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April 10, 2014
Greece’s culinary traditions go back some 4,000 years, and many of the cuisine’s staples endure in the food we love today. Olive oil, barley, tomatoes, and eggplant all play vital roles in these Mediterranean dishes. And the range of diversity in Greek cooking means that you can make a meal of small, largely vegetarian mezes, or you can put together a hearty dish of meat, pasta, and feta cheese.
Lamb is a common protein in Greek recipes, and it’s also an ideal fit for Easter and other early spring celebrations. Enjoy these dishes with gratefulness for the warmer weather and a glass of wine – it’s part of the Mediterranean diet, after all!
Warmest regards,

Kara Rota
Editorial Director
Cookstr

  by Cat Cora

 

“Most people think of capers, or kappari, as exclusively Italian, but I’ve always thought their flavor was perfect in Greek foods. The briny, piquant flavor makes me think of a sun-drenched hill-side next to blue water, which for me means Skopelos. The Greeks have cooked with capers for millennia; historians note that Greeks brought capers to Gaul as early as 600 B.C. These days, if you stop in a Greek taverna, you’ll often find large capers set out in small bowls as mezes, appetizers. Try these with a sip of ouzo – flavors don’t get more intense than this. In my kitchen I really like a final sprinkling of capers over roasted vegetables, especially red peppers, eggplant, and Brussels sprouts, and I’m a big fan of piccata sauce made with capers, lemon, fresh parsley, and butter. But I like capers best with seafood – both have the flavor of sun and sea – and I think combining shrimp and capers makes each one taste better. One clove of garlic gives the shrimp a subtle flavor. If you like a heartier flavor, double the garlic in this recipe. I serve this as a first course, as a quick, light dinner, or as a leisurely weekend brunch. Add cherry tomatoes when they’re in season. Serve on a bed of young field greens if you like.”  - Cat Cora

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The Cookstr Weekly: A Middle Eastern Feast

April 3, 2014

 

March 27, 2014

As we make the gradual transition into Spring, foods from Lebanese, Turkish, and Israeli cuisines are ideal for days when a foot in each season makes meal planning difficult. A feast of mezzes with plenty of warm homemade pita is just as good al fresco as when you’re cozied up indoors.
Middle Eastern food is also a great way to feed a crowd with different dietary needs, as you can work in vegetarian, vegan, and gluten-free options with relative ease. Health-conscious eaters and devoted carnivores alike will be satisfied.
Warmest regards,

Kara Rota
Editorial Director
Cookstr

  by Joyce Goldstein

 
The creamy, rich texture of this Turkish dish is reminiscent of babaganoush, but with the addition of tangy yogurt rather than tahini.
“The combination of eggplant and yogurt dressing is not just reserved for the Persian kitchen. Turkish cooks also love to blend the two. The natural bitterness of the eggplant and walnuts is tempered by the tart, creamy yogurt. Even the chilies add a bitter edge. Sometimes the bitterness is too intense, so you might have to add more lemon juice for balance. Serve this eggplant puree with wedges of warm pita bread.” – Joyce Goldstein

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The Cookstr Weekly: Slow Cookers & Pressure Cookers

March 26, 2014

It doesn’t feel like springtime yet in much of the country, but the longer days make it seem a shame to spend hours at the stove. While they rely on different mechanisms, both slow cookers and pressure cookers are excellent, tried and true solutions to getting a satisfying and complexly flavored meal on the table with minimal effort and a mostly unattended cook time.
Even better, the hands-off and low-mess cooking methods are built for entertaining, especially in small spaces where a sink full of dishes can make all the aesthetic difference. Whether it’s chicken, beef, vegetables, lamb, legumes, or even fish or dessert, you’ll be surprised at the complexity and depth that’s achieved with little work.

Warmest regards,
Kara Rota
Editorial Director
Cookstr

 

  by Judith Finlayson

 
French onion soup is one of my absolute favorite things in the world to eat, but I rarely make it at home. The soup usually requires hours of laboriously caramelizing the onions, stirring as you go, but in this recipe, the slow cooker does the work for you. It still takes a solid half day to cook, but doesn’t require babysitting along the way. Start with Judith’s Enhanced Vegetable Stock, also made in the slow cooker, for the deep flavor that turns a good onion soup into something truly spectacular. The layer of crisp baguette slices blanketed with Swiss or Gruyere goodness seal the deal. 

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The Cookstr Weekly: Greens for Early Spring

March 26, 2014

We’re starting to feel the beginnings of spring fever around here, and so far it’s mostly manifesting itself in the shedding of winter parkas and the sudden urge to eat something other than soup. It’s not time yet for the bounty of full-blown spring, with its asparagus and peas, but there are plenty of leafy greens, leeks, and artichokes in the markets to freshen up your menus.

As I crave less comfort foods this time of year, I want to eat less meat and starches, and I demand bigger pops of flavor in vegetable-based dishes. The ones below will do the trick, and a few sweets certainly don’t hurt either.
Warmest regards,

Kara Rota
Editorial Director
Cookstr

 

  by Terry Golson

Vegetable fried rice is an ideal meal when you’ve got a smattering of leftovers and bits and pieces on hand: some cold cooked rice (plain rice saved from a takeout meal is perfect), frozen or fresh vegetables, and a few mouthfuls of cooked chicken, ham, or shrimp. Bites of perfectly scrambled eggs hold the dish together. This makes a satisfying lunch or dinner, and a forgiving one when it’s nice out and you’d rather not spend extra time in the grocery store or over the stove!

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The Cookstr Weekly: Here’s the Beef! Ten Meaty Classics to Sink Your Teeth Into

March 12, 2014
I eat lots of vegetables, I promise! And not just out of obligation! I’m happy to base a meal around a warm sweet potato, and most of my breakfasts include as much spinach, corn, and broccoli as they do eggs. But sometimes, especially towards the end of a long and trying winter, the siren song of a bone-in ribeye or some coarsely ground chuck becomes difficult to ignore.
When that’s the case, try sinking your teeth into these ten meaty recipes, from the very basic to the downright splurgy.
Warmest regards,

Kara Rota
Editorial Director
Cookstr

  by Francine Segan

The beef in this recipe comes in the form of thinly sliced roast beef, bolstered with sweet sausage and pancetta or bacon for a meaty triad that melds perfectly with the sweet notes in this sauce. You end up with a sort of inside-out ravioli experience. Segan writes, “The concept of using the ravioli filling as a condiment for pasta is very liberating! It was popularized by the famous Italian chef Gualtiero Marchesi, who first introduced ravioli aperto “open ravioli” back in the ’80s. Nowadays, many Italians, pressed for time, forgo ravioli making and turn the filling into a free-form sauce for pasta. The flavors are the same and it saves time.”

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The Cookstr Weekly: Ten Easy Finger Foods

February 28, 2014
With Academy Awards parties just around the corner, we’re brainstorming finger foods to get us through the hours (and hours…and hours) of speeches, snubs, and surprises.
When I was a kid, food for watching the Oscars with my parents was limited to a giant bowl of communal popcorn, with butter and salt for dad and a sprinkling of nutritional yeast for my mom. Even now, popcorn is really all you need, along with a warm blanket and a cold drink. But if you’re going to make an Academy-worthy event of it, these recipes will get you well on your way with minimal fuss and without a single serving utensil.
Warmest regards,
Kara Rota
Editorial Director
Cookstr

  by Robin Robertson

The spring rolls in this recipe are really just a fresh, healthy conduit for the spicy peanut sauce, which is seriously addictive. Making spring rolls may seem tricky, but it’s actually quite simple – just be careful not to overstuff the rice wrappers. If you’re feeling ambitious, you can make your own peanut butter, but it’s fine to use a store-bought version as long as it’s unsweetened. The spicy peanut sauce would also be delicious with beef, chicken or vegetable satay, or with noodles and vegetables for an easy lunch.

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The Cookstr Weekly: Carnival Season & Fat Tuesday Fare

February 20, 2014

Whether you start celebrating Carnival season when it begins around Epiphany, on January 6th, or only partake in the last hurrah of Mardi Gras on the Tuesday before Ash Wednesday, there’s no doubt that shellfish gumbo, dirty rice, and oysters are certainly worth a party. Here’s a menu for Creole and Cajun classics interspersed with more laid-back interpretations that are feasible for any home kitchen. These dishes are meant for sharing, from the celebratory event of a crawfish boil to never-ending pots of jumbo and jambalaya simmering on the stove for all who may stop by.

Sure, you can enjoy the parades, masks, dancing, and music – but like most holidays, deep down, this one is largely about the food.

Warmest regards,
Kara Rota
Editorial Director
Cookstr

  by Sharon Kramis and Julie Kramis Hearne

Hush puppies are key in a NOLA-inspired menu, and they’re fantastic party food to boot. Including crab or shrimp, as well as plenty of spice, ensures that they’ll fit perfectly into a Mardi Gras meal. This version uses a cast iron ebelskiver pan to make nicely rounded fritters that are browned on all sides without deep-frying. The Green Goddess dipping sauce served alongside the hush puppies is full of fresh herbs, with some savory kicks from anchovy paste and Dijon mustard.

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