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J.M. Hirsch

For all your gift-giving needs: The best food books of 2015

Have you ordered your copy of the latest five-ingredient-paleo-gluten-free-Nordic-kale smoothie cookbook yet? Me either. You know why? Because nobody outside hipster man bun-loving enclaves in Brooklyn and Los Angeles actually eats that way. Just don’t tell the publishing industry, which forever seems to trip over itself to get into ink whatever outrageous culinary fad crosses […]

Still no cranberry sauce fan? Maybe bacon will convert you

Admittedly, I’m a bit of a freak when it comes to cranberry sauce. Nonetheless, I can’t help but think there is something seriously disturbed about people who claim to not like it. Because what is there to dislike? Whether shplopped (that’s the official sound) from a can or homemade with loving care, cranberry sauce is […]

A simple Cuban marinade can add big punch to easy oven fries

Most of the foods we eat – even among those of us for whom eating is a career – pass our lips and leave not even a fleeting memory. Most foods. But then there are those that linger not just on our tongues, but in our minds. Perhaps by association of a time or place […]

October 28, 2015 | Posted in Features | Tagged ,

Rethinking classic brats on a bun as an easy baked pasta

Ready to bring Oktoberfest home? It is, after all, a fine way to get into the spirit of fall. We start with that most ubiquitous of German sausages (at least in this country), the bratwurst. Here in the U.S., we tend to think of brats as a one-and-done sort of food. Which is to say, […]

October 21, 2015 | Posted in Features | Tagged ,

It’s time to move pasta beyond the side salad this summer

Aside from the occasional pasta salad, America’s favorite carb often takes a vacation during summer. It’s probably because we tend to associate it with more winter-friendly heavy and hot sauces. But pasta doesn’t have to be relegated to the salad bar when the heat is on, particularly since it’s still one of the fastest and […]

August 12, 2015 | Posted in Features | Tagged , ,

Shrimp and quinoa combine for an easy, robust summer salad

The secret to a hearty summer dinner salad? You’ve got to stick with ingredients that come together in little time. Because while I want my dinner salads to be robust and filling, I don’t want them to take a whole lot of time to prep. One of the greatest joys of summer is getting dinner […]

July 08, 2015 | Posted in Features | Tagged ,

Don’t toss those carrot tops! Turn them into delicious pesto

If it grows together, it goes together. It’s a nice – if overly simplistic – way of saying that a wine often pairs well with foods produced in the same region its grapes were grown in. Which is why Chianti goes so nicely with Italian food. But this adage also holds true as a guideline […]

June 17, 2015 | Posted in Features | Tagged ,

A meaty meal for Dad that isn’t just another grilled steak

Just because guys tend to like to grill doesn’t mean every Father’s Day meal has to be a culinary cliche. Not that most guys would argue if they were honored with a honking steak over hot coals. But this year maybe mix it up a bit and do something a little more exciting. Without sacrificing […]

June 10, 2015 | Posted in Features | Tagged ,

Stuff it! Avocados, that is. Stuff them with a quick chili

There’s no real shocker here – avocado pairs delightfully with a rich and meaty chili. But I decided to pair them in a fresh way that is just right for summer grilling season. Rather than simply whip up a pot of chili and scatter some diced avocado over it, I decided to spoon mounds of […]

June 03, 2015 | Posted in Features | Tagged ,

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 […]

May 20, 2015 | Posted in Features | Tagged ,

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 […]

May 13, 2015 | Posted in Features | Tagged ,

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 […]

May 06, 2015 | Posted in Features | Tagged ,

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 ,
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