Roasted Winter Vegetables

In the pre-Whole Foods, bad old days of smelly, dingy “natural food” stores, or “health food” stores (a name that rang with promise but in reality was more like a cross between Communist Poland circa 1984 and the corner store in a desolate city neighborhood, with rainbow stickers and dangling “dream catchers” in the window), root vegetables bore the brunt of many a joke. These gnarled, dirt-crusted tubers were bendy and battered. We bought them because they offered a pesticide-free experience. But they were unappealing. Sanctimonious winter vegetables gave health food a bad name.

humble winter root vegetables


I hitchhiked across America with my sister Kate in 1980. In each new city, we sought out the local health food store and the gay bar. Both of these venues, in our minds, delivered a cache of interesting people and ideas. Most health food stores sold herbal tinctures, fresh ginger, crystal deodorant, and bulk nuts. They also had bulletin boards packed with announcements for area political meetings, basement concerts, healers and other fringe activities. We loved the bulletin boards and relied on them to connect with like-minded folks.

Gay bars offered another kind of entertainment. In El Paso, on the final leg of our maiden voyage to the promised land of California, we spent a long evening playing pool with the all-male patrons. It was a dangerous time to be a homosexual in Texas. It took a lot of asking around the town to find this beer-soaked subterfuge. I remember winning a game of pool with a strapping guy, shirtless in a leather vest. He laughed, surprised by his 18-year female old opponent, sporting a crew cut. Kate and I felt we were living on the edge, exactly where we wanted to be.

Back to root vegetables. I have learned to embrace them. To love them, even. I try to eat seasonally and experimenting with root vegetables is a winter pastime. At my local food coop, carrots, parsnips, turnips, rutabagas and the like occupy a prominent position, glistening and firm, inviting and healthful. Natural food stores have come a long way.



Mostly, I make soups with roots, or roast, or mash them for a side dish. Try adding a cup of cubed parsnips or celery root to your next curry or stew. They’ll add another flavor dimension and increase your vitamin intake. Always keep a few root vegetables in the fridge. They keep for weeks and add flavor to stocks (except parsnips, which really are too pungent unless that’s what you’re after).



A few nights ago I cleaned out the fridge and roasted up what I found for a quick vegetable companion to baked bluefish. Crunchy, sweet and salty, this is a winter side dish that makes “health food” downright delicious.



Roasted Winter Vegetables
Serves 6

Quantities are flexible – as are ingredients. Try any combination of the following winter vegetables: beets, carrots, cauliflower, celery root, fennel, parsnips, potatoes, rutabagas, shallots, squash, sweet potatoes, turnips. The key is #1 cut the veggies in similar sizes to ensure even cooking, and #2 not to overcrowd the baking sheet.

1 pound carrots
½ pound parsnips
½ pound sunchokes
1 pound fingerling potatoes
12 cloves garlic, peeled and trimmed, left whole
1 lemon, trimmed and thinly sliced (optional)
Olive oil
Salt and freshly ground pepper
3 tablespoons chopped parsley

Preheat the oven to 375°F. Scrub and trim the vegetables. With organically grown produce, I leave the skins on because nutrients are lost when you discard the peels.

Slice carrots and sunchokes 1/4” thick, parsnips 1/8” thick (to compensate for longer cooking time), and fingerling potatoes in half. Cut vegetables on the diagonal — for what my cooking student Ben calls a “jaunty angle.” This will improve the look of the final dish.

In a large bowl, using your hands, mix the cut vegetables and garlic with olive oil, salt and pepper. Add lemon slices if you want to add punch. Spread in a single layer on two baking sheets. Do not overcrowd the baking sheets or the vegetables won’t get crisp.

Bake for 20 minutes. Remove from oven, toss with a spatula and cook for about 20 more minutes, or until cooked through. Sprinkle with parsley before serving.

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Filed under fall, Recipes, sides, vegan, vegetables, vegetarian

Common Cold Home Remedy

getting arrested at anti-nuke demonstration in Seabrook, NH

Demonstration in Seabrook, NH ; photo by Eric Roth


It’s spring of 1980. I’m living in the woods of New Hampshire, in a teepee with a group of anti-nuclear activists during a month-long “occupation.” We aim to stop construction at the nuclear power plant being built in Seabrook, New Hampshire. I am assigned cooking duty, producing daily meals for the forty or so people in the encampment. I love my job.

The mosquitoes are vicious in the boggy woods. We stay up late around the campfire talking strategy: how to avoid the police, best tips for non-violent resistance when arrested, etc. Slapping mosquitoes night and day. One of my comrades teaches me how to ward off the pests. Always keep a raw clove of garlic tucked in the back of the mouth. Like baseball players with chewing tobacco, we sucked on garlic all day to keep the bugs at bay. It was, I thought, a great natural remedy. The only side effect was smelling like garlic.

garlic as a common cold home remedy

Over the years, long after I left the excitement of being 18 years old with a bunch of radicals in the New Hampshire woods, I’ve collected natural remedies. I like the reliance on plants for health (in addition to modern medicine; I am not an extremist). I enjoy the stories that come with remedies, the way they get passed down through generations. It feels good to mix up a cure for what ails you.

make a ginger broth to ward off a cold

What to do when you get the first inkling of a scratchy throat? Make a hot broth of garlic, ginger, lemon and honey. Sip it all day. It works, most of the time. Also, ideally, sleep as much as possible to increase the chances of fighting off sickness. But the broth is the only thing I’ve found that comes close to curing the common cold.

ingredients for home remedy against common cold

About 1,500 of us were arrested in Seabrook on May 24, 1980. With a tidal wave of “No Nukes” protestors around the world, we ultimately succeeded in blocking construction of one of the reactors. I don’t know how many of us had a clove of garlic in our mouths when hauled off to jail. We felt victorious. And the police officers had to contend with smelly protestors like myself, garlic seeping from every pore.

hot broth as a home remedy


Common Cold Natural Remedy

1 tablespoon garlic, chopped
2 tablespoons ginger, peeled and chopped
1 cup cold water
Juice of ½ lemon
1 teaspoon honey
Pinch of cayenne

In a small saucepan, bring the garlic, ginger and water to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer for 5 minutes. Turn off the heat and let stand for 10 minutes. Strain, stir in honey and cayenne (adjusting quantities to taste), and sip right away. Make a half- gallon of the mixture at a time (multiply recipe by 8) and sip all day. Feel better!


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Plum Clafoutis

pints of plums at the farmers market in brooklyn

Every year of my conscious life I mourn the last delicious peach of the season. The chin dribbling peach, the fuzzy skinned peach, the tart-and-sweet-at-the-same-time peach, the misshapen doughnut peach. The smell of a perfect white peach! I feel dizzy with pleasure. But once I have had that fateful bite of a mealy peach, sometime in September, I know the book is closed until the following July. The good news is… there are plums.

plums at fort greene farmer's market

At the Fort Greene farmer’s market here in Brooklyn this weekend, piles of plums announced “We are faking out autumn!” Purple like a queen’s velvet cape, pert and tart and full of flavor, plums are the latecomers to the summer party of irresistible fruits. They’re called prunes in France. They are best cooked (or dried, like the prunes we can buy in a bright box all year, known to promote good digestion).

sexy purple plums

I made a few versions of Plum Clafoutis before settling on this recipe. The classic clafoutis (French, bien sur) is made with unpitted cherries. Basically a batter poured over fruit, I’ve always found it a little on the eggy side. I prefer crispy things. So to add texture, I frothed up the egg whites, folding them into the batter. Next time, I will scatter almond slivers on top before baking, to add more crunch.

plum clafoutis recipe prep

In Ottolenghi’s cookbook (an absolute must-have and just published in the US), the recipe suggests making little mini-clafoutis, in ramekins. That sounds lovely, but I wanted this to be a fast and easy dessert. Minimal fuss. Maximum Can-I-Pretend-It’s-Summer-For-A-Few-More-Weeks. Please?

baked plum clafoutis

plum clafoutis for breakfast


Plum Clafoutis

Serves 8

Butter to grease pan
1¾ pounds small, firm-ripe plums
3 eggs separated
6 tablespoons sugar
½ vanilla bean
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
½ cup heavy cream
½ cup flour
pinch of salt
Confectioner’s sugar for dusting

Generously grease a 9” tart pan (or pie plate, or cake tin). The pan should be at least 1½” deep. Preheat the oven to 375° F.

Cut plums lengthwise into 6 wedges each, discarding pits and stems. Reserve 1 cup of cut plums and scatter the remaining plums on the bottom of the greased pan.

In a medium bowl, using a whisk or an electric beater, beat the egg yolks and sugar until pale yellow and creamy. Slit the vanilla bean in half longwise and scrape the seeds into the egg yolk mixture. Blend in with the vanilla extract and cream. Stir in the flour.

In a medium bowl, beat the egg whites and salt until they form stiff (but not granular or dry) peaks. Fold beaten whites into the batter. Pour batter over the cut plums. Scatter reserved plums on top.

Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until golden brown. Serve warm or room temperature with a dusting of confectioner’s sugar on top.


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Filed under Breakfast, dessert, fall, Recipes, Uncategorized, vegetarian

Bicycles and Food

I’m an urban cyclist. Whizzing along, dodging doors and cabbies, often loaded with food supplies, there’s something thrilling about having one’s own 2 wheels. It’s a mix of freedom and speed, independence and whimsy. I’m reading David Byrne’s Bicycle Diaries right now. He captures the view from a bicycle seat very well. His enthusiasm is inspiring and comforting. A quick tour around the internet brought me to create this little gallery of images —  the intersection of bikes and food. Just for fun…


flickr image by london permaculture



“dabbawala” lunch delivery guy in india from wikimedia



flickr image by sarah korf



flickr image by sarah korf


image by xinhua/yuan qing in uganda


Bicycle #3

flickr image by ed yourdon in rome, italy


Justice for Whole Foods

flickr image by thomas hawk



flickr image by michael foley in bangladesh



monochrome bikes


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Slow-Roasted Tomatoes

firm ripe tomatoes for slow roasting

I haven’t put away the sandals and sundresses yet. The markets still burst with zucchini, eggplant and tomatoes. We took the subway out to Rockaway Beach a few days ago for an early evening swim. It’s imminent — the Halloween icons, the sweater weather, the short days. But I refuse to let go of summer.

halved tomatoes on a sheet pan for roasting

Making slow-roasted tomatoes extends the vibe. These plump, sweet-sour treats explode in your mouth with concentrated flavor, transporting you to a summer day in one bite. They can be tossed with a salad, served with grilled meat, scattered with pasta and herbs, or popped into a lunch box. I love them on bruschetta, garlic rubbed toast smeared with ricotta and basil leaves.

sprinkle cut tomatoes with sugar, salt and pepper

My cousins Betsy and Bobby live in the Yorkshire Dales (photo below), about a five hour drive north of London. I visited them in August and was served a most delicious salad of slow roasted tomatoes with croutons, black olives and red onions. Most of it came from their beautiful garden out back.

walking in the yorkshire dales, UK

If you can find them, roast a mix of yellow and red tomatoes to increase the visual appeal. Use cherry tomatoes if you wish; just decrease the cooking time by an hour or so. Dusting them with a mixture of sugar, salt and black pepper before they go in the oven exaggerates their natural sweetness while keeping them on the savory side.

Summer in northern England doesn’t immediately evoke images of just-picked, ripe tomatoes. I imagine Betsy roasts tomatoes regularly and stores them in jars with olive oil, treasuring them into the fall long after the leaves have turned. Thanks to her, I will do the same.


Slow-Roasted Tomatoes

Makes 24 halves, enough to serve 8 as a side dish

12 plum tomatoes, firm-ripe
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper*

Preheat oven to the lowest temperature it will go, 250˚ or 275˚ F. Cut tomatoes in half lengthwise. Arrange cut side up, in a single layer, on a rimmed sheet pan. Mix together sugar, salt and pepper in a small bowl. Sprinkle tomatoes liberally with sugar mix. Bake for about 4 hours – or more – until tomatoes have collapsed and shriveled, caramelized but not burnt. Eat warm or room temperature. Store for about a week in the fridge, or in a sealed jar covered in olive oil, which preserves them up to a month. You can also freeze them.

* Do you have a good pepper grinder? What does that even mean? Being the house guest of several lovely, kind, adorable friends this summer has provided me with the opportunity of bringing a pepper grinder house present. Selfishly, it’s because I cannot live without the use of my sturdy, workhorse grinder. But also, because everyone – even novice or non-cooks – should have one in their kitchen. This is one I can safely recommend. Look for the Peugeot label on the underside (the business end).


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Filed under Appetizer, Breakfast, fall, Lunch, pasta, Recipes, Salad, summer, vegan, vegetarian

Lemon Crème Brûlée

Like most, I crave a sweet thing at the end of a meal. A square of chocolate usually does the trick. But when people come over, I make dessert. Mostly, I do it to please others. I learned long ago that a grand, sugary finale makes people swoon. It matters less the hours you marinate the protein, the itsy bitsy chopped herbs you sprinkle on the plate. What they really want is dessert.

And so I have developed a small repertoire of killer sweets. Having recently acquired a new, slim kitchen toy that doubles as a welding tool, I have added crème brûlée to my dessert list. This is that chilled, creamy dish with a brittle veneer you find in most French restaurants. Most of us have the ingredients in our fridge at all times.

Crème brûlée can be mixed up in half an hour. It keeps in the fridge for a few days. If you don’t want to spend about $20 on a torch, get your broiler very hot and run the filled ramekins under the flame for a few minutes. You really can’t serve crème brûlée without the crispy top.

For extra credit, play around with flavored crème brûlée. Because it’s made with cream, you can drop tasty things into the cream while it heats. This infuses the dish with the flavor you choose, be it lemon peel, lavender springs, cloves, dried roses, lemongrass stalks, ginger knobs, etc. For fancy flecks of black from vanilla, scrape the insides of a vanilla pod into the cream. Strain the cream after it’s heated and proceed with the recipe.

Take my advice. A sure-fire way to make your guests happy is to make them a homemade dessert. Don’t worry about ironing the napkins or clearing away the clutter before the guests arrive. Cook them something sweet. Dessert masks many a domestic shortcoming.


Lemon Crème Brûlée
Adapted from long departed, good old Gourmet magazine

Serves 8

3 large lemons
3 cups heavy cream
About 10 tablespoons sugar, preferably turbinado
6 large egg yolks
1/2 teaspoon vanilla

Special equipment: 8 (4-oz) flameproof ramekins; a small blowtorch

Put oven rack in middle position and preheat oven to 325º F.

Finely grate 3 tablespoons zest from lemons into cream in a medium-sized heavy saucepan. Stir in 7 tablespoons sugar and a pinch of salt. Heat mixture over moderately low heat, stirring occasionally, until almost boiling. Remove from heat.

Lightly beat yolks in a bowl, then gradually whisk in hot cream. Pour custard through a fine-mesh sieve into a quart-size glass measure and stir in vanilla and 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice. Divide among ramekins.

Arrange ramekins in a roasting pan and bake in a water bath (filling roasting pan with boiling water to halfway up sides of ramekins), until custards are just set around edge but centers wobble when pan is gently shaken, 30 to 35 minutes. Cool custards in water bath 20 minutes, then remove from pan and chill, uncovered, at least 4 hours. (Custards will set completely as they chill.)

Sprinkle about 1/2 teaspoon sugar evenly over each custard, then move blowtorch flame evenly back and forth close to sugar until sugar is caramelized. Let stand until caramel is hardened, 3 to 5 minutes.

Cooks’ note: Custards can be chilled, covered with a sheet of plastic wrap after 4 hours, up to 2 days. Very gently blot with paper towels before sprinkling with sugar and caramelizing.


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chickpeas ready to be soaked


The weeknight shuffle. How to get dinner on the table with minimal hassle and maximum taste? Keep it seasonal. Make it vegetarian (often). Vary the offerings. Use what you have. These are my little mantras, the things I repeat to myself for focus and personal pep talking.

soak chickpeas while you sleep


chop what you have for a little side salad


Having recently acquired a new cookbook, Jerusalem, by Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi, I have been cooking my way through it. This is colorful, flavorful food with an emphasis on vegetables. Lots of spice and crunch. Excellent for people trying to eat less meat (garbanzo beans are your friends).


simple ingredients that taste good together


make the food processor do the work


Last night, I made falafel for dinner. Stuffed in warmed whole wheat pita breads, smeared with tahini sauce with a side of chopped radishes and cucumbers mixed up with Greek yogurt, minced parsley and lemon juice. Even the picky teenager enjoyed it. This probably had more to do with the fact that falafel are fried. But that’s OK. We took a little trip to the mideast and had a tasty vegetarian dinner made in a little over an hour.


chill the mixture to make flavors meld and for easier handling


a fried treat for dinner



From Jerusalem

Serves 4 (about 20 balls)

1 1/4 cups dried chickpeas
1/2 medium onion, finely chopped (1/2 cup)
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 tablespoon finely chopped flat leaf parsley
2 tablespoons finely chopped cilantro
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
3 tablespoons water
1 1/2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
about 3 cups sunflower oil, for deep-frying
1/2 teaspoon sesame seeds, for coating

Place the chickpeas in a large bowl and cover with cold water at least twice their volume. Set aside to soak overnight.

The next day, drain the chickpeas well and combine them with the onion, garlic, parsley, and cilantro. For best results, use a meat grinder for the next part. Put the chickpea mixture through the machine, set to its finest setting, then pass it through the machine a second time. You can also use a food processor (I did and it worked fine). Blitz the mixture, pulsing until it is finely chopped but not mushy or pasty. Once processed, add the spices, baking powder, 3/4 teaspoons of salt, flour and water. Mix well by hand until smooth and uniform. Cover the mixture and leave it in the fridge for at least an hour, or until ready to use. I made the mixture in the morning so it would be ready for dinner with minimal fuss.

Fill a deep, heavy-bottomed medium saucepan with enough oil to come 2 3/4 inches up the sides of the pan. Heat the oil to 350 F.

With wet hands, press 1 tablespoon of the mixture in the palm of your hand to form a patty or a ball the size of a small walnut, about a scant 1 ounce.

Sprinkle the balls evenly with sesame seeds and deep-fry them in batches for 4 minutes, until well-browned and cooked through. It is important they really dry out on the inside, so make sure they get enough time in the oil. Drain in a colander lined with paper towels and serve at once.


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Ballymaloe Chicken Liver Paté

ballymaloe chicken liver pate On a trip to Ireland years ago, I discovered the Ballymaloe Cooking School and Restaurant. It’s big old manor house nestled in the green, cashmere landscape of County Cork, with a walled garden where the cooks pick fresh herbs and vegetables to serve at meals. I loved it there. I still dream about going back.

Eating lunch in the high-ceilinged dining room at Ballymaloe, I remember being served a little pot of chicken liver paté with melba toasts. Maybe it was the fire crackling in the hearth near our table. Or the ponies grazing in the meadows beyond the huge, double-hung windows. But that was the best paté I’d ever had.

inside ballymaloe, in ireland

I recently found the recipe for it in Darina Allen’s wonderful book, Forgotten Skills of Cooking. Packed with stories and time-tested tips, she writes about curing meats, smoking fish, drying fruit, making pickles and many other culinary feats. The photos are beautiful. The recipes are clear and easy to follow. Allen has passionate opinions about food but isn’t sanctimonious. She’s a pleasure to read.

Every time I buy a whole chicken, I pop the liver in the freezer in a zipped bag filled with livers from past birds. When I have enough, I defrost the livers and make this paté. The paté goes into little ramekins which, covered in plastic wrap, go back in the freezer for a future ready-made, luxury hors d’oeuvre. When I dip my rounded butter knife into the ramekin, I am transported back to County Cork.

serve pate in ramekins


Ballymaloe Chicken Liver Paté

Adapted from Forgotten Skills of Cooking by Darina Allen

Serves 10-12

8 oz fresh organic chicken livers
2 tablespoons brandy
8 tablespoons butter, cut into cubes, plus a little for cooking livers
1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
1 large garlic clove, crushed
Salt and freshly ground pepper
Clarified butter* to seal the top

Wash the livers and remove any membrane or green-tinged bits. Melt a little butter in a frying pan. When it foams, add the livers and cook over a low heat. All trace of pink should be gone, but be careful not to overcook them or the outsides will get crusty. Put the livers into a food processor.

Deglaze the pan with brandy and allow it to flame. Add the crushed garlic and thyme leaves, stirring for two minutes then scraping everything into the food processor with the livers. Purée for a few seconds. Let cool.

Add 6 tablespoons of the butter pieces and purée again until smooth. Season with salt and pepper, taste, and add more butter if necessary. The paté should taste fairly mild and be quite smooth in texture.

Put into six 4-ounce ramekins, or one medium sized terrine and knock out an air bubbles by firmly banging the ramekins on the counter a few times. Then pour clarified butter over the top to seal.

Serve with melba toast or toasted white bread. This paté will keep up to 5 days in the refrigerator or it can be frozen for a month or so. Eat immediately after it is defrosted.

* To make clarified butter, melt butter gently in a saucepan or in a Pyrex cup in a very low oven, at 300˚F. Let stand for a few minutes, then spoon the crusty white layer of salt particles off the top. Underneath is a clear liquid butter, the clarified butter. Spoon this liquid into a jar, and throw out the milky liquid at the bottom. Keep Clarified butter in the fridge for cooking foods at a high heat. Butter starts to burn at 350˚F. Clarified butter can be heated up to 485˚F.



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Arroz con Pollo

The temperature has dropped in New York, calling for One-Pot Wonders. These are unfussy meals served from one pan.  Because many of the classics emphasize  starch plus protein (such as tuna-noodle casserole, lasagna, beef stew, etc.), I prefer to adapt the recipes to add in more vegetables. The best one-pot wonders are nutritional one-stop shopping, meaning no side dishes to make or extra pans to wash.

one pot wonders satisfy hunger and simplify meals

This is Latino style peasant food at its best. Serious comfort food. A jumble of flavor, texture and color, Arroz con Pollo has thousands of variations. My first memory of the dish is in the early 1980s, at the counter of La Rosita, a hole-in-the-wall joint on upper Broadway that was a favorite of ex-pat Dominicans, Cubans and puertorriqueños. As well as Columbia students and impoverished artist-types (the category I saw myself in). Fragrant, steamy rice cooked with chicken pieces. And nary a veggie in sight.

the window of long-gone la rosita on broadway

It would be easy to cook this in a slow cooker, if you have one. Be sure to brown the chicken pieces first, though. Slow cookers do meat a disservice if pieces are left whole in the final presentation. Once meat is browned, throw all the other ingredients in the slow cooker and set to low, cooking for 8 hours or so. You’ll come home to a house that smells inviting and dinner ready to eat.


Arroz con Pollo

Serves 4-6

For chicken
6 garlic cloves, chopped
Juice from 3 limes
1 teaspoon dried oregano
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 (3 1/2- to 4-lb) chicken, cut into 8 pieces; or 10 bone-in, skin-on thighs
2 tablespoons cooking oil

For rice
2 medium onions, chopped fine (about 2 cups)
3 large garlic cloves, minced
1 red pepper, chopped into 1” x ¼” strips
1 small winter squash (about 1 pound), peeled and cut into 1” cubes
3 teaspoons ground cumin
2 teaspoons salt
1/2 cup dry white wine
1 bunch kale, stems removed and leaves chopped small
1 bay leaf
½ teaspoon hot red pepper flakes (optional)
1 15-oz can diced tomatoes, including juice
1 1/2 cups chicken broth
1 1/2 cups water
2 cups long-grain white rice
½ cup fresh cilantro, minced (optional, for garnish)


Prepare chicken:

Purée garlic, lime juice, oregano, salt, and pepper in a blender until smooth. Put chicken pieces in a bowl or shallow dish and add purée, turning to coat. Marinate chicken, covered and chilled, at least 30 minutes but up to 24 hours.

Transfer chicken to paper towels, then pat dry. Reserve marinade.

Heat oil in 6- to 8-quart heavy pot or Dutch oven over a medium-high heat, then brown chicken in 2 or 3 batches, without crowding, turning occasionally, about 10 minutes per batch. Transfer browned chicken to a plate, reserving fat in pot.


Prepare rice:

Put oven rack in middle position and preheat to 350°F.

Pour off all but 2 tablespoons of fat remaining in pot. Sauté onions, garlic, peppers, and squash over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally and scraping up brown bits from chicken, until vegetables are softened, 6 to 8 minutes.

Add cumin and salt to vegetables and cook, stirring, 2 minutes. Stir in wine, scraping bottom of pot, and bubble for 1 minute. Add kale, bay leaf, red pepper flakes, tomatoes (including juice), broth, water, and reserved marinade. Stir to combine and bring to a boil.

Add all chicken except breast pieces (if using), skin sides up, and gently simmer, covered, over low heat 10 minutes. Stir in rice, then add breast pieces, skin sides up, and arrange chicken in 1 layer.  (For maneuverability, you may need to remove chicken pieces temporarily while stirring in rice, then replace pieces in one layer on top of rice and vegetable mix.) Return to a simmer. Cover pot tightly, then transfer to oven and bake until rice is tender and most of liquid is absorbed, about 20 minutes.

After testing rice for doneness and seasoning (adjust if more salt or pepper is needed), let pot rest out of the oven, covered, for 10 minutes. Garnish each serving with cilantro.


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Pear Cranberry Crisp

pear cranberry crisp using bosc pears


On the eve of America’s greatest food holiday, Thanksgiving, I am tasked with making a fruit dessert for the family spread. As I’m not a pumpkin pie person (texture problem), nor one to deny people their right to butter (life is too short), I chose to make a crisp. Pears and cranberries will be deployed. Both are fruit stars of the season and locally grown to boot.

Also called a crumble, a cobbler, or “Apple Brown Betty” by my mother’s generation (who made it with bread), a crisp should be just that. Crispy on top, melting and yielding inside. It can be as sweet as you like, or even salty if that’s your thing. Think salted caramels. Or our local ice cream shop’s genius flavor, “Salted Crack Caramel,” made with saltines. Use the fruit at hand. Apples, rhubarb, quince, figs, cranberries, figs. Berries in summer.

As soon as the weather gets cool enough to warrant wearing wool, I mix up a batch of the crisp topping, decant to Ziploc plastic baggies and freeze for instant use when dessert must be summoned. Homemade fast food. Sometimes, you just want to eat crisp! Peel and cut up whatever fall fruit you have around, toss with a little sugar and spice, sprinkle over your frozen topping and bake. Presto, a warm dessert that comforts instantly.

Or breakfast. Cold crisp with a spoonful of yogurt makes a perfect morning food, especially if you add oats to the topping for extra nutrition and rib-sticking. Home cook wonder woman Deb Perelman has a brand new cookbook out with the ideal recipe.

Happy and delicious Thanksgiving to you, dear reader. Ever grateful, Nan


Pear Cranberry Pecan Crisp

Serves 8-10

For topping:
2/3 cup pecans, toasted for 6 minutes in 375˚F oven
1 1/3 cups flour
6 tablespoons brown sugar
1 ½ tablespoons sugar
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon (optional)
12 tablespoons (1½ sticks/6 ounces) cold, unsalted butter, cut into ¼” pieces

For the filling:
4 lbs pears (Bosc or Bartlett), peeled, cored and cut into 1” chunks
1½ cups fresh cranberries
¾ cup sugar
6 tablespoons flour
1½ teaspoons ground cinnamon

Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter 13x9x2-inch glass baking dish.

Mix the dry topping ingredients together in a bowl. Work the butter into the flour mixture with your fingers until the mixture comes together and has a crumbly, but not sandy texture. Or use a food processor and pulse a few times until you get the crumbly texture. Chill until ready to use. Topping can be made ahead and refrigerated for about a week, or frozen up to 2 months.

Mix pears, cranberries, sugar, flour and cinnamon in large bowl. Transfer to dish. Crumble topping over fruit. Bake until fruit is tender and topping is lightly browned, about 1¼ hours. Cool for 10 minutes before serving. Serve with vanilla ice cream or softly whipped cream.


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Filed under Breakfast, dessert, fall, Recipes, vegetarian