Red Wine Vinegar-Braised Chicken Thighs

Rookery | Vinegar-Braised Chicken Thighs

I made the mistake the other night of having a dinner party and serving something I’d never made before. You’re not supposed to do that! But I was desperate.

It was one of those dinner parties where each guest very kindly tells you ahead of time about his or her dietary restrictions – vegetarian, gluten-free, lactose-intolerant, allergic to eggs. And then they add that you really don’t have to do anything to accommodate them, they’ll just nibble on lettuce so please don’t worry. I think they actually mean it but I would feel sort of bad taking them up on the offer.

Fortunately I had pulled this recipe out of an Oprah Magazine I’d found at the airport (What? Where do you get your recipes?) so I decided to give it a go.

Rookery | Vinegar-Braised Chicken Thighs

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Shakshuka: Poached Eggs in Tomato Sauce with Chickpeas and Feta

Shakshuka | Rookery

There’s a special place in recipe heaven reserved for this dish.

First of all, you can make it in one pot. Second, there’s a good chance you already have most of the ingredients you need, save for the feta and the serrano pepper, and the pepper costs two cents (literally – they are sold by weight). Third, it’s fun to say. Shakshuka!

Don’t worry about which country “invented” shakshuka or you will step directly into a cultural sh*tstorm. (Google “Who invented shakshuka” and you’ll see that tempers run high.) Just know that it is enjoyed in many parts of the Middle East and North Africa and it is truly delicious.

Shakshuka | Rookery

It’s the perfect meal to make later in the week when you haven’t been to the grocery store in a few days. It’s also the kind of recipe that would be very easy to sneak additional veggies into, if you were so inclined. Just don’t do anything that makes it too complicated — its history is already complicated enough.  Continue reading

Now Available – Printable Recipes!

True confession — I don’t have a printer. So it hadn’t dawned on me that people might want to print the recipes on actual paper rather than risking their laptops in the kitchen, as I do (why do I do that, again? Oh yeah, because I never bothered to buy a printer).

But the people have spoken! Thank you so much for your suggestions — I am now including a printable PDF of each recipe (without photos) to make your lives easier and to save a bunch of toner. I will try to add them to past recipes as well, as time allows.

You’ll see the option to download the recipe further down in the posts where the instructions begin. I hope this helps — let me know!

Green Sushi Salad

Sushi Salad | Rookery

I often find myself craving sushi. It’s an expensive craving to have, mostly because once I get to the restaurant I cannot stop eating it. My friends and I even coined a term for the feeling you get when you leave the restaurant and only then realize how full you are: Rice Expansion Disorder (RED).

There’s also the environmental aspect. Some of my favorites, like ahi tuna, are on the Seafood Watch “avoid” list. Ugh.

Sushi Salad | Rookery

That’s why I’m such a big fan of this sushi salad. Because what I’m really craving when I want sushi is UMAMI. I want the salty savoriness, combined with rice and a little bit of wasabi. And this is a great, vegetarian – vegan, in fact! – healthy and non-expensive way to get it. Continue reading

Homesick Texan Carnitas

Homesick Texan Carnitas | Rookery

Pork + salt + water = carnita. I just recently learned this equation. As a lover of Mexican food, I always assumed that such tender, flavorful tacos required hours simmering in some exotic spice concoction that I would never fully be able to master. I pictured chiles, a mortar and pestle, you know.

But while browsing smitten kitchen I saw Deb’s take take on carnitas, which led me to Homesick Texan, which led me to Diana Kennedy, which led me down this rabbit hole of incredibly easy carnitas recipes and now my life is irrevocably changed.

Homesick Texan Carnitas | Rookery

Jesse’s life has changed too. Now every time I say, “what do you want for dinner?” his answer is “could you make those carnitas again?”

We’ve decided to limit it to once a month. Continue reading

Matzah Ball Secrets: Don’t Fear the Schmaltz

Matzah Balls | Rookery

In this latest post, our heroine learns that it’s really hard to take an appetizing photo of a matzah ball.

Maybe that’s because the better a matzah ball tastes, the worse it photographs. Light, fluffy matzah balls are uneven and lumpy-looking. Smooth, spherical ones may look nice, but they have a taste and texture that give matzah balls a bad name.

Matzah Balls | Rookery

I didn’t realize I had such strong opinions on the topic. But in writing this post I learned that my family’s matzah ball technique (circa 1950, Springfield, NJ) contradicts the instructions in many recipes, including from some of New York’s famous delis. Therein lies its strength.

Matzah Balls | Rookery

In fact, when I look at other recipes, I feel like I am not even making the same dish. Your matzah ball should never sink. They don’t need oil. They don’t need seltzer (I don’t think seltzer fizz does anything to make them lighter- it’s basically just adding water). They don’t need baking powder (this would count as leavening and so couldn’t be used at Passover, no?).

Most importantly, they are not difficult and should not be cause for stress, failure, or familial kvetching (leave that to the other aspects of Passover).  Continue reading

Pizza with Lemon and Brussels Sprouts

Rookery | Brussel Sprout Lemon Pizza

Yeah, I know, it doesn’t seem like brussels sprouts would be that great on a pizza. They are kind of dense and earthy while pizza should be lighter and zestier. However, when you just use the leaves and not the cabbage-y core, you have a sturdy green that holds up well in the oven and practically soaks up the flavor of the lemon slices. This pizza is really good.

Rookery | Brussel Sprout Lemon Pizza

I found out about it when I hosted a potluck pizza party. Rather than have people bring a random array of salads and potato dishes (aren’t potlucks the worst?), we asked them to bring toppings for their favorite pizza, and we’d supply the dough. When my friend arrived with a sack of brussels sprouts and a lemon I thought maybe she’d misunderstood the invitation. How wrong I was! Continue reading