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Dec 02, 2015
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Just Five

Just Five: Slow-Roasted Pork Tacos

Wednesday, November 25th, 2015




We love visiting our friends in Iowa City, Iowa. After several hours in the car, they always have the Manhattans or martinis at the read, and they also manage to have amazing dinners waiting for us. Our most recent trip was no exception. We walked in to warm hugs, chilled martinis and a feast of pork tacos. If you want to gild the lily, quick pickle some red onions in white vinegar with bit of sugar and salt or add some sliced avocado. Note the lack of cheese: You won’t miss it.


Slow-Roasted Pork Tacos
4 to 6 servings

2 Tbsp. kosher salt
1 Tbsp. chipotle powder
1 3½-lb. pork shoulder roast
20 small corn tortillas
1 lime, cut into wedges
1 cup chopped cilantro

• Preheat the oven to 275 degrees. Mix the salt and chipotle powder together in a small bowl, then rub it into the pork on all sides.
• Place the pork in a deep roasting pan with a lid, cover and bake 3½ to 4 hours, until it falls apart when you pierce it with a fork. Let rest 15 minutes.
• Meanwhile, warm the tortillas in a skillet over medium-high heat until soft. Place on a plate and cover with a towel to keep warm.
• Use 2 forks to shred the pork. Fill each tortilla with meat, garnish with cilantro and a squeeze of lime juice and serve immediately.

Prefer to set it and forget it? Make this in a slow cooker on low for 10 hours or high for 5 hours.

Just Five: Roast Chicken Bread

Wednesday, November 11th, 2015


There are countless roast chicken recipes flying around online. I recently read two that offered up even more methods to achieve the perfect bird. One suggested that the “traditional” method of roasting breast-side up was passe; the other shared a brilliant method of cooking the bird atop slices of sourdough bread. Both sounded like great ideas, so I combined them, and voilà – a stellar Sunday dinner.

Starting the chicken breast-side down, then flipping it about halfway proved the perfect combination of roasting methods. It kept the white meat from drying out, but finishing it breast-side up gave me the crispy skin I love. Its bed of sourdough resulted in a chewy, crisp delicious treat that overrode the need to serve another starch with the meal. Vegetarians, be warned: My veg daughter was sorely tempted to “cheat” when this succulent bird hit the table (Don’t worry – she didn’t!).


Roast Chicken Bread
Inspired by an Epicurious recipe 
4 servings

1 loaf sourdough
3 Tbsp. olive oil
2 Tbsp. kosher salt, plus more to taste
½ tsp. freshly ground black pepper, plus more to taste
1 4-to-5-lb. chicken
2 large shallots, sliced
½ lemon
8 fresh sage leaves

• Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
• Cut the bread into 1½ inch-thick slices and place them in the bottom of a roasting pan in a single layer. Drizzle the bread with the olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Reserve any remaining bread for another use.
• Use paper towels to pat the chicken dry inside and out. Season the cavity with 1 tablespoon salt and ½ teaspoon pepper, then place the shallots, lemon and 6 sage leaves inside. Carefully slide a finger under the skin of each breast and tuck the remaining 2 sage leaves under the skin. Season the chicken with the remaining 1 tablespoon salt, then tie the legs together with kitchen twine. Let rest 30 minutes.
• Place the chicken breast-side down on top of the bread. Roast 30 minutes.
• Use tongs to carefully remove the chicken from the roasting pan and set aside. Flip the bread slices. Return the chicken to the roasting pan breast-side up and continue to roast 45 minutes, until a thermometer placed in the thickest part of the thigh reads 160 degrees.
• Let rest 10 minutes before removing the kitchen twine and carving. Serve with the roasted bread slices.



Just Five: Roasted Carrot Ginger Soup

Wednesday, October 28th, 2015



This simple vegetarian recipe is a great dish to serve before sending your goblins out to trick-or-treat, but it’s also sophisticated enough to serve as a starter for a grown-up Halloween party. Roasting the carrots brings out their natural sugars, the ginger adds just a hint of sweet pepperiness, and the coconut milk adds a silky texture and just a hint of the tropics. Start your evening in the carrot patch, and you’ll feel less guilty unwrapping those fun-size Snickers for dessert.

Roasted Carrot-Ginger Soup
4 to 6 servings

4 medium carrots, peeled and cut into 2-inch pieces
3 Tbsp. olive oil, divided
½ tsp. kosher salt, plus more to taste
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
1½ cups chopped onion (about 1 large onion)
2 Tbsp. minced fresh ginger
3 cups vegetable broth, plus more as needed
½ cup full-fat coconut milk

• Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
• In a large bowl, toss the carrots with 2 tablespoons olive oil, ½ teaspoon salt and a few grinds of black pepper. Spread them a single layer on a foil-lined baking sheet and roast 35 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes, until they start to brown.
• Meanwhile, heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add the onion and saute 8 minutes, until translucent. Add the ginger and cook 1 minute, then add the broth and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to low, cover and simmer 5 minutes.
• Add the roasted carrots to the pot, cover and simmer 5 to 10 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool slightly. Use an immersion blender or work in batches with a regular blender to carefully puree the soup until smooth. Add more stock to thin to reach desired consistency.
• Return the soup to the pot over low heat and stir in the coconut milk. Season to taste with salt and pepper.



Just Five: Marinated 7-Minute Eggs

Wednesday, October 14th, 2015



Most chefs in this town love their jobs and are all too happy to share their ideas and recipes. Recently, I had a chance to chat with Lucky Buddha chef René Cruz after a weeknight dinner. I had just slurped up a bowl of Cruz’s ramen, adding a soy sauce-marinated egg that was so delicious, I begged him to share his recipe.

A ramen egg is usually a seven-minute egg – one simmered for exactly seven minutes – resulting in a cooked white and a slightly wiggly, gooey yolk, not runny like a soft-boiled egg. They are then marinated in a potent brew of flavors and ingredients that vary from chef to chef.

Lucky Buddha’s soy-marinated egg has a few more than five ingredients, so I made some tough choices, but I ended up with a delightful treat. These eggs are great as a snack with sake bombs, sliced over a spinach salad or as a savory breakfast with rice and green onions.


Marinated 7-Minute Eggs
1 serving
Adapted from a recipe from Lucky Buddha’s René Cruz

2 eggs
1 cup soy sauce
2 Tbsp. white sugar
2 Tbsp. rice vinegar
2 Tbsp. coarsely chopped ginger

• In a microwave-safe bowl, whisk together the soy sauce and sugar. Microwave 30 seconds and stir until the sugar is dissolved. Whisk in the rice vinegar and ginger, then set aside.
• Prepare an ice water bath. Bring 6 cups water to a boil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Carefully place the eggs in the water and boil 7 minutes. Remove the eggs and plunge into the ice water bath. Let rest until cool enough to handle, 3 to 5 minutes.
• Peel the eggs and place them in a zip-top bag with the soy mixture. Refrigerate at least 3 hours and up to 12 hours. Serve with stir-fried noodles, ramen, on a spinach salad or with rice and green onions.

Just Five: Cauliflower Fritters

Wednesday, September 30th, 2015



As you may know, I not only pen this column, but also write a regular column for the print issue of Sauce Magazine, Make This. These recipes only require one to two steps and can be tossed together in less than 10 minute with minimal ingredients. Yep, I keep things simple in the kitchen – but simple ain’t always easy.

My goal with that column is to break down recipes to their basic elements and still retain flavor. Former executive editor Ligaya Figueras originally suggested these cauliflower fritters as a Make This recipe. Alas, I quickly realized there was no way to make it work without steaming the cauliflower first – the texture of raw cauliflower was horrible. Since so many steps are a Make This deal breaker, so this recipe moved to my Just Five file.

These fritters are a marriage of roasted cauliflower and latkes, two dishes my family loves. Cauliflower is a great substitute for roasted potatoes, and these are far quicker to make than traditional latkes. Serve them on a bed of lightly dressed arugula or with sour cream mixed with parsley and chives.


Cauliflower Fritters
8 to 10 servings

1 head cauliflower, cut into florets (about 4 to 5 cups)
½ cup flour
½ cup grated Parmesan, plus more for garnish
1/3 cup water
¼ cup chopped shallot
2 eggs, beaten
1 tsp. kosher salt
1 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
1 Tbsp. vegetable oil

• Place a steamer basket in a large pot with a few inches of water in the bottom over medium-high heat. Steam the cauliflower 6 to 7 minutes, until fork-tender. Remove and immediately rinse cold water.
•Chop cauliflower into small pieces, but not quite minced and place in a large bowl. Add the flour, Parmesan, water, shallot, eggs, salt and pepper and mix well.
• Add the oil to a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Scoop ¼ cup batter into the skillet, pressing gently with a spoon to flatten to ½-inch thick. Fry 2 to 3 minutes, until golden brown, then flip and fry another 2 to three minutes. Remove and let drain on a paper towel-lined plate and keep warm. Repeat with the remaining batter.
• Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese and serve warm.

Just Five: Apples with Honey-Caramel Dip

Monday, September 14th, 2015



I’m not Jewish, but I thought I was growing up. We belonged to the Jewish Community Center, and it had a great pool, which in my 3-year-old mind was a perfectly good reason to adopt the culture. I went to dozens of bar and bat mitzvahs in my early years, and my Jewish friends often invited me to their homes for holiday meals. Some of my favorite childhood memories revolve around the culinary traditions surrounding the High Holy Days, like dipping apples into honey at Rosh Hashana to symbolize the sweet year to come. To all my Jewish readers: I wish you a sweet 5776. L’shana tova!

Apples with Honey-Caramel Dip
2 to 4 servings

1 cup honey
¼ cup heavy cream
1 Tbsp. unsalted butter
1 tsp. vanilla
¼ tsp. cinnamon
Pinch of kosher salt
Sliced apples

• In a heavy saucepan over medium heat, combine the honey and cream and stir to combine. Stir in the butter, vanilla, cinnamon and a pinch of salt and remove from heat. Let cool to room temperature and serve with sliced apples.


Just Five: A Bulleit Apiece Cocktail

Wednesday, September 2nd, 2015



I’m not the only writer in my family. In fact, I married a man who loves to write, eat and drink as much as I do, and this summer, he published his first novel, A Bullet Apiece. To commemorate this momentous occasion, I created a cocktail for his book release party.

In addition to Bulleit bourbon (of course), it had to have a St. Louis connection. Enter The Big O ginger liqueur, which has its roots in St. Louis, and pairs wonderfully with bourbon. I added Campari to break up the sweetness and add some color, while the hints of honey and lemon juice complement the ginger and balance the bitter aperitif. Like its namesake, this cocktail hits you hard and fast – and is just a little dangerous.


A Bulleit Apiece
1 serving

1 oz. Bulleit bourbon
1 oz. The Big O ginger liqueur
½ oz. Campari
½ oz. lemon juice
¼ oz. honey
1 lemon twist for garnish (optional)

• Combine the bourbon, ginger liqueur, Campari, lemon juice and honey in a cocktail shaker filled with ice and shake hard. Strain in a rocks glass filled with fresh ice and garnish with a lemon twist, if desired.

Just Five: Summer Tomato Jam

Tuesday, August 18th, 2015



There are few things more pleasurable than biting into a ripe summer tomato, but tomato jam sure comes close. Beyond seeding the tomatoes, which is pretty simple with a good paring knife, this condiment doesn’t require much effort, but oh, do you reap rewards. Slather this on grilled cheese or burgers, serve it on toast with eggs and bacon, add it to olive oil  and make it a salad dressing, or just eat it by the spoonful.


Summer Tomato Jam
Makes 1 cup

1½ cups chopped, seeded tomatoes (about 1 to 2 large heirloom tomatoes or 10 to 15 cherry or sunburst tomatoes)
1 clove garlic, crushed and finely minced
¼ cup brown sugar
2 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar
2 Tbsp. water
⅛ tsp. crushed red pepper flakes

• In a medium saucepan over medium heat, combine all ingredients and bring to a boil, stirring occasionally with a wooden spoon until tomatoes start to break down, 5 to 7 minutes.
• Reduce the heat to low and simmer, stirring every 15 minutes until the jam begins to thicken. This can take 30 minutes to 1 hour, depending on the amount of liquid in the tomatoes. Remove from heat and let cool to room temperature.
• Tomato jam will keep, covered and refrigerated, up to 2 weeks.

Just Five: Boursin-Stuffed Chicken Burgers

Tuesday, August 4th, 2015




My friend Shannon is not a foodie. She’ll be the first to tell you that M&M’s and jarred cheese products are two key components of her food pyramid. So when I tell you these Boursin-stuffed chicken burgers received her seal of approval, I want to be sure you understand its full significance.

I like burgers made from almost any meat: ground beef, turkey, pork or chicken. Burgers made from poultry have to be prepared carefully, though, as they can jump from undercooked to overcooked in a quick minute. To better control that outcome, I make chicken burgers on the stove instead of the grill to better control the heat. The Boursin cheese is creamy, flavorful and a great foil to the sweet balsamic vinegar glaze. Caramelized onions would be a delicious alternative or addition to the fresh tomatoes on this burger. And if you must put ketchup on it like someone I know, I’ll still be your friend.


Boursin-Stuffed Chicken Burgers
4 servings

1½ lbs. ground chicken
Kosher salt to taste
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
4 Tbsp. Boursin cheese
1 Tbsp. vegetable oil
1 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar
4 hamburger buns
4 thick slices tomato

• Generously season the chicken with salt and pepper. Form 8 thin 4-ounce patties. Place 1 tablespoon cheese in the center of 4 patties and top each with the remaining 4 patties, sealing the edges. Refrigerate 1 hour.
• In a large skillet over medium-high heat, warm the vegetable oil. Cook the burgers 4 to 5 minutes, until they begin to brown on the bottom. Flip and cover. Cook another 4 to 5 minutes, then liberally brush the tops with the balsamic vinegar.
• Remove, place the burgers on the buns, top with a tomato slice and serve.

Just Five: Nectarine and Blackberry Coco-Pops

Tuesday, July 21st, 2015



Times have changed (cue old-timey music). Back in the day, we stocked up on boxes of Fla-Vor-Ice freezer pops available in every fake flavor imaginable: orange, banana, root beer, grape and, of course, “red.” Now, there are freezer cases filled with all-fruit popsicles, sugar-free, organic, even some fruit and veggie blends. Still, there’s something to be said for making your own real-fruit frozen treats.

This recipe takes the flavors of a favorite cobbler (nectarine, blackberry and cinnamon) and throws in a little tropical kick with coconut milk. Use whatever sweetener you like – or none at all. You’re the boss! Make them at lunchtime, and they’ll be ready before the fireflies are out.


Nectarine and Blackberry Coco-Pops
6 servings
Inspired by a recipe originally published in Vibrant Food by Kimberley Hasselbrink

2 ripe nectarines, peeled, pitted and diced (about 1 cup)
1 cup blackberries
2 Tbsp. honey
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 13.5-oz can full-fat coconut milk

Special equipment:
6 popsicle sticks
6 disposable cups or a popsicle mold

• In a small saucepan, combine the nectarines, blackberries, honey and cinnamon over medium heat. Stir to combine and cook until the fruit is very soft, about 5 minutes. Use the back of a spoon to gently crush the fruit into a lumpy sauce. Remove from heat and stir in the coconut milk. Let cool 5 to 10 minutes.
• Pour about ¾ cup of the fruit mixture into each cup or popsicle molds. Place a piece of plastic wrap tightly over the top of each cup or mold. Use a sharp knife to cut a tiny hole in the center of plastic and push a popsicle stick through into each cup or mold. Freeze at least 5 hours.
• To serve, run warm water over the outside of the cup or mold and gently slide the freezer pop out.



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