I never thought I’d say this, but I’m a little bit sick of comfort food. Will somebody please give me a fresh tomato salad? Can’t I walk around with a half-melted ice cream cone dripping down my arm? When will I tearily blink through the smoke of my grill again?
Fortunately—wonderfully—it’s going to be that time of year again soon enough, and Cook’s Country’s April/May issue will be there to help us decide how to celebrate it. It’s an ode to spring, an ode to bright seafood pasta and buttery seared romaine. It’s a reason to ring in the season.
Here are a few of the team’s highlights.
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10 ingredients. 45 minutes. Quick, easy, and fresh weeknight recipes.
Picking a favorite from an issue as bright and stunning as this one was tricky. There’s Strawberry Cobbler scented with warm black pepper, and there's umami-rich Miso Black Cod, but my favorite has to be Frito Pie. This dish was prevalent in the Midwest when I was a kid, so when Mark Huxoll started developing this recipe, I was immediately transported to the Sac County Fair in Iowa with my family. While some kids looked forward to the jerky rides and the sugar-laden funnel cakes, I couldn’t wait to get my hands on a warm bag of Frito Pie. Thinking of those Fritos coated in flavorful chili topped with semi-melted shredded cheddar cheese and chopped fresh onions makes my mouth water. Mark hit this one out of the park. —Amanda Luchtel, Test Cook
Frito PieLooking for a fun, satisfying chili recipe? It’s in the bag.
Chicago Deep-Dish Pizza
My wife and I are hardcore East Coasters. That said, a few years ago we took a chance and moved to the Windy City. Without a network or frame of reference, we had a clean slate and became immersed in all things Chicago. We checked out local haunts, traversed every corner of the city, sipped coffee from neighborhood cafes, hopped around an endless list of incredible breweries, and ate everything in our path.
The iconic Chicago Deep-Dish Pizza was the first food that connected us to our new home city. It is unlike anything we East Coasters knew. The dough is slightly cakier, and the toppings are layered underneath a layer of luscious sauce rather than on top. This recipe, inspired by Bryan Roof’s travels to Chicago pizza joints, is transportive. It returns me to a time and place in my life where new discovery loomed around every corner. The dough is sturdy enough to house tender sausage and stretchy melted mozzarella and a textured sauce that leaves the entire table happy. The dough needs time to proof, and the bake time is longer than with other pizzas, but this pizza is worth the wait. I hope it transports you as it does me. —Mark Huxsoll, Test Cook
Chicago Deep-Dish PizzaWhere history and crust run deep.
Grilled Adana-Style Kebabs
For me, there is something great about grilled meat accompanied by a fresh, bright salad as the warmer months approach. To nobody’s surprise, my favorite recipe is Mathew Fairman’s Grilled Adana-Style Kebabs! This recipe is fantastic. I love lamb and wish more people felt that same way. This dish is perfect for those like me who already find lamb to be delicious. More importantly, I think this well-seasoned ground lamb, in its kebab form, lends itself to those on the fence about this protein. You will be as amazed by this lamb dish and the overall combination and balance of flavors as I am. —Lawman Johnson, Senior Photo Test Cook
Grilled Adana-Style KebabsThese juicy, fragrant, and delicious Turkish-style spiced lamb skewers deserve more attention.
Mussels and Linguine with ’Nduja Cream Sauce
I look back at this issue very fondly. Typically I’m responsible for the collection of eight Dinner Tonight recipe cards in the middle of each issue (each of which features 11 or fewer ingredients and about 30 minutes of active cooking time). For this issue, the team came together to develop a stockpile of recipes before I went on maternity leave after #2 was born. This resulted in some of my favorite recipe cards to date; specifically, Matthew Fairman’s Mussels and Linguine with ’Nduja Cream Sauce is so ridiculously good. The combination of spicy, funky pork; rich cream; and briny mussels is utterly irresistible, to the point that dinner almost didn’t make it to the table once I started tasting it at the stove. Have a back-up meal on hand for everyone else just in case. —Jessica Rudolph, Senior Editor
Mussels and Linguine with ’Nduja Cream SauceThe flavor powerhouse in this seafood pasta dish? Spicy 'nduja.
Shrimp with Garlic and Jalapeño Butter
I worked with Diep Tran as editor on her piece for House Special Shrimp, affording me the immense pleasure of making this recipe several times. Sitting down to those lunches, I just had to take a moment to marvel at my luck. Patterned after the House Special Shrimp at the now-shuttered Royal Capital Seafood Restaurant, which was located in Orange County’s Little Saigon district, these flash-fried shrimp get tossed in a buttery, umami-rich garlic-jalapeño sauce. Brining the shrimp in water, salt, and baking soda ensures that they remain plump and juicy during the high-temperature frying process. A dredge in potato starch imparts a light, ultracrispy crust that holds up long after being in contact with the sauce. Finally, tossing the fried shrimp in a mixture of garlic-jalapeño butter, lime juice, and fish sauce makes them rich, vibrant, and irresistibly savory. —Matthew Fairman, Senior Editor
Shrimp with Garlic and Jalapeño ButterFresh, fast “California cooking” with a tether to the Teochew diaspora.
Creamy Potatoes and Leeks
This comforting skillet full of soft, melted leeks; tender Yukon Gold potatoes; and just the right amounts of cream and Gruyère cheese was my favorite dish to sample during recipe development. Each iteration was delicious, but my co-worker Amanda Luchtel kept making tweaks until it was perfect. She added some chicken broth and wine to introduce savory notes and brightness, respectively; these elements also ensured that the casserole was rich but not stodgy. To finish the dish, she toasted some panko bread crumbs in butter and sprinkled them on top. The crispy crumbs added necessary crunch to counter all the soft, creamy, and cheesy textures. As a bonus, this dish comes together completely on the stovetop, making it the perfect thing to serve with something from the oven, such as a roast chicken. I think I know my next dinner plan! —Megan Ginsberg, Deputy Editor
Creamy Potatoes and LeeksThis cheesy, bread crumb–topped casserole comes together on the stovetop.
Seared Romaine with Ginger Dressing
I grew up in a household where cooked lettuce is the best lettuce, an Asian technique that sounds strange but yields magical results. For a quick vegetable side, we often fired up the wok and stir-fried chopped romaine lettuce in oil, minced garlic, and other aromatics or sauces. The result is a luscious, transformed vegetable, with a buttery texture and subtly smoky flavors.
Many years later, I’m still firmly in camp “cooked lettuce,” and Amanda Luchtel’s Cast Iron–Seared Romaine with Oyster Sauce, Ginger, and Sesame appeals in every way. The lettuce is halved and flash-seared in a cast-iron pan, resulting in glossy, visual pieces packed with flavor and succulence. The oyster sauce, ginger, and sesame oil–based dressing reminds me of Taiwanese “A-choy” lettuce stir-fries, where oyster sauce is commonly used to add sweetness and silkiness. A boost of Thai chiles adds punchy heat and colorful appeal; the result is a comforting fork-and-knife meal that is equal parts a refreshing salad and a hearty stir-fry. —Kelly Song, Test Cook