Archive for the ‘dinner recipes’ Category

When I was young and my parents took me and my brother out to eat, I always ordered the french onion soup.  I loved the thick layer of cheese melted all over the top and flowing over the edge of the bowl.  The scalding hot broth beneath that blanket of bread and cheese always, always burned my mouth, but I loved it.

This version definitely wasn’t created with kids in mind.  The base calls for 1/2 cup each of port, white wine, and brandy.  But the deeply caramelized onions, rich broth, crusty croutons, and melted cheese make for an utterly delicious meal.

French Onion Soup

Adapted from Staff Meals from Chanterelle

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

1 tablespoon canola or other vegetable oil

5 large onions, peeled and sliced lengthwise (about 5 cups)

1/2 cup port

1/2 cup dry white wine

1/2 cup brandy

1/2 teaspoon sugar

8 cups beef or chicken broth

Coarse (kosher) salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Crisp croutons (directions below)

Freshly grated Gruyere or Parmesan cheese

1.  Combine the butter and oil in a medium-large stockpot and heat over low heat.  Add the onions and cook, uncovered, until brown but not crisp, about 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Increase the heat to medium-high and cook the onions, uncovered, stirring often, to further brown and caramelize them, 5 to 10 minutes more.

2.  Stir in the port, white wine, and brandy and bring to a boil over high heat.  Cook, uncovered, until reduced by half, about 5 minutes.  Add the sugar and stock [I also added a dollop of Dijon mustard and some dried thyme] and bring to a boil , then lower the heat to a simmer.  Cook the soup for 1 hour to allow the flavors to blend.  Taste and season with salt and pepper.  Serve, making sure each portion has a healthy amount of luscious onions.  Top with the croutons and grated Parmesan.

Making crisp croutons

To make croutons, trim the crust from day-old bread.   I use a good sturdy peasant-style bread, but any kind you have on hand will do.  Dice the bread into 1/2-inch cubes and toss with enough melted butter or olive oil (or, best of all, garlic oil) to coat, but not drench, the croutons.  Sprinkle lightly with salt, spread out the croutons on a rimmed baking sheet or a jelly-roll pan, and bake in a preheated 350 degree oven until just golden brown, about 15 minutes.  Halfway through the baking, give the pan a shake to ensure that the croutons are toasting evenly.  The secret of good croutons is to make sure they’ve dried out all the way through without becoming too browned.  If they’re browning too quickly, lower the oven temperature to 300 degrees.  When they’re done, remove the pan from the oven.

Cool the croutons completely and store in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks.

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It wouldn’t be thanksgiving in my family without at least two or more post-thanksgiving dinners of hot turkey sandwiches.  I look forward to these almost as much as the main event.  My mom always makes a ton of gravy, so we’re set for several nights. Even so, there comes a point when you’re scraping the bottom of the gravy pan, and it’s time to move on.  But what about the leftover turkey?

Last year I discovered a recipe for delicious after-thanksgiving turkey enchiladas.  They’re a perfect way to reinvent leftover turkey so that it feels like a completely different meal.  All of a sudden, the turkey is smothered in tomatoes and smoky chipotle peppers, served with a side of guacamole, and a cold glass of beer.

This year, I went in a different direction and made turkey pot pie with herb biscuits.  I’ve been wanting to try this recipe for quite some time, but I rarely have leftover chicken or turkey around the house.  The carrots, peas, and mushrooms band together to make a creamy base, then it’s topped with light, flaky herb biscuits and a sprinkling of parmesan cheese.  The original recipe uses chicken, and I’ll leave the directions just as they were written, so you can make this dish any time of year.  It’s comfort food at its finest.

Turkey pot pie with herb biscuits
Adapted from the Foster’s Market cookbook


1 (4- 4 1/2 pound) chicken
12 Fosters Herb Biscuits, uncooked (see below for recipe)
6 Tablespoons butter
4 carrots, peeled and chopped
4 celery ribs, chopped [I substituted an onion for the celery]
8 ounces fresh button mushrooms, thinly sliced
1/4 cup all -purpose flour
1 box (10 ounces) frozen green peas
1 Tablespoon fresh sage, chopped
Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
1 Egg
2 Tablespoons milk

1. Place chicken in a large pot and add enough water to cover by 1 inch. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to low and simmer until meat is fully cooked, about 45 minutes. Meanwhile, prepare biscuits and set aside.

2. Remove chicken from pot and reserve 5 cups cooking liquid. When chicken is cool enough to handle, pull off meat in large chunks. Set aside.

3. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Melt butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat and add carrots, celery, and mushrooms. Sauté, stirring frequently, about 10 minutes. Add flour and cook, while stirring, until flour is light brown, 3 to 4 minutes. Slowly whisk in reserved cooking liquid and bring to a low boil while whisking. Add peas and sage. Season with salt and pepper, reduce heat, and simmer, stirring occasionally, until thick, 10 to 15 minutes.

4. Add chicken meat, remove from heat, and transfer mixture into a 9- by 13-inch baking dish. Top with biscuits. Beat egg and milk together and lightly brush over biscuits.  Sprinkle parmesan cheese over the biscuits.  Bake potpie until biscuits are golden brown and chicken mixture is bubbling around edges, 25 to 30 minutes. Serve immediately.

Herb Cheddar Biscuits
Adapted from the Foster’s Market cookbook

Makes 1 dozen 2 1/2-inch Biscuits

3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 pound (2 sticks) cold unsalted butter, cut into small cubes
1 cup grated sharp cheddar cheese [I omitted the cheddar cheese and just sprinkled parmesan on top]
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley [I also added 2 tablespoons chopped fresh tarragon and 2 tablespoons chopped chives]
1 1/4 to 1 1/2 cups buttermilk
Egg wash: 1 large egg beaten with 2 tablespoons milk

1. Preheat the oven to 425°. Lightly grease a baking sheet and set aside.

2. Sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a large bowl.

3. Cut the butter into the flour mixture using a pastry blender or two knives, until mixture is coarse and crumbly and resembles coarse meal. Stir in the cheese and parsley.

4. Make a well in center of flour mixture, pour in milk, and stir with a fork just until dough comes together. Do not overmix. Turn onto a lightly floured surface, and form the dough into a flat round disk.

5. Pat or roll the dough into a circle about ½ inch thick. Cut out biscuits using a floured 2 1/2 -inch-round cutter. Do not twist cutter. Transfer biscuits to the prepared baking sheet and brush with the egg wash. Place in the oven and bake until brown, 12 to 15 minutes. Serve hot.

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I’m crazy about homemade macaroni and cheese.  I adore it.  Once I start eating mac and cheese, sprinkled with a bit of salt, I don’t ever want to stop.

My favorite macaroni and cheese is always pure and unadorned.  The modern twists and 21st-century updates lure me from time to time, but I always go back to the holy trinity: macaroni, cheddar, and milk.

Strangely, I’m still searching for the perfect recipe.  I tend to move through mac and cheese phases.  For a while, I made the NY Times crusty macaroni and cheese, which is, very simply, a pound of pasta held together with a pound and a half of cheese, with a little bit of milk thrown in.  It’s very much like the family recipe made by my mom and my aunt Barbara, and you really can’t go wrong with it, but I eventually wanted to find something a bit creamier.

So I switched to a fussier version of macaroni and cheese with Westphalian ham, lemon zest, and thyme.  A nice change of pace, but a flash in the pan.

When I discovered Patricia Wells’ macaroni gratin in The Paris cookbook, I thought I’d found the one.  It’s so simple and rich and creamy with a gruyere crust and fresh chives.  But I slowly realized that it’s just not quite homey enough to become a staple.  I missed the cheddar cheese flavor that dominated all the macaroni and cheeses of my youth.

Next, I fell in love the NY Times creamy macaroni and cheese.  It’s so thickly cheesy and robust and it seems to work with whatever cheese you have lying around the house.  Alas, the last time I made it, I could sense a slight lessening of its power over me.

I’m not sure where to turn.  I’ve tried the popular recipe from Martha Stewart, but that’s not for me.  A local restaurant recently published their mac and cheese recipe in a cookbook called Chefs of the Triangle — it calls for three cups of heavy cream and three cups of cheese (Gruyere, Asiago, and cheddar) for a half-pound of pasta.  I’m not one for cooking light, but I also don’t own a defibrillator.

It feels like there should be a personal ad designed to address this predicament.  “Desperately seeking perfect macaroni and cheese.  Prefer shapely cavatappi and classic elbows.  Must have at least a 1:1 ratio of pasta to cheese.  Open to high-maintenance roux bases and unusual cheese combinations.”

Since I know of no mac and cheese support groups out there, I put my request to you.  Send me your recipes for macaroni and cheese! It’s getting cold.  We’re all hunkering down for the long winter.  I, for one, can’t imagine how I’ll get through the next few months without a delicious, cheesy, go-to recipe for macaroni and cheese.  Think of it as a public service.  Help?!

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When I was growing up, my little town had a free book exchange located on a small patch of grass, just off Main Street.  It was a rustic-looking thing, just a covered box on stilts, but it strikes me now as a delightful symbol of small town life.  Every neighborhood should have a book and magazine exchange.  We’d learn about our neighbors, discover shared interests, pursue new ones, and have something to talk about other than our lawns.  I have this dreamy image of families sitting by the curb discussing the latest issue of The New Yorker, or circulating favorite recipes from old cookbooks, or teaching one another how to train for a marathon, learn about wine, bake.

So imagine my delight when my parents retired to a village that has its own book exchange.  It’s a converted old smokehouse, dark and musty inside, but the walls are lined with books.  People leave all kinds of stuff that nobody would ever want to read: cheaply-bound booklets on microwave cooking or computer manuals dating from the late 80s.  Last month, however, I hit the jackpot.  Someone dropped off approximately 30 back issues of Saveur magazine, all from the mid-1990s.

On the cover of one issue, I spotted Neapolitan pizza and knew I had to try it.   I’ve been making flatbread pizza on the grill all summer, but with the time change and the colder weather, I needed a pizza fit for the oven.

This recipe became an instant classic.  The dough is chewy inside, crispy outside, and it requires very little work.  So far, I’ve used it for a basic margarita pizza; basil pesto white pizza; prosciutto and balsamic onion pizza; and (pictured here) andouille sausage, roasted red pepper and artichoke pizza.

So I’m deep in the midst of my mid-90s-Saveur-fest, and what do I discover?  Saveur magazine chose my blog as one of their “Sites We Love”!  I’m so honored, and humbled, and pleased.  Specifically, my lemon-curry roasted chicken was chosen as “Best of the Web,” which is fantastic, since that is, without a doubt, my all-time favorite chicken recipe.  If you haven’t tried it yet, don’t just take my word for it.  Saveur loves it, too.  🙂

After I finished reading the back issues of Saveur, I returned them to the Smokehouse book exchange to ‘pay it forward,’ you might say.  As I placed them back on the shelf, an elderly woman looked over and said, “Oh, were you reading those?”

“Yes!” I said.

“How nice,” she said.  “They came from me.  Though they’re old, I thought someone might like to read them.  They never go out of style.”

How true.

Master Pizza Dough

Adapted from Saveur magazine

Makes 2 12-inch pizzas

1  7-gram packet active dry yeast
1 1⁄2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1⁄2 cups cake flour
1 tsp. salt
Extra-virgin olive oil
1⁄2 cup cornmeal

1. Dissolve yeast in 1⁄4 cup lukewarm water in a large bowl. Set aside until yeast begins to activate (it will foam a little), about 10 minutes. Combine flours and salt in a small bowl. Set aside.

2. Add 1 cup of the flour mixture to yeast and stir well with a wooden spoon or your hands. Mix in 1⁄2 cup water, then add another cup flour mixture and continue to stir. Add remaining 1 cup flour mixture, then gradually stir in about 1⁄4 cup water and mix well. The dough should be fairly soft, but not too wet.

3. Turn out dough on a lightly floured work surface and knead with the heels of your palms until it has a smooth, uniform texture, about 10–12 minutes. Divide dough into 2 even balls. Coat the insides of two medium bowls with 1⁄2 tsp. olive oil each. Place dough in bowls, cover bowls with damp cloths or plastic wrap, and set aside to rise until doubled in bulk, about 2 1⁄2–3 hours.

4. Place pizza stone or unglazed tile in oven and preheat at highest setting (not broil). Sprinkle a baker’s peel or inverted baking sheet with cornmeal. Punch down dough from one bowl, make a ball, and flatten it on the pan. Taking care not to overwork dough, stretch it into a thin 12″ circle with a slightly raised edge. Add Margherita or Marinara toppings and slide onto hot pizza stone.

5. Bake until crust is golden brown and crisp, about 12–15 minutes. Meanwhile, prepare second pizza. Remove first pizza from oven and bake the second on the same stone. Drizzle a little olive oil on each and serve.

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I always feel a little sheepish when I order chicken tikka masala at an Indian restaurant.  It feels like such an obvious choice, like ordering sweet and sour chicken at a Chinese restaurant or Pad Thai at a Thai place.  But most of the time I can’t help myself.  It’s so good.

It never occurred to me to make it at home until I came across a Cook’s Illustrated recipe that called for ingredients I already had on hand: cumin, coriander, crushed tomatoes.  The only remotely exotic ingredient is garam masala, and the recipe offers a simple substitute for that spice combination.  Now I can make it at home, and free myself up to order something more exciting when I go out for Indian food.

Oh, and remember to serve this with coconut rice.  Prepare basmati rice as directed on the package, but substitute one cup of coconut milk in place of one cup of water.  It’s heavenly.

Chicken Tikka Masala

Adapted from Cook’s Illustrated

This dish is best when prepared with whole-milk yogurt, but low-fat yogurt can be substituted. For a spicier dish, do not remove the ribs and seeds from the chile. If you prefer, substitute 2 teaspoons ground coriander, 1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom, 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon, and 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper for the garam masala. The sauce can be made ahead, refrigerated for up to 4 days in an airtight container, and gently reheated before adding the hot chicken.


Chicken Tikka
1/2  teaspoon  ground cumin
1/2  teaspoon  ground coriander
1/4  teaspoon  cayenne pepper
1  teaspoon  table salt
2  pounds  boneless, skinless chicken breasts , trimmed of fat
1  cup plain whole-milk yogurt (see note above)
2  tablespoons  vegetable oil
2  medium garlic cloves , minced or pressed through a garlic press (about 2 teaspoons)
1  tablespoon  grated fresh ginger

Masala Sauce
3  tablespoons  vegetable oil
1  medium onion , diced fine (about 1 1/4 cups)
2  medium garlic cloves , minced or pressed through a garlic press (about 2 teaspoons)
2  teaspoons  grated fresh ginger
1  fresh serrano chile , ribs and seeds removed, flesh minced (see note above)
1  tablespoon  tomato paste
1  tablespoon  garam masala (see note above)
1  (28-ounce) can crushed tomatoes
2  teaspoons  sugar
1/2  teaspoon  table salt
2/3  cup  heavy cream
1/4  cup  chopped fresh cilantro leaves

1. FOR THE CHICKEN: Combine cumin, coriander, cayenne, and salt in small bowl. Sprinkle both sides of chicken with spice mixture, pressing gently so mixture adheres. Place chicken on plate, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for 30 to 60 minutes. In large bowl, whisk together yogurt, oil, garlic, and ginger; set aside.

2. FOR THE SAUCE: Heat oil in large Dutch oven over medium heat until shimmering. Add onion and cook, stirring frequently, until light golden, 8 to 10 minutes. Add garlic, ginger, chile, tomato paste, and garam masala; cook, stirring frequently, until fragrant, about 3 minutes. Add crushed tomatoes, sugar, and salt; bring to boil. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in cream and return to simmer. Remove pan from heat and cover to keep warm.

3. While sauce simmers, adjust oven rack to upper-middle position (about 6 inches from heating element) and heat broiler. Using tongs, dip chicken into yogurt mixture (chicken should be coated with thick layer of yogurt) and arrange on wire rack set in foil-lined rimmed baking sheet or broiler pan. Discard excess yogurt mixture. Broil chicken until thickest parts register 160 degrees on instant-read thermometer and exterior is lightly charred in spots, 10 to 18 minutes, flipping chicken halfway through cooking.

4. Let chicken rest 5 minutes, then cut into 1-inch chunks and stir into warm sauce (do not simmer chicken in sauce). Stir in cilantro, adjust seasoning with salt, and serve.

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Foster’s Market, in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, is an institution.  Since my parents live nearby, we’ve started a tradition of going to Foster’s for breakfast on Sunday mornings.  We love their herb biscuits with bacon, egg, and cheese; pancakes with fruit toppings; biscuits and gravy; bear claws; bread pudding; and lots more.

Sara Foster has written three cookbooks and they’re all excellent.  This recipe for lemon curry roasted chicken offers a great variation on a classic Sunday night supper, and the exotic, perfumed curry paste comes together in minutes.  Be absolutely sure to serve this with rice, or mashed potatoes, or some kind of bread, because you’ll want something to sop up all the delicious gravy from the bottom of the pan.

Lemon-curry roasted chicken

Adapted from Fresh Every Day by Sara Foster

1 3- to 3 1/2-pound chicken

2 lemons, halved

1 apple, halved and cored

2 cinnamon sticks

3 tablespoons olive oil

1/4 cup curry powder

1 tablespoon light brown sugar

1 tablespoon sea salt

2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper

Leaves from 6 to 7 fresh thyme or lemon thyme sprigs (about 2 tablespoons)

1 cup chicken broth

1/2 cup dry white wine

1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

2.  Remove the giblets and loose fat from the cavity of the chicken.  Rinse the chicken inside and out and pat it dry with paper towels.  Place the chicken, breast side up, on a roasting rack set inside a large roasting pan or ovenproof skillet.  Squeeze the juice from the lemons over the chicken and inside the cavity.  Place 2 of the squeezed lemon halves, the apple halves, and cinnamon sticks in the cavity of the chicken and place the remaining lemon halves in the bottom of the pan.

3.  Stir the olive oil, curry powder, brown sugar, salt, pepper, and thyme together in a small bowl to make a paste.  massage the paste into the skin of the chicken and let the chicken sit 20 to 30 minutes at room temperature to marinate before cooking.

4.  Pour the broth and wine around the chicken and roast for 1 hour 20 minutes to 1 hour 25 minutes, basting frequently, until the juices run clear when the chicken is pierced with a knife in the thickest part of the thigh or an instant-read thermometer inserted into that point registers 170 to 175 degrees F.  Add a cupful of water or wine to the pan if it gets dry.  Let the chicken rest for 10 to 15 minutes before carving.

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