Stuffed Artichokes ~ Two Ways

Artichokes, Lg. Raw.JPG

Spring brings us big, beautiful artichokes which I love to stuff and serve as a first course or entree. Here are two of my favorite versions. Italian Sausage Stuffed Artichokes and Anchovy & Pine Nut Stuffed Artichokes.

Italian Sausage Stuffed Artichokes ~ Serves 6 ~ This is a meal! Add a salad using bitter greens like arugula with good red wine vinegar and extra virgin olive oil.

  • 6 medium to large artichokes, rinsed
  • ½ lemon
  • 4 Tbls olive oil, halved
  • 1 ½ cups fresh breadcrumbs, I like to us good sourdough whole wheat; nuts and seeds are fine
  • 1 pound bulk Italian sausage or raw links, split and casing removed
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 2 to 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 Tbls each fresh mince oregano and parsley (or 1 tsp. each dried) You can also substitute ¼ cup minced fresh basil
  • ¼ cup pine nuts
  • ¼ cup Parmigiano-Reggiano
  • Salt and fresh cracked pepper
  • 1 cup chicken broth, white wine or water
  • 2 cups marinara sauce (optional)

To cook artichokes for both recipes:

  1. Rinse the artichokes. Slice about ¾-inch to an inch off the tip of the artichoke using a serrated knife. Next, cut off the tips of the petals using scissors and remove the small petals at the base. Last, cut off the stem so that the artichoke can sit flat. Reserve the stem. Rub the artichoke with the cut lemon.
  2. Steam the artichokes. If desired, add a few aromatic bay leaves, sliced garlic, sprigs of thyme, etc. to the water before steaming the artichokes. For this recipe, steam until almost done but not quite tender, between 20 and 35 minutes depending on the size. Use a sharp knife to pierce through the bottom of the heart to check for doneness.


  1. Preheat oven to 350˚F
  2. Evenly spread the breadcrumbs on flat baking pan or cookie sheet and bake until toasted but not completely dry, 5 to 8 minutes. In other words, don’t be too picky but do watch them closely so they don’t burn.
  3. In a sauté pan over medium heat, sauté the pork, breaking it into small pieces, until it is cooked through and crumbled. Drain on paper towel.
  4. Add two tablespoons olive oil to the pan and then the onion and garlic sautéing until the onion is tender.
  5. Add the onions and garlic to a medium bowl along with the sausage, bread crumbs, herbs, pine nuts and cheese and toss just to blend. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  6. Once the artichokes are cool enough to handle, gently spread the leaves to open the artichoke giving room to add the filling. Remove the smallest leaves in the very center. Using a teaspoon, scrape out the fuzzy choke making sure you get the fuzz out of the crevices.
  7. Lightly fill the artichoke center with filling as well as in-between the leaves and place the artichokes in a baking dish that has just enough room to hold them snuggly.
  8. Drizzle with remaining two tablespoons of olive oil and the one cup of broth.
  9. Carefully pour water into the bottom of the dish (avoiding artichokes) up to ¼-inch.
  10. Bake for 30 to 40 minutes or until the top of the stuffing is lightly browned and the artichokes are hot.
  11. Serve the marinara sauce as a dip on the side.
Artichoke Stuffed.jpg

Anchovy & Pine Nut Stuffed Artichokes ~ Serves 4 to 6 ~ This is a lighter version and makes a great appetizer using artichokes that are on the small to medium size. The anchovies melt into the stuffing creating umami flavors perfect with artichokes.

  • 4 medium or 6 small artichokes, cooked and cleaned as above
  • 4 Tbls olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 2 to 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 8 anchovies (or more)
  • 2 Tbls each fresh mince oregano and parsley (or 1 tsp. each dried) You can also substitute ¼ cup minced fresh basil
  • 1 ½ cups fresh breadcrumbs, toasted as in above recipe
  • ¼ cup capers
  • ¼ cup pine nuts
  • ¼ cup Parmigiano-Reggiano
  • Pinch peperoncino (pepper flakes)
  • Salt and fresh cracked pepper to taste
  • Lemon wedges
  1. Follow cooking instructions above for the artichokes and the breadcrumbs.


  1. Preheat oven to 350˚F
  2. In a sauté pan over medium heat, add two tablespoons of olive oil and sauté the onion until tender.
  3. Mince the garlic and anchovies together to form a rough paste and add to the onions. Sauté until the garlic is tender and the anchovies have “melted” into the mixture.
  4. Add the mixture to a medium bowl along with the bread crumbs, pine nuts and capers, herbs, chili flakes and cheese and toss just to blend. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  5. Lightly fill the artichoke center with filling as well as in-between the leaves.
  6. Place the artichokes in a baking dish that has just enough room to hold them snuggly.
  7. Drizzle with remaining two tablespoons of olive oil and the 1 cup of broth, water, or wine.
  8. Carefully pour water into the bottom of the dish (avoiding artichokes) up to ¼-inch.
  9. Bake for 30 to 40 minutes or until the top of the stuffing is lightly browned and the artichokes are hot.
  10. Serve with lemon wedges or lemon butter.

Compound Butters

 These butters are a fantastic “sauce” to keep in your freezer. Pull one out, thaw just enough to slice, and refreeze what’s left. Serve on veggies, grilled steaks, fish or chicken to add loads of flavor.

These butters are a fantastic “sauce” to keep in your freezer. Pull one out, thaw just enough to slice, and refreeze what’s left. Serve on veggies, grilled steaks, fish or chicken to add loads of flavor.

To make compound butter:

Simply bring the butter to room temperature. Place in a bowl with remaining ingredients, see below, and beat with a wooden spoon. Season to taste. 

  • Roll the butter into a log in plastic wrap and freeze. Once frozen, wrap in foil and mark with a Sharpie. 
  • Slice into 1/4” slices when cold and place over grilled steak or chicken. 
  • Or, bring to room temp. in a bowl, stir to soften and plop onto veggies, fish or a baked potato.

To one (4oz) stick of unsalted butter and add:

Sesame Butter (green beans, chicken, steak)

  • 2 Tbls. toasted sesame seeds, black or white
  • 2 Tbls. minced chives or scallions
  • 2 tsp. sesame oil
  • 2 tsp. soy sauce
  • Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Rosemary Olive Butter (chicken, steaks, roasted potatoes)

  • 2 Tbls. fresh rosemary, coarsely chopped
  • 4 Tbls. oil-cured olives, chopped and drained

Dill and Lemon (salmon or any fish, asparagus)

  • 4 Tbls. coarsely chopped dill
  • 1 Tbls. lemon zest
  • A squeeze of lemon juice

Chive Butter (steak, potatoes)

  • 4-6 Tbls. chopped fresh chives

Cilantro and Pine Nut (chicken, summer squash, fish)

  • 4 Tbls. cilantro
  • 3 Tbls. pine nuts
  • 1 Tbls. lemon zest
  • A squeeze of lemon juice

Green Peppercorn Butter (steak!)

  • 1 Tbls. green peppercorns, drained, crushed lightly
  • 1-2 pinches of cinnamon
  • 1 tsp. minced garlic (or use a zester)

Vanilla Butter (delicious on baked sweet potatoes and roasted root veggies)

  • 1 vanilla been split, scrape seeds out and blend with butter
  • 1/2 tsp good quality vanilla can be substituted but it’s not as good
  • pinch cinnamon 




Braised Pork & Winter Fruit with Potnips


This is a perfect winter dish using dried fruits and red wine. With slow cooked, braised meat dishes, I prefer to start them in the morning or the day before serving. This gives you time to taste the meat and wait for the perfect tenderness to occur and, the flavors have more time to blend. You can braise the pork in the oven or use a crockpot. Serve the pork with Potnips, recipe below.

A bone-in picnic or shoulder roast is in between the Boston butt or upper shoulder and the hamhock. It has less fat but more connective tissue and a bone down the center. It needs plenty of time to braise gently but the silky rich flavor is worth the wait.

Leftovers make great sandwiches. Add spicy or Dijon mustard and coleslaw.

Serves 4 to 6

  • 2 ½ to 3 lbs.bone-in picnic (shoulder) roast
  • 1 dz. dried apricot halves, figs, prunes, or a mixture
  • ⅓ to ½ cup dark or white seedless raisins
  • 1 cup dry red wine; chicken or pork stock can be substituted
  • ⅔ cup red wine vinegar  
  • 3 Tbsp. chopped fresh dill (or 1 1/2 Tbsp. dried)
  • 2 Tbsp. chopped fresh thyme (or 1 Tbsp. dried)
  • 2 tsp. ground cumin
  • 2 to 3 Tbls. lard or high-heat oil
  • 4 shallots or or 1 medium onion, peeled and sliced thinly
  • 2 to 3 cups chicken stock
  • 2 bay leaves
  • ¼ cup honey
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  1. In a large bowl combine pork, dried fruit, red wine, vinegar, dill, mint, cumin and thyme. Cover and marinade, refrigerated, for 24 hours. Turn meat once.
  2. Bring the meat to room temperature before cooking.
  3. Preheat oven to 325˚F or set the crockpot to high.
  4. Remove pork and fruit from marinade. Reserve fruit in a small bowl. Reserve marinade separately. Pat the pork until very dry with paper towels and lightly sprinkle with salt.
  5. Heat the oil in a Dutch oven large enough to fit the pork comfortably. Add the pork and brown the meat until nicely caramelized and colored. Allow meat to caramelize to a rich brown color before turning or moving. To get a beautiful caramelized coating, the browning process will take 20 to 30 minutes.       
  6. With a slotted spoon transfer pork to a plate (if you will be braising it in the oven) or the crockpot. Drain the oil from the Dutch oven, add the shallots or onion and sauté over medium heat until wilted and golden.
  7. Add the reserved marinade and deglaze the pan by bringing it to a boil, scraping up any browned bits remaining in the pan. Cook for several minutes, until slightly reduced. Add the meat back to the pot. If you are using a crockpot, pour the liquid over the meat.
  8. Stir in the apricots, raisins, half of the chicken stock, the bay leaves and honey; mix well.
  9. Cook the meat, turning once halfway through cooking, until very tender and falling off the bone. Add additional stock if needed.  A 2 ½ to 3 pound roast will take about 4 hours.
  10. Season with additional salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste.

Adapted from The Silver Palate Cookbook


Growing up, my mom made Potnips, potatoes and turnips cooked together. With this pork dish, I mix potatoes and parsnips for a hint of sweetness.

  • Use 1 small to medium potato and one medium parsnip per person
  • Butter
  • Milk, kefir or yogurt
  • Sea salt and white pepper
  1. Started a pot of water to boil large enough to cover the potatoes. Generously salt the water.
  2. Peel the parsnips and cut them into ½-inch pieces. Drop them in the water to cook until very tender.
  3. Meanwhile peel the potatoes and cut into large chunks.
  4. Strain the parsnips and lay them on a towel or paper towel to drain and dry.
  5. Add the potatoes to the salted water and boil until tender. Drain well.
  6. Add both vegetables to the bowl of a stand mixer, or use a handheld mixer. Whip the Potnips adding butter, dairy, salt and white pepper to taste.










Brine Roasted Turkey & Giblet Gravy

 My favorite way to prepare a turkey for Thanksgiving is to brine it. Wether you use a free range, heritage, or standard bird, brining imparts yummy flavor and adds moisture. It also pulls out the sweetness without masking the natural turkey flavor. You can be creative with the brine flavorings by adding rosemary, cinnamon stick, bay, oranges or other flavors that you love. Photo: Lora Mae Photography

My favorite way to prepare a turkey for Thanksgiving is to brine it. Wether you use a free range, heritage, or standard bird, brining imparts yummy flavor and adds moisture. It also pulls out the sweetness without masking the natural turkey flavor. You can be creative with the brine flavorings by adding rosemary, cinnamon stick, bay, oranges or other flavors that you love. Photo: Lora Mae Photography


  • One turkey, 10 to 13 pounds, *thawed. For a 14 to 15 pound bird, double the brine

  • 3 quarts (12 cups) water

  • 1 1/4 cup kosher salt or sea salt

  • 2 1/4 cups honey or 1 cup honey and 1 1/4 cup organic sugar

  • 4 to 6 lemons

  • 30 garlic cloves, smashed slightly with the side of a knife

  • 30 allspice

  • 30 black peppercorns

  • 2 bunches sage, optional

  • 1 large onion, peeled and halved

  • 1 (7-lb) bag of ice, optional, see below

  • Olive oil for rubbing the bird

To thaw the turkey:

  • Place the turkey in a large pan or bowl to catch the drips and thaw it in the refrigerator allowing 24 hours for every 5 pounds.

  • To thaw quickly, place unopened turkey, breast down, in a clean sink or very large container filled with cold tap water. Allow 30 minutes per pound to thaw. Change the water every 30 minutes to keep surface of turkey cold.

  • When thawed, keep in refrigerator for up to 4 days until ready to cook.

To Brine the Turkey:

  • Brine the bird for 60 minutes per pound, about 12 hours, turning once to make sure you’ve brined both sides of the turkey.

  1. Combine six cups of the water, 1 bunch of sage, and the remaining brine ingredients in a deep sauce pan and bring to a simmer, stirring until the salt and sugar are dissolved and gently for 10 minutes.

  2. Remove from the heat and add the remaining (cold) water. Stir and cool completely.

  3. Remove the giblets and neck and reserve for gravy or another use and rinse the turkey. Pat dry with paper towel.

          Two choices for brining the bird:

  1. Pour the brine into a nonreactive container just large enough to hold the bird and the liquid Making sure it fits in the fridge. The bird should be submerged as much as possible. You can also turn it half way through the brining process.

  2. Use a medium plastic picnic cooler that just fits the turkey. Place the turkey into a good quality plastic garbage bag and then place the bag into a second plastic bag for double protection. Place the bird into the cooler and slowly pour the cold brine into the interior bag. Gather the bags tightly around the bird. Seal the first and then the second bag by tying it into a tight knot. Cover the bag with ice. Check often to make sure the turkey is cold and surrounded with ice. Refresh ice when needed. Turn the bird once throughout the process to brine evenly.

Preparing to Roast the Turkey:

  1. Plan on 10 to 15 minutes per pound roasting time. Calculate using both 10 and 15 minutes multiplied by the weight of your turkey to gage timing and start to check the bird for doneness at the earlier time.

  2. One hour before roasting, remove the turkey from the brine. Rinse, discarding the brine and dry thoroughly with paper towel.

  3. Turn the wing tips back to hold the neck in place, tucking them under the back.

  4. Place the turkey, breast side up, on a rack in a large shallow roasting pan and cover loosely with a paper towel. Set aside to bring to room temperature.

  5. Preheat oven to 350°F

  6. Stuff the cavity with the second bunch of sage, halved lemons and the onion.

  7. Pat the bird to dry completely and massage the bird thoroughly with the olive oil. Do not sprinkle with salt or pepper. The bird has been flavored with the brine and the salt and pepper will blemish the skin.

  8. Insert an oven safe meat thermometer into the thickest part of the thigh, being sure that the pointed end of the thermometer does not touch the bone.

  9. Add the turkey neck and chicken feet (see turkey stock below) to the pan to brown for the stock.

  10. Put the turkey in the oven and reduce temperature to 325˚F

  11. Roast turkey, basting with the stock every half hour or so. While basting, check the neck and feet. Once golden brown remove them and make the stock below.

  12. Once the breast is browned to your liking, cover loosely with foil to prevent over browning.

  13. Continue to roast until the thermometer registers 175°F in the thigh, or 160°F in the breast.

  14. Remove the turkey to a platter and tent with foil to rest for 20 to 30 minutes. This will help the juices absorb back into the turkey and keep it moist.

To make the turkey stock; this can be done 2 days ahead:

  • 1 turkey neck

  • Giblets, soak the liver in milk while preparing turkey. Rinse and add to stock.

  • 6 chicken feet if you have them

  • 1 onion, chopped coarsely

  • 2 each carrots and celery, chopped coarsely

  • 2 Tbls. olive oil or melted butter

  • 1 bay leaf

  • 1 tsp. whole peppercorns

  • 6 cups water

  1. In a pot large enough to hold the stock ingredients, melt the butter or oil over medium heat.

  2. Add the vegetables and cook, stirring often until golden brown.

  3. Add the remaining ingredients and simmer on low for 15 minutes.

  4. Remove the liver and set aside.

  5. Continue to simmer for a total of one hour. Skim the scum that rises to the surface.

  6. Remove the remaining giblets and set aside.

  7. Strain the stock, pressing the vegetables to extract the juices and toss the vegetables. Measure the stock; you should have four cups of stock. If you have more, simmer to reduce to four cups. Set aside until turkey is done.

To Finish the Turkey and Make the Gravy:

  • Cooked giblets, cleaned of veins, muscle, etc. and minced

  • 4 Tbls. turkey drippings

  • ¼ cup all-purpose or gluten free white flour

  • 4 cups stock

  • 1 Tbls. dried porcini mushroom powder (optional)

  • 1 Tbls. Madeira or dry sherry (optional)

  • Salt & white or black pepper

  1. In the roasting pan, remove all but about four tablespoons of fat and place the roasting pan on the stove over medium heat.

  2. When the drippings are sizzling, add the flour and stir until it is a golden brown.

  3. Add the stock in a steady stream, whisking. Bring to a boil and reduce to simmer.

  4. Scrape up all of the roasting bits that are stuck to the roasting pan.

  5. Add the mushroom powder and Madeira or sherry if using.

  6. Simmer for 5 to 10 minutes, whisking occasionally.

  7. Season with salt and freshly cracked black pepper.

Enjoy the fruits of your labor!

Eggs Benedict Salad with Cottage Bacon, Spring Vegetables & Lemon

Cottage bacon is sweet, full of flavor, and has just enough fat. If you google it or Canadian bacon, the options are always the same, pizza and Eggs Benedict. It can be used in place of bacon in just about any application but it’s so delicious, I prefer to let it stand on it’s own. Here I’ve made a summer “Eggs Benedict Salad” with Spring vegetables, lemon, and croutons.

Serves 4

  • 1 pound Cottage Bacon, I use Rockside Ranch
  • 4 to 8 eggs, boiled for 7 to 8 minutes, drop in ice water to cool then peel and quarter
  • 1 bunch asparagus (or one handful of green beans per person) cut on the diagonal
  • ¾ lbs. baby new potatoes or larger potatoes quartered and dropped in cold water
  • 1 large handful washed and dried lettuce of your choice per person
  • 1 -2 tomatoes, quartered
  • Your favorite olives to garnish
  • Croutons of your choice
  • ½ Tbls. Dijon style mustard
  • 2 shallots, minced (optional)
  • Juice of one lemon, about 4 Tbls.
  • ½ cup good quality olive oil or too taste
  • Fresh cracked pepper, I love pink peppercorns here
  • Pinch sea salt

Bring a medium pot of water to boil. Prepare a large bowl with ice and water. Drop the asparagus, green beans, or both into the boiling water and stir. Cook just until crisp tender, about two minutes. Test one and when cooked to your liking, scoop the vegetables out and drop them into the ice water to cool. Drain as soon as they are cold. Place them back in the bowl.

Salt the boiling water and add the drained potatoes. Cook until the can be pierced with a knife with resistance. They will still cook as they cool.

Make the dressing: Whisk the mustard and shallots together in a small bowl. Whisk in the lemon juice and then the olive oil. Season to taste and adjust lemon or olive oil to your liking. When to potatoes are done, drain and place in a bowl and toss with several tablespoons of the dressing. Set aside.

Now for the bacon: Heat a medium heavy bottomed skillet of any kind. Once the skillet is hot (wave your hand over the surface) add the bacon in a single layer and don’t move it. The bacon will stick until the fat melts and the protein turns to sugar and caramelizes the meat. By being patient, you’ll have a crispy sweet piece of bacon. Once one side is caramelized, turn the pieces over to warm the second side. The longer it cooks, the crispier it gets. That choice is yours. Stack the cooked bacon on a small plate and cook the remaining pieces.

Putting it all together: Add the lettuce to the vegetables and toss with just enough dressing to coat. Pile on a large platter and garnish with the bacon, quartered eggs, tomatoes, olives, and croutons. Drizzle the remaining dressing over the salad or serve on the side.

Blanching tips:

  • Don’t blanch vegetables that are primarily water such as summer squash or eggplant.
  • Mix vegetables that are grown in the same season.
  • Blanch several vegetables at once. You can store them in the fridge and pull them out to toss with salads, pasta , or sauté in fat.



Perfect Roast Chicken with Salsa Verde


A perfectly roasted chicken makes a delicious meal and if you're lucky, leftovers plus bones for broth. There's no reason we home cooks shouldn't achieve perfection which is why I've adapted my roasted chicken from one of the best restaurants in America, Thomas Keller's ad hoc.

The chicken

  • One 4- to 4 1/2- pound chicken, more or less (Serves 4-6)
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • Fresh thyme or rosemary sprigs, lemon or orange halves, garlic cloves, etc.
  • 4 large carrots, left whole
  • 4 celery stalks, left whole
  • 1 small yellow onion, trimmed, leaving root end intact, and cut into quarters
  • Kitchen twine
  • 1 Tbls. olive oil
  • 1 to 2 cups white wine, chicken or vegetable broth or water

Salsa Verde (below and optional)

Remove the chicken from the refrigerator and let it stand at room temperature for 1 1/2 to 2 hours or until it comes to room temperature. Preheat the oven to 475° F. 

Using a paring knife, cut out the wishbone from the chicken. This can be found by running your finger along the neck cavity. This step is not necessary but will make it easier to carve the chicken. Generously season the cavity of the chicken with salt and pepper. Fill the cavity with the herbs, citrus halves, garlic cloves, etc., and massage the inside of the bird to infuse it with the flavors and plump the bird. Tie the legs together at the ankles with the twine.

Place the whole vegetables in the center of a roasting pan to act as a shelf that will lift the chicken up off the pan. This will help it to evenly brown and crisp. Place the chicken on the “vegetable shelf” and rub the skin with the olive oil. Season it generously with salt. Add 1 cup of water, wine or broth to the roasting pan. Put the chicken in the oven and roast for 25 minutes or until the skin is beautifully browned.

Reduce the heat to 450°F and roast until done.

Chicken is done at 165˚ - 170˚ Roast the chicken for a total of 45 minutes plus 7 minutes per pound [e.g. a 4-pound chicken = 45 + 7 minutes X 4 lbs. = 73 minutes]

The temperature should register 165°F in the meatiest portions of the bird which are the thighs and under the breast where the thighs and breast meet. Check to make sure the juices run clear and are not pink. If necessary, return the bird to the oven and check every 5 minutes or so. Remove the chicken onto a platter or cutting board and tent loosely with foil. Let the chicken rest for 15 to 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, squeeze the vegetables in the pan to remove the juices, then toss. Warm the remaining juices over medium heat. Add the second cup of white wine, chicken or vegetable broth. Bring the mixture to a simmer and scrape all the bits from the pan. Serve with the chicken alone with the juices and lemon wedges or try the salsa verde below.

Adapted from ad hoc at home, Thomas Keller

Salsa Verde The herbs in this sauce add a lovely fresh taste to the bird along with umami from the anchovies.

  • 1/4 cup capers, rinsed
  • 4 anchovy fillets in oil, drained (optional)
  • 3 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1/2 cup coarsely chopped arugula
  • 1/2 cup coarsely chopped parsley
  • 1/2 cup coarsely chopped basil
  • 1/2 cup coarsely chopped cilantro
  • 1/4 cup coarsely chopped tarragon
  • 1/4 cup coarsely chopped chives
  • 1/4 cup coarsely chopped sage

Note: use the herbs you have and leave out what you don’t. 

Using a mortar and pestle or food processor, blend or mash the capers with the anchovies and garlic until a paste forms. Transfer to a bowl and whisk in the remaining 1 cup of olive oil. Stir in the herbs and season with salt to taste. The salsa verde can be refrigerated overnight and is best served at room temperature.

Chicken Monterey

This recipe highlights California fruits and vegetables using summer squash, oregano and orange. It's light, packed with vegetables and refreshing. It's pretty enough for a special meal and great to prep in the cool of the morning then finish in the crockpot. 

  • 5 Tbls olive oil
  • 1 frying chicken, cut into pieces
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 2 carrots, chopped (I like the red & yellow carrots)
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 cup or more chicken broth
  • Zest of one orange
  • 1/2 cup fresh orange juice
  • 1/2 cup canned tomatoes, crushed 
  • 1 lg. sprig fresh oregano or rosemary, minced 
  • 1 red pepper, cored and stemmed, cut julienne (matchsticks)
  • 1 red pepper, cored and stemmed, cut julienne (matchsticks)
  • 1 small zucchini, cut julienne (matchsticks)
  • 1 small yellow zucchini, cut julienne (matchsticks)
  •     For the garnish:
  • 1/3 cup parsley, minced and mixed with 1 Tbls. orange zest
  • Salt and pepper (white pepper is nice here)

On medium-high, heat 3 Tbls. of the oil in a large skillet. Pat the chicken pieces dry, lightly sprinkle with salt and pepper and sauté until a light golden on both sides. Remove to a plate and set aside. 

Turn the heat down to low and add the onions, carrots and garlic to the oil. Cover and sweat, cooking until tender, about 5 minutes. Uncover the skillet and add the stock, orange juice, tomatoes, and oregano. Simmer uncovered, for 15 minutes. 

Return chicken pieces to the pan and simmer for 15 minutes. Turn and baste the chicken and simmer for an additional 10 minutes or until the chicken is done.

  • At this point, the chicken can be cooled and then chilled to use another day. Gently reheat the chicken in the sauce and proceed. 
  • To cook in a crockpot, instead of simmering on the stove, add the pieces, broth, juice, etc. to the crockpot and proceed following your crockpot recommendations for chicken.

To serve:

In a clean skillet, over medium heat, add remaining 2 Tbls. olive oil and sauté the red peppers for 5 minutes. Raise the heat and add the zucchini. Sauté until tender but firm, about 3 to 5 minutes. Place the chicken in a deep platter or on individual plates and cover with the sauce-vegetable mixture.

Top each piece with a mound of the pepper-zucchini mixture and garnish with a sprinkle of the parsley-orange zest mixture.

Adapted years ago from The Silver Palate Cookbook



Socca, a French street food & perfect hors d'oeuvre.

  Christmas is the time to make food festive. 

Christmas is the time to make food festive. 

Socca are a traditional street food in the south of France made with chickpea flour. They are a delicious, gluten free crepe. Here, egg whites are added to make more of a pancake or blini. These pancakes make great individual pizzas but I prefer to use them as a blini. They are easy to make, can be made ahead and hold up well when being picked up with fingers. Be creative with toppings.

For the schmear I use:

  • Hummus, either homemade or purchased
  • Creme Fraiche or Labne (Greek yogurt) 
  • Whipped cream cheese with chopped herbs
  • Soft Brie
  • Fresh goat cheese blended with a touch of cream

For the toppings:

  • I go to a good grocery store olive bar and grab a viriety of toppings like olives, roasted peppers, garlic confit, capers, marinated feta, what ever suits your fancy
  • Smoked fish of any sort is killer with creme fraiche 
  • Caviar! 
  • Pistachios on Brie  
  • Poached, spiced figs with cheese

The recipe:

Serves 4 or 24-30 mini cakes

1 3/4 cups chickpea flour (garbanzo flour)

1 3/4 cups water

1 1/2 Tbls. olive oil

3/4 tsp. salt

2 large egg whites, room temp

pinch cream of tarter

Put the chickpea flour, salt, olive oil, salt and water in a large metal bowl and whisk until completely smooth. Let the batter sit 10-15 minutes. Add more flour if needed to make the consistency similar to pancake batter.

In a clean and grease free metal bowl, whip the egg whites and cream of tarter until soft,  glossy peaks form. Gently fold 1/4 of the whites into the batter. Fold in remaining whites just until blended. You should still see thin streaks of whites.

Line a baking sheet with parchment and lightly brush with olive oil.

For Blini: Use a nonstick pan or seasoned pancake griddle lightly brushed with olive oil. Heat to med-heat. Add one tablespoon of the batter forming a small pancake. Any size you’d like is fine really. Cook until bubbles appear as you would pancakes. Flip and cook the second side. Remove to cookie sheet and make remaining blini. You can keep blini in a warm oven until ready to serve but it’s not really necessary.

 To make four large pancakes: Using a 6” nonstick pan brushed with olive oil, heat to med-heat. Add one quarter of the batter forming a pancake. Cook until bubbles appear as you would pancakes. Flip and cook the second side. Remove to cookie sheet and make remaining pancakes. Keep warm in the oven.

Adapted from Plenty by Yotam Ottolenghi

Community Cuisine, Barbie Aknin

Butternut Squash and Hazelnut Lasagne

This is perfect as a side dish or entree served with a salad of bitter greens like arugula and a light vinaigrette. Serves 6

For squash filling:
1 large onion, halved and sliced 1/4-inch thick
2 Tbls. melted butter
3 lbs. butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and sliced in to 1/4-inch slices 1 teaspoon
minced garlic
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon white pepper
4 teaspoons chopped fresh sage or 1 tsp. powdered dry sage
1 cup hazelnuts (4 oz), toasted, loose skins rubbed off with a kitchen towel, and coarsely chopped
Parchment paper and two cookie sheets

For sauce:
1 teaspoon minced garlic
5 tablespoons unsalted butter
5 tablespoons all-purpose flour
5 cups milk or white chicken stock, heated
1 bay leaf
1 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon white pepper

For assembling lasagne:
1/2 lb mozzarella, coarsely grated (2 cups)
1 cup finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano or Pecorino (3 oz)
12 (7- by 3 1/2-inch) sheets no-boil lasagne (1/2 lb)

Make filling:
Preheat oven to 375˚ and cover cookie sheets with parchment paper. In a small bowl, stir the salt, pepper and sage to blend. In a large bowl,  toss the sliced onion and squash with the melted butter. Sprinkle the spice mixture over squash-onion mixture and toss. 

Place on parchment-lined cookie sheets and roast until tender, 15-20 minutes. Toss with a spatula if the squash if needed. 

Make sauce while squash cooks:
Cook garlic in butter in a 3-quart heavy saucepan over moderately low heat. Do not brown. Whisk in the flour to make a roux, whisking, 3 minutes. Add milk or stock in a stream, whisking. Add bay leaf and bring to a boil, whisking constantly, then reduce heat and simmer, whisking occasionally for 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper and remove from heat. Discard bay leaf. (Butter or cover surface of sauce with wax paper if not using immediately.)

Butternut Squash and Hazelnut Lasagne

Assemble lasagne:
Turn up oven to 425°F.
Toss cheeses together. Remove bay leaf from sauce and spread 1/2 cup sauce in a buttered 13- by 9- by 2-inch glass baking dish (or other shallow 3-quart baking dish) and cover with 3 pasta sheets, leaving spaces between sheets. Spread with 2/3 cup sauce and one third of filling and chopped hazelnuts, then sprinkle with a heaping 1/2 cup cheese. Repeat layering 2 more times, beginning with pasta sheets and ending with cheese. Top with remaining 3 pasta sheets, remaining sauce, and remaining cheese. 

Tightly cover baking dish with buttered foil and bake lasagne in middle of oven 30 minutes. Remove foil and bake until golden and bubbling, 10 to 15 minutes more. Let lasagne stand 15 to 20 minutes before serving.

Cooks' note:
Filling and sauce can be made 1 day ahead and kept separately, covered and chilled. 
Bring to room temperature before assembling.

Adapted from Gourmet, December 2001
Community Cuisine, Barbie Aknin

Bapa's Chouchouka

Bapa’s Chouchouka

Makes about 2 cups

Chouchouka is a cooked tomato and pepper dish from Israel and North Africa (especially Tunisia) where my father in law is from. Every year at our family summer picnic, a serious competition ensues with a trophy for the winner of the years best Chouchouka. The competition is fierce and I have yet to win.

It’s delicious room temperature piled on baguette or pita bread. It can also be simmered in a frying pan with eggs floating on top or with merguez, a spicy lamb sausage added. 

  • 2 to 3 bell or other meaty sweet peppers of equal weight, roasted* 
  • 4 to 6 Tbls. olive oil
  • 4 cloves garlic, two minced and two sliced thinly
  • 1 14-oz. can good quality peeled Italian plum tomatoes with juice
  • 1 small spoonful harissa, a North African chili paste, mild to hot depending on your liking or 1 Tbls. smoked paprika and cayenne pepper to taste
  • 1 Tbls. tomato paste (optional)
  • Fresh parsley or cilantro, coarsely chopped

Pour the tomatoes and juice into a bowl and break up the tomatoes with your hands into small pieces. In a skillet just big enough to fit the ingredients with room to simmer, warm the olive oil over medium heat. When the oil is hot, add the minced garlic and stir until wilted. Do Not brown. Add the tomato pieces and their juice into the pan. Simmer for 5 to 10 minutes.

Peel, seed and devein the peppers and cut them into thin strips 1/4-inch or so. Add the peppers and the sliced garlic to the pan. Allow the sauce to simmer, stirring often for 30 to 45 minutes until it thickens and the oil rises to the top. Stir often. A bit of water can be added to keep it from burning however one of Bapa’s secrets (and please don’t share this) is to allow the sauce to burn “just a bit” for added flavor. Season with salt and pepper. Serve at room temperature sprinkled with parsley or cilantro.

Chouchouka with Eggs and Merguez

Serves 4 to 8

  • Double recipe of chouchouka
  • 1 pound merguez sausage, skinned (the eggs are also good with just the Chouchouka)
  • 8 large eggs

Heat a skillet to medium and add merguez breaking up the sausage into small pieces. Fry the sausage until crispy and done. Drain the fat and add the chouchouka to the pan. Gently heat the mixture over medium heat. Stir often and add a bit of water if needed. 

Once hot, break the eggs one at a time into a small dish. Make a dent in the Chouchouka and add an egg. Repeat with remaining eggs placing eggs in their own “nest”. Cover and continue to cook for about 7 to 8 minutes, until the eggs are set. Sprinkle with parsley or cilantro and serve.

Roasting Peppers

Peppers can be roasted over or under any direct heat. You can grill, broil, or use my favorite method, over a gas flame on the stove. I've also done this on an electric burner. If using the oven, set on broil and cover cookie sheets with foil.

Place the peppers over (or under) heat and allow them to blister and char on all sides, top and bottom. Once blackened, place in a bowl and cover with plastic wrap to steam or put them in a plastic bag and seal it. Allow to cool enough to handle.

Once cool, peel the peppers. You can use a dull knife to scrape stubborn bits and don't feel that you have to remove all of the skin. Remove stem and seeds. I prefer not to rinse the peppers as you loose some flavor.