sweet and savory carrots I grew up on these carrots. Adding depth to a naturally sweet vegetable, this recipe will make you think twice next time you reach for the steamer. As a variation, puree the carrots at the end of the recipe and sprinkle with fresh sage.

Serves: 4 smugly-sarcastic rabbits
Total kitchen time: 20 mins

Shopping List:

  • Carrots (a-duh? But seriously, a note here. Try to find beautiful carrots. For your sake and mine, don’t buy a pre-packaged bag of those mini carrots. Those are for 5-year olds to dunk in Ranch Dressing. You want the big boy carrots.)
  • 1tsp ground cloves
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • 1 to 1 1/2 cups water
  1. Clean up your carrots with a vegetable peeler. Get rid of the tough outer skin, but try not to go all mechanical pencil sharpener on them. That’s food you’re wasting.
  2. Arrange the carrots in a single layer in a large skillet. Sprinkle over the cloves and cinnamon. Toss to coat.
  3. Add the water and honey and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce to a simmer and cook until carrots are fork-tender, about 20 minutes.
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mille feuille enchilada I love “gourmet Mexican” cooking. This dish was inspired by more traditional stacked enchiladas – with a twist. Using fillo dough instead of tortillas gives the meal a lighter, flakier texture – reminiscent of European and Mediterranean layered-dough pastries.

Serves: 4-6
Special Equipment: Large casserole dish (9×13 will work)

Shopping list:

  • 1 package Filo (filo, phyllo) dough sheets, thawed
  • 3 small cod fillets (about 1 lb total)
  • 1/2 lb Cotija cheese, crumbled (look for it in the Mexican cheese section. Substitute Chihuahua or Fontina if you must)
  • 1 large sweet onion, coarsely chopped
  • 3 cups (uncooked) baby spinach
  • 2 dried ancho chilies, seeded and finely chopped
  • 1/2 lb Woodear mushrooms, coarsely chopped (substitute with another “gamey” mushroom such as Oyster)
  • 1 tbsp red cayanne pepper
  • 2 tbsp paprika
  • 1 tbsp liquid smoke
  • 3 tbsp apple cider vinegar (rice, sherry or plain white vinegar will work fine)
  • coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • Olive oil (in a sprayer, if you have one)
  • 2 1/2 cups prepared salsa verde (may I recommend the mojito marinade?)
  1. Preheat your oven to 375F and set the rack to the middle position.
  2. Combine the cayanne pepper, paprika, liquid smoke, vinegar and a pinch of salt and pepper in a bowl. Add the cod and toss to coat. Set aside to marinate, at least 15 minutes.
  3. Preheat your most grill-kike surface (bbq grill, indoor grill, grill pan, big skillet) over medium-high heat. Add the onions and cook until brown and soft, about 10 minutes. Remove the onions and set aside in a large mixing bowl. Add chilies and mushrooms to the bowl.
  4. On the same hot grill, cook the spinach until wilted, about 1-2 minutes. Coarsely chop the wilted spinach and add to the bowl that’s beginning to smell delicious in your kitchen.
  5. Keeping your grill good and hot, cook the cod fillets, about 4 minutes per side. Toward the end of the cooking, mash up the fillets with your tongs or spatula. Cook another 1 minute over high heat to develop crusty bits.
  6. Add the cod and 2 cups of the salsa verde to the mixing bowl. Stir to combine.
  7. Lightly grease the bottom and sides of your casserole dish with olive oil. Add one sheet of filo dough to the bottom of the dish. Lightly spray or brush the dough with olive oil (very lightly). Add another sheet and repeat until you have 5 or so sheets built up on the bottom.
  8. Add about 1/2 of the cod/veggie/fungi mixture to the dish and spread into an even layer. Top with 1/3 of the cheese. Add another 5 layers of filo dough, spraying oil in between each layer.
  9. Repeat step #8 with the remaining cod mixture. Spread the remaining 1/2 cup of salsa verde over the top of the fillo sheets. Add the rest of the cheese in an even layer.
  10. Bake at 375F for 15 minutes or until the cheese is slightly browned. Set aside to cool at least 5 minutes. Cut and serve!

Serve alongside refried beans mixed with the juice of 1 lime and some chopped cilantro. If you’re timid about cod, try using shredded chicken, pork or steak. As a brunch variation, try using lobster meat and Fontina cheese, substituting the salsa verde for a buttery cream sauce. Look how fancy you are!

P.S., like its traditional Mexican counterparts, this dish is also great the 2nd day.

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grilled pizza With equal parts hunger and bravery, you’ll find that your grill cooks much more than burgers. This recipe is a summer staple for me; as soon as the weather warms up, I start to crave pizza on the grill. Be creative with your toppings – choose 2 or 3 veggies, a cheese and a meat. When I recently made this recipe for some friends, I went overboard (7 veggies was just too much) but the result was still delicious.

Makes: 4 10″ pizzas

Shopping list:
Dough:

  • 2 packages (2 oz total) active dry yeast
  • 3 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup cornmeal
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 cup + 3/4 cup warm water (105F- 115F)
  • 1 tbsp olive oil

Toppings:

  • 1/2 cup goat’s cheese
  • 1 dz fresh figs, halved
  • 2 Vidalia onions, cut in 1/4 in circular slices
  • 1 lb fresh chicken and apple sausage
  • 1/4 cup fresh mint, torn into small bits
  1. Proof the yeast in 1/4 cup of the warm water for 5 minutes.
  2. Combine the flour, cornmeal, salt, yeast and remaining water. Mix until combined, but don’t over work the dough. Roll into a large ball and coat with olive oil. Cover and let rise 1 1/2 hours or until it has doubled in size.
  3. Divide the dough into 4 equal pieces. Roll out into ovals (or circles or hearts or whatever shape you like) about 1/8″ thick. These will be really thin, but try to make sure there are no holes or weak spots. Lightly brush each of the doughvals (get it?) with olive oil and set aside until you’re ready to grill.
  4. Preheat your grill on medium. Add the chicken sausage and cook, turning occasionally, until they look right. The cooking time depends on a lot of things, but trust me, you’ll know when they’re done. Slice into 1/4″ pieces and set aside and keep warm.
  5. Raise the heat to medium-high and cook the onions until brown, soft and sweet, about 10 minutes. Set aside and keep warm.
  6. Grill the figs, cut side down, about 3 minutes. Set aside and keep warm.
  7. Turn your grill down to low and wait for the heat to dissipate. Grill the doughvals until set, about 1 minute per side. Add the goat’s cheese, onions, figs and sausage. Sprinkle on the mint and top with really good olive oil, if you like.

Cut and serve the pizzas. They pair great with a dry white wine and a platter of sliced, preserved meats. Also try any of the following for toppings: {Stilton, apricots, pork sausage}, {Manchego, pesto, shrimp}, {feta, lamb, cucumber}, {mozarella, bell pepper, eggplant}. If things have gone well, you’ll have a whole new admiration for your grill.

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