Archive for the ‘Sides’ Category

Lovely Lentils

Once upon a time, I spent my senior year in college living in a townhouse with four other classmates. We shared the cooking chores, and mostly relied on easy foods like chicken and pasta. One night, though, I decided to be a little different. We had some lentils, and some hot dogs, and I decided to follow a recipe we had — maybe it was on the back of the lentil bag, I’m not sure — to make them into a casserole.

No surprise, it was an inedible disaster. I steered clear of trying to cook lentils for a long time afterwards. I’ve always liked eating them, but that early bad experience left me nervous about hands-on lentil preparation.

Recently, on the heels of some of my experiments with heirloom beans, I’ve been given lentils a try again. I can do a decent batch of basic lentils now, but that’s nothing to brag about. I want to do something more adventurous with lentils.

So, I’m on the lookout for some good ideas. Not really interested in lentil soups, more in lentils as a side dish or even a main course. If you have suggestions, let me know!

Grandma B’s Latkes

Just in time for Chanukah, here’s my maternal grandmother’s latke recipe. Grandma B was born in the Lodz ghetto, and came to America as a child, fortunately long before the horrors of WW2. She loved parties and gathering her family around her, and Chanukah was no exception.


2 lbs potatoes
1 large onion
1 clove garlic, minced
2 tablespoons matzo meal
2 eggs (yolks and whites separated)
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
oil for frying


Wash, peel, and grate the potatoes, drain over a large bowl. Discard the potato water but keep the starch left at the bottom of the bowl.

Grate the onions.

Beat the egg whites with a fork until well mixed.

Mix the onion, garlic, egg yolk, salt, and pepper all together with the potato starch. Add the matzo meal and beaten egg whites, continue mixing until all ingredients are nicely mixed together.

Heat about 1/4 inch of oil in a heavy skillet. Drop heaping tablespoons of batter into the oil and fry until golden brown on the bottom. Flip, continue frying until second side is also brown. Remove from heat, drain on paper towels.

Eat and enjoy!


  • Frying oil. Grandma’s recipe calls for corn or peanut oil for frying the latkes, but as The Jew and The Carrot reminds us, these are not the healthiest possible choices. Canola oil is a good alternative.

Cornbread and Sage Dressing

Cornbread and Sage Stuffing

I originally found this dressing recipe on, of all places, the now-defunct site back in the fall of 2000, when Scott and I were getting ready to cook our first big Thanksgiving dinner. I’ve made it pretty much every year since then, although I’ve tweaked it a little over the years to suit my tastes. It’s tasty and not at all difficult; the biggest challenge is the prep time, which can take a while with all the chopping and bread drying.


1 9″ x 9″ cornbread
1 16-ounce loaf sourdough bread
2 cups diced bacon
1 cup diced onion
1 cup shredded carrot
2 tablespoons thinly-sliced fresh sage
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon pepper
1 cup half-and-half
1 cup chicken stock


Preheat oven to 375° F. Cut the cornbread and the sourdough bread into 1/2 inch cubes. Spread onto baking trays and bake for 15 minutes or until the bread has dried out. Set aside in a large mixing bowl.

Cook the bacon in a large frying pan over medium heat until it begins to crisp. Add onions. Cook until the onions soften and start to turn translucent (about 5 minutes). Add the carrots, sage, salt and pepper. Turn heat to low and cook an additional 10 minutes.

Add the stock and the half-and-half to the contents of the pan and stir. This dissipates the heat and breaks up the fat. Then pour the contents of the pan into the mixing bowl and gently mix with the bread cubes until the dressing is moist and well blended. I usually use my hands for this but a large wooden spoon is good too.

Put the mixture into a 13” x 9” x 2” greased baking pan. Cover with tin foil and bake for 30 minutes. Remove cover and bake an additional 15 minutes or until the top is crispy.

Notes & Substitutions:

  • Can be prepared one to two days before and reheated in the oven. Make sure the dressing has reached room temperature before reheating.
  • Cubing and drying the bread can be done a day before and the bread kept, loosely covered, overnight. Use day-old bread for faster drying.
  • If you want to add more turkey flavor, use turkey stock instead of chicken.
  • Substitute 1 teaspoon dried sage for fresh sage if you can’t get fresh.
  • Kosher alternative: use beef bacon instead of pork, and more stock to replace the half-and-half.