Saturday, November 1, 2014
     

Food

Thursday, December 26, 2013
This Nov 4, 2013 photo shows grilled bacon wrapped scallops in Concord, N.H. This all-protein finger food appetizer is perfect for holiday entertaining. (AP Photo/Matthew Mead)

Bacon-wrapped scallops are one of the most luxurious appetizers you can serve, not to mention one of the easiest to prepare.

I like using big, plump Alaskan sea scallops and apple wood smoked bacon. Because there are only two main ingredients in this dish, you need to make sure you use the best quality the biggest, freshest sea scallops you can find, and the most flavorful bacon. After that, they are so easy to grill that you hardly need a recipe.

Thursday, December 26, 2013
New Year's dining

Not up to putting on a formal dinner party for New Year's Eve? Can't blame you. And who cares? Most people would prefer the more casual atmosphere of lots of appetizer-sized nibbles, anyway.

To help you pull it all together, we assembled an easy menu that recasts some classic appetizers in fresh ways. Start off with a roasted take on the traditional shrimp cocktail. Make it funky by serving the shrimp and roasted grape tomatoes in individual spoons. We also have a quick and east pineapple chicken salad that's served in lettuce wraps.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013
Fresh-baked cookies make a sweet holiday gift or the right thing for a pot luck dinner. (Jessica J. Trevino/Detroit Free Press/MCT)

We wanted to have a holiday gathering but didn't have a lot of time to prep, plan or prepare.

So what did we do?

Well, we considered a cookie exchange food, drink and lots of cookies to share. But several of our friends don't bake. Or don't have time to bake. And the holiday season is about inclusion, rather than exclusion.

Keeping that in mind, we channeled Julie Andrews, our inspiration for everything in life, and decided to turn our party into a favorite (edible) things party!

Wednesday, November 13, 2013
This Oct. 14, 2013 photo shows orange sweet potatoes swirled with Parmesan cauliflower puree in Concord, N.H. (AP Photo/Matthew Mead)

Sweet potatoes generally get one of three treatments at the Thanksgiving table.

They are mashed like regular potatoes; they are roasted like squash, or they are saturated with sugar until they no longer resemble a vegetable.

We decided there had to be an alternative. We still mashed them, but we also doctored them up with a second mash a purée of cauliflower and Parmesan cheese. The sweet and savory of those ingredients play so wonderfully together, you'll never go back to the three usual suspects.

Orange Sweet

Potatoes Swirled with Parmesan Cauliflower Purée

Wednesday, November 13, 2013
AP Photo/Matthew Mead The leeks are thinly sliced, then slowly simmered in broth or stock until extremely tender, then the whole mixture is stirred into the potatoes to create Melted Leek Mashed Potatoes.

Like onions, leeks develop a rich, savory flavor when cooked slowly. And when cooked this way, they make an excellent addition to a creamy mound of mashed potatoes.

Rather than caramelize the leeks, which requires a bit more hands on cooking, we decided to melt them.

It's actually a braise, but the result is meltingly good. And braising requires only an occasional stir.

The leeks are thinly sliced, then slowly simmered in broth or stock until extremely tender, then the whole mixture is stirred into the potatoes.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013
A healthy fried appetizer

This dish is my idea of a one-size-fits-all appetizer for the looming holidays, whether we're talking about Hanukkah, Thanksgiving or Christmas.

It's particularly apt for Hanukkah because the eggplant is "fried" in oil and oil is one of the holiday's central symbols.

The good news is that the eggplant is pan-fried not deep-fried and vegetarian, so it's still reasonably healthy. Heck, if you built a bigger version, you could even turn it into a vegetarian entrée.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013
This Sept. 23, 2013 photo shows chicken puttanesca Parmesan in Concord, N.H. (AP Photo/Matthew Mead)

A chicken Parmesan that's big on flavor, but not on fat? It's easier and more weeknight-friendly than you might think.

I started with a basic breaded and baked chicken breast. For speed, I cut the breasts into thin cutlets. And that speed isn't just a convenience. It also pays dividends on texture. The less time the chicken spends in the oven, the more tender and moist the end result.

For a crunchy coating, I kept it simple panko breadcrumbs. Dunk the chicken in some egg, drag it through the breadcrumbs and you're ready to move on.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013
This photo shows a "goblet grave" with yogurt frozen into the shape of a skull and crossbones floating in a glass of grape juice in Concord, N.H. (AP Photo/Matthew Mead)

Whipping up a batch of Halloween-inspired treats shouldn't require a scary amount of time or energy.

Because by the time you've carved an army of pumpkins, costumed your pint-sized ghouls, purchased bushels of candy, and hung the requisite number of fake spider webs and black cat cutouts, time and patience for cooking up spooky grub may be in short supply.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013
PHOTO COURTESY CULINARY INSTITUTE OF AMERICA Risotto with Pumpkin and Parmigiano Reggiano

The arrival of cool autumn weather brings truckloads of pumpkins. Their arrival to stores, farm stands, and front porches inspires the spirit of the season year after year. If you are looking for different ways to utilize this tasty gourd, consider picking up a smaller sugar pumpkin and making a delicious orange-colored risotto.

To make risotto, you will need to use the superfino variety of rice, which has the fattest and largest grains and absorbs more liquid than any other rice while still remaining firm. Superfino rice includes Arborio and Carnaroli.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013
This Aug. 26, 2013 photo shows carmalized onion and squash bisque in Concord, N.H. (AP Photo/Matthew Mead)

There is something so perfect, so satisfying about a bowl of warm squash bisque on a cool fall evening.

And it is such a versatile dish, it is easily doctored in so many ways.

Using that blend of versatility and comfort as our inspiration, we created a fast and easy squash bisque that becomes a base for whatever autumn flavors you are craving.

You could, of course, keep it basic and simply top this bisque with a dollop of sour cream. But we also suggest six variations of toppings, including shrimp, bacon and pulled pork.