My friend Aura is a very good cook. She lives in Florida with her husband, Leo, and two adorable (I do not use that word glibly) children. When I think of Aura's cooking, I think of fruit salads, smoothies, and the freshest dishes from her native Guatemala — light, healthy, and driven by Florida's tropical fruits and vegetables. So I was surprised, one winter evening a few years ago, to sit down at her table and find a big, bubbling casserole of chicken wrapped in bacon. "It's Leo's favorite," she said, with a grin.
Let's talk about this tagine for a second: it's crazy good. The dish has so much going on—the fragrant and heavily-spiced sauce, the jammy apricots, the crunchy almonds—and yet it totally works. There's good reason why this Moroccan dish is a classic.
Once upon a time long ago, a friend of mine told me she was doing a crazy thing called the Master Cleanse; for something like thirty days she consumed only a tonic made from water, lemon juice, cayenne pepper and maple syrup. This, of course, went down in California. Since then I've tried the Master Cleanse once, for three miserable days, and bombed.
Fast forward to today: years have passed and I find myself in Northern California on a two-week trip, having all kinds of wonderfully familiar cliché Californian experiences likw leaving the house unlocked, being greeted by neighbors with "dear gentle people," meeting a local couple who founded a nudist peace movement, walking through clouds of patchouli at the hardware store, and always being given the option for soy, rice or almond milk in my coffee.
I must confess that weeknight dinners can be a major struggle in my house, which probably seems contradictory coming from someone who writes about food! It's true that my refrigerator is often filled with an eclectic group of ingredients—most of which cannot be transformed into any sort of suitable meal. I often find myself scavenging the pantry for anything I can pass off as adequate, and trust me when I tell you that a starving girl + Nutella does not equal dinner.
Q: My father-in-law gave us some pheasants, which are now in the freezer since I had no idea what to do with them. I could use some recipes that don't involve throwing them in a slow cooker with a can a cream of mushroom soup! Any ideas?
Q: Frozen chicken fingers can be extremely useful for all kinds of things: In wraps, on salads, in sauce for a quick appetizer. But, even in the oven, I have trouble getting them crispy. Besides breaking out a pan full of oil, is there a trick to getting a nice crunch from the oven?
Grilling is a beautiful thing. You can grill something (perhaps accidentally) until it's so blackened and beyond edible-looking that you think it won't be fit for anyone but the dog. But when you tentatively slice off a piece, it turns out to be absolutely perfect. This recipe for beer-brined chicken is a case in point.
Q: Some friends and I are planning a "kitchen-weekend," where a different couple cooks a 3-course meal each night. I still haven't thought of my menu, and definitely need help! The only kinds of meat allowed are veal, chicken and duck, or dishes should be vegetarian. Any great menu ideas?
All hail the conquering chicken! Chickens are the Western world's most ubiquitous dinner entreé — how did they achieve such sweeping cultural and culinary dominance? That very interesting question is the subject of an equally sweeping article (and a wacked-out slideshow!) in this month's Smithsonian magazine.
I grew up in the Midwest and far away from fresh seafood so my standard fallback lean protein is chicken. But it's easy to fall into a rut with this accessible poultry. If you need something to break the routine, check out these ten ways to add something new to the mix!