Archive for October, 2012

If you are looking for a hearty and healthy dinner, try this Root Vegetable and Cauliflower Tagine. The ingredient list may seem long, but, once the chopping is done, this vegetarian stew is done in 40 minutes. The spices give the tagine great flavour, and the currants provide a bit of sweetness. The recipe includes a tangy yogurt parsley sauce. If you are not a strict vegetarian, you can use chicken stock. I also used garlic-stuffed olives, because I had them on hand. I substituted turmeric for the saffron.

Avoiding Additives and Preservatives

Check the labels on the yogurt, tomato paste, spices, stock, chickpeas, currants and olives. Astro Original brand Balkan-style yogurt contains no artificial ingredients. I used No-Name tomato paste, No-Name currants, PC Blue Menu chickpeas, President’s Choice garlic-stuffed olives and Imagine brand chicken stock. Make sure the spices do not contain colour or anti-caking agents.

Saute onion and garlic with spices

Simmer parsnips and turnips in liquid

Add the cauliflower and sweet potato later

Root Vegetable and Cauliflower Tagine with Parsley Yogurt


1 ½ cups plain whole-milk yogurt

¼ cup finely chopped parsley, plus more for garnish

Kosher salt

Freshly ground pepper

¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil

1 medium onion, finely chopped

8 garlic cloves, thinly sliced

3 tablespoons tomato paste

1 tablespoon ground cumin

2 teaspoons ground coriander

2 teaspoons crushed red pepper

1 teaspoon caraway seeds

¾ teaspoon cinnamon

2 pounds turnips, peeled and cut into 3/4-inch dice

1 pound parsnips, peeled and cut into 3/4-inch dice

One 28-ounce can diced tomatoes

1 quart low-sodium vegetable broth

Pinch of saffron threads

1 pound sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch dice

½ cauliflower (1 pound), cut into bite-size florets

Two 15-ounce cans chickpeas, drained and rinsed

½ cup dried currants

1 ½ cups pitted green olives, quartered


In a bowl, whisk the yogurt with the ¼ cup of parsley and season with salt and pepper. Cover and refrigerate until chilled.

In a large enameled cast-iron casserole, heat the olive oil. Add the onion, garlic and a generous pinch each of salt and pepper and cook over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until softened and just starting to brown, about 8 minutes. Stir in the tomato paste, cumin, coriander, crushed red pepper, caraway and cinnamon and cook, stirring, until fragrant and glossy, about 3 minutes.

Add the turnips, parsnips, tomatoes and their liquid, broth, saffron and 1 cup of water to the pot and bring to a boil. Cover and simmer over moderately low heat, stirring occasionally, until the turnips and parsnips are beginning to soften, about 20 minutes.

Add the sweet potatoes, cauliflower, chickpeas and currants to the pot. Cover partially and simmer over moderately low heat, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are tender, about 20 minutes. Stir in the olives and season with salt and pepper. Transfer the tagine to a serving bowl, garnish with parsley and serve with the yogurt.

From the November 2012 issue of Food and Wine

This recipe was on the cover of the September 1993 Bon Appetit, which, as I recall, was featuring French bistro-style recipes. I was a novice cook in those days, but I thought it would make a lovely dinner party entrée. I managed to pull it off, it was a big hit and I made it several times after that. At some point, I lost that issue of the magazine, and couldn’t find the recipe. Fortunately, I was able to find it online. I recently made it again, and, 20 years later, it is still a great recipe. You can make the delicious sauce in advance, which is a bonus when entertaining. If you don’t have a barbecue, you can bake the chicken in the oven and then proceed to the broiling step. This is great with steamed green beans and mashed potatoes, which soak up all the lovely sauce.

Avoiding Additives and Preservatives

Butter, white wine, purchased chicken stock and Dijon mustard can contain colour, sulfites, sodium benzoate and artificial colour and flavour. I use Gay Lea unsalted butter, which has a single ingredient: cream. If you are sensitive to sulfites, look for a white wine with fewer than 10 parts per million. I use Imagine chicken stock and President’s Choice Old-Fashioned Dijon.

You can make the delicious sauce in advance

Serve the chicken with steamed green beans and mashed potatoes


2 T unsalted butter
5 shallots, coarsely chopped
5 large mushrooms, quartered
5 tsp cracked black pepper
1 cup dry white wine
5 fresh rosemary sprigs
5 fresh thyme sprigs
2 cubs chicken stock
8 boneless skinless chicken breast halves
¼ cup Dijon mustard
1 T whole yellow mustard seeds
½ tsp minced fresh thyme


Melt 1 T butter in heavy large skillet over medium high heat. Add shallots, mushrooms and 1 tsp pepper and sauté until vegetables brown, about 8 minutes. Add wine and bring to boil. Add rosemary and thyme sprigs and simmer 5 minutes. Add stock, increase heat to medium high and boil until liquid is reduced to ¾ cup, about 20 minutes. Strain into saucepan (can be made 1 day ahead. cover and refrigerate).

Prepare barbecue (medium high heat). Sprinkle remaining 4 tsp pepper over both sides of chicken. Grill chicken until cooked through, about 5-10 minutes per side. Transfer to baking sheet.

Preheat broiler. Brush mustard over chicken. Sprinkle with mustard seeds. Broil until brown, about 2 minutes.

Meanwhile, bring sauce to simmer. Add minced thyme and remaining 1 T butter; whisk until melted.

Divide chicken among plates. Spoon herb sauce around chicken. Serves 4.

From the September 1993 issue of Bon Appetit

Now that the temperature is dropping, I’m craving soups, stews and baked pasta dishes. This Creamy Baked Four-Cheese Pasta from Cook’s Illustrated is several hundred notches up from Kraft Dinner. Cooked penne is mixed with a cream sauce and four cheeses, topped with bread crumbs and baked. This is a great vegetarian meal served with a salad, and would also be an excellent side dish.

Avoiding Additives and Preservatives

Some breads contain sulfites or other additives; I used an Ace bakery loaf for this recipe. Cheese can contain colour, so read the label carefully. Use butter with a single ingredient: cream.

This baked pasta calls for four tangy cheeses

Whirl torn slices of bread in the food processor to make crumbs

Boil cream then simmer with the flour

The hot cream and cooked penne melt the cheeses

Place pasta in a baking dish and top with crumbs

Creamy baked four-cheese pasta


Bread Crumb Topping:

3 or 4 slices white sandwich bread with crusts, torn into quarters

¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese (1/2 ounce)

¼ teaspoon table salt

1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper

Pasta and Cheese:

4 ounces fontina cheese , shredded (about 1 cup)

3 ounces Gorgonzola cheese , crumbled (about 3/4 cup)

½ cup grated Pecorino Romano cheese (1 ounce)

¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese (1/2 ounce)

1 pound penne pasta

1 tablespoon table salt

2 teaspoons unsalted butter

2 teaspoons unbleached all-purpose flour

1 ½ cups heavy cream

¼ teaspoon table salt

¼ teaspoon ground black pepper


For the topping: Pulse bread in food processor until mixture resembles coarse crumbs, about ten 1-second pulses (you should have about 1 ½ cups). Transfer to small bowl; stir in Parmesan, salt, and pepper. Set mixture aside.

For the pasta: Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 500 degrees.

Bring 4 quarts water to rolling boil in stockpot. Combine cheeses in large bowl; set aside.

Add pasta and 1 tablespoon salt to boiling water; stir to separate pasta.

While pasta is cooking, melt butter in small saucepan over medium-low heat; whisk flour into butter until no lumps remain, about 30 seconds. Gradually whisk in cream, increase heat to medium, and bring to boil, stirring occasionally; reduce heat to medium-low and simmer 1 minute to ensure that flour cooks. Stir in remaining ¼ teaspoon salt and pepper; cover cream mixture to keep hot and set aside.

When pasta is very al dente (when bitten into, pasta should be opaque and slightly underdone at very center), drain about 5 seconds, leaving pasta slightly wet. Add pasta to bowl with cheeses; immediately pour cream mixture over, then cover bowl with foil or large plate and let stand 3 minutes. Uncover bowl and stir with rubber spatula, scraping bottom of bowl, until cheeses are melted and mixture is thoroughly combined.

Transfer pasta to 13 by 9-inch baking dish, then sprinkle evenly with reserved bread crumbs, pressing down lightly. Bake until topping is golden brown, about 7 minutes. Serve immediately. Serves 4-6 as a main course.

From the January 2003 issue of Cook’s Illustrated

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Recipe Sleuth

This recipe from the May 2012 issue of Real Simple is perfect for a weeknight supper. It’s tasty, takes about 45 minutes to make, and uses inexpensive skin-on, bone-in chicken thighs. It’s also a one-dish meal, as the cauliflower roasts along with the chicken. Serve it with a salad or a green vegetable and feel free to use parsley if you don’t like cilantro.

Avoiding Additives and Preservatives

Lime juice concentrates are bitter and contain preservatives, so use juice from a fresh lime.

Make sure the chicken thighs are well browned; this ensures crispy skin

Toss cauliflower in oil

Return chicken to pan, skin side up, and put in the oven

When the chicken is done, add the lime juice and cilantro

Crispy Chicken Thighs with Cauliflower and Cilantro


1 tablespoon olive oil

2 ½ pounds bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs

Kosher salt and black pepper

1 head cauliflower (about 1 ½ pounds), cut into florets

2 small dried red chilies or ¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper

1 tablespoon fresh lime juice, plus lime wedges for serving

½ cup fresh cilantro leaves


Heat oven to 450° F. Heat the oil in a large ovenproof skillet over medium-high heat. Season the chicken with ½ teaspoon salt and ¼ teaspoon black pepper. Working in batches, cook the chicken skin-side down until crisp and golden, 6 to 7 minutes. Transfer to a plate; reserve the skillet.

Pour off all but 2 tablespoons of the drippings from the skillet. Add the cauliflower, chilies, and ¼ teaspoon each salt and black pepper; toss to coat. Nestle the chicken skin-side up in the cauliflower, transfer to oven, and roast until the cauliflower is tender and the chicken is cooked through, 20 to 22 minutes.

Add the lime juice and cilantro to the skillet and toss to combine. Serve with the lime wedges. Serves 4.

From the May 2012 issue of Real Simple