CHICKPEA AND BUTTERNUT SQUASH TAGINE WITH SAFFRON AND LIME

This week’s winter wallop, with its thick blanket of snow and subzero temperatures, brought serious cravings for a body-and-soul warming dish. Tagines are deeply spiced North African stews, traditionally slow-cooked in a clay vessel also called a tagine (the stew is named for the vessel in which it is cooked, but a Dutch oven works well as a replacement). Lamb, fish, chicken, and beef often take center stage in tagines, but the dish is endlessly adaptable. My nourishing vegetarian version is anchored by hearty chickpeas and butternut squash, and layered with warming ginger, earthy-sweet saffron, and the Moroccan spice blend ras el hanout.

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A LATE WINTER’S LUNCH

Spode flower plates + anemones + Deborah Madison’s Black Rice with Mixed Beets Salad

I fell hard for these vintage Spode plates while antiquing in Three Oaks, Michigan last fall … but in a rare move, I reined in my impetuousness and did not buy them. Thanksgiving was around the corner and another set of plates by Wedgwood—equally beautiful but decidedly autumnal in a mustard, brown, and aubergine palette—felt like the better choice. So I left with those, reminding myself that I have almost as many floral motif plates as I do striped shirts and sweaters. But I could not stop thinking of the Spode beauties, with their modern feeling, oversized florals and simple rims, each depicting a different flower.

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fletcher + fork Goes to Elawa Farm | Pan Seared Cauliflower Steaks with Caper, Orange and Sage Brown Butter Sauce

image via Elawa Farm

It was a pinch myself moment. Yesterday I taught my first class at Elawa Farm, the beloved and beautifully restored gentleman’s farm and garden in the heart of Lake Forest. Elawa’s mission is to enrich our community as a unique center for hands-on learning, and to inspire an appreciation for gardening, healthy living and historic preservation.

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In Season | Roasted Buttercup Squash and Soba Noodle Salad with Creamy Miso Ginger Dressing

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This is one of my favorite summer-into-autumn dishes, when the low-slung sun and cooler nights are teasing the coming season but the days’ warmth reminds us that summer isn’t quite ready to let go. Hardy winter squash made its first appearance at the farmers’ market today, giving me serious cravings for the creamy miso and ginger laced soba noodles, crispy carrot chips, juicy tart apples, and sweet roasted squash in this recipe. Continue reading “In Season | Roasted Buttercup Squash and Soba Noodle Salad with Creamy Miso Ginger Dressing”

Weekend Kitchen | Shrimp and Sweet Corn Risotto

Shrimp and Corn Risotto, fletcher + fork

Summer entertaining doesn’t have to be a grilling occasion. A few weekends ago we invited friends for a casual dinner on the porch, where we skipped the open flames for a light, creamy risotto. And if you want the full truth…I was dying to set the table with my hand-painted shellfish bowls. So this time I let the table setting dictate the main course, and I knew my summery shrimp and corn-studded risotto would be a match made in heaven.  Continue reading “Weekend Kitchen | Shrimp and Sweet Corn Risotto”

Farmers’ Market | Shaved Zucchini and Fresh Apricot Salad with Basil and Goat Cheese

Shaved Zucchini and Fresh Apricot Salad with Goat Cheese and Basil, fletcher + fork

I know what you’re thinking. Zucchini? Apricots?? Please, please hear me out.

Something magical happens when you shave vegetables rather than chop them. Zucchini, which can be bland as cardboard if left to its own devices, will fall into crisp-tender ribbons and soak up whatever you choose to drizzle over it. Continue reading “Farmers’ Market | Shaved Zucchini and Fresh Apricot Salad with Basil and Goat Cheese”

Al Fresco | Spinach, Mushroom, and Crispy Prosciutto Frittata

fletcher + fork, al fresco brunch

Who’s ready to dive into relaxation mode? Please tell me you are! Summer certainly took its sweet time arriving this year, as everyone from the Midwest to the East Coast knows. Now that the weather has turned glorious, there has hardly been a moment or a meal I’ve spent indoors, which equals heavenly summer casual. Bare feet, simple food, sunshine, the end. Continue reading “Al Fresco | Spinach, Mushroom, and Crispy Prosciutto Frittata”

Guinness Braised Beef, Fletcher + Fork

St. Patrick’s Day Dinner | Guinness Braised Beef with Colcannon

Chicagoans take St. Patrick’s Day seriously. Irish, until recently, was estimated to be the top ancestry of our great city. Tomorrow morning the Chicago River will be dyed green and 800,000 people will gather to observe the famous St. Patrick’s Day Parade (fun fact: Harrison Ford running through the parade as Dr. Kimble in The Fugitive was entirely unscripted and shot with a hand-held cam – with the mayor’s permission, of course). Continue reading “St. Patrick’s Day Dinner | Guinness Braised Beef with Colcannon”

Taco Night | Southwestern Fish Tacos with Mango Salsa and Avocado Lime Crema

Southwestern Fish Tacos, Fletcher + Fork

Be honest. Don’t you think most fish tacos are bland, bland, bland? Do you consistently order them at your local Mexican joint, then scan the table, coveting your companion’s dinner three bites in? I can’t be the only one!

I’ve come up with a solution for all of us. A fast, easy, and economical one to boot! These ancho-rubbed fish fillets broil in five minutes, becoming a perfectly spiced base for your mango salsa and avocado crema laced tacos. The margarita is up to you.  Continue reading “Taco Night | Southwestern Fish Tacos with Mango Salsa and Avocado Lime Crema”