Category Archives: Ask Chef Phyllis

For the Busy Family: Slow Cooker Chicken in Milk (Actually, I Use Cream!)

Ask Chef Phyllis: I’m not in the habit of using just chicken breasts or parts and need to find a good recipe for whole chicken. I know how to cut it up, if need be. I’ve heard of a chicken in milk recipe from a neighbor and had something like it in Spain, but the…

Portuguese Sweet Bread for Easter

Ask Chef Phyllis:  Back in the day, before the supermarket took over every mom-and-pop shop, our town, Assonet (just a few miles from Fall River) had a real bake shop. They sold filozes on Sunday morning and cookies at Christmastime, but what I remember most of all was the Portuguese sweet bread I could get…

Quick Weeknight Dinners: Pork Tenderloins

I’ve been trying to make dinners that are quick and tasty. With two teenage boys always having to go somewhere in a hurry after school or after dinner, I need nutritious, quick meals. (By the way, these guys are always famished, and they love Mexican food.) In the past I’ve made chicken cutlets, chicken tenders,…

Breads of the World: Limpa Bread for Lovers of Dark Rye and Pumpernickel

Ask Chef Phyllis: What do you know about Swedish breads? Limpa, pumpernickel, and other really dark ryes are my favorites. But they are, in my opinion, the most difficult breads to make. My mom, who left Stockholm when she was only eight, said dark rye bread has to have orange peel and lots of rye…

No-Salt Bread (Pane Toscano)

Bread of Tuscany, Umbria, and Marche, Regions of Proud Traditions Ask Chef Phyllis: Is it possible to find a good tasting, really crusty bread like the Pane Toscano that we had in Italy? I understand the reason for a no-salt bread in the past was about money. Flour and water are cheap, but salt was…

Magical Sauerkraut

Ask Chef Phyllis: Have you heard about the big fermented food craze? What should I know about gut health? My sister Aggie told me that yogurt is good for us (and a good substitute for our favorite double chocolate fudge ice cream) because of its live cultures. But we’ve still never tried kimchi, kefir, or…

Mardi Gras Feast in a Jiffy: Cajun Shrimp & Chicken Chowder

Ask Chef Phyllis: Lent is early this year, and since my family has Cajun roots, we do celebrate Mardi Gras. After, we will fast forty days or at least give up some favorite food during Lent. We usually make a kind of gumbo (Cajun Shrimp Chowder or Cajun Gumbo) that is unique to our area…

Coq Au Vin: Easier Chicken Braised in Red Wine

Ask Chef Phyllis: I don’t doubt that people write to you about what festive meals to serve during the holidays, but my question is what to serve in between and after those costly feasts? That’s when I’m so burned out. Do you have any suggestions for crock pot meals, top–of–the–stove meals, or even simple, quick chicken meals that are cooked in the oven?…

Breads of the World: English Muffin Bread

Ask Chef Phyllis  Everyone knows that English muffins came to America with Samuel Thomas. Everyone knows they’re a pain to make….kneading, rolling, cutting, and griddling. So I decided to make English muffin bread. That sounded like a solution. I tried six different recipes, some old, some new. Easy by definition, yet not so easy as the ones I tried didn’t produce the…

A Lost Holiday Bread from the Old World

Ask Chef Phyllis: Pain d’Epices from France Have you ever heard of pain d’epices? French for “spice bread,” it’s literally a kind of spiced sweet bread (with cinnamon, ginger, and anise seed), but Europeans think of it as a cake. Compared to the old familiar fruit cake, this version, although sweet, is far less complicated…

Cuban Oxtail Stew for New Year’s Eve

Ask Chef Phyllis: If my grandmother didn’t make Cuban pork for New Year’s Day, she probably made oxtail stew. Both leave plenty for leftovers and are festive enough for any holiday. My experience is too lacking for me to recall what was in this stew except for red wine and tomatoes. But my grandmother’s stew…

Date and Nut Bread (Baked in a Can): Great for Christmas Presents

Ask Chef Phyllis: My daughter came over the other day and said, “Remember when you could buy a good date-nut bread in the supermarket?” I thought yes, I do. And then, without blinking an eye, we went and looked for a recipe card that my mom gave me when I first got married, and it…

A Glossary of Grains That’s Easy to Understand and Use

Easter Pie

All my life, every Easter my family—guided by three generations of matriarchs—would make a traditional specialty called Easter Wheat Pie (pastiera di Grano). One of the main ingredients is grano, Italian for wheat berries. You might have seen wheat berries in the bulk section at the health food store, but unless you grind or mill…

What Is Cow’s Milk Paneer Cheese, and Can I Make It at Home?

Mattar Paneer

Ask Chef Phyllis: I just discovered Indian cuisine, which I always thought was just curry. But recently I ate something called Peas with Paneer (Mattar Paneer) at my new and maybe soon-to-be favorite restaurant. It was very good. They told me it wasn’t made from soy (since I thought I was eating tofu), but it…