Posts in Food
Spice Up Your Life

Ok, yes, I did make the title of this post a Spice Girls lyric. But before you roll your eyes there is good reason for it.

I am a huge proponent of spices. They add a layer of aromatics and depth to whatever you are cooking that takes it up a notch. A lot of people have misconceptions here: that spices have to be spicy and that when you are using spices your dish is less fresh. The first is nonsense, because other than peppers and cayenne spices are only adding flavor. The second is really a sad result of the terrible and stale spices that most people use (yes, I’m looking at you with that cinnamon you bought in 2002). When my son was born everyone was shocked - SHOCKED - that he got curry powder or cumin in his purees. But why not? The more flavor we are exposed to the broader our palate will be. And by the way, that applies to adults too.

So Kanchan Koya’s book, Spice Spice Baby, was a breath of fresh air. She comes from a science background so she makes the case that, beyond being delicious, spices are actually an essential ingredient for your health. And so many of the recipes are really simple. She came over to the kitchen and actually showcased three recipes that require no cooking - so there goes the other myth that spices need to be complicated.

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The Perfect Lobster Salad

Over the summer I try to eat as much lobster as humanly possible. Nothing speaks to me quite like a lobster roll when it is hot outside. 

You can actually eat lobster all year long but in the summer (and into the fall) you actually get new shell lobsters which have their own wonderful texture. I spent a lot of time up in Maine last year learning about the differences in lobsters (you can find them up the coast from Canada as well, but I am a bit in love with how Maine handles their lobsters). 

At any rate as the season changes (or doesn't, based on the weather where you are!) I wanted to break out of my roll rut and try something new. Luckily Kwame Onwuachi was in town to show me a flavorful and bright take on a lobster salad that will keep you hanging on to warm weather. You might recognize Kwame if you have been to his DC restaurant Kith/Kin or if you are a fan of Top Chef!

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Make Mezze Your Appetizer Plan

I hate to sound old enough to say I've enjoyed following someone's career, but apparently today I'm going to. I have loved watching whatever Eden Grinshpan does next. She is a barrel of laughs and a breath of fresh air wherever she goes. I first interviewed her when she had a show on Cooking Channel. She has since moved on host Top Chef Canada and now she has opened her first restaurant, Dez. It combines all of her Israeli, Middle Eastern and  other travel experiences into one spirited and flavorful fast casual spot. 

And since I can't possibly pick a favorite I decided instead to pick her brain about mezzes. It's an all-encompassing word but it can help outline one of the best appetizer plans possible.

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Shrimp Butter is Your New Best Friend

So few things in life can make almost anything better. But I think shrimp butter really can. It is basically a sauce that can be made easily but elevate any type of dish. Spread it on toast in the morning or make a fancy-seeming pasta at night for guests. Make a tomato sandwich spread with shrimp butter or put it in a bowl of rice and take it to the next level. There are very few things that shrimp butter can't do. And you know what makes it even better? It takes less than 10 minutes to make.

I grew up with variations on shrimp butter since in the Lowcountry of South Carolina there are few things more prevalent than shrimp. But I also saw a version in Normandy that knocked my socks off. So this aims to be the in-between - a Southern staple but that still tries to be as light and bright as possible.

This is also great in the freezer - keep it on hand and then whip it out when you have guests. Trust me, no one will think you didn't plan ahead.

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You're About to Be Obsessed with Leche De Tigre

There are some dishes I just can't ever get enough of and in the summer I will have ceviche in any form. But some have sauces that make you want to lick the bowl at the end. 

I went to De Maria in Soho recently and every dish had that joyous pop of flavor that makes you want to just jump for joy. But the leche de tigre on the ceviche really took the cake.

If you're not familiar, leche de tigre is a sauce used in Peruvian cooking to add a bright citrus pop to their famous seafood. It is literally 'tiger's milk' and its a creamy take on a lot of flavor. But the one at De Maria was the perfect combination of texture and citrus so I knew I needed the recipe. Turns out it is as simple as can be.

Watch the video below or follow the recipe below for a sauce you'll want to put onto everything.

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The Easiest Blueberry Jam Ever

So if you follow me on social media you might have noticed in the last week that I was in Rhode Island and was mildly obsessed with blueberry picking. It's one of my favorite activities because it's a soothing task that somehow also yields pounds upon pounds of blueberries - how could that not be a winning combo? 

I made a ton of pies and pancakes and just about a million handfuls of blueberries on their own, but of course when you pick tons of fruit there is nothing better than jam. 

Now, you all know I love to make things as simple as humanly possible because I'm incredibly lazy. But jam is one of those things I have never understood the insanity around. Everyone wants to make it more complicated. Pectin! Canning machines! Special ingredients! I say screw all of that and make it as easy as possible.

This recipe is my classic because it takes the least amount of work and ingredients but still tastes like a glorious batch of summer. Blueberries are perfect for this kind of jam because they get jammy pretty naturally. If you do want a slightly less cooked version you can add pectin. But if you're like me and you don't make a ton of jam at home then this is a simple solution that will suddenly make you feel like a home cooking superstar. The truth is that great in-season fruit makes excellent jam without much else, so don't let anyone tell you otherwise.

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The Secret to Flawless Shortbread

Sometimes life just requires baking. In those moments nothing is better than a cookie. And when you want simplicity to go along with it, a shortbread cookie can be the ultimate satisfying treat.

Jim Lahey, the brilliant mind behind Sullivan Street Bakery grew up on Walker's Shortbread. I became a bit addicted to them myself when I lived in Scotland. But unlike Lahey I didn't spend years honing and perfecting my own version. Luckily he was willing to share his Italian take on the classic

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