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The Cookstr Weekly: Ten St. Patrick’s Day Dishes

March 17, 2015

St. Patrick’s Day coincides with the just-before-Spring rush of suddenly warmer weather, hinting that winter might eventually come to an end. And its color palette of rich, bright greens reflects a multitude of spring produce to look forward to.

 

For now, though, we’ll stick with the Irish classics like stews and braises, which make for perfect meals during this in-between season.


Warmest regards,

 

Kara Rota

Editorial Director
by Greg Atkinson
Looking for a festive St. Patty’s dish that’s as green as the Chicago River, without all the artificial coloring? This soup does the trick, with a double hit of peas and mint.

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The Cookstr Weekly: Retro-Inspired Meals for #ThrowbackThursday

March 12, 2015

Maybe it’s trudging through these last weeks of winter. Maybe it’s looking forward to the return of Mad Men. Either way, I’m thinking about classic, simple recipes, the kind you look forward to at the end of a long day. Foods like potpie and pot roast and roast chicken.

So this week, we’ve put together a combination of those classic recipes, by authors like Julia Child and James Beard, along with newer takes inspired by favorite dishes from decades past.


Warmest regards,

 

Kara Rota

Editorial Director
by Diane Morgan
 
Cheese balls were all the rage in the 1970s, an easy, tasty, fab party food for any occasion. What’s old is now retro-chic- this lightened-up cheese ball seduces with the sweetness of dates, the savory bite of blue cheese, a hint of shallot, and a teasing whiff of lemon zest.” - Diane Morgan

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The Cookstr Weekly: Pasta Night Gets a Makeover

March 5, 2015

I’ll be honest: I make pasta for dinner often. Quite often. Rigatoni, ravioli, lasagna, penne, or angel hair; whole wheat or traditional semolina; dressed up with fancy toppings or simply with garlic, olive oil and a handful of spinach. I have no intention of changing that. Pasta is the ultimate pantry meal, it’s quick to throw together, and it makes for great lunch leftovers.

But pasta need never be a box of spaghetti with a jar of ready-made sauce. It’s the perfect vehicle for veggies that are just a little too wilted and tired for salad, or some leftover protein, or a tin of anchovies. Start with the recipes below for pasta dishes that liven up a weeknight.


Warmest regards,

Kara Rota

Editorial Director
 
by Glenn Rolnick
 
“Orecchiette translates to “little ears,” describing the shape of this distinctive pasta. That shape is important because it is ideal for trapping flavorful juices and bits of spices and herbs, making every bite a tiny celebration. The pasta itself moderates the pleasant bitterness of the broccoli rabe, allowing for the full-bodied flavor of the greens to shine through. The broccoli rabe, for its part, contrasts the sweet spiciness of the sausage, a meaty richness that makes this dish incredibly satisfying and helps bring it alive on the tongue. You can experiment with your own favorite type of sausage. In either case, the sauce is a wonderfully light vehicle for the cacophony of savory flavors.” 
- Glenn Rolnick

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The Cookstr Weekly: Slow Cookers for Easy Dinners

February 23, 2015

The slow cooker’s appeal is well earned as a tool for those who spend most of the day out of the house but still want to end the day with a home-cooked meal. Like a good no-knead bread recipe or a basic fermentation technique, a slow cooker is a secret weapon that allows time and nature to do the hard work for you.

A slow cooker can be an ideal partner in crime when it comes to tackling dishes that seem too time- and work-intensive for every day, such as French onion soup or risotto.  For more tips and tricks to make the most of your slow cooker meals, check out the Clever Cookstr podcast.

Warmest regards,
Kara Rota
Editorial Director
Cookstr

  by Judith Finlayson

 

This pale vegetarian chili is both pretty to look at and delicious to eat. Add the cream cheese if you prefer a thicker, cheesier sauce, and the mild green chilies for a flavor boost. Serve with hot crusty bread and a salad of sliced tomatoes in vinaigrette for a great meal.” - Judith Finlayson

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February 19, 2015

When you’re little, Valentine’s Day is all about enforced equality: identical cards and candy turn up on command in identical doily-decorated tissue boxes and cubbies. But in adulthood, this holiday is all about playing favorites- favorite foods, that is. Valentine’s Day happens to be associated with a number of the foods with which I’ve carried on a lifelong affair: steak, cheese, lobster, and of course, chocolate.

Whether you’re cooking something special for two (and smartly avoiding the prix fixe restaurant rush) or whipping up a batch of something chocolatey and possibly heart-shaped for a party this weekend, here are some ideas to get you into the spirit. No doilies required.

Warmest regards,
Kara Rota
Editorial Director
Cookstr

  by Lauren Groveman

 

These fantastic sandwich cookies merge a melt-in-your mouth texture with the most classic American flavor combination of all, making them a real family favorite. The flip side, however, is that these sandwich cookies are delicate and won’t transport well. It’s also wise to make a few extra cookies “with holes” since these are the most fragile. For best results, allow the baked cookies to cool for the full amount of time specified and use a very thin metal spatula to remove them to a wire rack. You should know that these cookies are also great on their own, without any filling, and can also be cut into other shapes and sizes.” - Lauren Groveman

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The Cookstr Weekly: Casseroles for Cold Weather

February 13, 2015
February 5, 2015

As some parts of the country enjoy the oh-so-delightful combination of snow, sleet, and freezing rain that we lovingly euphemize as “wintry mix,” I’m thinking about another kind of mixture, one less likely to soak through to your socks. This kind involves layers of proteins, grains, vegetables, and sauces in hefty baking dishes meant to feed a family.

I’m a fan of casseroles, from inspired takes on lasagna to crust-topped meat-and-potatoes cobblers. And there’s something about serving dinner straight out of the pan it was baked in that makes me feel extra appreciative of having taken the time to cook. Start with the ideas below, and let us know what favorite casseroles you’re cooking this season!

Warmest regards,

Kara Rota
Editorial Director
Cookstr

  by Janet Fletcher and Rosetta Constantino

In this traditional side dish, thinly sliced artichokes and potatoes are layered with well-seasoned breadcrumbs and baked until the vegetables are tender and the breadcrumbs crusty. The vegetables settle into a “cake” that you can slice neatly and serve with lamb, pork, chicken, or practically any meat. Calabrians prepare many vegetables by this method, including tomatoes, mushrooms, and zucchini-alone or in combination. I sometimes treat fennel this way, too, although the fennel, if sliced thinly, does not need to be cooked first.” - Janet Fletcher & Rosetta Constantino

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The Cookstr Weekly: Game Day Eats

February 4, 2015
January 29, 2015

This Sunday marks the annual celebration of a most important American pastime, one that’s passed down from generation to generation, filled with regional loyalty and familial tradition. That pastime, of course, is eating delicious fried things in front of the television. If you’re a football fan, you’re already geared up for this Sunday’s events. But if you’re in it mostly for the potato skins and the commercials, we’ve got some excellent ideas for you.

Making some of your favorite snack foods from scratch, from tots, chips, and fries to wings and dips, is a perfect way to round out the weekend and kick off the game.

Warmest regards,

Kara Rota
Editorial Director
Cookstr

  by Lara Ferroni

“Traditional tots are made from russet potatoes, but I like to grate in a little bit of sweet potato or yam. Keeping the skins on helps to preserve some of the nutrients, so give your potatoes a good scrub instead of a peel. This recipe, adapted from one by Cooks Country magazine, churns out light, fluffy tots with a crispy crust every time. The corn flour and ground millet flour give the tots a little extra crunch, but it’s OK to substitute whole-wheat flour if you prefer.”

- Lara Ferroni

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