Need something simple, yet elegant for dinner? This feta brined roast chicken is easy to make, but looks like something from a fancy restaurant. Brine the chicken, let it sit overnight, and then mix a few ingredients together and bake.
The brine helps infuse the chicken with flavor, and (as a bonus) keeps it from drying out. It works just like the brine for a turkey, except this will taste much better! Feta cheese is particularly effective as a brine since it is packed in water, so it’s already moist. Blending it together creates a smooth, creamy brine that penetrates the chicken, keeping it tender and moist, even under high heat. The finished chicken doesn’t have a strong feta taste, but it will be rich, tender, and delicious.
Once the chicken is brined, you create a quick and easy spice rub from lemon zest, pepper, and oregano, blend that together, and spread it all over the chicken. The feta cheese adds salty savor, the lemon a hint of tartness, and the oregano and spinach give the dish a fresh, bright flavor. The original dish called for arugula, but I’m not a fan, so I used spinach instead.
Taking the chicken out early before you cook it helps it dry out and allows the skin to become crisper when the chicken is roasted.
Huddled up in the cold? Want dinner that’s both comforting and easy? Kielbasa with Sauerkraut and Apples is just the thing. It’s filling, it’s quick, and it’s dinner all by itself. All in one pot. Some say this dish is German, others call it Polish. Whichever, it’s delicious!
I adapted this recipe from one I found online. That recipe called for first cooking the kielbasa on a grill, then putting them in the oven, while starting the onions on the stove, and making the rest of the recipe. That would leave you with a grill, a baking sheet, and a frying pan to clean. No! No! No! Not doing that way.
Plus, it’s too cold to grill anything here. Even if I had a grill. This way is much easier.
My version only uses a single pan. And, it’s ready in about 20 minutes. Much better!
The kielbasa makes this dish filling, while the sauerkraut adds a little bite. Cooking it mellows out the sharpness (a bit like cooking onions or garlic), and the apples give it a bit of sweetness and balance the richness of the sausage and the sourness of the kraut. The honey mustard horseradish sauce is also sweet/spicy so it complements the rest of the dish perfectly.
Use apples that are slightly tart (I had Crimson Topaz, but a tart apple such as Granny Smith would work fine).
We tend to think of “fusion” foods as a new idea: Asian/Cuban, Mexican/Jewish and so on and so on. The truth is people have been mixing and matching cuisines ever since we started exploring (or on a less positive note, colonizing). The bright side is that exposure to new spices, flavorings, and cooking techniques can be a springboard for creative new dishes. Mulligatawny soup (which means pepper-water) is one such “fusion” food. It’s a mixture of Indian Tamil and British cooking. The Tamil cuisine brings the spiciness and the British added the meat.
This particular version of the recipe is adapted from Foodaholic. Her recipe uses red lentils (which I didn’t have). However I asked her and she said lots of recipes use rice instead. I had that, so rice it is!
I don’t have garlic paste, so I took a garlic clove and smashed it to smithereens. Just chop it up finely and then swipe the flat of a wide knife over it. Or, if you don’t mind a bit of extra cleanup, put it in a mini-chopper or a garlic press.
Finally, I used a chicken thigh, rather than chicken breast (which she uses because of picky kids). I think the chicken thigh has a better, richer flavor and I don’t have to worry about pleasing fussy eaters.
I did follow her lead in only using one pot. I can’t stand extra cleanup!
If you want the soup creamier and more elegant, remove part of it from the pan and puree the rest with a stick blender. If not, just cook it another 10 minutes for a more rustic texture.
This will make about three servings of soup. Eat one right away and save the rest in separate containers for another day.
I just learned to cook this Jewish chicken curry chitarnee recipe recently from an online cooking friend Azlin Bloor.It’s (to the best of her knowledge) a Sephardic Jewish recipe, but it doesn’t have the usual flavor or ingredients we tend to associate with “Jewish” cooking in America. Here “Jewish” cooking is usually Ashkenasi (from Eastern Europe). It tends to feature lots of noodles, brisket, and chicken soup.
Ashkenasi food is generally flavorful, but the spiciest ingredients are onions and garlic.Not too many chilis! And definitely no cardamom. But Jewish people are part of every continent’s and every country’s population.So, local recipes get adopted, and adapted (if needed) to make them conform to the dietary rules (for those that follow them). Pork gets replaced by chicken, oil is used with meat instead of butter, and so on. And voilà, some local Indian dish gets transformed into Jewish chicken curry chitarnee.
This recipe, for example, has a bit more snap than standard Ashkenaski fare. It’s not super-spicy though.There’s onion, garlic, ginger, mild chilis, and cardamom. The garlic, onion, and ginger get cooked down slowly so they become more sweet and mellow than sharp.The cardamom is aromatic and herbal rather than strong or spicy. Lots of fresh lemon juice and some white wine vinegar add a piquant tang.
Azlin suggested a variation on this recipe to make it vegetarian, by replacing the chicken with bell peppers, eggplant and potatoes.
I didn’t want to make it fully vegetarian (though you certainly can if you want).But, I thought, well why not just add potatoes to the chicken version. Then it’s a one pot dinner. That way, there’s no extra rice to make on the side and it will all cook in the same pot in the same amount of time. Fewer pots to clean is always a good thing!
Not your usual "Ashkenasi" fare, this dish has onion, garlic, ginger, and cardamom. It's fragrant, and mellow, not spicy since the onions cook slowly. Easy to make too. Once everything is in the pot, you can leave it alone to cook.
1 tsp vegetable oil
1 onion, sliced
1 pinch sugar
1 clove garlic, peeled and minced
1 small piece (about 1/3 inch) fresh ginger, peeled and minced
1 jalapeño pepper, seeded, and cut into large chunks
1/2 tsp turmeric powder
1/2 tsp ground coriander
1/3 tsp cumin
pinch red pepper flakes
2 green cardamom pods
1 large chicken thigh
1 potato, cut up into chunks (you can peel it or scrub it and leave the peel on)
1 cup chopped tomatoes in puree
2 1/2 tsp fresh lemon juice (divided in half)
1 tsp white wine vinegar
salt and pepper to taste
Start by heating the oil in a deep frying pan, or dutch oven on medium heat. Then add the onions and the sugar. Cook until the onions start to wilt and soften, about three minutes.
Now add the garlic, ginger, and the rest of the spices and cook that for half a minute.
Put the chicken in the pan and turn it over a few times so that it gets thoroughly coated with the spices and the onions. Cook it for a minute or two.
Add the potato pieces, tomatoes, vinegar and 1 1/4 tsp of the lemon juice. Bring the chicken mixture to a boil. Once it starts to boil, lower the heat, put a cover on the pot, and simmer for 40 minutes. The chicken and the potatoes should be soft and tender by then. Test with a knife to make sure it’s all cooked through.
Remove the pan from the heat and set aside on a cutting board. Add the remaining lemon juice and stir to combine it with the rest of the sauce. Remove the cardamom pods and serve.
Note: You might want to put the cardamom pods in a tea ball (or cheesecloth) to make it easier to fish them out when you're ready to serve.
Tools and Ingredients for Jewish Chicken Curry Chitarnee
Garam Masala is a blend of warm, aromatic spices that gives a great flavor punch to many recipes. It’s not spicy though. It’s made with nutmeg, coriander, cumin, cloves, and seven other spices. It’s great on eggs, chicken, or to make your own chai (spiced tea). You can also add it to desserts (think pumpkin spice with a bit more flair), or hot drinks.
I confess when I first heard of cardamom I thought it would be spicy and overpowering. It isn’t! Instead, it adds an aromatic, slightly minty, herbal flavor to your food. Put it in your coffee as a “sweetener” without sugar. Or add it to dessert recipes (I’m thinking it would be great in a pear tart). Or toss one or two pods in with your rice for a flavor boost.
This is technically supposed to be used for brewing tea. However, I find they’re great for cooking. Trying to fish out a bay leaf is a pain.
With the tea ball, instead of splashing through a pan of chicken, or a pot of soup to find a bay leaf, cardamom pods, or whole cloves you aren’t going to eat, put them in a tea ball, and drop that into the pan, and hook the end on the side of the pot. That way, the spices are easy to remove, and you don’t have to worry about biting down on a clove!
Let’s face it, most pear tart recipes are complicated. You have to make the dough, then let it rest. Next you have to pre-bake the crust, or maybe go out and get some frozen puff pastry. I’ve even seen recipes calling for making the puff pastry at home (not happening). Or, there are recipes requiring a traditional full-blown pie crust. I have a lovely apple pie recipe I hardly ever make because it’s just too much fussing. This rustic pear tart, on the other hand, is fairly easy and straightforward.
You don’t have to crimp the edges, or pre-bake the crust. You don’t even have to cook the pears in advance. I saw one recipe that had 22 steps! Nope. Nope. Nope. This recipe is much easier than that! There are only six steps. Much better! The active time is about 15 minutes of work, and the whole thing is done in about an hour and a half (including resting in the fridge and baking).
First you make the dough. That’s only six basic ingredients you likely already have at home. Then, you let it cool in the refrigerator for an hour, and press out the dough into a roughly circular shape. Next, add the fruit, sprinkle the spices on top, and bake.
I’ve made this tart with pears, because I had some extremely ripe pears I wanted to use up. If you don’t have pears, or would rather use something else, apples will work beautifully too. And, both are in season now. Once summer comes back around, you might try it with peaches or maybe plums too.
The original recipe (which I cut in half) required a food processor. If you don’t have one, you can use a pastry cutter or two sharp knives instead. I have included instructions for both.
1 small egg yolk (if you have only large eggs, separate the egg yolk and white, and then pour off half the yolk)
2-3 T cold water
2-3 pears, cored and sliced thinly
1 T brown sugar
1/4 tsp cinnamon
pinch ground ginger
If you have a food processor, add the flour, sugar, and salt to the food processor bowl and pulse for a second or two. If not, add the ingredients to a mixing bowl.
Cut up 4T of the butter into pieces, and add that to the bowl. Then add the egg yolk. Pulse (for the food processor) for about 10 seconds until it's all mixed together. If using a bowl, cut the butter up with a pastry cutter or two knives. It should be the size of small peas. Then mix everything together.
Add the cold water, one tablespoon at a time, until the mixture is moist enough to form a ball. Then wrap it up in plastic wrap and refrigerate for an hour.
Take the ball out of the fridge and preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Let the dough warm up as the oven comes to temperature. This will make it easier to handle. Pat the dough into a rough circle, pushing outward from the middle with your hands. Then place it on a non-stick cookie sheet (if you don't have one, line it with parchment paper).
Arrange the pear slices on top. You can line them up carefully, or just toss them casually on the crust. Sprinkle the tart with the brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, and ginger. Then add the remaining butter, cut up into little pieces, and dot the tart with it.
Bake for 20-30 minutes until the crust gets brown and the fruit is juicy and tender. Top with whipped cream or ice cream.
Rustic Pear Tart Substitutions and Variations
Don’t have pears? Make this with apples instead (or try peaches in the summer)
Add some green cardamom to the tart (along with the other spices)
Replace some of the flour with ground almond meal
Add a little Reisling or other dessert wine to the filling
These Turkish lamb burgers are flavorful, filling, and just a little bit messy, so keep plenty of napkins handy. It’s worth the mess though. The burgers are rich from lamb, slightly salty from the feta and spicy/warm from cumin and garlic. Adding mint to both the burgers and the yogurt cucumber sauce adds a fresh, cool flavor to balance out the spices.
I adapted this recipe from one I found online so long ago I can’t remember where I found it. It does require a bit of pre-planning, since the meat mixture has to sit for a while for the flavors to blend. So, it’s probably best for a weekend, rather than a Tuesday dinner. However, once that’s done, the rest of the recipe comes together pretty quickly. And, it’s practically a meal all by itself.
Make the meat mixture for the burgers first, let it sit overnight or a few hours in the fridge, and then make the cucumber yogurt sauce while the burgers are cooking.
I did make this for two servings, rather than one, because half an egg isn’t so bad, but a quarter of an egg is ridiculous, even for me.
How to get half an egg, you ask? What you do is break the egg, beat it lightly, and then pour half of it out into a separate container. You should end up with about 3 1/4 T of egg total. Use half that for the burgers, or approximately 1 2/3 T (5 teaspoons). Save the rest of the egg to make a cherry tomato basil frittata or a spinach and feta omelette in a day or two. Don’t worry if it’s not exact, we’re not baking!
I broiled the burgers in my toaster oven, and put the pita on top for a minute or so to warm it up. If you have a grill, you could use that instead.
Serve the burgers in pita bread topped with the yogurt dill sauce, then add garnishes to suit your taste.
Rich, savory and full of sweet/salty and warm spices, plus a jolt of mint to cool it all down.
1/2 lb. ground lamb
2 1/2 T (which is 7 1/2 tsp) bread crumbs
1/2 egg, beaten lightly
1/3 C onion, minced
1/2 tsp garlic, minced (about one small clove)
2 oz. feta cheese, crumbled
1/3 tsp dried oregano
1 T fresh mint
1 tsp cumin
2 tsp lemon juice
generous pinch salt
generous pinch pepper
Yogurt Dill Sauce
1/3 C Greek yogurt
1/3 C diced cucumber
1/3 tsp dried dill
2/3 tsp fresh mint
salt and pepper to taste
Get a medium size bowl and add all the burger ingredients together. Mix it all thoroughly. It's best to use your hands for this (like a meatloaf) until all the ingredients are completely incorporated.
Refrigerate the mixture for a few hours, or overnight for better flavor.
Preheat your toaster oven to broil.
Separate the meat mixture into two patties and brush lightly with olive oil on both sides.
Cook for about 4 minutes, turn patties over, and then cook another 4 minutes until lamb is medium. When the burgers are nearly done (about 7 minutes in), put the pitas on top of the hot toaster oven to warm.
Yogurt Cucumber Sauce
While the lamb is cooking, make the sauce by combining all the ingredients together in a small bowl.
Place the burgers in the pita and top with the sauce.
Note that the prep and cooking time are short, but you'll need inactive time of a few hours. If you have a grill, you can use that to cook the burgers, rather than the toaster oven.
Turkish Lamb Burgers Substitutions and Variations
Garnish with some extra crumbled feta cheese
Top with thinly sliced red onions
Add sliced tomatoes and extra chopped cucumber on top of your lamb burger
Make the burgers with half lamb and half ground turkey (use dark meat if you can find it); or if you don’t like lamb, just use the turkey
I spotted this wonderful merguez sausage (spicy sausage made with lamb) while shopping online and then went looking for some ideas on what to do with it. I found a lamb merguez tagine recipe but I had no squash, no chickpeas and no couscous (also no tagine, but a saucepan fixed that).Time to adapt and improvise! I’m calling it lamb merguez sausage with rice and vegetables.
First I replaced the couscous with rice.Then, instead of squash or zucchini (which I didn’t have, and didn’t think ideal with the lamb anyway) I used the rest of a white eggplant I already had at hand. I am a firm believer in using what you have whenever possible (especially with all those steps, I’m not going up and down for one can or two items)!
The result was this delicious lamb merguez sausage with rice and vegetables. It only takes about 35 or 40 minutes to cook. Plus, I reduced the original three pots to only two (one for the rice and another for the lamb and veggies). I wasn’t going to clean three pots!Not to mention, the ingredients are now in the order you use them.
If you’re not familiar with merguez sausage, it’s a bit spicy, but not overwhelmingly so. It’s flavored with chili peppers and cumin, but that’s tempered by the cinnamon, coriander, onions, and garlic, which mellow as you simmer them. The richness of the eggplant and the sweet carrots also make an excellent foil for the spicy lamb.
A hint of Morocco without leaving your kitchen. The colorful vegetables and warm spices make a wonderful foil for the spicy lamb sausage.
1/4 C rice
1/2 cup water
Salt to taste
1 T olive oil
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1 pinch coriander
1/4 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp cumin
1 pinch turmeric
1 generous squeeze lemon juice (about 1 tsp)
4-5 green olives
1 clove garlic, sliced
1/4 onion, sliced
1 lamb Merguez sausage, cut in chunks
1/2 C chicken stock
1/2 tsp flour
1 carrot, peeled and cut in chunks
1/4 cup eggplant, cut in chunks
1 heaping T raisins
First get the rice started. Boil the water first, then add the rice.
Heat the oil in a medium saucepan on medium heat. Once it’s hot, add the cinnamon, coriander, paprika, cumin, and turmeric. Let the mixture cook for a few seconds.
Add the lemon juice, fennel, garlic, onion, and green olives, and cook on medium, about 10 minutes, until the vegetables start to soften.
Add the sausage to the pot, and cook 5 minutes to brown it. Mix in the flour and then add the chicken broth. Let the mixture cook for a few minutes until it starts to simmer (you’ll see bubbling).
Add the carrots, eggplant, and raisins and cook for 15-20 minutes until the carrots are soft, the eggplant browns, and the sausage is fully cooked through.
Serve over the rice.
If you are using brown rice, it will take about 40 minutes to cook once the water boils. White rice needs about 18 minutes. Stir the rice when you add it to the boiling water, and then again right before serving. This will make it fluffier.
Lamb Merguez Sausage with Rice and Vegetables Substitutions and Variations
If you have the chickpeas, add them to the dish
Or substitute some lentils for the eggplant
Try it with couscous instead of the rice
Or serve it over some pasta
If you can’t find the merguez, you can approximate the flavor by using ground lamb, increasing the garlic, cumin, and coriander and adding some harissa or sriracha or chili garlic sauce for kick
Want something quick and easy for dinner with very little cleanup? Salmon in foil packet with potatoes to the rescue! You just slice up the potatoes, chop the tomatoes, and then layer everything into a piece of aluminum foil, folded into a packet. Then just pop it in the oven. When you’re done, just toss the foil . No cleanup!
Since this is cooked in foil, there are no pots to scrub after dinner. I do like cooking, but I’m not that mad about cleaning up afterward, so this is a big bonus as far as I am concerned.
If you can, get the salmon at Trader Joe’s. Their frozen salmon is considerably cheaper than the fresh salmon at the usual market. You will have to defrost it first, but that’s easy enough (just stick it in the fridge in the morning). Other than that, there’s very little effort involved in making this dish. It’s flavorful, it’s one pot (er, foil packet), and it’s an entire dinner in one simple package.
The citrus adds zest, the tomatoes are sweet, and the potatoes are baked right in the package with the salmon. Plus, the foil keeps the salmon from drying out. Because nobody wants to eat hard, dry fish!
I don’t like freshly-cooked tomatoes (even though I love tomato sauce and soup), so I added them at the end. If you don’t have that weird problem, put them in the packet with the rest of the ingredients.
I’m told it’s popsicle week this week, and who am I to argue? It’s barely summer but NY has already hit “swelter season.” That means it’s what we call 3H weather: hazy, hot, and humid. Strawberry banana yogurt popsicles are sweet, cold, and have no additional sugar added. They’re the perfect summer treat when the temperature hits “Oh no, you gotta be kidding me!” There’s also no cooking or heating anything involved; ideal when it’s just too warm and sticky to face a hot stove.
All you have to do is measure the ingredients, blend everything together, and then freeze. About 2 hours later, you’ve got a great snack.
I adapted the recipe slightly from one I found online here. The original recipe was for 10 pops, which is way too much. So, I cut it in half. I also used strawberries instead of mixed berries. It’s the height of strawberry season and they are outrageously delicious!
I have a four-pop mold popsicle set, which holds about three ounces each. I’ve had them for years, which is both great and annoying. Great because they’ve held up well; annoying because since the pops all insert into one tray, it’s hard to get only one pop at a time. I’d much rather have something like this, which is designed to make it easier to get one pop out at a time.
Some molds are bigger (or smaller), so the final number of pops you get will depend on the size of the mold you have. If you don’t have a mold at all, you can pour the mixture into an ice cube tray and stick toothpicks in it. That will give you a dozen bite size mini-pops instead.
This design makes it far easier to get one popsicle at a time. Each mold sits in its own individual slot, so you don’t have to struggle to get just one pop. There’s also a little tiny brush to clean them with. Or, just put them in the dishwasher.
If you really want to get fancy, try out this juice pop maker. Freeze the container ahead of time, then add the ingredients, and you’ll get a tasty frozen treat in just 7 minutes. It doesn’t even need electricity. Note that this will only work with sugar-sweetened pops (not sugar-free or artificial sweeteners).
I love chocolate, but sometimes it keeps me awake at night. So, I’m always on the lookout for delicious desserts that don’t take a lot of time to make, especially in warmer weather when I don’t want to keep the oven on for a long time. Caramelized pineapple chunks hits the spot perfectly. It’s only got four ingredients and takes only about 15 minutes to make. Perfect!
This is a dessert that’s sweet, fruity, and seems decadent (but isn’t really). The pineapple chunks are cooked with just a bit of butter and some brown sugar to form a rich brown caramel sauce. The rest is basically fruit (and optional nuts). It only takes a few minutes to make, so you don’t have to stand over the stove for half the day. The original recipe called for rum (which I didn’t have), so I left it out. If you do have it, by all means use it. Dark rum would be best.
You can also garnish it in different ways. Top it with some chopped pistachios, or crushed almonds. Or, add some strawberries (one fruit is good, two fruits are even better). It’s both sweet and somehow savory at the same time.
While you can use a fresh pineapple, then you have to worry about using up the rest of it. I got around this problem by going to the market and getting cut up chunks of fresh pineapple. It’s much easier, less cutting, no mess, and no concerns about eating the rest of it before it spoils (which would be a shame!).
If you can’t get the fresh chunks, you can use the canned variety in a pinch. Just make sure to get the kind in juice, not in syrup. If you use the canned version, cook the pineapple in the juice from the can (if you like) instead of orange juice.
One thing, don’t walk away from it. Leave it in the pan too long and the sugar will burn, making a terrible mess (ask me how I know this).
If you want, you can make the whole thing in advance and eat it the next day. It’s better slightly warm or at room temperature, so let it sit out for a while to warm up before you eat it.
Rich caramel sauce, fresh pineapple, and a touch of butter for an easy quick dessert.
1 C fresh pineapple
2 1/4 tsp butter (unsalted)
4 tsp brown sugar
3 tsp orange juice
Cut up the pineapple into small chunks (if you are using fresh, otherwise, just measure the right amount from the can)
Put a small skillet on medium heat and add the butter, sugar, and orange juice. Stir everything together until the sugar gets wet and the butter melts.
Add the pineapple chunks and increase the heat to medium high. Bring the mixture to a boil. cover the pan, and cook for about 5 minutes.
Remove the cover, and use a slotted spoon to turn the chunks over on the other side. Turn the heat down to medium and cook for another five or six minutes, shaking the pan at about the four or five minute mark. The sauce should thicken and darken into a caramel syrup.
Using the slotted spoon, remove the pineapple onto a plate and pour the syrup over them (making sure to turn the pieces over to coat them thoroughly).
Let the mixture cool for five minutes or so.
Caramelized Pineapple Chunks Substitutions and Variations
Top the pineapple with a shot of dark rum or brandy (or try adding the rum to the sauce)
Garnish the fruit with chopped nuts (pistachios or ground almonds)