as requested

Stewed Chicken with Olives.

You’ll need, in no particular order:

  • Chicken thighs*
  • Onion
  • Garlic
  • Olives (whatever tickles your fancy.  I use a mix of black and green.  Please DON’T use those awful black rubber ones that come in a can)
  • Sun-dried Tomatoes
  • Fresh Herbs (as you like!  Thyme and fresh oregano are nice..  a combination of marjoram and sage is a sort of sexy alternate version..  a bay leaf is good)
  • White wine (whatever is decent enough for you to drink)
  • Anchovies
  • Tomato Paste (please use the stuff from a toothpaste style tube..  it’s often much better, and you can use just a bit at a time)

A brief word on ingredient lists.  There are some things that I will assume you have.  Things like olive oil, butter, salt, pepper, vinegar, eggs, flour, water..  etc..  I will also NOT be including amounts, except maybe in relative terms like “equal parts of x and y” or descriptive terms like “a little little bit” or “as much as you think you can stand.. then double it.”  I think that giving amounts in recipes has a tendency to perpetuate the myth that cooking is hard and exact, and maybe makes people feel that they NEED the recipe because it contains some sort of magic formula..  I want to discourage this whole line of thought!  Be accountable!!  Use your noodle!!  A recipe, and more importantly, the fundamental technique contained in the recipe, will stick better that way.  You’ll have an easier time departing from the recipe and making it your own if you were never that dependent on it to begin with.  Maybe it’s best if we don’t even call these recipes, but “descriptions!”


Use a heavy wide bottomed pan. I use a le crueset paella pan. A cast iron skillet would also work well.

Season the chicken with salt and pepper, and then brown it in some olive oil.  Turn it once to brown both sides.  Remove and reserve.

With the pan still hot, add chopped garlic and onions and a couple of anchovies.  Once the garlic begins to brown a little, add the halved olives and chopped sun-dried tomatoes.  Almost immediately deglaze the pan with white wine.  Add a squeeze of tomato paste and incorporate well.  You may choose to add a little more wine..  but remember that you’re not making soup.  The liquid you’ve made should be a little thick.

Arrange the pieces of chicken in your newly created brazing liquid.  Top with coarsely chopped herbs.  Cover and place in a 350 degree oven.

Let it stew until the chicken is falling off the bone.  About an hour and a quarter.  Remove from the oven and let it rest, covered, for about 15 minutes before serving.

We eat it with a mix of brown and wild rice.  It was great the other night with sauteed swiss chard.

(the thigh of the chicken is the cheapest part, and strangely, the best! We buy Murray’s free range from our local supermarket and at something like $1.59 a pound, it’s about the cheapest high quality meat you can buy.  Get it with the skin on if you have the choice.)

sudado de pescado (republished)

I put this up first on my flickr page.  It got a surprisingly big response.  I figured it made sense to have it here on the blog as well.

“There have been some requests for recipes on here. I don’t really cook with recipes, so it’s hard to know just how to write them. I don’t measure or time anything, etc..

This one I feel I must pass on, however.
I was taught to make this when I was in Peru for a little while doing some teaching. It is the simplest and most miraculous thing imaginable. I’ve made a few changes, but the technique remains!

Three ingredients, really.

Layer, in a flashy pan:
1/4 inch (or a little less) slices of yellow onion.. big discs.
Then 1/4 inch or so slices of beefsteak tomato
Finally big chunks of cod, or other flaky white fish (hake or polluck e.g.)

Toss in a few whole pepper corns, a slightly crushed clove or two of garlic, a fresh bay leaf, just a bit of fresh hot chile (whatever sort you like.. the types available in Peru are astonishing, and make what we have here seem blunt and unsubtle). I usually add just a few pats of butter!

ADD NO LIQUID!!!!!! none at all.

Cover the pan and place over low heat.

Go cook something else for a little while, but not too long (15 minutes maybe? 20?)

When you uncover it, strangely, this is what you have! The broth is just the sum of all the liquid from the fish tomato and onion, and is simply the most divine broth I’ve had. Clean, fresh, astonishing.

Make it tonight. “

Ok. so.

You should know how to make this.

Spinach Salad.  I used to eat this at a restaurant in Brattleboro Vermont called the Shin La.  It was a Korean owned place that had started as a sub shop, with only a couple of Korean items on the menu.  These few items were met with such enthusiasm, that pretty quickly the owners abandoned subs and went whole hog.

When we newbs in Vermont first had this it was a revelation!  Figuring out how to make it was a total “um.. duh!” moment.

Here’s how:  Steam some spinach.  Dress with toasted sesame oil and soy sauce.  Top with toasted sesame seeds.

More long winded:  Steaming spinach is easy.  Rinse the stuff in a colander, whether it needs it or not.  Let it drain, and then dump the whole thing into a big pot.  Don’t add any water!  Whatever is clinging to the leaves is perfect (that’s why you rinse it even if it’s prewashed!!  Get it?).  Turn on the heat, and cook uncovered so you can keep an eye on it.  Turn with tongs or hands as needed.  It will shrink massively.  Once it has all turned darker green pull it out and dunk it in an ice bath.  You can rinse it in cold water if you’re too lazy for an ice bath, but it’ll be much yummier if you shock it (ice bath is easy too..  you’ll never go back.  Big bowl of water.  Now crack a tray or two of ice cubes in.  Tada!).  Once it’s properly cooled, pull it out and squeeze as much water out as you can.  Break up the spinach ball you’ve made and dress in a bowl (roughly equal parts oil and soy).  Top with toasted sesame seeds.  You can add some diced scallions too if you like.

Try it.  It’s one of those great dishes that is MUCH more than the sum of its parts.

More to come.  Now that I don’t have cancer, I think I might make this a cooking blog.