Tag Archives: herbs

When Friends Cook, Vol. II

4 Sep

I cook so often for people it’s always a treat when someone cooks for me. Case in point is my close friend Chris Boghosian. Chris is not only one of the best people I know, he’s also a wonderful cook. I’m lucky enough to have him drop by at least twice a month for dinner. About half the time I’m able to cajole him into doing the cooking.

I’m also lucky because while he loves my kitchen and loves cooking here, he’s often irritated I don’t have some utensil or device he wants to use. Which means he usually shows up with said utensil or device as a gift so he has them on hand when he works his magic in my kitchen.

(Yes, there is a method to my madness. I’ve even added three incredible knives to the kitchen this way, thank you Tiffiny, Tee and Dennis.)

When Chris cooks, I usually request his chicken thighs. They are, simply put, The. Best. Chicken. Thighs. Ever. Chris makes light of this in his recipe below, but don’t let him fool you. I am not being overly hyperbolic here. It’s the truth.

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BEST. CHICKEN. THIGHS. EVER.

So without further rambling on my part, here is Chris (with a couple of italicized asides from me):

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Your Ultimate Green Salad

11 Aug

Oh my, do I love salad. Of all kinds. Cobb Salad, Antipasto Salad (coming soon), Cole Slaw, Greek Salad, Salad Nicoise, Panzanella (OMG), Tabbouleh, Caprese… I can’t get enough. And while my ‘last meal’ would probably include a Caesar Salad, ultimately my favorite salad is a green salad. Of a very specific kind.

Green Salad Ingredients

Green Salad ingredients

One reason I love green salad is that I love lettuce. Love. It. Basically, I’m a rabbit. Years ago I saw my dear friend Tanja eating lettuce out of a bag like potato chips and I thought, ‘Yep, that’s another reason why we are such good friends.” Crispy, crunchy heaven, that lettuce. The basis for all green salad.

The term green salad, however, can conjure an image of a pitiful scattering of withered lettuce served for free before something better arrives. As the late great comedian John Pinette said, “Salad is not food. Salad comes before food. Salad is a promissory note that food will soon arrive. If my brain sees a salad it says ‘Something good is going to happen soon, wait right here.'” This might be true at a low-rent diner but it misses the genius of an amazing green salad.
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“Never, Ever, Ever…” Vol. III

16 Apr

It’s time again for a little Southern Catholic guilt to encourage (shame) you away from the pre-made and towards something homemade, healthier… and better! It’s Volume III of ‘Never, Ever, Ever…!”

Just what you have been waiting for, I am sure.

As a reminder, Vol. I involved vinaigrette. Vol. II was broth. Today I give you Vol. III…tomato sauce!

It must be evident by now that along with my chicken obsession (here and here), I am also obsessed with tomatoes and tomato sauce. I’ve already had two posts about red sauce. The first detailed my friend David Hendren’s amazing tomato recipes, his homemade tomato sauce and his Habenero Salsa. That post was followed by “A Tale Of Two Spaghettis‘, concerning the ‘dueling sauces’ made by my mom and her dear friend Barbara Doyle.

All three sauces are terrific and I encourage you to try each! Often, however, we need to cook fast, which causes people to reach for something like this:

Prego

Don’t reach for the jar, though! Instead, you want to reach for this:

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In the time it takes you to boil water and pasta, you can have a wonderful homemade marinara, tastier and healthier than anything from a jar. It’s a breeze, particularly if you have your pantry stocked with a few simple ingredients. The recipe also has many variations, depending on your mood.

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A Near Perfect Food

18 Feb

I was raised in the South. Port Arthur, Texas, specifically, a coastal town a literal stone’s throw from Louisiana. Being so close to Louisiana, many people in my hometown were Cajuns, my father’s side of the family included. Throw ‘The South’, ‘Texas’ and ‘Cajuns’ all together and you end up with people who overflow with hospitality and share a deep, intense love for food.

The house in which I was raised was no exception. My parents were two of the most hospitable people I’ve ever encountered. Someone was always in the guest room, on the sofa, borrowing the car, invited to dinner. Additionally, our life as a family revolved around food. What and when we would eat took precedence over just about everything else.

I tend to live by the example my parents set. If someone enters my home, their comfort is my goal and I feel embarrassed unless they immediately have at least the offer of food and drink. Given the house is a bit of a train station, with a parade of people coming in and out the door, I’ve developed some staples over the years I can throw together quickly or, better yet, have sitting in the fridge ready for use. The goat cheese spread below is first on the list, given the ease with which it is prepared. Oh, and then there’s this: it tastes really, really good. No, really. Even people who think they don’t like goat cheese devour this.

This stuff is so good, in fact, most of my friends get irritated if it doesn’t hit the counter soon after they arrive. Where’s the goat cheese? On the rare occasion I’ve been slacking and haven’t a ramekin of this waiting in the fridge, watch out.

Trust me. There is a reason this is the first food item I am posting on this blog.

GOAT CHEESE SPREAD

– 3 cloves garlic, peeled
– Fresh Rosemary  (1 or 2 sprigs)
– 11-14oz log of quality unflavored goat cheese, in big crumbles
– Juice of 1/2 lemon
– Olive oil
– Fresh black pepper

1) In the food processor, chop the cloves of garlic and the fronds off the rosemary sprigs.

2) Add the goat cheese, the lemon juice, and a few grinds of black pepper (don’t be shy with the black pepper) along with a couple of healthy glugs of good quality olive oil. Start the processor and blend, adding olive oil as needed. You want it creamy but not too soft and smooth, not runny. Add more pepper to taste if you like.

3) I put it in small ramekins such as in the picture. This recipe will usually fill three or four 4-oz ramekins. Cover them with foil and stick in the fridge. You can serve them right away but they get even better over time.

4) Before serving, take the spread out of the fridge and let sit on the counter for about 15 minutes so that it softens just a touch.

5) Serve with crackers, fresh rustic bread and/or crudite. Oh, and white wine. Always “serve with wine”, right?

** This keeps in the fridge at least a week. I’ve waited much longer to serve it, once over three weeks, and no one has yet died. It serves many purposes beyond a perfect appetizer. This spread is terrific to have waiting when you come home from a vacation, for instance, and the house is usually empty of good food. Or on a night when you don’t have time to cook and want a light supper. A ramekin of this spread, some olives and some good crusty bread is a great dinner for me. Additionally, some studies indicate goat cheese doesn’t cause the lactose problems of other types of dairy. Give it a try.