Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Shrimp in Chipotle Sauce

Shrimp in Chipotle Sauce with cilantro garnish in ramekin, overhead view on black

Spicy tomato zips up this traditional Mexican dish

When Americans think of Mexican food, we picture tacos, enchiladas, and refried beans. But seafood? Not so much.

Which is odd, because Mexico has a long coastline with some extremely productive fishing grounds. Mexicans eat lots of seafood, and many famous seafood dishes are well known throughout the country. It’s just that many of us gringos aren’t familiar with them.

With Cinco de Mayo on the horizon, you may be planning a festive menu. So how about a traditional shrimp dish from Veracruz? It has all the zesty flavor you expect from Mexican food, but it’s lighter and healthier than many of the dishes you may know.

Sounds like a winner. Olé!

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Homemade Deviled Ham

Homemade Deviled Ham on cracker with sriracha and chive garnish, overhead view on black

Leftover ham gets a spicy re-do for sandwiches and canapés

Got a big ol’ ham left over from Easter? Wondering what to do with it? Meet deviled ham—your new best friend.

It’s basically spicy ham salad (often with mustard-forward flavor) that’s been ground to a paste in the food processor. It makes a great spread for sandwiches, crackers, or whatever.

Deviled ham is an old-fashioned treat that many of us have forgotten. Too bad, because it has great flavor. Plus, it takes just minutes to make, so it’s easy for you.  And once people taste it, their smiles (and praise!) will come easily too.


Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Celery Root (Celeriac) and Potato Gratin

Celery Root and Potato Gratin on plate, with baking dish in background

Scalloped potatoes with ‘tude

Easter arrives in a few days, so menu planning is ramping up. Having a big roast? Or maybe baked ham or a leg of lamb? If you’re serving any of the above, you’ll probably want a rich, starchy side dish to go with it.

Scalloped potatoes are a popular choice, of course—and this dish takes them as a starting point. But then we add celery root (celeriac) to dial the flavor up a notch. We also add some sharp Gruyère and Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, and just a touch of zippy Dijon mustard.

The result is irresistibly good. But fair warning: If you’re feeding a holiday crowd, you may want to double this recipe. Otherwise, the serving dish might not make it all the way around the table.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Lentil, Rice, and Pea Salad

Lentil, Rice, and Pea Salad with lemon slice garnish in ramekin, overhead view on black

This healthy change-of-season dish makes a great main or side

As the weather makes its leisurely turn from chilly to warm across much of the US, our appetites are beginning to change too. We may still crave some hearty dishes, but we’re looking to lighten things up a bit.

This Lentil, Rice, and Pea Salad is perfect for the seasonal transition. Lentils and rice give comfort during the cool days that still linger on, while peas add color and a touch of spring.

This dish delivers as a meatless main course, but it also makes a tasty side. It’s vegan and gluten-free, too, so you can serve it wherever. Best of all, it’s equally good warm or chilled.

So what are you waiting for? No matter what the weather is like in your part of the world, you can make a dish that promises sunny days ahead.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

The Twentieth Century Cocktail

Twentieth Century Cocktail with lemon twist garnish

Named after the “world’s greatest train”

Back in the day, rail was the only way to go if you were traveling any distance at all. Trains were fast, reliable, and comfortable. From 1902 to 1967, one of the fanciest was the 20th Century Limited, which offered service between New York City’s Grand Central Terminal and Chicago’s LaSalle Street Station.

The 20th Century Limited aimed to attract high-income travelers. Women received flowers and perfume when boarding the train, while men got carnations. Passengers boarded and detrained on a crimson carpet that was rolled out for their exclusive use (that’s how the phrase “red carpet treatment” entered our vernacular).

At its height, the train offered an onboard library, a barbershop, secretarial services, and a superbly equipped dining car (roast prime rib, anyone?). It oozed sophistication and luxury. So it’s not surprising that in 1937, when British bartender C. A. Tuck invented a particularly complex and richly flavored cocktail, he named it after this celebrated symbol of excellence.

The 20th Century Limited made its last run long ago. But the Twentieth Century Cocktail is still picking up steam. So hop aboard for a sip of the high life.