bouillabaisse

i bookmark recipes on a daily basis, but every once in a while you come across one that you need some extra support to accomplish. i wanted to make bouillabaisse, a french fish stew which requires (recommends, for ultimate triumph) the making of your own fish stock using fish bones obtained from a seafood market which you have to call ahead for. i mentioned this to my friend anne, who teamed up with me to spend the majority of a sunday afternoon cooking dinner for ourselves and husbands/future husbands.

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we used the recipe outlined by the amateur gourmet, sticking pretty closely to it. it breaks the process into four parts:

  • the fumet
  • the marinade
  • the aioli
  • and the actual bouillabaisse

each piece builds upon the last, until you have a classically complex french meal. the fumet is the fish broth, which is made by boiling down fish bones with a vide variety of vegetables and a hint of pernod. it starts out like this:

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the marinade is simple, and can be made relatively quickly and set aside. the aioli is to die for – so garlicky but you could eat it by the spoon full. and then the bouillabaisse itself starts with a solid-free portion of the stock and then gets a healthy dose of vegetables and of course, the mussels, clams, and fish:

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in between the prepping and boiling down you get to enjoy a little bit of champagne. this part is not required but highly recommended:

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and in the end, you get to serve this:

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with some good hearty bread and good friends, it’s the ultimate culinary accomplishment.

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chick stew

when i lived in spain, i used to eat chickpeas out of the jar with a spoon, about half a jar at a time. that was six years ago, and while the urge is still there, i decided to put them to better use. chicken and chickpea stew – which i’ve cutely nicknamed ‘chick stew.’

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this recipe is adapted from bon appetit.

makes 4 servings

  • 3-4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 chicken thighs, skin optional
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 4 garlic cloves
  • 2 tablespoons cumin
  • 1/2 cup tomato sauce
  • 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 3 1/2 cups chicken broth
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 15-ounce cans of chickpeas, drained
  • 1/2 cup roasted red peppers, chopped
  • juice from 1/2 a lemon
  • 3 tablespoons parsley, chopped

in a large pot, heat olive oil. place chicken thighs in pot and heat until they start to sizzle and turn brown. flip and repeat on other side. the chicken doesn’t need to be fully cooked at this moment, just browned. remove from pot.

add garlic to pot and cook in the chicken’s juices and olive oil. add cumin, tomato sauce, red pepper, salt and pepper. it should form a paste. add in white wine, bring to a boil. add in chicken broth, bay leaves, and return chicken to the pot. turn heat on low and let it simmer for 20 minutes.

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remove the chicken once again. into the pot, add chickpeas and red pepper. on a cutting board, shred the chicken using two forks. i find this to be remarkably therapeutic, i don’t know why. add the chicken back into the pot, for the third time. don’t worry, you will not have to take it out anymore.

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add in lemon juice, and let the stew cook on low heat for another 10 minutes to combine all the flavors. sprinkle with chopped parsley and serve with a baguette (we still have baguettes left over from my accidental over-estimation of necessary dough, the recipe for which you can find here.)

spinach, sweet potato, and pasta casserole

i skimmed this recipe from love & lemons a couple weeks back and didn’t think much of it. sweet potatoes and pasta? seems unnecessary. but the picture was pretty, so i flagged it. then i read a little more carefully – the sweet potato becomes the base of the creamy sauce. creamy pasta? that sounds delicious.

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i adapted the recipe to be vegetarian instead of vegan, because i have no problem with dairy. and made a couple other minor tweaks.

makes 4-5 servings

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 large shallot, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 2 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and chopped
  • 2 cups vegetable broth
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 2 tablespoons dijon mustard
  • 5 sage leaves, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon maple syrup
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • 8 ounces fusili pasta (i used whole wheat)
  • 4 cups fresh spinach
  • 1/2 cup scallions, chopped
  • 1/2 cup panko bread crumbs

preheat oven to 350. heat the olive oil in a large pot. add in shallots and cook down for a couple of minutes. next, add garlic, potatoes, broth, and heavy cream. salt and pepper the mixture. bring to a boil, lower the heat, and let it reduce for 20 minutes.

meanwhile, cook pasta to al dente. drain and pour pasta over spinach, so spinach begins to wilt.

once the potato mixture is nice and thick, pour it into a food processor (you’ll need kind of a big one). add in mustard and syrup. blend until you get a smooth, creamy mixture. place pasta and spinach mixture in the bottom of a baking dish. pour potato mixture on top.

*the sweet potato cream is so good,  i licked the food processor blade. and then i thought of what my mother would say if she saw me do that…

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finally sprinkle scallions and bread crumbs. cook for 20 minutes and then broil for 3 on high at the end.

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eggplant mozzarella (f.k.a. eggplant parmesan)

there are a million eggplant parmesan recipes in the world. and at the basic level, they aren’t all that different. when making this dish, i realized that i use significantly more mozzarella than parmesan, so i’m renaming it to be more appropriately descriptive.

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my inspiration for a new eggplant moz/parm recipe came from the amateur gourmet. he made one really smart observation – why are all eggplant parmesan recipes so focused on the cheese and not the eggplant? why cut it up into thin slices and make it lose all it’s delicious eggplanty-ness? for that, i thank him, because he is right. the key to this recipe is nice, thick pieces of eggplant with a hint of the other ingredients. okay, so there is a decent amount of cheese in this, but still.

makes 3 servings. but, i’m not going to lie, i ate half of this my myself while watching the biggest loser. i don’t know what that says about me.

  • 1 medium to large eggplant
  • 1 red onion, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons fresh thyme, chopped
  • 1 carrot, chopped
  • 1 can peeled, whole tomatoes (28 oz)
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • handful fresh basil leaves, chopped into medium sized pieces (or torn, if you’re feeling dangerous)
  • 4-6 ounces fresh mozzarella
  • 1/4 cup grated parmesan
  • 1/2 cup panko bread crumbs (you can use other bread crumbs, i just really love panko)

preheat your oven to 450. combine onion and garlic in a large pot with some olive oil. heat until it starts to brown. add in carrots and thyme. stir and let it took down for about five minutes. add in tomato paste and canned tomatoes (with juice). let it cook down for about 25-30 minutes, stirring frequently. oh and of course, salt and pepper the thing.

while that’s cooking down, slice your eggplant into nice thick pieces. they should be about half an inch to an inch thick. spread some olive oil on the bottom of a pan and lay the eggplant flat (use two pans if needed, don’t layer). bake those for 30 minutes.

once your eggplants are done, add the chopped (or torn!) basil to the tomato dish. remove it from the heat. you want the basil to wilt a little. now start building your tower of delicious eggplant mozzarella. put half the eggplant on the bottom of the pan, spoon half the tomato mixture on top. now layer your mozzarella. now the second half of your eggplant! it’ll look like this:

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you’re almost done – use the other half of the tomato mixture to cover the eggplants. sprinkle your parmesan and panko on the top. and bake for 15 minutes.

yogurt and sriracha marinated chicken & ginger kale gratin

we’ve had a bottle of sriracha in our fridge for probably two years. and we use it, relatively frequently. it’s just one of those ingredients that you never use up more than 2-3 tablespoons at a time, so it really does last forever.

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so, tonight i’ve put a couple of tablespoons to use in a yogurt and sriracha marinated chicken:

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adapted from all day i dream about food

makes 4 servings:

  • 1/4 cup greek yogurt
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • juice from 1/2 a lemon
  • 3 tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary
  • 2 tablespoons sriracha
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • pinch of salt
  • pinch of pepper
  • 4 skinless, boneless chicken thighs or breasts

in a large bowl, mix together all ingredients except chicken. then add chicken and mix so chicken is completely covered in marinade. cover with plastic wrap and let the chicken soak up all the delicious ingredients for at least two hours (i did eight, because i had some time). then bake at 375 for about 30-35 minutes. and eat!

and given that we have left over kale from the last week’s kale and white bean soup, i wanted to use it up. this is a ginger kale gratin:

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adapted from food52.
makes 3-4 side dish servings:
  • 1 bunch kale
  • 1/4 cup minced ginger
  • 2 minced garlic cloves
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 4 ounces feta
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 cup slivered almonds

remove stems from kale. add a little water to a large pot and steam the kale for 5-7 minutes. it’ll turn a bright green when it’s right. after kale cools, chop up into medium sized pieces.

in a small pan, melt butter. add garlic and ginger and cook until the garlic starts to brown. when it smells delicious, it should be done. put kale into a baking dish and scatter ginger mixture on top. in another bowl, mix together feta, heavy cream, and egg. pour on top of the kale mixture. give it a good mix. top with almonds. bake at 375 for 20 minutes.

kale and white bean soup & tomato and mascarpone tart

i know it doesn’t make sense to make a cold tomato tart in january, but this has been on my list of things to try for quite some time. so i paired it with a very winter soup. it seemed to hit the right balance.

kale + white bean soup

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adapted from love & lemons

makes 3-4 servings

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 cup mushrooms, halved
  • 2 carrots, chopped
  • 3 shallots, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 3-4 cups vegetable broth
  • 1 15-ounce can white beans
  • 1 tablespoon rosemary, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon sherry
  • 1 bunch kale, stems removed and chopped
  • 1 tablespoons chives, chopped
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • parmesan cheese, shredded or grated, to taste

in a large pot, heat olive oil. saute shallots until translucent. add mushrooms, carrots, garlic, salt and pepper. cook until mushrooms start to release their juices, about 10 minutes. add sherry and white wine and scrape the vegetables off the bottom. let the liquid reduce for about 10 minutes. add in the white beans, vegetable broth, and rosemary. bring to a boil. finally add kale and lower heat, simmering for about 15-20 minutes. serve soup with chives and parmesan and some good bread.

tomato mascarpone tart

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adapted from food52.

makes 4-6 servings

for the tart:

  • 2 1/4 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 3/4 cup butter

to make the tart, mix the dry ingredients in a mixer or food processor. slowly add in water. cut in butter. mix until it forms big chunks. combine with your hands. on a floured surface roll out the dough so it will fit into a 9 inch round pan with a removable bottom. lay the dough into the pan, cutting off the edges to make it even. put the dough into the freezer for at least 30 minutes (this will help the tart not bubble up or shrink). pre-heat your oven to 400 degrees, and bake for 20-25 minutes, until brown.

for the filling:

  • 1 garlic clove
  • 1 cup fresh basil
  • 2 table spoons olive oil
  • juice from 1/2 a lemon
  • 8 ounces mascarpone cheese
  • 2 heirloom tomatoes

using a food processor, chop up the garlic and basil. add olive oil and lemon juice, and pulse to blend well. then add in the mascarpone cheese. pulse until mixture is even. using a spoon, spread filling into tart (after it has cooled). thinly slice tomatoes and place on top.

roasted chicken and potatoes

jason frequently tells me how much he loves rotisserie chicken. he would eat it all the time, no matter where it came from. okay, he did draw a line and say he wouldn’t buy it from a gas station. well i don’t have the tools to make a true rotisserie chicken, so this was my attempt at something similar.

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adapted from lottie + doof.

makes 5-6 servings

for chicken:

  • 4 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons kosher salt
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 4 tablespoons paprika
  • 1 3 1/2-4 pound whole chicken
  • 1 large bunch of thyme, chopped

for potatoes:

  • 10 medium to large red potatoes
  • salt and pepper
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 cup parsley, chopped
  • 1/2 cup scallions, chopped

mix garlic, salt, paprika, olive oil and thyme in a small bowl. once it is blended, use your hands to rub it all over the chicken. you’ll probably get some clumps, but that’s fine. put in the fridge for 6 hours without covering.

after it chills, take the chicken out or the fridge and try to rub out some of the clumps of spice mixture. let the chicken sit out at room temperature for at least an hour. meanwhile, make your potatoes. slice potatoes into quarters or sixths, depending on how large they are. they should be nice thick pieces. mix together olive oil, salt and pepper in a large bowl and toss potatoes in it, making sure they are fully covered.

preheat your oven to 500. spread the potato mixture on the bottom of a large baking dish, single layer. place chicken on top. bake for 30 minutes. at this point, remove the dish from the oven, turn the potatoes and check how your chicken is doing. if the skin is starting to char a little, cover it with tinfoil and put back in the oven for another 20-30 minutes. if, however, the chicken looks fine, place back without covering.

remove chicken for the second time and let it rest for 10 minutes or so. it will release all its delicious juices and soak your potatoes. sprinkle the parsley and scallions on top. carve and serve!

*update – jason said this was better than any rotisserie chicken he’s ever had.

seafood and chicken brodetto

in anticipation of the giant snow storm that was coming our way, we had a dinner party. i made seafood brodetto and chicken brodetto that i’ve made once before. i had to quadruple the recipe (okay i didn’t need to, because we had way too much food in the end, but i thought i did).

unfortunately it didn’t scale well. it turned  more into a pilaf than a brodetto. but it still tasted good. so to make this recipe in normal size.

adapted from cooking with trader joe.

makes 3-4 servings

  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/2 cup uncooked israeli couscous
  • 1/2 cup uncooked orzo
  • 1 cup uncooked orecchiette pasta
  • 1/4 sun dried tomatoes, chopped
  • 1/2 cup kalamata olives, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons capers
  • 2-4 cups seafood (scallops, calamari, shrimp) or 3-4 chicken breasts, chopped and cooked with a little olive oil
  • 1 cup stewed tomatoes (i used canned) or bruschetta mix
  • juice from 1/2 a lemon

combine chicken broth, water, and olive oil in a large pot and bring to a boil. add in couscous and orzo. let cook for 10 minutes. then add in pasta. let that cook for 12-15 min, it should start to stew.

add in sun dried tomatoes, kalamata olives, and capers. let that stew for another 5 or so minutes. taste the broth. it should be delicious. add in seafood or chicken. let it stew for another 5 minutes or so. finally,  add stewed tomatoes (or bruschetta) and lemon juice.

*it should be brothy, not pilaf-like you see in my photo. but i started too early and the pasta ended up soaking up all the good juices. sadness.