September 16, 2016

Crispy Chicken Thighs with Portobellos, Zucchini and Potatoes


3 lbs chicken thighs
2 tablespoons lemon pepper seasoning
1/2 super fine flour (like Wondra)
2 zucchini (I used goldenrod zucchini), cut into 1/2-inch thick half circles
1 large onion, halved and thinly sliced
3 portobello mushroom caps, large dice
1 bunch green chard, chopped
4 cloves garlic, sliced
2 lb baby potatoes (I used a mix of white, red and blue potatoes), halved
freshly ground black pepper


Preheat oven to 400.

Thoroughly coat the chicken with lemon pepper and flour. Place skin-side down in a hot, oven safe, dry skillet. Cook for 10-20 minutes or until well browned. Remove to a paper-towel lined platter. Drain off fat, leaving 1-2 tablespoons behind. Add the onions, zucchini, mushrooms, chard, and garlic and saute until the onion is softened and translucent.  Season with salt and pepper. Place the chicken, skin-side up, on top of the vegetables. Bake for 40 minutes or until the chicken is fully cooked. Serve immediately.

Note: If you have more vegetables than room in your pan, transfer them to an appropriately sized baking dish and then top with chicken and bake.

My thoughts:
Last weekend we went to one of my favorite food festivals, the Kennett Square Mushroom Festival. Kennett Square is known as the mushroom capital of the world and they put on quite a festival! Not only can you buy mushrooms (we bought a five lb case of HUGE portobellos!) but they have all sorts of mushroom food on offer. This year we shared a candy cap mushroom cupcake, a mushroom tamale (the best!), a Mediterranean burrito with mushrooms and pork, fried mushrooms and mushroom-free Dole Whip. In previous years we've had mushroom ice pops! Anyway, we brought home a ton of mushrooms so now it is my job to use them up!

This is my second favorite way to cook chicken thighs. I love Maryland Fried Chicken the best but we can't always eat fried chicken! This method gives you crispy skin thanks to the browning step but requires zero extra fat. Then you layer it on a bed of vegetables. The whole thing bakes in about 40 minutes and you are left with both perfectly cooked chicken and a side dish all in one pan.

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September 14, 2016

Late Summer Succotash


2 slices of cooked bacon, crumbled
1 ear's worth of corn kernels
1 quart fresh lima beans, shucked
1 pint okra,  cut into 1/4 inch slices
1/4 cup finely chopped onion
1/4 cup chopped green onion
2 cloves garlic, minced
2-3 medium tomatoes, diced
freshly ground black pepper

Heat some oil or bacon grease in a large pan. Add the corn, lima beans, okra, onion, green onion and garlic and saute until the vegetables are tender. Add in the tomatoes and cook until just heated through. Season with salt and pepper. Stir in bacon.

My thoughts:
The fact that summer is ending makes me sad. I know some people love fall (and puzzlingly, everything pumpkin spice) but to me, fall means that my least favorite time of the year is right around the corner. Luckily we have a few more days of summer left and here in Baltimore at least, a few of my favorite foods are still in season. I picked up some heirloom tomatoes and lima beans from the tiny market in my neighborhood and decided to put them into this simple succotash. It comes together quickly--I dispensed with the sauteeing the onion first--and makes a great side dish to pretty much anything while showcase the last bit of summer produce.

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September 12, 2016

Tahini-Dill Tuna Stuffed Tomatoes

5 oz canned solid albacore tuna in water, drained
2 tablespoons mayonnaise
2 tablespoons prepared tahini sauce
3 tablespoon minced red onion
1 tablespoon nonpareil capers
1 tablespoon minced dill
freshly ground black pepper
2 large tomatoes (beefsteak works well)

In a small bowl, break up the tuna into small chunks. Mix in mayonnaise, tahini sauce, red onion, capers, dill and pepper until well combined. Set aside.

Core the tomatoes. scoop out some of the flesh to accommodate the tuna. Fill with tuna. Serve immediately.

My thoughts:
Tomato season is by far my favorite season. They are still going strong in Baltimore and I took a trip down to my local  farmers market to pick up some big enough to stuff. I think tuna stuffed tomatoes were the just about first thing I remember making as a child. I want to say I got the idea from my Strawberry Shortcake's Cooking Fun cookbook but I'm not 100% sure. They didn't have tahini sauce in them back then though! I updated the recipe just a bit to include tahini sauce and dill, two of my favorite flavors in tuna salad. Tomatoes are still in season here so I used some big, juicy ones from the farm stand. Just take care to use sturdy tomatoes like beefsteak that can be hollowed out without poking a hole through the side. I like to serve them immediately so the tuna doesn't get watered down but if you have to travel with them, hollow out the tomato at home and fill with the tuna at your destination.

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September 08, 2016

Fairytale Eggplant Capicola Baked Frittata


1 lb fairytale eggplants, halved lengthwise
1/4 cup chopped onion
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup Parmesan
1/4 cup milk
1/4 cup chopped chives
10 eggs
1/4 lb thin sliced lean capicola, cut into slightly less than 1/4-inch strips
freshly ground black pepper
olive oil


Note: This part can be made one day ahead and refrigerated.

Preheat oven to 350. Place the eggplant on a parchment or foil-lined baking sheet, skin-side-down. Drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast until tender, about 30 minutes. Meanwhile, saute the onion and garlic, in a medium pan using olive oil, until the onion is soft and translucent. Allow the eggplant and onion/garlic to cool. Refrigerate if making ahead then bring to room temperature prior to the next step.

For the next step/next day:
Preheat oven to 350. Beat together the eggs, milk, Parmesan, chives, salt and pepper until fluffy*. Fold in the room temperature eggplant, onions/garlic and capicola. Oil an 8x8-inch baking dish. Pour the mixture into the dish and bake for 40 minutes or until fully set in the middle. Allow to cool 5 minutes. Slice into 9 squares and serve.

*I love my egg beater for this task.
My thoughts:
This is one of my favorite dishes of the summer. It uses chives from my garden and my favorite fairytale eggplant in a way that is even easier than a regular frittata because there is zero stove-top time. Fairytale eggplant is my favorite eggplant variety because it is a. cute b. has tiny seeds c. doesn't require much work to become delicious and d. zero bitterness. Adding to the vaguely Italian theme is capicola, one of my favorites of the Italian deli meats. I get sweet capicola which is well, sweet and has a light, hammy flavor. The version we buy at our local Italian market has no visible fat so if your capicola does, feel free to cut the extra fat off before adding it to the frittata.

The frittata is great reheated, as well. We like having extra for lunches the next day.  I normally bake mine because I am home but a toaster oven or even microwave works just fine.

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September 06, 2016

Shrimp with Okra and Fairytale Eggplant


2 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 clove garlic, minced
2 portobello mushrooms, cubed
1/2 cup chopped white onion
1-quart okra, chopped
2 lb fairytale eggplant, sliced into 1/4-inch rounds
24 oz medium shrimp, peeled

to serve: over Old Bay Chive Cheese Grits

Heat the oil and butter in a large skillet. Add the garlic, mushrooms, eggplants, onion, okra and eggplant and saute until the eggplant and mushrooms are tender. Stir in the shrimp and cook 3-5 minutes or until pink and fully cooked. Server over rice or over Old Bay Chive Cheese Grits.
My thoughts:
This is my seasonal take on the traditional shrimp and grits. I added in my favorite variety of eggplant, some local portobello mushrooms (the mushroom festival is next weekend!) to make a dish that is less traditional and more hearty. I love okra and eggplants but I think they are both some of the more polarizing of vegetables. I think this is a great way to showcase both so if you are on the fence, give it a try! They get nice and soft during the sauting and shrimp adds some light seafood flavor to round out the dish. I liked them over grits but I bet rice would be good too.

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September 02, 2016

Old Bay Chive Cheese Grits

2 cups yellow stone-ground grits
6 cups water or chicken stock
2/3 cup grated Dubliner cheese
2 tablespoons Old Bay
1/4 (loose) cup chopped chives
freshly ground black pepper


In a medium pot, bring the water or stock and Old Bay to a boil. Add the grits and stir continually for about 10 minutes or until all the broth is absorbed. Remove from the heat and stir in the cheese and chives. Serve immediately.

My thoughts:
Grits aren't super popular in Baltimore. The occasional diner might offer them and shrimp and grits are in a few restaurants but they aren't as ubiquitous as they are further south. This is such a shame! They are so quick to make, even the "regular" ones and not the "quick cook" kind and make a great base to top with other yummy ingredients or to serve as a side. I took gave these a Baltimore flair by adding Old Bay. The addition of cheese makes them richer but not too heavy and the chives from my garden gave a nice garlicy note.

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