Some Kind of Year & Winter Salad with Broccoli, Kale & Radicchio

2020 promises to be some kind of year. For one thing, there’s the presidential election. While the excitement has been percolating for months, it will soon come to a full-blown, over the top boil. As important, maybe more, life will happen. People will fall in love; others will fall out. Babies will be born. Little children will experience their first day of school. Bigger children will graduate and move on to the next phase of life. People will find first jobs and new jobs or continue with the same old job and some will retire. Houses will be built and homes will be made. Gardens will grow. The bounty will be harvested. Life will happen.

Here’s a rambling list of tips – one for each week of 2020 – to help all of us make it some kind of year:

  1. Hold your head high; you are smart enough, strong enough and important enough. You are enough.
  2. Don’t forget, no matter how important you become – your socks still go on before your shoes.
  3. Drink plenty of water.
  4. Read the entire recipe before plunging in.
  5. Try new things.
  6. Exercise, if not daily, then three or four times a week.
  7. Don’t slouch.
  8. Twinkle lights make everything look better.
  9. It’s okay to write in your cookbooks.
  10. An hour spent doing nothing is time well spent.
  11. Live with integrity.
  12. Practice generosity.
  13. Participate in real conversations.
  14. Look people in the eye.
  15. It’s not always about you.
  16. Smile for real (with your eyes as well as your mouth) or not at all.
  17. Make time for the people who make you happy.
  18. Make time for the places that make you happy.
  19. Make time for the activities that make you happy.
  20. Talk less; listen more.
  21. Save the rind on the Parmigiano-Reggiano. Throw it in the pot when simmering soup or a stew.
  22. Little things matter.
  23. Be curious.
  24. Practice courage.
  25. Every kitchen needs a very big mixing bowl.
  26. Make your bed every day.
  27. Laugh often.
  28. Perfect enough is better than perfect and more attainable.
  29. There’s only one to a customer; treat your body with care and respect.
  30. Fold your laundry and put it away as soon as it comes out of the dryer.
  31. Don’t be afraid to ask. After all, the worst that can happen is the answer could be no.
  32. Own your mistakes, do your best to fix them and move on.
  33. Embrace diversity.
  34. Be kind to others and yourself.
  35. Cultivate creativity and beauty.
  36. Overthinking is as debilitating as it is common.
  37. Love more.
  38. Read a lot.
  39. Complaining rarely solves anything.
  40. Find and maintain balance.
  41. Persist.
  42. Learning never ends.
  43. You can handle a lot more than you think.
  44. Words matter.
  45. Trust your intuition.
  46. Know who you are. Embrace who you are.
  47. Forgive yourself. Forgive others.
  48. Be gracious.
  49. Have fun.
  50. Be here now – not dwelling in the past or daydreaming about the future.
  51. Don’t take any wooden nickels.
  52. Don’t stick your tongue on a frozen metal pole.

Wishing you some kind of new year and bon appétit!

Winter Salad with Broccoli, Kale & Radicchio

My sister-in-law’s broccoli-kale salad is the inspiration for this colorful winter combination. Enjoy!

Serves 8

Start by making the vinaigrette.

  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon minced red onion
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
  • 6 tablespoons or to taste extra virgin olive oil

Put the garlic, onion and mustard in a bowl or clean glass jar, add the lemon juice and vinegar, season with salt and pepper and whisk or shake to combine. Add the olive oil and whisk or shake until well combined. Let the vinaigrette sit for 30 minutes or more to combine the flavors.

Cover and store extra vinaigrette in the refrigerator.

While the vinaigrette mixes and melds, make the salad.

  • 1 broccoli crown, trimmed and finely chopped – about 2 cups
  • 1 bunch kale, ribs and stems removed and thinly sliced
  • 1/2-1 head radicchio, trimmed and thinly sliced
  • 6 radishes, cut in julienne
  • 2-3 Persian cucumbers, peeled and chopped
  • 2-3 scallions, thinly sliced
  • About 3 ounces coarsely grated Pecorino Romano or Manchego cheese
  • About 1/2 cup roughly chopped hazel nuts, toasted

Prep the vegetables and put them in a large bowl. Drizzle with enough vinaigrette to lightly coat and toss to combine.

Transfer the salad to a deep platter or individual shallow bowls, sprinkle the cheese and nuts and serve.

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Want more? I’ve got links to lots more to read, see & cook. © Susan W. Nye, 2020

 

 

Scruffy Entertaining & Braised Lamb with Mushrooms & Pearl Onions

So, I hear that there is a new trend in entertaining. It’s called scruffy hospitality. It seems that it is becoming quite popular with families with young children. Here’s how it works. You come home from work or skiing or skating or with your freshly cut tree ready to decorate. You know that the stew or chili you’ve already made for dinner is big enough for an army. But (there’s always a but) the house is not spotless and you’re not having the best of hair days.

So, what do you do? Why, in a scruffy, no judgement world, you invite your nearest and dearest or soon-to-be nearest and dearest to join you. Okay, you might throw a few wayward shoes into the bucket by the back door but you don’t run around the house with the vacuum cleaner and dust cloth. You don’t spend an hour fussing with your hair and finding the perfect outfit. You call your guests, throw dinner in the oven, set the table and light the fire. If it’s tree night, you get out the decorations.

And guess what? Everyone is happy. I never met anyone who didn’t love a last-minute invitation. Even if they can’t come, people love it that you thought of them and wanted to spend time with them. If you’re a decent cook, they are even happier. Whether it’s Meme and Gramps, the cousins, your oldest friends or your newest neighbors, they will be delighted to join you.

Now, scruffy entertaining is nothing new. Years ago, an old boyfriend told me about a party he and his roommates threw. Just out of college, their party was beyond scruffy. Perhaps you remember the early days of supermarket brands. Instead of fancy names like Natures Promise, Wellesley Farms or Great Value, store brands version 1.0 were called generics. They came in simple black and white packaging. Anyway, the boyfriend and his roomies threw a generics party. They bought a boatload of generic beer and chips and invited all their friends. They even bought white T-shirts and had HOST in black letters printed on the front. It was nothing fancy and everyone had a wonderful time.

Now, I not suggesting that you entertain like a bunch of recent college grads. However, you can turn down the stress level with a more casual approach. Scruffy hospitality is about connecting around the table. It is about friendship and love. It recognizes that time spent together is more important than a spotlessly clean, picture perfect home. Besides, even with a few pine needles scattered about, your home’s imperfections are what make it perfect.

If you’ve been planning to freeze half of tonight’s dinner, why not invite friends to share it instead? They can help you decorate the tree. Or invite family and share old holiday memories. Next time spaghetti is on the menu, pull an extra quart of sauce from the freezer and turn dinner into a small party. Feel free to ask your guests if they have any salad in the refrigerator or a few extra Christmas cookies that they can bring along.

Opening your home and sharing a meal is a joyful expression love and kindness. Hosts and guests, old and young, everyone benefits. By embracing a bit more scruffy attitude, you might just entertain more, share the love more and stress a whole lot less.

Wishing you a holiday season filled with love and joy. Bon appétit!

Braised Lamb with Mushrooms & Pearl Onions

Here is a not-too-scruffy dish to serve over the holidays or anytime this winter. The lamb can bubble in the oven while you relax and catch up with family and friends. Enjoy!

Serves 8

  • About 4 pounds boneless leg or shoulder of lamb, trimmed
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
  • Olive oil
  • 2 large carrots, finely chopped
  • 3 stalks celery, finely chopped
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 cup dry red wine
  • 1 cup crushed tomatoes
  • 3 cups chicken stock
  • 1 tablespoon fresh thyme
  • 2 teaspoons chopped, fresh rosemary
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 1/2-2 pounds mushrooms, trimmed and chopped
  • 1 pound fresh or frozen pearl onions, peeled and trimmed

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Season the lamb with salt and pepper. Heat a little olive oil in a large casserole over medium-high heat. Brown the lamb on both sides, about 5 minutes per side. Remove and reserve.

Add a little more olive oil to the pot if necessary; add the carrots, celery and onion and sauté until the onion is translucent. Add the garlic and sauté 2 minutes more. Add the red wine, tomatoes, chicken stock and herbs and bring to a simmer.

Return the lamb to the pot, bring to a simmer, cover and transfer to the oven. Cook, turning the lamb 2 or 3 times, for 1 hour.

Meanwhile, sauté the mushrooms in a little olive oil over medium-high heat until lightly browned. Add the mushrooms and pearl onions to the lamb. Add more chicken stock or wine if necessary. Continue cooking, uncovered, until the lamb is very tender; an additional 30-45 minutes.

Remove the lamb from the casserole and cut across the grain in thick slices. Serve the lamb with a generous spoonful or two or three of sauce and vegetables.

The lamb can be made a few days ahead. Cook for 1 hour, add the mushrooms and onions and cook for 10 minutes more. Cool to room temperature and then refrigerate. To reheat, bring to a simmer on top of the stove. Transfer to a 350-degree oven and cook for about 30 minutes or until bubbling and piping hot.

Quick tip: use your food processor to finely chop carrots, celery and onions. Cut the veggies into large chunks and, a handful at a time, pulse until finely chopped. Don’t overdo it or overload the processor; you’ll end up with purée instead of finely chopped.

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Want more? I’ve got links to lots more to read, see & cook. © Susan W. Nye, 2019

The Ten Days of Thanksgiving & Stuffed Winter Squash

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, Thanksgiving is marathon; not a sprint. I love surrounding my table with family and friends on Thanksgiving. However, this annual gastronomic extravaganza only works because I pace myself. As of this minute, there are ten days until Thanksgiving. For anyone who’s cooking this year, here are ten tips to get you from here to there in one piece.

On the FIRST day of Thanksgiving – that’s today – finalize your guest list but assume there could be last-minute additions or changes. While you’re at it, find out about food allergies or issues. If you haven’t done it yet, order the turkey

To anyone alone this Thanksgiving: let friends and neighbors know. Assuming you are a decent sort, one or more will be delighted to invite you … but they can’t if they don’t know of your predicament.

On the SECOND day of Thanksgiving – finalize your menu. If you’re having trouble deciding how to cook the spuds or whether to bother with creamed onions, stop dithering. Now is also a good time to decide how you want to handle those food allergies and issues.

 

My attitude – except for real allergies, true health issues and deeply held beliefs, don’t worry about it. Twenty years ago, the Atkins diet was all the rage. Trend followers then demanded gluten-free everything before moving on paleo eating and keto. Omnivore, carnivore, pescatarian, vegetarian, vegan – it’s one dinner. There’ll be loads of delicious food to pick and choose. Relax, no one will starve.

On the THIRD day of Thanksgiving – create your detailed shopping list; actually, two detailed lists. The first list includes anything with a week to ten-day or longer shelf life. The second covers everything else, including the turkey.

On the FOURTH day of Thanksgiving – shop for everything on list number one.

On the FIFTH day of Thanksgiving – make soup. Try one of my Thanksgiving favorites; butternut squash or mushroom. Both soups freeze beautifully. Spend the afternoon making as many quarts as you can stuff into your freezer. Enjoy some on Thanksgiving and the rest on a cold winter night.

On the SIXTH day of Thanksgiving – track down all your serving dishes and set the table. Make and freeze pie dough.

On the SEVENTH day of Thanksgiving – make the cranberry sauce. Yes, it IS much better than the canned stuff and takes very little time and effort. Due for a change? Try cranberry chutney.

On the EIGHTH day of Thanksgiving – pick up the turkey and everything else on list number two.

On the NINTH day of Thanksgiving – take the day off from work and anything else. Tomorrow’s the big day; it’s time to get cooking. Prep the stuffing, make the side dishes and bake pies.

On the TENTH day of Thanksgiving – Make or finish any of the side dishes and desserts that didn’t get done on Wednesday. Stuff the turkey and pop it in the oven. Take a long walk and relax.

Happy Turkey Day and bon appétit!

Stuffed Winter Squash

Delicious as a side for omnivores or a festive Thanksgiving main dish for vegetarians. Enjoy!

Serves 6 as a main and 12 as a side dish

  • 3 (12-16 ounce) delicata, sweet dumpling or acorn squash
  • Olive oil
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1/4 cup brown rice
  • 1/4 cup wild rice
  • 1/4 cup quinoa
  • 1 pound mushrooms, trimmed and chopped
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 2 carrots finely chopped
  • 2 stalks celery, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons thyme
  • 1 teaspoon sage
  • 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 12-16 ounces baby spinach
  • 1 cup chopped walnuts
  • 8 ounces cheddar cheese, shredded (optional)
  • 2 ounces Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, grated (optional)
  • 1/2 cup panko breadcrumbs

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Cut the squash in half lengthwise and remove the seeds. If serving as a side dish, cut the halves in half. Brush the flesh side of the squash with a little olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Roast the squash cut side down at 375 degrees until tender, 20-30 minutes. Remove from the oven and reserve.

Put the rice in a fine mesh sieve and rinse well under cold water. Put 1 3/4 cups water in a pot and bring to a boil. Add the rice and cook for 30 minutes.

Put the quinoa in a fine mesh sieve and rinse well under cold water. Add the quinoa to the rice and cook 10-15 minutes more or until the grains are tender. Remove from the heat and reserve.

Meanwhile, lightly coat a large skillet with olive oil and heat on medium. Add the mushrooms, onion, carrots and celery, sprinkle with 1 teaspoon thyme, the sage and smoked paprika, season with salt and pepper and cook, stirring frequently, until lightly browned. Add the garlic and cook 2-3 minutes more. Add the spinach and toss until wilted. Remove from the heat.

Add the grains and nuts to the vegetables and toss to combine. Cool to room temperature, add the cheddar and toss to combine. Arrange the squash in a lightly oiled baking dish and spoon the vegetable mixture into the squash cavities.

Put the Parmigiano-Reggiano, breadcrumbs and remaining thyme in a bowl, season with salt and pepper and toss to combine. Drizzle with a little olive oil and toss again. Sprinkle the tops of stuffed squash with the cheesy breadcrumbs.

Can be made ahead to this point, covered and refrigerated. Bring to room temperature before baking.

Bake uncovered at 375 degrees until piping hot and lightly browned, about 30 minutes. Transfer to a serving platter or individual plates and serve.

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Are you cooking this Thanksgiving? Feel free to share your favorite tips!

Want more? I’ve got links to lots more to read, see & cook. © Susan W. Nye, 2019

Graduating Advice & Strawberries in Cointreau

It’s graduation season. Politicians, celebrities and the wisest among us take to podiums and blather on about one thing or another. In most cases, they offer some kind of advice. These important people extol the virtues of goal setting and hard work. They like to use phrases like dream big, dare to fail and never give up. They hope to inspire the next generation to climb mountains, reach for the stars and seek the truth … or some such thing.

My advice is simpler, much simpler. Learn to cook. In an age of fast food and microwave dinners, it’s tempting to give the kitchen a pass. Don’t. Cooking is both creative and calming. As you gain knowledge and confidence, you will delight in combining ingredients in new and different ways. Plus, the rhythmic stirring and chopping will calm you after a busy day. Knowing how to cook will feed your stomach and your soul. (It will also help you save money to pay off those student loans.)

When I look at life and work, cooking stands out for one particular reason. It can bring almost instant gratification. For so much of what we do, progress is not measured in hours but in weeks, months or years. A book can take years to write, rewrite and write again. A teacher will work for months hoping for a breakthrough with reluctant students. Complicated business projects take weeks or months to complete. As for raising kids, tending a garden, building and maintain strong and happy relationships – these are never-ending works in progress.

But cooking – even Thanksgiving, the biggest of all holiday feasts is prepped, cooked and served in a couple of days. With a little planning, a weekend dinner party can be tossed together in an afternoon and an any-day-of-the-week meal is done in an hour. As for the reward – you will taste it immediately. Better yet, you will see it in the smiles and hear it in the animated chatter and laughter around the table. A good meal with people you love will make your heart sing.

Which brings me to my next point – invite friends and family to eat with you. Food is more than sustenance; eating is a communal rite. A meal is meant to be shared. Food tastes better when served with a side of stimulating conversation, harmless banter and silly jokes.

Perhaps a dinner party, even the idea, scares the bejeebers out of you. Don’t let it. In the words of Julia Child, “No matter what happens in the kitchen, never apologize,” So what if the soup is a little spicy or the dog steals the turkey? If anyone remembers, it will be another great story to tell and retell. Sure, you’ll look back at some of your mishaps with a grimace but, more important, you’ll also look back with a giggle.

To close, I have two utterly practical suggestions. First, get a big bowl. Only the most timid of cooks can make do with one of those nesting sets of three. You won’t use that giant bowl every day but you’ll be happy to have it. I have a couple, a big one at eight quarts and a really big one at fourteen. Cooking requires a lot of tossing and mixing – give yourself plenty of room to do it with gusto.

Second, start every party with an empty dishwasher. Like it or not, even the loveliest of evenings do come to an end. Eventually, you must clear the table. Cleanup is faster and easier if you can immediately stack all those dishes in the dishwasher. Oh, and yes, I know many first (even second) apartments don’t have dishwashers. This rule also applies to the sink. It should be empty of dirty dishes when your guests arrive.

Have a wonderful life filled with happy friends around table. Bon appétit!

Strawberries in Cointreau
Sometimes the simplest of desserts can be the most delicious – especially when local strawberries are coming into season. Enjoy!
Serves 8

2 pounds strawberries, hulled and quartered or halved, depending on size
About 2 ounces Cointreau
Zest of 1 orange
Brown sugar to taste
Whipped cream or vanilla ice cream (optional)

Place the strawberries in a bowl large enough for tossing. Drizzle with Cointreau, sprinkle with orange zest and gently toss. If necessary, add a little brown sugar and toss again.

Let the strawberries sit for about 10 minutes while you put the dinner dishes in the sink to soak or fill the dishwasher.

Toss again and serve the strawberries with a spoonful of whipped cream or ice cream.

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One Year Ago – Southwest Turkey Burgers
Two Years Ago – Cherry Cobbler
Three Years Ago – Heirloom Tomatoes with Balsamic Reduction
Four Years Ago – Strawberry Shortcakes with Cardamom Cream
Five Years Ago – Strawberries with Yogurt Cream
Six Years Ago – Chocolate-Chocolate Sorbet
Seven Years Ago – Caesar Salad with Parmesan Croutons
Eight Years Ago – The Best Grilled Cheese Sandwich in the History of my Kitchen
Nine Years Ago – Asian Slaw

Or Click Here! for a complete list of and links to all the recipes on this blog!

What advice would you give to this year’s new graduates? Feel free to share!

Want more? I’ve got links to lots more to read, see & cook. © Susan W. Nye, 2018

Thankful for Leftovers Special

After the feast of feasts, the refrigerator is filled with Thanksgiving leftovers. If you didn’t do it yesterday, it’s time to make turkey stock. You’ll also want to organize the rest of the leftovers. If you have room in the freezer, you won’t have to cook for a week, maybe two.

Now, you’re asking … what the heck do I do with it all? Here are a few suggestions:

There is everyone’s favorite … soup:

My Favorite Spicy Chicken (or Turkey) Noodle Soup

Curried Thai Soup with Noodles, Turkey & Vegetables

Turkey Noodle Soup with Spinach

Not feeling soupy? How about:

Leftover Turkey Stir Fry

Black Friday Enchiladas (Turkey & Black Beans Enchiladas)

Cheesy Gratin with Thanksgiving Leftovers

Cheesy Chicken & Broccoli Pasta Bake

Poverty Casserole (Swap out the sausage with leftover turkey.)

Pumpkin Chili with Turkey & Black Beans (Replace the ground turkey with bite sized pieces of leftover turkey.)

If you love roasted vegetables, there’s a chance you made too many. Regardless of the mix – butternut squash, carrots, parsnips, beets or whatever … you can –

Whirl them into soup – use my Roasted Butternut Squash Soup recipe as a guide. Or pile them onto crostini and top with Goat Cheese & Balsamic Reduction. Try them in salad of Kale and Radicchio.

Any and all your roasted veggies will be delicious with Ravioli and Brown Butter, layered in Lasagna or stirred into Risotto.

Have a great weekend! Bon appétit!

For a complete list of and links to all the recipes on this blog Click Here!!

How are you spending the long holiday weekend? I’d love to hear from you! Let’s get a conversation going. To make a comment, just click on Comments below.

Want more? Click here for more seasonal menus! target=”_blank”>Eat Well-Do Good. © Susan W. Nye, 2017

Edible Holiday Gifts Special

Sugar_Spice_NutsStocking stuffers or a gift for your host, if you have the time, I have the recipes! Here are some of my favorites!

Ah Nuts! Serious or silly, all of your friends will love a little crunch for Christmas.
Rosemary Cashews
Roasted Almonds
Sugar & Spiced Pecans

Olives, Artichokes & More! Just perfect with a glass of wine and a lively chat.
Spicy Olives
Tapenade
Artichoke Pesto
Sundried Tomato Pesto

Make that a savory biscuit and (or) a dab of jam for the cocktail hour.
Gorgonzola & Walnut Shortbread with Savory Fig Jam or Savory Parmesan Shortbread with Tomato Jam.

Skip the savory and go for sweet.
Death by Chocolate Sauce
Maple Sauce
Caramel Sauce.

Snowflake_Sugar_CookieDid someone say Christmas cookies?
Citrus & Spice Sugar Cookies
Peppermint Bark Cookies
Cherry-Pistachio Biscotti
Ginger Shortbread
Macadamia Nut Shortbread 
Snowy Pecan Balls
.

Or fabulous Christmas chocolates?
Chocolate Almond Buttery Brittle
Chocolate Dipped Orange Caramels Chocolate Truffles.

Happy holidays and bon appétit!

For a complete list of and links to all the recipes on this blog Click Here!!

Will you be making any gifts this year? I’d love to hear from you. Let’s get a conversation going.

For a complete list of and links to all the recipes on this blog Click Here!

Want more? Click here for more seasonal menus! © Susan W. Nye, 2016

Multitasking & Pork & Black Bean Stew with Salsa Verde

swiss_armyAfter the lazy, hazy days of summer, it’s time to get down to business. With cooler air, we feel the need to move faster and stretch the time further. Although rarely successful, multitasking is one of the ways we try to jam more into every day.

Successful or not, we all brag about our ability to do seven things at once. How long has it been since you gave a phone call your undivided attention? Months? Never? Whether driving or loading the dishwasher, answering emails, coaching little league, folding laundry or running on the treadmill, no one drops what they’re doing to answer the phone. And that’s not all. Knitters binge watch their favorite drama while clacking out miles of scarves and dozens of mittens. Neatniks get their exercise and keep in rhythm by doing a samba with the vacuum cleaner.

When we’re not doing three things at once, we’re flitting back and forth from one task to another and another. Take this article; just as I was getting started, my email pinged. Of course, I checked it out. Next thing you know I’m paying a bill and then emptying the dishwasher. Finally, I get back to the article. Now, what was that terribly clever anecdote I wanted to add?

To distract ourselves further we search far and wide for multifunction gizmos and gadgets. Remember the days when we marveled at a Swiss Army knife. How innocent we were. A knife that whittles, opens bottles (both beer and wine) and tightens screws (both Philips- and flat-head) is an excellent addition to any pocket. But alas, it’s nothing compared to a phone that surfs the net, receives and sends email and text messages, takes pictures, guides you to your destination, sends you moneysaving coupons, tells the time and temperature, takes a message, finds you a date and plays both music and games.

Putting the phone aside … if you can. What are your favorite multitasking machines? I ran into a couple when I lived in Europe. I guess necessity was the mother of many of these clever inventions. For one thing, apartments were generally compact. For another, people did seem at least a bit more concerned about their carbon footprint than the average American.

My favorite multitasker was something called a robot. It was nothing more than a combination food processor, blender, mini food processor and coffee grinder. Any cook would love to have one. I can’t believe they don’t exist on this side of the Atlantic. There was a base with a decent motor and three maybe four processing bowls in different sizes and shapes. The robot came with a bunch of different blades and attachments. It could chop, slice, dice, blend, knead, grind and probably more that I’ve forgotten. When I returned to the US, I had to buy three, make that four, different machines to do the same work.

Although I was forced into buying a closet full of equipment to replace my robot, I have discovered a few hacks to turn some of my favorite kitchen tools into multitasking miracles. You probably already know these tips but here goes nothing. The easiest way to peel ginger is with a regular old spoon. An ice cream scoop is perfect for filling muffin tins. A melon baller can core an apple in a flash. And finally, when in doubt; grab the tongs. They work for just about everything. Flip steaks, stir soup, toss a salad and, my favorite, use them to grab something off the top shelf.

Whether you save time or not, have fun in the kitchen this fall. Bon appétit!

Pork & Black Bean Stew with Salsa Verdepork_bean_stew_salsa_verde_01
Although it requires a fair amount of multitasking, this Brazilian-inspired stew is worth every delicious step. Enjoy!
Serves 8-12

1 pound dried black beans
12-16 ounces hot (or sweet) Italian sausage, casings removed
1/4 cup dry sherry or white wine
Olive oil
About 3 pounds pork shoulder
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
1 large onion, peeled and finely chopped
2 carrots, peeled and finely chopped
2 stalks celery, finely chopped
1 red bell pepper, cored, seeded and finely chopped
4 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
2 tablespoons (or more to taste) minced jalapeno
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
2 tablespoons brown sugar
Grated zest and juice of 1 orange
Juice of 1 lime
1/4 cup espresso or strong coffee
1/4 cup rum
2 bay leaves
4-6 cups chicken stock or broth
1 cup sour cream
1/3-1/2 cup per person white, basmati or brown rice
Salsa Verde (recipes follows)

Rinse and soak the beans overnight in 10-12 cups water.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

Put the sausage in a large ovenproof skillet, add the sherry and 1/2 cup water and, turning once or twice, roast at 375 degrees for about 45 minutes. Cool to room temperature. Cut the sausage into chunks and then, in 2 or 3 batches, transfer to a food processor and pulse to finely chop. Reserve.

While the sausage is cooking, pat the pork dry and season with salt and pepper. Heat a little olive oil in a large casserole over medium-high heat, add the pork and brown well on all sides. Remove the pork from the casserole and reserve.

Put the vegetables, spices and oregano in the casserole, season with salt and pepper and sauté until the onion is translucent. Add the garlic and cook 1 minute more. Stir in the sausage and brown sugar, add the orange zest and juice, lime juice, espresso and rum and stir to combine. Add the pork, 1 bay leaf and enough chicken stock to come about 3/4 of the way up the sides of the pork.

Bring everything to a simmer, cover and transfer to the oven. Reduce the heat to 350 degrees and turning the pork a few times, cook for about 2 hours.

After the pork has been cooking for about 45 minutes, drain and rinse the beans. Put the beans in a large pot, add water to cover by 3-4 inches and the remaining bay leaf. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to very low, cover and simmer until almost tender, about 45 minutes.

Drain the beans and add them to the pork. If necessary, add more chicken stock. Return the stew to the oven and cook for another 30-45 minutes or until both the pork and beans are very tender.

Remove the stew from the oven and cool to room temperature. Transfer the pork to a cutting board and cut or shred into bite-sized pieces.

Put the sour cream in a small bowl and a little at a time, stir 1-2 cups of sauce to the sour cream.

Stir the pork and the sour cream back into the beans. Cover and store in the refrigerator for several hours or overnight.

Reheat the stew in a 350-degree oven until bubbling, about 45 minutes or 1 hour. While the stew reheats, cook the rice according to package directions. Serve the stew in shallow bowls with rice and a spoonful of Salsa Verde.

Salsa Verde
2-3 tablespoons sherry vinegar
Zest and juice of 1 lime
1-2 cloves garlic, chopped
2-3 scallions, sliced
About 1 1/2 cups fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves
About 1 cup cilantro leaves
About 1/2 cup fresh mint leaves
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
1/2 cup or to taste extra-virgin olive oil

Put the vinegar and lime juice in the bowl of a small food processor, add the lime zest, scallions, garlic and herbs, season with salt and pepper and pulse to chop and combine. Add the olive oil and process until finely chopped and well combined.

Let sit the salsa for at least 30 minutes before serving. Can be made ahead, covered and stored in the refrigerator for 1-2 days. Serve at room temperature.

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