Archives for 2011

Smoky Spanish Caesar Salad


Now that our local farmer’s markets are officially up and running I’ve made some dedicated time for weekly treks, which is a habit I have to work at – not at all because I don’t WANT bags full of fresh, local, just-harvested bounty. No, it’s just when life gets too busy I let trips to the farmer’s market fall by the wayside, which I always regret.

Amazingly, I also planted out two raised vegetable beds this spring. The actual frames were built and ready to be cultivated two whole summers ago, but guess what? I found myself distracted with work, family, travel…and by the time I was free to play in the garden it was already late June; way too hot for me.
I blame the heat and humidity for making me a lazy gardener, a slacker person who grew a lush crop of weeds last year.

This week the market was full of gorgeous greens; spinach, baby lettuces, pea shoots and salad greens like the huge head of romaine I found at Terra Bella’s stand that inspired this salad.

I improvised a favorite chipotle caesar dressing recipe from Sara Foster, influencing the flavors toward Spain with smoky pimenton paprika, chickpeas and marcona almonds.

Smoky Spanish Caesar Salad

Yield: makes about 1 1/2 cups dressing


    for dressing:
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon sherry or red wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon smoked Spanish paprika
  • 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
  • 1 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon cracked black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 cup oil ( I use 1/2 cup each olive & organic canola oil)
  • 1/4 cup grated aged Manchego cheese or Parmesan
  • for salad:
  • Romaine lettuce leaves
  • Marcona almonds
  • Chickpeas, cracked with the back of a knife
  • Manchego cheese


  1. Using a blender or food processor, mix everything up to the oil until blended; then slowly pour in the oil with the motor running. The dressing should become thick and creamy.
  2. Add the cheese and pulse to mix it in. You can thin the dressing with some cold water if you like it more pourable. Check the seasonings.
  3. to make the salad:
  4. Toss the lettuce with enough dressing to coat, but not too heavily. Garnish with some almonds, chickpeas and grated Manchego.


If you prefer to avoid raw egg, you can use pasteurized eggs or 1 cup good quality mayonnaise.

Recipe adapted from Fresh Every Day

Marry Me Roast Chicken – A Recipe For Every Girl (& Guy)

Marry Me Roast Chicken

Glamour Magazine’s cult recipe for Engagement Chicken made the rounds over the past few years, but I just got around to seeing it the other day.

I saw a promo for the new book, 100 Recipes Every Woman Should Know, which includes this “iconic” roast chicken; reputedly the impetus for dozens upon dozens of proposals as well as what I’m guessing is an infinite number of unreported but nonetheless passionate, chicken-fueled moments.

Kimberly Bonnell, a former editor at Glamour, takes credit for the popular dissemination of the recipe.

Here’s the thing: I noticed right away that the recipe was almost the exact replica of an unbelieveably simple, ultra-classic one from the Italian cooking teacher and author, Marcella Hazan. I first came across it in 1992, when it appeared in the Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking, a book I’d most certainly grab on the way out of my house if it was burning down.

I cut my chicken-roasting teeth on Marcella’s foolproof chicken. It’s undergone an evolution in my own kitchen; still very true to the basic original but tweaked to my taste.

Over the years, I’ve added garlic and handfuls of fresh herbs to the chicken, and reversed the oven temperature steps: Marcella starts her chicken in a preheated 350 oven, but I like to get my bird nice and hot right away to ensure crisp, golden skin – 425 degrees – before turning it down to finish roasting.

The smell that comes out of the oven while this little bird is cooking will draw everyone into the kitchen- if not begging for your hand, than at least drooling for a bit of juicy leg.

Marry Me Roast Chicken

Yield: Serves 4, or 2 with leftovers


  • 1 (3-4 pound) whole chicken
  • 5 teaspoons kosher or coarse sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 small head garlic, sliced in half
  • 1 small lemon, punctured about a dozen times with a skewer
  • 1 handful mixed fresh herb bunches - rosemary, thyme, tarragon and/or lavender are good


  1. Pat the chicken dry with towels and place on a small rack on a shallow casserole or roasting pan. I use a quarter-sheet pan, which is the perfect size.
  2. Put 2 teaspoons salt, 1/2 the pepper, garlic, lemon and herbs into the cavity. Rub the remaining salt and pepper all over the skin; front, sides and back. Tie the legs together firmly with a piece of kitchen string.
  3. Turn the chicken breast side down, and let it sit out at room temperature while you preheat the oven to 425 degrees, for at least 20 minutes.
  4. When the oven is hot, put the chicken in and roast for 25 minutes. Remove the chicken from the oven and carefully turn it so the breast is facing up. Put it back into the oven, turn the temperature down to 350 and roast for about 25 more minutes. The chicken will be sizzling and spitting, the legs joints will wiggle and skin should be golden and crisp. You can take its temperature if you're unsure - 160 -165 degrees before resting is my preference.
  5. Take the chicken out of the oven and let it rest, loosely covered with a piece of aluminum foil for 15 minutes. Carve and serve with reserved juices from the pan and the inside of the chicken.

Borlotti Beans with Parsley-Almond Pesto

When was the last time you used the word “romantic” to describe dried beans? Steve Sando, one of my food heroes believes they are:

Beans are romantic. Take a handful of brightly colored heirlooms and put them in your pocket. Travel to Idaho or Istanbul and plant them. At first you’ll get the beautiful flowers…followed by string beans, shelling beans and finally dry beans…keep some of your bounty as seed stock and the repeat the process the following year, in the same place or across the globe. I find this incredibly romantic.

Steve is the author of Heirloom Beans, from which the quote above appears. His mission is to preserve heirloom seeds and beans, varieties that would surely vanish from the earth without intervention by a passionate soul like his.

Heirloom beans come decked out in an amazing array of spots, stripes and colors, each one more beautiful than the next. Take a look at Steve’s online store Rancho Gordo to see for yourself.

The first time I stocked up on beans from Rancho Gordo, I was surprised at how quickly they seemed to cook. I think it’s because the dried beans I usually buy at the store are not as fresh; maybe they sit around on shelves longer than they should because they give the impression they last forever.

I’m drawn to the speckled dark red color, taste and texture of Borlotti beans, a type of cranberry bean. I sometimes find them canned at Italian groceries but not very often in dried form.

I soaked half a pound of Borlotti beans overnight before cooking them and I ended up with enough to last the week; tossed in salads for lunch and over linguine for dinner one night.

I sauteed some scallions and thinly sliced red onion, then added the beans and some chickpeas to a simple pesto sauce of toasted almonds, garlic and parsley. The Borlotti have a gentle flavor, velvety texture and a skin that retains its shape after cooking, making them a nice choice for soup, too.