Roasted Squash Soup with Pie Spices

Roasted Squash Soup with Pie Spices | Dinner Is ServedI am looking out at my back yard on an absolutely glorious day here in Chicago and thinking “How could anyone not love Fall”?  Beautiful leaves, a bit of chill in the air and yet still warming sun. Apples, cider, pumpkins and squash.  And soup!  And squash soup!

If you’ve been anywhere near Pinterest or thumbing through the pages of food magazines, you’ve undoubtedly come across many recipes for and variations of squash soup. No surprise here, as winter squashes are infinitely versatile, at home in both the savory world (think curried squash soup) and the sweet (think pumpkin pie). This recipe, which I will say is my all time favorite, straddles both worlds with a  blend of sultry spices traditionally found in pie recipes:  Roasted Squash Soup with Pie Spices

It also calls for a trio of winter squashes, each adding a unique texture and flavor to the soup, including one that may be new to some of you: Kabocha Squash. Epicurious online describes kabocha as “The New Squash” in a recent article. This may be the first time I am actually ahead of the trend!Kabocha Squash

Butternut SquashAcorn Squash

The most challenging part of any recipe which calls for winter squash is, of course, is cutting the squash in half (check out this article from The Kitchn for tips on how to accomplish this task safely and effectively). But once you’ve managed this labor of love, the rest of the soup prep is a breeze!  Just season and steam roast in the oven, sauté some onions and simmer everything together with chicken stock and the spices, then take the whole thing for a spin in the food processor along with a little cream.

Last, comes the fun part with soup: the garnish. I love the original recipe’s call for adding some of the pie spices to crème fraiche and swirling it in. Toasted bread croutons are another possibility, although I tend to like the simplicity of fresh chives. This recipes yields quite a bit so unless you’re feeding the masses, plan on leftovers you can bring to the office for lunch and make your co-workers insanely jealous!  Remember too that squash based soups tend to thicken, so feel free to add a little chicken stock or water before reheating.

Until next time, enjoy the glory that is fall!Roasted Squash Soup with Pie Spices

Roasted Squash Soup with Pie Spices *

  • 1 small kabocha squash (about 3 1/2 lbs) – halved and seeded
  • 1 medium butternut squash (about 2 lbs) – halved and seeded
  • 1 medium acorn squash (about 1 1/2 lbs) – halved and seeded
  • 2 cups water
  • 4 TBS unsalted butter
  • 1 white onion, thinly sliced
  • 1/4 tsp cardamom
  • 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1/8 tsp ground cloves
  • 1/8 tsp ground ginger
  • Salt and coarsely ground black pepper
  • 5 cups low sodium chicken stock
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1 8-oz. container crème fraiche (or sour cream)

Preheat oven to 350°. Season squash halves with some salt and pepper and place, cut side down on 2 large, rimmed baking sheets. Pour 1 cup of water onto each sheet. Cover with heavy duty aluminum foil and bake for about 1 hour, or until tender. Carefully remove foil and let squash cool slightly. Using a dish towel, hold each piece of squash and scoop out the contents into a bowl.

While squash is cooling, melt the 4 TBS butter in a large casserole or Dutch oven over medium-low heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 8  minutes. Add the spices and continue sautéing for an additional 2 minutes. Add the chicken stock; increase heat and bring to a boil. Add the squash and heavy cream.  Reduce heat and simmer for about 5 minutes.

Working in batches, puree the soup in a food processor (or alternatively use an immersion blender).  Return soup to pot and season to taste with salt and pepper and any additional spices, if desired.

Blend a pinch of each of the spices into the crème fraiche.  Serve soup, hot, in bowls and garnish with crème fraiche.

Serves 10

* recipe adapted from Food & Wine magazine



Filed under Gluten Free!, Soup

Announcing a new Gluten Free! category here on Dinner Is Served

Gluten Free! from Dinner Is Served

Because gluten-free cooking is important to so many people today, I’ve decided to create a new category here on Dinner Is Served for all of my gluten free recipes.  Going through my recipe archives, I’ve posted 55 gluten-free recipes over the years *pats self on shoulder.  Just go to the Gluten Free! category on my home page for a listing of recipes.

Please keep in mind that I have labeled these recipes as such based on my basic knowledge of gluten-free cooking.  I do realize that some ingredients which are normally considered to be gluten-free, may in fact contact contain some trace elements of gluten or have issues with cross contamination.  If you have severe dietary restrictions, then of course you’ll want to pay close attention to the ingredients that you are using.

Happy healthy eating from Dinner Is Served!


Filed under Gluten Free!

Plum Sauce with Basil & Balsamic Vinegar

Plum Sauce with Basil & Balsamic Vinegar |  Dinner Is ServedYou may be wondering why I am posting a recipe for a just a sauce.  As in “Where is the rest of the meal? Have you lost your mind, Dinner Is Served?”  I swear on a stack of Julia Child cookbooks, there were many other things that went with this meal: grilled pork tenderloin (which was served with the plum sauce), jasmine rice and glazed carrots with agave nectar and garlic chives. Oh it was very beautiful and delicious and nutritious.

Unfortunately, I have no photos from that meal.

Chalk it up to the struggles of someone who works full time (like me) and blogs on his/her spare time.  Meaning nights and weekends.  Trust me, when it’s 7:30 at night and I’m tired and the family is starving, NO ONE is going to wait around for me to take photos!

Fortunately, I did snap some nice shots of the sauce alone.  Which honestly, it was the sauce that made the meal in the first place. So, assuming you all know how to season and grill a pork tenderloin or a pork chop (or lamb chop or chicken breast), then we can just get right to this lovely summer sauce which is made with just three ingredients and (bonus time here) FAT FREE!

We’ll start with some glorious plums, which happen to be at the peak of season right now:

Plum Balsamic Sauce with Basil | Dinner Is Served

MMmmmm…I have serious love of summer fruit:

Plum Balsamic Sauce with Basil | Dinner Is Served

Chop these beauties up and add a little balsamic vinegar:

Plum Balsamic Sauce with Basil | Dinner Is Served

Then simmer on the stove for about ten minutes until the plums have softened:

Plum Balsamic Sauce with Basil | DInner Is Served

Puree, strain, and toss in some chopped fresh basil, a little salt & pepper.  DONE!  And now the fun begins: what to serve this with?  I can think of many many things:

  • Grilled Pork tenderloin, pork & fruit kabobs, pork chops, ribs
  • Turkey burgers
  • Grilled chicken thighs
  • Grilled lamb chops
  • Cornish game hens
  • Roast duck breast
  • Broiled salmon

You’re going to have a ton of fun with this one, trust me.  Until we meet again… :)

Plum Sauce with Basil & Balsamic Vinegar

1 1/2 pounds ripe purple plums, pitted and cut into 1-inch chunks

1/3 cup balsamic vinegar

1/2 cup shredded fresh basil

1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper

1/4 tsp salt

In a medium, nonreactive saucepan, bring the plums and vinegar to a boil over high heat. Cover and reduce the heat to moderately low. Cook the plums, stirring often, until tender, about ten minutes.

Puree the plum mixture in a food processor. Using a fine mesh strainer, strain the puree into a nonreactive bowl. Stir in the basil, pepper, and salt.  Season to taste and let cool a bit before serving over your favorite grilled food.


Yields: About 2 cups sauce


Filed under Gluten Free!, Quick Easy Weeknight Meal, Salad Dressings & Sauces

Grilled Spice Rubbed Chicken with Fresh Tomato, Basil & Olive Salad

Grilled Spice Rubbed Chicken with Tomato, Basil & Olive Salad

The first comment my co-worker made when sampling this dish last week was “Oh my god, this is amazing!  Are these tomatoes from your garden?”  I thanked her for the compliment, then sadly had to admit, that no, they were store bought tomatoes.  It’s a bit of a sore subject for me this summer, as photos of tomato harvests come in from friends on Twitter and Facebook.  We’re talking bushels of glorious red, ripe tomatoes, some coming from gardens a mere couple of blocks away.   And yet here in my little back yard, for reasons I cannot explain, my tomatoes have been a total bust.

Bakers Acres

As you can see above, it hasn’t been all bad.  I’m in basil and kale overload and those cabbages are looking pretty darned beautiful.  Guess I’ll just have to accept the fail and move on, right?   Which, I am MORE than happy to move on to this completely awesome dish that works with any kind of tomatoes, garden grown or not.  I mean, just look at this glorious salad, made with just about everything I love on the planet:

Grilled Spice Rubbed Chicken with Tomato, Basil & Olive Salad| Dinner Is Served

If you’re thinking “To heck with the chicken, I just want this salad,” I can’t say I blame you.  The flavors are so bright and complimentary.  In fact if you tossed in some grilled bread, you’d have an almost perfect panzanella (making mental note to try that next time).  

Of course, this versatile salad goes with just about anything that will be coming off your grill right now: shrimp, swordfish, flank steak, and yes, chicken!  Speaking of that chicken, let me state for the record, that this spice rub is fun and unique and definitely worth a try:

Grilled Spice Rubbed Chicken with Tomato, Basil & Olive Salad | Dinner Is ServedIt’s worth grilling a few extra breasts, then refrigerating them to use in a salad or a wrap the next day.  And the salad (assuming there’s any leftover), will keep for a few days as well in the fridge.  One of those “gift that keeps on giving” kind of meals I love making.  Teen tested, co-worker tested and approved too!  Now off to check out kale and cabbage recipes!

Grilled Spice Rubbed Chicken with Tomato, Basil & Olive Salad

Spice Rub:

2 tsp dark brown sugar

2 tsp crushed or finely chopped fennel seeds (see Note>)

1 1/2 tsp. sweet paprika

1 1/2 tsp. garlic powder

1 1/2 tsp. coarsely ground black pepper

1 tsp. Kosher salt


2 cups cherry tomatoes, quartered (or any type of fresh tomatoes, seeded and coarsely chopped)

1/2 small red onion, finely chopped (about 1/2 cup)

1/4 cup coarsely chopped Kalamata olives

2 TBS drained capers

2 TBS (or more to taste) torn fresh basil leaves

1 large clove garlic, minced

2 TBS fresh lemon juice, or more to taste

1 TBS extra virgin olive oil

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

4-6 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves

Vegetable oil

Combine ingredients for spice rub in a small bowl. Pat chicken breasts dry; drizzle both sides with a little of the vegetable oil and rub in.  Sprinkle both sides with the spice rub and let stand about 10 minutes.

For the salad, combine all ingredients in a small glass bowl.  Add additional lemon juice, olive oil, salt and/or pepper as desired.

Preheat grill to medium-high heat.  Oil grate or spray with grill-grade non stick spray. Place chicken breasts on grill, smooth side down. Grill for about 4 minutes, or until grill marks have been achieved. Reduce heat to medium, then flip chicken over.  Cover grill and continue cooking until chicken is just cooked through and juices run clear, about 5 additional minutes depending on thickness of breasts.

Transfer chicken to a platter, tent with foil and let rest for a few minutes.  Slice and serve with salad.

Serves 4-6

Note> If you have not yet purchased a Mortar & Pestle , this recipe is the perfect excuse to add one to your kitchen!  Perfect for grinding spices (like the fennel seeds), crushing garlic or even making pesto or guacamole (in the traditional way).  Alternatively spices may be finely chopped by hand or in a coffee grinder that has been designated as a spice grinder.  

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Filed under Entree - Poultry, Gluten Free!, Good to Grill!, Quick Easy Weeknight Meal

Grilled Potato & Zucchini Salad with Mustard Vinaigrette

Grilled Potato & Zucchini Salad with Mustard Vinaigrette | Dinner Is ServedI appear to have a complete obsession with potatoes lately.  For the life of me, I can’t tell  you why they have been popping up here on my blog page with such regularity other than the fact that I have always loved potatoes and keep coming up with new and different ways to enjoy them!  I also love grilling summer vegetables, so it just seemed natural to bring these two together with some fresh herbs and a tangy mustard vinaigrette dressing.   I also wised up and FINALLY (after, what, 20+ years of serious cooking), purchased a gorgeous, stainless steel Weber® grill pan.  I can already tell we’re going to be best friends for life:

Grilled Potato & Zucchini Salad with Mustard Vinaigrette | Dinner Is Served

I also made a decent sized batch of my favorite Mustard Vinaigrette dressing using a nearly empty jar of TJ’s Dijon mustard.  Just add the ingredients to the jar (minus the mustard of course because it’s already in the jar) and give it a few good shakes.  This vinaigrette will keep for a good two weeks in the fridge and is perfect not only for salads, but grilled vegetables and as a marinade.

Food prep here is quick and silly simple.  Just par boil some potatoes for about 15 minutes

Grilled Potato & Zucchini Salad with Mustard Vinaigrette

Drain and while the potatoes are cooling, cut up some fresh summer zucchini, or any other kind of squash of your preference.  Toss with some olive oil, garlic salt and pepper:

Grilled Potato & Zucchini Salad with Mustard Vinaigrette

Cut up the cooled potatoes and repeat with the garlic salt, pepper and olive oil.  Then onto the grill it goes, until lightly charred.  Toss with just enough of the dressing to flavor the salad and serve immediately warm, or you can also serve at room temperature.

Grilled Potato & Zucchini Salad with Mustard Vinaigrette

Served this last night with a fabulous Red Wine & Coffee Marinated Sirloin Steak from Fine Cooking Magazine and a nice Cotes du Rhone from Trader Joes (2013 Laurent DuBlanc).  All in all, one fine meal.   I love you, potatoes and new grill pan.  BFF’s 4EVER ♥

Grilled Potato & Zucchini Salad with Mustard Vinaigrette

For the vinaigrette:

1 TBS Dijon mustard

3 TBS white wine vinegar or white balsamic vinegar

1 medium garlic clove, crushed

3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

Kosher salt and coarsely ground pepper to taste

For the salad:

1 3/4 pounds of new potatoes, scrubbed

2 medium zucchini squash

Fresh herbs (basil, thyme, tarragon or parsley)

Garlic salt

Freshly ground black pepper

Extra Virgin olive oil

Place all the ingredients for the vinaigrette in a glass jar.  Cover and shake until emulsified.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Place the potatoes in a sauce pan with cold water and a pinch of salt.  Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, until just barely tender, about 15 minutes.  Drain and rinse under cool water.  Set aside to cool.

While potatoes are cooling, slice zucchini crosswise into 1 1/2-inch pieces, then cut each piece in half.  Toss with some olive oil,  garlic salt and pepper.

Cut small potatoes in half or quarter if large.  In a separate bowl, toss with olive oil, garlic salt and pepper.

Preheat a grill pan for about 10 minutes over medium-high heat.  When hot, add zucchini and potatoes.  Grill, turning occasionally, until lightly charred, about 10 minutes.

Remove from grill and place in a serving bowl.  Toss with a few TBS of the vinaigrette and some fresh herbs.  Season with additional salt and pepper and serve immediately.  Or, cover loosely and serve at room temperature.


Serves 6


Filed under Gluten Free!, Good to Grill!, Salad Dressings & Sauces, Salads, Side Dishes - Potatoes

Pesto Roasted Fingerling Potatoes

Pesto Roasted Fingerling Potatoes

Gardens are funny things.  You check in on them every day (as you should), making note of what needs to be pruned, fertilized, or various weeds that threaten to take over.  And then one day out of nowhere, you’ll notice that HOLY COW…you suddenly have an abundance of something and you need to use it immediately!  Anyone who has grown cherry tomatoes or zucchini know this phenomenon well.

Such was the case with my sweet basil this year.  It took off in the blink of an eye.  Mind you, I am not complaining one bit.

Sweet Baril

The obvious comes to mind of course: pesto.  But  I’ve already give you: Ultimate Basil Pesto.  I’ve also done a very awesome Grilled Pesto Chicken and Tomatoes.   Are you tired of pesto yet?  Yep, I thought not.  So let’s go another round, this time with roasted potatoes.  Specifically, some very fun and colorful ones like this:

Fingerling Potatoes

Roasted initially with a little olive oil, salt and pepper:

Roasted FIngerling Potatoes with Pesto | Dinner Is ServedWhile the potatoes are roasting, just throw together a very simple pesto sauce made with fresh basil, garlic, shallots and olive oil (no pricey $$$ pine nuts in this recipe):

Pesto Roasted Fingerling Potatoes | Dinner Is Served

Which, when combined, look like this:

Pesto Roasted Fingerling Potatoes | Dinner Is Served

Can we pause a minute to admire the glory that is basil pesto? ——– Ahhhh.   So anyway, after an initial roasting, the potatoes are tossed with this piquant mixture then roasted a bit more.  Your kitchen will smell like heaven on earth at this point.  Just sayin.   Then just before serving, the final touch of awesomeness: some freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano:

Pesto Roasted FIngerling Potatoes | Dinner Is Served.

 If you’re wondering whether you have to use multi-colored fingerling potatoes for this recipe, the answer is a resounding “no”!  You can use anything you have or like, although I do happen to think that thin-skinned potatoes are the real ticket to success with this kind of roasting.  As for things to serve with this dish, the possibilities are endless.  Basically whatever comes off your grill this summer (steaks, beer can chicken, sausages, ribs…) will go will be happy sharing a plate with these savory spuds.

One final note before I get to the recipe, which I promise I will do.  Try making them ahead of time, reserving a little of the pesto.  Just before serving, toss with the reserved pesto and parmesan cheese.  So simple and delicious!


5 TBS olive oil

2/3 cup packed fresh basil leaves

1 large or 2 medium shallots, peeled and coarsely chopped

2 large or 3  medium garlic cloves, peeled

Nonstick vegetable oil spray or nonstick aluminum foil

2 1/2 # fingerling potatoes, scrubbed

1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Blend 2 1/2 TBS olive oil, basil, shallots, and garlic in a food processor until smooth.  Season pesto to taste with salt and pepper (can be made up to a day in advance.  Cover and refrigerate).

Preheat oven to 400°F.  Spray a large baking sheet with nonstick spray or line with nonstick foil.  Toss the potatoes with remaining 2 1/2 TBS olive oil, salt and pepper in a large bowl to coat.  Transfer to prepared baking sheet.  Roast potatoes until almost tender, about 35 minutes.  Pour pesto over potatoes and toss to coat.  Continue roasting potatoes until golden brown and tender, about 15-20 minutes longer.

Transfer potatoes to a serving bowl.  Add cheese and toss.

Serves 6


Filed under Gluten Free!, Meatless Mondays!, Quick Easy Weeknight Meal, Side Dishes - Potatoes

Thai Beef with Basil

Thai Beef with Basil |Dinner Is Served

One of the great pleasures of gardening is being able to grow and use ingredients not often found at the supermarket.  Case in point…Thai Basil.  A few months ago I planted some straggly looking plants from the garden center into this whiskey barrel, along with some other herbs and annuals.  Thanks to an abundance of rain and warm, humid days, my Thai basil is flourishing.  Time to start cooking!

Thai Basil

My husband’s absolute favorite Thai meal is Thai Beef with Basil. I will admit to not being a big fan of super spicy food, but when you combine the basil with the heat, something magic happens.  It’s an absolutely brilliant combination and is so easy to make at home in a jiffy, starting with fresh ingredients like hot peppers and ginger: Thai Beef with Basil | Dinner Is Served

A simple savory 30-minute marinade with fish sauce, soy sauce and brown sugar:Thai Beef with Basil | Dinner is Served

Tossed with thinly sliced steak:

Thai Beef with Basil | Dinner Is Served

Stir fried with onions slivered garlic and the finishing touch: fresh basil.  LOTS of it.  Seriously, you almost can’t add enough basil to this dish:

Thai Beef with Basil | Dinner Is Served

And the perfect salad to round out the meal: my “Cool as a Cucumber Thai Salad

Cool as a Cucumber Thai Salad | Dinner Is Served

This meal will both heat you up and cool you off all at the same time! Enjoy all the best that summer has to offer my friends.  Ok, and one more photo of the basil.  Just…because.

Thai Beef with Basil | Dinner is Served

Thai Beef with Basil

3 TBS Asian fish sauce (aka Nam Pla or Nuoc Nam) (see Note>1)

1 TBS soy sauce

1 TBS brown sugar

1# beef round or sirloin steak (preferably thinly sliced) (see Note>2)

1 TBS plus 1 tsp vegetable or canola oil

1 large sweet onion (about 1#), sliced into 1/4-inch-thick slices

3 long red or green chilies (such as serrano or fingerhot), seeded and thinly sliced

3 garlic cloves, thinly sliced

2 tsp minced, peeled fresh ginger

2 cups loosely packed fresh Thai or sweet basil leaves (large leaves torn into smaller pieces)

Cooked jasmine rice (or any other long grain rice)


Place meat in the freezer for 30-45 minutes.  Then remove and slice against the grain into 1/8-inch-thick slices.

In a shallow dish or bowl, combine the fish sauce, soy sauce and brown sugar.  Whisk to combine.  Add meat; toss well to coat.  Cover and marinate in the fridge for 30 minutes or up to an hour.

In a skillet or wok, heat 1 TBS of the oil over high heat until very hot.  Add beef mixture along with marinate.  Cook, stirring frequently, just until beef is no longer pink (about 1-2 minutes).  Transfer beef and accumulated juices to a bowl and set aside.

Add remaining 1 tsp of oil to the wok.  Add sliced onion and cook, stir-frying, until tender-crisp, about 3-4 minutes.  Stir in chilies, garlic and ginger and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds.

Return beef to skillet and add basil.  Stir until heated through and basil is just beginning to wilt.  Serve over jasmine rice.

Serves 4

Note>1 – Fish sauce sounds exotic but it’s almost everywhere these days and is an essential ingredient in Asian cuisine.  Technically you can store it at room temp, but I like to play it safe and store mine in the fridge where is seems to stay fresh for a very long time (as long as one year!)

Note>2 – Another advantage to this dish: you can use an inexpensive cut of meat, like the top round!  As long as you slice it thinly against the grain, it will be every bit as tender.  Look for meat that has already been sliced thin, sometimes labeled as “sandwich steak”  It’s perfect for stir frying.

Thai Beef with Basil| DInner Is Served


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Filed under Entree - Beef, Quick Easy Weeknight Meal, Uncategorized

Potatoes Baked in Salt, with Garlic & Rosemary Butter

Potatoes Baked in Salt with Garlic & Rosemary | Dinner Is Served

This past month my paying job and social calendar have prevented me from cooking creatively and posting on my blog.  Not to complain about the paying job or social life, mind you!  I actually enjoy what I do five days a week and am blessed to work with some of the best co-workers on the planet.  However it’s busy season in the field of graduate medical education so my days are long and the weekends have been booked, and I’m tired.  The most I have been able to do is throw some steaks on the grill and bake some potatoes last weekend for Father’s Day.

Ok so they weren’t your average “throw them in a 400° oven for an hour” baked potatoes, let me just say.  They were fan-flipping fantastic, blog worthy baked potatoes, they were.

The credit for these best ever baked potatoes ever goes to Chicago Tribune columnist, John Kass, who took a break from Chicago politics and wrote a column on this unique baking method in November, 2012.  In turn, Kass credits America’s Test Kitchen‘s Julia Collin Davison, who he refers to as the “Goddess of Baked Potatoes.”  John made some changes to the ATK recipe.  As he states in his column “…every cook futzes with another’s recipe.”   And I, in turn, futzed around with Mr. Kass’s recipe.  The true magic here lies in not the measurements but the technique itself.

Potatoes Baked in Salt with Garlic &amp Rosemary Butter |  Dinn

They are indeed as the title indicates, russet potatoes baked on a bed of Kosher salt with a few sprigs of fresh rosemary and whole garlic.  Finished with a heavenly roasted garlic, rosemary butter, which I kicked up with a little truffle salt.

Roasted Garlic Rosemary Butter

There is a science behind why this method works so well.  Why the outside stays crisp and the inside melts in your mouth.  I’m sure America’s Test Kitchen tested a thousand different methods before coming up with this one, singularly perfect way to bake a potato.  Thank god for food nerds.

If you’re concerned that these potatoes will turn out “salty,” let me assure you that if you just brush off the bit of salt that sticks to the bottom of the potatoes, they are not salty at all.  If you’re like me and think the best part of a baked potato is the skin, you’re in for a treat.  My only reservation about this method was that it seemed like a waste of perfectly good Kosher salt (I am solidly in the “no food shall go to waste” camp).  Then I remembered that I like to clean my cast iron pans with a little Kosher salt, and the leftover salt from the potatoes is perfect for this application.

Many thanks to Mr. Kass and the Goddess of Baked Potatoes for sharing this method and for elevating the humble baked potato to blog-worthy status.

Potatoes Baked in Salt, with Garlic & Rosemary Butter*

4 baking potatoes (see Note>), scrubbed and dried

2 1/2 to 3 cups Kosher salt

3 large sprigs fresh rosemary

2 heads of fresh garlic

Olive oil

4 TBS unsalted butter, softened

Truffle salt and black pepper (optional)

Equipment needed:

1 baking pan (ideally 9×13)

Aluminum Foil

Preheat oven to 450°.  Spread salt in an even layer in pan and lightly place the 4 potatoes atop the salt.  Important -> do not pierce the potatoes!  Add two sprigs of rosemary along the sides of the pan.  Cut a section off the top of each head of garlic and place at opposite corners of the pan.  Cover the entire pan with foil, crimping the edges to ensure a tight seal.  Bake for 1 hour and 15 minutes.

Remove pan from oven and raise the oven temp to 500°.  Remove rosemary sprigs and discard.  Remove garlic heads and reserve.  Lightly brush the tops of the potatoes with olive oil (do not move the potatoes).  Return pan, uncovered, to the oven and bake for an additional 15 minutes.

Meanwhile strip the leaves from the remaining sprig of fresh rosemary and finely chop (I usually end up with about 1 tsp).  In a bowl, combine chopped rosemary and softened butter.  Squeeze some of the garlic from the reserved heads of baked garlic and add to butter.  How much garlic and fresh rosemary you add is up to you (this is where the “futzing” comes into play).  Throw in a dash of truffle salt if desired and a grind or two of black pepper.  Mix well.

Remove potatoes from oven and pick each one up with a towel, gently scraping salt off the bottom of each.  Discard salt or save for another use.  Place each potato on a plate and break open the top with a fork.  Place a spoonful or two of the butter and serve.

Serves 4

Note> Brown skinned Idaho russet potatoes work best for this recipe.

* Recipe from Chicago Tribune’s John Kass and America’s Test Kitchen


Filed under Gluten Free!, Side Dishes - Potatoes, Uncategorized

Broiled Scotch Salmon

Broiled Scotch SalmonTime to break out the kilts and bagpipes and enjoy a recipe from the Dinner Is Served archives ( beat up little recipe box).

Pretty sure the first time I ever cooked salmon, this is the recipe I used.  It was fabulous then and still to this day, is one of my most favorite ways to flavor and cook salmon.   You can see the original recipe below, worn and well loved.  It may be a recipe from the ’80’s, but its bright, fresh flavors seem just as home in the year 2014.  And with the maiden name MacIntosh, I have even more reason to adore this dish.

Recipe box

The Scottish part of the recipe comes from a few tablespoons of the real deal:

dewarsEven the salmon itself came from Scotland!

Broiled Salmon with Scotch and Mustard Glaze

The fact that the soy sauce, rice vinegar and mustard are not from Scotland, we’ll just overlook that minor detail.  But you must agree, it’s one beautiful marinade and takes a mere one hour to impart its brilliant flavors:

Broiled Scotch Salmon

For the food geekery section of this post..  I need to point out that although the salmon I found at my local market came from Scotland, it is farmed salmon (sound the alarm).  The good stewards of marine sustainability, Monterey Bay Aquarium, advise against farmed salmon from Scotland and other locations.  While I do make every effort to follow their guidelines, sometimes, I just have to buy what’s available and remember, I live in the Chicago area where our seafood choices are a bit limited.

Also a note about broiling:Broiled Salmon

I have always preferred grilling over broiling; however when it comes to seafood, I’ve come to prefer the latter.  No worries about fish sticking or drying out.  The only downside to broiling is dealing with any fish aromas that may linger.  For some ideas on dealing with that issue, check out this article from TheKitchn:

Coming next to DIS: 50 ways with Haggis!

Then again, maybe I’ll just stick with this salmon and a splash of Dewars.   Slainte Mhath

Clan Mackintosh

Broiled Scotch Salmon

  • 4 salmon filets, about 6 oz. each
  • 1/2 cup canola or safflower oil
  • 2 TBS each: soy sauce, Scotch whiskey, rice vinegar
  • 1 TBS “sweet & hot” mustard (see Note>)
  • 1 green onion, chopped plus additional for garnish

Whisk together oil, soy sauce, whiskey, rice vinegar, mustard and green onions.  Place salmon filets in a shallow dish. Pour marinade over; turn to coat.  Cover, and place in the refrigerator for at least an hour, or up to two hours.

Remove filets from marinade and (if desired), transfer leftover marinade to a small saucepan.  Bring to a boil and then simmer for about 3-4 minutes, then set aside.

Preheat broiler and set rack to about 6-8 inches away from heating element.  Spray broiler rack with non stick spray and place salmon filets, skin side down on rack.  Broil salmon for about 6-8 minutes, until top is starting to brown and inside is just cooked through.

Transfer salmon to plates, drizzle some of the reserved marinade over and garnish with chopped green onions.

Serves: 4

Note> I use Honeycup® brand sweet and hot mustard in this marinade. It is widely available throughout the states in many major grocery store chains.Honeycup Mustard


Filed under Entree - Seafood, Quick Easy Weeknight Meal, Uncategorized

Joyous Easter


Whatever you are celebrating today, be it Easter, Passover or just the arrival of Spring, I hope you’re enjoying some beautiful weather and also a good meal with friends and family.  Doing things a little differently this year, since the traditional ham dinner is being postponed till next week due to my parents coming down with a bad allergy/cold virus, that I myself just dealt with this past week.

So on to Plan B, which I decided because it’s supposed to hit 77° here in Chicago today, we’re grilling out steak!  With my awesome Kentucky Bourbon Marinade of course:Kentucky Bourbon Steak | Dinner Is Served

Along with my perfectly roasted 500°/5 minutes asparagus:Roasted Asparagus

And because I always like to mix things up with a couple of new recipes, I’m giving Pioneer Woman’s Perfect Au Gratin Potatoesa try:

Pioneer Woman Au Gratin PoratoesAnd in celebration of Spring (and because I absolutely LOVE cheesecake), this Lemon Bar Cheesecake from Fine Cooking Magazine:

Lemon Bar Cheesecake


Last, but not least, some Easter greetings from our bunny, Digger.  Of course this is her favorite holiday.  Celebrate and enjoy!



Filed under Uncategorized