What's for Dinner, Barbara-jo?! Suzanne Foster's Lamb Burgers with Feta and Mint

 Suzanne Foster's Lamb Burgers with Feta and Mint

Here is a quick and tasty recipe to add to your spring/summer repertoire. It satisfies both big and little palates - which seems to be an impossible feat some days! ~Suzanne



* 500g ground lamb

* 1 clove garlic, minced

* 1/2 red onion, finely diced

* 1/2 cup feta (cow or goat)

* small handful fresh mint, chopped (approximately 2 tablespoons)

* 1/2 teaspoon Maldon or flaky sea salt

* thick mini pitas or larger pitas, cut into wedges, or brioche buns

* Roma tomatoes, sliced


* Quick Tzatziki sauce for dipping (optional)

+ 1 cup thick and plain yogurt

+ 1/4 cup English cucumber: peeled, finely chopped, and well-drained (squeeze with your hands to get the moisture out and dry with paper towels)

+ 1/2 clove garlic, minced

+ 1 tablespoon fresh dill, chopped

+ Squeeze of lemon juice

+ flaky sea salt, to taste



Using wet hands, combine the ground lamb, garlic, red onion, feta, mint and salt until just mixed. Shape into 4 patties and make a thumb print in the centre. (Alternatively, shape into 10 patties. Kids seem to enjoy little burgers - they are easier to eat and there is less wasted on the plate. This size is great as an appetizer too!)

Barbecue to your liking. I usually do 4 - 5 minutes per side. Try not to overcook! You could also use a frying pan with a little vegetable or coconut oil. If you do it this way, fry for 3 - 4 minutes per side - again to your liking.

Warm or lightly grill the pita bread and/or brioche buns. Serve with sliced Roma tomatoes and tzatziki sauce.

To make tzatziki sauce, mix all of the sauce ingredients in a medium bowl. Cover and refrigerate until ready to use. It's even better the next day.


Suzanne Foster is a physiotherapist at West Fourth Physio.

What's for Dinner, Barbara-jo? Karin Smith's Market Vegetable and Quinoa Salad

 Karin Smith's Market Vegetable and Quinoa Salad

At this time of year I'm taking full advantage of the bounty of fresh fruits and vegetables at the Farmers' Market and am trying to incorporate them into dinner each night. Cooking is pretty simple. I'll make something on the grill, a mixed green salad that with a simple vinaigrette and usually some kind of grain/vegetable mix. Crunchy, flavourful salads have helped to convert other members of my family to the grain and vegetable way of eating. I often cook up a batch of brown rice, freekeh, or quinoa to have on hand to make for fast prep at the end of the day. ~Karin


* 1/2 - 3/4 pound green beans, steamed & cooled

* 1/2 red onion, chopped

* 1 hot pepper: jalapeno,serrano or Thai, finely chopped

* mixed herbs, chopped

* lime juice

* olive oil

* honey

* salt and pepper

* 1 cup cooked grains (I used quinoa, but feel free to use other grains like brown rice or freekeh.)

* 1/4 toasted nuts (almonds, walnuts, whatever you have), chopped



In a medium bowl, combine the green beans, red onion, and pepper.

I find that a lime-based dressing works well with the hot pepper. In a small bowl, mix together a couple tablespoons of lime juice with some olive oil and honey to your taste. Toss the dressing with the vegetables.

Add the cooked grains and nuts and toss again.


Karin Smith is a realtor in Vancouver. Her website is smithandhamill.com.


What's for Dinner, Barbara-jo? Braised Chicken Legs with Nicoise Olives & Tomatoes

 Braised Chicken Legs with Nicoise Olives & Tomatoes

This recipe is from Barbara-jo's book, Cooking for Me and Sometimes You: A Parisienne Romance with Recipes. This recipe serves one, but quantities are easily adjusted to serve more.


1/2 tablespoon butter

1/2 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

1/2 teaspoon espelette salt

1 large chicken legs

3 cloves of garlic

10-12 cherry tomatoes

12 Nicoise olives

splash of dry white wine



In a medium size fry pan over medium-high heat, melt the butter and olive oil together. Add the espelette salt and swirl around. Place the gorgeous, large chicken leg into the bubbling fat and brown on both sides. Add the garlic to the pan - cut in half with the green germ removed - the cherry tomatoes, Nicoise olives and a splash of wine. When the mixture bubbles, reduce the heat to low, cover the pan and let simmer for about 20 minutes.


Barbara-jo is the proprietress of Barbara-Jo's Books to Cooks.


What's for Dinner, Barbara-jo? Jane Osler's Grilled Vegetable Salad

 Jane Osler's Grilled Vegetable Salad

This is a BBQ season staple for me. It travels well, which also makes it great picnic fare, say before a show at Bard on the Beach.The list of vegetables below is a working list – use what appeals to you and what is in season and available at your local market. ~ Jane


Peppers – You can cut them into large strips but I find it easier to grill them whole and cut and remove the seeds after grilling.

Asparagus – Trim the ends off. I prefer the large fat spears but use what you can find.

Shallots – Keep whole.

Red Onion – Cut into rounds 1.5-2cm thick.

Green Onions – Cut off the roots.

Eggplant – Any size and type will work. Cut into rounds about 2-2.5 cm thick. I prefer the smaller ones as I find they need not be cut further after being grilled.

Zucchini – Similar to the eggplant, any size will work. Cut in strips or on the angle (oblong pieces) about 1.5-2 cm thick (If you cut the same thickness as the eggplant, put them on the grill a little earlier.) As with the eggplant, I find using the smaller/thinner ones means you likely will not need to cut them further after grilling.

Summer Squash – Cut in strips or on the angle (oblong pieces) about 1.5-2 cm thick.

Brown (Cremini) Mushrooms – You can use white button mushrooms but I prefer the flavour and texture of the brown ones, especially for the BBQ (Portobello also work well). Remove stems (and if using Portobello remove the gills as well).

Green and Yellow Beans – Keep whole. These are probably best done in a veggie basket or foil packet.

Fennel – Use small bulbs. Trim (keeping root intact) and cut in half. If only have large bulbs cut in quarters, try to keep root intact so that the bulb does not fall completely apart on the grill.

Snow Peas – OK, I don’t actually grill these, but I do like the crunch they can add to a grilled vegetable salad and sometimes add them in.

Beets – I love roasted beets. However, they take a long time so unless I am doing something that is going to be on the grill for a while I am unlikely to grill them. When I do, I trim the greens, peel them, and then cut into wedges. If they are small baby beets I may keep whole and remove skins after grilling. I also use a foil packet rather than put them directly on the grill.



Toss vegetables lightly with oil – you don't want to soak them in oil, simply prepare them for the grill. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Grill the vegetables in batches – depending on the size of your grill you can probably do a few types at one time. Start with the peppers (if whole) and the denser vegetables and then move to the ones that will cook faster. The amount of time will depend on the heat of your BBQ, the thickness of the vegetables, and how well done you prefer your grilled veggies.

Once cooked, cut the vegetables into bite size pieces. Drizzle a nice balsamic or lemon vinaigrette over top (oil, balsamic vinegar or lemon juice, chopped fresh herbs such as basil, lemon verbena, Italian parsley, rosemary, thyme, etc. Your herb mixture will depend on the type of vinaigrette – lighter ones for a lemon base, stronger ones for a balsamic. Crumble goat cheese on top (if desired). I will often serve atop baby arugula.

Jane Osler is the President of PJ Osler & Associates .

This Autumn: Taste of Persia with Naomi Duguid

 Taste of Persia Culinary Talk & Tasting with Naomi Duguid

 Monday, October 24, 2016 6 - 7:30 pm

Barbara-Jo's Books to Cooks

Naomi Duguid is known for her extensive travel research of global cuisines and is the author of Burma: Rivers of Flavor and co-author of many other books including Hot, Sour, Salty, Sweet, Flatbreads & Flavours, Seductions of Rice, Mangoes & Curry Leaves, and Beyond the Great Wall.

Join us on Monday, October 24 for a culinary talk, tasting and reception with Naomi as she visits Vancouver to celebrate her new book, Taste of Persia: A Cook's Travels through Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Iran, and Kurdistan.

We're in for a real treat! Naomi always presents a deep and beautiful culinary understanding of the regions she researches. She will give a visual presentation about her extended travels to Persia and then sign copies of her new book.

Cost: $75, includes a personalised copy of Taste of Persia: A Cook's Travels through Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Iran, and Kurdistan and light refreshments prepared from the book.

Please call 604-688-6755 to sign up.

* Author photo by Laura Berman.

What's for Dinner, Barbara-jo?! Duncan Holmes' Lamb Noisettes

Duncan Holmes' Lamb Noisettes

I once did these on a TV show, and earned myself a food processor. Sadly it failed to function after its first, or second, use. These will go well with some fresh, colourful steamed vegetables or a salad of seasonal leaves. Mint sauce if you wish, and something light and cold from your cellar. ~ Duncan


1 lemon

1 Baker or Russet Potato

2 cloves garlic, finely minced

1 tablespoon rosemary, chopped (save tips for garnish)

1 tablespoon minced shallots

Salt and pepper

10 oz. boneless, skinless rack of lamb (loin)

1 egg white, lightly beaten

Clarified butter


Squeeze a little lemon juice into a bowl of cold water. Peel and grate the potato and place in water. Prepare garlic, rosemary and shallots.

Trim meat of all silverskin and fat. Cut into six noisettes (medallions). Season with salt and pepper. In a heavy pan on medium high, sauté lamb for 30 to 40 seconds each side.

Just before cooking time, drain potatoes and squeeze dry. Mix in the garlic, shallots, rosemary, and salt and pepper to taste.

Dip the noisettes into the slightly beaten egg white. Coat the lamb with the potato mixture, mostly on the bottom.

Heat a generous amount of clarified butter in your heavy pan. Carefully lift the potato-covered pieces of lamb into the hot pan. Sauté until potatoes are golden brown. Remove from pan and drain on paper towels. Serve immediately.


Duncan Holmes is a gentleman gardener who writes about many things, including food.

What's for Dinner, Barbara-jo?! Heather Redfern's Warm Summer Garden Salad with Poached Eggs

 Heather Redfern's Warm Summer Garden Salad with Poached Eggs

This takes 20 minutes to make including picking the Greens. It is a wonderful light supper. Breaking the egg yolks over the salad makes it very rich and decadent. Add some beautiful bread and share with someone you like to be with!

~ Heather



kosher salt

1/4 cup of white vinegar

4 slices of Bacon (I buy good quality bacon and get it wrapped into 4 slice packages, then freeze them. It is easier to slice frozen bacon and that way I take exactly the amount I need.)

1/4 cup water

1 small sweet onion or shallot, diced

4 cups total of a variety of greens and fresh herbs, loosely packed. These can be purchased or picked. (Right now in my container garden I am picking spinach, chard, mint, Italian parsley, garlic chives and basil tops.)

fleur de sel and black pepper, to taste

1 cup of full-flavoured cheese, grated (Pecorino Romano, Parmigiano-Reggiano, or an aged Gouda)

4 eggs



Put a large pot of water, at least 4 inches deep, on to boil. Add enough kosher salt so that the water tastes like the sea. Add the vinegar.

While the water is coming to a boil heat a frying pan on medium heat. Cut the bacon into 1 inch pieces and add to the frying pan with 1/4 cup of water. Cook until most of the water has evaporated and the bacon fat has rendered.

Add the shallots or onion to the pan, cooking until the onion is soft. Then increase the heat to medium high, and crisp the bacon.

Pour the contents of the pan, including the bacon fat, over the greens and herbs. Grind in some pepper, sprinkle in some fleur de sel and toss; then add 1/2 cup of the cheese and toss again.

By now the vinegar water should be close to boiling. Break the eggs into small cups, swirl the water, and gently ease the eggs into the boiling water. Cook the eggs for 3 1/2 minutes. Remove the eggs with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels.

Divide the tossed greens into 2 bowls and sprinkle with the leftover 1/2 cup of cheese. Set 2 poached eggs on top of each salad. Grind pepper and add a sprinkle of fleur de sel to the eggs. Enjoy!


Heather Redfern is the Executive Director of The Cultch.

What's for Dinner, Barbara-jo?! Nancy Wong's Mediterranean Prawns

Nancy Wong's Mediterranean Prawns

This dish is inspired by the tapas style dishes I’ve been served in Mediterranean countries. There are tons of variations. It would probably serve four as an appetizer or two as a main. I buy sustainably-harvested BC spot prawns or side-stripe prawns. If I am feeling lazy, I pay a little extra and get them already cleaned. ~ Nancy


250g (or ½ lb) large prawn tails (cleaned and de-veined)

1 teaspoon sea salt (fleur de sel or Maldon)

¼ - ½ cup good extra virgin olive oil

1 tablespoon chopped garlic

1 bay leaf

1 or 2 fresh small red chilies (depending on how spicy you want the dish), seeded, de-veined and chopped (or you can substitute 1” piece of dried red chili, chopped)

Splash of dry white wine

1 tablespoon fresh parsley, minced



Place prawn tails in a bowl, sprinkle with salt and toss. Let stand for 15 minutes.

In a medium pan on medium high, heat olive oil. Add garlic, bay leaf, and chilies. Sauté for one minute, stirring constantly. Do not let the garlic burn.

Add prawns and sauté until cooked through (about 3 minutes), turning once. Add a splash of white wine. Remove from heat and sprinkle with parsley.

I serve this in a shallow bowl with lots of crusty bread and a crisp green salad. Any leftovers can be refrigerated and either served at room temperature the next day or tossed over hot pasta.


Nancy Wong owns and operates Culinary Communications and is also the Director of Marketing for Vancouver TheatreSports League.

Summer Hours

Please note that our Summer Hours are as follows:

Monday - Friday: 11 am - 6 pm

Saturday: 10 am - 5 pm

Sunday: CLOSED

What's for Dinner, Barbara-jo?!

Patricia Kells' Chicken Tagine

This recipe takes a while to cook, but it’s very easy. Once the pot is simmering, there is ample time for a glass of wine and a couple of chapters of a good novel.  If I am feeling extravagant, I add saffron to the spice mixture, but it is good without it too.


1/2 tablespoon oil

2-4 chicken thighs, skin on

1 small onion, diced

2 small garlic cloves, minced

1/2 inch ginger, minced

3 teaspoons paprika

1/2 teaspoon turmeric

1/2 teaspoon cumin

1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

1 cup chicken stock

1 - 14 ounce can chickpeas

1 - 14 ounce can diced tomatoes

1/2 cup green olives (Castelvetranos are very nice, but any type will do)

2 tablespoons honey

salt and pepper, to taste

cilantro leaves, for garnish

couscous, cooked according to package directions


In a dutch oven, or any large heavy pot, heat the oil over medium-high heat and brown the chicken. Remove from pot.

Add onion, garlic, and ginger and cook until the onion is soft. Then add the spices and cook for one minute. Add the broth, chickpeas, tomatoes, honey, and olives. Bring to the boil, then lower the heat and simmer for 10 minutes.

Season the chicken with salt and pepper and add it to the pot. Simmer for another 45 minutes, or until chicken is thoroughly cooked.

Serve with couscous and garnish with cilantro leaves.

Patricia Kells is our Publicity Manager for Penguin Random House Canada. 

New Events posted!

There's a lot to talk about...

Last night, Barbara-jo enjoyed a beautiful evening at The Vancouver Club. "A Night in Florence" was our theme, and the music, food, and company were absolutely delightful. Our special, hand-illustrated, menus by Roxanna Bikadoroff added the perfect elegant touch to an unforgettable evening.

Actually, this entire month has been full of memorable events and learning. From transportive dinners with Chef Curtis Luk and Chef Quang Dang to workshops with Allison Spurrell from Les Amis du Fromage and Chef Robert Belcham, we feel as though we have been on holiday in Italy!

We have a few sold out events coming up (Cicchetti with Chef Jamie Maxwell and Pizza on the Grill with Chef Glenys Morgan). AND, we do still have a few places left in the following events:

Learn how to make homemade pasta with Pasta Boy Peter

MANGIA VANCOUVER! Venice: Recipes Lost & Found, with Chef Glenys Morgan

We've also posted some new Autumn events to our website. You can see them all here.

Enjoy the weekend, and MANGIA VANCOUVER!

What's for Dinner, Barbara-jo?! Thomas Roach's Pasta with Sausage, Fennel, and Arugula

Thomas Roach's

Pasta with Sausage, Fennel, and Arugula

This is a handy and relatively quick meal for two that can expand for an extra guest with the addition of a little more pasta. I prefer to use mafalda pasta (it looks like mini lasagna noodles, with ruffled edges). Fusilli or rotini work well too. I use mild sausage but heat it up a bit with added red pepper flakes.

~ Thomas


3/4 lb mild Italian sausage, removed from casing

1-2 tablespoons olive oil

1 teaspoon fennel seeds (optional)

1 medium fennel bulb, quartered and thinly sliced

1 medium onion, quartered and thinly sliced

red pepper flakes (optional)

1 clove of garlic, finely chopped

¼ cup white wine

250g mafalda pasta or similar short pasta

salt and pepper, to taste

2-3 big handfuls arugula

grated parmesan or pecorino romano, to taste



In a large sauté pan over medium heat, cook the sausage, breaking it up into small pieces as it cooks. You may need to add a little olive oil, depending on the sausage. When it is cooked through, remove from pan and set aside. Prepare pasta according to the package directions.

Add some olive oil to the pan and the fennel seeds, if using. Toast the seeds for about 30 seconds before adding the sliced fennel and onion. Sauté, stirring regularly, for about 5 minutes, until they begin to soften. Add red pepper flakes (if using) and garlic and cook for a few more minutes. I like some of the vegetables to be slightly browned.

Depending on how salty the sausage is, you may want to add a little salt at this stage. Deglaze the pan with white wine and then add the sausage back in. Cover and simmer while the pasta finishes cooking.

Drain the pasta, reserving a little of the pasta water. Add the pasta to sausage mixture and cook for a minute or two, stirring regularly until the remaining liquid thickens and coats the pasta, adding a little pasta water if needed. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Just before serving, toss in the arugula and stir once. It will wilt into the pasta. Serve with a generous grating of the cheese.


Thomas Roach is a Vancouver based artist who specializes in stitched textiles. His work explores spiritual themes and community stories.

What's for Dinner, Barbara-jo?!

 Margaret Gallagher's Chickpeas, Chorizo and Kale

This incredibly easy, incredibly delicious dish is one of my family’s go-to weeknight dinners. We always try to have some good Spanish-style chorizo (the dry stuff) hanging out in the fridge so we can whip this up when we’re hungry and lazy. The original recipe came from Mark Bittman in the New York Times and uses spinach instead instead of kale, but either is delicious! ~ Margaret


3 tablespoons (or so) olive oil, plus more for drizzling

1 can chickpeas, rinsed and as dry as possible

Salt & Pepper

½ cup diced dry chorizo (Oyama’s Asturias is our favourite)

Big bunch of kale, roughly chopped

Splash of sherry (you can sub in white wine, or just leave it out)

1 cup bread crumbs (panko works great)



Preheat the broiler.

In a large skillet (large enough to hold chickpeas in a single layer) on medium, heat the olive oil. When medium-hot, add chickpeas and sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Reduce heat to medium-low and cook, shaking the skillet occasionally, until chickpeas begin to brown (about 8-10 minutes).

Add diced chorizo and cook another 5 minutes, or until chickpeas are crisp, then remove from pan and set aside.

Add chopped kale (or spinach) and sherry to the skillet and cook until the greens are wilted and the liquid has evaporated.

Add chickpeas and chorizo back to the pan and toss quickly to combine. Top with bread crumbs, drizzle with more olive oil and place pan under the broiler to lightly brown the top. Serve hot or at room temperature.


Margaret Gallagher is the host of CBC Radio One's Hot Air. She is also a reporter on The Early Edition.



As many of you already know, June is Italian Heritage month. And to celebrate, we have partnered with the Italian Cultural Centre to offer a taste of Vancouver's Italy. This month there are so many opportunities to explore the tastes, traditions and innovations of Italian cuisine in Vancouver, and we want to make sure you know all about it! 

Our friends at the Italian Cultural Centre have planned a variety of food themed events including a class on cannoli and baba making, a wine tasting, an Italian food fair, and of course, Il Mercato, Vancouver's only Italian market. They will also host a number of cultural events: movie screenings, concerts, a performance of Shakespeare's Romeo e Giulietta, and a special evening celebrating Italian Opera. You can find their full events calendar here:


A number of local Italian restaurants are featuring special Mangia Vancouver menus this month. Follow the link below to see a list of participating restaurants:


And of course, we have a number of events happening too. Click here for our events page. We'd love to celebrate with you this month!


What's for Dinner, Barbara-jo? Maria Lopez's Salmon en Papillote

 Maria Lopez's Salmon en Papillote

This recipe is super quick. I can get all the mise en place done while the oven is preheating and then have time to tidy up while the salmon is in the oven. Plus, who doesn’t love opening their own little dinner packet of deliciousness? ~ Maria


2 Salmon filets/steaks (single serving sizes)

Sea salt

Aleppo pepper or freshly ground pepper

1 lemon, thinly sliced into rounds

1 small Walla Walla onion, thinly sliced (or any sweet onion variety)

Small capers (brined, not salted)

1 tablespoon butter



Preheat oven to 375°F (190°C).

Cut 2 pieces of parchment paper, approximately 2 ½ times the size of each fish filet/steak.

Season both sides of the fish with a very light sprinkling of salt and pepper. In the centre of each piece of parchment paper, lay 2 slices of lemon, a quarter of the onion, and place the fish on top. Arrange the remaining onion and lemon slices on the fish and sprinkle with capers (as much or as little as you like). Add ½ tbsp butter.

Bring together the long sides of the parchment and fold so that the fish is in the centre and is well sealed. Roll the ends, crimping so that no heat can escape.

Place packets on a sheet pan and cook in the oven for approximately 20 minutes for slightly pink ‘doneness’.

** Be careful when opening packets – they’ll be hot!

This is great served with rice and lightly steamed asparagus. Before serving, I like to drizzle the asparagus spears with a 40/60 blend of Sriracha and Ketjap Manis (a dark, sweet Indonesian soy sauce).


Maria Lopez is the co-owner of Creative Home Furnishings. She is also one of the designers behind their locally made, solid wood furniture.


Today's announcement contains a month of news

Ciao Vancouver!

Did you know that June 1st marks the beginning of Italian Heritage Month? During this month, our city will be filled with learning, sharing, and celebrating everything Italian.

For us, the best way to celebrate is with food. We've partnered with the Italian Cultural Centre for this month's festivities and during the month of June we will be offering 15% off Italian cookbooks and hosting a variety of gatherings centred around a few of our favourite Italian books and dishes.

Join us for a month of celebrations - MANGIA VANCOUVER!

Click the image below for more information about a particular event.

** Please note there are only 4 spaces still available for this Sunday's dinner featuring My Kitchen in Rome with Chef Curtis Luk.


We have a winner to announce! Based on your votes, we will be hosting another session of The One Book Club. Thank you to everyone who called in or emailed to record their votes.

The dates are as follows:

Wednesday, September 21

Wednesday, October 19

Wednesday, November 23

Thursday, December 15

If you would like to sign up for this second session of The One Book Club, featuring Claudia Roden's fabulous book, The Food of Italy, please telephone the shop (604-688-6755). Click here for more information.

Click HERE to see more of our upcoming social gatherings.

This weekend only: Wine Books Pop-up shop

This weekend only: Roger gale's wine books pop-up shop

This weekend we have a special treat for all of you lovers of wine and wine literature: Roger Gale will be in the shop selling his collection of old wine books.

This is a collection that has been years in the making and includes many hard to find gems. Pop by and find a treasure!

Shop Hours:

Saturday, May 28: 10 am - 5 pm

Sunday, May 29: Noon - 5 pm

click HERE to see our many other upcoming gatherings.


What's for Dinner, Barbara-jo?

Dean Johansson's Curried Coconut Rice with Chicken

This may not sound glamourous, but it's our fuel food and it's healthy too. ~Dean


4 chicken thighs and 2 chicken breasts (I like dark meat and my partner, Bryan, likes white.)

freshly ground pepper

1 tablespoon canola oil

2 shallots, finely chopped

1 celery stalk, finely chopped

1 carrot, finely chopped

2 cups brown rice

1 can coconut milk combined with chicken stock to total 4 cups

1-2 teaspoons Madras Curry Powder, to taste

1-2 Thai Red Chillies, optional

1-2 cups small frozen peas

1 red pepper, finely chopped

1 teaspoon fish sauce

1/2 cup cilantro leaves

1/2 cup flat leaf parsley

3 green onions, thinly sliced

1 clove of garlic, finely chopped



Preheat oven to 350°F (180°C). Pepper the chicken and roast on a sheet pan until done. (Molly Stevens' Roasting book inspired me to cook the chicken this way - 30 minutes should be enough time.)

In a large stock pot on medium, heat canola oil. Sauté the shallots, celery, and carrot until soft. Add the rice and sauté for 3-5 minutes longer. Then, add the coconut milk and chicken stock mixture and curry powder. Stir until the curry powder is completely dissolved, and add chillies, if using.

Place lid on pot and simmer until the rice is done, according to the package directions. Sometimes you need to add a little more water (up to 1/4 cup) if the rice gets too dry. I stir the rice once or twice, but this is just my thing.

Once the rice is cooked, stir in the frozen peas and red pepper, cover and let rest for 5 minutes. Add fish sauce and additional black pepper to taste.

By now, the chicken should be done. Slice it up or leave whole to serve on the rice. (Sliced means you can eat it on the sofa while watching TV and you won't need a knife.)

Garnish with green onions, cilantro, parsley and garlic. You can even add a few chopped basil leaves if you have them around.

Bon Appetit!


Dean Johansson and his partner, Bryan Common, are the proprietors of OptaDerm, and Barbara-jo's French landlords.

Mexican Today with Pati Jinich

Last Saturday, we welcomed Pati Jinich to our shop to celebrate the publication of her new book, Mexican Today. 

An enthusiastic group gathered around our table to learn about this rich cuisine and its evolution and to enjoy a delicious lunch cooked from the pages of Pati's book.  Pati shared plenty of knowledge about everything from tequila and where it comes from, to the best method for preparing your own corn tortillas. 

We loved learning more about Mexican food last weekend, and are looking forward to cooking from this new book!

Saturday's Lunch Menu:

Black Bean Soup with Masa, Mint and Queso Fresco Dumplings

Avocado, Roasted Asparagus and Cherry Tomato Salad

Shrimp Enchiladas

Chocolate Custard with Blackberry, Mint and Lime Coulis

 Pati is the resident chef of the Mexican Cultural Institute in Washington, D.C., hosts a PBS television series called "Pati's Mexican Table" and has also written a book by the same name. Mexican Today is her new book.

Pati is the resident chef of the Mexican Cultural Institute in Washington, D.C., hosts a PBS television series called "Pati's Mexican Table" and has also written a book by the same name. Mexican Today is her new book.

What's for Dinner, Barbara-jo? Jim Byrnes' Spaghetti with Garlic, Red Pepper and Olive Oil


Jim byrnes' Spaghetti with Garlic, Red Pepper and Olive Oil

This is my definitive go-to when time is short and folks are hungry. It couldn't be much simpler and it couldn't be much better. ~Jim


1 pound of spaghetti

3/4 cup of good (and I mean good) olive oil, divided

8 thinly sliced garlic cloves

red pepper flakes, to taste

minced flat leaf parsley

Parmesan or Pecorino Cheese (optional)


Cook the spaghetti in a pot of boiling salted water. You know how to do that, don't you? Cook it just shy of al dente, let's say a minute less than the package directions. Drain the pasta and reserve the cooking water.

Meanwhile, heat six tablespoons of that good olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat and add the thinly sliced garlic and a pinch of those red pepper flakes. Cook very gently until the garlic is lightly golden. Be careful not to overcook the garlic; gentle is the key word here.

Transfer pasta to the skillet along with 1/2 cup or so of the cooking water. Increase the heat and cook, stirring and tossing rapidly until a creamy sauce forms and coats the noodles. Remove from the heat, drizzle with remaining olive oil and fold in the parsley. You can also add some good Parmesan or Pecorino if you have it on hand, although a Sicilian might frown at that - it's up to you. Pofta Buna! (As they say in Romania.)


Jim Byrnes is an award-winning musician, actor and broadcaster.