RECIPE: Baked Sweet Potato with Scallions & Cilantro

(Best of Gourmet Magazine 2005)
Active time: 5 min
Start to finish: 40 min


4 small slender sweet potatoes (2 lb total)
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
2 scallions, finely chopped
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh cilantro
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper


Prick potatoes several times with a fork and put directly on oven rack in middle position. Put a sheet of foil on lower rack (to catch any drips) and heat oven to 450โˆžF. Bake potatoes until soft when squeezed, 30 to 35 minutes.

Mash together butter, scallions, cilantro, salt, and pepper. Slit potatoes lengthwise and put some butter mixture in center of each.

RECIPE: Smothered Squash with Basil

(Best of Gourmet Magazine 2005)
Active time: 15 min
Start to finish: 30 min

Smothering is a Cajun cooking term that refers to browning anything from meat to vegetables in oil, then braising it in a small amount of liquid, tightly covered, until tender.

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 1/2 lb medium yellow squash, halved lengthwise and cut crosswise into 1/8-inch-thick slices
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1/2 cup water
4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
4 cup finely chopped fresh basil


Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a 12-inch heavy skillet over moderately high heat until hot but not smoking, then saute half of squash, stirring occasionally, until browned, about 5 minutes. Transfer browned squash to a bowl, then heat remaining tablespoon oil and saute remaining squash in same manner. Return squash in bowl to skillet. Add garlic and saute, stirring occasionally, 1 minute. Add water, salt, and pepper and simmer briskly, covered, until squash is tender and most of liquid is evaporated, 6 to 7 minutes. Stir in basil.

RECIPE: Spaghetti Squash with Parsley Walnut Pesto

(Best of Gourmet Magazine 2005)
Active time: 25 min
Start to finish: 30 min


1 (3 1/2- to 4-lb) spaghetti squash
1/2 cup walnuts (3/4 oz)
1/2 garlic clove
1 1/3 cups packed fresh flat-leaf parsley
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 1/2 tablespoons finely grated Pecorino
1 tablespoon water
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon finely grated fresh lemon zest


Pierce squash all over with a sharp small knife. Cook in a microwave oven (see cooks’ note, below) at. high power (100 percent) 8 minutes, then turn over and microwave until squash gives when pressed gently, 8 to 10 minutes more. Cool squash 5 minutes.

While squash cooks, toast nuts in a dry small heavy skillet over moderate heat, stirring frequently, until fragrant and a shade darker, about 6 minutes, then cool completely.

Pulse nuts and garlic in a food processor until finely ground. Add parsley, oil, cheese, water, salt, pepper, and zest and pulse until parsley is coarsely chopped.

While squash is still hot, cut off stem from squash and discard, then carefully halve squash lengthwise (it will emit steam) and discard seeds. Working over a bowl, scrape out squash flesh with a fork, loosening and separating strands. Toss with pesto in a bowl.


We tested this recipe in an 800-watt microwave oven. If yours is less powerful (or more), adjust the cooking times accordingly.

RECIPE: Green Beans with Hazelnut Butter

(Best of Gourmet Magazine 2005)
Active time: 15 min
Start to finish: 30 min


3 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
2 tablespoons finely chopped shallot
1/2 teaspoon finely grated fresh lemon zest
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
1/2 cup hazelnuts (1 1/2 oz), toasted (see Tips, page 8), any loose skins rubbed off, and nuts finely chopped
1 1/2 Ib green beans, trimmed


Stir together butter, shallot, zest, lemon juice, salt, and pepper in a small bowl until combined. Add hazelnuts and stir until combined well.

Cook beans in a 4- to 5-quart pot of boiling salted water (see Tips, page 8), uncovered, until just tender, 5 to 8 minutes. Drain beans in a colander, then return hot beans to pot and toss with hazelnut butter.

RECIPE: Jeweled Rice with Dried Fruit

(Best of Gourmet Magazine 2005)

Active time: 25 min
Start to finish: 1 1/2 hr (includes standing time)


3 cups basmati rice (1/4 Ib)
4 qt water
3 tablespoons salt
1/2 cup dried apricots (3 1/2 oz), quartered
1/2 cup golden raisins (3 oz)
1/2 cup dried cranberries (2 oz)
1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter
1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 cup coarsely chopped shelled unsalted pistachios (not dyed red; 2 1/2 0Z)


Rinse rice in several changes of cold water in a large bowl until water runs clear. Drain in a large sieve.

Bring water and salt to a boil in a 6-quart heavy pot, then add rice and boil, uncovered, stirring occasionally, 5 minutes from time water returns to boil. Drain rice in sieve.

Toss together dried fruit in a bowl. Melt 6 tablespoons butter with cardamom and pepper in cleaned and dried pot, stirring to combine, then alternately layer rice and dried fruit over it, beginning and ending with rice and mounding loosely. Make 5 or 6 holes in rice to bottom of pot with round handle of a wooden spoon, then cover pot with a kitchen towel and a heavy lid. Fold edges of towel up over lid (to keep towel from burning) and cook rice over moderately low heat, undisturbed, until tender and a crust forms on bottom, 30 to 35 minutes. Remove from heat and let rice stand, tightly covered and undisturbed, at least 30 minutes.

Heat remaining 2 tablespoons butter in a small skillet over moderate heat and cook pistachios, stirring, until lightly browned, 2 to 3 minutes.

Spoon loose rice onto a platter, then break crust into 1-inch pieces and scatter over rice. Sprinkle with pistachios.


Rice can be parboiled and drained 4 hours ahead and transferred to a bowl. Keep, covered with a dampened kitchen towel, at room temperature.

Rice can stand off heat up to 1 hour.

If you’re short on time, you can skip letting the rice stand after cooking: Spoon loose rice onto a platter and then dip bottom of pot into a large bowl of cold water for 30 seconds to loosen crust.

RECIPE: Veggie Basmati Rice

tonight’s dinner recipe deserves to be written down, though this is a loose recipe ๐Ÿ™‚


1 cup uncooked basmati rice

1 small zuccini
1 small yellow squash
1 small carrot
4 small pearl onions
3 cloves of garlic
half-dollar size hunk of fresh ginger
1/4 cup pine nuts

3 tbsp cooking oil (i used coconut oil, though i would also use olive oil)

smidges of spices (maybe 1/2 tsp each?):
(2 other indian-ish spices – they were unlabeled, but smelled right ๐Ÿ™‚
garlic salt
fresh ground pepper


Start the basmati rice cooking. You will add the other ingredients about 5 minutes before the rice is done.

Take all the veggies listed in the block above and cube them into tiny pieces (think pea-sized or smaller)

In a small pot, add the cooking oil and spices and let it heat up and start to simmer. Add veggies & pine nuts and saute for 5ish minutes.

Add the seasoned sauteed veggies & nuts to the rice (try not to dump extra oil in) about 3-5 minutes before the rice is done and stir up thoroughly. put lid back on and let the rice finish.

ta-da! ๐Ÿ™‚ it created a really nice seasoning with still-firm veggies and fluffy rice!

RECIPE: Turkish Feta Cheese Dip


I usually do a double-batch, and serve it with crisped pita triangles.

4oz. feta cheese
3 tbsp. olive oil
2 tbsp. lemon juice
2 cloves of garlic
1 tsp paprika

Crush the garlic and combine it with the feta & olive oil.

Squish everything around til its broken up and well mixed.

Slowly add the lemon juice and last, the paprika. you can serve immediately, but I think it works better to chill it for a bit first.

I often add a bit more garlic, but be warned – this is the only dish that i have ever found such a thing as “too much garlic” ๐Ÿ™‚

RECIPE: Vegetarian Red Beans and Rice

Vegetarian Red Beans and Rice

Note from original chef:
I was a vegetarian for over six years, which made me get creative when it came to some of my old favorite recipes, like Red Beans & Rice. The small additions of a little liquid smoke and sun dried tomatoes really makes the difference. I know, I know, sun dried tomatoes are not a traditional red beans rice ingredient, but then neither is Vegetarian Red Beans and rice either.(taken with great thanks from

2 C dried red beans
6 C vegetable stock
2 bay leaves
3 T olive oil
1 large onion, diced
2 stalks celery, diced
4 – 6 cloves garlic, diced/minced
4 soaked sun dried tomatoes
2 roasted red bell pepper (see note at bottom for instructions of roasting if needed)
1/4 tsp. cayenne
salt, pepper and hot sauce (preferably Tabasco) to taste
2 C uncooked rice

Wash, sort and soak beans overnight, as per package instructions. You will want to roast the bell peppers ahead of time the day of cooking.

When you are ready to start cooking, chopchopchop the onions, celery, garlic. Slice the sun dried tomatoes and roasted red bell peppers smaller.

Place soaked beans in a large Dutch Oven with water and bay leaves and bring to a boil. Lower heat and continue to cook, uncovered.

Meanwhile, heat oil in a large skillet and sauteรฉ onions, celery, garlic and herbs and cook until softened, about 3-4 minutes. Add onion mixture, along with sun dried tomatoes and roasted peppers, to beans. Cover, but leave lid ajar, lower heat and simmer until beans are soft, about 45 minutes.

Add rice, cover completely and simmer until rice is cooked, about 25 minutes. Watch carefully and add more water or stock as needed and stir frequently.

How To Roast Peppers

You can roast whole peppers (sweet or hot, depending on what you intend to use them for) over a very hot wood or charcoal fire. Place peppers directly on the grill (if it’s still flaming a bit, so much the better!) and turn frequently with tongs to allow the skins to blister and blacken. Roasted peppers are wonderful on their own or as a recipe ingredients.

When the peppers are charred, remove them from the fire and place in a food grade plastic bag. Allow some air to remain in the bag and loosely tie. The steam that will form in the bag will help to remove the skin. Let cool for about fifteen minutes or until you can easily handle the peppers. Remove from bag and use your hands to peel off the skins. Cut off the stem end and slice the peppers open. Remove the core and seeds and cut into strips.

Alternatively, you can use one of these other methods to roast peppers:

  • You can roast and blacken the pepper on the burner directly over the gas flame on your stovetop (have a fire extinguisher nearby and never try this with an electric stove).
  • If you don’t have an open fire, you can also roast peppers in the oven or under a broiler. Put the peppers directly on the oven rack and roast until blistered and charred. Proceed as above. Quarter, core and seed larger peppers before roasting this way.

RECIPE: Crawfish Etouffee

Crawfish Etouffee

Serves 4 generous portions.

1 c. water
2-3 tbsp. instant mashed potato flakes
1/4 lb. butter (1 stick)
2 c. chopped onions (about 1 large )
1 c. chopped celery (about 3-4 stalks)
1/2 c. chopped bell pepper (about 1/2 large)
2 tbsp. chopped fresh parsley
3 tbsp. chopped green onion
1 lb. peeled crawfish tails (all I can usually find are frozen)
2 bay leaves
1 tsp. salt
Tony Chachere’s Creole Seasoning to taste

Coursely chop the onion, bell peppers, & celery, and put them piles on a plate for later use.

Melt butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add onions, 1 celery, and bell peppers and sautรฉ for 10 to 12 minutes, until the onions are soft and golden. You want the onions to almost caramelize – this gives them a sweet rather than sharp taste.

Add crawfish and bay leaves. Reduce the heat to medium, stir occasionally and cook “until the crawfish begin throwing off a little liquid” โ€” another 10 to 12 minutes.

Meanwhile, dissolve 2 tbsp. instant potato flakes in the cup of water and add to the crawfish mixture. You are using instant potatos instead of flour to create the roux that will thicken the sauce. Most people use flour, but the potatos create a smoother mix and don’t leave the flour taste behind. As the etouffee is cooking, add a bit more of the flakes to thicken it up if need be.

The add the salt and Tony Chachere’s Creole Seasoning. Personally, I like it with some kick, so I liberally shake and taste until it seems right ๐Ÿ™‚ Remember it will simmer in with more flavor, so don’t overdo to begin with – just get a nice taste.

Stir about ten minutes until the mixture thickens.

At this point, I often let the etouffee cool a bit, stick it in a tupperware, and serve it the next day after its had time to sit. It definately gets better with time.

When you are ready to eat it, be sure to cook up enough white or brown rice to go with it. If you are reheating the etouffee, do so slowly in the same pan you used to cook it. Once it is hot, add 2 tablespoons of chopped parsley and 3 tablespoons of chopped green onions and cook for another 2 minutes. As always, remove the bay leaves before serving.