You ‘red’ it here first — a simple way to cook fish

Using a bed of chopped tomatoes and onions keeps fish moist while it cooks. Photo by Laura Groch

Using a bed of chopped tomatoes and onions and low heat keeps fish moist while it cooks. Photo by Laura Groch

Lots of people are frightened by fish — by cooking it, to be more exact. It can be intimidating — and easy to dry out — but I think I have a way to keep it moist and cook it more easily.

The idea is to poach the fish over a bed of juicy vegetables so it can’t burn, be overcooked or otherwise become unpalatable. It’s also a way to make use of some of those bushels of tomatoes everyone seems to still be harvesting.

This recipe came from seeing other recipes that called for cooked-down cherry tomatoes. Continue reading

Chili Without Carne — and chili — is right up my alley

Chili Without Carne goes easy on the chili powder but is still flavorful and has great texture from all the vegetables. (Photo by Laura Groch)

Chili Without Carne goes easy on the chili powder, but is still flavorful. (Photo by Laura Groch)

Anyone who knows me knows better than to invite me to a chili cookout. It’s never been one of my favorite dishes, and when I was a food editor I turned down many requests to judge chili contests. (It just wouldn’t have been fair. I would have rated everything C-minus.)

Chili has wonderful ingredients in it — meat, beans, onions, garlic, tomatoes — but the “authentic” chili seasoning just turns me off. I’ve always found it bitter and harsh. So I Continue reading

For 2019, a book that will entertain you while improving your cooking (and eating)

My well-thumbed copy of "The Kitchen Counter Cooking School" is my recommendation to you for 2019.

My well-thumbed copy of “The Kitchen Counter Cooking School” by Kathleen Flinn is my recommended reading to you for 2019. (Photo by Laura Groch)

If you’re one of the millions who are resolving to change your eating/cooking/food-buying habits in the new year, have I got a recommendation for you. I have meant to write about this book forever, but I just keep rereading it and re-enjoying it for myself. (And procrastinating too, yes.)

But no more. My 2019 resolution is to share this book with you, so: “The Kitchen Counter Cooking School: How a Few Simple Lessons Transformed Nine Culinary Novices Into Fearless Home Cooks,” by Kathleen Flinn (Penguin Books, 2011).

Here’s the premise. Flinn was in the supermarket one day when she saw a woman whose Continue reading

A nice (rice) way to handle leftovers

fried rice

Fried rice is an easy way to use leftovers and a fun addition to the dinner repertoire. (Photo by Laura Groch)

Lots of folks made ham for Easter, others did a nice brisket for Passover. (We did a pork roast, make what you will of that, Facebook)

So: leftovers. (By now I hope yours are neatly packaged in your freezer, awaiting the call for meals like this.)

This Fried Rice recipe isn’t anything new or fancy, but it’s a fun change of pace and a Continue reading

Thanksgiving recipes bring back memories

Pie crust

Pumped-up piecrust awaits its custardy filling. No spills with a raised-edge crust. Photo by Laura Groch

Well, we’re coming close to crunch time for Thanksgiving cooks. You’ve probably already got your recipes in hand, but just in case you still need some ideas, here are some of my favorites:

First up, a sweet potato-and-apple dish that I actually enjoy: Find it here. Next, my Italian grandmother’s stuffing recipe, which you’ll find here. How to make hearty turkey soup from the leftovers here. Some hints for your pumpkin pie crust here.

And, in case you’d like to be reassured that even seasoned cooks can make kitchen Continue reading

Don’t fear the artichoke. Here’s how to steam and conquer it

artichokes

Don’t fear the fierce-looking artichoke. Instead, learn to conquer and eat it. Here’s how. (Photo by Laura Groch)

It pains me to see food misused. I once nearly keeled over while watching a cooking-show host take some very fine lobsters, remove all the meat from the shells, then puree it, mix it with other stuff and pour it into a baking dish. Oh! what a terrible way to treat beautiful, succulent lobster meat!

Similarly, I was shocked to see on another show a vendor at an open-air market slicing all the leaves off an artichoke to reach the tender (and yes, delicious) heart. Oh! what a waste of tasty leaves!

But I can understand it — somewhat. You may be familiar with jarred artichoke hearts, Continue reading

Too much arugula? Polenta to the rescue

Polenta With Arugula

Polenta With Arugula (topped with mushrooms I also had on hand) was a delicious solution to the problem of overabundance. (Photo by Laura Groch)

Can a Californian have too much arugula?

Well — maybe.

I’m a fan of this peppery little salad green, and one day at the supermarket I was seduced by the sight of a large plastic container of arugula  — one pound — on sale — for $1.69.

I could not resist.

So I brought it home. And I started adding handfuls to my salads.

Continue reading