5 Make-Ahead Mixes to Rescue Your Busy Weekday Dinners
Recipes 5 Make-Ahead Mixes to Rescue Your Busy Weekday Dinners

When I have a little time on a Sunday and I know I’m going to have a particularly busy week coming up, I start thinking about a few little make-ahead projects that help to move dinner along more quickly or turn a basic dish into something a little more special. With just a small amount of advance preparation, I’ve found that reaching for few little jars can be fairly miraculous when I’m pressed for time.

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Gazpacho with Green Tomatoes
Recipes Gazpacho with Green Tomatoes

As the family legend has it, on the night before I was born, my mother cooked a pizza topped with sliced green tomatoes, and the next morning, pop! There I was. (Though, truth be told, it may actually have taken a bit more effort than I’m leading on…) I won’t go so far as to call green tomatoes some kind of folk remedy for inducing labor, but perhaps they provide a good incentive for anyone taking their sweet time in the womb.

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Summer Ceviche Salad with Fresh Papalo
Recipes Summer Ceviche Salad with Fresh Papalo

The vendor had noticed us ogling her herbs. “It’s papalo! Here, take some with you,” she chirped. “I’ll write the word down for you. It’s from Mexico. Use it like cilantro.” At the next stand over, we scored some gray sole and returned home with arms full of tomatoes, onions, lettuces, cucumbers and this unfamiliar herb. A quick web search revealed that papalo is indeed native to Mexico, and it grows like a weed across the Southwest US as well as Central and South America.

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Recipes Vibrant Green Coconut-Mint Chutney

I tend to eat lamb year-round, but for many, springtime is prime time for lamb roasts and chops. And I must admit, I’m not sure why mint jelly is the traditional accompaniment. I mean, it’s fine, but I just don’t think it’s quite as tasty or complex in flavor as my Coconut-Mint Chutney. This bright, fresh-tasting sauce is very similar to one I learned while working with Chef Floyd Cardoz of Tabla and Bombay Kitchen.

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Dear Miss Ginsu: My Soup is Bland.

Dear Miss Ginsu, I need help with my bean soup. It’s bland. I’ve already added the salt. What am I doing wrong? -Desperately Seeking Flavor Dear DSF, Bland soup is so disappointing. I feel your pain. Unfortunately (or perhaps fortunately) I’m not psychic. Without reading the recipe you used or tasting the soup myself, it’s difficult to know what to tell you to add. That said, I can offer some general help.

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Food Quote Friday: Gary Fincke

“Whatever the Sunday, the sorrows kept the women in the kitchen, My cousins and their mothers, my grandmother, her sister, all of them Foraging through the nerves for pain. They sighed and rustled and one would Name her sorrows to cue sympathy’s murmurs, the first offerings Of possible cures: three eggs for chills and fever, the benefits Of mint and pepper, boneset, sage, and crocus tea.” — Gary Fincke from “The Sorrows”

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Blended Bacon Butter (& Friends)

One of the first techniques we learned in cooking school was for making compound butter. It’s essentially just butter that’s softened, blended with something flavorful, reformed and re-chilled for serving. Compound butters are so decadent and so easy — though they never fail to impress guests when you make the effort — and yet, they’re one of those delicious details I invariably forget about. Make them with bacon and anchovies for savory punch, or stick to the purity of herbs and lemon zest to keep the flavors light.

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Food Quote Friday: Aldous Huxley

“The scent organ was playing a delightfully refreshing Herbal Capriccio — rippling arpeggios of thyme and lavender, of rosemary, basil, myrtle, tarragon; a series of daring modulations through the spice keys into ambergris; and a slow return through sandalwood, camphor, cedar and newmown hay (with occasional subtle touches of discord — a whiff of kidney pudding, the faintest suspicion of pig’s dung) back to the simple aromatics with which the piece began.

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Food Quote Friday: James Beard

“I believe that if ever I had to practice cannibalism, I might manage if there were enough tarragon around.” -James Beard (1903-1985) May 5th is the birthday of James Beard, who began his career in theater, but switched paths and became known as the “Dean of American Cooking.” Beard wrote twenty-three cookbooks (including the first major cookbook devoted exclusively to cocktail food, Hors d’Oeuvre & Canapés" in 1940) and appeared on NBC’s “I Love to Eat,” the first cooking show ever televised.

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Witches' Brew: Salvation in a Teacup

MC — while poking around the Catalan witchcraft files at Wikipedia — uncovered this luscious recipe for deliverance: On the peak of Pedraforca, witches were said to gather and to sing: Alfàbrega i valeriana, menta i ruda salven tota criatura Ruda i valeriana menta i alfàbrega, tot ho cura i tot ho salva. Menta i alfàbrega, ruda i valeriana salven tota persona nada. Ruda i Valeriana, alfàbrega i sàlvia

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About Me

Miss Ginsu is a nom-nom-nom de plume of Leitha Matz, who worked at Tabla and FreshDirect in NYC, wrote about the food scene from 2004 to 2009 in Brooklyn and presently lives in Berlin. Occasionally seen on TV cooking segments, Leitha has also written for FreshDirect, contributed to Cee Cee Berlin, The Food52 Cookbook and has been interviewed/quoted in The Food Keeper as well as The Washington Times and Salon.

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