Wednesday, January 31, 2024

My New Favorite Comfort Food

 What’s cooking? Chinese Stir-Fried Tomatoes and Eggs

There’s something about January that makes even decent weather feel drab. It has rained – or seemed that way – about every other day this month, so much so that my hubby keeps turning to me and saying, “Does it always rain this much in Austin?” Of course, now that we’ve been here for 15 years, he’s more aware of the weather than he lets on, but we have had a remarkable amount of precipitation lately. And when it wasn’t raining, we’ve had lots of overcast days, quite a few very cold days, and with that much water in the air, when it warms up – as it did this week – we get heavy fog.

So what to do in these periods of gloom? Comfort food. Whatever it is that your mom used to make when you stayed home from school with a cold or flu. It was warm and soft. I’d say chicken soup is my favorite comfort food, with bean soups and risottos right behind, except that I’ve recently discovered a Chinese dish that tops them all: Stir-fried Tomatoes and Eggs, served over a bowl of white rice.

It was Francis Lam’s contribution in his last New York Times column a few years ago, so I thought of it the way I think about my grandmother’s brownie recipe, which I will give to you when I stop blogging. It’s that last hurrah – the writer’s favorite recipe. And I know the idea of stir-fried tomatoes and eggs sounds a little weird, but you will not believe how good this simple combination is and how quickly it comes together. The gentle mix of flavors – the fragrant rice wine in the eggs, the subtle hit from the fresh ginger and sweet ketchup in the tomato sauce – combine in a wave of umami that cradles the softly scrambled eggs as they finish in the sauce. Even my prince perks up when I tell him that’s for dinner. I often have to hide the leftovers so I can have them for lunch the next day.

Start by assembling the ingredients.

The only caution I will give you is that the dish spends so little time (no more than 15 minutes) actually cooking – and that includes all those movements between steps, like the time to get the eggs out of the pan, time for a last-minute stir of the cornstarch mixture, etc. So the only way to successfully pull it off is to have every ingredient (yes, every one) ready in little bowls. If not, you will drive yourself crazy from the 15 seconds on this and 2 minutes on that, and something will overcook, which will be bad.

Chinese Stir-fried Tomatoes and Eggs

Adapted from Francis Lam in The New York Times

Kitchen Goddess note: Making rice is not part of Lam’s directions, though I don’t know why not, because that’s the first thing you need to do. Rice generally takes a half hour, so if you start it before you begin gathering your ingredients and assembling your mise en place, it’ll be ready when the eggs and tomatoes are. Or maybe you’d like to make it the day before and re-heat it in the microwave. Either way, get the rice ready before you start the eggs and tomatoes. This dish is best eaten warm.

Active Time: 30 minutes

Serves 2-3. I would say 3-4, but at my house, at least one person always goes back for more.


6 large eggs
½ teaspoon toasted sesame oil
1 tablespoon Shaoxing rice wine or dry sherry (not rice wine vinegar!)
Kosher salt
1 teaspoon cornstarch
1 teaspoon sugar
2 tablespoons ketchup
1 pound beefsteak tomatoes in season, or one 14.5-ounce can of diced tomatoes in juice (In the off-season, KG prefers heirloom tomatoes for the texture, if they’re available, but canned ones work just fine.) 
4 tablespoons vegetable oil
3 scallions, thinly sliced
1 teaspoon minced or grated ginger (from about ½ -inch nub)

Steamed rice, for serving


Get the rice started, following the directions on the box. (Kitchen Goddess note: KG and Ina Garten both recommend Texmati for its flavor and aroma. Jasmati – made by the same company – has longer grains and is plumper, softer, and a bit more moist, but the flavor is equally good.)

Set your mise en place:

1. In a mixing bowl, beat the eggs well with the sesame oil, the rice wine (or sherry), and 1 teaspoon of kosher salt. Set aside.

2. In a small bowl (think custard cup), stir 2 tablespoons of water into the cornstarch until it dissolves. Add the sugar and ketchup and stir until the entire mixture is well combined. Set aside.

3. If you will be using fresh tomatoes – and let me say here that in the summer when beefsteak tomatoes are available, you would be a fool not to use them in this dish – core and slice them into ½-inch wedges. Set them aside in a mixing bowl. If you are using canned tomatoes, open the can and set it aside.

4. Grate/mince your ginger and put it in a small bowl. Set aside.

5. Slice the scallions and put about three quarter of them into a small bowl, and the remaining quarter into a separate small bowl. Set both bowls aside.

Now that you have your mise en place, heat a wide (10- or 11-inch) skillet over high heat with 3 tablespoons of the oil. (Mr. Lam recommends a non-stick skillet, but I’ve never had a problem with my heavy-duty stainless.)

When the oil begins to shimmer, add the larger portion of the scallions and stir them around for 20-30 seconds, until they give off a good aroma. Give the eggs a final stir and pour them into the pan, stirring constantly until the eggs are just set but still a bit runny, which will take about 45 seconds. Pour the eggs back into their mixing bowl, and wipe out the pan. (The Kitchen Goddess has never wiped out the pan, but Lam recommends it, so... your choice.)

Move the pan back to the stovetop over high heat, and add the remaining tablespoon of oil. When the oil begins to shimmer, add the ginger and stir until it is aromatic, likely about 15 seconds. Add the tomatoes all at once, with a sprinkling of kosher salt, and cook, stirring occasionally, for 2-3 minutes until the flesh softens and the juices have begun to thicken. (If you are using canned tomatoes, add the juice from the can as well and give the tomatoes an extra couple of minutes  – total 4-5 minutes – for those juices to thicken to a saucelike consistency.)

Reduce the heat to medium. Stir the cornstarch-ketchup mixture one last time and add it to the pan. Continue stirring the sauce until it reaches a boil and thickens. Taste the sauce and add salt or sugar or ketchup if you like. (I have never added anything.) It’s supposed to be a savory, sweet-tart sauce.

Stir the eggs in the bowl again to “chunk” the curds, then add them to the sauce. Cook, stirring the mixture for about another 20 seconds (less depending on how runny you like your eggs) to finish the dish, and scatter the remaining scallions over the top.

Serve over steamed rice.

Tuesday, October 31, 2023

Ghosts and Goblins and Economists, oh my!

 What’s cooking? Crispy Chicken Thighs with Charred Zucchini

Happy Halloween! Did you know that most children think Halloween is the second most important holiday after Christmas/Hannukah? I am pretty much in that camp. In fact, I feel so strongly about it, I wrote an essay about it for The New York Times. You can find a link to the piece here.

One of the things I miss most about our life in New Jersey is the ’weeners. I always carved a pumpkin, and was ever at the door in my witch’s hat when the ’weener alert went out. Our next-door neighbors’ children covered their front lawn with dead bodies, vampires, and whatever else they could come up with, so the neighborhood drew a good crowd.

But my favorite Halloween host was an economist who lived near us. He could hardly resist the opportunity for a research project. One year, he offered a choice: one candy and a lottery ticket for the evening’s drawing, or two candies with no ticket. (You can imagine the looks on the kids’ faces as they pondered this dilemma.) He held the drawing – for whatever candy remained – at 8pm, in part to shut down the never-ending trick-or-treat process, and in part to focus on the younger kids, who tended to arrive early. His wife convinced him not to make it a winner-take-all jackpot, so he awarded one grand prize and three smaller ones.

In other years, he would put all the chocolate candy in a black box (marked with “BEWARE OF ECONOMISTS WITH BLACK BOXES”) and all the other (presumably less attractive) candy in an open bowl. You could only take from one or the other. A couple of times he also permitted them to trade in candy they had picked up elsewhere, with a net take of one or two candies. He thought he’d end up with a bowlful of one or two unwanted types of candies, but surprisingly, the offer merely facilitated trading. (What else are economists good for?) Occasionally, he says, kids would pick up candies discarded by another kid in the same group!

* * *

For today, I have no special Halloween dinner or dessert, but at least this dish uses pumpkin seeds (though not the ones from your pumpkin). And because you can make the sauce in your blender while the chicken is cooking, it really takes less than an hour. By the way, you should save any leftover sauce, as it’s good as a mellower version of green goddess on a wedge of iceberg lettuce, or as a dip for potato chips.

Pepitas on left; pumpkin seeds on right.

Kitchen Goddess note: Pumpkin seeds and pepitas are related, but pumpkin seeds are whole seeds with their shells still on, whereas pepitas are a type of pumpkin seed found in shell-less, or hull-free pumpkin varieties.

Crispy Chicken Thighs with Charred Zucchini

Adapted from Ham El-Waylly in The New York Times

Yield: 4 servings


4 bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs (about 1½ pounds)
Kosher salt
3 medium zucchini
¼ cup pepitas (raw is recommended, but if you can’t find raw pumpkin seeds, just remember to salt sparingly)
Cilantro sprigs, for garnish

Special equipment: flexible fish spatula  (not required but very helpful in loosening the chicken from the skillet). If you don’t have one of these, you should. Also helpful with... well, fish.

For the sauce:

½ cup buttermilk
¼ cup pepitas (again, raw is recommended, but if you can’t find raw pepitas, just remember to salt sparingly)
1 cup loosely chopped cilantro stems and leaves 
1 garlic clove
1 jalapeño, stemmed and seeded (unless you really like it hot)
3 tablespoons lemon juice (from 1 lemon)
1 teaspoon kosher salt

To serve: 
Plain white rice

Heat oven to 400º. Use a paper towel to pat both sides of the thighs until dry. Season the chicken thighs all over with kosher salt and let them rest for 10-15 minutes. (A 15-minute sit at room temperature will let the chicken cook more evenly.)

Slice the zucchini lengthwise into halves or thirds (The original recipe called for halves. The Kitchen Goddess sliced hers into thirds, because... well, because she wanted thinner slices. Your choice.) On a plate, season the cut sides of the zucchini with salt and let it sit.

Kitchen Goddess note: Recipes never tell you when to start the rice. They just tell you – at the end – to serve the chicken over rice, and if you are like me, you will scream a not nice word and let your spouse know it’ll be a little bit longer before dinner. But I will tell you: start the rice now. Most package instructions will have the rice ready in 30 minutes, in which case, the rice will be ready when the chicken is ready. A miracle.

To a large, oven-safe skillet, add the thighs skin-side down, and set it over medium heat. Cook the chicken, undisturbed, for about 15 minutes. (This undisturbed part is critical. Don’t even think about moving it.) When you start with a cold skillet, the thighs will initially stick to the bottom of the pan; but once the fat on the chicken skin has rendered, the thighs will release easily from the pan, and the skin will be a golden brown with patches of dark brown.

That flexible fish spatula I recommended above is great for flipping the chicken, so do that now. Flip the thighs over and cook another 5 minutes – undisturbed – until the under side is golden brown.

Transfer the chicken, skin side up, to a plate or pan. Return the skillet to medium heat.

Pat the zucchini dry and lay it cut-side down in the skillet. Use your fish spatula to press down and flatten the zucchini. Cook the squash until it’s deeply charred in spots, about 3 minutes, then flip it. (Don’t be afraid to get a little burn on the zucchini: as with many veggies, the charring process helps to bring out the natural sugars in the zucchini, while also adding a smoky note.)

Add ¼ cup water to the skillet and use a wooden spoon or your fish spatula to scrape up any browned bits. Place the thighs (and any accumulated juices), skin-side up, on top of the zucchini, Scatter the pumpkin seeds around the pan and transfer the skillet to the oven. Roast until thighs are cooked through, about 15 minutes.

The sauce:
While the chicken roasts, make the sauce. In your blender, combine the buttermilk, pumpkin seeds, cilantro, garlic, jalapeño, lemon juice, and salt. Blend until smooth.

Really an unattractive photo of a great sauce. I'll have to fix that...

To serve:
Scatter cilantro on top of the chicken and finish with a light drizzle of sauce. Serve with rice and the rest of the sauce on the side.


Thursday, October 12, 2023

Rooting for Your Side

What’s cooking? Citrus-Glazed Turnips and Beet Dip with Yogurt (or Labneh)

This post is not about football, but it is football season, and I always laugh at this cartoon. Plus, we really need some laughs these days. So here it is.

Not long ago, I was perusing my favorite section of The New York Times – that would be the Wednesday Food Section – when I was struck by the following headline: “The Secret to Ordering the Best Thing on the Menu.”

Well, of course I wanted to know. I mean, I have my own painful habits in menu-parsing, and I say “painful” because I am invariably the last person to decide what to eat. (Unless they offer soft-shell crabs, because... well, soft-shell crabs.) The reason it takes me so long is that I have to read all the side dishes that accompany each entree. I’m not so focused on chicken or fish or lamb or whatever – I mostly care what comes with those items. The chicken looks good until I see that the sea bass is served with “baby artichokes and basil-ginger coulis,” or that the veal comes with “yellow peaches, verbena butter, summer beans, and crispy polenta.”

I just find the side dishes generally more interesting. And that was also the recommendation of the Times writer, Eric Kim, who says we should “Live life on the edge of the menu.” In other words, those quirky side dishes are often the “sleeper hits” of the restaurant – the chef’s “passion project,” that will be the reason you go back to that place again and again.

In that light, I have for you today two wonderful sides, both featuring root veggies that most people walk right past when they visit the grocery store: turnips and beets. Please give them both a try – you will want to call and thank me, but there’s no need. Just the knowledge that I’ve spread the word about them will feed my soul.

I guarantee that if you found the citrus-glazed turnips from today’s recipe on your plate, you’d go back for more. (And as we hotfoot it toward Thanksgiving, this is clearly one for the table.) They originally appeared on the menu at Nicole Cabrera Mills’s restaurant, Pêche Seafood Grill, in New Orleans, but Eric was kind enough to write about them, and here is the Kitchen Goddess passing them along to you. Lucky people.

On the whole, turnips don’t have a lot to say for themselves. They’re members of the Brassica family – cabbage, rutabaga, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts – an underwhelming group of siblings for whom the best that can sometimes be said is that they store well through the winter. The name, “turnip” is attributed to their round shape. Mom and Dad Brassica and whoever decided to call them “turnips,” wasn’t expecting them to grace the Miss America stage. (“And now, in the swimsuit competition, we have Miss Turnip.”) More likely, people think of them as something that’s just taking up space on a plate.

But once they’ve been roasted – which brings out their sweetness – and tossed with this tangy and sweet citrus glaze, they are truly addictive. Add a little umami spiciness, and you’ll understand why my prince kept saying, “You’re sure these are turnips?” as he went for a second helping.

Kitchen Goddess buying hint #1: Turnips are most flavorful and tender when harvested young. In fact, my favorites are the earliest ones at the summer farmers’ market, when they’re about 1½ inches in diameter. At that size, I don’t even peel them before cooking. Generally speaking, once they get to be more than 3 inches in diameter, they get tougher and a little woody.

Buying hint #2: The second time I made this recipe, I found these mandarin oranges in a bag at my NJ grocery store, but I didn’t have them the first time, so I just used fresh squeezed orange juice. I don’t think there’s a noticeable difference. If you go for basic oranges, the best are the sweetest, which would be Cara Cara or navel oranges.

Citrus-Glazed Turnips

Adapted from Eric Kim, who adapted it from the originator, Nicole Cabrera Mills, the owner and chef de cuisine at Pêche Seafood Grill, in New Orleans.

Yield: 4 servings
Time: 45 minutes

1 pound turnips, peeled and cut into 1½-inch pieces
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon kosher salt (such as Diamond Crystal)
1 teaspoon black pepper
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 tablespoon finely diced shallots (can substitute red onion, but really...)
1 tablespoon thinly sliced jalapeño (optional)
1 teaspoon gochujang (see note)
½ cup fresh juice from mandarin oranges (or any sweet oranges  or tangerines)
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
Chopped chives, fresh dill fronds, and flaky sea salt, for serving

Kitchen Goddess note: Gochujang and gochugaru are essential flavorings within Korean cuisine that have become widely popular in flavoring dishes in the US. Gochugaru is a powder (either coarse or fine) made from dried, crushed red chili peppers, and is an essential ingredient in gochujang. Gochujang is a thick, fermented chili paste, which also includes fermented soybeans, glutinous rice flour, malted barley, and salt, so it has a smoother, less concentrated heat and imparts a signature savory umami. You can make a number of substitutions in this recipe, but the gochujang is essential in delivering a subtle hint of spiciness in the sauce for these turnips. You can find gochujang at many grocery stores these days, generally in the Asian foods sections.


Preheat oven to 375º.

In a medium-sized bowl, toss the turnips with the olive oil, salt, and pepper until they are well coated. Lay the turnips – cut sides down – on a sheet pan lined with parchment. Roast about 15 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through, until the turnips are tender but slightly al dente in the centers and lightly browned on the flat sides.

In a large skillet over medium heat, melt 1 tablespoon butter. Add the red onion and jalapeño (if using), then cook, stirring often, until translucent, 1-2 minutes. Stir in the roasted turnips and gochugaru, then add the mandarin juice, lemon juice and the remaining 2 tablespoons butter. Increase the heat to medium-high and bring to a simmer. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the liquid is syrupy, 5-7 minutes.

To serve, top with chives, dill and flaky sea salt.

* * *

For our other root dish, I bring you beets that everyone – including my beetphobe hubby – likes.

 My new daughter-in-law served this at a family grill-out with burgers and hot dogs, and it was devoured by the entire group, which ranged in age from 9 to ... um, the grandparents. It comes together in a jiffy, made entirely in a blender or food processor, without even cooking the beets.

You can use any color beets. I’ve made it with the deep red ones shown here, but I’ve also used pink-and-white striped Chioggia beets (pronounced kee-OH-gee-uh), also known as candy stripe or bulls-eye beets, with no difference in taste. And if you really want to fool your audience, try golden beets.

Beet Dip With Labneh or Yogurt

Adapted from Tejal Rao in The New York Times; original recipe by Heather Sperling and Emily Fiffer

Yield: 4 to 6 servings

½ pound raw beets (any size), peeled and roughly chopped
1 cup whole walnuts, toasted, plus chopped walnuts for garnish
Juice of 1 lemon (2-3 tablespoons), plus an additional lemon for juice and zest when serving
1 tablespoon pomegranate molasses
2 teaspoons Aleppo pepper (or 1 teaspoon chile flakes)
1 garlic clove, peeled
1 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more to taste
½ cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for garnish
Freshly ground black pepper
1 cup labneh or plain Greek yogurt, for serving
Pita, sliced in wedges or torn, for serving
3-4 Persian cucumbers, quartered, for serving


Kitchen Goddess note: My new daughter-in-law made this beet dip in her food processor. I used my Vitamix blender, which I bought because a well-known food writer described it to me as “the Mazerati of blenders.” If your blender is powerful, it will make no difference whether you use the blender or the food processor. If not, I recommend the food processor. The texture of my daughter-in-law’s dip was – as far as I could tell – identical to mine.

Pile the first 7 ingredients (beets, walnuts, lemon juice, pomegranate molasses, Aleppo pepper or chile flakes, garlic, and salt) into your food processor or blender. Pulse the mixture until the beets and nuts are a mealy texture. Scrape down the sides and purée until the mixture gets slightly smoother. Add the olive oil and continue to purée until the texture is as smooth as you want. (The original recipe calls for a “coarse purée,” but I prefer it to be fairly smooth, for easier dipping and spreading. Taste, and adjust seasoning with salt, pepper and additional lemon juice, if desired.

To serve, spoon the plain yogurt/labneh into a bowl, then heap the beet dip on top or at the side. Garnish with chopped walnuts and a drizzle of olive oil; grate lemon zest on top. Serve with pita and cucumbers for dipping.

Thursday, March 2, 2023

As the Days Get Longer...

What’s cooking? Five Great Meatless Dishes

It’s Lent. Again. And I’m not any better at denying myself than I was during previous Lenten seasons.

One of the good things about the COVID shutdown – and there were precious few of those – was that I had fewer opportunities to indulge. At least in the beginning, grocery runs were limited to what I could get brought to my car, and while I didn’t stop lusting after the occasional Baby Ruth or Snickers, I couldn’t really bring myself to stick them on the grocery list of what was surely supposed to be basic requirements. In the end, I lost 30 pounds over that 2-year span. And while I’ve since recovered a few of them, it was that early period of curbside pickup – when no candy bars, donuts, Starbucks’ marshmallow crisps, or those wonderful chewy ginger cookies that my grocery store sells individually – that kept me on the road to success.

So on the subject of fasting, I’ve done a little research, and apparently, many of the feast and fast days of Christianity actually predate the religion. Lenten fasting didn't evolved as a Christian practice until about 300 AD. And the word “Lent” comes from the Old English word læncte, meaning “lengthening (of daylight hours).” In other words, Lent was more than a period of self-denial – it was a recognition of the longer days and the coming of spring.

Easter itself is a moveable feast tied to the start of springtime, taking place on the Sunday after the first full moon that occurs on or after the vernal equinox. And if you can wrap your brain around that calculation, I congratulate you.

In any case, the most popular way Christians recognize the Lenten season is to abstain from eating meat, if not for the whole 40 days, then at least on Fridays. And in my book, the best way to counter that bit of self-denial is with a few really good fish recipes.

Ta-da! Kitchen Goddess to the rescue. Here are five of my best fish/seafood dishes, in no particular order. I did try to make them for a range of types of fish – regardless of how much you might like a particular fish, no one really wants to eat the same one week after week. As in life, the joy is in variety. I do hope you’ll try at least one, even if you’re not Christian or even religious in any way. We can all celebrate the coming of spring!

Whitefish al Cartoccio (or en Papillote)

One of my prince’s favorite ways to have fish is al cartoccio – the Italian term for baking food in a foil or parchment packet. The French call it en papillote, but it’s exactly the same thing. my hubby and I use the Italian name in deference to the tiny Italian restaurant in Manhattan where we were introduced to the concept.

You’ll be amazed at how easy it is. The fish bakes in tightly closed individual envelopes, with herb butter, lemon slices, and spring veggies, ensuring that all the flavors swirl together. The parchment or foil holds enough of the heat that the dish is still warm when you open it, so the rising steam presents your nose with a treat of its own. I usually make this dish with flounder or sole, although that little Italian restaurant served it with red snapper. Click the link HERE.

Salmon with Miso and Maple Syrup

The Kitchen Goddess has a couple of friends who serve this dish as part of their regular rotation. It’s that good and easy.

If you don’t know miso, you must give it a try. It’s a traditional Japanese seasoning: a paste made from fermenting soy beans. But don’t let that turn you away – it’s a great source of umami flavor, combining sweet, salty, nutty, and it’s the secret to this dish. The fact that the veggies cook in the same pan alongside the salmon... well, that’s just a bonus.

Don’t leave any of the marinade in the pan – you will want it on the plate and in your mouth. Let me just say that the leftovers engendered a small lunchtime skirmish between me and my prince. Click the link HERE.

New Jersey Fish Chowder

This is a tiny bit of a cheat, because it starts with bacon fat and uses the bacon to top the soup, but you don’t have to use bacon – more butter or some olive oil will do as a substitute. And while I used flounder to make the soup in the photo, I much prefer a meatier fish like cod.

Chowder is one of those dishes that tastes great the day you make it, and might taste even better the next day. And if you’re in an area of the country where there’s still a bit of cold weather, try this terrific comfort food. Click the link HERE.

Crabby Cakes

Light and crab-filled, these cakes are a snap to make. You can use a ⅓-cup measuring cup as a mold, so you don’t even get your hands yucky – a big plus in the KG’s mind. And this post also includes a wonderful recipe for tartar sauce that you’ll want to use with any number of fish dishes. Click the link HERE.

Sheet Pan Shrimp Scampi

If you are like the Kitchen Goddess, the fact that this recipe was in a post from last November will not mean that you remember it. The KG finds that her short-term memory these days is... well, short. Not gone, mind you, just not the lightning speed it once was. Nevertheless, this is a dish well worth remembering, certainly because it’s yummy, but also because the whole thing happens in a single pan in the oven. Less mess, more fun. You’ll still need a veggie or salad, and I love it with pasta or rice, but even some crusty French bread is great – you’ll just want something to absorb the sauce, so you don’t have to lick the plate. Click the link HERE.

The days are in fact getting longer, so celebrate!

Monday, December 12, 2022

Ho, Ho, Ho! The Kitchen Goddess’s 2022 Gift Guide for Foodies

 What’s cooking? Are you kidding? Who has time to cook?

With Covid under some level of control and most people getting the vaccines, it seems like we’re all doing a bit more shopping this year. So your good friend, the Kitchen Goddess, has some ideas for that special foodie in your life – or at the least, the person who makes sure there’s a meal on the table every night. Naughty or nice, we all have to eat.

Kitchen Goddess note: As always, you should know that the KG has not received as much as a jingle bell for these recommendations. She is a wonder of ethical virtue.

Some Useful Things

The Kitchen Goddess loves champagne. But once you open a bottle, what do you do with the stuff that doesn’t get consumed that night? Admittedly, it doesn’t happen often that there’s champagne left over, but just in case... The solution? The Cilio Stainless Steel Champagne Sealer ($8.95 at Walmart, $13.95 at This attractive little gadget got a “highly recommended” status from none other than America’s Test Kitchen, which as you know has fairly demanding standards. ATK says, “This inexpensive sealer attaches with an easy one-handed motion and an affirming click. Wine saved with it was just as fresh as a newly opened bottle for two full days (a full week if left undisturbed) and still drinkable on day three.... Once on, it was almost flat against the top of the bottle and fit easily in the fridge.” The Kitchen Goddess bought two and loves them.

Sometimes the perfect tool isn’t expensive. The
La Tortilla Oven 10" Tortilla Warmer is priced under $10. Don’t ever pay more. This microwave pouch is the very best way – IMHO – to heat your tortillas; once heated, they can stay warm inside the little pouch until you’re ready for another. It’s on in several designs for $7.96, or at the KG’s grocery store (H.E.B.) for $6.15.

Not long ago, a friend gave the Kitchen Goddess a pair of these darling Cuisinart Quilted Mini Oven Mitts. At 5½" x 7¼", they’re about half the size of standard oven mitts, so take up less space in whatever that place is where you keep your mitts. Yes, less protection, but also less bulk, and therefore a lot easier to manage when you are reaching into an oven. So maybe you don’t need as much protection. The ones from Cuisinart are $16.79 at and come in a few different patterns; KitchenAid makes a similar product in lots of plain colors ($15.28 at

Some Things to Wear

The KG hates aprons. But how to keep the spills and spatters from ruining your good clothes? KG’s answer is not to wear those good clothes when you’re cooking. Try a chef’s coat instead. First off, the coolness factor is very high, so you feel like a chef, which is half the battle, in my less-than-humble opinion. Second, they’re incredibly comfortable. Third, they’re a twill blend, which, in addition to being soft is washable, bleachable, and doesn’t need ironing. And, finally, they’re cheap: $12-29 at, and similarly priced at your local restaurant supply store, where you can try one on. In addition to white, they come in black, gray, red, and blue (though probably not bleachable in non-white.)

Comfortable footwear is essential in the kitchen. Which is a problem for the Kitchen Goddess, who is addicted to “cute shoes.” At last, Rothy’s has come to the rescue, with these cute, thick-soled (i.e., supportive) and comfy slip-ons: Rothy’s Slip-On Sneakers. Like the chef’s coat, what makes them so fab is that you can throw them in the washer! Rothy’s shoes are knit from OceanCycle certified plastic, meaning it was collected within 30 miles proximity to the coastline. So they don’t stain and they’re good for the environment. Lots of fun colors, too. ($119 at

Some Things to Read

The KG recently had friends over for dinner and served her somewhat famous fromage fort, a cheese spread she got from this book: Cheese Primer, by Steven Jenkins. Published in 1996, it’s still relevant, and remains the KG’s go-to source for cheesy info. My friends suggested I give them the book for Christmas. I suggested they get someone else to give it to them. Lucky for us all, it’s still available ($18.95 at So you can give it, too. Or get it as a special gift for yourself. It features excellent descriptions of the cheeses of the world, divided by region, with some of the more widely regarded brands. You’ll also find easy instructions on assembling various types of cheese boards with accompanying meats/fruits. And Jenkins’s writing isn’t overly jargon-y. All in all, a helpful and enjoyable read.

Periodically, the KG strolls around the interweb looking for recipes. One of the sites she frequents is Deb Perelman’s blog, “Smitten Kitchen.” Ms. Perelman is well-known among food bloggers and home chefs as a writer with a fresh approach and a quirky sense of humor. Which is why her blog is listed here on the sidebar under “Food Blogs I follow.” Now, she has published her third cookbook, which makes the KG pea green (spinach green? cantaloupe orange? radish red?...) with jealousy, but so it goes. According to the author, this book, Smitten Kitchen Keepers: New Classics for Your Forever Files, is “the book I was always meant to write... a place where I could collect all of the recipes worth repeating... my own forever files.” ($23.80 on KG has only flipped through the pages of her own copy, but already has found a couple of dishes that call to her.

Stanley Tucci is a man of many talents. In addition to his extensive acting career, he has ample credits – and awards – as a producer, director, and screenwriter, for stage, screen, and television. Last year, he published his first memoir, Taste: My Life Through Food, with food in a starring role. And while the writing smacks a bit of a parochial school assignment, the show biz anecdotes are fun and funny, and the story moves along well enough to be enjoyable. Call it a wintertime beach read, with a few recipes. The KG’s book group gave it a B+.

The Kitchen Goddess’s wish for the holidays and the year to come: Please remember to be kind to each other and to the many others that you encounter – workers you interact with and other people in general. It’s the season of peace and good will. Our country is in such a strange place of polarization and we are in very great need of thoughtful consideration, even to those we don’t agree with.

Happy holidays!!

Wednesday, November 30, 2022

Enough with the Leftovers!

What’s cooking? Sheet Pan Shrimp Scampi

So are you tired of Turkey Day leftovers yet? I’ve now had stuffing for lunch three days in a row, and turkey soup for the past two dinners. Thanksgiving is the gift that keeps on giving, even when you want it to stop.

How about something light? Anyone for shrimp? Fresh, wild-caught shrimp are a delicacy I don’t often get in the summer, mostly because we spend that time in New Jersey, where scallops are the fresher, more plentiful alternative. Not that you can’t get good, fresh-frozen shrimp at the better grocery stores there, but if you want truly fresh, wild-caught shrimp, your best bet is to be near the Gulf or the southern Atlantic coast.

As it happens, the Kitchen Goddess has a private source for shrimp. My brother, who lives in the tiny coastal town of Port Aransas, Texas, periodically heads down to the wharves when the shrimpers are coming in and bags a few pounds that he then ships overnight to me. I know, I know – I don’t deserve such largess. So I send him the occasional tin of my rollout cookies, and he seems to think it’s an acceptable trade: cookies for shrimp.

According to The New York Times, some large chains, like Wegman’s and some regional Whole Foods Markets, as well as upscale markets like Eataly and the Lobster Place in New York, also carry fresh shrimp, albeit at a premium price. But most wild shrimp is frozen and shipped around the country, where it shows up either in bags in supermarket freezers, or thawed and piled on ice. The quality varies widely, depending on how the shrimp was processed after catching. The best quality wild shrimp have been frozen without chemicals, either onshore soon after harvesting, or on plate freezers while still on the boat. You can find this shrimp at upscale supermarkets and fish shops; ask for chemical-free wild shrimp.

Good shrimp have such wonderful flavor that the simplest preparations are the best. The one here is so simple it seems like hardly any trouble at all. And the Kitchen Goddess loves any recipe that lets her avoid stove-top cooking in favor of a sheet pan.

The garlicky, lemony flavors are the same as in classic shrimp scampi, but cooking the whole thing on a sheet pan is even simpler than in a skillet, and roasting the lemon slices adds caramelization and a deep, concentrated lemon flavor that you don’t get as strongly with the skillet method. Surrounding the lemon slices with the wine produces a sauce you don’t even have to think about. And then there’s the butter... 

Need I say more? Serve it with crusty bread for dipping, or over pasta or rice to absorb the sauce. A bonus spritz of lemon juice and red pepper flakes or Aleppo pepper add a final flourish. And the whole process takes less than half an hour, so get that parsley chopped before you start. Your family and your guests will love you for the change of pace.

Sheet Pan Shrimp Scampi

Adapted from Melissa Clark in The New York Times.

Serves 2-3.


2 lemons (one for cooking, one for serving)
Extra-virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon fine sea salt, plus more as needed
1 cup dry white wine
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 pound peeled large or extra-large shrimp
2-3 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
¼ teaspoon Aleppo pepper or ⅛ teaspoon red pepper flakes
Freshly ground black pepper
¼-½ cup fresh parsley, chopped


Note: In some stoves, the broiler is separate from the oven; in others, the difference between broiling and baking/roasting is merely a setting. These directions attempt to accommodate that difference.

Preheat your oven to broil, with a rack set about 4 inches from the heating element. If your oven is separate from your broiler, also heat the oven to 450º.

Slice one of the lemons into ¼-inch thick slices. Remove the seeds. Arrange the lemon slices in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet.

Brush the lemon slices generously with oil and sprinkle lightly with salt. Carefully pour the wine onto the baking sheet, without pouring it directly onto the lemon slices.

Broil the lemons and wine until the tops of the lemon slices are caramelized and charred in spots, and the wine has reduced by half. This can take anywhere from 6 to 12 minutes, depending on the intensity of your broiler, so watch carefully.

Once the lemons are caramelized and the wine is reduced, remove the pan from the heat. (If your broiler is in your oven, switch the setting from broiler to baking/roasting at 450º.)

Meanwhile, in a medium pot over medium heat, melt the butter. Off the heat, combine the raw shrimp, garlic, ¾ teaspoon salt, the Aleppo pepper (or red-pepper flakes) and black pepper, then toss with the butter to coat the shrimp well.

Transfer the shrimp mixture to the baking sheet, arranging the shrimp in an even layer on top of the lemon slices. Roast at 450º for 3-5 minutes, until the shrimp are cooked through. Remove the pan from the oven and toss the lemons and shrimp together; taste, and add more salt if needed. 

Move the shrimp, lemons and any pan juices to a serving platter and sprinkle with parsley and more Aleppo pepper (or red-pepper flakes).

Serve immediately, with thick, crusty bread or pasta or rice to soak up the juices. Serve wedges from the reserved lemon for squeezing.