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Lebanese Baked Kafta with Potatoes and Tomatoes

“It’s easy to see why kafta bil sanieh, a casserole, if you will, of sliced potatoes, rounds of tomatoes and flavorful kafta (seasoned meatballs or meat patties), is Lebanese comfort food. The ingredients are shingled into a baking dish and baked until the flavors meld and the textures become deliciously succulent and tender.”

This Milk Street rendition, based on a recipe from “The Palestinian Table” by Reem Kassis, starts with a simple no-cook tomato sauce in the bottom of the baking dish, where juices collect during baking and form a delicious sauce. To ensure the potatoes cook evenly and thoroughly, precook them by roasting them for about 10-15 minutes, enough time to begin making the kafta. If you are squeamish about lamb, use 80 percent lean ground beef instead. You can serve it with rice pilaf, but we did not.

I doubled the garlic, putting half of it in the meat mixture, the other half in the tomato sauce. To press the meat balls into 1/4″ thick discs, I used a flat-bottomed glass that was dipped into cool water between each smashing. Then I put the entire tray into the freezer for 10-15 minutes to firm up while the potatoes cooled. This made it easier for assembly.

Speaking of assembly, it helps to start with uniform sizes for the potatoes, tomatoes and peppers. In the end, there was not enough ingredients to make 3 full rows from front to back in the baking dish, but any left over slices of veggies were just positioned in the back. Unable to buy a small can of crushed tomatoes, we chose whole peeled tomatoes and crushed them with an immersion blender.

Lebanese Baked Kafta with Potatoes and Tomatoes

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Difficulty: moderate
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Ingredients

  • 1 lb. Yukon Gold potatoes, not peeled, sliced into ¼-inch rounds
  • 2 Tbsp. plus ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • Kosher salt and ground black pepper
  • 1 lb. ground lamb or 80 percent lean ground beef
  • 1 medium yellow onion, halved and grated on the large holes of a box grater
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 1/2 tsp. ground allspice
  • 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 14 ½ oz. can crushed tomatoes
  • 4 medium garlic cloves, minced, divided
  • 1 lb. plum tomatoes, cored and sliced into ¼-inch rounds
  • 2 small green bell peppers or Anaheim chili, stemmed, seeded and sliced into thin rings

Directions

  1. Heat the oven to 450°F with a rack in the middle position.
  2. On a rimmed baking sheet, toss the potatoes with 1 tablespoon of oil and ¼ teaspoon salt. Distribute in a single layer and roast without stirring just until a skewer inserted into the potatoes meets no resistance, 10 to 13 minutes (ours took 16 min). Remove from the oven and set aside to cool slightly. Leave the oven on.
  3. While the potatoes cook, line a second baking sheet with kitchen parchment. In a medium bowl, combine the lamb, onion, half the minced garlic, parsley, allspice, cinnamon, ¾ teaspoon salt and ¼ teaspoon pepper. Using your hands, mix gently until just combined; do not over-mix.
  4. Divide the mixture into about 20 golf ball-size portions (1½ to 1¾ inches in diameter) and place on the prepared baking sheet. Flatten each ball into a patty about 2½ inches wide and ¼ inch thick (it’s fine the patties are not perfectly round); set aside until ready to assemble.
  5. In a 9-by-13-inch baking dish, combine the crushed tomatoes, garlic, the ¼ cup oil, ½ teaspoon salt and ¼ teaspoon pepper. Stir well, then distribute in an even layer.
  6. Shingle the potatoes, tomato slices, green pepper rings and meat patties in 3 or 4 rows down the length of the baking dish, alternating the ingredients. Drizzle with the remaining 1 tablespoon oil and sprinkle with pepper.
  7. Bake, uncovered, until the kafta and potatoes are browned and the juices are bubbling, 25 to 35 minutes. Cool for about 10 minutes before serving.

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Adapted from a recipe by Courtney Hill for Milk Street

Spanish Chorizo, Ham and White Bean Stew

This is a quick-and-easy version of the Spanish tapa known as Fabada Asturiana, a hearty stew of dried beans, sausage and other smoky, porky ingredients. Typically morcilla—which is blood sausage—and pork belly are main ingredients but Milk Street pared back on the meats, using only chorizo and ham, both of which lend deep flavor to the broth.

Once a simple country dish, fabada is now a venerated symbol of the Asturias region of Spain. The dish gets its name from the large beans that are traditionally used in its preparation, but here canned white beans such as cannellinis work well—and save time. No soaking beans or cooking for hours!

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Milk Street prefers the relatively large size and creamy texture of cannellinis, but they say great northern and navy beans are fine, too. A pinch (make that a large pinch) of saffron adds a very Spanish flavor and fragrance, while giving the stew an alluring golden hue. Fabada is a hot and heavy dish and for that reason is most commonly eaten during winter, or cool months.

One huge misstep for us was not using our homemade ham stock in place of chicken broth. Either one, it was super tasty, and even better the next day when the flavors had a chance to marry (and go on a honeymoon 😉 )

RULE No. 18: Don’t Let Neutral Ingredients Stand Alone.

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Spanish Chorizo, Ham and White Bean Stew (Fabada)

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

  • 1 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 medium yellow onion, chopped
  • 6 medium garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1 tsp. saffron threads
  • Kosher salt and ground black pepper
  • 8 oz. Spanish chorizo, casings removed, halved and thinly sliced
  • 8 oz. ham steak, cut into ½-inch cubes
  • 1½ qts. ham or chicken broth, preferably homemade
  • 3 15½-z. cans white beans, rinsed and drained
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 4 scallions, thinly sliced
  • Warmed crusty bread, to serve (optional)

Directions

  1. In a large pot over medium, heat the oil until shimmering. Add the onion, garlic, saffron and ½ teaspoon each salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion is slightly softened, 5 to 8 minutes.
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  2. Add the chorizo and ham, then cook, stirring, just until the chorizo begins to release its fat, about 1 minute.
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  3. Stir in the broth, beans and bay leaves. Bring to a simmer over medium-high, then reduce to medium and cook, stirring occasionally and adjusting heat as needed to maintain a simmer, for 10 to 15 minutes.
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  4. Remove and discard the bay leaves, then stir in the scallions. Taste and season with salt and pepper. Serve with bread.
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Tip: Don’t overcook the chorizo and ham after adding it to the sautéed onion mixture. If the pieces begin to sear or brown, they’ll be chewy and rubbery in the finished dish. Cook only until the chorizo begins to release some of its fat.

http://www.lynnandruss.com

Adapted from a recipe by Milk Street “The New Rules” cookbook

Dry-Fried Sichuan-Style Green Beans with Shrimp

Instead of leaning on a sauce, “dry” stir-fries like this recipe use a small amount of liquid (in this case, fish sauce), relying on heat and movement in the wok to intensify each ingredient’s flavors. To ensure that the beans blister, dry them thoroughly with a kitchen towel before cooking. Pickled sushi ginger adds mild, well-balanced sweetness and a hint of spice.

Where we took fault with this recipe as written, were the quantities. There is no way only 6 shrimp and the remaining ingredients would serve four adult portions, no way! So we doubled the shrimp from 6 to 12, and that amplified the volume enough for two decent servings. Those changes are noted in the recipe below.

Since this sauce-less dry-fry wouldn’t necessarily require a bed of rice, we opted for pan-fried dumplings. Trader Joe’s has a nice selection and we just happen to have some in our freezer. Russ whipped up a simple, yet tasty, dumpling dipping sauce (recipe below), and dinner done!

Dry-Fried Sichuan-Style Green Beans with Shrimp

  • Servings: 2
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

  • 8 oz. peeled and deveined raw large shrimp (about 12 shrimp) 
  • 2 Tbsp. peanut oil or vegetable oil, divided 
  • 12 oz. green beans, trimmed and cut into 2-inch pieces (about 3 cups) 
  • ¼ tsp. kosher salt 
  • 1 Tbsp. minced garlic
  • ¼ cup thinly sliced scallions 
  • 1Tbsp. fish sauce 
  • 1 Tbsp. yellow pickled ginger, minced
  • ¼ tsp. granulated sugar

Directions

  1. Pat shrimp dry using paper towels. Chop shrimp into 1/2-inch pieces; set aside. 
  2. Heat a 14-inch flat-bottomed wok or 12-inch skillet over high until a drop of water evaporates within 1 to 2 seconds of contact. Swirl in 1 tablespoon oil. Add beans, and sprinkle with salt; reduce heat to medium-low so that beans are barely sizzling.
  3. Cook, making quick scooping motions with a metal spatula, constantly tossing and tumbling (stir-frying) the beans until they just begin to blister and brown in spots and are almost tender, 3 to 6 minutes. Transfer beans to a plate.
  4. Increase heat under wok to high, and swirl in remaining 1 tablespoon oil. Add garlic; cook, stir-frying constantly, until fragrant, about 10 seconds.
  5. Add chopped shrimp, and break up any clumps using a metal spatula; cook, stir-frying constantly, until shrimp just take on an orange-pink hue, about 1 minute.
  6. Return beans to wok, and add scallions, fish sauce, pickled ginger, and sugar; cook, stir-frying constantly, until shrimp are just cooked through and beans are tender, 30 seconds to 1 minute.

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Recipe by Grace Young for Food & Wine

Dumpling Dipping Sauce

  • Servings: Yields 1 cup
  • Difficulty: easy
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Dumpling Dipping Sauce

This easy, flavorful dipping sauce is the perfect condiment for a range of homemade or store-bought dumplings. It can be refrigerated for up to 3 days.

Ingredients

  • ½ cup soy sauce
  • ½ cup rice vinegar
  • 1 Tbsp. Chinese chile garlic sauce
  • 1 tsp. toasted sesame oil
  • 1 Tbsp. chopped scallion slices

Directions

  1. In a small bowl, whisk the soy sauce with the rice vinegar, chile-garlic sauce and sesame oil.
  2. Top with chopped scallion, then serve.

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Recipe from Food & Wine

Roasted Fingerling Potatoes with Tarragon Shallot Butter

Potatoes are one of my favorite sides, no matter how they are cooked. And, this recipe is one I’ve never tried before, but will be sure to make again. Paired with a sirloin steak that marinaded in a sauce also containing fresh tarragon, they made great dinner companions.

The original recipe called for mixed-color fingerling potatoes, but the grocery store was plum out of any type of fingerlings. However, there were some tri-colored baby spuds available. And I mean “baby” to the point of almost preemies! Thus I knew the cooking time was going to be drastically reduced.

As your potatoes are finishing roasting, make the luscious tarragon-shallot sauce. The actual sauce is made up of only five ingredients: unsalted butter, finely chopped shallot, crushed black peppercorns, lemon zest and juice, and finely chopped tarragon. But boy, it delivers flavor in spades!

Roasted Fingerling Potatoes with Tarragon Shallot Butter

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

Roasted Fingerling Potatoes:

  • 1½ lbs. fingerling potatoes, mixture of yellow, red, and blue, if possible
  • 1 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper

Tarragon Shallot Butter:

  • 3 Tbsp. unsalted butter
  • 1 large shallot, finely diced
  • ½ tsp. whole black peppercorns, coarsely crushed
  • 2 tsp. fresh lemon zest
  • 3 large sprigs fresh tarragon, plus more for garnishing leaves removed and finely chopped
  • Juice of ½ lemon
  • Fosher salt

Directions 

  1. Roast Fingerling Potatoes: Preheat oven to 450°F (232°C) with a rack in the center position. Rinse and dry the potatoes thoroughly. Slice the fingerling potatoes in half lengthwise. Toss on a large baking sheet with the olive oil and a generous sprinkling of salt and pepper.
  2. Place the potatoes cut-side down on the sheet pan and spread them out evenly on the baking sheet. Roast for 15 minutes. Flip the potatoes and roast for an additional 10 minutes, or until the potatoes are caramelized, crispy, and fork-tender. Remove the potatoes from the oven, place on a rack, and allow them to cool slightly while you prepare the tarragon shallot butter.
  3. Prepare Tarragon Shallot Butter: In a small skillet, heat the butter over medium heat. Once the butter has melted fully and is bubbling slightly, add the shallot and sauté, stirring frequently, for 1 to 2 minutes, or until soft and translucent.
  4. Add the crushed peppercorns, lemon zest, chopped tarragon leaves, and lemon juice. Reduce heat to low, and continue to reduce the sauce for an additional minute or so. Season sauce to taste with salt and pepper.
  5. Place the roasted potatoes in a shallow heat-proof bowl. Pour the warm tarragon shallot butter (scrape the skillet with a spatula to remove any bits) over the potatoes, and toss them gently with a spoon until they are evenly coated. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Garnish with additional tarragon and serve immediately.

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Adapted from a recipe found on abeautifulplate.com

Fusilli with Cherry Tomato Sauce and Fresh Sage

As we were eating this lovely pasta dish, The Hubs exclaimed how much he liked it. I responded “And the list of ingredients was short for such depth of flavor and it was simple to boot!” Then he looked at the Milk Street recipe print out and saw that this adaptation hailed from Yotam Ottolenghi’s cookbook titled “Simple”—how serendipitous!

That being said, I cut back the pasta from 12 to 8 ounces because it did not seem that the amount of sauce would be sufficient for the larger quantity. With gentle simmering and a bit of water to facilitate cooking, cherry or grape tomatoes are transformed into a bold pasta sauce. To ratchet up the flavor, herbs, red pepper flakes and pecorino Romano are added. Try to get a block of the cheese to create shavings as opposed to the already grated variety.

Fusilli was our choice, but spaghetti or bucatini (a tubular pasta resembling thick spaghetti) also pairs particularly well with the sauce. Be aware that you do not want to simmer the tomatoes until there is no liquid remaining. Some moisture is needed for the sauce to cling to the pasta.

Fusilli with Cherry Tomato Sauce and Fresh Sage

  • Servings: 2-3
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

  • ⅓ cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more to serve
  • 4 medium garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • ¼ tsp. red pepper flakes
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 lb. cherry or grape tomatoes, halved
  • ½ tsp. white sugar
  • Kosher salt
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 Tbsp. chopped fresh sage, divided
  • 8 oz. fusilli, bucatini pasta or spaghetti, cooked according to package directions
  • ¾ tsp. smoked paprika
  • Shaved pecorino Romano, to serve

Directions

  1. Add the oil to a 12-inch skillet. Turn the heat to medium-high, and add the garlic, pepper flakes and bay, then cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 1 minute.
  2. Add the tomatoes, sugar, 1 teaspoon salt and 1 cup water. Bring to a simmer and cook, stirring occasionally, until the tomatoes begin to break down, about 4 minutes.
  3. Reduce to medium-low and cook, uncovered and stirring occasionally and adjusting the heat as needed to maintain a steady simmer, until the tomatoes have fully broken down and the sauce is thick enough that a spatula drawn through it leaves a trail, 40 to 50 minutes.
  4. Remove from the heat and remove and discard the bay. Stir in 1 tablespoon of sage and the smoked paprika, then cover to keep warm.
  5. When the sauce is almost ready, in a large pot, bring 4 quarts water to a boil. Add 2 tablespoons salt and the fusilli, then cook, stirring occasionally, until al dente.
  6. Drain the pasta, then return to the pot. Add the sauce and toss until well combined. Transfer to a serving bowl. Sprinkle with the remaining 1 tablespoon sage and shaved pecorino, then drizzle with additional oil.

http://www.lynnandruss.com

Loosely adapted from a recipe by Milk Street

Seared Shrimp Tacos with Tomato and Cotija

Tacos gobernador is a modern Mexican classic that combines a sauté of shrimp, fresh tomatoes and chilies with quesillo, a stringy cheese not unlike mozzarella, that’s melted onto the tortillas before assembly. In this recipe, Milk Street morphs those tacos into something simpler but equally delicious and in the same spirit.

The shrimp is seared, then combined with sautéed onion, fresh tomatoes and a minced charred habanero chili. Instead of melting a mild, milky cheese onto the tortillas before filling them, this recipe simply garnishes the tacos with crumbled cotija, a dryish Mexican cheese that packs lots of salty, savory flavor, along with fresh cilantro.

The shrimp filling gets a fair amount, but not scorching heat from the habanero chili; to tame the spiciness, Milk Street suggests seeding the chili after charring, before finely chopping it.

With no corn tortillas available at two different stores, we ended up with the flour variety. And for some odd reason our two small habaneros hardly had any kick to them, even when keeping the seeds. Thus, an added 1/4 teaspoon of cayenne provided the heat we desired, but not overly so.

With a side of fiesta black beans, it was one tasty dinner!

Don’t forget to pat the shrimp dry before searing. Removing surface moisture helps prevent steaming and ensures good, flavorful browning. Also, don’t brown the shrimp on both sides—the point is for them to be only parcooked after searing. They will fully cook—to a plump, tender finish—when returned to the pan with the tomatoes.

Seared Shrimp Tacos with Tomato and Cotija

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

  • 1 habanero chili, stemmed
  • 2 Tbsp. grapeseed or other neutral oil, divided
  • 1 1/2 lbs. extra-large (21/25 per pound) shrimp, peeled (tails removed) and deveined, patted dry
  • Kosher salt and ground black pepper
  • 1/2 medium white onion, thinly sliced
  • 3 ripe plum tomatoes, cored and chopped
  • 1 Tbsp. lime juice, plus lime wedges to serve
  • 3 oz. cotija cheese, crumbled (¾ cup)
  • 1/2 cup lightly packed fresh cilantro, chopped
  • 12 (6-inch) corn tortillas, warmed

Directions

  1. Heat a 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium-high until water flicked onto the surface immediately sizzles and evaporates. Add the chili and cook, turning every 1 to 2 minutes, until well charred on all sides, 5 to 6 minutes total. Transfer the chili to a cutting board.
  2. In the same skillet over medium-high, heat 1 tablespoon oil until shimmering. Add the shrimp in an even layer and sprinkle with ½ teaspoon each salt and pepper. Cook without stirring until the bottoms of the shrimp are browned, 5 to 6 minutes. Transfer to a large plate and set aside; reserve the skillet. Finely chop the chili.
  3. In the same skillet over medium-high, heat the remaining 1 tablespoon oil until shimmering. Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened and beginning to brown, 3 to 4 minutes.
  4. Stir in the shrimp and any accumulated juices, the tomatoes and chili; cook, stirring, until the shrimp are opaque throughout, 1 to 2 minutes. Off heat, stir in the lime juice, then taste and season with salt and pepper.
  5. To serve, put the cotija, cilantro and lime wedges into small bowls. Transfer the shrimp mixture to a serving dish, then serve with the tortillas and garnishes for making tacos.

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Recipe by Calvin Cox for Milk Street

Grilled Lamb Shoulder Chops Greek-Style

Shoulder chops aren’t the most tender, but they truly have great lamb flavor. Plus, they are far less expensive than other types of lamb chops. The steaks are usually rather thin, therefore make sure you have a hot fire ready so they get a good sear on the outside before they have a chance to overcook on the inside.

Lamb and grilling are a classic combination in Greek cookery. In just minutes over a hot fire, they are nearly ready to serve with that quintessential Greek flavoring combination of fresh oregano, fresh lemon juice, really good olive oil, and just a touch of garlic. Simple is, as simple gets.

To complete the meal we roasted some baby Yukon potatoes which benefited from some of that oregano-garlic sauce; and a side of Roasted Green Beans with Pecorino and Pine Nuts which are mixed with oil, salt, pepper, and a tad of sugar to enhance caramelization.

Grilled Lamb Shoulder Chops Greek-Style

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

  • Four 10- to 12-ounce lamb shoulder blade chops, 1/2 inch to 1/4 inch thick
  • Kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper to taste
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 Tbsp. roughly chopped fresh oregano
  • 1 tsp. minced garlic
  • 1/2 lemon

Directions

  1. Preheat grill to hot.
  2. Dry the chops with paper towels and sprinkle them generously with salt and pepper. Place the chops on the grill and cook until well seared, 3 to 4 minutes per side. To check for doneness, use an instant-read thermometer. The chops are rare at 120°F, medium rare at 125°F, medium at 130°F, and well done at 145°F and higher. FYI, lamb can take on a gamey flavor when cooked past medium.
  3. When the chops are done, remove them from the grill, cover them loosely with foil, and let them rest for 5 minutes.
  4. Meanwhile, in a small bowl, combine the olive oil, oregano, and garlic and mix well.
  5. Spoon the garlic mixture over the lamb chops, squeeze the lemon on top of them, and serve hot.

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Recipe by John Willoughby and Christopher Schlesinger

Fall-Apart Caramelized Cabbage

According to Bon Appétit, this is one of the easiest, most delicious ways to cook down a whole head of cabbage until it’s falling-apart tender. And those gorgeous Autumn colors welcome you to a new cooler season.

Numerous reviewers mentioned they had, or wished they had, doubled the sauce, therefore I went ahead with that suggestion. I also added some smoked paprika, just enough to give it a slightly smoky kick. Finally, homemade chicken stock was subbed for the water. Of course, if you are vegetarian you could keep the water or use vegetable stock.

If the spiced tomato paste has reduced and the pan starts getting dry and dark before the cabbage is ready, just add a splash of water to loosen and let it keep going.

The Hubs couldn’t get enough, he even wanted to drink any leftover sauce—good thing I doubled it! He said the aroma and taste reminded him of Gołąbki without the filling. Smacznego!

Fall-Apart Caramelized Cabbage

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

  • ½ cup double-concentrated tomato paste
  • 6 garlic cloves, finely grated
  • 1 Tbsp. ground coriander
  • 1 Tbsp. ground cumin
  • ½ tsp. smoked paprika
  • 2 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 medium head of savoy cabbage (about 2 lb. total)
  • ½ cup extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • Kosher salt
  • 2 cups chicken stock, preferably homemade (or water to keep it vegetarian)
  • 3 Tbsp. chopped dill, parsley, or cilantro
  • Full-fat Greek yogurt or sour cream (for serving)

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350°. Mix tomato paste, garlic, coriander, cumin, and red pepper flakes in a small bowl.
  2. Cut cabbage in half through core. Cut each half through core into 4 wedges, so that the core remains on each piece.
  3. Heat ¼ cup oil in a large cast-iron skillet over medium-high. Working in batches if needed, add cabbage to pan cut side down and season with salt. Cook, turning occasionally, until lightly charred, about 4 minutes per side. Transfer cabbage to a plate. You may have to add a bit more oil to the pan if doing a second batch.
  4. Pour remaining ¼ cup oil into skillet. Add spiced tomato paste and cook over medium heat, stirring frequently, until tomato paste begins to split and slightly darken, 3–4 minutes. Pour in enough chicken stock (or water) to come halfway up sides of pan (about 2 cups), season with salt, and bring to a simmer.
  5. Nestle cabbage wedges back into skillet (they should have shrunk while browning; a bit of overlap is okay). Transfer cabbage to oven and bake, uncovered and turning wedges halfway through, until very tender, liquid is mostly evaporated, and cabbage is caramelized around the edges, 40–50 minutes.
  6. Scatter dill over cabbage. Serve with yogurt alongside.

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Adapted from a recipe by Andy Baraghani for Bon Appétit

Citrus Rosemary Chicken

Roast chicken with citrus and herbs? It has my name written all over it! As far back as I can remember, Sunday supper with Mom’s Orange Juice Chicken was a meal I looked forward to all week—and I was one picky eater back then.

Crisp, tangy, and succulent citrus rosemary chicken, seasoned Mediterranean-style with garlic, rosemary, and oregano, and covered in a bold wine and orange marinade. I mean, what’s not to like? This simple twist on roast chicken makes a dish with the perfect balance of savory, tangy, and warm flavors! Delicious and impressive with little work involved. Who’s not with me now?

The citrus marinade in this recipe is made of a combination of wine, orange juice, lime juice, olive oil, tomato paste for color and umami, and fresh garlic, onions, rosemary, and other Mediterranean spices.

We served ours with a Near East rice pilaf dish and a side salad.

According to chef Suzy Karadsheh of The Mediterranean Dish food blog, “The key to great flavor here is to allow the chicken a good 1 to 2 hours in the marinade (refrigerated), and make sure to lift up the chicken skin to spoon some of the garlicky, citrus marinade underneath. If you only have a few minutes, leave the chicken to marinate at room temperature for 30 minutes or so.”

Now you can use a whole chicken and cut it up saving the neck, back and wingtips for homemade stock—which is our typical rodeo—however, this time we purchased precut bone-in, skin-on breasts and thighs. They were well-salted inside and outside the skin, left uncovered in the refrigerator overnight, and marinated for 2 hours prior to cooking.

Once the chicken is out of the oven, allow it 10 minutes to rest before slicing and serving. Then get ready to be amazed! This dish definitely evokes warm, childhood memories, but at a more advanced level, and with more depth of flavor.

Citrus Rosemary Chicken

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

  • 1 whole chicken, split in half through the backbone; or pre-cut parts (about 3 ½ pounds)
  • Kosher salt
  • 1 cup Pinot Noir
  • 1 orange zested and juiced plus 1 sliced orange
  • 1 lime juiced, plus 1 sliced lime
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 Tbsp. tomato paste
  • 1 ½ tsp. dried oregano
  • 1 tsp. dried rosemary
  • 1 tsp. sweet paprika
  • 1 tsp. Aleppo pepper
  • 7 to 8 garlic cloves minced
  • 1 yellow onion halved and sliced
  • 1 Tbsp. honey

Directions

  1. Season the chicken with kosher salt on all sides, making sure to season underneath the skin as well. (You can do this one night ahead of time and keep the chicken in the fridge to air-chill uncovered.)
  2. Prepare the citrus marinade. In a large bowl, add the wine, orange juice and zest, lime juice, 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, tomato paste, spices, and a good dash of kosher salt. Add the garlic and onion. Whisk to combine.
  3. Add the chicken and toss to coat, making sure to lift the skin up and spoon some of the marinade underneath (this will give you more flavor). Set aside at room temperature for 30 minutes. Alternatively, cover and refrigerate for an hour or two. (For best results, take it out of the fridge and leave the chicken at room temperature for 30 to 45 minutes before cooking.)
  4. Preheat the oven to 425°F and adjust a rack in the middle.
  5. Transfer the chicken and the marinade to a braising pan. Roast uncovered for 30 minutes, then carefully turn the pan 180 degrees and roast for another 15 minutes or until the chicken is fully cooked and tender (juices should run clear).
  6. In a small bowl, mix together the honey with 1 tbsp of extra virgin olive oil. Carefully remove the chicken from the oven and brush the top with the honey and olive oil mixture.
  7. Switch the oven to the broil function. Return the chicken back to the oven about 6 inches away from the broiler and cook briefly for 3 to 4 minutes, watching for the skin to turn a nice golden brown.
  8. Remove from the heat and finish with lime juice. Add slices of fresh orange and wedges of lime.

http://www.lynnandruss.com

Recipe from The Mediterranean Dish

Put a Little Sizzle in Your Swizzle

We were a little late to the party with this libation because it really is more of a summer drink and it had just turned Autumn when we made it for the first time. BUT, didn’t bother us one iota, the Chartreuse Swizzle was just the ticket for our pre-dinner Sunday evening cocktail.

Story behind the drink? According to author James O’Bryan, “If there were a Nobel Prize for cocktails, Marcovaldo Dionysis would win one for the Chartreuse Swizzle. As a drink, it is novel to the point of being avant-garde, yet brilliant in its simplicity. Some delicious drinks are obvious—anyone can add strawberries to a Daiquiri or sub mezcal into a Negroni or something—but to take a 110 proof liqueur, made by a silent order of French monks from 132 different ingredients, and not only use it as the base spirit of a drink (already a crazy choice) and to spin that drink in a tropical direction (again, crazy), but to take something that unusual and turn it one of the most viscerally delicious cocktails in the pantheon of modern classics is worth a trip to Stockholm, to say the least. It’s way better than discovering an element.”

Prior to this adult beverage, we had never heard of Velvet Falernum. Upon a little research we found out some cocktail ingredients sound stranger than they are, and Velvet Falernum falls right into this camp. But this Caribbean cocktail ingredient is easy to love, and that we did! A staple of many tiki drinks, Falernum comes either as a sugarcane syrup or as a liqueur, spiced with clove, lime, and generally ginger and almond.

The version we used, the most widely available in liquor stores, is John D. Taylor Velvet Falernum—a low-proof liqueur (11% alc/vol, while the Chartreuse is 55% alc/vol!) with all of those classic Caribbean flavors. Due to its provenance (hailing from Barbados), Falernum is most often paired with rum, and it’s a smart combination. But this intriguingly spiced, sweet-tart liqueur is quite versatile.

Although fresh out of mint leaves, we garnished ours with a lime slice. And so it was, on an early Autumn evening we fell in love… again…

Chartreuse Swizzle

  • Servings: 1
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 oz. Green Chartreuse
  • 1/2 oz. Velvet Falernum
  • 1 oz. pineapple juice, preferably fresh
  • 3/4 oz. lime juice, preferably fresh

Directions

  1. Add ingredients to a tall glass. Add half full with crushed ice and stir or “swizzle,” which is to just agitate back and forth like a washing machine.
  2. Swizzle for about 7 to 10 seconds, until the glass starts to frost up, then top with more crushed ice.
  3. Garnish with a mint sprig and a grind of fresh nutmeg.

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Roasted Mushrooms with Parmesan and Pine Nuts

We love all things mushrooms, but I know they are not everyone’s cup of tea. However you might be enticed to try this rich, woodsy side dish with combined straightforward creminis and meaty, smoky shiitakes.

To ensure that the mushrooms are evenly seasoned and stay moist during roasting, they are brined in a saltwater solution. This went against everything we’ve ever read about preparing mushrooms, but we gave it a whirl. A glass pie plate was put over the soaking mushrooms to keep them submerged in the brine.

The ‘shrooms are roasted in a hot oven for about an hour until they are deeply browned. Then they’re coated in extra-virgin olive oil and lemon juice before adding the flavorful mix-ins of grated Parmesan, parsley, and pine nuts.

Oh yeah Babe, this recipe from America’s Test Kitchen was divine. Served with grilled tomatoes and strip steaks, we felt like royalty on a weeknight!

Roasted Mushrooms with Parmesan and Pine Nuts

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 ½ lbs. cremini mushrooms, trimmed and left whole if small, halved if medium, or quartered if large
  • 1 lb. shiitake mushrooms, stemmed, caps larger than 3 inches halved
  • 4 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • 1 tsp. lemon juice
  • 1 oz. Parmesan cheese, grated (1/2 cup)
  • 2 Tbsp. pine nuts, toasted
  • 2 Tbsp. chopped fresh parsley

Directions

  1. Adjust oven rack to lowest position and heat oven to 450°F.
  2. Dissolve 5 teaspoons salt in 2 quarts room-temperature water in large container. Add cremini mushrooms and shiitake mushrooms to brine, cover with plate or bowl to submerge, and let stand for 10 minutes
  3. Drain mushrooms in colander and pat dry with paper towels. Spread mushrooms evenly on rimmed baking sheet, drizzle with oil, and toss to coat. Roast until liquid from mushrooms has completely evaporated, 35 to 45 minutes.
  4. Remove sheet from oven (be careful of escaping steam when opening oven) and, using thin metal spatula, carefully stir mushrooms. Return to oven and continue to roast until mushrooms are deeply browned, 5 to 10 minutes longer.
  5. Combine remaining olive oil and lemon juice in large bowl. Add mushrooms and toss to coat. Add Parmesan, pine nuts, and parsley and toss. Season with salt and pepper to taste; serve immediately.

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Recipe from America’s Test Kitchen

Sheet Pan Caponata and Couscous with Goat Cheese

An Italian, Middle-Eastern mash-up if you will. In a twist, this version of Sicilian eggplant dish is roasted on a sheet pan in the oven, so you don’t have to bother with any deep- or pan-frying. The tomato paste and cinnamon give it depth, the sherry vinegar lends brightness, and the raisins and brown sugar offer balance.

This variation on Italian caponata becomes a main course atop fluffy couscous and creamy goat cheese. Buy the freshest eggplant you can find, it should feel heavy and have no soft spots, and you won’t need to peel or salt it to pull out any bitterness. Because pine nuts are traditional in caponata, they’re the first choice, but they can be pricey so pepitas or chopped walnuts make fine substitutions. Finally, if you don’t like goat cheese, substitute ricotta or farmer cheese. But the cheese adds a welcome component, so don’t omit it.

Under the couscous, the goat cheese melts into a creamy, salty, tangy puddle.

G. Daniela galarza

NOTE: Leftovers may be refrigerated in covered containers for up to 4 days.

Sheet Pan Caponata and Couscous with Goat Cheese

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

For the Caponata

  • 5 Tbsp. olive oil, divided
  • 1 lb. Japanese or globe eggplant, diced into 1/2-inch cubes
  • 1 medium yellow or red onion (8 to 10 oz.), chopped
  • 1 large red bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 medium tomato (6 to 8 oz.), chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 2 tsp. light brown sugar or honey, or to taste
  • 3/4 tsp. fine sea salt or table salt, or to taste
  • 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp. cracked black pepper, or to taste
  • 1/4 cup tomato paste
  • 1/4 cup raisins (any kind)
  • 1/4 cup toasted pine nuts, pepitas or chopped walnuts
  • 1/4 to 1/3 cup water
  • 2 Tbsp. red wine vinegar or sherry vinegar, or to taste

For the Couscous

  • 1 1/2 cups water or low-sodium chicken stock or vegetable stock
  • 2 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp. fine sea salt or table salt
  • 1 1/2 cups (about 9 oz.) couscous

For Serving

  • 3 oz. soft goat cheese, or more if desired
  • 1/4 cup torn fresh basil, mint or parsley (optional)

Directions

  1. Position a rack in the lower third of the oven and preheat to 425 degrees.
  2. Pour 3 tablespoons of olive oil onto a large rimmed baking sheet. Add the eggplant, onion, bell pepper, tomato and garlic, and use your hands to toss everything together. Drizzle the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil on top, followed by the brown sugar or honey, salt, cinnamon and black pepper. Toss again, then spread into an even layer.
  3. Roast for 20 minutes. Remove the baking sheet from the oven and, using tongs or a spatula, flip and redistribute vegetables so they cook evenly. Return the baking sheet to the oven and roast for another 15 to 20 minutes, or until vegetables are cooked through and browned.
  4. Transfer the pan to a heatproof surface. Mash the garlic cloves into a paste. Push the vegetables aside to expose a small area of the hot metal and place the tomato paste on it. Using a wooden spoon, stir the tomato paste into the vegetables, followed by the raisins, nuts or seeds, water and vinegar; stir to combine. Taste for seasoning, adjusting with more vinegar, sugar, salt and/or pepper as desired.
  5. Make the couscous: About 10 minutes before the eggplant is finished roasting, in a medium lidded saucepan over high heat, bring the water or stock, olive oil and salt to a rolling boil. Immediately pour in the couscous, ensuring it’s moistened throughout, then cover, remove from the heat and let it steam for about 5 minutes, or until all of the liquid has been absorbed.
  6. To serve, portion about a quarter of the goat cheese into the center of each plate. Top with a pile of couscous and some of the caponata. Garnish with the torn herbs and more goat cheese, if desired.

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Recipe by G. Daniela Galarza from the Eat Voraciously newsletter

Salmon with Sautéed Tomatoes

Heart-healthy salmon is paired with jammy tomatoes which get an herby boost from pesto sauce. With very few ingredients and in less than a half hour, you have the makings of a company-worthy dinner.

To really enhance this Mediterranean meal, we also paired the salmon with Zucchini and Feta Fritters with a side of Yogurt Cucumber-Dill Sauce (which could be made a day ahead to save time on dinner night.)

Cutting the fish into the recommended 4 slices will end up with 6-ounce filets. We decided to divide the salmon into 3 filets weighing in at 8-ounces each. If they have thin “tails” at one end. flip them up and secure with a toothpick while you cook skin side down. Remove the toothpicks before flipping them over. This will help alleviate overdone ends.

Salmon with Sautéed Tomatoes

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

  • 2 pints grape tomatoes
  • 2 Tbsp. basil pesto
  • 1 1/2 lbs. salmon fillet, cut into 4 servings
  • 3 Tbsp. olive oil
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper

Directions

  1. Heat two tablespoons of the olive oil in a 12″ non-stick skillet over medium-high heat. Add grape tomatoes, season with 1/4 teaspoon Kosher salt and sauté until soft, about 4 minutes. Stir in pesto and sauté two minutes more. Transfer tomato mixture to a plate and keep warm in a 200°F oven.
  2. Wipe out skillet (although I didn’t find this necessary). Season salmon pieces with 1/2 teaspoon each Kosher salt and pepper. Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil over medium-high heat. Place salmon pieces in skillet, skin side down. Sauté about 4-6 minutes. If you’re pieces are thick you may have to cook them a few minutes longer.
  3. Turn salmon and sauté and additional 4 minutes until salmon is cooked but tender. Serve over tomatoes and with lemon wedges.

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Tomatoes Two Ways: Roasted or Grilled

Of course, in-season tomatoes are the preferred choice, but in the dead of winter—in our neck of the woods—it’s near impossible to source them. So roasted tomatoes become a good choice because it’s the best way to boost flavor from an otherwise bland vegetable.

After purchasing six locally grown slicing tomatoes for grilling purposes, we happened to be the recipient of additional slicing and small heirloom tomatoes. Not wanting any of those to go bad, I opted to roast all of the ones given to us, which we then used on some cooked pasta, OMG, so good!

If you’re not going to use them right away, the tomatoes will keep in an air-tight container for up to 5 days in the refrigerator or for up to 6 months in the freezer

Roasted Tomatoes

Roasted Tomatoes

  • Servings: 10
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

  • 3 lbs. ripe plum or slicing tomatoes
  • ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 Tbsp. chopped fresh thyme
  • 3 garlic cloves, finely chopped

Directions

  1. Position a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Stem the tomatoes and slice them in half lengthwise. Gently squeeze out the seeds or scoop them out with a spoon.
  3. Lay the tomatoes, cut side up, in a single layer on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Drizzle with the olive oil and sprinkle with the thyme and garlic.
  4. Roast for 60 to 75 minutes, or until starting to caramelize.
  5. Turn off the oven and leave the tomatoes inside for 10 minutes, then remove to a rack and let cool completely. Peel if desired.

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Grilled Tomatoes

Grilled Tomatoes

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

  • 6 medium-size firm tomatoes (about 2 1/4-lb. total)
  • Coarse salt
  • 1-1/2 Tbsp. red-wine vinegar
  • 3-1/2 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 small shallot, minced
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 Tbsp. chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley; more whole leaves for garnish

Directions

  1. Prepare a grill by adjusting it so that the grate is 4 to 5 inches from the-flame or heat source.
  2. Heat a gas grill to high and a charcoal grill to medium hot (the coals should be covered with light ash, and you should be able to hold your hand just over the grate for no more than 3 seconds).
  3. Remove the green stem from the tomatoes but don’t core them. Cut each tomato in half horizontally. Gently loosen the seeds with your fingertips. Turn the tomato over and shake to discard any loose seeds.
  4. Sprinkle the cut side of the tomatoes well with salt. Set them cut side down on a wire rack and let them drain for 30 minutes. In a bowl, whisk together the vinegar, 3 tablespoons of the olive oil, the garlic, and the shallot. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  5. Lightly oil the drained tomatoes with the remaining 1/2 tablespoons olive oil. Arrange them cut side down on the grate and grill (turning halfway through) until the skins begin to blister and soften, 6 to 10 minutes.
  6. Just before serving, add the chopped parsley to the vinaigrette. Transfer the tomatoes from the grill to a platter and drizzle with the vinaigrette. Garnish with the parsley leaves and serve hot, warm, or at room temperature.

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Roasted Green Beans with Pecorino and Pine Nuts

If you want earthy, sweet green beans with moist interiors and just the right amount of browning, this roasted bean recipe from Cook’s Country does the trick. Because they are often dry and leathery; start by covering the roasting beans which are mixed with oil, salt, pepper, and sugar and let them gently steam for 10 minutes.

The sugar promotes browning when the foil is removed to let the beans blister in the oven’s high heat. To add a lively bite to the flavorful beans, toss them with a lemon vinaigrette and top them with salty, sharp Pecorino and crunchy pine nuts.

Salmon with Sautéed Tomatoes

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

  • 1 ½ lbs. green beans, trimmed
  • 5 ½ Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
  • ¾ tsp. sugar
  • Kosher salt and pepper
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tsp. grated lemon zest plus 4 tsp. juice
  • 1 tsp. Dijon mustard
  • 2 Tbsp. chopped fresh basil
  • 1 ½ oz. Pecorino Romano cheese, shredded (1/2 cup)
  • ¼ cup pine nuts, toasted

Directions

  1. Adjust oven rack to lowest position and heat oven to 475 degrees.
  2. Combine green beans, 1 1/2 tablespoons oil, sugar, 3/4 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper in bowl. Evenly distribute green beans on rimmed baking sheet.
  3. Cover sheet tightly with aluminum foil and roast for 10 minutes. Remove foil and continue to roast until green beans are spotty brown, about 10 minutes longer, stirring halfway through roasting.
  4. Meanwhile, combine garlic, lemon zest, and remaining 1/4 cup oil in medium bowl and microwave until bubbling, about 1 minute; let mixture steep for 1 minute. Whisk lemon juice, mustard, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper into garlic mixture.
  5. Transfer green beans to bowl with dressing, add basil, and toss to combine. Transfer to serving platter and sprinkle with Pecorino and pine nuts. Serve.

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Recipe from Cook’s Country