INCREDIBLY SIMPLE TIMES FOUR: MAY 2018

Time to showcase recipes that are so simple they hardly qualify as such.

INCREDIBLY SIMPLE #1

CACIO E PEPE

Hard to believe I had never made this dish until now. It is such a classic, but for one reason or another I only had it in restaurants and not even that often. Guess what? After inaugurating it, I enjoyed it three more times over the following month. It is so simple and so delicious!  You must make it. I tried it with zoodles a couple of times, works wonders too. I was inspired by Geoffrey Zakarian in a recent Kitchen episode.

CACIO E PEPE

pasta of your choice
Kosher salt
2 tsp freshly ground (coarse) pepper (or to taste)
grated Pecorino-Romano cheese to taste
drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil

Two genius touches: first, you will cook the pasta in a pan just large enough to hold it, with about 1 inch water from the bottom. Add a little salt to the water. Cook without closing the pan until al dente.

Second: toast the pepper in a small skillet until fragrant, just a minute or so.

The pasta will be cooked with just a little water left, a water full of starch from the pasta.  Turn off the heat, add the pepper and cheese. Stir well, adjust seasoning with salt.

Serve and enjoy!

to print the recipe, click here 

INCREDIBLY SIMPLE #2

SCRAMBLED EGGS WITH RICOTTA, TURMERIC & ZA’TAR

Another non-recipe for you. This simple concoction was my lunch more often than I care to admit. I tend to have these “phases” in which I might enjoy the exact same recipe over and over and over, not getting tired of it. Amazing what a little ricotta does to add creaminess to a simple scrambled egg. Add a couple of crackers, and I am a happy camper. For those who eat breakfast, this is a must-try. In a way, it’s my breakfast too, I just happen to “break-my-fast” a lot later than most people…

Heat some oil or butter in a non-stick pan. Don’t let it heat too much, add 2 eggs, slightly beaten, immediately drop in the center about 1/4 cup ricotta cheese, season with salt, pepper, and 1/4 tsp of turmeric. Cook, stirring gently over low-heat to your liking. Sprinkle za’tar when it’s almost ready to serve. Enjoy with bread or crackers.

INCREDIBLY SIMPLE #3

AIR-FRIED NEW POTATOES

Cut new potatoes in half. Add to a pan with a little cold, salted water. Bring to a boil, cook for about 8 minutes. Drain. Drizzle a little olive oil, salt, and Herbes de Provence. Place in the air-fryer, cook at 390 F (or as high as your machine will go) until crispy, 15 to 20 minutes maximum. Shake occasionally. The pan, not necessarily yourself, but depending on what’s playing I say go for it.

INCREDIBLY SIMPLE #4

RICE WITH TURMERIC AND CARDAMON

We eat rice often, usually plain. But every once in a while it’s nice to guild the lily a bit. I love the color of turmeric and the flavor of cardamon. Together they make a simple bowl of rice shine. Literally.  Inspiration came from the newest book by Nigella Lawson, At My Table.

RICE WITH TURMERIC AND CARDAMON

1.5 cups of rice, rinsed and drained
2.5 cups water
1/2 tsp salt
1/8 to 1/4 tsp turmeric
3 cardamon pods, crushed

Add all ingredients to a pan. Bring water to a boil, reduce heat close tightly the lid.

Simmer for 20 minutes without opening the pan. Turn off the heat, open the lid, add a tea towel on the surface of the rice, close the lid again.

Let it rest for 10 to 30 minutes if you have the time, but it’s still nice if served right away.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

I hope you enjoyed these simple recipes. It’s nice to have a bunch of quick choices that you can make without even thinking too much. The scrambled egg, for instance, I don’t even measure anything. I sprinkle some turmeric, I add ricotta until I feel it’s going to be creamy enough, sometimes I add za’tar, sometimes Herbes de Provence, it’s never exactly the same twice in a row, but whatever you do it will be delicious.

New Potatoes: if you don’t have an air-fryer, you can still do the same on top of the stove or even roasting them in a super hot oven. The texture I get with the air-fryer is pretty unique, though, and allows that fried aura without too much fat. Love it.

ONE YEAR AGO: Tangential Quiche with Asparagus and Fennel

TWO YEARS AGO: Fakebouleh

THREE YEARS AGO: Yellow Squash Soup

FOUR YEARS AGO: Grilled Chicken with Tamarind and Coconut Glaze

FIVE YEARS AGO: Chicken-Apricot Skewers

SIX YEARS AGO:  Asparagus Quiche

SEVEN YEARS AGO: Two-stage Pea and Prosciutto Risotto

EIGHT YEARS AGO: Mellow Bakers: Corn Bread

 

 

 

INCREDIBLY SIMPLE TIMES FOUR – JANUARY 2018

It’s done. I  just added a new category of recipes to the blog, entitled Incredibly Simple.  You can find it on the right side, scrolling past Blogroll. Under this new category I list recipes that are almost effortless to put together. In the near future I will also make a separate category in the index page, so they are not only easy to make, but also easy to find in the site. For this round-up I share four side dishes, one uses the air-fryer. I am aware that not many people own one, but I was so amazed by the outcome that I had to include it. You can of course make it in a regular oven… it will just take a bit longer to reach the dinner table, and the texture won’t be quite the same.

INCREDIBLY SIMPLE #1

MICRO-STEAMED ASPARAGUS  

Inspiration for this recipe came from seriouseats

The simple part of this method is the steaming.  I’ve been using it all the time now. Place asparagus in an even layer on a large microwave-safe plate and season with salt and pepper. Lay a double layer of damp paper towels on top of the stalks, completely covering them. Microwave on high for about 3 minutes. Check with a fork, if necessary add another 30 seconds to 1 minute. That is it. You can dress them super simply with a mixture of olive oil and lemon juice, or if you have a bit more time, go for this simplified walnut vinaigrette. 

Toast half a cup or so of walnuts in a skillet or oven. Coarsely chop them and place in a small bowl. Add 2 tablespoons of a mild vinegar, 1 tablespoon of water, a very light drizzle of honey or maple syrup. Whisk 1/4 cup olive oil, until it all emulsifies. The walnuts will help the process. Season with salt, and add on top of the asparagus fresh from the microwave step.  That is all. You want to know a little secret? The exact same method works well for broccolini too, you might have to slightly increase the steaming time.

INCREDIBLY SIMPLE #2
 .
AVOCADO AND ORANGE SALAD  

Inspiration for this recipe came from Geoffrey Zakarian on a recent episode of The Kitchen.

Don’t let the simplicity of this non-recipe fool you. The result goes well beyond expectations. As GZ put it on the show, the combination of orange and avocado is a complete winner, and we agree. The only work involved is segmenting the orange. Distribute the slices of avocado on a plate, add orange segments on top. Squeeze all the juice left from the orange in a small bowl, season with salt and pepper, whisk a small amount of olive oil to emulsify it. If you like your dressing on the sweet side, a touch of honey will do.  Drizzle on top of the salad, and sprinkle pomegranate seeds on top. You can also substitute toasted slivered almonds or walnuts in case you don’t have pomegranate around.  I’ve made it twice in the same week, and intend to keep bringing this to our table. Blood oranges would make it even more special, so keep that in mind.

INCREDIBLY SIMPLE #3

ROASTED BROCCOLINI WITH LEMON AND PARMIGIANO CHEESE

Inspiration for this recipe came from Dining In: Highly Cookable Recipes, by Alison Roman.

Put a baking dish in the oven and heat it to 425 F. You will need broccolini, one lemon, and freshly grated Parmigiano cheese.

Add one or two bunches of broccolini to a large bowl, add to it very thin slices of one lemon. Drizzle olive oil all over, just enough to coat the veggies and lemon slices. Season with salt and pepper.

Place the broccolini on the hot baking sheet in one layer, add a small coating of grated Parmigiano cheese and roast for 10 to 15 minutes, until it all starts to get golden, and the broccolini is cooked through.

The cheese will more or less disappear, but you will notice its sharp bite as you bite into the broccolini.  Super simple indeed, and absolutely delicious.

 

INCREDIBLY SIMPLE #4

This is really a non-recipe if I’ve ever seen one.  Fork the skin of the sweet potato a few times. Rub it with olive oil, season with salt.  Place in the air-fryer set at 390 F or the highest temperature your machine will go.  Cook for 35 minutes, turning it once or twice during frying.  Remove from the fryer, cut the skin open, add some butter, salt and pepper. That’s all.

What amazed me about this recipe is that you won’t have to wait for the oven to heat to high temperature to start roasting. The air-fryer needs no advance notice. You turn it on, in a minute or so you are right where you need to be. For whole potatoes or sweet potatoes, it’s hard to beat the convenience of using the air-fryer. And the texture turned out perfect, I think better than a regular oven. We would need a blind test to be sure, but I tell you, this was really really good. Apparently regular potatoes can be prepared exactly the same way and won’t take more than 40-45 minutes to be done. They are on my list for the near future.

So that’s all for now… Four recipes that are so easy to put together, no matter what happened at work, you can face their preparation with a smile. Making life simple is always a good move.

ONE YEAR AGO: Two Salads and a Blog Award!

TWO YEARS AGO: When Three is Better than Two

THREE YEARS AGO: Somebody Stop Me!

FOUR YEARS AGO: Zucchini Pasta with Cilantro-Cashew Pesto

FIVE YEARS AGO: Bran Muffins, Take Two

SIX YEARS AGO: Brown Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies

SEVEN YEARS AGO: Mogo Mojo

EIGHT YEARS AGO: Slow-Roasted Chicken Thighs: an Ice-Breaker

 

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INCREDIBLY SIMPLE TIMES FOUR

Every once in a while I like to group very simple recipes in a single post, like I did last February and again in June.  Today’s post has three really simple recipes and one slightly more involved, but  still uncomplicated enough to justify hanging out with the others. A meaty main dish, a cute skewer-salad, a side dish, and oh-so-very-trendy kale chips. Yeap, I am jumping on that bandwagon, and you should too because when my beloved loses all self-control next to a bowl of kale, it means a lot. Seriously, it was a scene never before witnessed in gastronomic history.

 

POUNDED FLANK STEAK

This non-recipe was in a recent issue of Bon Appetit. Get a flank steak, lay it over a cutting board, place a saran-wrap over it. Pound it with gusto with the flat side of a meat mallet. With gusto. You want to really get at the fibers and tenderize them. Try to go for less than 1/2 inch width all over. Season with salt and pepper, give it a very light coating (or spray) with olive oil. Grill to your desired degree of doneness. It will be medium-rare very quickly, a couple of minutes per side on a super hot grill. In fact Bon Appetit called it “minute steak” for good reason. Let the meat rest for 10 minutes before slicing against the grain.

We loved it so much I made it three times within a ten-day period.  Very good paired with a red cabbage-cucumber salsa, but I need to tweak that recipe a little before sharing with you.


WATERMELON-FETA SKEWERS

Cut seedless watermelon into cubes. Do the same to the best quality you can find feta cheese. If you find real Greek feta, go for it. Place in wooden skewers cubes of feta and watermelon separated by pieces of fresh mint leaves. Make a simple dressing with olive oil, lemon juice, a touch of balsamic vinegar, or, if feeling particularly trendy, add a bit of pomegranate molasses. Whisk all together and drizzle over the skewers, seasoning lightly with salt and pepper (keep in mind that feta is very salty).

Only two pointers for success: use good quality feta (repeating this point because it is really important), and do not skip the mint. It offers the exact right counterpart to all other flavors. Great also as a little appetizer for a dinner party. Can be prepared in advance and kept in the fridge for a couple of hours.

 

TOMATILLO RICE

TOMATILLO RICE
(from the Bewitching Kitchen)

for the tomatillo sauce:
8 large tomatillos cut in half
2 medium shallots peeled
1/2 Serrano pepper, cut in half lengthwise, seeds removed
salt and pepper
1/2 cup chicken stock or water
1/2 cup cilantro leaves
juice of half a lemon

for the rice:
1 cup rice, rinsed
1 tablespoon olive oil
salt

Place the tomatillos, cut side down, shallots and Serrano pepper on a baking sheet and roast at 425 F until soft and the tomatillo skin is starting to get brown, about 30 minutes. Transfer everything to a blender shallots to a blender, add half a cup of chicken stock or water, a bunch of fresh cilantro leaves and the juice of half a lemon. Process until smooth. Adjust seasoning. Sauce is perfect over fajitas, or seafood. To make rice, you only need 1/2 cup of it.

Sautee one cup of rice on a little bit of olive oil, add 1/2 cup of tomatillo sauce and 1 + 1/2  cups of water. Cover and cook for about 18 minutes, until done. Leave it covered for 10 minutes, fluff with a fork, and serve.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

This rice is addictive.

 I could easily eat it every day for a year.

Yes, that’s how much I love it. 

 

KALE CHIPS


Remove the stems from a bunch of fresh kale, cut the leaves in large pieces. Wash and dry them well, a salad spinner is the best way to approach it. Add very little olive oil to the leaves, massaging them briefly. Add them to the basket of an air-fryer at 390 F, and fry until done, shaking the pan every couple of minutes.  It will take less than 10 minutes to finish. Season with salt, pepper, and spices of your choice if so desired. No air-fryer? No problem. The hot oven works the same way, only a bit slower. Also, make sure to have all leaves as a single layer. As to the seasoning, cumin and paprika go very well with kale, on my next batch I will try nutritional yeast, as I heard it gives it a very intriguing flavor. And of course, it would take the trendy quotient of this dish to the highest possible level. I don’t do trendy often. But sometimes, when that special mood strikes…

Phil went absolutely crazy for these chips. He showed up at the kitchen as I was preparing dinner, and mumbled his usual “hummm… kale.”  Not the yummy-anticipating-hummmm… it was the “how-to-escape-this-hummm….”. So yes, I was unprepared to have to fight for the last four chips sitting at the bottom of the bowl. Go figure.

 

I hope you enjoyed these four simple recipes, and give some (or all) a try, even if kale might not be your thing, or watermelon in a savory dish a bit too much of a stretch for your taste buds. Sometimes it’s fun to try something different, especially when the preparation is so simple.

 

ONE YEAR AGO: Going naked, and my husband loved it

TWO YEARS AGO: Cream Cheese Mini-Pancakes with Smoked Salmon

THREE YEARS AGO:  Star-Shaped Chocolate Brioche Bread

FOUR YEARS AGO: Blueberry-Banana Bread 

FIVE YEARS AGO: Into the Light Again

SIX YEARS AGO: Five Grain Sourdough Bread

SEVEN YEARS AGO: The Nano-Kitchen

EIGHT YEARS AGO: Kaiser Rolls

 

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INCREDIBLY SIMPLE TIMES THREE

Back in February I made a post with four super-duper simple recipes, and here I am again to showcase three more. A drink, a side-dish, a dessert. Like last time, they all deliver a lot more than you would expect.

ONE

Starting with the drink. Fabulous. Refreshing. Delicious. I saw the recipe at Mike’s The Iron You, and made it the day after. Exactly as he posted, except that I cut the sugar down a bit. Since then, I’ve made it four times, and adapted it, simplifying it even further and leaving sugar out completely. You will need to find your favorite way, but trust me, this is a drink you must try if you love tea. The touch of genius is a pinch of baking soda after brewing. Do not twist your nose, it is magical. Have I ever lied to you?

MINT AND GINGER ICED GREEN TEA
(adapted from The Iron You)

4 cups of water
1-inch piece of ginger, peeled and sliced
2 bags green tea
1 bag of mint tea (or 1/4 cup fresh mint leaves)
1 lemon, divided
Pinch of baking soda
sugar is optional (coconut sugar is particularly  nice)

Combine water and ginger in a pot. Bring to a boil. Once the water boils, remove from the heat and add tea bags and fresh mint (if using them).  Cover with a lid and steep for 15 minutes. Remove the bags and strain tea separating the liquid from the mint leaves and ginger slices. Stir in sugar, juice of half lemon, and baking soda. Transfer to a pitcher and let cool before refrigerating.

Serve on a tall glass with lemon slices and fresh mint added, if you so desired.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments: I reduced the amount made to four cups instead of six, because I’m the only one drinking it. When I make it before dinner, I have leftover drink to enjoy next day at lunchtime, so that works well for me. Check out Mike’s original version and see if that appeals more to you in terms of amount and level of sweetness.

TWO

 

Second, a side-dish that is ready in 6 minutes. That is 360 seconds. Ok, if you have to cut the broccoli florets yourself, it might take you 10 minutes. Best broccoli ever. Perfect texture, bright taste, and you can change it around by using different herbs, vinegars, spices. Love it.

PAN-STEAMED BROCCOLI WITH ORANGE AND CILANTRO
(adapted from Ellie Krueger)

1 large head of broccoli florets (1½ pounds)
zest and juice of half an orange
2 teaspoons lemon juice
1/4 cup cilantro leaves, minced
1 ½ tablespoons  olive oil
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Place the broccoli florets more or less in a single layer inside a saucepan. Add ½ cup water, cover and cook over a high heat for 3 minutes. Reduce the heat to medium and cook for an additional 3 minutes. Do not remove the lid during cooking. When the broccoli is done, it will be cooked to crisp-tender. If you prefer it a bit softer, remove it from the heat and allow it to sit, covered, for another minute or two.

While the broccoli is cooking, zest the orange into a large bowl. Juice half the orange into the bowl, add the lemon juice. Add the cilantro to the bowl along with the olive oil, salt and pepper. Whisk to combine.

Using a slotted spoon, transfer the broccoli to the bowl with the orange mixture and toss gently. Adjust seasoning with salt and pepper, if needed.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

 

Comments: During the time the broccoli is cooking (pay close attention to the timer, it’s important), make the flavoring mixture right on the serving bowl.  Check Ellie’s gremolata in the link, or try anything you like. I find the combination of orange with broccoli quite delicious, but to cut excessive sweetness I added some lemon juice to it. Apple cider vinegar could be wonderful too. Consider options such as za’tar, a very discreet touch of sesame oil, black olive tapenade, sesame seeds…  This recipe has the potential to become your favorite way to enjoy broccoli. Cannot beat the texture. Am I repeating myself? Apologies, I tend to get excited about stuff like broccoli with perfect texture. There, I said it again!

THREE

Soft-serve pineapple. I saw this one at The View from Great Island, a blog I’ve cooked from many times, Sue’s recipes never failed me. She talks, I listen. It is ready in minutes, once you freeze the pineapple pieces. It is perfectly smooth and soft-serve-like when you first process it. In the freezer it will turn a bit hard, but a little encounter with the microwave just to break the ice (literally), turns it into real sorbet consistency. I had no idea that a pineapple could become a luscious dessert just with the help of the food processor. Remember a few years ago when everyone was processing bananas? Well, pineapples are harder to peel, but totally worth the trouble. A friend from Facebook mentioned that 1 egg white can be added to this type of recipe, to give extra smoothness.  I have to try that soon.

SOFT-SERVE PINEAPPLE-CHILE SORBET
(slightly modified from The View from Great Island)

1 pineapple
juice of 1 lemon
1/2 teaspoon chipotle chile pepper (ground)

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.  Slice the pineapple into 1 inch slices, core and all. Chop the slices into bite sized pieces. Arrange the pineapple on the baking sheet. Freeze for 2 hours, or until frozen solid.

Put the frozen pineapple chunks into a high power blender or food processor. Add the lime juice and chile powder. Process until completely smooth, scraping down the sides of the machine as necessary. Serve right away for a slushy, soft-serve consistency, otherwise, spoon the mixture into a loaf pan and put in the freezer to firm up, at least 4 hours.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments: Adding pepper to sorbet can be quite interesting, but maybe it’s not for everybody. A purist would probably prefer it “virgin.” I reduced the amount of chipotle and omitted the cayenne that Sue used, so stop by her site to see her version too and decide what to do.  We also made two batches of cantaloupe sorbet (already in the blog), one with pepper, one without, and a few days later enjoyed a triple dessert, refreshing and hot at the same time.  We like to share a single bowl and take turns, a little bite with pepper, a little without… Simple Summer evening pleasures.

😉

And with that, I wrap up three super simple recipes that are sure to please you. I think that even if you are not into green tea, the addition of that pinch of baking soda might change your mind. It removes that bit of harshness, objectionable to some. Worth a try.

ONE YEAR AGO: Dan Lepard Simple White Loaf

TWO YEARS AGO: Maureen’s Fabulously Fudgy Brownies

THREE YEARS AGO: Wheat Berry Caraway Bread

FOUR YEARS AGO: Mexican Focaccia 

FIVE YEARS AGOSunny Kamut Salad with Roasted Lemon Vinaigrette

SIX YEARS AGO: Pane de Casa & Crostini

SEVEN YEARS AGO: Down-home Dig-in Chili

EIGHT YEARS AGO:  Cinnamon Rolls

 

INCREDIBLY SIMPLE TIMES FOUR

Here I am to share with you not one, not two, but four recipes that are so simple you could make them in your sleep. Each delivers a lot more than you’d expect in flavor and you will find yourself making them again and again. Not necessarily in your sleep.

composite

From top to bottom, left to right, here they are:

CHEESE JALAPENO CRACKERS. Credit should go to Angela, from Divalicious Recipes.  Recently she composed a post with 50 ideas for low-carb appetizers very well-timed for a Super Bowl party.  These crackers are pure cheese, with a kick of Jalapeno. I made only eight for the two of us. There was a bit of an argument over the last one, we could not quite agree on who had the right to grab it. I won. Determination is everything.

crackerstutorial

My version, 50:50 Monterey-Cheddar & Parmigiano.
Baked at 350F for about 10 minutes.
Watched them like a hawk.

MARINATED CUCUMBER SALAD. I saw this recipe at FoodTV the other day, a show I don’t normally watch called Valerie’s Home Cooking. I admit to having a bit of a problem with Hollywood folks turned into FoodTV chefs. Maybe I should open my mind a little? Nah, I like my mind the way it is… Anyway, her recipe sounded great but I adapted on my second time around because she used too heavy a hand on the sesame oil. It pretty much overpowered the delicate cucumber.

cucumber

In a small bowl mix and whisk well:

1/2 cup rice vinegar (unseasoned)
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 teaspoon white sugar
1 teaspoon dark sesame oil.

Slice one cucumber as thin as you can make it, a mandoline could be helpful. I used a Persian cucumber, so I did not remove the seeds, but if you only find regular ones, removing the seeds is a nice touch. Delicately mix the cucumber slices with the dressing, refrigerate for half an hour if you have the time, but it’s good right away too.
So refreshing!

FRIED EGG OVER LABNEH WITH ZA’TAR. This is unbelievably good!  I confess I’m addicted and have it several times each week for my lunch.  I know you will find the combination a bit odd, but trust me, it is to die for. Just smear some labneh or thick Greek yogurt on a plate. Squirt a bit of lemon juice and a little salt (no need for salt if using labneh). Sprinkle za’tar all over, use a heavy hand if you are a za’tar lover.  Fry an egg whichever way you prefer, for this concoction I like a little bit of a crisp edge. Rest the egg on top of the cold labneh or yogurt mixture. Swoon!

zataregg

I use different spices sometimes.  Sumac goes well, Ras El Hanout is superb, but za’tar is hard to beat. There’s something about the mixture of the runny egg yolk with the cold seasoned yogurt, I never tire of it.  I first saw this combination at Maureen’s beautiful blog, she also included in her cookbook Rose Water and Orange Blossoms, which I own.

BLUEBERRY CHIA PUDDING.  I am usually pretty slow to jump on fashionable ingredients, and most of my adventures with chia seeds have been unremarkable. Not this one. It turned out so good I would serve it for company without thinking twice. It is creamy, sweet and tangy at the same time, the coconut flavor so subtle it would not offend those who are not too fond of it.  All you need to do is remember to soak the chia seeds the day before, or at least a couple of hours in advance.  A minute in the blender, and there you have, Nirvana in a bowl.  You can find the recipe here, but I highly recommend you get the book My New Roots, where you’ll find this one and a multitude of other interesting recipes.

blueberry-chia

for the recipe, visit Les Petites Pestes

Sometimes simple is all we need…

four-simple-recipes-from-bewitching-kitchen

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ONE YEAR AGO: Raspberry Chocolate Truffles

TWO YEARS AGO: Red Velvet Cupcakes

THREE YEARS AGO: Valentine’s Day: The Finale

FOUR YEARS AGO: Almond Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies

FIVE YEARS AGO: Dan Dan Noodles

SIX YEARS AGO: Sophie Grigson’s Parmesan Cake

SEVEN YEARS AGO: Antibiotics and Food