Thursday, December 18, 2014
     

Food

Wednesday, September 3, 2014
This July 21, 2014 photo shows tangy tomato-eggplant crostini in Concord, N.H. Salting and draining the eggplants and tomatoes removes excess water, which not only makes for a meatier texture, it also concentrates the flavors. (AP Photo/Matthew Mead)

Want to get the most out of your late summer tomatoes and eggplants? Try the simple two-step prep we use for these easy crostini.

We start by salting and draining the eggplants and tomatoes.

This removes excess water, which not only makes for a meatier texture, it also concentrates the flavors.

After the draining, the vegetables are roasted, which caramelizes their natural sugars, further deepening the flavors. The result is incredibly rich and naturally sweet.

The whole thing gets tied together with a sweet-tangy balsamic glaze and bit of salty Parmesan.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014
This July 21, 2014 photo shows grilled chicken paillard with peach and arugula salad in Concord, N.H. Chicken paillard serves as an alternative summer dish that is light, refreshing and substantial. (AP Photo/Matthew Mead)

Labor Day, summer's last hurrah, is a feast day. And mostly Tell the truth! we tend to overdo it. Ribs, steaks, burgers and hot dogs? Check, check, check and check!

Vegetables and other light fare? Not so much. The standard routine amounts to the summer version of Thanksgiving, except that after the meal everyone collapses onto the lawn rather than a couch.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

The 27th annual Times News Cookbook and Recipe Contest is underway!

This year, after serious consideration, we decided to move the annual contest to the fall in order to focus on the fun and food that surround the holidays and take advantage of the great recipes our local cooks stir up over this festive season.

Recipes will be accepted until 11:59 p.m. Oct. 5 and the cookbook will be included in the Nov. 6 issue of the Times News.

Every entrant will receive a special gift. The winners in each category will win some terrific prizes, as will the grand prize winner.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014
This June 30, 2014 photo shows spicy sweet tomato jam grilled cheese in Concord, N.H. (AP Photo/Matthew Mead)

Slice 'em and salt 'em.

That's really all a seasonally delicious tomato needs. Though if you really want to gussy it up, you could add a bit of pepper, a splash of olive oil, maybe a sprinkle of balsamic vinegar.

Just enough of each to highlight the sweetly acidic flavor of the juicy tomato flesh.

Still, summer tends to bring an abundance of tomatoes, and after a while we find ourselves hankering for something with a little more oomph. And a salad just isn't cutting it.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014
This June 30, 2014 photo shows cheesy zucchini salsa in Concord, N.H. (AP Photo/Matthew Mead)

Zucchini bread is fine and all, but when you're staring down a mountain of summer abundance, how much of it can you really eat?

Convinced we could find more – and more creative – ways to use up a bounty of zucchini, we decided to explore out-of-the-box ideas for summer's most notorious love-hate vegetable. The result? Some delicious ideas that will have you if not embracing then at least better tolerating your zucchini.

10 Fresh ways with zucchini

Wednesday, July 30, 2014
AP Photo/Matthew Mead Grilled Jerk Chicken Breast with Watermelon Salsa. Jerk refers both to a unique blend of seasonings and to a method of slow cooking.

It's barbecue season, and chicken is the ideal candidate to get you grilling.

Why? Chicken is light, it easily picks up the marinade of your choice, and it cooks quickly. But this recipe is not for your everyday grilled chicken. This is spicy Jamaican-style jerk chicken.

"Jerk" refers both to a unique blend of seasonings and to a method of slow cooking. It is said to have been invented by Jamaica's Maroons, slaves who escaped from Spanish-owned plantations when the British took over and established free communities in Jamaica's mountainous interior.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014
This June 9, 2014 photo shows Mackays dundee orange marmalade, left, and Crofter's superfruit spread, right, in Concord, N.H. Jams and jellies are good for adding oomph to everything, including sweet-and-sour chicken (apricot jam), barbecue pork ribs (seedless raspberry), beef marinades (orange marmalade), ham glazes (blackberry or cherry), sweet-and-savory dips for vegetables and crackers (red pepper jelly), even sandwich spreads. (AP Photo/Matthew Mead)

It was probably 15 years ago that I discovered the magic that is a nearly empty jar of jam.

Until then, I'd always hated those sticky knuckle moments of scraping the slimy dregs of the jar, hoping I had enough to add that sweet balance so needed by the otherwise leaden smear of peanut butter on my bread.

Then an Italian cook who was supposed to be teaching me pasta making got sidetracked. She wanted a salad to go with our orecchiette, and she wanted to make her own vinaigrette.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014
This June 9, 2014 photo shows kung pao pork with peanuts and scallions in Concord, N.H. (AP Photo/Matthew Mead)

Let's just get something out of the way right at the top. This is not an authentic kung pao recipe. If you are looking for an authentic kung pao recipe, just move along.

If, however, you are looking for a crazy delicious weeknight-friendly recipe for stir-fried pork that tastes very much like really good kung pao. ... And if you are looking for a quick and easy dinner your kids will love. ... And if you really like recipes you can toss in to marinate in the morning and have on the table within 20 minutes of getting home. ... This is the kung pao you were looking for.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014
This May 5, 2014 photo shows Memphis-style baby back ribs in Concord, N.H. Back ribs usually are sold in either full slabs (13 ribs) or half slabs (7 ribs), and are the most expensive cut of rib. When they come from a pig that was less than a year old, they are referred to as ‡¨baby‡Æ back ribs. (AP Photo/Matthew Mead)

It was one of those culinary epiphanies. I realized you rarely get great barbecued ribs from a restaurant. They have to come from backyards.

My rib-awakening came during the world's largest barbecue contest, Memphis in May. All it took was that first bite of a grill-smoked rib for me to recognize the real deal. There is nothing like homemade ribs.

And here is the dirty little secret: They don't take nearly as long as the competition guys would like you to think they do. And they are much simpler to prepare than legend has it.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014
AP Photo/Matthew Mead Grilled tomatillo and mango salsa over blue cheese meatloaf  burgers. This summer grilling recipe combines meat, vegetables and fruit.

We all know fire works wonders on meat and vegetables. But we often forget that it also can do amazing things for fruit.

To prove the point, we decided to come up with a summer grilling recipe that puts the heat to all of the above meat, vegetables and fruit.

We start by making a grilled salsa built around tomatillos, mangos, red onion and Peppadew peppers.

Then we created a blue cheese-blended patty that is equal parts burger and meatloaf, the perfect base to spoon the salsa onto. The result is a moist, tender burger with tons of flavor in and on it.