Tori Ritchie Tuesday Recipe
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Tori Ritchie Tuesday RecipeWelcome to Tuesday Recipe  — so called because I send out simple recipes on Tuesdays and because Tuesday Recipe has the same initials I do (you can find out information about me, Tori Ritchie, here). Sign up at right to join. It's free and it's fun. Here's what's cooking:

tuesday, august 4, 2015

Ah, tomatoes. You may be drowning in tomato recipes now, but here is one that uses heirlooms before they get too soft and ripe. It’s a recipe from Rome — nobody does tomatoes like the Italians do — and I stumbled on it at a side-street trattoria there 30 years ago. The rice-stuffed pomodori were presented alongside the other antipasti, served at room temperature. Everything was drenched in olive oil and herbs, with creamy roast potatoes wedged in the crevices. Meant to be eaten as a first course there, it’s best for a summer lunch here, with salad, bread and cheese. Since the tomatoes are baked, their flavor is to the 10th power, so even if you use those perfect (but not perfectly flavorful) tomato-on-the-vine orbs from the grocery store, this will taste like summer. Each tomato should be the size of your closed fist and Yukon golds are the best potato. I’ve posted this before, but I’ve tweaked the recipe and lately made it with long-grain white rice rather than Arborio and you know what? It’s even better.

PS—for those of you who are craving more Italian tomato (and other recipes), I suggest you check out my friend Viola Buitoni’s culinary trip to Italy this fall. She’s hosting it at her family’s home in La Maremma, the coastal area of Tuscany not far from Rome. This is where real Italians go on vacation, and and if you go on Viola’s trip, you will have the real Italian experience. 

tuesday, june 30, 2015

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Do you ever get the feeling that everything old is new again? Like the frightmare of ‘80s fashions, for instance? Or dinosaurs stomping across movie screens?
 
In the food world, though, this can be good news and that’s the case with shakshuka. Lately I’ve seen recipes for this egg and peppers dish everywhere: on restaurant menus, on blogs, in books, in the paper. No doubt, we can thank Yotam Ottolenghi for this; since he published recipes for shakshuka in both his books Plenty and Jerusalem, it’s been new all over again.

I learned how to make shakshuka a thousand years ago (okay, more like 20) from Joyce Goldstein when I was working with her on a cookbook. Here’s how it’s done: saute onions, bell peppers, cumin, tomatoes, and olive oil together, then break eggs on top and cook until they are set. You can do this in one pan or in individual ramekins, like you see here. You can add other ingredients to make it more of a complete meal then eat it for breakfast, lunch or dinner. My latest additions include spinach and garbanzo beans. Any which way, the Shak is back.

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tuesday, may 26, 2015

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I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: it is beyond great to see someone you’ve worked with succeed. A few years ago, Maureen Abood assisted me in a cooking class and I thought, “This woman has it all going on!” She was so organized, so talented, so focused, I knew she’d do something amazing when she got out of culinary school and she did. She created a beautiful blog called Rose Water & Orange Blossoms, chronicling the food she ate growing up in a Lebanese family in Michigan, and now she has a cookbook by the same name. But it’s not just the great photography and recipes for things like kibbeh, which you don’t find in the average food blog or book, that made me admire Maureen. It was and is her writing. She is a thinker and a bit of a poet; she’s kind and sentimental, virtues that aren’t always rewarded nowadays. She’s got deep knowledge about her topic, but she isn’t afraid to update tradition. In fact, she asked me if she could use a recipe we had in my class in her book — warm dates with sea salt and lime.
            I bought Maureen’s book (and gave her a big hug) when she was here for a book signing and went straight home to make the cherry tomatoes with za’atar, the crunchy fennel salad with yogurt, and easy Spiced Lamb Kofta Burgers. She recommends the burgers for Father’s Day. That would definitely be a success.

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tuesday, april 21, 2015

I’m homesick for cooking (does that make me cooksick?) and it happens when I go too long without making homemade meals. I feel a disconnection from my hands, from my sense of smell, from the colors and textures of fresh food, from the sound of a whisk beating in a bowl. It’s happening because I’m in school at night and relying on take-out enchiladas and cafeteria pizza, things made by machines or strangers. When I’m cooksick, I have to get back into the kitchen and make real food, quickly.
 
The answer is omelets. They take 10 minutes, they are healthy, they are good for breakfast lunch or dinner, and they are creative. Plus, I feel a bit like Julia Child doing one (although I use the American flipover method and not the French rolled one). The only thing you need for a perfect omelet is fresh eggs and a nonstick pan, but I discovered an idea in Sunset that goes one level more: put croutons inside. They turn the omelet into a meal and the crunch is totally satisfying. You can put other things inside, too; I love spinach and green onions or chives. You can even put in leftovers—homemade or not.

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tuesday, february 3, 2015

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I’m not sure who’s behind the “eat healthy” craze at the start of every year — perhaps it's just a perfect storm of media messaging — but I feel the pressure like everyone else. Not that this is a bad thing; paying attention to what we eat never hurts. It’s the exhortations that bug me: 30-day cleanse! 21-day juicing! No sugar, no flour, no fun! To keep from being overwhelmed, I’m making only one change this year: cooking quinoa to keep on hand for quick healthy meals.
 
Ten years ago, most people didn’t even know how to pronounce quinoa. Now it’s “the little grain that could”: a protein powerhouse (for a plant) that appears on menus from 4-star restaurants to corner delis. Fair enough. It’s easy to cook and has a mild flavor and a popping, almost caviar-like texture. It mixes with everything and can be sweet or savory, and of course it’s gluten-free. I prefer to use red quinoa because it looks bolder and tastes a bit nuttier than white, but it can be harder to find. You can cook up as much as you want to have on hand for a week: 1 cup uncooked yields about 3 cups cooked. I've found, as a lot of other sources do, that a lower ratio of water to grain than most packages recommend makes the quinoa flufflier. After it's cooked, spread the quinoa on a baking sheet to cool then chill it in an airtight container. Use it to make this version of taboulleh or quinoa bowls with eggs (just reheat the quinoa in the microwave if the recipe calls for it warm). Here’s what I made for lunch today; it took me 10 minutes to put together.

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tuesday, january 13, 2015

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I was supposed to go to Mexico last week, but thanks to United Airlines, I never made it. After 6 hours of delays and mechanical failure, I wasn’t even off the ground at my home airport. By then I’d missed my once-a-day connection to the small town I was going to and the 24-hour wait before the next flight meant my itinerary would be impossible. I gave up, went home, and consoled myself by cooking and eating Mexican food.

Of course Mexican Casserole was on the list (it’s the best “I’m too upset to make dinner” dinner). I had a version of tortilla soup, since I’m trying to eat as healthy as everyone else, but I also went out for carnitas and margaritas. I thought about making shrimp tacos, but decided instead on chilaquiles from my blending book. It’s a way to use up the extra tortilla chips from the near-empty bag in my cupboard. The missing chips went down my gullet while I waited nervously for three days for my luggage to be returned. It somehow did leave SFO, even if I did not. Did I mention I hate United Airlines??? Hand me a grapefruit margarita.

tuesday, december 16, 2014

4 things to make this month...or not:

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1. Citrus & Cloves: A group of crafty ladies sat around my friend Martha’s dining room table last week chatting and creating homemade ornaments, embellished wreaths, and miniature cottages for a mantel village. Since I am not crafty (but I am chatty), I opted for the simplest project, making a citrus-clove pomander. I learned the secret to success with these is to poke a hole in the skin with a skewer before inserting each clove. I’m kind of proud of my starburst lemon although if you squint, it looks a little like ants on fruit. So don’t squint. For more on how to do this, here are some tips from the other crafty Martha. If you prefer to eat your lemons, try this chicken dish, this scallop dish, or this lemon meringue pudding.

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2. Salt & Pepper Bread: no need for a recipe or instructions here. Just split or slice a baguette, slather it with olive oil or butter, run it under the broiler till toasty, then sprinkle liberally with sea salt and ground pepper. Best ever. Thank you Clint for the inspiration.

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3. Gin & Raisins: My pal Margaret noticed me struggling with my aching toes in yoga class, so she forwarded me this folk remedy from her step-mother-in-law: ~ Golden raisins, cover in gin ~ Put in a jar with a lid ~ Sit + soak for 3 weeks ~ Take 2-3 per night ~ Helps with arthritis. Fun to eat whether you have arthritis or not.

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4. Chocolate & Marshmallows:
the simplest holiday gift I’ve ever made is this devilishly easy Rocky Road. Takes minutes, tastes divine.

Happy Merry Everyone! (PS--Tuesday Recipe will continue in 2015 on a monthly basis...per my earlier emails, feel free to drop by the archives any time.)

tuesday, november 11, 2014

Is it too early to think about Thanksgiving? I don’t think so, especially since I saw fully decorated Christmas trees in a store yesterday. Yikes. Anyway, I’m teaching a class on Thanksgiving Side Dishes this Saturday in San Francisco (there are a few spaces left if you are interested) so I’ve got cranberry sauce on the brain. Every year, I make it slightly different, but the one thing I have to have in it is ginger. I always put candied ginger in my raw cranberry-orange relish and this year I’m putting fresh ginger in a cooked cranberry chutney. I know I inherited this love of ginger + cranberry from my father; he would eat entire batches of sauce by the spoonful, turkey or no turkey. This will be our first year without him, so I’ll eat a bowlful in his honor. 

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tuesday, october 21, 2014

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Since I started grad school in August, my cooking life has completely shifted. I used to pretend I was a European who could go to the market almost every day, choosing whatever was calling to me from the bins and letting it tell me what to make for dinner. Now I have to make things ahead since my classes are at night, but I refuse to go down the expensive, repetitive, unhealthful road of take out.

Enter Ina Garten’s new book Make It Ahead. I got an advance copy of it because I’m interviewing her onstage in Cupertino next month (the book hits the market next week) and in it, she writes that the most common question she is asked is, “Can I make it ahead?” Obviously, this is the way most people are cooking…and now so am I.

Yesterday I made the recipe for Pastitsio, which could also be called Greek Lasagna, and which her publisher is letting me reproduce for you here. It’s one of those “the sum is greater than the parts” dishes, although the parts are pretty great, too: awesome meat sauce, a béchamel smoothed with yogurt, and small pasta. That was news to me—I thought Pastitsio was only made with large tubes, but she uses small shells (I used elbow macaroni) and it makes each biteful more delicate. She also blends the eggs into the meat-pasta mixture, not the topping, which holds the shape of each serving when you scoop it out. Like all things Ina, this is a familiar dish taken to the next level of delicious. Now that I have this book and I don’t have to worry about what to make ahead anymore, I can just worry about my homework.

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PS: for those of you who have asked, the reason I’m only posting about once a month is because of that damn homework. If you are having a Tuesday Recipe craving on a Tuesday when I don’t email (or on any other day), go to the 200-recipe archive.

tuesday, september 23, 2014

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I hate to waste anything. So when I was house-sitting for a friend and the figs on her tree were so ripe they were plopping to the ground, I picked them up, washed them off, and decided to make fig newtons. This was a serious project. Much more serious than the stuff I usually bake. So I broke it into manageable blocks: I made the fig paste one day, the dough another morning, and the cookies later that afternoon. I’m going to walk you through the steps below, but if you think “wouldn’t it just be easier to buy them at the store?” the answer is no no no. These are so superior to the packaged stuff — they are more like a jam cookie than a Newton. Since it’s the end of fig season and you probably don’t have a tree to access, look for super-ripe, almost splitting, figs at the farmers’ market. Or wait until Christmas and make these with dried figs. I promise. It’s not a waste of time.
 
Step one: make the fig paste up to 3 days ahead; the figs should be so ripe they are almost shriveled and cracking (if you have a farmer friend at the market, ask if they have any near-gone figs they’ll sell you). Or use dried figs.

Two: make the dough up to a day ahead. Roll it out on parchment paper because it is sticky. Shape a rectangle and trim off the jagged edges and cut it in half.

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Three: spread the fig paste down one edge of dough; use water to brush the edges then fold the dough over and seal it to form a log.

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Four: once you have formed both logs, lift up the parchment paper they are on and place it on a baking sheet; this keeps the transferring process to and from the oven really simple.

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Five: cut the baked logs into into 1-inch slices while they are still warm. Yes, I use a ruler to be exact...I never was a math person.

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Six: steam cookies in a plastic bag or on a plate with plastic; this keeps the crust soft like typical newtons. If you cool them without steaming, they get crisp.

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tuesday, july 8, 2014

 Summer faves....

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Fat Romano beans braised in the first heirloom tomatoes or the basil-corn pudding that Beth reminded me about this weekend:

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These amazing ribs that really are amazing (try them with Steve Raichlen’s equally amazing barbecue sauce from Bon Appetit):

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photo: Bon Appetit

Any of the homemade ice creams I read about in last week’s New York Times (okay, this is a cone purchased at Swensen's in San Francisco, but you get the idea):

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photo by me; pretty good for a selfie, huh?

tuesday, june 24, 2014

 Move over kale. Bok choy is the new green in town. Or at least it is according to me. I had a great bok choy salad at Chino recently and had to recreate it when I got home. Baby bok choy is so easy to work with -- you can find it in most supermarkets and all you have to do is slice it crosswise and give it a rinseroo and a spin dry. No stems. No massaging leaves. No intense vegetal flavor like kale. Just don't add cheese. I'm not ready for Choy Caesar yet. 

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tuesday, june 10, 2014

I went to see Chef last night. It’s a feel-good movie that features every cliché about foodie-ism: chef’s tattoos, kitchen f-bombs, ornery owners, hot hostesses, cranky critics, even food trucks. The story is sweet and predictable, but the food scenes are mesmerizing —I’ve never seen such edible-looking stuff on film. I dare you to go in there and not come out craving a grilled cheese sandwich. Which is why I made one for lunch today. 

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I tried to follow the action on film: two kinds of cheese (I used havarti and cheddar and I added sliced heirloom tomatoes), soft bread that will crisp well (sliced brioche), lots and lots of butter (unsalted, of course), and moving the sandwich around the pan to find the hottest spots. Still, I rookie’d it — burned the bread! No matter. It was divine. I’m not going to give you a recipe because what I just wrote is essentially the recipe. But I am going to give you the tip to stay to the very end of the movie and watch the credits. That’s when the secret of the sandwich is revealed. Meanwhile, if you are craving something cheesey on a bigger scale, make this.

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tuesday, may 20, 2014

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I was teaching at Rancho La Puerta last week, which means 7 days of virtuous eating. The secrets are filling up on soup...like soba soup and tortilla soup and this healthy gazpacho. Eat tons of veggie-crammed salads, like spinach slaw with pepitas. Go crazy on beans and quinoa. Eat fish but no meat or poultry (okay, that is a tough one for me. I was craving steak the whole time).

Then when you get home, make something with chocolate...I made brownies with miso (yes, miso) from the Wall St. Journal. The flavor is phenomenal, although the texture was more cakey than fudgy. That didn't stop me from eating two of them. I mean, come on, we can't be virtuous forever.

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tuesday, april 15, 2014

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Gotta love hanging out with Ina Garten, which I got to do after interviewing her onstage recently in Santa Rosa. She’s exactly in person as she is on TV: lively, never tired of talking food, and unpretentious (despite her beautiful home and kitchen). We cracked up at the sound check beforehand because the chairs they had put out were so huge, her feet didn’t touch the floor. By the time the show started, there was a new set of chairs that fit much better. I teased her about her husband Jeffrey and his cameos on the show, and how her dark shirts are always spotless, even when she’s rolling out pastry on a flour-covered counter. I told her my favorite recipe of hers is frozen berries with white-chocolate cream from Barefoot Contessa at Home. I’ve come up with my own version over the years, using some coconut milk and chopped crystallized ginger. It’s the contrast of hot and cold that makes this so phenomenal, not to mention it takes about 10 minutes to make. How easy is that?— as Ina would say.

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tuesday, march 25, 2014

I've got Ina Garten on the brain. And tomato paste. Yes, Ina Garten and tomato paste. Let me explain. 

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Next week I'm interviewing Ina onstage in Santa Rosa and I've been reading everything I can about her and watching her shows and videos on Food Network. Everything she makes is delicious and now I'm starving. So I just went to the fridge to see what I could rustle up for dinner and there it was: an open can of tomato paste (with plastic wrap pressed on the surface to keep it from molding — I should have transferred it to a plastic container, but, hey, I can be lazy too). I keep tomato paste on hand because it's my secret weapon for adding umami to recipes where you wouldn't expect to find it, and one of those is salmon with lentils by none other than...Ina Garten. It epitomizes her philosophy of taking a classic and making it better by tweaking it ever so slightly. In this case, that's with a touch of tomato paste in the lentils. Her other brilliant trick is pre-soaking the lentils in boiling water. That way they cook quickly without getting mushy. The addition of a spice rub to the fish is my touch; you can leave it out if you want.

So here's what I'm making for dinner tonight and you can be sure I'll tell Ina about it when I meet her next week.

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tuesday, march 11, 2014

Enough with the chard stems. It’s time for some chicken. Some really easy Moroccan chicken.

Is that an oxymoron? No, because this is a throw-it-all-in-the pot deal that lives up to the claim. You don’t even have to brown the onions or the meat. In fact you don’t even have to do the “let stand” step if you don’t want to (although this will give the meat deeper flavor). And you don't have to own a real tagine—a Dutch oven or other heavy pot works great. Conical clay tagines really are better to present food in than to cook in (see how I did that in the photo?) Plus you can make this exact recipe with 3 pounds of lamb stew instead of chicken. And you can serve it with couscous, which takes minutes to make. And you can finally use those preserved lemons that I know you all made last month per my instructions…ahem.
 
Here you go. The easiest Moroccan recipe I know (and despite the fact that I went to cooking school in Marrakech, this actually comes from an old issue of Saveur).

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tuesday, february 11, 2014

Binge seems to be the word of the moment. People are binge-watching TV, binge-reading books, bingeing on the Olympics, and no doubt bingeing on chocolate later this week. Sorry to be a bore, but I’m bingeing on Swiss chard. It’s partly because I’m writing a cookbook and chard recipes are on my to-do list, but it’s also because I can’t get enough of the stems. Yes, the stems. You know, these guys…

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In fact, I made the chard recipe for my book with only the leaves so I could have the stems all to myself. Sometimes I add them to minestrone, sometimes I pour cream over them and bake them as a gratin, and sometimes I saute them with herbs and soffritto—that’s Italian for onions, carrots, and celery, aka this stuff…

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To this, I add the chopped chard stems, plus some garbanzo beans for heft then fresh herbs and chopped preserved lemon (if you made those when I posted last, they should be ready right about now) or you can add feta to make it even mo' betta...

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If you’re wondering what to do with the leaves in order to have leftover stems, strip them off and saute them in olive oil and garlic like spinach and serve them alongside this dish. It’s all very virtuous and delicious, so eat and earn all the chocolate you want on Valentine's Day.

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tuesday, january 28, 2014

When life gives you lemons (or your neighbor does), preserve them. That’s what I did this weekend and it took me about 20 minutes. That’s because you don’t have to “can” these the way you do other preserves – there’s no boiling of jars or lifting with tongs or popping of lids. All you do is toss lemons with kosher salt and stuff them into a jar. Then you wait 3 weeks for the lemons to cure to the point where you can dice the peel and use it as a salty-tart condiment for a Moroccan tagine or other stuff. Once you get through that first period of waiting, preserved lemons can be stored in the fridge for several months and they only get better and better.

If you look around on the internet, you’ll find a thousand recipes for preserving lemons. This one, which I learned in Morocco (why not go to the primary source?), is the simplest and for my money (or for nothing, since the lemons in this case were a gift), is the best.

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First you cut the lemons into quarters. The traditional method is to do this without severing the parts so you can open each lemon like a flower (as you see in middle, above), but a chef gave me the tip that you can just cut them apart and toss them with salt in a bowl and the whole process will be much faster and the results essentially the same.

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Then you pack the lemons – I mean, really STUFF them – into a clean jar and pour in lemon juice (top it off with boiling water if you need to fill the jar; this accelerates the curing process too). At this point you can doll up your jar with a pretty ribbon or you can slide a bay leaf (preferably a fresh unsprayed bay laurel leaf) inside the glass for a swashbuckle of color…

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Then let the lemons sit on your counter for a week, shaking the jar every day (or a few times a day) to keep the salt from settling on the bottom. Transfer them to the refrigerator and in 3 weeks, the peel will be softened enough to use as a condiment. Of course you can use them in Moroccan and other North African recipes, or to sprinkle on fish, toss with sautéed broccoli rabe or greens or roasted eggplant, or splash the brine into a dirty martini. So much more fun than turning lemons into boring old lemonade.

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