October 2015
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Paella is a delicious Spanish dish of saffron-flavored rice and a variety of meats and shellfish. It is definitely impressive, and might be intimidating to make at home, but this recipe from America’s Test Kitchen somewhat simplifies the process while staying true to the dish’s heritage. No need for a paella pan for this recipe. You can use a Dutch oven that is 11 to 12 inches in diameter with at least a 6-quart capacity. Soccarat is a layer of crusty browned rice that forms in a traditional paella pan, but does not traditionally develop in this recipe because most of the cooking is done in the oven. If you would like to develop a soccarat (trust me, you do) make sure to follow step 5. If you prefer, you can skip this step and proceed to step 6.

from: The Complete America’s Test Kitchen TV Show Cookbook
serves: 6

1 pound extra-large shrimp (21 to 25 per lb.) peeled & deveined
salt and ground black pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil, plus extra as needed
8-9 medium garlic cloves, minced or pressed through a garlic press (about 2 generous tablespoons)
1 pound boneless, skinless chicken thighs (about 4 thighs) trimmed and halved crosswise
1 red bell pepper, stemmed, seeded and cut pole to pole into 1/2 inch wide strips
8 ounces Spanish chorizo, sliced 1/2 inch thick on the bias (dry-cured is recommended, but fresh chorizo is an acceptable substitute)
1 medium onion, minced
1 (14.5-ounce) can diced tomatoes, drained, minced, and drained again
2 cups Valencia rice (if you can’t find Valencia, you can use Arborio rice)
3 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1/3 cup dry white wine
1/2 teaspoon saffron threads, crumbled
1 bay leaf
1 dozen mussels, scrubbed and debearded
1/2 cup frozen peas, thawed
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley leaves
1 lemon, cut into wedges, for serving




1. Adjust an oven rack to the lower-middle position and heat the oven to 350 degrees. Toss the shrimp, 1/4 teaspoon of salt, 1/4 teaspoon of pepper, 1 tablespoon of the oil, and 1 teaspoon of the garlic in a medium bowl; cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until needed. Season the chicken thighs with salt and pepper; set aside.


2. Heat 2 teaspoons oil in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat until shimmering but not smoking. Add the pepper strips and cook, stirring occasionally, until the skin begins to blister and turn spotty black, 3 to 4 minutes. Transfer the pepper to a small plate and set aside.


3. Add the remaining 1 teaspoon oil to the now-empty pot; heat the oil until shimmering but not smoking. Add the chicken pieces in a single layer; cook, without moving the pieces, until browned, about 3 minutes.


Turn the pieces and brown on the second side, about 3 minutes longer; transfer the chicken to a medium bowl. Reduce the heat to medium and add the chorizo to the pot; cook, stirring frequently, until deeply browned and the fat begins to render, 4 to 5 minutes. Transfer the chorizo to the bowl with the chicken and set aside.


4. Add enough oil to the fat in the Dutch oven to equal 2 tablespoons; heat over medium heat until shimmering but not smoking. Add the onion and cook, stirring frequently, until softened, about 3 minutes; stir in the remaining garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Stir in the tomatoes; cook until the mixture begins to darken and thicken slightly, about 3 minutes. Stir in the rice and cook until the grains are well coated with the tomato mixture, 1 to 2 minutes. Stir in the chicken broth, wine, saffron, bay leaf, and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Return the chicken and chorizo to the pot, increase the heat to medium-high, and bring to a boil, uncovered, stirring occasionally. Cover the pot and transfer it to the oven; cook until the rice absorbs almost all of the liquid, about 15 minutes. Remove the pot from the oven (make sure to close the oven door to retain heat). Uncover the pot; scatter the shrimp over the rice, insert the mussels, hinged side down, into the rice (so they stand upright), arrange the bell pepper strips in a pinwheel pattern, and scatter the peas over top. Cover and return to the oven; cook until shrimp are opaque and the mussels have opened, 10 to 12 minutes.








5. (Optional Soccarat step) Set the Dutch oven, uncovered, over medium-high heat for about 5 minutes, rotating the pot 180 degrees after about 2 minutes for even browning.

6. Let the paella stand, covered, for about 5 minutes. Discard any mussels that have not opened and the bay leaf, if it can be easily removed. Sprinkle with the parsley and serve, passing the lemon wedges separately.

* Unfortunately I don’t have a picture of the finished product, the photo above was taken before the mussels opened. However, it was beautiful to look at!

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This high octane classic first appeared in Ted Saucier’s Bottom’s Up. Apparently it was named after the Diamondback Lounge in Maryland’s Lord Baltimore Hotel. I’ve made the PDT version whose amounts possibly differ from Saucier’s.  (A bit more whiskey, a bit less chartreuse and apple brandy.) This is a serious tipple,  so if you’re not up for the assertive and gently diluted version in this post, then simply stir with ice then pour over a large single ice cube in a rocks glass. I won’t tell if you won’t. However, if you’ve had a long and tiresome work week and are ready to get the weekend started, this is the drink for you. Happy Friday and Cheers.

from: The PDT Cocktail Book
makes: 1 cocktail

2 ounces Rittenhouse Bonded Rye Whiskey
1/2 ounce Laird’s Bonded Apple Brandy
1/2 ounce Yellow Chartreuse


Stir with ice and strain into a chilled coupe.


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Moroccan Carrot and Chickpea Salad

carrot salad1

This salad from Heidi Swanson has been one of my favorite ones to make this summer. I simplified it quite a bit by using canned chickpeas and a bag of pre-shredded carrots, which may not look as pretty as heirloom carrots sliced whisper-thin on a mandoline, but still taste pretty great. For those of you that like salads with a sweet dressing (I’m looking at you, Dad), you will love this one. The cumin and lemon juice cut through the sweetness from the dressing and the dates and the cayenne brings a nice bit of heat at the end. Perfect for lunch or an easy vegetarian dinner.

slightly adapted from: 101 Cookbooks
serves: 4

1 tablespoon cumin seeds
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon honey
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt, plus more to taste
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper


10 ounces carrots, shredded on a box grater or sliced whisper thin on a mandolin (or buy a 10 ounce bag of shredded carrots like I did)
2 cups cooked chickpeas (or one 15- ounce can, drained and rinsed)
5 or 6 dates, pitted and cut into pieces
1/3 cup fresh mint, torn (feel free to use a combination of herbs, I threw in some dill as well)
lots of toasted almond slices for garnish

For the dressing:

Toast the cumin seeds in a dry skillet until fragrant and lightly browned, a minute or two. Let cool, and grind to a powder with a mortar and pestle (or a wooden bowl and a muddler).

In a bowl or jar, whisk together the olive oil, lemon juice, honey, ground cumin, salt, and cayenne pepper. Set aside.

For the salad:

In a medium bowl, combine the carrots, chickpeas, chopped dates, mint, and almonds. Gently toss with the dressing until everything is evenly coated. Serve immediately, or cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.

Make Ahead:
You can toss this salad, minus the almonds, hours in advance. Remove from the refrigerator 30 minutes before serving.

carrot salad

Serves 6.

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Chicken and Vegetable Miso Soup


David was under the weather last week and I wanted to make a nourishing meal that would help him feel better, but I didn’t want to make boring ol’ chicken noodle soup. Think of this soup as chicken noodle’s more fun, flavorful and healthy cousin. I adapted the recipe to make it easier by using cooked rotisserie chicken instead of cooking chicken in the soup. I also had a hard time finding baby bok choy that didn’t appear to be on the way to the old produce bin, so I substituted a healthy dose of swiss chard which I thought worked very well. We both loved the soup and I will definitely be making this again, whether we are sick or perfectly healthy. The soup was quite delicious by itself, but it really tasted amazing with a (large) spoonful of chili paste and a squirt of lime juice stirred in.

adapted from: Bon Appetit
serves: 4

1 medium onion, chopped
6 ounces shiitake mushrooms, stems removed, caps sliced
2 celery stalks, thinly sliced
Kosher salt
2 tablespoons vegetable oil or olive oil
3 heaping tablespoons white miso (fermented soybean paste)
6 cups low-sodium chicken and/or vegetable broth

shredded meat from half of a rotisserie chicken
4 heads baby bok choy (about 12 oz.), trimmed, cut into bite-size pieces , or a couple handfuls swiss chard, cut into bite-size pieces
sliced avocado, lime wedges, hot chili paste (such as sambal oelek), and cilantro leaves (for serving)




Heat oil in a large pot over medium-high heat. Add the onion, mushrooms and celery; season with salt. Cook, stirring, until vegetables are somewhat softened and beginning to turn brown, about 5-8 minutes.


Add broth and miso and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and let mixture simmer for a few minutes. Add the shredded chicken and greens to the pot and cook until the greens are wilted, about 3 minutes.

Serve soup with avocado, lime wedges, chili paste and cilantro.


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Effortless Vegan Overnight Oats


This is an easy version of muesli that I love, because it tastes good and gives me a burst of energy in the mornings. There are a myriad of ways to make muesli, with any combination of raw or toasted cereals, dried fruits, nuts, bran, and wheat germ. Muesli can be sweetened if desired and served with fruit juice, yogurt, or your favorite milk. There are many types you can get at the supermarket these days, but this is a great one to make at home. The chia seeds add an extra-healthy dose of nutrients.

slightly adapted from: The Oh She Glows Cookbook
serves: 3

1 cup gluten-free rolled oats
1 1/2 cups almond milk
1/4 cup chia seeds
1 large banana, mashed
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

topping ideas

fresh mixed berries
toasted nuts
hemp seeds
pure maple syrup or agave nectar

In a small bowl, whisk together the oats, almond milk, chia seeds, banana, and cinnamon. Cover and refrigerate overnight to thicken.

In the morning, stir the oat mixture to combine. If the consistency is too runny, simply stir in more chia seeds. If too thick, stir in more almond milk. For a nice presentation, serve the oats in a jar or parfait glass, alternating with layers of fresh fruit and whatever other toppings sound good to you. If you’re hungry and/or lazy like me, just plop everything in a bowl and eat.

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Water Lily

water lily4

Looking back, I haven’t made a cocktail to share with you in a while. This summer it’s been all about Pinot Gris, Viognier and of course my usual Michigan IPA’s. I’ve also made David’s summer by getting into Belgian style beer, something which I have never liked before and am now wondering how that was so. (I find it endlessly interesting how ones taste buds can change over time to like new things or dislike things you used to think were the cat’s meow. I never thought as a young child I would ever like something as nasty as the tomato. :) ) Having not made a cocktail in quite a while I checked our spirits inventory and flipped through the PDT  book (see admonition below) and chose the Water Lily. Crème de Violette is not a spirit commonly used in the cocktail world but it lends delicate floral and sweet notes and a pretty violet hue to cocktails like the Aviation, Blue Moon, and this cocktail.

slightly adapted from: The PDT Cocktail Book (Do you enjoy cocktails? Do you like making cocktails? Have you bought this book yet? If not, shame on you.)
makes: 1 cocktail

3/4 ounce gin (London dry style- by the way, Detroit is pretty awesome with it’s award winning distilleries. See below.)
3/4 ounce Rothman & Winter Crème de Violette*
3/4 ounce Cointreau
3/4 ounce freshly squeezed lemon juice- strained through a fine-mesh strainer
orange twist for garnish

water lily

water lily1

Shake with ice and strain into a chilled coupe.

water lily2

Detroit City Distillery– I used their small batch gin for this recipe.

Two James Distillery-2 award winning whiskeys, and other spirits like vodka, gin, bourbon, and now absinthe.

Valentine Distilling– Valentine has received multiple awards for their vodka, gin and whiskey.

* Rothman & Winter’s Crème de Violette is produced from careful maceration of Queen Charlotte and March Violets in “Weinbrand” (this distilled from grapes), with sugar cane added for sweetness. You may see Crème de Violette and Crème Yvette side by side on the liquor shelf, but they are not the same. Yes,  Crème Yvette is made with violets, but also has berries, cassis, honey, orange peel and vanilla and is much more red in color. It is great in other things, but you will not get the appropriate hue for an Aviation, and definitely not for a Blue Moon.


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Salmon Rolls


I had the greatest pleasure of eating my first hot lobster roll in Boston this past June. The experience was delightful and I reached a blissful state of nirvana with my mouth full of fresh lobster and hot butter dripping down my chin. I think the illustrious lobster roll could be one of the most satisfying meals one can eat. A few simple ingredients coming together to make something that angels sing about. Plump (and plentiful) chunks of lobster, a grilled or steamed top-split bun and of course an ungodly amount of hot drawn butter. I am now lost in happy food-memories…where was I? Oh yes, this blog entry. I must be honest and say these salmon rolls are very good, but don’t really reach the heavenly heights of that hot lobster roll. However, they are delicious in their own right and are similar to a traditional lobster roll (cooled lobster, mayo, celery etc.) and perfect for a picnic spread. I chose to use grilled salmon, and I’m glad I did, as the grilled flavor complemented in a big way. My one criticism, I felt there should be a little pop of something tangy or zesty to keep the salmon salad from being too one-note in flavor. (On the other hand, that can be a good thing about salmon, chicken, or tuna salad-sometimes simple is just fine). If you do want a piquant pop, add some chopped pepperoncini or diced red onion that has been pickled in lime juice for 15 minutes. Another idea is to top the salmon rolls with crushed potato chips.

adapted from: Food + Wine
serves: 4 (mega-stuffed like lobster rolls) or  8 (smaller, punier sandwiches)

1/2 cup plain, low-fat Greek yogurt
3 to 4 inner celery ribs with leaves, finely chopped
2 tablespoons chopped chives or green onions
2 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
salt & freshly ground black pepper
1 1/2 pounds salmon, flaked & cooled, about 4 loose cups (grilled salmon tastes great here, but roast salmon works too)
8 high quality hot dog buns or pretzel buns
melted butter for brushing


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