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Basic Bread Salad

Looking for a quick dinner and a good way to use up any slightly stale bread you have? The magic word is “Panzanella” – also known as bread salad. You can go basic on this and leave out the scallions and herbs if you don’t have those around. If you don’t have fresh tomatoes, try a bit of tomato sauce. Or leave it out entirely, and use a bit more olive oil.

I used about a quarter of a baguette-type bread loaf (it was a bit larger and softer than the classic French baguette), sliced. Continue reading

Curry for Cold Nights

Icy winter nights, the kind you get when the day’s temperature barely goes above 19F (-7C) – if that, and never mind the wind chill – and you’ve spent hours shoveling snow or navigating ice-slick streets, well, those kind of cold nights call for something to warm you up from the inside out. And no, bourbon isn’t always the answer. Try a curry instead. It’s flexible comfort and warmth in a pan.

You can really pull a curry together from almost any vegetables and proteins you have in your kitchen, and with just a few basic spices on hand, you control the level of heat too. Add more jalapeno if you like things spicier, or overindulge on the garam masala if you love the slow build of heat in the back of your throat (that’s how it gets me, anyway). Along with some curry paste or powder, keep a can of coconut milk in your cupboard to help make a rich, complex dish that can nourish the winter-weary body and soul.

Anyway, here’s my most recent curry variation:  Continue reading

Comfort Food: Mid-Winter Edition

When the winter winds howl and you need at least three layers just to keep from shivering, and even your warmest boots aren’t keeping out the snow, you may find yourself craving a certain cozy comfort. But the recent holiday season with its sweets and rich, creamy dishes may have left you feeling over stuffed and needing a break from your favorite cheesy casseroles and mac and cheese variations.Well, there’s an alternative that offers winter satisfaction.

I don’t know what it is exactly, but I find this dish, which does not look exciting and involves no cheese at all, carries a very special kind of comfort and satisfaction. Like a favorite bathrobe you can snuggle into so you feel warm and homey.

What am I talking about? Rice and lentils. Continue reading

Cold Weather Basics: Cabbage

When it’s cold – polar vortex cold – we tend to crave comfort and warmth. Well I do anyway. And in the cold season, when fresh produce is severely limited, cabbage comes into its own. Cabbage, often disdained in summer months, is the cold weather salvation. So say I.

Behold: Green cabbage with onion and breadcrumbs.

I make this dish differently every time I make it, and can’t quite reconstruct anymore how exactly I made it last time. But when it works out the way it should, it is a supreme cold-weather comfort dish. Sweet and savory, filling, and reminiscent of childhood comforts like a the embrace of your favorite warm blanket. Continue reading