Rhubarb compote

I love the season of the local Farmer’s Markets.  Around New England, because it gets so darn cold in the winter, they generally run from the end of April through early November (outdoor markets, that is).  They bring the fresh goodness that are the first strawberries of the year (which are sold out in the first two hours), early lettuces, spinach by the bag, local asparagus, and bundles of rhubarb.

When Neil and I were milling about the Market last weekend, we saw beautiful bundles of rhubarb and I remarked on them, and he spoiled me and bought me two.  So don’t you know that I began grinding the gears inside of my head immediately to decide what I’d do with them.  Would I roast chunks of the stalks drizzled with simple syrup, or would I bake an up-side-down cake.  Should I make a tea bread, or a pie?  Should I grill it all?  My decision was made the next morning at breakfast when we awoke to half a loaf of artisan Italian bread, rhubarb, and farm-fresh eggs.  Rhubarb compote over thick french toast it would be!


8 stalks of rhubarb (about a foot long)

2/3 Cups sugar

2 Tbsp Cointreau


  • Cut the rhubarb into one-inch pieces
  • Add the rhubarb and the sugar to a large sauce pan and let them simmer at a medium-low heat for about 20 minutes
  • Give the pan a stir and the rhubarb should fall apart
  • Add the Cointreau

I enjoyed left-over compote for days mixed into my plain yogurt.  Over french toast, it’s so wonderfully sweet that absolutely no syrup was necessary.  This would also be great with (smeared all over) a pork tenderloin… or on top of vanilla ice cream.


Chickpea Stew

Although this dish is a stew, it’s not so terribly heavy that it wouldn’t be fine to eat all spring long.  On any cool night, or rainy day.  For lunch or for dinner.  With rotisserie chicken on the side or as a vegetarian dish.  This recipe uses so many different spices  and is so fragrant that I got comments every time I heated it up at work.  What a well-rounded flavor profile!  It’s sweet and spicy, and smooth all at the same time.


1 teaspoon sweet paprika
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1/8 teaspoon cayenne
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
2 (15 oz.) cans chickpeas, rinsed and drained
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 medium red onion, chopped
1 (1-inch) piece fresh ginger, peeled and chopped
1 (8 oz.) can tomato sauce
1 quart chicken or vegetable broth
1 pound red potatoes, cut into 1-inch chunks
4 carrots, peeled and cut into 1-inch chunks
Flatbread (I like whole wheat pita with this)

gathering of the ingredients


  • Stir together paprika, salt, allspice, black pepper, cardamom, cloves, coriander, cayenne, and ginger in a small bowl and set the mixture aside

spice mixture

  • Heat oil in a pot over medium heat. Add garlic, onion and chopped ginger and cook until very soft and golden brown
  • Stir in spice mixture and continue cooking, stirring constantly, until spices are toasted and fragrant
  • Stir in the tomato sauce and cook for 2 minutes more
  • Stir in broth, potatoes, carrots and chickpeas and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover and simmer until potatoes and carrots are just tender, about 30 minutes

simmering stew

  • Uncover pot and simmer until stew is thickened and potatoes and carrots are very tender, about 20 minutes more
  • Dish up the stew and serve with flatbread on the side



Adapted from a recipe posted on Whole Foods Market page

Chicken & leek stew

For a cool and/or rainy day this is a fantastic stew which manages to be thick and creamy, but not heavy.  The sour cream and Greek yogurt give this dish a delightful tang that keeps your mouth coming back for more.  The stew comes together easily, and does not take a ton of time for cooking.  If you have a food processor on hand, you can cut down on prep time too.

I opted to serve the stew over some brown rice that I’d done in a rice cooker with chicken broth, but it would also do well over egg noodles or quinoa.


2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

2 medium leeks, white and tender green parts only, thinly sliced

1 carrot, thinly sliced

1/2 pound baby bella mushrooms, sliced

Salt and pepper

1 pound skinless, boneless chicken breast halves, cut into chunks

All-purpose flour, for dusting

Poultry seasoning

1 1/2 cups chicken broth

1 tablespoon fresh thyme

½ cup non-fat sour cream

½ cup non-fat Greek yogurt


  • In a Dutch oven, heat 1 tablespoon of the oil. Add the leeks and cook over moderate heat, stirring, until softened

  • Add the mushrooms & carrots and season with salt and pepper.  Cook, stirring, until the mushrooms are tender. Scrape the leeks and mushrooms onto a plate

  • Season the chicken with salt and pepper and lightly dust with flour mixed with poultry seasoning.

  • Heat the remaining 1 tablespoon of oil in the skillet. Add the chicken and cook over moderate heat until golden brown, but not necessarily cooked through

  • Add the chicken stock and thyme and simmer over moderate heat until the chicken is just cooked through, about 1 minute. Transfer the chicken to the plate with the vegetables.
  • Simmer the stock over a moderately high heat until reduced by half, about 2 minutes. Return the chicken, leeks and mushrooms to the skillet and simmer over low heat until warmed through, about 1 minute
  • In a small bowl, blend the sour cream with the yogurt and stir into the stew. Remove the pan from the heat. Season the stew with salt and pepper and serve (over some cooked rice)


Recipe adapted from an article in Food and Wine, recipe by Jamie Oliver

Cider Vinegar–Braised Chicken Thighs

I swear that I haven’t been slacking on trying out new recipes or cooking in general, only posting.  I’ve been so darn busy that I cook and take pics, but simply don’t have the time to get it all online.

This recipe is another from Food and Wine magazine.  As is typical, I’ve made some changes to be healthier in both ingredients and preparation, as well as adding some green (in the form of beans).


2 tablespoons olive oil

3 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs, fat trimmed

Salt and freshly ground pepper

5 carrots, sliced 1/2 inch thick

handful of green beans, cut to 1-inch lengths

5 garlic cloves, thinly sliced

1 leek, white and light green parts only, thinly sliced

2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

1 cup cider vinegar

3 cups low-sodium chicken broth

1 tablespoon unsalted butter

2 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley

2 tablespoons snipped chives


  • Preheat the oven to 350°. In a large enameled cast-iron casserole, heat the olive oil. Season the chicken thighs with salt and pepper and add them to the casserole. Cook over moderately high heat, in batches if necessary, turning once, until golden brown, about 12 minutes.

  • Transfer the chicken to a platter.
  • Add the carrots, garlic, green beans and leek and cook over low heat until crisp-tender, 5 minutes.

  • Add the flour and stir for 1 minute.

  • Add the vinegar and stir, scraping up any browned bits from the bottom of the pot. Bring the sauce to a boil and cook until thickened, 3 minutes. Add the broth, season with salt and pepper and bring to a boil. Nestle the chicken in the sauce. Transfer the casserole to the oven and braise the chicken for about 50 minutes, until cooked through.
  • Simmer the sauce over moderate heat until reduced to about 4 cups, 10 minutes. Stir in the butter until melted. Add the parsley and chives and season the sauce with salt and pepper.

I opted to serve this over brown rice, but it would also be nice over egg noodles or quinoa or another starch.

The finished sauce has a sweet and tangy flavor.  If you’re not so big on tang, then cut the vinegar in half.


Duck Ragù

We got lots of snow here in New England yesterday, and on top of that, ice.  Thanks to technology though, we knew it was coming.  Thus, I planned to work from home which allows me a little bit more flexibility then working from an office 15.4 miles away (from my kitchen).

I had this recipe that I wanted to tackle, and I was changing it up a bit from the get-go, requiring myself to roast a duck before even beginning the rest of the process.  This snow/work-from-home day was the perfect opportunity.

So I cubed up some aromatics (onion, garlic, celery, carrot, sweet potato, dried chilies, and fresh thyme) threw them in a dish with a little bit of water, and tossed them into the microwave for 2 minutes to really get their juices flowing.  Their next step was into the cavity of the raw duck….

I roasted the duck, stuffed with aromatics, at 350 for a little under two hours.  By the end, my home smelled wonderful: browned skin, fragrant onions & garlic.

Now that the duck was cooked, it was time to take it apart.  After some cooling I cut off the legs and breasts for use in this dish.  The remaining meat, combined with the offal, became Duncan’s lunches for the week.

Next up was creating the ragù.  My version of this recipe includes much more wine than the original called for because a) the sauce needed to be richer and b) it was too dry.  It also uses significantly less butter 😉

The last step was to cook up some pappardelle and add that to the mix.  If you’re buying it off the shelf, in a dried form, might I recommend Bionaturae?  It’s organic, and it tastes great!

I opted to serve this with freshly steamed green beans as there was nothing else green in the dish (unless you count celery- which I don’t).  I also had a loaf of rosemary-potato bread left in the freezer from a baking spree a couple of weeks ago, so I cut that into biscotti-shaped pieces and toasted it up to serve as an accompaniment.


1 duck

Aromatics of your choosing

olive oil

1/2 cup minced onion

1/4 cup minced carrot

1/4 cup minced celery

1/4 cup chopped mushroom

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

6 olives, pitted and halved

1/2 tablespoon rosemary leaves

1 garlic clove, minced

1 1/2 cup dry red wine

2 cups + 2 T chicken stock

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

1/2 pound pappardelle

1/4 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese

3 T flour


  • Roast the duck, stuffed with aromatics, at 350 for about 2 hours.  Let cool, then trim meat from legs and breasts, and cut into bite-sized pieces.
  • In a large, deep skillet, heat the oil. Add the onion, carrot, mushroom and celery and season with salt and pepper. Cook over moderately high heat, stirring, until slightly softened, 1 minute. Reduce the heat to moderate and cook, stirring, until browned, about 8 minutes. Add the olives, rosemary and garlic and cook over high heat, stirring, until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the duck and stir gently to coat with the vegetables. Add the wine and simmer for 1 minute. Add 2 C of the stock and simmer until the liquid is reduced to 3/4 cup, about 10 minutes.  Mix the remaining 2 T of chicken broth with the flour to make a thickening agent.  Whisk the thickener into the ragu.  Remove from the heat and stir in the butter. Cover and keep warm.
  • In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook the pasta until al dente; drain. Add the pasta to the ragù and cook over moderate heat, stirring gently, until simmering. Remove from the heat and stir in the cheese. Season with salt and pepper and serve.