Category Archives: Easy to Prepare

Chicken Piccata with Braised Artichokes

Recipe for The Daring Kitchen
The March 2012 Daring Cooks’ Challenge was hosted by Carol, aka Poisonive – and she challenged us all to learn the art of braising! Carol focused on Michael Ruhlman’s technique and shared with us some of his expertise from his book “Ruhlman’s Twenty”.

Love is a Thistly Warrior

Good things come to those who wait, and this month’s Daring Kitchen was proof of that fact.  When I think of my two favorite braised dishes, I crave fork-tender beef short ribs with crimini mushrooms that have greedily sucked up all of the surrounding juices, and braised chicken thighs with shallots, tarragon and cream. Both are stunning and ever-so-yummy, but are wintry treats perfect for curling up to replete with the roaring fire and snifter of cognac.  I wanted something appropriately light and savory for the warming weather here in Arizona, and our host of the month had a perfect suggestion.

On Carol’s list of recommended recipes, she listed Michael Chiarello (swoon!) and his Lemon Braised Artichokes.  I thought that it was simple and gorgeous and would pair perfectly with a pan of chicken piccata.  Turns out that the two were a match made in heaven, and I was treated to bites that sparkled with lemon, briny capers and tender chicken.  You’ve gotta love it when a good plan comes together! Continue reading Chicken Piccata with Braised Artichokes

Black Bean Cakes with Pineapple Salsa and Avocado Crema

Recipe for the Daring Kitchen
This month, The Daring Cooks’ February 2012 challenge was hosted by Audax & Lis and they chose to present patties for their ease of construction, ingredients and deliciousness. We were given several recipes, and learned the different types of binders and cooking methods to produce our own tasty patties.

I Want a Taste of You, Baby Cakes

This recipe was all the doing of my buddy Karen – you see, this month has been banana cakes and not in the good way.  My schedule’s relentless and although I’ll never cop to biting off more than I can chew, my mouth is as full as my plate and work is looking like an endless buffet.  Karen and I are cooking buddies, seeking out new techniques in the kitchen and regularly participating in the monthly challenges proffered up by the online foodie club, The Daring Kitchen.

Karen immediately dug through her mental rolodex of recipe majesty, a good thing because my brain was more fried than a bucket of chicken from the Colonel.  She remembered a fabulous black bean cake recipe from Emeril Lagasse would be perfect to make.  I was relieved for her quick wit and paired the cakes with a fresh pineapple salsa enlivened with piquant red jalapenos and a simple avocado crema made with greek yogurt and lime.  The final result was ridiculously good – a composed plate that looked like it should be served at a fancy pants restaurant rather than the picnic table in my backyard.  Plus, the time we spent cooking was a welcome respite from the piles of work in front of me.  Good times! Continue reading Black Bean Cakes with Pineapple Salsa and Avocado Crema

Shallot Yogurt Dip

The Consortium for Making Yogurt Dangerously Delicious

Yes, it’s an actual consortium.  I started it as an excuse to convince myself that anything that I put greek yogurt on is immediately transformed into food that is healthy and restorative.  I’m about to test my theory on a gyro platter with extra french fries.

This recipe is for days when tzatziki is far too great a challenge for you.  Not that tzatziki is all that hard to make, but when I have even less in the fridge than I need for that, I turn to this shallot yogurt. Worst case scenario, I’ll used dried mint and *cringe* dried parsley to make it happen and never look back. If you DO have fresh mint and parsley, though, this one is beyond a delight, providing refreshing coolness to whatever you deign to serve with it. Continue reading Shallot Yogurt Dip

Israeli Cucumber Salad

Cooler Than a Fucking…Well, You Know

This salad is too cool for school – it just stares you down like it’s the reason that your life is spectacular and you should adore it as such.  The recipe is wicked simple – just a little chopping and a light vinaigrette of olive oil and lemon juice to hold it all together.  It’s versatility, though, is the selling point – meaning that you can serve it with any and all things grilled or top it with feta or mix in some orzo and BAM BOOM, you’ve got yourself a new dish and a new recipe to save for the treasure trove.  Don’t thank me – thank the Olive Tree Cafe for the inspiration.  They hooked me on the stuff and I had to craft a similar recipe for myself. Continue reading Israeli Cucumber Salad

Kefta Kebabs

Grind It Out

I’ve long been in love with kefta kebabs – the addictive combination of ground lamb or beef seasoned with aromatics such as onion, garlic, parsley and mint. I first truly fell in love with them at one of my most beloved spots in NYC, The Olive Tree Cafe. Aside from being the place where I went on my very first date with my now husband, it was a haunt that my friends and I would hit up back in college. The food was cheap and plentiful, the drinks strong, and if you couldn’t score a reservation to the Comedy Cellar below the restaurant for one of the stand-up shows, you could sit at a table right next to the same comedians working that night. The place has been in my life for years and years, and crazily enough, their charcoal-grilled kefta kebabs are a huge part of my love of the place. Continue reading Kefta Kebabs

Chicken Paprikash

Redder Than Your Cheeks…No, Your Other Cheeks…

This is one of those recipes that I adore on a weeknight when I want to spend a modicum of time in the kitchen, and a maximum amount of time lounging on the couch with the hubs.  The kind of meal that is effortless, filling and won’t have me mucking up a ton of dishes in the process.  Paprikash is like sweet nectar from the gods on evenings where the only other dinner alternative is a bag of LiveSavers Sour Gummies eaten directly in bed with a bottle of water for a side dish.

Paprikash is a nourishing Hungarian stew that leverages sour cream to coax chicken (and often veal) into tenderness.  Finding good paprika is key to this recipe to keep the flavors bright, so toss that old jar that’s been sitting in your pantry for ages and spring for some that’s new and vibrant red.  You’ll thank me when you take your first bite and see the entire evening brighten before your eyes :) Continue reading Chicken Paprikash

Spinach Artichoke Dip

Sexy Ass Spinach…For Lovers Only

I know that this is one of those recipes that you think of from 90s potlucks and progressive dinners. Pop it in a bread bowl and you are completely with the era. But I still go back to this recipe for the winning combination of flavors and the lack of pre-processed ingredients used to make it. This is no TGIF Frozen Spinach Dip in the freezer aisle of the grocery store. This one is for lovers only. Shallots and garlic flavor the creamy dip and bring out the sweetness of the spinach and artichokes. Best of all, the ingredient list is simple enough that you probably have most of the ingredients on hand already. So if you need a calorie splurge to go with a little junk TV, this’ll do the trick. Bravo, here I come… Continue reading Spinach Artichoke Dip

Simple Herb Roasted Turkey

Despite the fact that turkey gets a bad name in the way of ease of cooking, it’s really not all that bad.  I still don’t understand why the cooking of the Thanksgiving turkey is the litmus test for a new chef’s mettle.  Screw up the turkey and you’re in deep doo-doo.  Craft a stunning bird with crisp skin and moist white meat, you can cook anything.

Well, in actuality, whether you can cook or not, if you follow a couple of simple steps, you can create an expertly seasoned and prepped turkey that will fool people into thinking that you are a vet in the kitchen.  Take the praise.  You deserve it for being wise enough to know you can fake it ’til you make it. Continue reading Simple Herb Roasted Turkey

Ginger Cranberry Chutney

I never cared much for cranberry sauce until I tried out my grandmother’s suggestion to make a recipe with fresh cranberries.  Aside from the brightness of flavors and use of a whole orange for zest, the star of the show was the crystalized ginger.  I was an instant convert.

Many years later, upon reading through Amanda Hesser’s NYT Cookbook, I came across a chutney recipe that seemed to contain all of my favorite fall flavors.  I decided to tweak it a bit and again make crystalized ginger the star of the show.  The result was a lush, bright sauce that served the perfect stand-in for that canned cranberry nonsense. Continue reading Ginger Cranberry Chutney

Sauteed String Beans with Garlic

Although this is barely a recipe, it can be construed as a damn good feast all by its lonesome.  String beans honestly don’t need a whole lot of dressing up in order to be brilliant, and this recipe is the perfect proof of that.  Garlic, butter and olive oil form a dressing for the tender crisp beans, showcasing their sweetness.  Why mess with perfection?

If you like a little bit of added texture, feel free to toss in a smattering of slivered almonds.  Or add dried cherries or cranberries for tartness.  Whatever you choose to do, make it your own and don’t expend a lot of effort.  The green beans are the stars of the show here. Continue reading Sauteed String Beans with Garlic