Recipe Review: Meze Platter with Hummus, Cucumber Salad, Roasted Red Peppers, Artichokes, and Olives


This is a collection of several easy recipes from Bon Appetit magazine, from which you can pick and choose to create a platter of Mediterranean appetizers.  There is home-made hummus made from blending chickpeas, lemon juice, olive oil, garlic, and spices.  The cumin and paprika are a nice addition, and the raw garlic gives the hummus some bite.  There is a simple cucumber salad with sliced cucumbers, non-fat Greek yogurt, feta, and oregano.  I roasted some red peppers and also served store-bought marinated artichoke hearts, olives, and toasted pita bread.  There is a shrimp salad recipe too, but I skipped this since I was serving shrimp as a main course.

Link to recipes here.

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Recipe Review: Black Beans and Rice with Chicken and Apple Salsa


A healthy and easy recipe with Mexican flavors from Bon Appetit January 2012 using easy to find supermarket ingredients, including canned black beans and rotisserie chicken.  The black beans are cooked with onion, green peppers, garlic, chili powder, coriander, cumin, and chicken broth.  The beans took about twenty minutes to thicken instead of the 8-10 minutes suggested in the recipe.  The green apple salsa made with red onion, lime juice, and cilantro is a cool and refreshing contrast to the hearty beans and rice.

Link to recipe here.

Recipe Review: Hanger Steak with Mushrooms and Red Wine Sauce


Hanger steak, also called skirt steak, is a tender, flavorful cut that can be a little hard to find but is worth seeking out at a store with a good meat counter.  This recipe from the October 2011 Bon Appetit starts with sauteed mushrooms, then the steak is sauteed with butter, oil, rosemary, and garlic.  Then a pan sauce is made with red wine, chicken stock, butter, and tarragon.  If tarragon can’t be found, thyme would be a good substitution.  Easy, good recipe.

Link to recipe here.

Recipe Review: Ginger-Yogurt Mousse with Pistachio Meringue and Orange-Blossom-Honey Madeleines


Ginger-Yogurt Mousse with Pistachio Meringue and Orange-Blossom-Honey Madeleines.  A really good dessert from Bon Appetit October 2011.  Vanilla-ginger syrup is made by steeping ginger and vanilla in a simple sugar-water syrup.  This is folded into whipped cream and yogurt to make a very light mousse that works really well with the crunchy, sticky pistachio meringue.  Orange-honey madeleines are an extra indulgence.  I didn’t buy the $20 madeleine molds and instead baked them on parchment paper on a baking sheet.

Link to recipe here, and link to madeleines recipe here.

Recipe Review: Scallops and Mushrooms with Soy-Ginger Butter


From Rendezvous Bistro in Jackson Hole, WY chef Roger Freedman and Bon Appetit October 2011, Scallops and Oyster Mushrooms with Soy-Ginger Butter.  I used a mix of crimini and shiitake mushrooms instead of oyster mushrooms to save a little bit of $.  Not really Asian, or American, but good product and flavor make a good dish.  Two sub-recipes are a soy-lime-wasabi vinaigrette and the soy-ginger butter sauce.  Once those are made, the final preparation is an easy saute of mushrooms and spinach, and a quick sear of the scallops.

Recipe Review: Chicken a la Diable, Vegetable Tian, Banana Tartes Tatin


Three easy recipes from Bon Appetit’s October 2011 Fast, Easy, Fresh feature make a nice, simple meal.  Chicken a la Diable: chicken breast is dredged in flour, then egg+dijon mustard+cayenne pepper, then bread crumbs.  Fry one side to golden crispy-brown, then finish in the oven.  Vegetable Tian: sliced sweet potatoes, eggplant, zucchini are tossed in a sauce of butter, anchovies, garlic, and nutmeg.  Sounds strange, but it worked.  Roast in the oven, and then top with parmesan cheese.  The sweet potatoes took a bit longer to roast then the 20 minutes suggested, more like 40 minutes.  Banana Tartes Tatin: butter a baking dish, toss with brown sugar, line with banana slices, top with puff pastry, bake, invert onto a plate and top with vanilla ice cream.  Simple and delicious caramelization of the brown sugar and bananas.  All three dishes can be done in the oven more or less simultaneously, making preparation pretty efficient.  Easy weeknight dining!

Recipe Review: Skillet-Roasted Chicken with Farro and Herb Pistou


This is a complicated recipe from Husk restaurant in Charleston, SC and published in Bon Appetit that makes an impressive dish with lots of great flavor.  There are several sub-components that requires some advance planning, including a chicken marinade, roast acorn squash, blanching kale and herbs, farro, and herb pistou.  The chicken marinates overnight, and the recipe recommends pre-poaching the chicken, browning in a skillet, and finishing in the oven.  Instead, I skipped the poaching, browned individual pieces skin-side down in an ovenproof Dutch oven, turned the pieces over, then finished the chicken in a 400 degree oven for about 15-20 minutes, in a method I learned from Bobby Flay in his Mesa Grill cookbook.  The farro is straightforward but takes a long time and attention, because it is prepared like a risotto with a little bit of vegetable stock added every few minutes.  The herb pistou is pretty easy to make, but it calls for parsley, tarragon, and chervil.  The tarragon is a little hard to find, and chervil I could not find anywhere (farmer’s market, Trader Joe’s, specialty grocery stores).  Despite all the hurdles, I think the dish is definitely worth doing.

Recipe Review: Thai Ginger Chicken Salad


This recipe from Bon Appetit September 2011 is a simple salad with chicken, rice noodles, and fresh herbs in a Thai dressing.  Lots of strong flavors with the dressing of fish sauce and lime juice.  I thought the 1:1 ratio of fish sauce to lime juice was a little too much fish sauce.  Could probably cut back the fish sauce and substitute water to keep the volume the same.  Overall, not bad.  Does not keep overnight, because the rice noodles dry out easily and herbs will wilt.

Recipe Review: Fricassee of Chanterelles with Pappardelle


Golden chanterelle mushrooms have a rich flavor and nice texture.  This recipe from Bon Appetit September 2011 describes a sautee of  chanterelles with garlic, sweet onions and rich cream cut by the acidity of lemon juice.  The chanterelles and sauce works nicely with the pappardelle, and the recipe also suggests boiled potatoes as an alternative starch.  Serve with sauteed spinach or other green vegetable.  Pretty easy to do vegetarian main dish on a weeknight with lots of flavor.  It does have a lot of butter and cream though.

Recipe Review: Lavash Pizzas with Arugula and Eggplant


This is a light, simple summer recipe, from Bon Appetit September 2011.  Eggplant is salted and roasted.  Whole wheat lavash, Middle Eastern flatbread available at Trader Joe’s, is used as a crust for the eggplant, cherry tomatoes, scallions, mozarella, and parmesan.  Red pepper flakes give it a little spice.  After the pizza is baked (5 minutes) arugula dressed simply in olive oil and lemon juice tops the pizza, lending bright and peppery notes.

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