FAIRFIELD-SUISUN, CALIFORNIA
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J.M. Hirsch

Dill and butter? Dull. Take carrots to a robust new level

Butter and dill are lovely on roasted carrots, but this spring I wanted something a little more . . . robust. Because let’s face it, spring and early summer have a tendency to smack you with cool, wet weather when you’re least expecting it – and when you are most desiring sun and heat. Which […]

A sweet-and-sour dish that will have you ditching take-out

There is just something disgustingly delicious about sweet-and-sour chicken, that deep-fried, sugar-slathered staple of Asian take-out. That cloying sauce, that crispy-fried breading, those sweet morsels of warm pineapple . . . No matter how bad I know it is for me – and how badly executed the dish usually is – I still manage to […]

Ready to make cocktail bitters at home in under 30 minutes?

Feeling bitter? Get in line. These days anyone who takes their drinking seriously is getting intimate with bitters. Fueled largely by the hard liquor and artisanal cocktail booms, bitters – those astringent, potent flavor enhancers added by the drop to cocktails – have become a big business. Ten years ago you’d have been challenged to […]

A warm chicken curry dinner for a cool, wet spring evening

A warm curry for a cool spring evening? Sounds about right. This weeknight-friendly chicken curry – rich with spices and coconut milk – is a perfect dinner on a chilly, wet spring night. Warm seasonings and buttery roasted potatoes round out the dish that comes together in just 35 minutes. The food processor makes fast […]

April 22, 2015 | Posted in Features | Tagged ,

Frittatas – the ultimate have-it-your-way weeknight dinner

Frittatas are like quiches without crusts, and that makes them an ideal fast and simple weeknight dinner. They also are the ultimate have-it-your-way meal, and that makes it easy to feed a family of – inevitably – picky eaters. You all get to enjoy the same meal at the same time, but you aren’t all […]

April 15, 2015 | Posted in Features | Tagged ,

Take chicken from frozen to delicious in under 30 minutes

Despite its reputed speed at getting dinner done, the pressure cooker was slow to win me over. Sure, its skill with baked beans and brisket is impressive, and I’m a sucker for a pressure cooked batch of rice pudding. But as a weekday cooking device, I’ve never felt that it shaved much more than five […]

April 08, 2015 | Posted in Features | Tagged ,

Food processor turns falafel into an easy weeknight meal

Falafel is one of those easy weeknight meals I rarely think to make, but when I do I feel like a dolt for not doing it more often. That’s because falafel – pan-fried patties made from chickpeas, onions and a mess of delicious seasonings – are healthy, speedy and versatile. They can be served any […]

April 01, 2015 | Posted in Features | Tagged ,

Asparagus? Meh! This Easter give me bacon, eggs and potatoes

The classic foods of Easter dinner have never done much for me. Sure, a honey-glazed ham is nice. But the rest of the meal tends to go downhill, queuing up mostly springtime vegetable cliches. Now, Easter brunch is another matter entirely. Hot cross buns and hash brown potatoes and muffins and coffee cakes and quiches […]

March 18, 2015 | Posted in Features | Tagged ,

No need to hit the drive-thru for this seasonal minty shake

I’m ashamed to admit this, for I am no fan of fast food, but I’ve always had a soft spot for McDonald’s shakes. It doesn’t matter that I know what’s in them. It doesn’t matter that I understand how bad for me they are. It doesn’t matter that I know I can make far better […]

March 11, 2015 | Posted in Features | Tagged ,

A delicious lemon-pepper pork that should have been chicken

This is the pork tenderloin that was supposed to be a chicken. But it ended up being one of those delicious mistakes I was so glad I made. I was aiming for a roasted whole chicken that was rubbed under and over the skin with a potent blend of coarse black pepper, kosher salt, dried […]

March 04, 2015 | Posted in Features | Tagged ,

Looking to make a healthy change? Fill up on broccoli

Anyone else suffering the broccoli blues? Truth is, it’s such a versatile vegetable seemingly unbound by season, it becomes a go-to vegetable – particularly in winter – for the American dinner table. Nothing wrong with that. It tastes great, cooks quickly and is great for you. But it can sometimes feel as though it’s on […]

February 25, 2015 | Posted in Features | Tagged ,

Party like you mean it this Super Bowl with homemade jerky

Sure, you’ll have some guacamole and some chips and some chicken wings. And a plate of nachos isn’t a bad idea, either. But how about something to set your Super Bowl spread apart? How about some homemade beef jerky? Because while it may sound daunting to season and dry your own meat, it actually is […]

January 28, 2015 | Posted in Features | Tagged ,

Dieting pickle? Use quick pickles as healthy snack

In terms of healthy eating, snacking is my downfall. So long as I abstain, I’m fine. But once I start, I can’t stop. But we all know that abstention isn’t realistic, at least not in the long run. Conventional wisdom has always been that rather than deprive yourself of snacks, you should make healthier choices […]

January 07, 2015 | Posted in Features | Tagged ,

An effortless New Year’s Eve party? No problem!

It probably was a moment of weakness. You offered to host a New Year’s Eve gathering, but — as usual — you lack the time and energy to pull together anything company-worthy. Got you covered. All it really takes is a couple of items that show a little love combined with some purchased goodies and […]

December 31, 2014 | Posted in Features | Tagged ,

A pancake that has it all – bacon, apple and sugar

Like Thanksgiving, Christmas is one of those holidays that requires aroma. On Thanksgiving, we need the house to smell of turkey and stuffing and sweet potatoes. On Christmas, we need whiffs of indulgent breakfast items, like cinnamon rolls or a bubbling fruit crisp. Or maybe you prefer hash browns and bacon. Those get the job […]

December 24, 2014 | Posted in Features | Tagged ,

Holiday entertaining? Start with a box of crackers

Planning for a crowd this holiday season? Grab of box of woven wheats. That’s the generic name for Triscuits, those kind-of-weirdly-woven-esque wheat crackers that are delightfully salty-crunchy-savory. This year, I’ve decided they are the perfect on-demand base on which to build any number of crowd-pleasing holiday appetizers at the last minute. Because none of us […]

December 03, 2014 | Posted in Features | Tagged ,

Eggs make all the difference in mashed potatoes

Much as I’d like to take credit for this rich version of mashed potatoes, that honor goes to Stanley Tucci. Or rather, to Stanley Tucci’s wife. That’s because when Tucci isn’t cranking out movies like “The Hunger Games” and “Julie & Julia,” he’s often in the kitchen with his wife, Felicity Blunt. They draw on […]

November 26, 2014 | Posted in Features | Tagged ,

A chicken satay with bold – and borrowed – flavors

This easy, weeknight-friendly chicken dinner is a bit of a cultural mash-up. Deliciously so. I started by bathing hard-to-overcook chicken thighs in a robust satay-style sauce. The sauce delivers a sweet-tangy-savory-spicy blend of flavors thanks to ample amounts of brown sugar, cider vinegar, fish sauce and garlic chili paste. And tying it all together? Finely […]

October 15, 2014 | Posted in Features | Tagged ,

Tomato rice soup: A speedy bowl of creamy comfort

When I was a kid, creamy tomato and rice soup was one of my go-to comfort foods. My mom would make it for me, and she would make it from a box. The soup was cloyingly creamy-sweet and the rice was overcooked and mushy. I didn’t much care. It was happiness in a bowl. I’ve […]

October 15, 2014 | Posted in Features | Tagged ,

A speedy, kitchen sink approach to pumpkin bread

Some days you just need to embrace a kitchen sink approach to cooking. This quick bread is just such a case. A few years back, I came up with a recipe for a gingery pumpkin bread that was pretty much everything I wanted in a pumpkin bread. It was tender and moist, robustly – but […]

October 01, 2014 | Posted in Features | Tagged ,

Butter and black pepper, a steak’s best friends

A steak and potato dinner is an American cliche, but a delicious one. And in my mind, that gives us leave to play with – and enjoy – it without feeling guilty. For my weeknight-friendly steak and taters, it was important to me that it be a one-pan wonder. Nobody wants tons of cleaning up […]

September 24, 2014 | Posted in Features | Tagged ,

Classic frozen pop from childhood remade as a pie

Let’s get one thing clear – I am not proud of this recipe. And if it weren’t so ridiculously good, I’d be too humiliated to share it. But it is and so I am . . . It all came about because I was chasing a childhood taste memory. I wanted the creamy-sweet richness of […]

September 10, 2014 | Posted in Features | Tagged ,

Is it worth it to chop your own burgers? You bet!

I’m not going to tell you how to dress your burger. I’m not going to tell you what sort of bun to put your burger on. I’m not really even going to tell you very much about how to cook your burger. But I am going to tell you how to make the best burger. […]

September 03, 2014 | Posted in Features | Tagged ,

Taking a sweet and tangy approach to gazpacho

Watermelon and tomatoes may seem an unlikely combination, but in this simple, refreshing gazpacho they blend perfectly. The recipe – inspired by one in Yotam Ottolenghi’s upcoming cookbook “Plenty More” – comes together in minutes and easily adapts to your preferences. I like a bit of tang in my gazpacho, so I added plenty of […]

September 03, 2014 | Posted in Features | Tagged ,

A shaved salsa that needs no tomatoes, no chopping

We generally assume two things about salsa that we shouldn’t. First, that it must involve tomatoes. Second, that the ingredients should be chopped. Because while chopped tomato salsas are delicious, you don’t want those to be your only experience. There are so many other delicious ways to enjoy fresh salsa. To prove the point, I […]

August 20, 2014 | Posted in Features | Tagged ,

Think beyond the slice with refreshing watermelon

Watermelon is one of those foods you really don’t need to overthink. Slice it. Eat it. Spit out the occasional seed. Done. Trouble is, the sweet, refreshing taste of watermelon is so appealing in summer, I tend to overbuy. And before long I find myself with two or even three massive melons rolling around (and […]

August 20, 2014 | Posted in Features | Tagged ,

10 Things: 10 fresh ways to use fresh blueberries

There are muffins, of course. And pancakes. And the obligatory fruit salad. But then what? After all the usual suspects, how do you handle a seasonal abundance of blueberries? As long as you’re willing to consider a few fresh approaches, it’s actually easy and delicious to press them into service. Start by ditching the idea […]

July 23, 2014 | Posted in Features | Tagged ,

An impressive way to grill a whole cauliflower

Last summer, the hip way to handle cauliflower was to treat it like a steak. It was a trick that started in restaurants and quickly trickled down to home cooks looking for fresh ways to make an often overlooked vegetable a little more interesting. Most recipes call for cutting a head of cauliflower into thick […]

July 16, 2014 | Posted in Features | Tagged ,

Triple glazing strawberry-balsamic pork tenderloin

When you discover foods that have a natural affinity for one another, it’s easy to find numerous excuses to enjoy them together. One of my favorites is strawberries and balsamic vinegar. Both sport assertively sweet, nicely acidic flavors that not only work well together, but also pair up wonderfully with so many other foods. Often, […]

June 25, 2014 | Posted in Features | Tagged ,

Grilled salad: Reason to finally use grilling pan

Over the years, I’ve received roughly a half dozen of those perforated grilling pans as gifts. You know the ones I mean. They usually have sloped sides and small holes in them. The idea is that they let you cook smaller items on the grill without fear of losing the food between the grates. I’ve […]

June 25, 2014 | Posted in Features | Tagged ,
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