourself some aggravation, just sayin’…

Be aware, heating the oven and pizza steel or stone to 550°F takes about an hour. Use this time to roast portobello mushrooms, and to combine the fontina-Parmesan cream white sauce. Don’t undercook the mushrooms. Roasting them until well browned removes moisture that would otherwise make the pizza crust soggy. Another suggestion would be to use cremini mushrooms instead of portobello caps, then you wouldn’t have to remove any gills.

The second pie was more successful!

For a time-saver on dinner day, the mushrooms also can be prepped up to 24 hours ahead and refrigerated. When shaping the pizza dough, make sure that the edges are thicker than the center so they contain the cream sauce, which becomes runny during baking. For a crisp, well-browned bottom crust, if your oven only goes to 500°F, the pizza will need to bake for an extra two minutes.

The first attempt was unremarkable. The crust shape was more rectangular and we over-charred the mushrooms. Since the Fontina-Parmesan Cream makes enough for two pizzas, we made another several days later, which was more of a success story. This time we browned cremini mushrooms in a nonstick skillet on the stovetop. Plus we added about another cup of shredded fontina on top of the mushrooms. And that my friends, was a perfect pie!

Roasted Mushroom Pizza with Fontina and Scallions

  • Servings: Yields 1 12-inch pie
  • Difficulty: moderate
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  • 1 lb. cremini mushrooms
  • 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • Table salt and ground black pepper
  • 1 Tbsp. finely chopped fresh thyme
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 portion pizza dough (warmed to 75°F)
  • Bread flour, for dusting countertop
  • 1 Tbsp. semolina flour, for dusting pizza peel
  • 1 cup fontina-Parmesan cream (recipe below); more on top of the mushrooms if desired.
  • 2 scallions, thinly sliced on bias
  • 1/4 tsp. red pepper flakes


  1. At least 1 hour before baking, heat the oven to 550°F with a baking steel or stone on the upper-middle rack and a second rack in the lower-middle.
  2. Cut the mushroom caps into ¼-inch slices. In a large bowl, toss the mushrooms, olive oil and ¼ teaspoon salt.
  3. Spread the mushrooms in an even layer on a rimmed baking sheet. Roast on the lower oven rack, stirring once, until they have released their moisture, the moisture evaporates and the mushrooms begin to brown, about 15 minutes. OR, brown them in a nonstick skillet on the stovetop.
  4. Stir in the thyme and garlic, then roast/cook in skillet until the mushrooms have browned and the garlic is no longer raw, another 3 to 4 minutes. Let cool completely on a wire rack.
  5. Turn the dough out onto a counter dusted generously with bread flour. Flour your hands and, using your fingers, press the dough, starting at the center and working out to the edges, into a 12-inch round, turning the dough over once. The round should be thin in the center, with slightly thicker edges. Lightly dust a baking peel, inverted baking sheet or rimless cookie sheet with the semolina. Transfer the dough to the peel and, if needed, reshape into a 12-inch round.
  6. Using the back of a spoon, spread the fontina-Parmesan cream evenly on the dough, leaving ½-inch border at the edge. Scatter the mushrooms over it and season with pepper. If desired, add more shredded fontina on top of the mushrooms.
  7. Slide the pizza onto the baking steel or stone and bake until the crust is well browned, 7 to 9 minutes.
  8. Using the peel, transfer the pizza to a wire rack. Let cool for a couple of minutes, then sprinkle with scallions and red pepper flakes.

Fontina-Parmesan Cream


  • 3/4 cup heavy cream, cold
  • 1 cup shredded fontina cheese
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 Tbsp. minced fresh rosemary
  • 1/2 tsp. ground black pepper


  1. In a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whip the cream on medium until stiff peaks form, about 2 1⁄2 minutes.
  2. Using a rubber spatula, fold in the fontina, Parmesan, rosemary and pepper.
  3. Can be refrigerated for up to 3 days.

Adapted from a recipe by Diane Unger for Milk Street

Spice-Rubbed Flank Steak and Sweet Potatoes with Chipotle Aioli

Occasionally, when grocery shopping, we come across great meat prices, so we buy what strikes our fancy with the intention of vacuum-sealing and storing in one of our freezers until a future date. It dawned on us we could never remember exactly what we bought and where it was stored, so we started writing a list. Well, that hand-written list became messy and hard to decipher so then we had the brilliant idea to keep an Excel spreadsheet and share it on One Drive so that it can be accessed from any of our devices.

For the most part, it’s been a tremendous aid, until we neglect to delete items that we’ve already used. I’m telling you this because that’s exactly what happened for this meal. The day before we planned on cooking it, I went to retrieve the flank steak from the downstairs freezer, which is where the Excel file said it was, and couldn’t find it, nor could The Hubs.

But Excel also indicated we had two packages of flap meat, which actually happens to be more to our liking than flank steak. So yes, you guessed it, we did use the flap meat for this recipe—and removed it from the Freezer Inventory database.

Here, the steak and sweet potatoes share a spice rub, but they are cooked separately. The steak is sear-roasted in a screaming-hot skillet, then finished in a moderate oven. Molly Stevens author of the original recipe, suggests leaving the skin on the sweet potatoes to obtain a textural contrast with the smooth insides and rugged skin. We chose otherwise.

Rubbing the steak ahead of time and leaving uncovered in the fridge for 2-12 hours, allows the the spice rub to works its magic in keeping the meat juicy, and it also gives the flavors time to penetrate and enhance the taste of the steak.

The smoky-spicy aioli is fabulous when drizzled over both the potatoes and steak bringing it all together. We made a note in the cookbook to double the aioli next time—it’s that good! A simple side salad completed the meal and added that fresh component.

Spice-Rubbed Flank Steak and Sweet Potatoes with Chipotle Aioli

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
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  • 2 tsp. paprika, sweet or hot
  • 2 tsp. ground cumin
  • 1⁄2 tsp. ancho chili powder
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 1⁄2 to 2 lb. flank steak or flap meat
  • 3 lbs. sweet potatoes, peeled
  • 3 Tbsp. grapeseed or peanut oil

The Aioli

  • 1⁄2 tsp. canned chipotle in adobo, minced; plus 1⁄2 tsp. adobo sauce from can
  • 1 garlic clove, finely minced
  • Salt
  • 1⁄3 cup mayonnaise
  • 1 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 Tbsp. fresh lime juice


  1. Combine paprika, cumin, chili powder, 2 teaspoons kosher salt, and several grinds of black pepper in a small bowl. Divide the mixture in half.
  2. With the steak on a platter, sprinkle half of the spice mixture all over the steak, rubbing it into the meat. Refrigerate uncovered for at least 2 hours, and up to 12 hours.
  3. Combine the chipotle, adobo sauce, garlic and 1⁄4 teaspoon salt in a small bowl and mash to a paste with a wooden spoon. Whisk in the mayonnaise and olive oil. Add the lime juice, stir and season with salt and pepper to taste.
  4. Heat the oven to 400°.
  5. Cut the sweet potatoes lengthwise in half and then into wedges that are about 1-inch across at their widest part. If any of them are 6 inches or more, cut them in half. Put them on a rimed baking sheet, drizzle with 2 tablespoons of oil, and toss to coat. Season with the remaining spice rub and toss again. Spread out in a single layer.
  6. Roast in preheated oven until tender, about 30 minutes, turning once halfway through.
  7. After the sweet potatoes have roasted for about 20 minutes, heat a large ovenproof skillet, such as cast iron, until very hot. Coat with the remaining tablespoon of oil and sear the steak until well-browned on the first side, about 1 1⁄2 minutes. Flip and brown the second side for another 2 minutes.
  8. Transfer the pan to the oven and roast for 5 to 7 minutes for medium-rare (120° to 125°); 7 to 9 minutes for medium (125° to 130°).
  9. If the potatoes are done before the steak, let them sit at room temperature, or leave them in the oven with the temperature turned off. Do not cover with foil or they will steam and turn soggy.
  10. Transfer the steak to a cutting board, tent with foil, and let rest for 10 minutes.
  11. Thinly slice the steak against the grain (if using flap meat, serves in large chunks). Serve the sweet potatoes along side, spooning a little aioli over everything. Pass any extra aioli around the table.

Adapted from a recipe in All About Dinner by Molly Stevens

Homemade Taco Seasoning

Necessity is the Mother of Invention, right? Well, when we had a hankering for Loaded Nachos and realized we didn’t have a packet of taco seasoning for the ground meat, we just made our own. The Hubs did a quick Google scan and found this recipe from Sommer Collier.

Simple homemade taco seasoning is a great way to save money, use up spices, and make the best-tasting taco seasoning you’ve ever tried. It’s really simple. Just mix chili powder, ground cumin, paprika, crushed red pepper, onion powder, garlic powder, oregano, salt and black pepper. Then taste and add more crushed red pepper and salt as desired.

The recipe provided makes roughly the equivalent of a single store-bought packet of taco seasoning. If you want to make a larger batch to scoop and use at will, just multiply the recipe as needed. Which is exactly what we did back when football season was just beginning and nachos would be a recurring theme for months to come! The seasoning works equally well on ground or shredded chicken, turkey, pork and lamb.

Homemade Taco Seasoning

  • Servings: Yields about 3 Tbsp
  • Difficulty: super easy
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  • 2 tsp. chili powder
  • 1 1/2 tsp. ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp. paprika  
  • 1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper
  • 1/2 tsp. salt 
  • 1/4 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1/4 tsp. onion powder
  • 1/4 tsp. dried oregano 
  • 1/4 tsp. black pepper


  1. Measure out all the ingredients in a small bowl. Mix well. 
  2. Taste and adjust the salt or spices as desired.
  3. Store in an airtight container until ready to use.

For a larger batch (the equivalent of about 6 packets), use:

  • 1/4 cup chili powder
  • 3 Tbsp. ground cumin
  • 1 Tbsp. each paprika, crushed red pepper, and salt
  • 1 1/2 tsp. each garlic powder, onion powder, dried oregano, black pepper

Recipe from Sommer Collier of A Spicy Perspective

Easy Jerk Chicken

One of our “pool friends” gifted us a container of Wah Gwan over the holidays. We had never heard of the spice blend, so I did a little online research to find out what it’s about.

Growing up in Long Island New York while maintaining deep roots in Jamaica, chef and nutrition coach Marc Anthony has made a career out of his passion for good food. “For years I have been testing and trying blends of spices thinking there must be an all purpose seasoning that bridges cultural and situational cooking. I want a blend I could season my tacos and pasta with and sprinkle over eggs in the morning.”

“My Wah Gwan™ seasoning to this day only sources the most quality imported ingredients. The Paprika in fact still comes from Spain and the Scotch Bonnet is grown by hand by the only person I found who can grow and dry the pepper to be just right. This is what set’s us apart and I stand by this product tearing through tins of it in our own home. Enjoy!” –Marc Anthony

He makes a mean Jerk Chicken, a dish that is adopted by cultures worldwide mostly in African and Caribbean communities. Jerk is native to Jamaica as its signature flavors come from plants only found on that island. Pimento wood, scotch bonnet pepper and allspice berries complete the flavor profile of traditional Jamaican Jerk.

Unfortunately his recipe takes 8 hours to cook over a wood fire and uses many, many ingredients. I found another recipe from cooking, that although still needs a long marinating session, gets dinner on the table much quicker. But instead of using five different spices and dried herbs, I substituted 2 tablespoons of the Wah Gwan mix. (There is also a “hot” version if you are so inclined.)

Below is the much less-involved recipe, but still incredibly flavorful thanks to hours of marinating in a vibrant and deliciously seasoned marinade. And who can resist that light char and crave-able spicy kick? Our dish included some quartered breast pieces along with the thighs to please those that prefer white meat over dark. We paired it with coconut rice and Swiss chard.

The end result is spicy, but not overly-so, at least to us. If you want to kick it up a notch, use habanero or scotch bonnet peppers in place of the jalapeños.

Grilling is also an option (see instructions below). The problem with that is, as you keep turning the chicken pieces, the jerk marinade chunks will fall off into the flames below, and those charred bits are part-and-parcel of what constitutes the appeal of this recipe.

Easy Jerk Chicken

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Difficulty: easy
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  • 8-10 bone-in skin on chicken pieces, thighs and legs (about 3 1⁄2 lbs.), trim excess fat and skin
  • 6 green onions, cut into 2-inch pieces; or a small red onion
  • 4 garlic cloves, peeled and smashed
  • 2 jalapeño peppers, stemmed and seeded
  • 1 1/2 -inch piece ginger, peeled and sliced
  • 1/3 cup fresh lime juice
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp. brown sugar
  • 2 Tbsp. Wah Gwan spice, OR the 5 ingredients listed below
  • 1 Tbsp fresh thyme leaves
  • 1 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tsp. ground allspice
  • 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg


  1. Place chicken pieces in a gallon size resealable bag.
  2. Add remaining ingredients to a food processor and plus several times to chop (it should be somewhat coarse). Pour mixture over chicken in bag, seal bag while pressing out excess air then rub marinade over chicken. Let rest in refrigerator 3 – 24 hours.
  3. Oven instructions: Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line a 18 by 13-inch baking sheet with aluminum foil and spray with non-stick cooking spray.
  4. Remove chicken from marinade, leaving some chunks on the meat. Place the remaining marinade in a small sauce pan, heating on low while the chicken bakes. Serve alongside the cooked chicken for garnish.
  5. Arrange pieces on baking sheet leaving space between them. Bake in preheated oven until cooked through, about 45 – 50 minutes, while broiling during the last few minutes for better browning.
  6. Or grill instructions: preheat a gas grill to medium-high heat (about 400 degrees). Clean grill grates and rub lightly with oil using tongs and an oiled paper towel.
  7. Grill until chicken is cooked through, turning occasionally (and reducing burning temperature slightly if it’s browning too quickly) about 30 minutes.


Now, if you feel like going the extra mile, you can go online to Marc Anthony’s website and get the directions to make this jerk glaze which includes all of the ingredients below.

  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • ¼ cup jerk marinade
  • 2 Tbsp. Wah Gwan®
  • ½ bulb of garlic
  • ½ cup Jamaican dark rum
  • ½ cup beer
  • ½ cup espresso
  • ½ cup honey
  • ½ cup maple syrup
  • 1 peel from a lime
  • ½ cup citrus juice tangerine orange
  • ¼ cup cubed mango

In a pot on medium heat, add olive oil. Bring to temp and add marinade. Cook for 2 minutes two cook the rawness out of the marinade. Add Wah Gwan® and stir to combine. Cook for 2 minutes, then add garlic clove cut side down. Cook for another minute or so then add all of the next ingredients and bring to a boil. Turn heat to medium high and let the glaze thicken. Remove from heat and set aside. 

Corpse Reviver No. 2

Odd name for a refreshing unique drink with bright, citrusy, herbal and anise flavors. But if you need to purchase all of the liquor that comprises this cocktail, it may put you in a tail spin and a need to be revived!

Luckily, we had all of it except the absinthe, and that alone is quite pricey. Since the libation uses a minuscule amount, you may want to consider using Herbsaint (prices vary), or dry anisette (much more reasonable), in place of the absinthe.

We both gave it two thumbs up. A refreshing tipple that would revive any corpse!

Corpse Reviver No. 2

  • Servings: 2 cocktails
  • Difficulty: easy
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  • 2 oz. London dry gin
  • 2 oz. Lillet Blanc
  • 1 1/2 oz. orange liqueur
  • 1 1/2 oz. lemon juice¼ ounce 
  • Simple Syrup
  • 1/4 oz. absinthe
  • Orange twists


  1. Add gin, Lillet Blanc, liqueur, lemon juice, simple syrup, and absinthe to cocktail shaker, then fill with ice. Shake mixture until fully combined and well chilled, about 15 seconds.
  2. Double-strain cocktail into two chilled cocktail glasses. Garnish with orange twist and serve.

From “How to Cocktail” by America’s Test Kitchen

Instant Pot Corned Beef and Cabbage

Here’s a perfect solution to celebrating a traditional St. Patrick’s day dinner without the usual long process. It’s an easy express route that uses your pressure cooker/Instant Pot. Even this method takes over two hours, so plan ahead.

When it comes to the meat itself, we prefer a thicker brisket as opposed to the flatter ones. Mix up the sour cream, whole-grain mustard and horseradish into one condiment adjusting the taste to suit your personal preferences. In our case, that means a lot of horseradish!

Instant Pot Corned Beef and Cabbage

  • Servings: 6-8
  • Difficulty: easy
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  • 1 large onion, cut into 1/2-inch wedges
  • 3 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 3 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 3 Tbsp. pickling spice
  • 4 lbs. corned beef brisket, (one piece), rinsed
  • 3 Tbsp. unsalted butter
  • 1 rutabaga, peeled and cut into 1-inch chunks
  • 2 leeks, white and light green parts only, split lengthwise, cleaned and cut into 1-inch lengths
  • 4 carrots, cut into 2-inch pieces
  • 1 small head green cabbage, core intact, cut into thick wedges
  • 1/4 cup loosely packed fresh parsley leaves, chopped
  • Sour cream, prepared horseradish and whole-grain mustard, for serving


  1. Put the onion, thyme, garlic, pickling spice, brisket and 6 cups water into an Instant Pot®. Follow the manufacturer’s guide for locking the lid and preparing to cook.
  2. Seal and cook on high pressure for 85 minutes. Follow the manufacturer’s guide for quick release, then remove the meat and set aside.
  3. Strain the liquid through a fine mesh strainer into a bowl and return 2 cups back to the Instant Pot® along with the butter.
  4. Add the rutabaga, leeks, carrots and cabbage to the Instant Pot®. Seal and cook on high pressure for 7 minutes. Quick release the steam.
  5. Thinly slice the brisket across the grain and transfer to a serving platter. Arrange the vegetables around the meat, sprinkle with the parsley and serve with the sour cream, horseradish and mustard on the side.

Adapted from a recipe by Food Network

Baked Salmon with Vegetables and Feta

This one-pan dinner is ready in no time, and you’ll love the bold Greek vibes in this dish. A perfect weeknight meal, this easy, “fancy” salmon recipe with vegetables and feta is brimming with healthy ingredients and enlivened Mediterranean flavors.

A couple of suggestions so that your salmon won’t dry out. Bring the fish closer to room temperature before baking. About 15 minutes before you start cooking, set the salmon on the counter to get it as close to room temperature as possible. Allowing the salmon fillets to return to room temperature helps them cook more evenly.

And, cover with foil to bake. Covering the pan with foil will trap the moisture and help cook the fish so that it is perfectly tender, moist, and flaky. Here, you’ll also par-cook the vegetables briefly before adding the salmon in.

The original recipe indicated to first cook the vegetables for 5-10 minutes before adding the salmon. We did not feel they were ready at that point and cooked them an additional 5 minutes, totaling 15 altogether. Since our fish was one slab, we let it sit out for 30 minutes to come to room temperature. Plus, due to the size and thickness, it took double the time at 20 minutes to cook to medium, 130°F after adding it atop the vegetables, covered with foil.

So we had to bide our time a little longer, but it was sooo worth the wait!

Baked Salmon with Vegetables and Feta

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
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  • 2 tsp. dried oregano
  • 1 tsp. sumac
  • 1 tsp. cumin
  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes
  • 1 bell pepper, any color, cored and sliced into thin sticks
  • 5 oz. cremini mushrooms, trimmed and halved
  • 4 to 5 large garlic cloves, peeled
  • 5 to 6 oz. feta cheese block, cut into large chunks
  • 6 to 7 sprigs of fresh thyme
  • Kosher salt and black pepper
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • 4 6-oz. portions salmon fillet
  • 1 to 2 large lemons, halved, for serving


  1. Heat the oven to 425°F and arrange a rack in the middle.
  2. In a small bowl, combine the oregano, sumac, and cumin.
  3. In a baking dish or sheet-pan, arrange the tomatoes, mushrooms, bell peppers, and 4 to 5 whole garlic cloves. Nestle the chunks of feta in between. Sprinkle with 1 ½ teaspoons of the spice mixture and a good pinch of kosher salt and black pepper. Add a few sprigs of fresh thyme. Drizzle with 1 to 2 tablespoon olive oil.
  4. Place the sheet pan in the heated oven on the center rack. Bake for 15 minutes until the veggies start to soften.
  5. Meanwhile, pat the fish dry and season on both sides with kosher salt and black pepper and the remainder of the spice mixture.
  6. Carefully remove the sheet pan/baking dish from the oven and add the fish in with the veggies and feta.
  7. Cover the sheet pan/baking dish with foil and return to the center rack of the heated oven. Cook for about 10 minutes or until the fish is cooked through and flakes easily. (As one thick slab, ours took 20 minutes to reach the preferred 130°F.)
  8. Remove from the oven and immediately squeeze lemon juice onto the fish.

Adapted from a recipe from Suzy Karadheh

Vegetable Fried Rice

Similar to it’s meat cousin, Pork-Fried Rice, this vegetable version with simple seasonings and a balance of mix-ins makes for a frugal and incredibly satisfying meal—or side dish. Typically you use day old rice, but if you cook rice like pasta, in other words in a lot of water with salt for 10 minutes then drain and cool it, you don’t have to make it ahead of time. Plus cooking it like pasta rids the raw grains of any surface starch so that it readily breaks apart into individual grains.

But, if you have leftover rice here’s the deal. Day-old jasmine rice works best; the varietal is loaded with a popcorn-y aromatic compound that perfumes the fried rice with gorgeous fragrance, and when stir-fried, the hard, dry clumps relax into tender-firm, distinct grains. All rice should be roughly room temperature when you stir-fry. 

To make fluffy, tender pockets of scrambled eggs, pour the raw beaten eggs into oil that is just smoking (not merely shimmering); the eggs will puff as their water rapidly turns to steam and their proteins set.

There’s no garlic or ginger to mince, no spices or curry paste to bloom, and no sauce to mix up, which keeps the prep work minimal and the backdrop neutral, not plain, simply highlighting the namesake ingredient: rice. However, you may want to serve with soy sauce on the side for those who wish a bit more flavor.

In case you are curious why this is labeled vegetarian, since they are not technically animal flesh, eggs are usually thought of as vegetarian. Eggs that have been fertilized and therefore have the potential to become an animal may not be considered vegetarian.

Vegetable Fried Rice

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
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  • 3 large eggs
  • 1½ tsp. kosher salt, divided
  • 2 Tbsp. vegetable oil, divided
  • 1 carrot, peeled and cut into ¼-inch pieces
  • 4 oz. white mushrooms, cut into ½-inch pieces
  • 4 scallions, white and green parts separated and sliced
  • 4 cups cooked jasmine rice, room temperature
  • ¼ tsp. pepper
  • ½ cup frozen peas


  1. Beat eggs and ¼ teaspoon salt in bowl until well combined. Heat 2 teaspoons oil in 14-inch flat-bottomed wok or 12-inch carbon-steel or cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat until oil is just smoking. Add the mushrooms and cook, stirring frequently, until just beginning to brown, about 4 minutes. Transfer to a large plate.
  2. Add eggs and cook, stirring frequently, until very little liquid egg remains, 30 to 60 seconds. Transfer to the large plate.
  3. Add 1 teaspoon oil to now-empty wok and reduce heat to medium. Add carrot and ¼ teaspoon salt and cook, stirring frequently, until just beginning to brown, 2 to 4 minutes. Transfer to plate with eggs.
  4. Add scallion whites and remaining 1 tablespoon oil to now-empty wok. Cook, stirring constantly, until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add rice and stir until combined. (It’s OK if some clumps of rice remain.) Spread into even layer. Sprinkle pepper and remaining 1 teaspoon salt evenly over rice. Continue to cook, stirring frequently and pressing on rice with spatula to break up clumps, until grains are separate and heated through, 2 to 5 minutes longer.
  5. Add peas, egg and mushroom mixture, and scallion greens and cook, stirring frequently and using edge of spatula to break eggs into small pieces, until peas are warmed through, about 2 minutes. Serve with soy sauce.

Adapted from a recipe by Cook’s Illustrated

Bean and Vegetable Salad with Potlikker Vinaigrette

This cold-weather salad from chef Carla Hall hits all the notes: sweet, savory, spicy, and salty—with a bit of crunch from the squash seeds. Here, Hall uses her Country Ham Potlikker as an umami-rich base for a spicy vinaigrette that gets its silky texture from blended cannellini beans. 

But the thing is, most people are not going to have this potlikker broth on hand. We had some leftover from our Smothered Pork Chops dinner in which you had to pre-make the Country Ham Potlikker. Our suggestion is to use a mix of oil and vinegar instead, you won’t have that smoky ham flavor, but you will be keeping the meal vegetarian.

*We decided to roast our fennel slices since I didn’t shave them thin enough. Basically, place the fennel on a rimmed baking sheet, drizzle olive oil all over, sprinkle with salt and pepper, rub it all together with your hands, then roast for about 30-35 minutes in a 400° oven. This can be done ahead of time, simply cover the roasted fennel with foil until ready to mix in with the other ingredients.

Bean and Vegetable Salad with Potlikker Vinaigrette

  • Servings: 6
  • Difficulty: easy
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  • 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1/4 cup chilled Country Ham Potlikker
  • 1 tsp. yellow mustard
  • 1 15-oz. can cannellini beans, rinsed, divided
  • 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tsp. Diamond Crystal, or 1 1/4 tsp. Morton kosher salt, plus more
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 medium delicata squash, halved, seeds removed and reserved, sliced crosswise 1/2″ thick
  • 3 extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • 1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper
  • 1 large sweet-tart apple, (such as Honeycrisp), cored, quartered, sliced 1/4″ thick
  • 1 large fennel bulb, quartered, shaved in very thin slices (*See note above for roasting option)
  • 1 15-oz. can kidney beans, rinsed
  • 1/4 cup chopped parsley


  1. Blend vinegar, potlikker (or substitute), mustard, and ¼ cup cannellini beans in a blender until smooth. With the motor running, stream in vegetable oil; blend until emulsified. Season vinaigrette with salt and pepper.
  2. Place racks in upper and lower thirds of oven; preheat to 400°. Divide sliced squash between 2 rimmed baking sheets; drizzle 2 Tbsp. olive oil over. Sprinkle with 2 tsp. Diamond Crystal or 1¼ tsp. Morton kosher salt; season with pepper. Roast 15 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, rinse squash seeds and pat dry. Toss seeds with cayenne and remaining 1 Tbsp. olive oil in a small bowl; season with salt.
  4. Sprinkle seeds over squash. Continue to roast until squash is golden brown and tender, 13–15 minutes more.
  5. Combine squash and seeds, apple, fennel, kidney beans, and remaining cannellini beans in a large bowl. Toss with ½ cup vinaigrette. Taste and add more vinaigrette if needed. Add parsley, season with salt, and toss again.
  6. Transfer salad to a platter; serve any remaining vinaigrette alongside.

Recipe from Carla Hall for Bon Appétit

Umbrian-Style Chicken alla Cacciatora Revisited

Did you know that Umbria, in central Italy, is home to a tomato-free version of Chicken alla Cacciatora? Rather, the rustic braise gets it character from lemon, olives, garlic and herbs. Capers also are customary, but this version uses pancetta instead to build rich, savory depth. Finally, alternatively to cutting up a whole chicken, which is what we usually do, here we substitute bone-in, skin-on thighs.

Strips of lemon zest are simmered into the sauce to infuse the dish with subtle citrusy notes. For easiest results, use a sharp vegetable peeler to plane off wide strips of zest from the fruit; each piece should be roughly 2 to 3 inches long. You will need a 12-inch oven-safe skillet for this recipe, our 3-quart Le Creuset “Baby Blue” enameled cast-iron pot was perfect.

Fantastic! The combination of flavors had so much depth, we wanted to lick our plates clean. I know we loved the previous version using an entire chicken and capers, but this riff may have raised the bar to another level…

Umbrian-Style Chicken alla Cacciatora

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
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  • 3 lbs. bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs, trimmed and patted dry
  • Kosher salt and ground black pepper
  • 1 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 4 oz. pancetta, finely chopped
  • 1 large yellow onion, halved and thinly sliced
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • 4 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
  • 2 sprigs fresh rosemary
  • 1 cup pitted green or black olives or a combination, drained and halved
  • 4 strips lemon zest, plus 1 Tbsp. lemon juice
  • 2 Tbsp. white balsamic vinegar


  1. Heat the oven to 450°F with a rack in the middle position. Season the chicken on both sides with salt and pepper.
  2. In an oven-safe 12-inch skillet over medium-high, heat the oil until shimmering. Add the chicken skin down and cook without disturbing until golden brown on the bottom, 5 to 8 minutes. Using tongs, transfer the chicken skin up to a large plate.
  3. Pour off and discard all but 1 tablespoon fat from the skillet and set the pan over medium. Add the pancetta and onion, then cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion begins to brown, about 5 minutes.
  4. Add the wine, bring to a simmer over medium-high and cook, scraping up any browned bits, until most of the liquid has evaporated, 2 to 3 minutes.
  5. Stir in the garlic, rosemary, olives and lemon zest. Return the chicken skin up to the skillet and pour in the accumulated juices. Transfer to the oven and cook until the thickest part of the thigh reaches 175°F, 15 to 20 minutes.
  6. Remove the skillet from the oven; the handle will be hot. Using tongs, transfer the chicken skin up to a serving platter, then remove and discard the rosemary and lemon zest. Bring the liquid in the pan to a simmer over medium-high and cook, stirring occasionally, until slightly thickened and reduced, 2 to 3 minutes.
  7. Stir in the lemon juice and vinegar, then taste and season with salt and pepper. Spoon the sauce around the chicken.

Adapted from a recipe from Milk Street

Crispy Parmesan Potatoes

Tasty spuds are always a welcome side dish at our table. Here, melted parmesan cheese takes these roasted potatoes to a whole new level. They’re foolproof and taste delicious with just about everything.

If there was such a thing as a Potato Olympics, these babies would be sure to medal. Just make them, you’ll be glad you did…

Crispy Parmesan Potatoes

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
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  • 1 1/2 lbs. fingerling potatoes, about 30 potatoes
  • 3 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1 tsp. smoked paprika
  • 1/2 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp. onion powder
  • 1/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 oz. Parmesan cheese, about 1 cup
  • 6 sprigs fresh parsley, stemmed and chopped


  1. Arrange a rack in the middle of the oven and heat the oven to 400°F.
  2. Cut 1 1/2 pounds fingerling potatoes in half lengthwise. Place in a roasting pan or rimmed baking sheet. Drizzle with 3 tablespoons olive oil. Sprinkle with 1 teaspoon kosher salt, 1 teaspoon smoked paprika, 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder, 1/2 teaspoon onion powder, and 1/4 teaspoon black pepper. Toss to combine. Arrange the potatoes in single layer cut-side down.
  3. Roast until the bottoms are starting to turn golden-brown, about 30 minutes.
  4. Meanwhile, finely grate 2 ounces Parmesan cheese (about 1 lightly packed cup). Pick the leaves from 5 to 6 fresh parsley sprigs and finely chop until you have about 2 tablespoons.
  5. Carefully flip over each potato with tongs or a thin metal spatula so they are now cut-side up. Sprinkle the Parmesan over the potatoes. (It’s OK if some fall onto the pan.) Roast until the potatoes are cooked through and the cheese is crisp and golden-brown, about 10 minutes more. Sprinkle with the parsley before serving.

Recipe from

Garlic Mushroom Pasta

According to chef/author Suzy Karadheh, this is hands-down the BEST mushroom pasta recipe without cream. Rich and velvety with loads of mushrooms, garlic, shallots, a little parmesan, and a lighter silky-smooth sauce.

An easy recipe, it has two main components: the pasta and the mushroom sauce. Once you cook the pasta and sauté the mushrooms, everything will come together with a light sauce in one pan.

A typical pasta with mushrooms usually involves a heavy cream-based sauce that you would likely cook separately and then spoon over the pasta. Making a hearty garlic mushroom pasta without cream or too much butter is fairly simple. The science behind this is using a little of the starchy pasta water.

Walnuts were in the original list of ingredients, but you know how The Hubs detests those little nuggets, claiming they taste like soap. I personally love them, but to keep the peace they went by the wayside. And the dish didn’t seem to suffer without them!

Garlic Mushroom Pasta

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
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  • 8 oz. dry pasta, such as orecchiette, campanelle or farfalle
  • Kosher salt
  • ⅓ cup extra virgin olive
  • 1 Tbsp. butter
  • 2 shallots, minced
  • 5 garlic cloves, minced
  • 8 oz. cremini mushrooms, sliced
  • 8 oz. white mushrooms, sliced
  • 8 oz. portabella mushrooms, roughly chopped
  • Black pepper
  • 1 tsp. rosemary
  • 3 Tbsp. of tomato paste
  • ¼ cup dry red wine
  • ½ cup of grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
  • ½ cup packed parsley, chopped
  • Red pepper flakes to taste, optional


  1. Cook the pasta to al dente in boiling salted water according to box instructions. Keep 1 cup of the pasta cooking water then drain the pasta.
  2. In a large skillet, heat the olive and butter over medium-high heat, add the shallots and garlic and cook, tossing regularly for 2 to 3 minutes (manage the heat so that the garlic does not burn).
  3. Add all the mushrooms and toss them around in the pan for a couple of minutes, adding another drizzle of extra virgin olive oil. Season with a good pinch of kosher salt, black pepper and the rosemary. Cook the mushrooms for about 7 to 10 minutes, tossing occasionally, until they turn color and release their juices.
  4. Add the tomato paste, wine and about ½ to ¾ cup of the pasta cooking water. Cook over medium heat for about 4 to 5 minutes (this becomes your mushroom pasta sauce).
  5. Add the cooked pasta to the mushroom sauce. Toss to combine. If needed add a little bit more of the pasta cooking water.
  6. Stir in Parmesan cheese and finish with a sprinkle of parsley and red pepper flakes. Serve immediately.

Adapted from a recipe by Suzy Karadheh

Spanish Beef, Red Pepper and Paprika Stew

In Milk Street’s Fast and Slow Instant Pot cookbook, they explain Chilindrón, a hearty stew from Aragon in northeastern Spain, gets savory, meaty flavor from jamón serrano (dry-cured Spanish ham) balanced by subtly sweet tomato and red bell peppers; while paprika adds earthy flavor as well as a rich, brick-red color. Chicken, lamb or game sometimes are used, but here the succulence of a beef chuck roast is preferred.

In place of jamón serrano, the recipe uses easier-to-find Italian prosciutto, which has a similar texture and salty, nutty flavor. Pancetta, a fattier cut, works in a pinch, though it lacks some complexity. We served ours with garlicky mashed potatoes, but you could also pair with roasted potatoes or warm, crusty bread.

We used sweet smoked paprika (pimentón dulce). Spanish pimentón can be spicy, sweet, or smoky, but it’s almost always better than the regular grocery store paprika which is usually machine-dried and lacks the smoky, sweet depth of pimentón. It is essential to Spanish cooking, flavoring such national dishes as chorizo and paella. Whereas paprika from the U.S. usually comes from red bell peppers, Spanish pimentón comes from a wide variety of local peppers with differing levels of sweetness and spice.

Don’t use bacon in place of the prosciutto or pancetta. Its sweetness and intense smokiness will overpower the other ingredients. Similarly, don’t use deli ham, which is wet-cured and typically has an overly assertive artificial smoke flavor.

Spanish Beef, Red Pepper and Paprika Stew

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
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  • 1 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 10 medium garlic cloves, smashed and peeled
  • 1 large shallot, halved and thickly sliced
  • 1 plum tomato, cored, seeded and chopped
  • ½ cup jarred roasted red peppers, patted dry and finely chopped
  • 4 oz. prosciutto or pancetta, chopped
  • 4 tsp. finely chopped fresh rosemary, divided
  • 1 Tbsp. sweet paprika
  • 3 lbs. boneless beef chuck roast, trimmed and cut into 2-inch chunks
  • 2 Tbsp. all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp. lemon juice
  • Kosher salt and ground black pepper


  1. On a 6-quart Instant Pot, select More/High Sauté. Add the oil and heat until shimmering. Add the garlic, shallot, tomato, roasted peppers and prosciutto. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the shallot is very soft and the tomatoes have broken down, about 5 minutes.
  2. Stir in 3 teaspoons of rosemary and the paprika. Add the beef and stir to combine, then distribute in an even layer.
  3. Press Cancel, lock the lid in place and move the pressure valve to Sealing. Select Pressure Cook or Manual; make sure the pressure level is set to High. Set the cooking time for 35 minutes.
  4. When pressure cooking is complete, let the pressure reduce naturally for 15 minutes, then quick-release the remaining steam by moving the pressure valve to Venting. Press Cancel, then carefully open the pot.
  5. Drain the contents of the pot in a sieve over a large bowl. Pour the liquid in a fat separator, keeping the juices and discarding the fat. Put the meat mixture back into the pot.
  6. In a small bowl, whisk the flour with 6 tablespoons of the cooking liquid until smooth, then stir the mixture into the pot with the meat along with the remaining 1 teaspoon rosemary.
  7. Select Less/Low Sauté. Bring the stew to a simmer and cook, stirring often, until thickened, 2 to 3 minutes.
  8. Press Cancel to turn off the pot. Stir in the lemon juice, then taste and season with salt and pepper.

Adapted from a recipe by Julia Rackow for Milk Street