roasted chili chicken thighs with lemon

Chicken thighs are a one-meat-fits-all staple in my kitchen, especially boneless skinless ones. They cook quickly and play friendly with the flavor spectrum of my pantry  — fresh and dried herbs, fragrant spices, canned tomatoes and coconut milk, and ingredients that live in the fridge, like mustard and hot sauce.

They’re a lot like chicken breasts that way, but thighs deliver much more chicken-ness and don’t become dry and boring after cooking.

Even though I cook dinner almost every day of the week, I’m not always great at planning out every single meal in advance. Many days I find myself putting things together on the fly, sometimes with a depleted fridge. That’s why I rely on the tried-and-true combo of lemon, olive and red chili, elemental but also essential in some way to just about everything I cook.

This chicken recipe cooks in one pan, on top of the stove for a few minutes then finished under the broiler, creating a savory pan sauce to pour over the meat and a simple side, like wilted greens and some grilled crusty bread. The sliced lemons add lots of tang and juice, but I sometimes add halved cherry tomatoes instead — they collapse and give up their own sweet tomato liquid as they roast under the broiler — perfect to serve as a one-bowl dinner with pasta.

[Read more…]

israeli farro salad

I have a friend from Tel Aviv, a talented pottery artist who now lives in St Louis. When I first met them, she and her husband taught me a few things about what to do when you have people over. It goes like this:

Put some chairs around a table inside a charming screened porch that overlooks a lovingly tended garden of native plants, trees and bird feeders, complete with a creek running through it. At the same time let the kids outside to explore amongst themselves.

Next open a bottle of wine, maybe some chilled rosé, and set out some glasses so everyone can help themselves. Finally, put some fresh pita bread and a bowl of salad on the table, composed basically of chopped tomatoes, cucumber, fresh herbs and some olive oil.  Commence talking and sipping while enjoying this perfect snack, one I think is about thousand miles away from the usual chips and salsa.

[Read more…]

lemon ricotta cake with mascarpone

lemon ricotta cake with mascarpone

I’ve been in my basement sorting through boxes of books; hundreds of them.

Which ones are keepers and which go bye-bye? My mission is to downsize and it’s no time to get sentimental…

I’m approaching the task as if purging a closet – keeping the classics and moving on from the rest: if a cookbook hasn’t been cracked open in more than 3 years, out it goes. It gets tricky though, when the temptation to browse strikes. There was a reason a book made it into the pile in the first place; all it takes is a little reminder — hold on, don’t I need this recipe for Double Chocolate Angel Food Cake…that food memoir of the British Raj, those well-researched words on the world history of wine??

lemon ricotta cake with mascarpone

It seems easier to resist volumes that speak loudly of culinary moments in time, the ones that turned into passing trends. Like a pair of high-waisted jeans, books that call for blackening Cajun-spiced fish Must Get Donated.

The Julia Childs, Marcella Hazans, Elizabeth Davids — stay. They’re the equal of a vintage Chanel handbag you hand down, timeless and essential. I don’t have a Chanel bag, but I have a pair of faded Levi’s jeans I wore in high school — high-waisted and all —  that my teenage daughter now wears. She thinks they’re the coolest thing ever.  [Read more…]