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Just when it seems I've fed my husband Ted every imaginable variation of beef stew, I hit on another flavor combination that becomes a new favorite. So it is with this sweet and sour beef stew, made easily in the slow cooker. The seasonings for this stew draw on Moroccan tradition, cinnamon and allspice paired with dried fruit (raisins, though you could substitute dried apricots). Brown sugar boosts the sweetness, and apple cider vinegar provides the sour. Overall, the combination is lighter than my traditional wine-based stew. Carrots and butternut squash are the perfect addition, because they, too, become sweeter with long cooking. Serve the stew over pasta, as we do, or couscous or rice. Like most stews, this one freezes well, and is even... Read more →


Inspiralized, by Ali Maffucci (2015) Why I've kept it: Did you buy a Spiralizer when it was all the rage a couple of years ago? Do you make zoodles (zucchini noodles) instead of spaghetti? Did you know you can turn other vegetables into noodles, like celeriac and rutabaga and beets and chayote? Until I picked up this book, I never made noodles out of anything except zucchini. Inspiralized opened my eyes. The recipes are imaginative, healthy, and visually beautiful, combining colors, textures and the interesting shapes that spiralized vegetables add to the plate. And the notes in the front section provide invaluable tips and techniques for processing different types of vegetables. If you're finally tackling your holiday gift list in earnest, consider this cookbook paired... Read more →


Here in Boston, we're deep into soup season, and there's no soup more comforting than fish chowder. Big chunks of flaky white fish, golden potatoes, onions and herbs: there's nothing better on a chilly afternoon. It's easy to make chowder. Start with any mild white fish that looks good in the market -- cod, halibut, haddock -- or with flash-frozen fish fillets from Trader Joe's, if that's what you have. Jazz it up a bit by broiling it with a sprinkling of Old Bay Seasoning. I like to use Yukon Gold potatoes, but any potatoes cut into smaller pieces will be fine. Fresh herbs are great, but dried herbs will be great, too. Substitute milk for cream, to save a couple of calories. You can... Read more →


After a week's vacation in South Florida, I have tacos on the brain. Fish tacos tempted us everywhere (have you ever tried corvina?), and every menu offered chicken, beef, and carnitas tacos, too. I love the idea of carnitas -- long-cooked shredded pork, crisped up at the end of the cooking -- but I don't eat pork. And then it occurred to me that I could make my own slow cooker carnitas out of beef or chicken, and I could enjoy those burnt edges, too. Use your favorite cut of beef, or meaty chicken thighs, for this recipe; I love brisket, so of course that's what I used here. Give the meat a dry rub, then cook it on low heat in the slow cooker.... Read more →


The Indian Slow Cooker: 50 Healthy, Easy, Authentic Recipes, by Anupy Singla (2010) Why I've kept it: Recipes for Indian food, which I love to eat, scare me. There, I've said it. Mixing, toasting, grinding, and layering all of the spices makes me feel completely fumble-fingered, and I've always preferred to enjoy Indian dishes in a restaurant rather than tackle them in my own kitchen. Until I discovered this little book. The Indian Slow Cooker opened my eyes to how much simpler Indian cooking can be. All of those complicated spices? Just toss them into the slow cooker with beans or lentils, or chicken or beef, and out comes a delicious curry, or dal, or even butter chicken. The author, a working mom, translates some... Read more →


All along the East Coast from Maine to Florida, you'll find fried fish sandwiches -- made with local white fish like cod or flounder, halibut or haddock -- on every diner menu. You can always order a grilled cheese sandwich at a diner, too. So why not combine the two classic sandwiches into something even better? For this sandwich, you start by cooking the fish, and that means you can do it earlier in the day, or even use leftover fish that you've broiled, pan-fried, or cooked on the grill a day or two before. Add some lightly-dressed shredded cabbage or cole slaw, and a couple of slices of Swiss cheese on each sandwich. These fish sandwiches make a perfect lunch or light supper. Fish,... Read more →


When my husband Ted and I first began dating, oh-so-many years ago, we spent almost every Friday night at Chan's Garden in Dunellen, New Jersey, a small suburban Chinese restaurant, where we splurged on a shared order of house special fried rice. As befit New Jersey Chinese food of the time, it was a bit gloppy, not at all spicy, and always contained shrimp and chicken and white rice, and some sort of cabbagey green vegetable like bok choy along with canned sliced mushrooms and water chestnuts (which I always picked out). It was a treat for two young people on a budget, and we seldom ordered anything else on the menu. Our own house special fried rice also begins with shrimp and chicken, though... Read more →