Arepas with Pulled BBQ Chicken, Cheddar, Pickled Onions and Avocado

Arepas with Pulled BBQ Chicken, Cheddar, Pickled Onions and AvocadoCrispy on the outside, pillowy and creamy in the middle, Arepas make the best sandwich ever, with easy BBQ Chicken, shredded Cheddar cheese, pickled Red Onions and Avocado. 

In 1994, I had just graduated college and was living in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. During the day I worked my first job in the film industry. I was interning in the editing room of a film called Surviving the Game (starring Rutger Hauer, F. Murray Abraham, Gary Busey and Ice T. Yes, you read that list correctly.) At night and on the weekends, when I wasn’t bartending, I was attempting to make a living as a custom hand-bound book artist. This is the long way of saying I was ridiculously flat-out broke.

My friend, Adriana

My partner in book-binding, loft-living and cooking on a budget was my best friend from college, a beautiful and talented artist from Colombia named Adriana, who sadly passed away in 2004. She and I spent countless hours in her loft (a former fish-canning factory which, worryingly, always smelled a little like anchovies when it rained). We laughed at a million stupid jokes, bound hundreds of books, and watched many episodes of the X-Files. We also ate a gazillion Colombian-style arepas, slathered with butter and salt (or sharp cheese and guava paste, Adriana’s favorite).

Not to get too emo on you but looking back, I realize what a formative and precious time those years were. It taught me that I can make anything, including furniture. I learned that film editing is basically magic. And most importantly, I learned that when you cook with people, what you learn from them stays with you forever, so they’re with you forever.

Whenever I miss her I make arepas. I make arepas often.

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One-Pan Baked Chicken, Sausage and Brussels Sprouts

One-Pan Chicken with Sausages and Brussels Sprouts

Who wants to juggle three pans on the stove for a hearty fall or winter evening meal? This crispy chicken, sausage and brussels sprouts dish bakes in a bed of spiced flavors and best of all, it uses a single skillet.

Note: This recipe is part of our series for Serious Eats. You can also find the recipe and many others on their site.

If there’s one single food that universally divides childhood from adulthood, it has to be the poor old Brussels sprout. If you weren’t commanded as a kid to “eat your sprouts!” you were either very lucky, or you had good family recipes and were able to learn early on that the sprout can be one of the most delicious vegetables imaginable. Our formative years had more “ugh” moments than “mmm” when it came to sprouts, so we’ve had to rethink our approach. Fortunately, it’s not hard to come up with a recipe that highlights the strengths of the smallest brassica.

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One-pan Peri Peri Chicken and Rice

One-pan Peri Peri Chicken and Rice

So who is this ‘Nando’ and why is he so cheeky? No, seriously, I really want to know.

Being an American, the phrase ‘cheeky Nandos’ means almost nothing to me but for some inexplicable reason, it became stuck in my head the other day. I asked Matt (a Brit) what it meant and all he did was laugh, jump around and scream “Cheeky Nandos! Cheeky Nandos!” for about an hour until I was forced to distract him with a shiny Doctor Who marathon. Not helpful.

In this rare case, even the internet failed me. When I googled “What is cheeky nandos. Help, confused american.,” it suggested this article. This a sample explanation:

you know when you go down town with the lads and you all realize you’re hank marvin’ so you say “lads let’s go Maccers” but your mate Smithy a.k.a. The Bantersaurus Rex has some mula left on his nandos gift card and he’s like “mate let’s a have a cheeky nandos on me” and you go “Smithy my son you’re an absolute ledge” so you go have an extra cheeky nandos with a side order of Top Quality Banter  

One-pan Peri Peri Chicken and Rice
Peri Peri is a spicy sauce made with chilis, garlic and vinegar. Add some crispy chicken and creamy rice and you have a delicious, easy dinner.

So… yeah. Much clearer now. Thanks.

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Teriyaki Brown Rice Salad With Avocado

Teriyaki Brown Rice Salad

A deceptively simple and delicious teriyaki brown rice salad that can be paired with meat, fish, tofu, or enjoyed by itself.

This has been the type of week when I’m so overwhelmed that eating frozen peas straight out of the bag seems like a sensible dinner plan. See, it’s efficient because they thaw as you chew them! Unfortunately Matt thinks this is disgusting and that I should be thoroughly ashamed of myself (pops frozen pea into mouth like a badass).

I won’t bore you with the details but I’ll just say this: beginning to edit a new documentary film is a Herculean task and I forget each and every time how overwhelming it is. I’m sure whatever your job is, even if you’re a chef,  you have days (months? years?) when having to cook a healthy dinner seems like just too much damn work. I’m here to tell you I get it (I’d point and wink, but I’m just too tired. Please just assume I’ve done it, and I’ll owe you two next time I see you).

That’s when you want to have recipes like this Teriyaki brown rice bowl in your back pocket. It’s easy enough to do with half a brain, but delicious and healthy enough to feel proud of yourself.

Teriyaki Brown Rice Salad
Our favorite crunchy salad vegetables, plus pickled shallots, avocado and roasted peanuts.

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Spring Pasta with Ramps, Peas and Pancetta

Spring Pasta with Ramps, Peas and Pancetta

Ramps, a seasonal treat in the Northeast US, are in danger of being over-harvested. Since they are very slow to cultivate and difficult to farm, foraging is still the main way to find them. A wild ramp patch can be quickly overrun and destroyed. The most sustainable way to harvest ramps, if you find them yourself, is to cut only one leaf of each plant, leaving the bulb and second leaf to continue growing. This is least impactful on the soil, the plant, and the colony as a whole. You’ll find ramps in this form from sustainable vendors. 

Every spring I’m reminded of how happy I am that we bought a house in the Hudson Valley. The sun is out and I’m sitting on our deck, watching the chickens romp around the ‘garden’. Yes, ‘garden’ is in quotes because it’s mostly weeds, rocks and buried concrete (why, previous owners? Why?). And yes, those pesky chickens are obsessed with destroying the few plants we’re actually trying to grow. But none of that matters! Gardens can be planted. Chickens can be strangled penned. The important thing is that it’s ours and we love it (sometimes).

Another fantastic thing about spring is all the wonderful fresh green things that are just beginning to show up at the farmers’ market (or your own garden, if you’re lucky and/or talented). A simple pasta dish like this takes full advantage of these fresh flavors, pairing the tender vegetables with crispy pancetta* and a light, creamy sauce.

*You could absolutely leave the pancetta out for a vegetarian dish. You’ll probably want to add a bit more salt since the pancetta is salty.

Spring Pasta with Ramps, Peas and Pancetta
Ramps (wild leeks) have a lovely garlicky flavor. I love them with peas and pancetta but you could use any tender spring vegetable you like.

Since this is probably the last ramp recipe of the season (sob), it needed to be not just a really good one, but also flexible.

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Cheeky Nando’s! One-pan Peri Peri Chicken and Rice

One-pan Peri Peri Chicken and Rice

Tender chicken with crisp, golden brown skin, baked on top of creamy risotto-style rice, flavored with spicy, tangy Peri-Peri Sauce. Watch out, this dish is addictive. 

So who is this ‘Nando’ and why is he so cheeky? No, seriously, I really want to know.

Being an American, the phrase ‘cheeky Nandos’ means almost nothing to me but for some inexplicable reason, it became stuck in my head the other day. I asked Matt (a Brit) what it meant and all he did was laugh, jump around and scream “Cheeky Nandos! Cheeky Nandos!” for about an hour until I was forced to distract him with a shiny Doctor Who marathon. Not helpful.

In this rare case, even the internet failed me. When I googled “What is cheeky nandos. Help, confused american.,” it suggested this article. This a sample explanation:

you know when you go down town with the lads and you all realize you’re hank marvin’ so you say “lads let’s go Maccers” but your mate Smithy a.k.a. The Bantersaurus Rex has some mula left on his nandos gift card and he’s like “mate let’s a have a cheeky nandos on me” and you go “Smithy my son you’re an absolute ledge” so you go have an extra cheeky nandos with a side order of Top Quality Banter  

So… yeah. Much clearer now. Thanks.

One-pan Peri-Peri Chicken and Rice
Peri-Peri is a spicy sauce made with chilis, garlic and vinegar. Add some crispy, moist chicken and creamy rice and you have a delicious, easy dinner.

Read more

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