If you’ve been to Jon & Vinny’s in LA, you may recognize this salad which they call Gem Lettuce, Calabrian Chili Dressing, Parmigiano, & Bread Crumbs. It’s basically a spicy Caesar salad with the most delicious breadcrumbs and baby romaine leaves. It’s insanely good and worth every bit of the $16.50 they charge for one portion. Or is it? Well, we can make it at home and it’s just as good, friends! I make it all the time when I have people over or we want a really great Caesar. Ok, let’s do it!Continue reading
You see that beautiful piece of fish down there? That is my idea of a perfect dinner — simple, healthy, light, delicious, seasonal, easy-to-make. If my family didn’t thrive on an ever-changing dinner menu, I would love to eat this twice a week with a fresh salad and a glass of rosé. Perfect.
Fish in parchment is easier than it looks and one of the most healthful ways to cook fish. I have taught and posted two other fish in parchment recipes which you may have tried, one with cilantro and ginger and the second with summer herbs. Both are delicious and perfect when you want something light in the summer.
The basic idea when you’re cooking in parchment, is to use ingredients that all cook pretty quickly and at the same rate. Make sure that parchment is tightly sealed and you’ll create a little steam oven in that packet. I always make sure the fish is well-seasoned with salt and pepper and that I add a smidge of fat, either butter or olive oil for flavor, and then there are lots of possibilities.
Once I see those first local tomatoes at the farmers market, I start going a little tomato-crazy. I especially love cherry tomatoes because they are always so sweet. In this recipe, you can’t beat the combination with the sautéed garlic, salty capers and olives and zingy white wine. I would eat this with a simple rice pilaf or quinoa salad or a raw zucchini salad. My family would probably love a little pasta with pesto to go with it.
I have taught this recipe in my cooking classes many, many times and sometimes I added some raw baby spinach leaves under the fish. The spinach wilts beautifully and tastes delicious with all the other ingredients. Shaved zucchini slices would also be perfect, but you could also add vegetables to the packet like blanched (not raw) green beans or slivers of roasted peppers.
Of course, if there are ingredients in the recipe you don’t care for, feel free to omit. After I finish going over a recipe in my class, I take a few minutes to talk about substitutions. Questions about how to change the recipe are the most common questions that come up — how do I make this gluten-free? My husband won’t eat anything with onion. I hate olives. Etc, etc. I give you permission to take out the olives if you want.
Summer is here, friends. Let’s get cooking!
- 1 Tablespoon unrefined, cold pressed, extra virgin olive oil
- 3 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
- ⅛ teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 1 cup grape tomatoes, halved
- 2 Tablespoons capers, drained
- a handful of mixed fresh herbs (I like to use mostly parsley with a little basil and mint mixed in), if you have them or sprigs of fresh thyme
- ½ teaspoon sea salt + extra for seasoning fish
- a few grinds of freshly ground black pepper to taste + extra for seasoning fish
- 4 filets of wild halibut or sole
- 4 teaspoons unsalted butter or unrefined, cold-pressed extra-virgin olive oil
- 8 teaspoons dry white wine
- 4 12-inch squares of unbleached parchment
- Preheat oven to 450 degrees. In a medium saucepan, heat 1 Tablespoon olive oil. Add sliced garlic, red pepper flakes and cook until the garlic is fragrant and almost golden brown, about 1 minute. Remove from heat and stir in tomatoes, capers and fresh herbs, salt and pepper.
- Arrange each piece of fish in the center of the parchment paper and sprinkle with a pinch of sea salt and pepper.
- Top each filet with a fourth of the tomato mixture, 1 teaspoon of butter or oil, and 2 teaspoons wine.
- Bring 2 opposite sides of the parchment together and fold. Continue to fold all the way down until you reach the fish. Twist both ends of the parchment so that it looks like a hard candy wrapper. Repeat for each piece of fish. Place each packet on a baking sheet and bake for 8-10 minutes based on the thickness of the fish.
- Transfer each packet to a plate and use caution when opening – the steam will be very hot!
I just finished teaching this recipe in my March classes and it was a huge hit! I don’t even like chicken and I seemed to always be looking for a bite at the end of class. I had so many requests to post this recipe that I had to oblige, even though the images aren’t totally the best. I think this would be perfectly appropriate to prepare for Passover, with one minor adjustment. And it’s a great recipe to adapt as cherry tomatoes and beefsteak tomatoes become available.
The recipe is basically a braise, but the chicken is cooked uncovered for most of the time, which is why I call it Baked Chicken, versus Braised Chicken. But the formula is still very much the same — browning the meat first to create flavor and color, sauteing onions, deglazing, putting meat back in and baking in the oven until cooked through. Once you understand the steps, you can start making up your own recipe or adapting recipes like this one with other ingredients or flavors.
I personally like using bone-in, skin-on pieces of chicken since I think they taste better and stay a little moister, especially breast pieces. Unfortunately, cooking with bone-in, skin-on pieces takes longer than boneless, skinless and may not be a great option for those of you needing a really fast recipe for after work. Fortunately, this recipe can be adapted for cutlets and even a slow cooker, so look for those options in the instructions.
This dish produces very tender, flavorful chicken, as well as the accompanying onions and sauce. In the ingredient list it offers the option of draining the juice from the jar of tomatoes or keeping it. Here’s my thought process on that one: if you will be serving the chicken with noodles or pasta, polenta, mashed potatoes or something that would welcome a lot of sauce, then you should keep the juice. Otherwise, drain the juice and just use the tomato pieces. I also love this dish during cherry tomato season, when I will use 1 1/2 pounds of halved sweet cherry tomatoes in place of the jarred, and basil leaves instead of the thyme. Large vine-ripened tomatoes that have been blanched and chopped are also great. Both of these options create a much lighter, fresher dish. But every variation is very delicious.
Other adaptations I discussed in class:
- subbing fennel for half the onion
- omitting the olives and adding chopped mushrooms with the onions
- adding a healthy pinch of crushed red pepper flakes with the garlic
- in the summer, subbing sliced sweet bell pepper for some of the onion
- searing cauliflower steaks and using those in place of the chicken for a vegetarian/vegan option
I always use breasts when I teach because most of my students prefer white meat, and therefore it’s just easier for me to buy all breasts. You can certainly use any part of the chicken you want. In fact, it’s more economical to buy a whole chicken and have the butcher cut it into pieces for you. But I highly recommend not buying 1 breast per person. It’s too much meat to eat in one sitting, unless you are an Olympian or a body builder! I have never actually seen anyone at my house or at a dinner party eat an entire breast. I have seen people cut them in half and push one piece off to the side and just each one half. What I love to do is prepare the breasts, allowing for 1/2 per person, and removing the bones after the chicken is cooked and has rested a bit. Then I slice the meat on an angle. It’s much more manageable to eat it this way, as well as more elegant and attractive to serve. See this post on the gloves I use to get down and dirty when I carve chicken!
Let me know if you have specific questions about timing or with what sides to serve this. Hope your holiday planning is going well!
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- 3 ½ pounds bone-in, skin-on chicken pieces, sprinkled with 2 teaspoons kosher salt when you get home from the market unless you are using kosher chicken which you should not salt (read this post on how and why to season your chicken in advance)
- ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- Flour for dredging (all-purpose, spelt, GF flour, etc.) -- use matzoh cake meal for Passover
- 2 Tablespoons unrefined, cold-pressed, extra-virgin olive oil, divided
- 1 ½ medium onions, cut through the root into sixths or eighths (or sliced thinly, but I like wedges better in this recipe)
- 3 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
- 1 18-ounce jar diced tomatoes with the juice (or drain juice for less sauce) (I like Jovial in glass jars. Read this post why.)
- ¼ cup dry white wine
- ¼ cup chicken stock, vegetable stock or more white wine
- 6 fresh thyme sprigs or large basil leaves in the summer/fall
- ½ cup pitted olives, such as kalamata or Bella di Cerignola
- 2 Tablespoons capers, drained
- chopped parsley for garnish, if desired
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Pat the chicken dry and season with black pepper. Dredge in flour, shaking off any excess.
- In a 12-inch ovenproof skillet or Dutch oven, heat 1 Tablespoon of the olive oil over medium heat. Add the chicken pieces in one layer and brown on both sides. Transfer to a plate and reserve.
- If the pan looks dry, add a little oil. If it looks like there’s more than 2 Tablespoons oil, drain a bit off. Add the onions, cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until softened and lightly browned. Add the garlic and sea salt and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute.
- Add the tomatoes, white wine, stock and cook, scraping any brown bits on bottom of the pan.
- Arrange the thyme, olives and capers over the onion mixture. Place the browned chicken pieces side by side on top. Bring the mixture to a simmer. Cover and place in the oven.
- After 15 minutes, baste the chicken with the juices in the pot. Continue cooking, uncovered, for an additional 30-40 minutes (depending on thickness), basting every 10 minutes if you have time. Sprinkle with parsley and serve. (You can also cook covered on the stove over low heat for 30 minutes.)
For a slow cooker version, use skinless chicken and 3 Tablespoons each of stock and wine instead of 4. Follow same directions, but after deglazing, pour everything into the slow cooker and cook for 4-5 hours on HIGH or 6-8 on LOW.
There are things I have to make for Thanksgiving and things I want to make for Thanksgiving. Even though I don’t eat turkey, everyone else that shows up does, so that’s non-negotiable. As are stuffing and mashed potatoes. Thank heavens for Pinterest boards. So even if I don’t get to indulge my fantasy of an all-veggie, every-color-of-the-rainbow-Thanksgiving, I can look at it on my computer screen.
I might be alone here, but I actually think turkey is totally boring, and the veggie side dishes are where all the fun happens. I like color, texture and freshness! This Brussels sprout hash is my idea of a good time on Thanksgiving. It’s green, bright, a little crunchy and a little acidic. Compared to turkey, this hash is a party!
Unlike some Thanksgiving side dishes (sweet potato casserole,) this Brussels sprout hash is no one-hit wonder. It is incredibly complementary with turkey and mashed potatoes, but it is equally delicious mixed with whole grain pasta (my favorite) or as a side to fish or chicken. This Brussels sprout dish has become one of my favorite comfort foods and my kids actually like it, too! Plus, it’s incredibly easy and fast to fix up. Not that I am all that concerned with nutrition on Thanksgiving, this is also a pretty healthful dish.
The difficult part of Thanksgiving menu-planning for me is how to include Brussels sprouts on the menu. I have so many favorite recipes that all work beautifully, it’s difficult to choose! Although it’s a tad more work than just cutting them in half, I love the texture of the sprouts when they are cut thinly like this. If you have a food processor with a slicing blade, you can prep this in seconds. Here’s how I would tackle this for Thanksgiving:
- slice the sprouts and refrigerate in a covered container or zippered bag
- squeeze the lemon juice and refrigerate
- toast the hazelnuts, rub with a towel to remove skins and chop. Keep in a covered container at room temp.
Day of Thanksgiving:
Cook sprouts right before serving dinner.
Look out for my Thursday posts to help you get ahead and be organized for Thanksgiving!
- ½ cup hazelnuts (if you can get them already skinned, skip step 1)
- 3 Tablespoons unrefined, cold pressed, extra virgin olive oil or coconut oil
- 1 Tablespoon unsalted butter (or just use more oil)
- ¼ cup capers, well drained
- 1 pound Brussels sprouts, washed and trimmed, and shredded*
- the juice of 1 lemon, about 2 ½ Tablespoons
- Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- Preheat the oven to 350°. In a pie plate or baking sheet, toast the hazelnuts until the skins blister, about 15 minutes. Transfer the nuts to a clean kitchen towel and let cool, then rub to remove the skins. If you don’t mind hazelnut skins, you don’t need to remove them. Coarsely chop the nuts.
- In a large heavy skillet, heat the olive oil and butter over medium heat. When the oil is hot, but not smoking, add the capers (be careful since they will probably splatter!) Sauté the capers for about one minute, or until they start opening like little flowerbuds.
- Add the Brussels sprouts and hazelnuts to the pan and stir to coat with the oil and caper mixture. Pour in the lemon juice and cook, stirring frequently, for about 5 minutes or until the sprouts are tender but still a little crisp.
- Remove from the heat and add salt and pepper to taste. Serve immediately.
You can also add some cooked, diced bacon and/or some fried sage leaves.
We are alive and well on our European holiday, although I may need a vacation after we return home! We met our friends in Berlin a few days ago and have been having the best time. What a cool, interesting, beautiful and progressive city! Daughter #1 announced she will be moving to Berlin after college. First things first, Missy. All the kids have been fantastic – really going with the flow. At times, I felt like we were on an episode of Amazing Race, figuring out metro schedules and running to catch trains, deciphering maps, and trying to translate foreign languages. The good thing is that we have generally been laughing our way through it all. Our overnight train trip from Berlin to Munich last night was particularly memorable as it was a first for all to sleep in beds on a train. Before you picture us on the Orient Express, think again! It wasn’t nearly that glamourous, but certainly provided us with a few giggles and good stories to tell when we are back home again. As I write this, we are on another train from Munich to Salzburg, Austria.
As far as eating a whole, unrefined diet, I threw in the towel back in Copenhagen. It is terribly difficult to avoid European bread when it is so darn good. Once I gave into bread, pasta/spatzle, pizza and pastries came after. Something tells me Austria will offer more of the same. Mr. Picky is enamored with game sausages and mustard and I had my first beer since college just for kicks. One was enough and I would just as soon eat fried potatoes than drink another beer. We have really eaten a broad mix of cuisines which I think you’ll find in most major cities.
I will not start a war here by declaring the bread best in any particular city or country, but I can say that Europeans love bread. We’ve eaten baguettes, spelt rolls, pretzel bread, whole rye, sourdough and more. I also know that Europeans like to be efficient with their food and make good use of day old bread which might be otherwise thrown away. I thought today would be a good time to share my recipe for Grilled Panzanella.
Panzanella is essentially an Italian bread salad, although I believe Spain has its own version of it, too. Earlier in the summer, I also did a post on Fattoush, which is a Lebanese take on the same. Sometimes it can be as simple as soaking stale bread in a mixture of vinegar and water and mixing it with fresh tomatoes and a pinch of salt. When I was growing up, we would tear the stale bread and mix it with tomatoes from the garden, basil, red onions, olive oil, red wine vinegar, salt and pepper. The stale bread would soak up the oil, vinegar and tomato juices and soften up a bit, too – really tasty.
I don’t eat bread very often, but if you grill it, I’ll never turn it down, especially if it’s rubbed with garlic and the edges are slightly black and smoky. Simple and heavenly. Try rubbing grilled bread with a cut, ripe tomato and you’ll go crazy. In as much as I love a simple panzanella in the summer, I knew it would be better with grilled bread and it is! Ina Garten has a Grilled Panzanella which I hear is delicious. Not only does she grill the bread, but onions and peppers as well.
This salad is a snap to make and prep in advance if you need to, just keep the bread, chopped vegetables and dressing separate until you’re ready to serve. Although most Italians would disagree with me, I think you should feel free to create your own yummy version of Panzanella. I added capers to this one because I love a salty bite, but olives would be great, too. There are versions with ripe, sliced peaches. I also think baby mozzarella balls or chickpeas would also be nice in here, but try and keep it simple.
Our train has just entered Austria and we are already enamored of this beautiful countryside and all the adventures that await us. Stay tuned….
- ½ cup unrefined extra-virgin olive oil, plus extra for brushing bread
- 1 large clove of garlic, minced + 1 large clove
- 4 Tablespoons of raw apple cider vinegar or red wine vinegar (raw apple cider vinegar is a more healthful choice)
- fine sea salt and freshly ground pepper
- 4 Persian cucumbers, unpeeled and chopped into ½-inch thick chunks
- 2 large ripe tomatoes, cut into 1-inch cubes (about ½ pound each)
- 1 cup fresh basil leaves, chopped
- 6 Tablespoons capers, drained
- 2 shallots, sliced
- ½ pound loaf or crusty peasant bread or baguette, cut on the diagonal into 1-inch slices
- Preheat the grill to medium heat.
- In a small bowl, whisk together the olive oil, minced garlic, vinegar, ½ teaspoon salt and ¼ teaspoon pepper. Set aside.
- Place the cucumbers, tomato, basil, capers, and shallots in a large bowl. Sprinkle with large pinch of salt and pepper.
- Brush bread slices on both sides with olive oil and sprinkle lightly with salt. Toast them on the grill until golden, about 4 minutes on each side. A little black char on the edges is good! Cut a thin slice off the garlic clove and rub one side of each piece of bread with the cut side of the garlic.
- Cut the bread into cubes and add to the cucumber mixture. Pour in the vinaigrette and toss to combine.
I’m thrilled to have my mother and my 4-year-old niece visiting me this week from New York. We’re having a great time catching up on magazines, tivo’d shows and of course, cooking. After she read my post the other day about hard boiled eggs, she said, “so I used to overcook my eggs?” I speak the truth on this blog and I asked my mother if she remembered the telltale green ring around her yolks. She remembered. We reminisced about always eating egg salad sandwiches for lunch the day after Easter, and for old times’ sake I thought it would be fun to make them with my mom again.
The two of us had a little egg salad cook-off with my mom making the version I grew up with, which is no more than chopped up hard boiled eggs combined with mayonnaise, relish and a pinch of salt. Always delicious and that little bit of sweetness from the relish makes this egg salad kid friendly, unless you’re Mr. Picky who thinks egg salad is one of the “scariest” foods out there. 2 plain hard boiled eggs for Mr. Picky, please! I whipped up my favorite version of egg salad which is loosely based on a recipe from my heroine, Alice Waters and her fabulous book, The Art of Simple Food. My more grown-up egg salad may taste more sophisticated than the old version, but I assure you it is just as simple, absolutely delicious, and still kid-friendly (for kids that would actually eat egg salad.) And look, Mom, no green ring!
Hard boiled eggs are rather bland and the texture is soft, so I like balancing all that out with a little salty bite from some capers, some mild onion flavor from either fresh chives, shallots or green onions, and the smallest dash of cayenne for some kick. I don’t see how people can eat egg salad on squishy, bland white bread, and not just because white bread is tasteless and devoid of nutrients (maybe I should tell you how I really feel.) Egg salad just pairs so well with some texture and flavor, like from a nice hearty sprouted seed bread or other earthy, flavorful bread — always toasted. After enjoying this tasty sandwich with my mom the other day, I asked myself why I never make egg salad. It was such a simple and satisfying lunch with a side green salad. Daughter #1 gave the egg salad a try and became a convert, although with mouth half-full announced she liked it just fine, but wouldn’t be taking any egg salad too school for lunch — “I don’t want egg aroma in my backpack all day, thanks.” Whatever.
If you are in Mr. Picky’s camp and think egg salad is too scary or if you went all out, decorated a bazillion eggs and need something more than just an egg salad recipe, here are some other yummy ideas:
- Sliced on top of toast with smoked salmon or sliced avocado.
- Deviled eggs — I think this recipe for Caesar Salad Deviled Eggs at Smitten Kitchen looks interesting.
- Nicoise Salad — a composed salad of potatoes, green beans, tomatoes, tuna and hard boiled eggs.
- Cobb Salad — here’s a more healthful version by Ellie Krieger.
- In a filling for empanadas. I love my recipe which uses mixed greens, to which you can add a chopped hard boiled egg or two.
- Pan Bagnat — a sandwich with sliced hard boiled eggs, tuna, tomatoes, onions. Check out Alton Brown’s recipe here.
- Chopped over steamed or roasted asparagus. Then drizzle with one of my favorite everyday salad dressings.
Do you have any great ways to eat hard boiled eggs? I’d love to know!
- 4 hard boiled eggs, peeled
- 3-4 Tablespoons mayonnaise (I like soy-free Vegenaise)
- 1 heaping teaspoon of capers, drained and chopped
- 1 Tablespoon chopped chives (my favorite), scallions or shallots
- tiny pinch of sea salt or to taste
- a few grinds of freshly ground pepper
- a dash or two of cayenne pepper (doesn’t make it spicy, just better)
- Coarsely chop the eggs and place in a bowl. Add remaining ingredients and combine well. Taste for seasoning.
- Serve on toasted whole grain bread with greens like watercress or your favorite lettuce. I always love a little avocado, too!
My Mom’s Egg Salad
4 hard boiled eggs, chopped
3-4 Tablespoons mayonnaise
2 Tablespoons sweet relish
pinch of salt
Mix everything to combine well.
Something tells me that you organized cooks out there are in the midst of planning your Easter and Passover menus. Am I right? My mom had me on the phone the other day trying to get side dish suggestions for her traditional Easter leg of lamb. After I spoke with her, I took a call from my mother-in-law to go over her Passover menu. This year we’ll be staying in California for the holidays and I’m on dessert duty. I’ll be making lots of coconut macaroons, my traditional lemon ice torte and a raw cashew cheesecake that I’m obsessed with. But if I were hosting Easter or Passover at my home (not that there’s anything wrong with lamb and brisket), I would make this Baked Chicken with Artichokes and Capers.
Normally, I don’t post a recipe until after I have finished teaching it, but I am just so excited about this chicken I can’t wait another day. It might be my favorite chicken recipe to date, which says a lot since I prepare chicken quite often. This dish has it all — great flavor, ease of preparation, healthfulness and seasonality. But really chicken isn’t even the star of this show. I actually came up with this recipe to work around one of my favorite springtime vegetables, artichokes.
I am going to cheat a little here. There are times when DIY is the way to go, as in chicken stock. And there are times when there is not enough patience in the world that could get me through trimming the number of artichokes it would take to fill this saute pan. (Although I am the same person that trimmed 10 pounds of Brussels sprout leaves for Christmas Eve dinner.) What’s different about this situation is that Trader Joe’s has come to my rescue with frozen artichoke hearts, an absolute gift and an affordable one, too. Not only do I always have a bag in my freezer at all times, but the other ingredients here are pantry staples, too — capers, white wine, bay leaves, mustard, which are all delicious with artichokes.
You may have followed similar recipes for chicken and dredged the chicken in flour first before browning it. The flour does help to the thicken the sauce a bit, but we can avoid the dredging altogether by adding the mustard to the sauce, which gives great flavor, as well as some body. Be sure to read my latest post on the secret to great-tasting chicken and you can decide if you want to salt the pieces or soak them in a wet brine. Both ways are very easy and definitely worth doing. Please note in that post that kosher chicken should not be salted or brined since it has already gone through a salting process. To make this recipe with boneless, skinless pieces, check out my recipe for Lemon-Thyme Chicken and follow those steps.
For a winner spring holiday lunch or dinner, pair this chicken with this asparagus salad or minted sugar snap peas, and some roasted new potatoes. I have a seriously fabulous vegan and gluten-free coconut tart coming your way soon!
- Brine: (do not brine kosher chicken)
- 1 cup hot water
- ¼ cup kosher salt
- 1 cup ice water
- 3 pounds bone-in, skin-on chicken pieces
- 2 Tablespoons unrefined olive oil or coconut oil
- 1 medium onion, diced or sliced (as you prefer)
- 3 cloves garlic cloves, sliced
- a big pinch of sea salt (or more if using unsalted stock)
- Freshly ground black pepper to taste
- ⅓ cup dry white wine
- 2 bay leaves (don’t worry if you don’t have them)
- 12 ounce bag frozen artichoke hearts or packed in water
- 2 Tablespoons capers
- 2 Tablespoons whole grain or stone ground mustard
- ¾ cup chicken stock, preferably homemade
- Chopped fresh parsley for garnish (optional)
- In a large bowl, dissolve salt in hot water. Add ice water and check to make sure brine is cool. Add chicken to brine and allow to soak for 45 minutes, and up to an hour and a half. OR sprinkle ½ Tablespoon of kosher salt on the chicken when you get home from the market. Rewrap it and refrigerate it until ready to cook. (Do not brine kosher chicken.)
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Remove chicken from brine and pat dry with paper towels.
- In an ovenproof skillet or braising pan, over medium heat, add the oil. Brown chicken on both sides. Transfer to a plate and reserve.
- Add onions to skillet and cook until tender, about 8 minutes. Add garlic, salt and pepper and sauté another minute or two. Carefully add wine to pan, and deglaze by scraping any brown bits on the bottom.
- Add chicken, bay leaves, artichoke hearts, capers, mustard and stock to pan and bring to a boil. Place in oven for 30-35 minutes, until chicken is cooked through, basting after 15 minutes. Garnish with fresh chopped parsley, if available.