All posts by LynnHoll

About LynnHoll

I have been an artist and designer all my life incorporating graphic design for websites, gardens, publications, fabrics, interior design and cooking. I am now retired from my professional job, but still create artistic visions in all forms on a daily basis.

Pasta e Fagioli alla Russ

Growing up in the Midwest, Pasta e Fagioli wasn’t anywhere on my culinary radar. When I moved East decades ago, I quickly learned it was quite common in this region of the country. Minestrone, is a similar type of soup but the main difference between it and pasta e fagioli is the variety of vegetables in minestrone. Fagioli (pronounced fazool) is mainly pasta and beans in a broth, although this version includes kale and herbs among other plant additives.

A traditional Italian soup, it started as a peasant dish, being composed of inexpensive ingredients.

The key to a soup with fully developed savory flavor starts with the soffritto—a mix of aromatic vegetables that are slowly cooked in the first stage of cooking. Take your time sweating down the vegetables until they are completely softened before letting them take on any color. You’ll be surprised by how much volume they lose and how much liquid they release and by how much unquantifiable richness they lend to the final dish, which is nothing more than a combination of humble ingredients.

Even though we soaked our dried cannellini beans overnight,
it still took several hours before they became creamy.

To up the flavor quota, Russ used two smoked ham hocks and 1 quart of homemade ham stock and included fresh rosemary and thyme, all of which are noted in the list of ingredients below. This recipe is doubled from the original Bon Appétit version, so you can easily cut it in half if desired. Be prepared that this soup is time consuming, so you’ll want to schedule a long lazy afternoon to make it.

Pasta e Fagioli alla Russ

  • Servings: 8-10
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

  • 1 lb. dried medium white beans (such as cannellini), soaked overnight if possible*
  • Kosher salt
  • 8 carrots, scrubbed, coarsely chopped
  • 2 leeks, white and pale green parts only, halved lengthwise, coarsely chopped
  • 12 garlic cloves
  • 2/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzlingFreshly ground black pepper
  • 2 smoked ham hocks
  • 1 28-oz. can whole peeled tomatoes, crushed by hand
  • 2 bunches Tuscan kale, ribs and stems removed, leaves torn
  • 4 Parmesan rinds (optional)
  • 4 bay leaves
  • 4 thyme sprigs
  • 2 rosemary sprigs
  • 3-3 1/2 qts. water and/or ham broth
  • 1 lb. small pasta (such as ditalini)
  • Finely grated Parmesan, crushed red pepper flakes, and crusty bread (for serving)

*If you haven’t soaked the beans, do a power soak: Place beans in a large pot, cover with water by 1″, and bring to a boil over high heat. As soon as the water comes to a boil, remove pot from heat, stir in a palmful of salt, cover pot, and let beans sit 1 hour.

Directions

  1. Pulse carrots, leek, and garlic in a food processor until finely chopped. Heat ⅓ cup oil in a large pot or Dutch oven over medium. Add chopped vegetables, season generously with salt and pepper, and cook, stirring often, until vegetables start to sweat out some of their liquid, about 4 minutes. The goal at this stage is to slow cook the soffritto until the vegetables are very soft but have not taken on any color.
  2. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover pot, and cook, stirring every 5 minutes or so and reducing heat if mixture starts to brown, until vegetables are softened and juicy, about 15 minutes.
  3. Add ham hock and cook, uncovered, stirring and scraping bottom of pot every 5 minutes, until soffritto is starting to brown in places and has lost at least half of its volume, about 10 minutes more.
  4. Add beans and their soaking liquid, tomatoes, and kale; season with salt and pepper. Bring to a boil, then add Parmesan rinds (if using) and bay leaves. Reduce heat to medium-low and bring to a gentle simmer. Cook soup with lid askew, adding water (or stock, if you have it) as needed to keep beans submerged by 1″, until beans are very tender, 1–3 hours, depending on size and age of beans.
  5. Fish out and discard Parmesan rinds. Remove ham hock and use a fork to pull meat off the bone. Return meat to soup; discard bone and any large pieces of fat.
  6. Cook pasta in a large pot of boiling well-salted water, stirring occasionally, until very al dente, about 3 minutes less than package directions. Drain pasta and add to soup, then taste and season with more salt and pepper if needed. (Do not try to skip a step by cooking the pasta in the soup. The noodles will absorb all the available liquid and the liquid will be thick and gummy.)
  7. Divide soup among bowls. Top with Parmesan, drizzle with oil, and sprinkle with red pepper flakes. Serve with bread for dunking if desired.

http://www.lynnandruss.com

Adapted from a recipe from Bon Appétit

Parchment Packets with Cod, Spinach, Tomatoes and Shallots

Here, Molly Stevens combines mostly ordinary ingredients such as fish, spinach, tomatoes and shallots to create a dish far more elevated than the sum of its workaday parts. Your meal is folded up into a neat little packet of parchment that traps moisture so the fish steams in its own juices while the flavors mingle and intensify. And this method allows for super-easy clean up, woohoo!

The mild-tasting fish, whether it be cod, haddock or flounder fillets, are nestled onto baby spinach and topped with minced shallots, a handful of cherry tomatoes, a splash of white wine or vermouth, and a pat of butter or a drizzle of olive oil. (Our choices were dry vermouth and olive oil.)

Heart-healthy not only in appearance, but in ingredients too! For just the two of us we used two 8-ounce cod fillets, halved the quantity of spinach, but kept the same amount of tomatoes, shallots and parsley.

We were a little concerned that the fish and shallots wouldn’t be done in 14 minutes time, so we cooked for the full 18 minutes, and it was perfect. If using thin flounder fillets, make sure to fold them over into thirds, otherwise they will be overdone.

Three other tried-and-true riffs on fish packets from Molly are Flounder with Buttery Leeks; Salmon and Tomatoes, Capers and Chive Oil; and Sesame-Ginger Shrimp with Baby Bok Choy. We hope do blog on all of them in the future. A pat of butter or drizzle of olive oil and salt and pepper are all the embellishments you really need, but incorporating vegetables and garnishes will turn these into complete meals.

Make Ahead: The packets can be assembled several hours before cooking. Refrigerate until ready to bake, and add 4 minutes to the roasting time.

Parchment Packets with Cod, Spinach, Tomatoes and Shallots

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

  • 2 Tbsp. unsalted butter or extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for the packets
  • 5 oz. baby spinach
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 4, 6-oz. cod, haddock or flounder fillets
  • 2 Tbsp. finely minced shallots
  • 2 Tbsp. chopped fresh parsley, chives or dill
  • 1 pt. cherry or grape tomatoes, halved (about 2 cups)
  • 1/4 cup dry white wine or dry vermouth

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees with racks in the lower and upper thirds. Cut four 24-inch-long sheets of parchment paper. Fold each sheet in half, forming a 12-by-15-inch rectangle and, with a pencil, draw a half-heart shape on the paper, centering the heart on the folded edge and making the heart as large as you can. Using scissors, cut out the hearts. (The heart shape makes sealing easier.)
  2. Open the heart shapes flat on your counter and lightly butter or oil the center of one side of each. Place a quarter of the spinach close to the crease on the buttered side of each piece of parchment paper. Season lightly with salt and pepper. Divide the fish fillets among the packets, placing them directly on the spinach. (If the fillets are less than 1-inch thick, fold or tuck them into compact bundles that are about 1 inch thick.) Season the fish with salt and pepper and top each with shallots, herbs and tomatoes. If using butter, cut it into smaller pats and place on top of the fillets. If using oil, drizzle a little over each fillet. Splash the wine over the top.
  3. Fold the other half of the paper over to cover the fish. Then, starting at the top of the heart shape, working with about 2 inches of the edge at a time, fold over about 1/2 inch, pressing down and rubbing your thumb across the fold to make a crisp crease. Move a little way along the edge and fold over a couple more inches, so that your folds are overlapping and double-folded. Continue working your way around the edge of the packet, making overlapping folds, like pleats, always pressing firmly and creasing so that the folds hold. Don’t expect the folded edge to be perfectly even; it will be somewhat crooked — this is part of its charm. Go back around, making a second fold at any place that doesn’t appear tightly sealed. If there’s a slight “tail” when you reach the end, give it a twist to seal. (If you don’t quite master the seal, you can make a quick cheat by stapling or paper-clipping the edges in place.)
  4. Arrange the packets on two large rimmed baking sheets so that they don’t touch. Bake for 14 minutes. (If the fish packets have been in the refrigerator, increase the time to 18 minutes.)
  5. Either place the packets directly on dinner plates and provide scissors so that your guests can snip open their own packets at the table, or carefully cut open the packets in the kitchen and slide the contents out onto dinner plates or pasta bowls and serve right away.

http://www.lynnandruss.com

Recipe from Molly Stevens cookbook All About Dinner

Korean Barbecue Ribs with Asian Slaw

As you may have surmised over the years through posts on this blog, The Hubs loves baby back ribs. You’ll find numerous recipes for different approaches to seasoning and cooking them—both adaptations and our own creations—but this one we hadn’t yet tried. If, like us, you embrace bold flavors, then these ribs are speaking to you.

Korean dwaeji kalbi are pork ribs seasoned with gochujang (a fermented chili paste), garlic, sugar and a few other high-impact ingredients. The ribs typically are grilled for only enough time to cook the pork through, not for hours on end to render the meat American-barbecue tender. However, this version from Milk Street, is a riff on Sohui Kim’s recipe from “Korean Home Cooking,” where they use the oven for convenience and cook the ribs to that ultra-tender state.

Our ribs were served with a side of Asian Slaw and roasted acorn squash rings.

As luck would have it, we had one package of baby backs in the freezer, which would suffice in feeding just the two of us, so we cut the recipe in half. To accompany the ribs, we paired them with roasted acorn squash slices and an adaptation of an Asian Slaw recipe found in Men’s Health, details below.

Look for gochujang in the international aisle of the supermarket or in Asian grocery stores. When shopping for baby back ribs, try to select meaty racks of equal size so they cook at the same rate.

Tip: Don’t use regular foil, as it’s too thin and narrow to securely wrap the racks of ribs. Be sure to use extra-wide (18-inch) heavy-duty foil. When wrapping the ribs in foil, be sure to position the racks meaty side down and keep them that way when placing them on the rack before baking. This allows the meat to braise in the pork juices that collect in the foil.

Korean Barbecue Ribs

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

  • ¾ cup gochujang
  • ¼ cup rice vinegar
  • ¼ cup white sugar
  • 2 Tbsp. toasted sesame oil
  • 1 Tbsp. low-sodium soy sauce
  • 3 Tbsp. finely grated fresh ginger
  • 4 medium garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 3- to 3½-pound racks baby back ribs, patted dry
  • 1 Tbsp. sesame seeds, toasted (optional)

Directions

  1. Heat the oven to 300°F with a rack in the middle position. Line a rimmed baking sheet with extra-wide, heavy-duty foil, then set a wire rack in the baking sheet. In a medium bowl, whisk together the gochujang, vinegar, sugar, sesame oil, soy sauce, ginger and garlic. Measure out ¾ cup of the mixture, cover and refrigerate to use for glazing. Cut two 20-inch lengths of foil; set aside.
  2. Turn each rack of ribs meaty side down. Using a paring knife, cut a slit about 1 inch long in the membrane between the bones without cutting through meat. Lay one foil sheet on the countertop and set one rib rack on top. Coat the ribs on all sides with half of the remaining gochujang mixture, rubbing it into the meat and into the cuts in the membrane. Turn the ribs meaty side down on the foil. Draw the long sides of the foil together to cover the ribs and fold to seal tightly, then fold up and seal the short sides, creating a well-sealed packet. Repeat with the remaining foil sheet, rib rack and gochujang mixture. Place the packets seam side up on the prepared rack and bake until a skewer inserted into the meaty area between the bones meets no resistance, 2½ to 2¾ hours.
  3. Remove the ribs from the oven and let rest, still wrapped, for about 10 minutes. One packet at a time, carefully open one end of one of the foil and pour the liquid inside the packet into a 1-quart liquid measuring cup or medium bowl; you should have at least 2 cups. Unwrap the ribs and set them meaty side up directly on the rack; set aside while you prepare the glaze.
  4. Heat the broiler. Using a spoon, skim off and discard the fat from the liquid, then pour the liquid into a 12-inch skillet. Bring to a boil over medium-high, reduce to medium and cook, stirring occasionally, until the mixture is reduced to about 1 cup, about 15 minutes. Whisk in the reserved ¾ cup gochujang mixture, return to a simmer and cook, stirring occasionally, until thick enough that a spatula drawn through it leaves a trail, 5 to 7 minutes. Brush the surface and sides of the ribs with about half of the glaze.
  5. Broil the ribs until the glaze begins to char, about 2 minutes. Remove from the oven, brush on the remaining glaze, then continue to broil until lightly charred, another 3 to 5 minutes. Remove from the oven and sprinkle with the sesame seeds (if using). Let rest for about 15 minutes. Transfer the rib racks to a cutting board. Separate the ribs by cutting between the bones, then transfer to a platter.

http://www.lynnandruss.com

Adapted by Diane Unger for Milk Street

Asian Slaw

Asian Slaw

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

  • 1⁄4 cup peanut or canola oil
  • Juice of 2 limes + zest of 1⁄2 lime
  • 1 Tbsp. sriracha
  • 1⁄2 head Napa cabbage, finely shredded
  • 1⁄4 cup toasted peanuts
  • 2 carrots, shredded
  • 1⁄4 cup cilantro, chopped

Directions

  1. Whisk together the oil, lime juice, zest and sriracha.
  2. Combine the remaining ingredients in a large mixing bowl and toss with the dressing to coat.
  3. Refrigerate for at least 20 minutes before serving. Refrigerate leftovers for up to 3 days.

http://www.lynnandruss.com

Green Enchiladas with Chicken and Cheese (Enchiladas Verdes)

We were looking forward to making these enchiladas because Mexican cuisine is a fave, and a good green sauce can’t be beat. From Milk Street, we noticed right quick that we’d make some changes. Starting with a small rotisserie chicken, we picked off and chopped a little over two cups worth of meat, using the entire amount instead of just the 1 1/2 cups originally called for. In the same vein, we increased the whole-milk mozzarella cheese from 6 ounces to 8. Altogether it was the perfect amount of filling for eight tortillas.

In Step 2, the directions indicate to cook the veggies until well-browned and beginning to soften, 5 to 8 minutes. With all of that liquid in the pan, the veggies certainly softened, but did not brown, so we went ahead anyway. As an added pop of color, we topped the enchiladas with shredded Mexican cheese and placed the uncovered baking dish back into the hot oven for a final five minutes. All of our changes are included in the recipe below.

To make the filling for these enchiladas, use leftover roasted or grilled chicken or meat from a store-bought rotisserie bird (our choice this time around). You also can poach your own chicken. To do so, place 1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts in a medium saucepan, cover with water or chicken broth, bring to a simmer over medium-high, then reduce to low, cover and cook until the thickest part of the meat registers 160°F, about 20 minutes. Let the chicken cool in the liquid until just warm to the touch, then finely chop the meat.

Of course poaching your own chicken will add time to the process. Speaking of which, Milk Street noted the entire start to finish was supposed to be 45 minutes. No way, José. It took us at least twice that amount of time! There is a lot of prep work which took a good thirty minutes in itself. Oh, but they were so worth it!

Tortilla Tip: Don’t skip the step of brushing the tortillas with oil and briefly warming them in the oven. If the tortillas are filled and rolled straight from the package, they will crack and tear. But take care not to overheat them, which will dry them out and make them too brittle to roll.

Green Enchiladas with Chicken and Cheese (Enchiladas Verdes)

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

  • 3 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • 3 medium poblano chilies (about 12 oz.), stemmed, seeded and chopped
  • 1 lb. tomatillos, husked, cored and chopped
  • 1 medium white onion, chopped
  • 6 medium garlic cloves, peeled
  • 1 Tbsp. ground cumin
  • ½ cup low-sodium chicken broth or water
  • 1 cup lightly packed cilantro leaves and stems
  • Kosher salt and ground black pepper
  • 2 cups finely chopped cooked chicken
  • 8 oz. whole-milk mozzarella cheese, shredded
  • 2 Tbsp. hot sauce (see note)
  • 8 6-in. corn tortillas
  • 4 oz. shredded Mexican cheese fr topping (optional)
  • Lime wedges, to serve

Directions

  1. Heat the oven to 475°F with a rack in the middle position.
  2. In a large pot over medium-high, combine 1 tablespoon of the oil, the poblanos, tomatillos, onion and garlic. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are well-browned and beginning to soften, 5 to 8 minutes.
  3. Stir in the cumin and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the broth and cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables have softened, about 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and let cool for 5 minutes.
  4. Transfer the mixture to a food processor and process until smooth, about 1 minute. Add the cilantro and continue to process until smooth, about 1 minute. Taste and season with salt and pepper. Spread 1 cup of the sauce in the bottom of a 13-by-9-inch baking dish; set aside.
  5. In a medium bowl, toss together the chicken, cheese, hot sauce, 1½ teaspoons salt and 1 teaspoon pepper; set aside.
  6. Brush both sides of the tortillas with the remaining 2 tablespoons oil, then arrange them on a rimmed baking sheet (its fine to overlap them slightly). Cover tightly with foil and warm in the oven just until soft and pliable, about 3 minutes.
  7. Uncover the tortillas; reserve the foil. Lay the tortillas out on a large cutting board or clean counter. Divide the chicken mixture evenly among the tortillas (about 3 heaping tablespoons each), arranging and pressing the filling in a line along the bottom edge of each tortilla.
  8. Working one at a time, roll up the tortillas to enclose the filling and place seam side down in a tight row down the center of the prepared baking dish. Spoon ½ cup of the sauce over the enchiladas. Cover tightly with the reserved foil and bake until the cheese begins to melt out of the ends, about 15 minutes.
  9. Uncover and spread ½ cup of the remaining sauce over the enchiladas and top with the shredded Mexican cheese. Return to the oven for 5 minutes uncovered.
  10. Serve with lime wedges and the remaining sauce.

http://www.lynnandruss.com

Adapted from a recipe for Milk Street

Tres Leche Cake Adventure

It was son David’s 29th birthday and he requested a Tres Leche Cake as his dessert choice. Well, neither of us had ever made one, but you know how we enjoy a culinary challenge—and boy, were we thrown a curve ball or two…

Since there were going to be only four of us for dinner (and one of us doesn’t eat dessert), the ability to easily halve the ingredients was a game changer—after all, the full recipe feeds up to 16!

So the half-cake batter was made exactly as noted in the directions and put in the preheated oven. After 25 minutes, it was no where near done. At 30 minutes, the center was still jiggly and The Hubs used a toothpick to test for doneness—still too wet. We added another 10 minutes which rendered the cake a light golden color, but also caused the middle to sink 😦

Several other reviewers mentioned that when they made the half version, they also experienced sunken centers. We think perhaps poking it for doneness caused it to deflate, maybe? The Hubs first inclination was to deep-six it and start over but that would have meant a trip to the grocery store for more ingredients. So after some quick rethinking, we decided to move forward.

The milk amounts were cut in half too, and most of the combination was poured over the cooled “forked” cake. Because of the inward slope, the liquid was drizzled around the top edges and the pan was tipped and turned to try and keep as much of the moisture near the top instead of all gathering in the sunken center. We used the majority of the milk mixture to fully saturate the cake, tossing the remainder. Into the fridge it went for a good nights rest.

The whipped topping would not suffice if we made only half of the amount because of that sunken middle, thus the decision to make the entire amount. Fiasco number two. The cream never got stiff, in fact, after switching from a hand held mixer to the mighty Kitchen Aid with whipping attachment, it only got more watery, so down the drain it went, and to the grocery store The Mister went.

Our next topping attempt was going to be an altogether different recipe found in Fine Cooking, which sounded like the perfect antidote. But of course, when The Hubs got to the store (the only one that happened to be open on Easter Sunday), they were completely out of heavy cream! Defeated, he just grabbed a can of ready whip and called it a day…

David commented that “It’s best to preface this blog by mentioning that Tres Leche is not a presentation-worthy cake, but it is a delicious one, with originality and authenticity.” (Maybe if you discount that canned whipped topping.) The Hubs said “I always used to have a glass of milk with cake. This was like pouring the milk on the cake and then eating it.” And girlfriend Vikki noted “It’s like cotton candy melting in your mouth—a little more cakey, but it’s better that way.”

No lying, the cake would not have won any medals in a bake-off, but all those that ate it, loved the taste. I’ve learned in life you can’t always have a win-win, but you can learn from mishaps and move on. The Hubs is determined to make it again—next time around with a few changes.

Notes: This recipe can be halved. If doing so, bake the cake in an ungreased 8- by 8-inch baking dish and reduce baking time to 25 to 30 minutes. (Although in our case, it took 40 minutes!) Be sure to thoroughly chill the cake prior to serving. You could even pop it in the freezer for 20 to 30 minutes right beforehand.

Tres Leche Cake

  • Servings: 12-16
  • Difficulty: moderate
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Ingredients (whole cake)

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 4 tsp. baking powder
  • 6 large eggs, separated
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 2 (12-oz.) cans evaporated milk
  • 2 (14-oz.) cans sweetened condensed milk
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream

For the topping:

  • 2-1/2 cups heavy cream
  • 2 Tbs. confectioners’ sugar
  • 1/2 tsp. pure vanilla extract

Directions

  1. Adjust oven rack to middle position and preheat oven to 325°F.
  2. Combine flour and baking powder in small bowl; set aside.
  3. In bowl of stand mixer, beat egg whites and salt with whisk attachment on medium-low speed until whites begin to froth, about 1 minute. Increase speed to medium-high and beat whites until soft peaks form, 1 to 2 minutes. Slowly add the sugar and continue beating until stiff peaks form, 2 to 3 minutes. The mixture may look a bit thick.
  4. Add egg yolks and beat just until combined. Decrease speed to low and add flour in three additions, alternating with the milk, scraping sides and bottom of bowl as necessary. Add vanilla and beat just until combined.
  5. Scrape batter into an ungreased 13- by 9-inch baking dish (or 8- by 8-inch for a half cake). Bake until cake tester inserted in center comes out clean, 30 to 35 minutes. Transfer cake to cooling rack and cool completely in pan, 60 to 90 minutes.
  6. Once cooled, poke cake all over with fork. Combine evaporated milk, sweetened condensed milk, and 1 1/2 cups heavy cream in large bowl. Pour mixture evenly all over cake. While cake soaks, make whipped cream.
  7. In a large bowl, beat the heavy cream with an electric mixer on medium speed. When it begins to thicken, slowly add the sugar and vanilla and continue to beat just until it holds firm peaks, 3 to 4 minutes (be careful not to overbeat).
  8. Spread whipped cream over cake and refrigerate until thoroughly chilled, at least 2 hours. Serve.

http://www.lynnandruss.com

Recipe is a mash-up between one from María Del Mar Cuadra (cake) and Fany Gerson (whipped topping)

Pasta Alla Genovese

Pasta without tomato sauce or garlic?? According to Milk Street where we found this dish, they say don’t be fooled by the name. Ironically, it is not pasta with Genovese basil pesto, nor is it from Genoa. Rather, the sauce is an onion-based ragù and a classic in the Neapolitan culinary repertoire.

Some versions of pasta alla genovese are meat-free, others include a small amount of beef or veal as a flavoring, but never as a key ingredient. Taking a cue from A Cucina Ra Casa Mia in Naples, this recipe uses boneless beef short ribs. The beef is combined, cut into chunks, with carrots, celery and a mountain of onions in a Dutch oven. The pot goes into the oven, where the heat is slow and steady, until the meat is rendered tender enough to fall apart when prodded with a fork.

TIPS: Slicing 3 pounds of onions by hand is a good opportunity to hone your knife skills, but if you prefer, they can be sliced on a mandoline. The ragù can be made up to three days ahead, then reheated gently before tossing with just-cooked pasta.

Don’t be concerned that there’s so little liquid in the pot after adding the onions and beef. Warmed by the oven heat, the vegetables and meat will release moisture that becomes the braising liquid in the covered pot. But for the second half of cooking, please don’t forget to uncover the pot. This allows some of that liquid to evaporate for a richer, more concentrated flavor and consistency.

Pasta Alla Genovese

  • Servings: 6-8
  • Difficulty: moderate
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Ingredients

  • 2 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil, plus more to serve
  • 4 oz. pancetta, chopped
  • 2 medium carrots, peeled and finely chopped
  • 2 medium celery stalks, chopped
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • 3 lbs. yellow onions, halved and sliced
  • 1½ lbs. boneless beef short ribs, trimmed and cut into 2-inch chunks
  • ¾ tsp. red pepper flakes
  • 2-inch piece Parmesan rind, plus 2 oz. Parmesan cheese, finely grated (1 cup)
  • Kosher salt and ground black pepper
  • 1 lb. pasta such as rigatoni or penne rigati
  • ½ cup finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

Directions

  1. Heat the oven to 325°F with the rack in the lower-middle position. In a large Dutch oven over medium, heat the oil until shimmering. Add the pancetta and cook, stirring occasionally, until lightly browned, about 3 minutes.
  2. Add the carrots and celery, then cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables begin to soften, 3 to 5 minutes.
  3. Add the wine and cook, scraping up any browned bits, until reduced by about half, about 3 minutes.
  4. Add the onions, beef, pepper flakes, Parmesan rind, ½ teaspoon salt and 1 teaspoon black pepper, then stir to combine. Cover, transfer to the oven and cook for 1½ hours.
  5. Remove the pot from the oven and stir. Return to the oven, uncovered, and cook until stewy and the meat falls apart when pressed with a fork, about another 1½ hours. Tilt the pot to pool the cooking liquid to one side, then use a wide spoon to skim off and discard as much fat as possible. Remove and discard the Parmesan rind. Cover and set aside while you cook the pasta.
  6. In a large pot, bring 4 quarts water to a boil. Stir in the pasta and 1 tablespoon salt, then cook, stirring occasionally, until al dente. Reserve about 1 cup of the cooking water, then drain the pasta.
  7. Add the pasta to the Dutch oven and toss to combine with the sauce, adding about ½ cup of reserved pasta water. Add the parsley and half the grated Parmesan, then toss again; add more reserved water as needed so the sauce coats the pasta. Taste and season with salt and black pepper. Serve with the remaining Parmesan.

http://www.lynnandruss.com

Recipe by  Rose Hattabaugh for Milk Street

Za’atar Chicken and Lentils

This classic Middle Eastern za’atar recipe is a one pot meal. But what exactly is za’atar seasoning?  And what goes in it? Well, the word za’atar (pronounced “zah-tahr”) literally translates to mean “wild thyme” in Arabic. But it’s better known as a seasoning blend, whose ingredients vary slightly from country to country across the Middle East.

Most home chefs won’t necessarily have za’atar seasoning on hand, nor did we, so The Hubs found a version on “Gimme Some Oven” website—now isn’t that a clever name! The three main ingredients are thyme, sesame seeds and sumac. It’s very versatile and can be used on anything from meat, fish, veggies, dips, salads, soups or even popcorn!

What’s nice about this dish if you have diners in your household who have different preferences regarding both white and dark meat, like us, it’s interchangeable. Even though the original recipe calls for only dark meat, we used a combination of 4 thighs, and 2 breast halves that were chopped into two pieces each (producing 8 pieces total, 2 more than the recipe calls for).

We only used 2 tablespoons of the za’atar seasoning to sprinkle on the chicken, which was more than plenty. The remaining one tablespoon was added to the pot after the onion and carrots were cooked down.

A little trick we learned when braising both white and dark meat, is to set the white meat on top of the thighs for a majority of the cooking time. This helps ensure the breast pieces will not overdone and rubbery. Then nestle them into the liquid for the last 15 minutes or so.

Za’atar Chicken and Lentils

  • Servings: 6
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

  • 6 bone-in, skin-on chicken pieces, thighs and/or breasts, excess fat trimmed
  • 3 Tbsp. za’atar (see recipe below)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 cup coarsely chopped onion
  • 1 cup bite-size pieces carrot
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 ½ cups reduced-sodium chicken broth 
  • 1 cup French green lentils
  • 2 Tbsp. tomato paste
  • 1 cup pitted green olives, such as Castelvetrano, whole or halved
  • Lemon zest
  • Fresh thyme sprigs

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 325°F. Season chicken with za’atar. In a deep oven-going skillet or 5-quart Dutch oven heat oil over medium-high. Add chicken; cook 3 to 4 minutes on each side or until brown. Transfer to a plate. Don’t crowd the pot, you may have to do this in two batches.
  2. Reduce heat to medium. Add onion and carrots to pot. Cook 4 to 5 minutes or until lightly browned. Stir in garlic; cook 1 minute.
  3. Stir in broth, lentils, and tomato paste. Return chicken and juices to pot. Bring to a simmer. Cover; braise in oven 45 to 55 minutes or until chicken is fork-tender (at least 175°F).
  4. Transfer chicken to a platter; keep warm. Strain remaining mixture, reserving liquid.
  5. Add lentils and vegetables to chicken on platter; cover.
  6. Return liquid to pot. Boil over medium-high 10 to15 minutes or until reduced by half. Pour liquid over chicken and lentils.
  7. Top with olives, lemon zest, and thyme.

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Source: Better Homes & Gardens

Za’atar Seasoning

Za’atar Seasoning

  • Servings: Yields 5 Tbsp.
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

  • 1 Tbsp. ground cumin
  • 1 Tbsp. ground* dried thyme
  • 1 Tbsp. sumac
  • 1 Tbsp. toasted sesame seeds
  • 2 tsp. dried marjoram
  • 1 tsp. fine Kosher salt
  • 1 tsp. freshly-ground black pepper

Directions

  1. Combine all ingredients in a small bowl and stir until combined.
  2. Use immediately, or store in a sealed container for up to 3 months.

*If using traditional dried thyme (that is not ground), add in an extra 2 teaspoons dried thyme.

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Braised Sweet Potatoes with Orange and Olives (and Pork Tenderloin)

Here, we first decided on our side of Braised Sweet Potatoes with Orange and Olives before we committed to the main course of Sear-Roasted Pork Tenderloin with Rosemary, Coriander and Mustard. Nothing boring about our penchant for Mediterranean cuisines where the flavors are big and brash, heavy on citrus, spices and bold ingredients used with abandon.

The vegetarian sweet potatoes dish was in a recent copy of Milk Street magazine who noted it originally came from German food blogger Meike Peters. So the challenge was to find a main course that would stand up to the bold flavors. In Molly Stevens’ “All About Roasting” cookbook she wrote an article on basic sear-roasted pork tenderloin that lists four different flavor options.

Our first choice, orange- and thyme-rubbed, would have been a perfect “plate-mate,” however the pork had to be seasoned for 4-24 hours ahead of time, a luxury we didn’t have. So choice number two was seasoned with rosemary, mustard and coriander—a spice also in the potato recipe. This mustard-based paste turned the simple pork tenderloin into something fragrant and special with little effort.

Now about that side dish. First, cook the potatoes with a small amount of orange juice and water until tender, then stir in candied citrus zest and chopped black olives, which provide depth and pops of briny flavor. This recipe resonated not only for its bold flavors, but also for its use of a low-liquid braise, a technique that concentrates flavor. 

In Milk Street’s version, you’ll get plenty of citrus notes from the coriander and juice, and this keeps the recipe a one-pot preparation, woohoo! Then the onions are browned more for a slightly deeper flavor and cayenne pepper adds an extra bit of savoriness.

BUT, and it’s a big one, we instinctively knew that there was no way those potato chunks would be tender in 8-11 minutes. And they were not. Plan on adding another 10 minutes to this step.

TIP: Don’t use a narrow saucepan or pot for this recipe. The wider diameter of a Dutch oven allows the potatoes to be distributed in a thinner layer, which results in more even cooking.

Braised Sweet Potatoes with Orange and Olives

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

  • 3 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 tsp. coriander seeds, lightly crushed
  • 1 medium red onion, halved and thinly sliced
  • Kosher salt and ground black pepper
  • 2 lbs. orange-flesh sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch chunks
  • ⅔ cup orange juice
  • ¼ tsp. cayenne pepper
  • ½ cup black or green pitted olives, or a mixture, chopped

Directions

  1. In a Dutch oven over medium-high, cook the oil and coriander seeds, stirring, until fragrant and sizzling, 2 to 4 minutes.
  2. Add the onion and ¼ teaspoon salt, then cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion is softened and lightly browned, 3 to 5 minutes.
  3. Add the sweet potatoes, orange juice, cayenne, ½ teaspoon salt, ¼ teaspoon pepper and ½ cup water. Bring to a simmer, cover and reduce to medium. Cook, stirring occasionally, until a skewer inserted into the potatoes meets no resistance, 8 to 11 minutes. (It took ours 20 minutes until tender.)
  4. Uncover and cook, stirring constantly, until the liquid has almost fully reduced and the potatoes are glazed, about 2 minutes.
  5. Off heat, stir in the olives. Taste and season with salt and pepper.

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The inspiration comes from a recipe in “365,” a cookbook by German food blogger Meike Peters; reimagined by Courtney Hill for Milk Street

Sautéed Snapper with Green Beans and Tomatoes

Sometimes there is nothing more satisfying than a meal that is not only good for you, but is art to the eyes and music to the taste buds—plus, comes together quickly with a short list of ingredients. Here, Milk Street riffs on Laura Calder’s recipe for a simple yet elegant one-skillet, six-ingredient (not counting the salt and pepper) sautéed fish supper from “French Food at Home.”

This version yields a slightly more substantial vegetable accompaniment to serve with the fillets but is equally easy to prepare. Green beans are used, but if you prefer, use pencil-thin asparagus instead. However, Milk Street notes it serves four, and while we halved the amount of snapper for the two of us, the full amount of green beans and tomatoes was kept intact, yet we consumed all of them between the two of us. If serving a starch such as rice or potatoes, it probably won’t be much of an issue.

Red snapper is a mild, firm-textured white fish that holds up nicely to sautéing. Flounder is a good alternative, as it typically is of the same thickness as snapper. Halibut works nicely, too, but the fillets are thicker (and more expensive!) and therefore require a few more minutes in the pan. One misstep on our end was forgetting to remove the fish skin which caused the fillets to curl in the pan.

Tip: Don’t fuss with the fish once it’s in the skillet. Allowing the fillets to cook undisturbed for a few minutes gives them a chance to develop a well-browned crust. To flip each one, slide a metal spatula underneath and, as you turn it, support the fillet your free hand. Gentle handling helps prevent the flaky flesh from breaking.

Sautéed Snapper with Green Beans and Tomatoes

  • Servings: 2-4
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

  • 4 6-oz. skinless red snapper fillets (½ to 1 inch thick)
  • Kosher salt and ground black pepper
  • 2 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • 8 oz. green beans, trimmed and halved
  • 1 pint cherry or grape tomatoes
  • 2 Tbsp. salted butter, cut into 2 pieces
  • 2 Tbsp. white balsamic vinegar

Directions

  1. Season the fish on both sides with salt and pepper. In a 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium-high, heat 1 tablespoon of oil until shimmering. Add the beans and cook, stirring only once or twice, until spottily browned, 3 to 4 minutes. Add the tomatoes and ½ teaspoon each salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the tomatoes begin to char and burst and the beans are tender-crisp, 3 to 5 minutes. Transfer the vegetables to a serving platter.
  2. In the same skillet over medium-high, heat the remaining 1 tablespoon oil until shimmering. Add the fillets skinned side up and cook, undisturbed, until golden brown, 2 to 3 minutes. Using a wide metal spatula, flip each fillet, then add the butter while swirling the pan. Cook over medium-high, occasionally basting the fish with the fat, until the fillets are opaque throughout, about another 3 minutes. Using the spatula, place the fillets on top of the vegetables.
  3. Set the skillet over medium, add the vinegar and cook, stirring to combine with the fat, just until heated through, 30 to 60 seconds. Pour the mixture over the fish.

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Adapted the recipe by Courtney Hill for Milk Street

Russ’ Rustic Ham & Navy Bean Soup

Super flavorful and hearty, you’ll be wanting more of this soup after just one spoonful. The key to its success is homemade ham broth, not something most home cooks have readily available, but Russ gives you step-by-step directions below. That being said, the ham broth is essential. If you don’t have any, it becomes an altogether different soup, both in taste and process.

It is a huge time commitment, so pick a day where you have a large chunk of it to work with. And if you also need to make ham stock, do that a day or two (or week) ahead of time.

Whole-grain cracker strips made a nice rustic accompaniment.

This is a good recipe to use after a large ham dinner such as at Easter, or some other family gathering or pot luck party.

Russ' Rustic Ham & Navy Bean Soup

  • Servings: 6-8
  • Difficulty: moderate
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Ingredients

  • 1 lb. dried navy beans, soaked in 4 quarts of water with 3 tablespoons of salt for 8-24 hours
  • 4 thick slices bacon, diced
  • 2 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 ham bone
  • 2 1/2 -3 cups ham, shredded or diced
  • 2 medium onions, peeled and diced
  • 2 large carrots, peeled and diced
  • 3 celery stalks, chopped
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 3-4 fresh thyme sprigs
  • 8 cups ham broth (see recipe below)
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/4 tsp. pimentón dulce (smoked paprika)
  • 1/4 cup fresh parsley, finely chopped

Directions

  1. Rinse beans under cool water and remove any small stones or debris. Add 4 quarts water and 3 tablespoons of salt to a large pot and stir until salt is dissolved. Add the rinsed beans and soak at least and up to 24 hours.
  2. Heat oil in a large soup pot over medium heat. When oil begins to shimmer, add the diced bacon, and cook until bacon has released its fat and is fully cooked. Remove with a slotted spoon and set aside.
  3. Add the onions, carrots, celery, and sprinkle with a large pinch of salt. Sauté the vegetables until the onions begin to soften. Drain and rinse the soaked beans and add to the pot, then add the bay leaf, ham bone, and ham broth*. Turn heat to high and bring mixture to a simmer (be careful not to boil it to avoid bursting the beans), then lower heat to a gentle simmer. Cover the pot and cook until the beans are tender, about 1 ½ to 2 hours. 
  4. Once beans are tender, stir in the ham and cooked bacon and continue to simmer for another 5 to 7 minutes. Remove the bay leaf and thyme branches. Add salt and pepper to taste, then add the pimentón and parsley.  Serve.

*Note:  If you don’t have pre-made ham stock, you can make your own easily following the instructions below. 

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Ham Stock

Ham Stock

Ingredients

  • 2 lbs. smoked ham hocks or smoked pork necks or a mix, lightly rinsed and drained
  • 2 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 large onion, roughly chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, smashed (no need to peel it)
  • 1 large stalk celery with leaves, roughly chopped
  • 1 large carrot, scrubbed and roughly chopped
  • ½ cup dry white wine
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 4 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 4 sprigs fresh parsley
  • 1 Tbsp. whole peppercorns
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 4 quarts water

Directions

  1. Heat the oil in a large soup or stock pot over medium-high.  Add the onion, garlic, celery, and carrot and sauté them until they are caramelized.  Add the wine, scraping up any browned bits in the bottom of the pot, and boil until the wine is reduced by half.
  2. Add the ham hocks and/or smoked pork necks and the remaining ingredients, including the water, and bring the pot to a simmer over high heat.  Immediately lower the heat to medium-low or low and continue to simmer the stock, uncovered, until it reduces by a half, skimming any foam or scum that rises to the surface (about 2–4 hours). Do not stir the stock while it simmers.
  3. Strain the stock through a colander into another large pot or container.  When the solids have cooled enough to handle, you can pick the meat off the shank and/or neck bones and reserve for the soup.  At this point, you can proceed with the Ham and Bean Soup recipe above.

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A South Asian Curry

Ginger-Cumin Beef Curry — Bhuna is a type of South Asian curry that’s especially intense and flavorful because the aromatics and a generous amount of spices are fried in oil and only a little liquid is added to simmer the meat. This version we found in a recent issue of Milk Street.

Over the course of cooking, the liquid is allowed to reduce, resulting in deep, bold, concentrated flavors and a thick, rich sauce. According to some sources, the term bhuna refers to the cooking technique employed to make the dish. The Instant Pot is well-suited to making bhuna-style beef curry: the pressure cooker function cooks the meat without any added liquid at all and the slow cooker function simmers it gently and steadily with only a small amount of added moisture.

If you prefer more vegetables, you could incorporate carrots and/or broccoli. We simply paired ours with a side salad. Serve the curry garnished with thinly sliced red onion and with basmati rice on the side.

Don’t forget to add ⅓ cup water if slow-cooking. The liquid, added just before the pot is sealed, helps the beef mixture come to temperature more quickly, for a slightly shorter overall cooking time. The water is not needed if using the pressure-cooker function.

Ginger-Cumin Beef Curry

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

  • 3 Tbsp. ghee or neutral oil
  • 2 medium yellow onions, finely chopped
  • 2 Tbsp. finely grated fresh ginger
  • 4 medium garlic cloves, finely grated
  • 1 tsp. ground cardamom
  • 1 tsp. cumin seeds
  • 1 tsp. coriander seeds
  • ½ tsp. ground cloves
  • ½ tsp. whole black peppercorns
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 medium ripe tomatoes, cored and chopped
  • 2 serrano chilies, stemmed and sliced into thin rings
  • Kosher salt and ground black pepper
  • 2½-3 lbs. boneless beef chuck roast, trimmed of fat and cut into 1½- to 2-inch chunks
  • 1/3 cup water (unless using a stove-top pressure cooker)
  • 2 Tbsp. lime juice
  • ½ cup lightly packed fresh cilantro, chopped

Directions

  1. On a 6-quart Instant Pot, select More/High Sauté. Heat the ghee until shimmering, then add the onions. Cook, stirring occasionally, until softened and browned, 10 to 12 minutes.
  2. Add the ginger, garlic, cardamon, cumin, coriander, cloves, peppercorns and bay, then cook, stirring, until fragrant, 1 to 2 minutes.
  3. Add the tomatoes, chilies and ½ teaspoon each salt and pepper. Cook, scraping up any browned bits, until the tomatoes begin to release their liquid, 2 to 3 minutes. Add the beef and distribute in an even layer.
  4. 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 40 minutes. When pressure cooking is complete, let the pressure reduce naturally for 15 minutes, then release any remaining steam by moving the pressure valve to Venting. Press Cancel, then carefully open the pot.
  5. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the solids to a medium bowl. Remove and discard the bay. Using a large spoon, skim off and discard the fat from the surface of the cooking liquid (or use a fat separator).
  6. Select More/High Sauté, bring the liquid to a simmer and cook, stirring occasionally, until thickened and reduced to about 1 cup, 15 to 20 minutes. Return the meat to the pot and cook, stirring occasionally, until heated through, 2 to 3 minutes. Press Cancel.
  7. Stir in the lime juice, then taste and season with salt and pepper. Serve sprinkled with cilantro.

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Recipe from Milk Street

Jerusalem-Style “Mixed-Grill” Chicken

Milk Street, where this recipe hails from, explains that Jerusalem mixed grill is a popular Israeli street food, one that is said to originate in Jerusalem’s Mahane Yehuda market. The term “mixed” refers to the sundry ingredients that go into the dish—chicken meat, hearts, spleen and liver, along with bits of lamb, plus onions and spices. Now don’t get all squeamish over the innards because…

…To re-create a simplified mixed grill at home, Milk Street (MS) borrowed from chef Daniel Alt’s version at The Barbary and Omri Mcnabb’s take on it at The Palomar, two London restaurants that serve up modern Levantine and Middle Eastern cuisine. MS then limited the meat to boneless, skinless chicken thighs and seasoned them assertively with select spices. You can now let out a collective sigh.

In place of a grill, a nonstick skillet on the stovetop is used. Amba, a pickled mango condiment, is commonly served with mixed grill to offset the richness of the meat. Here however, quick-pickle sliced red onion offers a similar acidity and brightness. Nutty, creamy tahini sauce is non-negotiable, and a necessary requirement for the full experience. Serve the chicken with warmed pita.

Be mindful NOT to stir the chicken-onion mixture too often while cooking; doing so disrupts browning. Intermittent stirring—no more than every 2 to 3 minutes—allows the chicken to develop nice, deep, flavor-building char.

Jerusalem-Style Mixed-Grill Chicken

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

  • ¼ cup white vinegar
  • ½ tsp. white sugar
  • Kosher salt and ground black pepper
  • 1 large red onion, halved and thinly sliced
  • ⅓ cup tahini
  • 4 Tbsp. lemon juice, divided
  • 3 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • 1½ tsp. ground coriander
  • 1 tsp. ground allspice
  • 1 tsp. ground turmeric
  • ¾ tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 2 lbs. boneless, skinless chicken thighs, trimmed and cut into 1½-inch chunks
  • Multi-grain pita pickets, warmed in oven wrapped in tinfoil, (optional)

Directions

  1. In a small bowl, stir together the vinegar, sugar and ¼ teaspoon salt until the sugar and salt dissolve. Stir in 1 cup of sliced onion; set aside. In another small bowl, mix together the tahini and 2 tablespoons of lemon juice, then whisk in 6 tablespoons water. Season to taste with salt and pepper; set aside.
  2. In a medium bowl, stir together 2 tablespoons of oil, the coriander, allspice, turmeric, cinnamon and ½ teaspoon each salt and pepper. Add the chicken and the remaining sliced onion, then stir until evenly coated.
  3. In a 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium-high, heat the remaining 1 tablespoon oil until barely smoking. Add the chicken mixture in an even layer and cook, uncovered and stirring only every 2 to 3 minutes, until the chicken is well browned all over and no longer is pink when cut into, 10 to 12 minutes.
  4. Off heat, stir in the remaining 2 tablespoons lemon juice, then taste and season with salt and pepper. Transfer to a serving dish, drizzle lightly with some of the tahini sauce and top with the pickled onion. Serve the remaining tahini sauce on the side.
Yes, these are something to write home about!

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Recipe adapted from 177 Milk Street

Scallop Nirvana!

At nearly $30 per pound for sea scallops, you want to ensure that the end result is going to be worth your hard-earned dollars. On top of being quick-cooking and easy, there’s little more than a handful of ingredients. Plus, you’ll enjoy a crisp sear on the outside and tender, juicy insides with this Lemon Scallops recipe. And trust us, you’ll be wanting for more—we bought one pound and ate them all!

Make sure to cook in at least two batches so that you don’t crowd the pan and risk not getting that golden crisp sear on the exteriors. The recipe indicates this should take about 2 minutes per side, but in our case it was closer to 1 1/2 minutes per side. For the smoothest, velvety sauce, strain it through a fine-mesh sieve to eliminate blackened bits and/or garlic chunks before adding the butter.

Paired with a Citrus Couscous Salad, it was a perfect dinner to kick off the Spring season. We both agreed, they were among the BEST scallops we’ve ever eaten—even taking into account upscale seafood restaurants!

Lemon Scallops

  • Servings: 2-4
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

  • 1 – 1.5 lbs. sea scallops
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 Tbsp. vegetable oil
  • ½ cup dry white wine
  • ¼ cup chicken broth
  • 3 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 Tbsp. butter 
  • Chopped fresh mint

Directions

  1. Pat scallops dry. Season generously with salt and pepper. Place on a plate. Chill, uncovered, for 2 hours. Remove and let stand 30 minutes.
  2. Heat a heavy 12-inch skillet over medium-high heat. To check when hot enough, add a large drop of water (1/8 teaspoon) to the skillet. When it rolls around the pan like a bead of mercury, it is ready. This will take 2 to 3 minutes.
  3. Remove skillet from heat; add oil. Swirl to coat bottom of skillet. Return to medium-high heat. Add scallops, half at a time (don’t crowd the pan). Cook for 2 minutes or until a crust forms (be patient; the scallops will release when they’re ready to be turned). Turn and cook for 2 minutes more or until scallops are crusted on the second side and turn opaque.
  4. Remove scallops from skillet to a plate; cover loosely. Remove skillet from heat. Carefully add wine, broth, lemon juice, and garlic (mixture will spatter). Return to heat. Bring to boiling, stirring to scrape up browned bits. Boil gently, uncovered, 5 minutes or until reduced by about half. Remove from heat.
  5. Strain over a fine mesh sieve to remove any blackened bits and garlic chunks, then whisk in the butter for a velvety sauce.
  6. Spoon sauce over scallops to serve. Sprinkle with mint.

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Adapted from a recipe by Colleen Weeden for Better Homes & Gardens

Citrus Couscous Salad

The temps are warming here in southeastern PA, which starts our craving for brighter tasting food. This Citrus Couscous Salad recipe was spotted in Fine Cooking Magazine, but originated in Better Homes & Gardens from what I can surmise. Doesn’t really matter, we made numerous changes to make it our own.

Orange zest, juice, and segments brighten up this fresh take on a “pasta” salad recipe. Despite popular belief that couscous is a type of whole grain (it does have a rice-like appearance), it is actually a pasta made of semolina and wheat flour that is moistened and tossed together until it forms little balls. (Sorry keto-friendly dieters.)

Not only does couscous cook quickly—a plus for most home cooks—it is an excellent main or side dish that pleases almost anyone’s palate. While the original recipe used 6 oranges, and fed as many, the ingredients list here was halved for the most part. Although, the thyme and olive quantities remain the same, pine nuts were swapped out for the hazelnuts.

Because it can sit at room temperature, it would be a great asset at any pot luck or picnic.

Citrus Couscous Salad

  • Servings: 3-4
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

  • 3 large Cara Cara, navel, or other oranges
  • 3 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil 
  • 1⁄2 cup Israeli couscous
  • 3⁄4 cup chicken broth or vegetable broth
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 Tbsp. chopped fresh thyme
  • 1⁄2 cup very thinly sliced red onion
  • 2 Tbsp. pinenuts, toasted
  • ¼ cup coarsely chopped, pitted Castelvetrano olives or Manzanilla olives
  • 1 Tbsp. red wine vinegar
  • ¼ tsp. coarse salt
  • ⅛ tsp. freshly cracked black pepper
  • Crushed red pepper (optional)

Directions

  1. Using a vegetable peeler remove strips of zest from one orange, being careful not to remove the white pith; set aside.
  2. In a medium saucepan with a tight lid heat 1 tablespoon olive oil over medium heat. Add couscous; cook 2 minutes or until lightly toasted, stirring often. Add two orange strips, broth, and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Bring to boiling over medium-high heat; reduce heat. Cover; cook 12 to 15 minutes or until couscous is tender and all liquid is absorbed. Let cool; discard strips.
  3. Meanwhile, using a paring knife, remove peel and pith from the other two oranges. Working over a small bowl to catch juices, cut out each segment from membranes. (Or slice into wheels.)
  4. For citrus oil: Chop enough of the remaining orange strips to get 1 tablespoon In a 10-inch skillet combine chopped strips, remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil, the garlic, and thyme. Heat over low heat 5 minutes or until warm; set aside.
  5. To serve, on a platter combine orange segments and juices, couscous, red onion, pinenuts and olives. Drizzle with red wine vinegar. Spoon citrus oil over top. Sprinkle with salt and black pepper, and, if desired, crushed red pepper.

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Adapted from a recipe by Better Homes and Gardens

Lush, Velvety Risotto

Lemon and Shrimp Risotto with Fresh Basil is a lovely dish that becomes even more flavorful if you use your own homemade shellfish stock. Don’t fret however if you don’t have any, you can always create a flavorful broth for simmering the risotto by steeping the shrimp shells and strips of lemon zest in water, as suggested in the directions below.

Another option, bring two 8-ounce bottles clam juice, 3 cups water, ½ teaspoon salt and the zest strips to a simmer in the saucepan and cook, covered, for 10 minutes to infuse, then strain as directed.

Milk Street’s version of the Italian risotto di limone is finished with an egg yolk and cream that enrich a lush, velvety risotto brightened with lemon zest and juice. For citrus notes that register at every level, stir in bright, puckery lemon juice and floral, fragrant grated zest just before serving.

Our notes: We increased the amount of shrimp from 12 ounces to 1 pound, and used a large yellow onion instead of a small one. It’s up to you how much shrimp and the size of the onion to incorporate. You might even consider using only 4 cups of liquid as opposed to 5, because it was still a bit too soupy for our liking — although the next day, the leftovers had thickened.

Don’t uncover the pot for at least 5 minutes after adding the shrimp. Lifting the lid releases some of the residual heat that’s needed to cook the shrimp.

Lemon and Shrimp Risotto with Fresh Basil

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Ingredients

  • 2 lemons
  • 2 tsp. plus 2 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil, divided, plus more to serve
  • 1 lb. extra-large shrimp, peeled (shells reserved), deveined and patted dry
  • Kosher salt
  • 1 yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 1 cup Arborio rice
  • ½ cup dry white wine
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 2 Tbsp. heavy cream
  • ½ cup loosely packed fresh basil, roughly chopped

Directions

  1. Using a vegetable peeler, remove the zest from 1 of the lemons in long, wide strips; try to remove only the colored portion of the peel, not the bitter white pith just underneath. Using a rasp-style grater, grate the zest from the remaining lemon; set aside separately. Halve the lemons and squeeze ¼ cup juice; set the juice aside.
  2. In a medium saucepan over medium, heat 2 teaspoons oil until shimmering. Add the shrimp shells and cook, stirring constantly, until pink, 1 to 2 minutes. (If you are using your own homemade shellfish stock, you can omit this step.)
  3. Add 5 cups water (or your own shellfish stock), the zest strips and 1 teaspoon salt, then bring to a simmer. Cover, reduce to low and cook for 10 minutes.
  4. Pour the broth through a strainer set over a medium bowl; rinse out the pan. Press on the solids to extract as much liquid as possible, then discard. Return the broth to the pan, cover and set over low to keep warm.
  5. In a large Dutch oven over medium-high, heat 1 tablespoon of oil until shimmering. Add the onion and ½ teaspoon salt, then cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, 6 to 7 minutes.
  6. Add the rice and cook, stirring, until the grains are translucent at the edges, 1 to 2 minutes.
  7. Add the wine and cook, stirring occasionally, until the pan is almost dry, about 3 minutes.
  8. Add 3 cups of the hot broth and cook, stirring often and briskly, until a spoon drawn through the mixture leaves a trail, 10 to 12 minutes.
  9. Add the remaining broth and cook, stirring, until the rice is tender, 8 to 10 minutes. Remove the pot from the heat and stir in the shrimp. Cover and let stand until the shrimp are opaque throughout, 5 to 7 minutes.
  10. Stir in the remaining 1 tablespoon oil, the lemon juice, egg yolk, cream, basil, and the grated zest. The risotto should be loose but not soupy. Taste and season with salt. Serve drizzled with additional oil.

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Adapted from a recipe for Milk Street