Moroccan Caramelized Carrots

Moroccan Caramelized CarrotsSpring Break
This week is spring break. So, I have kind of taken the week off. The plans we had to go out of town fell through for a number of reasons so now we are enjoying a stay-cation at home. The problem with that is there is no lounging poolside in the sun while some wonderful individual continuously brings you beverages with umbrellas in them. Alas, what really happens is you catch up on the laundry you’ve been ignoring for weeks and you find little projects around the house to keep you busy.

One such project for me was reorganizing my cookbook library. I have to do this every few years for two main reasons. First, I am not always great about putting the books back in the same spot when I am finished with them. And, second, and most importantly, because I am constantly adding and subtracting from my collection. Eventually, I need to reorganize to make room. After I had pulled the 250+ books out of the shelves I took a picture of my collection and posted it on Facebook just to see what the reaction would be.

The people who know me well weren’t surprised at all by the giant piles but what I found most interesting were the friends who suggested I just use the internet to find recipes and other inspiration. While I do use websites to look for ideas as well as ingredients, there is no way that the internet would ever be a decent replacement for my cookbooks because it’s not just about convenience and millions of options at my fingertips. My cookbooks are more than just the recipes they contain. There are masterpieces from the giants of culinary tradition like Escoffier, Child, Rombauer, and Beard. Some of them are family heirlooms that hold the family’s history and traditions on dog-eared pages. Still, others tell the story of a new skill or technique learned between food stained chapters. And then there are the books that recount the journeys and exotic foods of far off lands and encourage the dreams of flavors yet to be experienced firsthand.

Nope. You will never convince me to get rid of my cookbooks. And, if the price I pay for that is the need to do a little spring cleaning from time to time, so be it. It also means I revisit some of my old favorites that haven’t been in my dinner circulation recently like this recipe for Caramelized Carrots.

I haven’t pulled my Moroccan cookbooks off the shelf in a while but my project gave me a craving. I made grilled halibut with fresh chermoula and these carrots on the side. Everyone cleared their plate…

Moroccan Caramelized Carrots
Adapted from Cooking at the Kasbah by Kitty Morse
Yields 4 Servings Read more…

Green Beans with Hazelnut Gremolata

Green Beans with Hazelnut Gremolata It’s Not Easy Being Green
Whenever you hear people raving about their favorite Thanksgiving dishes, usually it is the stuffing. or the sweet potatoes, or even the homemade cranberry sauce. Rarely is it about the vegetables that are served as sides—or at least that has been my experience. Not going to lie, if there are some greens on my plate at Thanksgiving they are there solely out of guilt for the obscene amount of carbs and gravy that I have piled up on my grandmother’s Wedgewood plates.

Since I am hosting the big event this year I have been compelled to come up with a vegetable side. And, I am finding it challenging to locate a recipe that I am willing to make and would work well with the rest of the meal. True, I could do my favorite Spinach Gratin. But, I am concerned that the cream and cheese would be too rich with all of the other caloric goodness on the table.

Yes, I could do some Brussels sprouts but the truth is, I hate them. I have tried so hard to like them and occasionally will order them if offered when I am out enjoying a nice dinner just to see if a different recipe will do the trick but, alas, they are still gross. Even with bacon.

A kale salad is a possibility. But it seems too trendy and obvious in this time of kale obsession, though it looks like the obsession might be waning. Plus, in my family, salads hardly ever get eaten. Case in point, the salad my grandmother used to make every Thanksgiving (that no one ate, but had to be made because it was tradition). This Endive & Fuyu Persimmon Salad with Pecans is a good substitute and might actually be eaten…

So, I think I will end up going with tried and true green beans as a vegetable side this year. Most people like them and they are fairly easy to prepare in large quantities. I could steam and toss the beans in a little garlic butter. But, I may lose my mind and go a tiny bit fancier and make something like these Green Beans with Hazelnut Gremolata. When in doubt, I always reference Ina..

Green Beans with Hazelnut Gremolata
Yields 8 servings  Read more…

Pumpkin Pasta with Sage Butter

Pumpkin Pasta with Sage Butter

For The Times, They Are A-Changin’
Halloween was different this year. There were no parades. No morning rush to get the costume make-up done. No concerns about wearing a costume all day. In fact, the excitement about Halloween has been replaced, for some in my family, by high school soccer try-outs.

Sigh. Yep. We have reached the stage where the kids were handing out candy to trick-or-treaters instead of filling their own pillowcases.

We have one holdout, though. My twelve-year-old did go out trick or treating with her friends. She was dressed as a wedge of cheese that she constructed and painted all by herself complete with cheezy duct tape. This kid beats to her own—and I love it. I have no doubt that next year she will come up with an equally random costume idea and hit the streets to collect her chocolate.

This change means that dinner plans are different too. In fact, I actually put a little more work into it and made this recipe for Pumpkin Pasta with Sage Butter. It’s a great representation of the flavors of the season. And, the pumpkin is an obvious nod to Halloween. If you do not have a pasta machine it is just as easy to roll it out with a rolling pin.

To those of you who still headed out with your little ones, I hope you had fun and enjoyed these nights roaming the streets of your neighborhood with your kids. Because it’s true what they say…it all goes by so quickly!

Pumpkin Pasta with Sage Butter
Yields 6 servings Read more…

Sweet Potato Sheet Pan Chicken

Sweet Potato Sheet Pan ChickenIt’s The Sheet
I have been a little obsessed by sheet pan cooking lately. What is sheet pan cooking? you may ask. It’s basically a one-pot meal for the oven. Everything is cooked together on the sheet pan. Cuts down on time and dishes! The best part is the cooking everything on a sheet pan—it makes it easy to enjoy the roasted flavors of the fall.

To be fair, it can take a couple of times making a sheet pan recipe to get it exactly right. Sometimes the chicken you are using can release a little too much liquid and make everything a little soggy (though still tasty).

With a little online research, you can find an amazing number of recipes for sheet pan dinners. Or, if you really want to commit you can order this lovely cookbook Sheet Pan Suppers: 120 Recipes for Simple, Surprising, Hands-Off Meals Straight from the Oven.  And, go nuts!

My most recent sheet pan discovery is this recipe for Sweet Potato Sheet Pan Chicken. My husband went wild for it. It’s a perfect mid-week meal.

And, if I could offer one piece of advice, no matter what recipe you are making, line your sheet pan with heavy-duty foil before putting everything on it. You will thank yourself when you are too stuffed to clean up….

Sweet Potato Sheet Pan Chicken
Yields 4 servings Read more…

Lamb Shanks Osso Buco

Lamb Shanks Osso BucoFall Foodie
The recent cooler weather has put me in the mood to do some actual cooking. There is something about the fog rolling in and the leaves floating to the ground that makes me want to pull my Dutch oven out and do some serious braising. This is how I found myself with a big pile of vegetables and some beautiful lamb shanks.

If you have never had lamb shanks you are missing out. These slow-cooked beauties will melt in your mouth when prepared correctly. And, they are relatively inexpensive. The one drawback is that they do take some time to cook. So, this would definitely be a weekend meal. However, if you have an Instant Pot, you could make this magic in a much shorter amount of time.

There are two recipes I generally use for making lamb shanks. The first one has a lighter Provençal flavor and is made with small white beans. The lamb shanks melt away from the bone and the beans soak up the flavor of the lamb and the vegetables they are cooked with. The second recipe is probably my favorite of the two and has more of a traditional Osso Buco flavor. It’s fantastic when served with a creamy risotto or a serving of nutty farro on the side or for the truly decadent, mashed potatoes…and it’s even better the next day!

If you’re feeling in the braising mood this weekend, give this a try.

Lamb Shanks Osso Buco
Yields 4 to 6 servings Read more…