It’s been 6 weeks and I’ve really started shaking out my recipe books to loosen some of our most beloved – but (of late) ignored mealtime favorites that haven’t seen the light of the stove for many years. They’re tried, they’re true and they’re simply terrific. See what you think.
We’ve been bumping into quite a bounty of wild caught salmon lately, and one of the simplest-yet tastiest ways to really enjoy a firm and juicy sockeye steak is to poach it on top of a few supporting vegetables in a fragrant broth, and then smother it with the most luxuriously smooth, silky, salty, creamy, dreamy dressing known to man.
- 1 small onion, sliced
- 1 medium carrot, chopped
- 1 stalk celery, chopped
- 6 whole black peppercorns
- 2 bay leaves
- 1/2 cup dry white wine (or fish stock)
- 4 salmon fillets (6 ounces each)
- Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
In a medium skillet (with a lid), combine the onion, carrot, celery, peppercorns, bay leaves, and wine. Add enough water to come 1 1/2 inches up side of skillet. Bring to a boil; reduce heat, and simmer 15 minutes.
Season salmon fillets with salt and pepper, and place in skillet. Cover; simmer 5 minutes. Remove from heat, let stand until fillets are opaque, 8 to 10 minutes. Serve warm or chilled with green goddess dressing.
GREEN GODDESS DRESSING
- 1/2 cup mayonnaise
- 1 1/2 Tblspn fresh flat-leaf parsley (chopped)
- 1 1/2 Tblspn chopped chives
- 1 Tblspn chopped chervil
- 1/2Tblspn chopped scallion
- 1 Tblspn chopped tarragon
- 1/2 Tblspn white-wine vinegar
- Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
- 1 anchovy fillets
- 1 Tblspn whole milk
Soak anchovies in milk for 15 minutes. Drain and discard the milk. Rinse anchovies.
In a food processor, combine all of the remaining ingredients. Process until smooth and creamy. Season with salt and pepper. Serves 4.
Just because it’s veggie night doesn’t mean we have to slam on the flavor brakes. In fact, this spicy, garlicky Chermoula dressing elevates these grilled eggplants all the way to the penthouse before being topped with a bulgur salad spiked with nuts, olives and a few other surprises.
CHERMOULA EGGPLANT WITH BULGUR SALAD
- 2 cloves garlic, crushed
- 2 teaspoons ground cumin
- 2 teaspoons ground coriander
- 1 teaspoon chili flakes
- 1 teaspoon sweet paprika
- 2 tablespoons lemon zest
- ⅔ cup olive oil, plus extra to finish
- 2 medium eggplants
- 1 cup fine bulgur
- 1 cup boiling water
- ⅓ cup golden raisins
- 3 ½ tablespoons warm water
- ⅓ ounce (2 teaspoons) cilantro, chopped, plus extra to finish
- ⅓ ounce (2 teaspoons) mint, chopped
- ⅓ cup pitted green olives, halved
- ⅓ cup sliced almonds, toasted
- 3 green onions, chopped
- 1 ½ tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
- ½ cup Greek yogurt
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
To make the chermoula, mix together in a small bowl the garlic, cumin, coriander, chili, paprika, lemon zest, two-thirds of the olive oil, and 1/2 teaspoon salt.
Cut the eggplants in half lengthwise. Score the flesh of each half with deep, diagonal crisscross cuts, making sure not to pierce the skin. Spoon the chermoula over each half, spreading it evenly, and place the eggplant halves on a baking sheet, cut side up. Put in the oven and roast for 45 minutes, or until the eggplants are completely soft.
Meanwhile, place the bulgur in a large bowl and cover with the boiling water. Cover the bowl with a plate and leave for 20 minutes until the bulgur is chewy-soft.
Soak the raisins in the warm water. After 10 minutes, drain the raisins and add them to the bulgur, along with the remaining oil. Add the herbs, olives, almonds, green onions, lemon juice and a pinch of salt and stir to combine. Taste and add more salt if necessary.
Serve the eggplants warm or at room temperature. Place 1/2 eggplant, cut side up, on each individual plate. Spoon the bulgur on top, allowing some to fall from both sides. Spoon over some yogurt, sprinkle with cilantro and finish with a drizzle of oil. Serves 4.
Chimichurri is to steak, what fried turkey legs are to NASCAR! You just can’t enjoy the one without the other. Oh, and if there is any left over, it provides a monstrously wonderful dip for a spare piece of baguette (or six)!
- 1/3 cup olive oil
- Kosher salt, freshly ground pepper
- 1/2 cup fresh cilantro leaves with tender stems
- 1/2 cup fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves
- 1/4 cup fresh oregano leaves
- 1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
- 1 tsp red pepper flakes
- 1 garlic clove
- 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
Pulse cilantro, parsley, oregano, thyme, and garlic in a food processor until finely chopped. With motor running, slowly add vinegar and oil and process until combined; season with salt and pepper. Add red pepper flakes to taste. If making far ahead, reduce garlic by 1/2.
One of the HBO show’s we’ve been binge-watching during lockdown is “My brilliant friend”. And at one point two of the main characters are seated around a table in the middle of a huge argument, while the most delectable Spaghetti Marinara is being served. It provoked the most mouth-wateringly dish-envy ever, and so I was inspired to slow-cook one of the simplest Italian sauces for 10 hours. I’m talking about the most fragrant, sumptuous and decadent tomato gravy you’ve ever tasted. Warning: this recipe yields a ton of sauce, so feel free to re-invent it on pizza’s, spread thinly onto fresh focaccia or use it as a base for baked eggs. (See Saturday’s recipe).
CLASSIC 10-HOUR MARINARA SAUCE
- 2 onions, chopped fine
- 6 garlic cloves, minced
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 tablespoons minced fresh oregano or 2 teaspoons dried
- Salt and pepper
- 2 (28-ounce) cans crushed tomatoes
- 1 (28-ounce) can tomato puree
- ½ cup dry red wine
- 2 teaspoons sugar, plus extra for seasoning
- chopped fresh basil
Microwave onions, garlic, tomato paste, oil, oregano, and 1 teaspoon salt in bowl, stirring occasionally, until onions are softened, about 5 minutes; transfer to slow cooker. Stir in tomatoes, tomato puree, and wine. Cover and cook until sauce is deeply flavored, 8 to 10 hours on low or 5 to 7 hours on high.
Stir sugar into sauce. Season with salt, pepper, and extra sugar to taste. Before serving, stir in 2 tablespoons basil. Makes 6 cups of sauce.
This is one of my oldest recipes. Not just because I’ve been making it for 20+ years, but because old man Chasen became famous for it in his legendary Beverly Hills hotspot, and by the time Elizabeth Taylor was in production for “Cleopatra” in 1963, a quart of this very chili had to shipped to her on location in Egypt once a week per her contract with the studio. Yes people, it’s that good! Oh, and these buttermilk biscuits are as flaky as croissants.
- 1/2 pound dried pinto beans
- 1 (28-ounce) can diced tomatoes in juice
- 1 large green bell pepper, chopped
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 3 cups onions, coarsely chopped
- 3 cloves garlic, crushed
- 1/2 cup parsley, chopped
- 1/2 cup butter (separated)
- 2 pounds beef chuck, coarsely chopped
- 1 pound pork shoulder, coarsely chopped
- 1/3 cup Gebhardt’s brand chili powder
- 1 tablespoon salt
- 1 1/2 teaspoons black pepper
- 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
- 1 small tin tomato sauce (if needed)
Rinse the beans, picking out the debris. Place beans in a Dutch oven with water to cover. Boil for 2 minutes. Remove from heat. Cover and let stand one hour. Drain off liquid.
Rinse beans again. Add enough fresh water to cover beans. Bring mixture to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, covered for one hour or until tender. Set aside.
Melt 2/3 of the butter in a large Dutch oven or Slow cooker. Brown the meat thoroughly for about 10 minutes. Remove the meat with a slotted spoon and pour into a strainer over a bowl to remove all the liquids.
Melt the remaining 1/3 of the butter in the same pot. Sautee bell pepper for 5 minutes. Add onion and cook until tender, stirring frequently. Stir in the garlic and parsley. Add tomatoes and their liquid along with the chili powder, salt, pepper, and cumin. (If there isn’t enough liquid, add a small tin of tomato sauce.)
Bring mixture to a boil. Add the meat. Reduce heat. Simmer, covered for one hour. Uncover and add the beans and cook 30 minutes more or to desired consistency. Chili shouldn’t be too thick–it should be somewhat liquid but not runny like soup. Makes 8 cups.
SUPER-FLAKY BUTTERMILK BISCUITS
- 3 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 4 teaspoons baking powder
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- 1 ½ teaspoons salt
- 16 tablespoons (2 sticks) unsalted butter, frozen for 30 minutes
- 1 ¼ cups buttermilk, chilled
In hot or humid environments, chill the flour mixture, grater, and work bowls before use. The dough will start out very crumbly and dry in pockets but will be smooth by the end of the folding process; do not be tempted to add extra buttermilk. Flour the counter and the top of the dough as needed to prevent sticking, but be careful not to incorporate large pockets of flour into the dough when folding.
Line rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside. Whisk flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt together in large bowl. Coat sticks of butter in flour mixture, then grate 7 tablespoons from each stick on large holes of box grater directly into flour mixture. Toss gently to combine. Set aside remaining 2 tablespoons butter.
Add buttermilk to flour mixture and fold with spatula until just combined (dough will look dry). Transfer dough to liberally floured counter. Dust surface of dough with flour; using your floured hands, press dough into rough 7-inch square.
Roll dough into 12 by 9-inch rectangle with short side parallel to edge of counter. Starting at bottom of dough, fold into thirds like business letter, using bench scraper or metal spatula to release dough from counter. Press top of dough firmly to seal folds. Turn dough 90 degrees clockwise. Repeat rolling into 12 by 9-inch rectangle, folding into thirds, and turning clockwise 4 more times, for total of 5 sets of folds. After last set of folds, roll dough into 8 1/2-inch square about 1 inch thick. Transfer dough to prepared sheet, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for 30 minutes. Adjust oven rack to upper-middle position and heat oven to 400 degrees.
Transfer dough to lightly floured cutting board. Using sharp, floured chef’s knife, trim 1/4 inch of dough from each side of square and discard. Cut remaining dough into 9 squares, flouring knife after each cut. Arrange biscuits at least 1 inch apart on sheet. Melt reserved butter; brush tops of biscuits with melted butter.
Bake until tops are golden brown, 22 to 25 minutes, rotating sheet halfway through baking. Transfer biscuits to wire rack and let cool for 15 minutes before serving.
Another old favorite – that never gets old. ‘nuff said!
SOLE MEUNIERE WITH BROWN BUTTER CAPER SAUCE
- 2 (8 ounces) sole fillets
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 2 tablespoons clarified butter
- 1/2 cup flour
- 2 tablespoons finely chopped parsley
- 2 tablespoons fresh butter
- 1 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- 1 tablespoons drained brined capers, minced
- Lemon slices, for garnish
Season fillets with salt and pepper.
Heat 2 tablespoons clarified butter in each of 2 large saute pans.
Dredge fillets in flour, shaking off any excess flour. Place fillets in saute pans and cook over medium heat for 2 to 3 minutes per side, until golden brown and crispy. Remove fillets from pans and transfer on to a platter, sprinkle with parsley. Cover with foil.
Remove remaining butter from one of the skillets and add the fresh butter. Heat until the butter begins to brown. Remove from heat and stir in lemon juice and capers. Pour sauce over fish and serve. Garnish with lemon slices. Serves 2.
OK, so about that left-over marinara from Wednesday: just load it in a cast-iron skillet. Make 4 indentations and carefully lower an egg into each indentation. Bake for 12-ish minutes at 400 degrees and then top each egg with grated parmesan and chopped basil and dig in with plenty of crusty bread.
This is an old classic from my youth. We used to call them “Crunchies”, but here in the US they would probably be referred to as “Oat Bars”. I don’t care what you call them, but they are the quintessential remedy for the 3pm munchies.
SOUTH AFRICAN CRUNCHIES
- 1/2lb butter
- 1 tbspn golden syrup
- 2 cups of rolled oats
- 1 cup of flour
- 1 cup shredded coconut
- 1 cup brown sugar
- 1 tsp baking soda
Pre heat the oven to 350 degrees.
Mix the flour, oats and coconut in a bowl.
Melt the butter in a small pot and then add the syrup and sugar and continue to cook. When the butter is bubbling, add the baking soda and stir to combine and remove from the heat.
Pour the butter mixture into the dry ingredients and mix together by hand.
Using the back of a metal spoon, gently press the crunchie mixture into a greased or parchment-lined baking tray – size dependant on how thick you like the crunchies.
Bake for 15 minutes at 350 degrees, then turn the oven down to 325 degree and bake for a further 12 – 15 minutes until golden brown. (The thinner they are, the crunchier they will be. The thicker they are, the softer they will be and the longer they will need to bake.)
Allow to cool in the pan before slicing. Serves about 9.
Stay safe. Stay sane, but most importantly – stay inside!