Tonight's Dinner is Orzo with Chicken and Olive Sprinkle

Some ingredients are just back-pocket game changers that you should always have around. Dehydrated olives may not sound like a necessity, but they can add a punch of flavor to almost anything. Don't be concerned with people who claim they don't like olives, it's not the same flavor. In the way that miso paste or soy sauce can add a depth of umami to a dish, so too can a bit of dehydrated olives just sprinkled on top. On pasta, on meat, even on a salad this little dust can do wonders.

And it's not a difficult task - it's really just about sticking them in an oven and remembering to take them out. You can make a giant batch and then seal them in a jar, always at the ready for an infusion of oomph. 

This recipe takes something lovable but basic - chicken and pasta - and makes it feel like a sophisticated dish. It takes the ordinary and makes it addictive. But with the combination of the olives and the flavor of the chicken skin, you're basically unstoppable. 

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Your New Addictive Snack is Citrus Marinated Olives

Gaby Dalkin seems to live on of those breezy California lives that makes me question all my life choices for living in New York. Her sunny blog, What's Gaby Cooking, has really delectable recipes and now she is out with a new book based on the style her readers have grown to love. 

I loved getting to bring a little bit of that California feel into my new test kitchen. I am going to be doing a lot more videos from the kitchen which will allow for a lot more cookbook authors from out of town to share recipes - and I'm doing in a series I'm calling The Easiest Recipe. The Easiest Recipe will take what I think is the simplest recipe from the book and we make it in real-time right in the kitchen. For Gaby's book we picked the citrus marinated olives. These might be the most addictive snack - be careful if you make them for a party because you might just eat them all on their own. 

So watch the video, check out Gaby's new book and you can make the recipe below if you feel inspired!

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Turn Your Notions Upside-down With This Smoked Salmon Tart

I grew up with smoked salmon on a bagel. In Charleston there was always one place that served a decent bagel. And since moving to New York a decade ago it's been a staple no matter what. There's something about the combination of bread, cream cheese and the fatty perfection of lox. 

But it is also somewhat of a cooking cop out. When I want to ignore actually doing anything I will buy some good smoked salmon from Russ and Daughters, order a dozen bagels from my favorite spot (Bagels on the Square in my neighborhood) and stick out a brunch that requires pretty minimal effort. It is so delicious but feels a little bit cheap. 

I was in Austin recently at the Lake Austin spa teaching a class about Bring It! and they had this poached egg dish with salmon and cumin. It was such a delight to see smoked salmon with a bit of spice to it. And it immediately made me want to change up my own lox routine.

So the smoked salmon tart was born. It has all the ingredients of a typical bagel but with little twists- the light puff pastry replaces the bagel; a dash of that cumin gives it a little bit of depth; and some time in the oven makes it a warming treat. And the truth is that it is almost as easy as a regular bagel would be. 

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You Really Can Make Ceviche at Home, I Promise

There are some things that we seem to have a mental block for home cooking. And despite our constant ordering of sushi and the rise of poke bowls, we are all still so hesitant to make anything with raw fish at home.

But why? If you have a good grocery store in your area (or even a local fishmonger) there is no reason to not bring the popular concoctions home.

One of my favorites is ceviche. I'm a sucker for lime and I'm an especially huge fan of the Peruvian version which adds corn and sweet potatoes to the mix.

So I went over to Mission Ceviche to chat with Chef Jose Luis Chavez about his thoughts on choosing your seafood for ceviche. From raw fish to varieties that are cooked (hello shrimp and octopus) it is totally doable to have a bit of ceviche from your own fridge.

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Get Your Hands on Some Palm Pesto

I'm a little giddy around this spring weather. It makes me want to have light, bright and healthy every single day. But salads and rice bowls can get exceptionally boring.

I recently went to a restaurant that had a chopped hearts of palm salsa on top of a fish. It was tart and refreshing - and everything I want in my springtime meals. So I took the idea and made it into a lunchtime-friendly all purpose pesto kind of sauce. It's basically just throwing a bunch of deliciousness in a blender and then making sure you keep some on hand for anything you want to brighten up.

I made it for a rice bowl and then literally ate it for lunch every single day for a week. I started pouring it on eggs in the morning and salads at night. It's the very definition of cheap and cheerful. 

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What Makes a Great Cutting Board?

So much of how we stock a kitchen ends up being about timing. When you are first moving in and someone hands you a few hand-me-downs, those items can often stick around longer than intended. I am so guilty of this - I have ladles I never use or semi-cracked strainers that I should just give up on. But the place with the most knick-knacks in my kitchen is cutting boards.

My cutting boards are like varying stages of my life: cheap plastic ones to get the job done; a tiny one that I bought once for a picnic; a wooden one I bought as a surfboard for my son's halloween costume (true story) that now I just use; and a really nice one from when we got married.

But of all the items in your kitchen, there are few we actually use more than the cutting board. So shouldn't we have a more purposeful collection that can work in any scenario? I went to Gotham Bar & Grill to sit down and chat about it with Chef and Owner Alfred Portale. When I had stopped in recently to try their new bar menu I was enamored with their cutting boards - and then someone informed me that he makes them. I can barely make it out of my house in the morning. So I knew I had to sit down with Alfred and get his take on how we should all be using out cutting boards.

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The Shoulder Season Stunner is Zucchini Parm

It is sunny here in New York today but this will-it-or-won't-it spring still has me hankering for something comforting. So what do you do think this shoulder weather?

Enter the zucchini parm. It's the lightened up version, a lot of vegetables, a lot of freshness with basil and lemon an still a bit of cheese to bring it together. It can be prepped ahead, which for me is usually half the battle.

So if you need an easy, warming meal, I can't think of anything better

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Kitchen Organizational Help is Here, and It Couldn't Come Soon Enough

For those of you who follow along with my instagram (hi!), you might know that I am at the tail end of a kitchen renovation. It's super exciting since I will now have a space to film that is totally set up for it - an awesome new stage for this little show. 

But of course the larger issue with a new kitchen is figuring out the set up. And even those who have been in a kitchen for a long time can sometimes need to make our life more efficient. There is a little dance we do every time we cook, moving from spot to spot as we go from prep to cooking to cleanup. Anyone who can make that easier is a godsend.

Enter Melissa Coleman, author of the blog The Faux Martha and the new book The Minimalist Kitchen. I love her style and her easy bright personality. The book is full of incredible recipes but also a lot of tips and tricks for paring down the clutter and getting organized. So there was no more fitting first guest in the kitchen. You'll have to excuse the lighting (better lights coming soon) and ignore the fact that there were no cabinets above us (ha! careful framing) but the advice is about as top notch as it gets.

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