Recipes for an unreserved Valentine’s Day

by Terry B on February 11, 2015

Valentine's hearts

So it’s almost Valentine’s Day, and you haven’t scored a restaurant reservation. Or maybe you’ve chosen to abstain from the madness of one of the busiest nights for restaurants. Whatever the case, you need a delicious Plan B for this most romantic of holidays. Here are some ideas from the Blue Kitchen archives that might be just what you’re looking for. [click to continue…]



Dried oregano, garlic and onions create an aromatic base for a weeknight quick one-pot dinner of chicken, potatoes and peas. Recipe (and thoughts on dried herbs) below.

Braised Chicken with Potatoes and Peas

I go through phases with herbs. For a long time, herbes de Provence showed up in everything (I even added it to scrambled eggs for a while). More recently, it was tarragon—fresh from our yard up through the fall, then dried. Now I seem to be cooking with oregano a lot. [click to continue…]



Microwaving gives Skillet Potatoes a head start

by Terry B on January 28, 2015

Nuking potatoes instead of parboiling them makes skillet-sautéed potatoes even quicker to fix. Fresh herbs add a nice finish. Recipe below.

Quick Skillet Potatoes with Herbs

A friend of ours—an ambitious, adventurous home cook—does not own a microwave oven. He announces as much with the smug tone usually reserved for saying you don’t own a television. [click to continue…]



Dried tart cherries and a batter made with olive oil and flavored with star anise and almond extract create a dense, delicious, not-too-sweet dessert—or an illicit breakfast. Recipe below.

Dried Cherry Upside Down Cake

First, I am one of those jerks who, after it’s been cold for a while, I go around saying, oh, I don’t think it’s so bad! Lately, this jerk attitude has been exacerbated because I spent a few days in upstate New York , where it was biting cold—so cold that, on Tuesday night, I saw the aurora borealis (it was a huge, white, pink and red fluttering curtain) and Wednesday morning, when I woke up, it was ten below zero. Coming back to Chicago seemed like coming back to a tropical isle. [click to continue…]



Orzo—rice-shaped pasta—stands in for rice in this earthy, less fussy version of risotto, flavored with dried porcini mushrooms, saffron, leeks, garlic and lemon juice. Recipe below.

Risotto-style Orzo with Porcini Mushrooms

For years, we bought rice in 25-pound sacks at an Asian market, and we went through those sacks at an alarming rate. Until finally, we didn’t. The change wasn’t abrupt, but it was there. The giant sacks of rice were lasting longer, then ultimately becoming impractical, taking up too much room in our cramped pantry. [click to continue…]



Lemony Lamb Burgers with Dijon Mustard

by Terry B on January 7, 2015

Lemon zest, garlic, fresh parsley, a scallion and Dijon mustard liven up this simple lamb burger. Recipe below.

Lamb Burger

I was in college the first time I ate lamb. I can’t pinpoint the precise meal. My girlfriend’s family ate lamb frequently, so it could have been leg of lamb for a holiday meal. Lamb chops for a big Sunday dinner. Or ground lamb patties for a quick weeknight dinner. Whatever the case, I was immediately hooked. [click to continue…]


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Lentils cooked with an international mix of spices and aromatics and topped with poached eggs make a satisfying vegetarian lunch, light supper or, as served by April Bloomfield, robust breakfast. Recipe below.

Curried Lentils with Poached Eggs

We went all out for the holiday food extravaganzas this year at our house. At one point, our in-house supplies included chocolate mascarpone brownies, a pound cake baked by Laurel, moon cakes from our favorite Chinatown bakery, a cheerful assortment of donuts from Stan’s, Rum Ball ice cream and Lime Cardamom frozen yogurt from Jeni’s, butterfly cookies, chocolate chip cookies, strawberry-flavored “French cookies” from Japan, a box of truffles from Moonstruck, some violet-scented chocolate my sister brought back from France, plus an unclear number of other chocolates, plus several luscious cheeses, plus a pie—I am so jaded by all this that I don’t remember what sort of pie. [click to continue…]



Christmas memory leftovers

by Terry B on December 24, 2014

Chef Ornament

Okay, it’s Christmas Eve. I could post a recipe here, I suppose. But even if you were inclined to add it to what you have already planned, would you have the time, energy and open stores to track down ingredients and put it together? Yeah, I didn’t think so. Instead, I’m going to share a holiday story with you. [click to continue…]



Mushroom pasta, porcini mushrooms, leftover duck and duck stock combine to create an earthy, peasanty meal. Recipe below.

Mushroom Linguine with Duck

Weeks ago I promised you a recipe using the carcass of the roasted duck and leftover duck meat. I hope you put that duck in the freezer, because this week, in the lull between Thanksgiving and the next round of holiday frenzy, I got a bright idea. [click to continue…]



Beef pot roast, a winter comfort food stalwart, gets livened up with sweet potatoes, onions and smoky, spicy chipotle peppers in adobo sauce. Recipe below, with tips on adjusting the heat and smoke.

Chipotle Pot Roast with Sweet Potatoes

Turkey and I are taking a break. After some intensely enjoyable time together—Thanksgiving dinner, a delectable soup of dandelion greens, white beans and stock made from the turkey carcass, numerous sandwiches, and random pieces of cold turkey eaten with nothing more than a shake of salt—we hit a bit of a wall. So we both agreed I should see other animal proteins for a while. [click to continue…]