Hot Flavors for Cold Nights by Robin Nathan

Baby, it’s cold outside! When the cold, grey and dreary days make me long for sunshine and warmth — and a day trip to Florida is out of the question — I put the sunshine in my food.  The flavors of south India are just what my family needs to warm us up, and this quick and easy curry will do just that.

Even though this dish is full of exotic flavors, you’ll easily find everything you need to make it, on the shelves of any large grocery store.  And even better, you’ll be tucking into it in under 40 minutes. Prepare to heat up the night!

Red Lentil Coconut Curry with Rice and Fish
Serves 4
For the Rice
  1. 2 tablespoons Coconut oil
  2. 1 Cinnamon stick, broken in half
  3. 4 Green Cardamom pods, smashed
  4. ½ teaspoon Cumin seeds
  5. 1 cup long grain white rice
  6. 4 cup water
  7. Salt to taste
For the Curry
  1. 2 tablespoons Coconut oil
  2. 1 yellow onion, small dice
  3. 2” piece of ginger, minced
  4. 3 cloves garlic, minced
  5. 1 tablespoon Garam masala
  6. ¼ teaspoon Indian chile powder or cayenne (or to taste)
  7. ¾ cup red lentils
  8. 2 ½ cup water
  9. 14 ounce can crushed tomatoes
  10. 13.5 ounce coconut milk, divided
  11. Salt to taste
  12. 16 ounces cod, cut into 2” pieces
  13. Handful of fresh cilantro leaves, chopped
  14. Juice of one lime
  1. Make the rice: Heat the coconut oil in a saucepan, add the whole spices and cook, stirring occasionally until fragrant. Add the rice and coat. Pour in the water, season to taste with salt and bring to a quick simmer. Cover the pan, reduce the heat to low and cook undisturbed for 12-15 minutes, or until the rice has absorbed the liquid. Fish out the cinnamon pieces and fluff with a fork. Set aside.
  2. Meanwhile, make the curry: Heat the coconut oil in a large stock pot. When melted, add the onion and ginger and sauté until the onion is translucent, about 2 minutes. Add the garlic and dried spices and cook 30 seconds. Add the lentils and stir to coat. Pour in the water, tomatoes, and all but ¼ cup of the coconut milk and season to taste with salt. Bring mixture to boil, then reduce the heat and simmer gently until the lentils are barely tender, about 15 minutes. Add the fish to the pot, simmer 5 minutes longer, then cover the pot and remove it from the heat. Let stand undisturbed 10-15 minutes, or until the fish is just cooked through and the lentils are tender. Squeeze in the fresh lime and garnish with the cilantro.
  3. To serve, spoon portions of the rice into serving bowls. Top with ladles of the curry. Garnish with a swirl of the reserved coconut milk and more chopped fresh cilantro.
Marcel's Culinary Experience https://www.marcelsculinaryexperience.com/

Snow Day Ragu Stew by Brandy Fernow

 It’s January. It’s cold. It’s damp. It’s the time of year I start googling beach vacations and destinations in the sun. One thing that does bring warmth when I can’t get away on vacation is savoring a hearty winter stew. Stews can give us warmth on the coldest of days and are generally simple to make, a one-pot dish that can utilize leftover produce hanging around the fridge and can be left simmering on its own for hours.

A favorite in our house is “snow day stew”, a cross between a ragu and stew that I make on snow days off from school. I love coming into the house after hours of sledding and snow-fort building to the aroma of slow-simmered lamb, herbs and tomatoes. I use lamb which is packed with healthy vitamins and minerals, that is ground so it doesn’t have to “stew” for long. Ladled over buttery noodles, it may not warm me up like a sun-drenched sandy beach, but this warm ragu stew will get me through.

Rosemary Lamb Ragu Stew
Serves 4
  1. ½ pound bacon, cut in1/2 inch pieces
  2. 2 carrots, peeled and diced small
  3. 1 red bell pepper, diced small
  4. 4 shallots, thinly sliced
  5. 1 pound ground lamb
  6. 4 cloves garlic, minced
  7. 2 teaspoons fresh chopped oregano
  8. 2 teaspoons fresh minced rosemary
  9. ½ teaspoon red chile flake
  10. 1 teaspoon salt
  11. ¼ teaspoon fresh ground pepper
  12. ½ cup red wine
  13. 24 ounces chopped canned tomatoes
  14. 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  15. 2 cups chicken stock
  16. 1 bay leaf
  17. 1 pound egg noodles
  18. 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  1. Heat a large heavy dutch oven pot over medium heat. Add the bacon and cook until crisp. Remove with a slotted spoon to a paper-towel lined plate.
  2. Add the carrot, bell pepper and shallot; cook for about 5 minutes or until veggies are softened. Add the lamb, garlic, oregano, rosemary, chile flake and salt. Cook, stirring and breaking up the meat, until the lamb is cooked through.
  3. Pour in the wine and deglaze, scraping the bottom of the pan to loosen the brown bits and incorporate. Cook just until wine is evaporated.
  4. Add the tomatoes, tomato paste, chicken stock and bay leaf. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to low, cover and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the flavors have combined, at least 20 minutes, or up to two hours.
  5. Meanwhile, cook egg noodles in a large pot of salted water according to directions. Drain and toss with the 2 tablespoons of butter.
  6. Add noodles to a bowl and top with ragu stew. Garnish with fresh rosemary.
Marcel's Culinary Experience https://www.marcelsculinaryexperience.com/

A Toast To All by Kelly Sears

At this hectic holiday time of the year, we all tend to keep our heads down, focused on the task at hand and the next task on our list. Is the turkey thawed, the gravy silky, the mashed potatoes lump free, the linens pressed, and the table set? But, if you’ve taken a class with me before, or you know me well, you know my thought is, it’s not what’s on your table, it’s who’s around it that should keep our focus.

But what about those not around your table? How do we keep them present this holiday?

Perhaps the hole in your heart is fresh, maybe still aching, or now a brief tug, but the absence is present, the chair once filled, empty. We can choose to be sad or we can choose to celebrate, in some way, somehow, what they would have shared at the table.

For the nine that gather around our table this Thanksgiving, more than half that number that don’t.

Bud, Dan’s dad, creator of “Bud’s secret spice” seasons our bird. We still have a jar with his special label and handwriting. He preached the importance of great stock as the foundation to any great gravy; ours is silky smooth for this reason. The apple trees on the Northern Michigan property where he chose to retire, still bear fruits and fills our apple pies.

It’s Eileen’s (Dan’s mom) stuffing that fills the big bird’s cavity. We always laugh that ours doesn’t taste quite the same. We’re convinced her secret ingredient was the ash that fell from her cigarette while she chain smoked her prep! The kid’s split up her dishes so we would all have a few. Our table-setting is mismatched to include some of hers and some of Grandma Wilma’s.

Yep. Grandma Wilma, not the least bit warm and fuzzy, but she brought the shrimp each year, and we shared a slice of mincemeat pie since we were the only two that liked it. We keep the coffee hot since she wouldn’t have it any other way.

Aunt Helen didn’t make it often but when she did, we would always play cards after dinner. She taught us a game called hand and foot and we usually played while eating dessert. I laminated the rules she wrote out to make sure her instructions never faded away.  Aunt Helen was the most giving person I have ever known. When I shop for our meal, I shop for someone else’s too.

Barton, my mom’s husband, Warren’s brother, was an artist in New York. His art fills our walls. It’s edgy, thought provoking, and opinionated. It makes for great conversation.

Warren’s mom Marie, was a woman of modest means with a rich heart. She was a linen maker in her younger years. We try and keep the cranberry sauce from spilling and the gravy from dribbling on her work, but the stains just end up being covered with filled dishes instead. We fill our plates with her serving spoons and our pie with her servers.

And he hasn’t been seated at my table in over 35 years, but I mentally set a chair for him. My dad used to tilt his head back and laugh deep from his belly. Every time I set the table, I set it for people who gather around it to do the very same. My dad was a lover of bread. Rolls are never missing from the table.

Set the table for those who can come, toast those who can’t make it, honor those missing from yours by folding them into the day.

Happy Thanksgiving to all~

Here’s a little something to toast those, no matter how they are present.

Pomegranate Sparklers
  1. 1 ounce vodka
  2. 1 ounce house-made pomegranate grenadine (equal parts sugar to pomegranate juice)
  3. 1 ounce fresh orange juice
  4. Splash of lemon juice
  5. 4 ounces Prosecco
  6. Pomegranate arils and lemon zest for garnish
  1. In a mixing glass, add vodka, pomegranate grenadine, orange juice, and splash of lemon juice. Add ice and shake. Strain into a glass over ice and top with prosecco. Garnish with some fresh arils and lemon zest.
Marcel's Culinary Experience https://www.marcelsculinaryexperience.com/

The Beauty of the Scale by Rachel Cuzzone

The Beauty of the Scale – as told by the Chocolate Crinkle Cookie.

I have to say, I’m a little confused with all this back and forth weather.

But I have decided to take full advantage of the recent snow that we received (even though it was on Halloween!!) and go full on Christmas baking mode – with my favorite recipe for the holidays, Triple Chocolate Crinkle Cookies.

The snow and smells of holiday baking start to put my soul in a good place. For me, the holidays are all about the people and the food. It is all about gathering around the table with the people most important to you and always with a plate of cookies.

This cookie is one of my favorites due to the intense chocolate flavor, the additional option to add peppermint for the holidays, the chewy texture, and the super easy mixing process. If I’m really organized, I try to make a larger batch, and once I scoop them, keep a stash in the freezer for when I need a quick dessert for an event or late night pick me up.

You will notice below that the recipe is in grams. If you have ever baked with me before, you would have definitely noticed this as well. The way I defend this point is that it really allows you to begin the creative and flexible process of baking. When all of your ingredients are weighed in grams or ounces, the end recipe becomes that much more consistent and exact.  Then, once you start to develop the ease and consistency with weighing ingredients, you can begin to play with the quantities and types of ingredients. Look to slightly increase the fat content by adding a yolk to the recipe, or look for additional chewiness by switching out brown sugar for white sugar. I love to keep track of my process in recipe development through excel spreadsheets and percentages. It also comes in handy to help reduce dishes – no need for all the measuring cups and spoons!

Embrace the scale, take the chance on it! It will become your best friend with your baking! And help with all the upcoming holiday baking.

Note: Marcel’s sells cooking scales that are easy to read and use.

Triple Chocolate Crinkle Cookie
  1. 151 grams all purpose flour
  2. 4 grams baking powder
  3. 1 gram baking soda
  4. 3 grams kosher salt
  5. 63 grams cocoa powder
  6. 335 grams brown sugar
  7. 163 grams eggs, room temperature
  8. 5 grams vanilla extract
  9. 112 grams of dark chocolate (I like 91%)
  10. 51 grams unsalted butter, melted
  11. 50 grams dark chocolate, roughly chopped (I like 61%)
  12. 4 drops peppermint oil, optional
  13. Granulated sugar, as needed
  14. Powdered sugar, as needed
  1. Melt together the 112 grams of dark chocolate with the butter.
  2. Sift together the flour, baking powder and soda, cocoa powder, and salt. Set aside.
  3. Whisk together the brown sugar, vanilla, and eggs. Add the melted chocolate mixture into the egg mixture. Stir in the peppermint oil, if using. Stir in the flour mixture, mixing just to combine.
  4. Scoop dough into pieces about 1 ½ tablespoons in size (#40 scoop). Line up on a sheet pan and refrigerate overnight, or freeze for about 2 months. *If you decide to bake immediately, give your dough at least 1 hour to rest in the refrigerator.
  5. When ready to bake, preheat your oven to 325 F. Remove your chilled dough and roll in granulated sugar, followed by powdered sugar. Place onto parchment lined sheet pans, no more than 12 to one ½ sheet pan. Lightly press down. Bake about 12-15 minutes, until the edges are slightly firm.
  6. Store at room temperature for about 1 week, tightly wrapped or freeze baked cookies, up to 1 month.
Adapted from The Boy Who Bakes
Adapted from The Boy Who Bakes
Marcel's Culinary Experience https://www.marcelsculinaryexperience.com/

Culinary Fight Club by Kiley Fields

The first rule of Fight Club is: you do not talk about Fight Club…
…unless it’s a different kind of Fight Club…a Culinary Fight Club.

25 champions from 14 cities came together this past Sunday to compete in the 2019 Annual Culinary Fight Club Championship in Chicago.

Culinary Fight Club is a national organization that hosts live cooking competitions. Attendees watch while three teams race for 45 seconds to choose 15 ingredients from the ‘pantry’. Teams then have 60 minutes to create a dish that represents their take on the theme. Attendees and judges vote and choose a winning dish and a Culinary Fight Club champion is named. These 25 champions came out strong this past Sunday.

From home cooks to executive chefs, competitors highlighted different cultures, ingredients, and cooking techniques – all tempting the taste buds of ticket holders and judges. And let me tell you…it was delicious!

This was the first time I attended a Culinary Fight Club event and it will not be my last. As the season culminating event, this Fight Club took on a bit of a different format. The event started with the Culinary Fight Fest (CFF). The goal of the CFF was for attendees to taste all the bites the chefs had to offer in an effort to pick the top four favorites. For three hours my husband, myself and a few other friends, ate and drank our way through 25 different bite-size masterpieces while chefs described their dish, their cooking background, and what made their culinary heart tick. At the end of the three hours, the CFF concluded, tasting stopped, and ballots were cast. The four winning bites of the Culinary Fight Fest were announced, and these chefs advanced on to The Final Plate, the crowning competition of the night…

Best Bite Wins…
First Place: Kris Schoenberger (BBQ’d Productions Bar and Grill, Third Lake, IL) – Kansas City Wagyu Surf n’ Turf Slider
Second Place: Chris Allen (City Winery Restaurant, Nashville, TN) – Boston Scallop and Shrimp Aglio E Olio with Pancetta and Yukon Puree
Tied for Third/Fourth: Cory Hinton (Private Chef, Chattanooga, TN) – Romance of Eden, an elevated Shrimp Po’ Boy
Tied for Third/Fourth: Jamie Bisioulis (Private Chef, Glenview, IL) – Chicken Kiev Croquette with Candied Pork Belly

Pumped with a Best Bite win under their belt Kris, Chris, Cory and Jamie proceeded to the 45-minute quick fire challenge in the style of “Chopped” – creating one final dish for the judges to critique. It was an intense 45 minutes of concepting, creating, and plating while the audience watched and the clock ticked down. The buzzer rang and the cooking stopped.

All four chefs did a stellar job pulling together their dishes, but only one chef could prevail. The 2019 Culinary Fight Club Champion title was awarded to Kris Schoenberger. Chef Schoenberger was definitely a crowd favorite with his emotion (tears were shed), passion, and love for food and how it brings people together. This was his third year competing and advancing to The Final Plate Championship and his first win. He said “Three is my lucky number,” and I would say ‘Third time’s a charm’ definitely holds true for Kris.

To learn more about upcoming Culinary Fight Club events check them out here. You can also learn about the great way they are giving back by partnering with Fight2Feed, a non-profit organization with the mission to eliminate hunger in Chicago by utilizing leftovers from restaurants and food trucks.

In honor of the 2019 champion, Kris Schoenberger, here is my own spin on a Surf n’ Turf Slider.

Korean-Inspired Surf n' Turf Sliders with Daikon Carrot Pickle
Yields 8
  1. Daikon Carrot Pickle
  2. 5 ounces daikon, julienned or thinly sliced
  3. 5 ounces carrot, julienned or thinly sliced
  4. 1/2 cup rice wine vinegar
  5. 1/2 cup water
  6. 1/2 cup sugar, granulated
  7. 1 teaspoon salt
  8. Bulgogi Sauce
  9. 1/3 cup soy sauce
  10. 1 tablespoon gochujang (Korean red pepper paste)
  11. 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  12. 1/2 teaspoon ginger powder
  13. 2 teaspoon rice wine vinegar
  14. 3 tablespoon brown sugar
  15. 2 teaspoon sesame oil
  16. Sliders
  17. 1 pound ground chuck
  18. 3 ounces bacon, ground or finely chopped in food processor
  19. 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  20. 1 teaspoon salt
  21. 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  22. Lobster
  23. 8 ounces cooked lobster meat, chopped into 1/4-inch pieces
  24. 2 tablespoons mayonnaise
  25. 1/2 lemon, zested
  26. 2 teaspoon lemon juice, plus more tt
  27. 1 tablespoon finely chopped chives
  28. salt and pepper, to taste
  29. 8 slider buns, for assembly
  30. Mayonnaise, for assembly
  1. For pickle, add daikon and carrot to pint size mason jar or other heat proof container with tight fitting lid. Bring vinegar and water to simmer in small saucepan over medium heat. Add salt and sugar and simmer until both dissolve, stirring occasionally, about 3-4 minutes. Carefully pour hot pickling liquid into mason jar with daikon and carrot. You can discard any extra pickling liquid. Let sit, uncovered, until room temperature, about 1 hour. Cover and keep at room temperature if using within a few hours. If making in advance, seal container and store in refrigerator until ready to use. Pickles can hold in refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.
  2. To a small saucepan add all bulgogi sauce ingredients, except sesame oil. Bring to simmer over medium-high heat and whisk to combine ingredients. Reduce heat and continue cooking until sauce thickens slightly and coats the back of a spoon. Remove from heat and whisk in sesame oil. Set aside.
  3. For sliders, gently combine ground chuck, bacon, garlic powder, salt and pepper in large bowl. Form in to 8 equal sized sliders and place on a parchment lined baking sheet. Transfer baking sheet to refrigerator to allow sliders to re-chill, about 30 minutes, or up to 2 hours.
  4. While sliders are chilling combine lobster, mayonnaise, lemon zest, lemon juice, and chives in a small bowl. Season to taste with additional lemon juice, salt, and pepper. Refrigerate until ready to use.
  5. Preheat gas grill to medium-high heat or light a charcoal grill and let coals burn until hot and covered in white ash. You want to achieve a cooking temperature of approximately 400 degrees.
  6. When grill is preheated, place sliders directly on grill grates and let cook about 3 minutes on the first side until nice grill marks appear. Flip burgers and brush bulgogi sauce on top of burger. Continue cooking on second side, about 3 more minutes. Flip and brush sauce on second side. Remove sliders from grill and toast buns for just a minute or two. Assemble sliders – spread bottom of buns with mayonnaise, top with slider patty and brush with additional bulgogi sauce. Divide lobster mixture evenly between sliders. Finish with a fork full of daikon carrot pickle. Close sliders and serve immediately.
Marcel's Culinary Experience https://www.marcelsculinaryexperience.com/

You Say Tomato by Paul Lindemuth

When I was a kid growing up in northern Wisconsin, every spring I watched my parents carefully planting our vegetable garden with even rows of seeds going into the freshly tilled soil. It was great to see the plants pop to life and mature. We always had an assortment of vegetables…string beans, peppers, lettuce.  But my mother’s pride were her tomatoes.  I still remember how we watched with anticipation as they grew larger and turned bright red.  I also remember heading to the garden to pick one, rinse it quickly under the outdoor faucet and eat it out of hand, still warm from the sun…succulent, sweet and juicy.

That brief window from early August to early September gives a bounty of tomatoes, and no other tomato comes close to those fresh from the garden or farmer’s market.  Once the season is over they are a fond memory.

This is the perfect time to enjoy a simply prepared and fresh Caprese Salad.  The best ingredients to adorn those beautiful tomatoes include fresh basil and basil pesto, fresh mozzarella, the best quality olive oil, a drizzle of balsamic and a flourish of flaky Maldon sea salt.

The Best Caprese Salad
  1. 3 to 4 medium heirloom tomatoes, sliced
  2. 1 eight-ounce ball fresh mozzarella, sliced
  3. Fresh basil leaves
  4. Extra-virgin olive oil, for drizzling
  5. Flaky sea salt
  6. Freshly ground black pepper
  7. Balsamic vinegar to drizzling
  8. Dollops of basil pesto
  1. Arrange the tomatoes, mozzarella, and basil leaves on a platter. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with Maldon salt and freshly ground black pepper. Drizzle a little balsamic vinegar over the top. Top with dollops of basil pesto. Serve right away.
Marcel's Culinary Experience https://www.marcelsculinaryexperience.com/

Eat A Peach by Robin Nathan

It is peach season, indeed.  Everywhere you look, peaches and stone fruits are spilling from bins and stacked shoulder high in crates.  Nectarines, plums, pluots, plumcots – juicy, ripe and swoon-worthy.  Unless, of course, they’re not.  There’s nothing worse than choosing a fragrant peach and biting in to discover mealy mushy yuck.  How is a girl (or guy) to know which peach is good and which needs to be composted??

Don’t go for size, unless the fruit has been tree-ripened.  Often, especially at major grocery markets, the larger fruits get mealy before they have time to fully ripen. Check the weight. The heavier a fruit is for its size, the more juice it contains.  A large fruit that seems surprisingly light is past its prime. Lastly, breathe deeply.  A fruit that smells like nothing will taste like nothing.

It’s a crazy position for a chef, I know, but when fruit is perfect, I’d rather eat it as-is than cook it.  Slice up perfectly ripened peaches, nectarines, and plums, pit and slice a few cherries and toss them on top of bitter greens like arugula or radicchio.  Crumble over some fabulous Marché Bleu d’ Auvergne or Feta cheese, add some warm sliced grilled steak or chicken and call it dinner!

If you have an over-abundance of lovely peaches or nectarines, try this wonderful, French style peach cake that bakes with its own sugar crust.  It’s lovely for breakfast or brunch, or topped with ice cream for dessert.  Now, go eat a peach!

French Country Peach Cake with Chantilly “Sour” Cream
Serves 8
  1. 2 cups all purpose flour
  2. 2 teaspoons baking powder
  3. ½ teaspoon salt
  4. 1 cup unsalted butter in pieces at room temperature
  5. 1 1/3 cup + 4 tablespoons granulated sugar
  6. 4 eggs
  7. 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  8. 3 tablespoons peach liqueur
  9. 2-3 firm-ripe peaches or nectarines, peeled and diced
  1. 1 cup heavy cream
  2. 2 tablespoons confectioner’s sugar
  3. ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
  4. ¼ cup full fat sour cream
  1. Prepare a 9” springform pan: Spray the pan with baking spray, place a sheet of parchment on the bottom and spray the sheet.
  2. In a small bowl, whisk the flour, baking powder and salt together. Set aside.
  3. Using a hand-held mixer or a stand mixer with paddle attachment, cream the butter and cup of sugar until soft and creamy. Beat in the eggs, one at a time until incorporated, then the vanilla and brandy. Beat a little longer on low speed to incorporate, but the mixture will look grainy. That’s fine. Add the dry mixture and blend to combine.
  4. Scrape a third of the batter into the springform pan. Arrange a single layer of fruit wedges on top of the batter and sprinkle with half of the remaining sugar. Scrape the remaining batter on top of the peaches, spreading as needed to completely cover the fruit. Sprinkle the last 2 tablespoons of sugar evenly on top of the cake.
  5. Place into preheated 350 degree oven and bake 45-55 minutes until golden and a pick inserted into the center comes out clean.
  6. Let cool and remove the springform sides and bottom. Serve with the Chantilly cream.
  1. Beat the cream and confectioner’s sugar on low speed with a hand held mixer to blend, then increase speed to high. Just after soft peaks form, add the sour cream and continue to beat until firmer peaks begin to form. Do not over-beat! Refrigerate for up to 3 hours, or use right away.
  1. “Chantilly” refers to heavy cream whipped with sugar and vanilla. The addition of sour cream adds refreshing tartness and has the additional benefit of stabilizing the cream.
Marcel's Culinary Experience https://www.marcelsculinaryexperience.com/

Summer Sauce Sensation: Spanish Romesco by Brandy Fernow

I love when that last bell of school rings and summer rushes into our house. We quickly go from school, sports and meetings, to pool and beach time, hiking and exploring nature, and of course cook-outs and backyard parties. 
Spending the entire day outdoors and lingering into the night is a happy summer routine for my family. What it doesn’t leave is a lot of time in the kitchen prepping long meals. My solution is keeping it simple and fresh, and leaning on items I can re-configure throughout the week. My summer go-to sauce is a Spanish-style Romesco. 
Romesco is a rich sauce made with charred peppers, pureed and thickened with nuts. I add chipotle pepper with a bit of adobo sauce for warm heat, as well as lemon juice and parsley for brightness and balance. It is a gorgeous hue that not only tastes fantastic but looks amazing on just about anything. 
I always make at least a double batch (it freezes beautifully), and most often enjoy it on a simply seasoned white fish. However it is also great drizzled over shrimp, chicken, pork or a roasted cauliflower steak. Later in the week I will toss it into cooked pasta or roasted potatoes. With my kids on the go, it will be packed into a snack with pita chips and veggies for dipping. Those summer nights when the neighbors all end up in our driveway or backyard, I will pull it out with sliced baguette to share with a great summer wine. If you try it, you will find even more fabulous ways to work it into your go-to summer repertoire.
We can all take a nod from the Spanish on not only this great sauce, but also around enjoying great food and friends as an art. I hope we all find ourselves doing the same all summer long.
Chipotle Romesco Sauce
  1. 2 red bell peppers
  2. 1/2 cup blanched hazelnuts
  3. 1 chipotle in adobo, seeds removed
  4. 1 teaspoon adobo sauce
  5. 2 cloves garlic, peeled
  6. ¼ cup fresh Italian parsley, leaves only
  7. Zest of a lemon
  8. Juice of ½ a lemon
  9. 1-2 teaspoons kosher salt
  1. Roast the bell peppers over a gas burner (or broil) until skins have blackened and blistered. Remove and place in a bowl. Cover with plastic film and let steam for 10 minutes. When cool enough to handle, scrape off skin. Discard the seeds and stems.
  2. In a dry sauté pan, toast the hazelnuts for a few minutes, until fragrant and starting to brown. Remove and let cool.
  3. In a food processor, add the peppers, nuts, chipotle, adobo sauce and garlic. Pulse to combine. Add the parsley, lemon zest, juice and salt and process until smooth. Serve over just about anything!
Marcel's Culinary Experience https://www.marcelsculinaryexperience.com/

A Spice Shop in Nazareth by Lynn Dugan

A few months ago, I experienced great culinary inspiration in a teeny tiny shop in Nazareth, Israel. I was beckoned by the enticing scent of spices before I even recognized the shop’s entrance. Following the scent, I found a small wooden door with stone steps leading me to the shop below street level. Once inside, the inspiration began. Big sacks of spices covered the entrance. Large bins of spices were displayed side by side on tables throughout the remaining square footage. Some spices were names found in my own kitchen: varieties of cumin, paprika, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Others were less familiar to me…sumac, saffron, and spice blends like za’tar and Baharat. There were many I had never cooked with like amber, whole cardamon pods, and turmeric. I also discovered enticing teas, a large variety of salts from regions in the Middle East and Mediterranean, and an overwhelming variety of peppercorns too.

I came home with almost all of the spices listed above, and I began trying to cook with my new spices even before unpacking from my 10-day trip. In less than an hour of walking through my front door, I had fragrant saffron rice steaming on my stove while I also enjoyed a new cup of herbal tea. A day later, I had recreated a salad recipe that I had tasted on the trip. Since then, I have had fun in my kitchen creating the flavors of the Holy land: Beef and Lamb Meatballs in Tahini Sauce featuring cumin, lentil and rice with turmeric, Bethlehem hummus (not yet mastered) garnished with sumac, persimmon and fennel salad with black Mediterranean sea salt, and Shakshuka with cumin and paprika. I hope to bring these flavors to a Marcel’s class later this year entitled “Taste of the Holy Land”. Look for it on the 4th quarter calendar! In the meantime, I do have some of these recipes already posted on my website. Please check it out!

Today I am sharing one of my new favorites: Roasted Eggplant and Tomato Dip. I serve it with lightly toasted pita bread cut into triangles for easy dipping. Enjoy!

Roasted Eggplant Dip
  1. 2 eggplants
  2. 6 cloves garlic
  3. 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  4. 2 tablespoons olive oil
  5. 5 medium tomatoes
  6. 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  7. ½ teaspoon sumac
  8. pinch of ground cayenne
  9. 2 tablespoons chopped parsley
  10. 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  1. Preheat broiler with oven rack 6 inches below heating element. Line a rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil and lightly grease with cooking spray. Cut eggplants in half lengthwise and place cut side down on baking sheet. Broil for 20 minutes, until blackened and collapsed. Remove from oven and allow to rest until cool enough to handle. Scoop flesh from eggplants. Place in a colander to drain. Discard skin and any large pockets of seeds. Squeeze out extra juices and chop eggplant.
  2. Meanwhile, in a medium saucepan with boiling water, blanch tomatoes for 2 to 3 minutes. Remove from water with a slotted spoon and allow to rest until cool enough to handle. Skin should peel easily from tomato. Slice peeled tomato in half and remove seed pockets. Chop remaining tomato flesh.
  3. In a large saucepan, heat olive oil until shimmering. Add tomatoes, garlic, cumin, sumac, salt and cayenne. Cook for about 20 minutes until tomatoes have created a sauce and most of the moisture has evaporated. Add eggplant. Using the back of a spoon, crush any large lumps. Stir in cilantro and cook for 10-15 minutes, stirring often, until a moist thick mixture has formed. Fold in lemon juice (and a little extra olive oil, if desired, for consistency). Season with salt, to taste, as needed. Serve at room temperature with toasted pita bread. Enjoy!
  1. This dip can be stored in the refrigerator in a covered container for 2-3 days.
Marcel's Culinary Experience https://www.marcelsculinaryexperience.com/

In Between by Kelly Sears

I was in search of a recipe the other day: something seasonal, fresh, inspirational. A struggle! We may have sprung forward on the clock, but in the market, we are in limbo. It’s the time of year when you can’t bear to roast another squash, and we wait for the soil to make way for the sprouts pushing their shoots up from below.

It’s the time of year when you’re not sure which coat to wear; has wool’s time passed? Can I take the snow brush out of my car? Is it too early to trade out the snow blower for the lawn mower? On Monday it’s 33 degrees and sleeting, by Wednesday, it’s 60 and sunny, and by Friday it’s gloomy and 38 again. Ah the Midwest!

The seasonal changes come at us in runners’ distances. Fall is a short 5K into winter and winter is a long grueling, 13.1-week half-marathon. Spring jogs a nice paced 10k into summer and summer is a wind sprint until the whole race starts all over again. We clutch the seasons and the farm bounty they yield.

As summer nears to a close, we spend weekends in the hot sun picking berries for freezing; we simmer peaches gently into jam. We pickle, we preserve, we eat too many tomatoes, all in hopes of hanging on to summer. By fall, we start snatching apples off the orchard’s trees; we harvest fall squash in too many varieties to count. We wear socks again.

By winter, we bundle up. It takes longer to get ready to go outside than the time we are actually outside, we roast brussels sprouts by the dozens, and include pumpkin in everything from coffee to desserts. We long braise pot roasts and Dutch oven day-long stews.

By mid to late March, the daylight is longer, the sun a little bit warmer. Stalks of tender asparagus, early spring peas, the sweet juice of the first strawberries, and the tart in red rhubarb are on our minds, not yet our plates. It’s funny that this time of year is Spring Break. We don’t need a break from spring, we need a break from winter as we long for spring!

There is one bright spot in winter, citrus. Mother Nature’s reward to dark and gloomy are the sunny globes of sweetness. Spicy, red-fleshed blood oranges, “eating orange” navels, ruby-red Cara Cara, best juice making Valencia, and the lemon and tangerine hybrid, Meyer Lemons are all seasonal during the coldest months of the year.

We think nothing of saving other seasons as they rush to their finale; blueberry jam, garden-fresh sauce, applesauce, pureed squash, why not save a bit of sunshine so rare to winter. Orange marmalade is bright, fresh and almost sunny when sitting on a shelf or in the refrigerator.

The most classic of all marmalades is made from bitter Seville oranges, a bit harder to come by than other varieties. I prefer to make mine with a mix of orange varieties and toss a couple of lemons in for good pucker.

What to do with this delightful batch of marmalade? Winter’s jam is more than just a slather on toast. Paired with golden honey, dried fruits, mustards, charcuterie and tangy blue, marmalade finishes a cheese board with the perfect combination of sweet, salty, bitter, and sour. A feast for the senses!

Jazz up your yogurt, swirl into oatmeal, bake it with brie. Add a splash to your pan sauce for chicken, add a spoonful to vinaigrette. Top your pancakes or waffles, stuff French toast. Melt it into a glaze for your Easter ham, spread a thin layer in a crepe, or dollop a spoonful on panna cotta.

Personally, I love marmalade on a grilled cheese. Buttery sourdough grilled just enough to crisp the exterior, melt the cheese, and warm the spread yielding the perfect ooze when pulled apart or sliced in half.

As we take our break from winter and anticipate spring, capture orange goodness. This recipe yields enough for you to enjoy and enough share. Spread a jar of sunshine.

You can marmalade quickly, and just as tasty in the pressure cooker or instant pot. Here are recipes for both cooking methods: