Martha’s recipe cards

Processed with VSCOcam with a6 presetYou know how Martha Stewart Living magazine comes with those 4 little perforated recipe cards each month? Recent, I worked two of them into our meal plan for the week. The dishes were quick, easy and good.

On Wednesday we had Paprika Shrimp with Hummus and Mint and on Thursday, Vinegar-glazed Chicken with Creamed Corn.

Processed with VSCOcam with a5 presetThe easy creamed corn was my personal favorite. It’s made with cream cheese which makes it much quicker to prepare than if you were to do a traditional bechamel creamed corn.

If you buy store-bought hummus instead of making it from scratch (like I did, the night before, while the Sid went nuts because he was ready for bed and I was food processing away), the Paprika Shrimp meal would take all of 15 minutes to prepare and get on the table. A weeknight winner for sure.

We’re having a bit of controversy over breasts vs thighs around here, Shane’s a breast guy (ironic, I know) and my folks are more into thighs (we knew that about my dad). We did the vinegar chicken with breasts, it would work equally well with thighs, or a mix of the two.Processed with VSCOcam with a5 preset

• Vinegar-glazed Chicken with Creamed Corn •
from Martha Stewart Living
25 min, serves 4

1 1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs, breasts or a mix of the two (about 8)
Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/3 cup white-wine vinegar
1/3 cup low-sodium chicken broth
1 bunch scallions, white and pale-green parts chopped, plus dark-green tops, thinly sliced, for serving
1 pound frozen corn kernels, thawed and drained
4 ounces cream cheese, cut into 1-inch pieces
1/2 cup milk
Arugula, lightly dressed with extra-virgin olive oil and white-wine vinegar, for serving

Season chicken with salt and pepper. Heat a large skillet over medium-high; melt 2 tablespoons butter. Add chicken; cook, flipping once, until golden brown, 5 to 7 minutes. Stir in vinegar, scraping up browned bits from bottom of pan; cook 30 seconds. Add broth; simmer, turning chicken frequently, until cooked through and coated with sauce, 3 to 4 minutes. Transfer to a bowl.

Wipe skillet clean; heat over medium. Melt remaining 2 tablespoons butter. Stir in chopped scallions; cook just until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add corn; cook just to heat through, about 1 minute. Add cream cheese and milk. Cook, stirring, until cheese melts and simmers, 2 to 3 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Top chicken and corn with sliced scallions; serve, with arugula salad.

• Paprika Shrimp with Hummus and Mint •
from Martha Stewart Living
15 min, serves 4

3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
1 pound large shrimp, peeled and deveined
4 cloves garlic, minced (2 tablespoons)
Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
1/2 teaspoon paprika, plus more for sprinkling
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice, plus wedges for serving
1 1/2 cups plain store-bought hummus
3 tablespoons finely chopped fresh mint, plus leaves for serving
Pitas, warmed if desired, for serving
Romaine-lettuce leaves and sliced cucumbers

Heat a large skillet over medium-high. Swirl in 2 tablespoons oil. Add shrimp in a single layer and garlic; season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring a few times, until shrimp are pink, opaque, and just cooked through, 2 to 3 minutes. Stir in paprika; cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Stir in lemon juice, scraping up any browned bits from bottom of pan. Remove from heat.  

In a bowl, stir together hummus, remaining 1 tablespoon oil, and mint. Serve shrimp and hummus drizzled with oil, sprinkled with paprika, and topped with mint leaves, with lemon wedges, pitas, lettuce leaves, and cucumbers alongside.

Lamb curry & chick peas with spinach

Processed with VSCOcam with a5 presetThere was some lamb left over from Easter. My mom said “we need to make lamb curry this week” and so we did.

The curry was super easy Rogan Josh from Jamie Oliver. For a non-meat dish we had Spinach & Chick Peas from Smitten Kitchen. We found the chick peas to be not super exciting on their own, but amazing when salt, peppered & topped with some of the chopped, fresh coconut, mint and cilantro that we had for serving with the lamb curry.

The lamb passed muster with the 7 year old, so I’m giving this recipe a big, fat thumbs up. Also/especially for not wasting leftover meat.

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• Rogan Josh Lamb Curry •
from Jamie Oliver
Serves 4   Approx time: 2.5 hours

3 inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and grated
8 cloves garlic, chopped
1 teaspoon turmeric
4 tablespoons natural yoghurt
1 teaspoon crushed black peppercorns
1 kg quality lamb shoulder, cut into big cubes
5 medium-sized red onions, halved
2 red peppers, halved and deseeded
4 fresh red chillies, deseeded
1 tablespoon green cardamom pods
½ tablespoon whole cloves
1 stick cinnamon
2 tablespoons coriander seeds
4 small dried red chillies
1 splash vegetable oil
2 teaspoons paprika
600 g tinned chopped tomatoes
½ tablespoon salt
sliced chilli, to serve
coconut shavings, to serve
chopped cilantro, to serve
chopped mint, to serve

Mix your ginger and garlic together. Put them in a bowl that’s big enough to fit all the cubed lamb in. Add the turmeric, yoghurt and black pepper to the bowl and mix together. Tip the lamb into the bowl and stir it around until it’s well coated with the yoghurt and spices. Cover and leave overnight in the fridge to marinate. 

Preheat your oven to 170ºC/325ºF/gas 3. Chop your onions and peppers roughly and whiz them in a food processor with the fresh red chillies. 

Put the pan you are going to cook the curry in on the medium heat and add the cardamom, cloves, cinnamon and coriander. Toast until they go a shade darker in colour, then pour into a pestle and mortar and grind up with the dried red chillies. 

Keep the pan on the heat and add a splash of vegetable oil. Add the whizzed onion, peppers and chilli paste from the food processor with the ground up spices and paprika. 

Cook over a gentle heat for about 10 minutes. By now, lots of delicious curry smells will be coming out of the pot. Add the tomatoes, the marinated lamb and half a pint of water, and stir well. When the curry comes to the boil add the salt, cover tightly with a lid and place in your preheated oven. You can basically forget about it now, as all the hard work is done. Just wait 2 hours and carefully take the pot out of the oven. 

Taste it, and if it needs salt, add a little; if it’s too hot, add a little yoghurt to cool it down. You can garnish with extra chilli, coconut and herbs. Serve with rice, your favourite Indian bread such as parathas, naans or chapattis, and loads of cold beer – you’re going to need it!


Easter Saturday

You probably know our Easter Saturday drill by now (but if you don’t, you can read about it here and here).

Easter Saturday is a day-long affair starting with a breakfast of hot cross buns, strawberries, mimosas and bloody marys. Then there’s a big egg hunt and after we’ve gorged on candy, an early dinner. Dinner is lots of savory pies, lots of good people, good times, and of  course good things to eat and drink.

Aside from the traditional assortment of savory pies, we had roasted tomatoes with burrata, beets with pesto, asparagus with anchovy butter and parmesan, pork & fennel meatballs with grilled bread, salad (natch), ricotta with fennel and radishes, and a leg of lamb.

This year I didn’t take pictures of the pies, or most of the desserts. I guess I was too busy having a nice time. The only dessert you’ll see here today is one of the most delicious French macaroons I’ve ever had (and I’m not saying that because it was made by an incredibly gifted 12 year old baker).

You might notice there’s something else very special in that dessert photo too.

Happy Easter Saturday!

Salmon worth blogging about

Processed with VSCOcam with hb1 presetI picked Salmon & Brussels Sprouts with Ginger-Scallion Sauce for tonight because I knew Shane would be preparing dinner on his own with both kids in tow, which can be a challenge at best.

The recipe looked easy and quick, and needed only a side of rice to round it out. I handed a printout to Shane and hoped for the best.

When I got home from work, dinner was almost ready, the table was set, and most importantly, Shane didn’t seem stressed out or frazzled at all. That would have sufficed, but this dish took it up a notch by being remarkably delicious.

Multiple comments were made about how great, really really great, it was. How this one should go in the archives. How the sauce should be bookmarked for future fish dishes. How we should use it this summer, on grilled bluefish, for example.

So there you go, a keeper.

• Salmon & Brussels Sprouts with Ginger-Scallion Sauce •
from Dinner A Love Story
Serves 4-ish

Preheat oven to 375°F. Slice a 1 1/4 pound salmon fillet into 4-ounce pieces as shown above. Trim and halve 4 cups of brussels sprouts and in a bowl, toss them with 2 tablespoons of oil (olive or vegetable), salt and pepper. (Do your best to keep all the brussels leaves on the sprout, because those individual leaves burn fast when roasted.) Place sprouts on a foil-lined cookie sheet and roast for 15 minutes, tossing half way through. (And don’t worry, they should look a little charred.) Turn heat to 450°F. Nestle salmon filets among the sprouts and roast another 10 minutes. Serve with ginger-scallion sauce.

Ginger-scallion sauce (adapted from Momofuku cookbook)

Combine the following in a small bowl: 1 large bunch scallions (green and white parts), chopped; 1 tablespoon finely minced peeled fresh ginger; 2 tablespoons neutral oil, such as canola or grapeseed; 1 tablespoon soy sauce; a drop or two of fish sauce (optional) 2 tablespoons sherry or rice wine vinegar; a little chopped mint, a squeeze of Sriracha, salt and pepper to taste.


Carbonara for a crowd

Our friends “The Drews” visited this weekend. It was delightful to see our Cape friends off-Cape and off-season.

Saturday night Shane made his famous carbonara for, I don’t know, maybe 17 people, maybe 20. My mom made a couple of dishes for anyone who didn’t want carbonara.

The Pasta alla Carbonara was a hit, as always. My kids devoured it, and couldn’t wait to polish off the leftovers the next day. Sid left a little pile of pancetta pieces by the side of his plate at dinner, because so far he’s not a meat eater.

My mom tried out a couple of dishes from the beautiful Venetian (of Sorts) cookbook, Polpo. So far everything we’ve made from this book is amazing.

The lentils with burrata and pesto were a vegetarian’s dream come true, and the roasted tomatoes with mozzarella were pretty perfect too.

Happy weekend!


Peppers, anchovies, goat cheese, oh my!

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 presetOur family is newly in love with this dish. Roasted Red Peppers with Anchovies, Garlic and Goat Cheese from Phyllis Grant’s column at Food52.

We are so in love, that these peppers made it to our weekly meal plan twice in as many weeks. It’s so good, we haven’t noticed if the kids are eating it or not because we’re too busy devouring it.

My mom and I thought it might be too anchovy-y but it really isn’t. The anchovies add the right amount of salt to the dish and melt so perfectly into the juice from the peppers that the sauce is just lick-your-plate succulent.

It works well accompanying a simple chicken dish, or makes a perfect meatless meal (if you don’t count anchovies) when served with grilled bread and a fried egg.Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset• Roasted Red Peppers with Anchovies, Garlic & Goat Cheese •
from Food52
serves 4

2 red bell peppers, cored, seeded, and cut lengthwise into eighths
16 anchovy fillets, packed in oil (we like the kind that comes in a jar)
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
3 cloves garlic, peeled and sliced lengthwise as thinly as possible
4 ounces creamy fresh goat cheese, chilled
A handful baby arugula, chopped (or not chopped, if you’re lazy or short on time)Heat oven to 350° F.

Place peppers skin side-down in a baking dish. Place one anchovy fillet in the belly of each red pepper slice. Evenly distribute the butter, olive oil, and garlic between the slices.

Cover with tin foil. Roast until peppers are starting to soften (about 25 minutes). Agitate the pan a bit to make sure all the slices are evenly coated with oil and not sticking to the bottom of the pan. Remove tin foil and cook for another 15 minutes or so until everything starts to brown. You want the peppers tender but not falling apart. This can take anywhere from 40 minutes to an hour. Just be vigilant and don’t let anything burn. It’s fine to turn down the temp or place the tin foil back on.

Slice chilled goat cheese into about 8 discs. If they fall apart, just pat them back together like clay. Place on top of cooked peppers. Bake until goat cheese is warm all the way through, about 5 minutes. Cool for 5 minutes. Garnish with chopped arugula. Serve on grilled bread.

Farro with butternut squash, almonds & goat cheese

Processed with VSCOcam with a6 presetIt was Sunday night, and I was really in the mood for farro. My usual recipes didn’t appeal to me so I thought I’d try this one.

Not surprisingly, we didn’t have all the ingredients and I decided to mess with the recipe. The result was amazing (and smelled amazing while cooking too!) The recipe is below.

We also had salad with broccoli, leeks, basil, goat cheese and radicchio, and pork tenderloin. But what I’m taking home from this dinner is the farro.

P.S. If you have a baby, he or she may devour this dish.

• Farro with Roasted Butternut Squash, Goat Cheese & Almonds •
adapted from this recipe from 101 Cookbooks
serves 6 as a side dish

1 cup farro, rinsed and drained
3 or more cups butternut squash, cut into 1/2-inch dice 
1/2 large red onion cut into inch-ish sized chunks
1 tablespoon fresh thyme, minced
olive oil
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1/2 cup almonds, toasted & chopped
1/4 cup (about half a small log – more to taste) goat cheese, crumbled

Heat the oven to 400 degrees. In a small saucepan, boil the farro in plenty of salted water until al dente. When done, remove from heat, drain, and set aside.

Meanwhile, toss chopped butternut squash, thyme, onion & balsamic vinegar in a bowl with a good amount of olive oil and salt. Roast in a baking tray for about 45 minutes until fragrant and cooked through, browned nicely and not too mushy. Toss with a spatula for even cooking and taste along the way.

When the squash is done, toss it in a large bowl with the farro and almonds, taste for seasoning, adding more salt and oil if needed. Add crumbled goat cheese and toss one more time. Serve warm.