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'American Coyotes' Series

Traveling by Jeep, boat and foot, Tribune-Review investigative reporter Carl Prine and photojournalist Justin Merriman covered nearly 2,000 miles over two months along the border with Mexico to report on coyotes — the human traffickers who bring illegal immigrants into the United States. Most are Americans working for money and/or drugs. This series reports how their operations have a major impact on life for residents and the environment along the border — and beyond.

By Linda Gassenheimer
Tuesday, April 16, 2013, 9:00 p.m.
 

Caroline Wright proves that cooking on a budget doesn't have to include ramen noodles and dollar-stretching meatloaf.

Her first cookbook, “Twenty-Dollar, Twenty-Minute Meals” (Workman Publishing, $12.95), is based on her willingness to look at dinner differently. It's not always about meat and potatoes, she says, and it's definitely not about serving boring and uninspired dishes.

Some of the recipes she created include Simple Miso Soup with Asparagus, Edamame and Pan-Fried Tofu; Grilled Lamb Chops with Cucumber, Oregano and Feta; Seared Pork Chops with Blood Orange, Mint and Wilted Radiocchio, and Butternut Squash Curry with Bulgur.

“These meals are almost on a scale of being elegant, not commonplace,” she says.

The food columnist and former editor for Martha Stewart's “Everyday Food” magazine is one of the speakers at the annual “GoodTaste! Pittsburgh” food show April 20 at Pittsburgh Marriott North in Cranberry.

Besides signing copies of her cookbook, Wright will demonstrate a few of her favorite springtime recipes, which include Steak with Herb Sauce and Buttered Radishes; Grilled Chicken Cutlets with Grapefruit and Watercress Salad; and Fava, Mint and Ricotta Crostino.

The recipes in her book are designed to feed four, but Wright is used to cooking for a crowd. When a dozen or more of her friends drop by on any given weekend, they're usually treated to one of her signature dishes.

“I love cooking in large batches,” she says.

She and her husband call Dallas home, but she says she has plans to move back to New York City soon. That's where she perfected her “frugal cooking” skills for her friends, a diverse group comprised of young professionals, struggling actors and hungry college students. Many of her recipes originated on her food blog and were written with them in mind.

Wright, who was trained at Ecole de Cuisine La Varenne in Paris, says her secret to preparing inexpensive, quick meals is in using good ingredients, including seasonal produce and flavorful things like nuts, spices, cheese and oils that “bring a lot to a dish just by showing up.”

“GoodTaste! Pittsburgh” will feature cooking demonstrations by Lindsey Smith, author of “Junk Food and Junk Moods,” and Pittsburgh chefs Kevin Watson of Savoy and Keith Fuller of Root 174.

Show organizer Dee Weinberg says the cooking show, in its ninth year, “celebrates food as entertainment” and typically attracts 3,000 participants. New this year will be a Flavors of Pittsburgh demonstration area, wine tasting and spirits. The venue is new, too — the show formerly was held at the Monroeville Convention Center.

Candy Williams is a contributing writer to Trib Total Media.

Recipes are from Caroline Wright's “Twenty-Dollar, Twenty-Minute Meals” (Workman Publishing, $12.95).

Fava, Mint + Ricotta Crostino

Serve this dish with a with a simple salad. You can substitute frozen peas for the fava beans.

2 pounds fresh fava beans (to equal 2 cups beans)

1 / 2 cup water

Salt

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 / 2 teaspoon red wine vinegar

1 / 4 cup fresh mint leaves

Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

1 cup ricotta cheese

4 thick slices toasted crusty bread

Shell and peel 2 pounds fresh fava beans — to equal 2 cups beans. Bring 1 / 2 cup salted water to a boil in a medium skillet. Add the beans, cover and simmer until tender, 2 to 5 minutes. Drain the beans and return them to the skillet.

Toss the beans with 1 tablespoon olive oil, 1 / 2 teaspoon red wine vinegar and 1 / 4 cup fresh mint leaves; season with salt and pepper. Divide 1 cup ricotta cheese among 4 thick slices toasted crusty bread, spreading it evenly. Top with the bean mixture and serve.

Makes 4 servings.

Grilled Chicken Cutlets with Grapefruit + Watercress Salad

2 grapefruit

2 tablespoons olive oil, plus oil for the grill

8 chicken cutlets (about 2 pounds)

Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

1 / 2 teaspoon fresh ginger, grated and peeled

2 bunches watercress, thick stems trimmed

Heat a grill to medium-high heat or a grill pan over medium-high heat.

Peel and segment 2 grapefruit, and set aside. Squeeze 2 tablespoons grapefruit juice from the remaining membranes; set aside.

Using a flat meat mallet, pound the chicken cutlets to 1 / 4 -inch thickness. Season with salt and pepper. Lightly oil the grill grates, then grill the chicken, turning once, until cooked through, 2 to 3 minutes.

In a serving bowl, whisk together 2 tablespoons olive oil, 1 / 2 teaspoon grated peeled fresh ginger, and the reserved grapefruit juice in a serving bowl. Toss with the reserved grapefruit segments and 2 bunches watercress. Serve the grilled cutlets with the salad.

Makes 4 servings.

Steak with Herb Sauce + Buttered Radishes

1 tablespoon olive oil, plus 1 / 4 cup

1 1 / 2 pounds London broil steak

Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

1 / 2 cup chopped fresh herbs (such as mint, parsley, and cilantro)

1 small minced clove garlic

2 tablespoons red wine vinegar

2 tablespoons salted butter

20 radishes, cut into quarters (to yield 3 cups)

Heat the oven to 475 degrees.

Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large, ovenproof skillet over medium-high heat. Blot dry 1 1 / 2 pounds London broil steak with a paper towel and season on both sides with salt and pepper. When the skillet is hot, add the steak and brown on both sides, about 3 minutes per side. Transfer the skillet to the oven and roast until the steak reaches the desired doneness, 6 to 8 minutes for medium-rare. Let the meat rest on a cutting board.

While the steak roasts, combine, in a small bowl, the chopped fresh herbs, garlic, 1 / 4 cup olive oil, and red wine vinegar. Season with salt and pepper and set the herb sauce aside.

Heat 2 tablespoons salted butter in a medium skillet over medium-high heat, add the radishes, and cook, tossing occasionally, until lightly browned and crisp-tender, 6 to 8 minutes. Season with salt.

Slice the steak, top with the herb sauce, and serve with the radishes.

Makes 4 servings.

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