Tagliatelle with Chicken Ragù

Fresh tomatoes and savory chicken thighs, redolent of fresh herbs..


In a Dutch oven, brown chicken leg quarters in olive oil.  Add celery, onions, carrots and garlic and continue to cook until vegetables are browned.

Add cold water with bay leaf and peppercorns to cover.  Reduce heat to low and simmer 2 hours.

Remove chicken with skin to cutting board to cool.  Strain chicken stock and reserve for another purpose.

Sauté red & green bell peppers, garlic, shallots, carrots, celery.  Add white wine, tomatoes and pulled chicken and simmer until most of the water is evaporated, about 30 minutes.

As for Jewish gribenes, crisp reserved chicken skin with a bit of onion, julienne and set aside.

Prepare pasta according to package directions.  Drain and add chopped parsley.

Add fresh herbs such as basil, oregano and marjoram to the sauce.  Add sea salt and fresh black pepper to taste.

To serve, ladle ragù over pasta and top with parmesan, romano, asiago fresco and strips of crisped chicken skin.

Rating  ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ +

Seafood Bisque

My Cagefree Family called from the Georgia coast this afternoon to ask if the shrimp coming in off the local boats is safe for babies and mamas (it is), which of course made me think about dinner.  I didn’t have any fresh shrimp, but I did have a bit of Alaskan salmon, cod and crab..

Make a stock of filtered water, celery, onions, bay leaf, white peppercorns, lemon slices, thyme and white wine.

Put filets of salmon and cod (or whatever sort of fish you have) into a wire basket and place that in the simmering stock to poach until just barely done.  Set aside to cool.

Meanwhile, strain and reduce the poaching liquid until flavorful, about 30 minutes.

Finely chop fennel bulb, celery, leeks, carrots, tomatoes and garlic.  Sauté in whole butter until softened, about 3 minutes.

Mince the cooled fish, reserving some larger pieces for garnish.

Whisk tomato paste and cream into stock.  Thicken with a little roux.  Add cooked vegetables and poached fish and simmer 15 minutes.  Add sherry, saffron, paprika, S&P and dill.   You may purée the soup with an immersion blender or leave it coarse according to your preference.

At this point, I’m sure you’re asking yourself where’s the HFCS?  It’s just not a meal without the natural goodness of High Fructose Corn Syrup! Resist, I tell you.

To serve, ladle soup into a bowl, drizzle with sherry and hot sauce (optional) and garnish with reserved fish, seasoned croutons and fennel.

Rating  ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ +

Rarebit Fiend

Each December when we were little, the family would drive the 25-or-so miles into downtown Chicago to see the displays on Michigan Ave,  Marshall Field’s 3-story Christmas tree and, of course, der Santa.  For me though, the biggest treat was always the late lunch in the main dining room at the Chicago Athletic Association, where I sat up straight (napkin properly in lap) and announced  to the (Saint-patient) waiter,  “I’ll have the Welsh Rabbit, please”.   Every single year.   Sweet, simple times, those.

Add a couple of poached eggs and some balsamic broiled tomatoes and call it dinner..

Adapted from a recipe by Alton Brown

Make a tiny bit of blond roux from flour and whole butter.  Whisk in worcestershire and stone-ground mustard.  Add beer (good ale or porter) and whisk until smooth.  Whisk in heavy cream and season with salt, pepper, cayenne and paprika. Fold in shredded sharp cheddar cheese and cook over low heat for several minutes, stirring frequently.  Serve cheese sauce over toasted ciabatta, foccacia or thick sandwich bread and top with poached eggs.

Dream of a Rarebit Fiend, ca. 1906

Rating  ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦

Grilled Lamb w/Roast Tomato Tapenade, Feta & Spicy Hummus (favorite)


2 hours before dinner, marinate center-cut lamb steak in olive oil, garlic, lemon slices, pepper, sea salt fresh Greek oregano, spearmint and marjoram, turning occasionally.  Reserve additional marinade to dress cooked lamb.

Meanwhile, make a tapenade by roasting quartered Roma tomatoes drizzled with olive oil and seasoned with S&P.  Allow to cool, then chop with Kalamata olives, capers and red onions. Moisten with balsamic vinegar and adjust seasoning.  Refrigerate.

For the hummus, mash chickpeas with tahini, olive oil, lemon juice, S&P, cumin, paprika and red pepper.

Remove lamb from marinade and grill (indoors or out) until rare to medium rare.  Transfer to cutting board to rest 10 minutes, then arrange on a platter with roast tomato tapenade, hummus and crumbled feta.  Drizzle reserved marinade over lamb and serve.

Figs and dates make a nice treat afterwords.

Rating  ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦

Swedish Pot Roast – Läcker!

With buttered egg noodles and gooseberry chutney, this recipe is something of a mad cross between Heather’s Swedish meatballs and my own pot roast.


Salt the chuck steak liberally on both sides and allow to sit at room temperature for 1 hour.

Meanwhile, reduce 1/2 bottle of red wine with a cup of unsalted or low-salt beef broth until volume is reduced by half.

Chop bacon, shallot and garlic and sauté in a Dutch oven over medium heat until well colored, about 10 minutes.  Transfer cooked ingredients to a side dish, and pour off all but 1-2 tablespoons of the rendered fat.

Pat the salted meat dry and brown well in the Dutch oven with the reserved fat, about 5 minutes per side.  Give silent thanks to Louis Camille Maillard for the beautiful color.

Return the bacon, shallots and garlic to the pot along with fresh thyme, bay, pepper and the wine & stock reduction.  Ensure that there is sufficient liquid to cover the browned meat.

Seal the pot with foil, and place in a 350 degree oven until fork tender (about 1 hour in the case of my rather thin chuck).  Remove to cutting board and cover with the foil to keep warm.

Strain the cooking liquid into a clean pan, and quickly reduce in volume by half.  Thicken slightly with roux and allow to cook slowly for 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, cook the egg noodles, drain, toss with butter and parsley, cover and set aside.

Slowly whisk whole milk into the thickened gravy. Add freshly grated nutmeg and adjust seasoning, being glad that you haven’t used any salt up to this point.  Add sautéed mushrooms if you like.

Slice the meat across the grain, and arrange over noodles.  Dress with gooseberry chutney (thanks, Sandhill Farm!) and enjoy!

Rating  ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ +