WordPress.com, you’ve treated me well, but I’m ready to take off the training wheels. Please come to my new website (still a blog, of course), CookLikeMad.com, for all new posts, pictures, and recipes. Seafood Gumbo will be the next post, so check there later tonight for your new favorite recipe for this comforting Southern dish. No new posts will be added to With Relish, but if you come back here, this “final page” will stay up for a few months, so you can always click on the link below to get you to the new site.




Spicy scallops garnished with fresh torn basil
Scallops are one food most people love to eat in restaurant but rarely cook at home. Why? They are just as quick to cook as shrimp, easier to clean than shrimp, and when seared on high heat, make for a beautiful presentation. The reasons I compare scallops to shrimp are their like nutritional values (did you know they are both high in B vitamins?), and their market prices. However, like shrimp, scallops are brought to your supermarket frozen. Now, some supermarkets are honest the state of their shellfish and leave them in their frozen state. Others- one major gourmet grocery store comes to mind- “refresh” (read: defrost) their scallops, shrimp, and lobster tails, so they appear to have been fresh all along. My problem is not with the refreshing process, but with the presentation in the fresh fish case- almost every other fish in the case is shipped fresh, so why would a normal shopper think to ask about the state of the shellfish? All I’m saying is I wish customers paying top dollar had full disclosure. Ok, that’s the end of that rant.
Now for another one. Scallops can be totally tasteless. Its true- they’ve been frozen as we know, and refreshing them causes them to lose flavor. Did you think all scallops, even perfectly cooked ones, must taste like nothing? Sure, the texture is wonderful, but to me at least, the taste is always lacking. if you want to see what scallops are supposed to taste like, go to a restaurant where you know they’re flown in fresh, like the Grand Central Oyster Bar in Grand Central Station in NYC. You’ll truly believe the scallops you’ve been eating are muted versions of the real deal. Right, Dad? (Dad introduced me to the scallops at Grand Central, so he gets a shout out).
Ok, Maddy, get to your point. The point is, scallops are great for you, and are still yummy in their refreshed, albeit muted, state. Here is a recipe that brings intense flavor to those texturally decadent morsels. Sea scallops are best here, as they develop a nice sear when dropped in a hot oiled pan. Don’t be discouraged, just informed! Enjoy : )
Scallops with Spicy Asian Barbecue Sauce
Serves 2
1 lb sea scallops, small muscle on the side removed
salt and pepper
4 tbsp hoisin
2 tsp Sriracha hot sauce (found in every asian supermarket)
1 tsp rice wine vinegar
1 tsp soy sauce
1/2 tsp fresh ginger, minced
optional addition: 1 tsp mung bean sauce (also found at asian supermarkets- its like bean peanut butter (peanuts are legumes, after all)
4 leaves fresh basil
1. Heat 2 tbsp canola oil in a saute pan on high heat. Season scallops liberally with salt and pepper. Sear scallops for 2 minutes on each side, allowing a nice brown crust to form.
2. While you sear the scallops, mix all the ingredients for the sauce. When scallops are done, plate them, then, makign sure the pan is on low heat, add the sauce to the pan. Just warm the sauce in the pan, don’t cook it, and drizzle it over the scallops. Tear basil leaves over each plate and serve immediately. Enjoy!
-M : )


Some people like crunchy cookies, other likes soft, chewy cookies- I like both, but today I’m standing up for cakey cookies. Perhaps these would be better named as cake bites, since the dough is looser than normal cookie dough and the resulting texture is more like a cakey pumpkin blondie than a cookie, but the shape and size beckon me to continue to refer to them as cookies. The fact is, in order to make the cookies taste enough like pumpkin to merit their title, you have to moisten the batter with so much pumpkin puree that there’s no way this cookie could come out chewy, let alone crunchy.


pumpkin cookie innards

Since the recipe calls for 1 cup of pumpkin puree and most cans are over 14 oz, use the extra for mini pie fillings, pumpkin pancakes, pumpkin muffins, or freeze it in a ziplock bag to defrost when you want to make these cookies again- it won’t be long. Enjoy!


Pumpkin Cake Bites (Soft Pumpkin Cookies)

Makes 40 small cookies

  • 2 1/8 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 1 1/2 cups dark brown sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup canned pumpkin puree
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup white or milk chocolate chips (or both)


1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees and line a baking sheet with a silpat or lightly grease it.

2. Mix first seven ingredients (the dry ingredients) in a small bowl and set aside. Combine butter and sugar in another bowl and beat with an electric mixer until creamy and lightened in color, about 5 minutes.

3. Beat in egg, then stir in pumpkin puree. Add dry ingredient mixture all at once and stir until just combined. At this point you can fold in white or milk chocolate chips if you;re making drop cookies, or if you;re piping the cookies, add the cookie dough to a pastry bag fitted with a tip at least 1/2” wide. Drop or pipe cookies onto baking sheet and if you piped the cookies, place one chip, white or milk, in the center of each cookie.


4. Bake in the center of the oven for 10-12 minutes. Cookies should be fairly firm to the touch, but not dry, and they should only be barely browned on the top and bottom. Move to a rack, cool, and enjoy! Cookies keep in an air tight container for up to 5 days.

-M : )


Just look at that photo above- do I even need to say anything to encourage you to make this pot pie? Feel free to bake this in individual ramekins so you can serve them in their baking dishes. With this rustic dish, that would be a beautiful presentation. Interestingly enough, this dough is very similar to the dough I created to make those Chinese five spice pinwheels. If you find yourself with leftover dough, you can always bake up a few of these cookies while you wait for the chicken to cook through. Dinner and dessert in one recipe! What’s better than that? Enjoy : )

Chicken Pot Pie

Makes 3 Servings

2 1/2 cups chicken stock (broth is fine)

2 large chicken breasts

1 carrot, diced

1 stalk celery, diced

1 small onion, diced

6 tbsp beurre manie (3 tbsp flour mixed with 3 tbsp oil or melted butter)

vegetable oil, as needed

1 egg, mixed with 1 tbsp water

salt and pepper, to season

1 sheet Frozen puff pastry or use the recipe below:

Easiest Pastry Recipe:

1. Mix 1 1/4 cups flour with 1/4 tsp baking powder, and 1/2 tsp salt. Cut in 6 tbsp diced cold butter. Mix in 4 tbsp water until dough just comes together, wrap in plastic and set in fridge. Roll out to 10” circle when you’re ready to cover your pie.)


uncooked pastry crust, with a decorative topping made from extra crust


1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Lightly grease a baking dish that has a diameter of about 9” (I prefer a cast iron dish, but any baking dish will work). Bring chicken stock to a boil in a 4 qt pot, turn down heat, and keep hot over medium heat, covered.
2. Heat a saute pan over medium high heat with 1 tbsp oil in it, and add carrots, celery, onion and a pinch of salt.

3. Meanwhile, set up another pan (that has a fitting lid) with 2 inches of water and heat on high. Place chicken breasts in pan, cover, and once the water comes to a boil, turn the heat to low and shallow poach the chicken breasts for 15 minutes, or until cooked through. When cooked, remove from water to a clean cutting board and let cool slightly. Once cool, shread or cut into large dice.

4. Add vegetables to chicken stock once golden brown and slightly soft. Add chicken also, then whip in beurre manie. Bring mixture to a boil and reduce to a simmer. Cook until thickened, 5 minutes, then pour into baking dish. (Note, you can stop here and refrigerate mixture, if you want to serve the dish tomorrow.)

5. Place round of pastry crust (or puff pastry) on top of baking dish, ensuring that the pastry overlaps the side of the dish slightly, so you can crimp the sides shut. Brush top of pastry crust with egg mixed with 1 tbsp water and bake in oven on a sheet tray (to catch drips) for 20 minutes, or until top is golden and cooked through. Serve in shallow bowls and enjoy!


cooked pot pie, straight out of the oven

-M : )


Ignore those button mushrooms next to the broccolini (or don’t)- I just sauteed them and put them on the plate to use up leftover mushrooms in the fridge. They married well with the other ingredients, though.

I’m cooling off from my sugar rush and getting back to my culinary school basics. While I cooked some great recipes in school, there’s one that stood out for its easy yet powerful flavor. Balsamic braised chicken is deceptively simple and sensible, and easily multiplied for extra guests. The rich brown sauce that drenches it isn’t ladden with butter, but instead, its full of rich, slow cooked chicken stock, balsamic vinegar, vegetables, tomato, and a touch of flour, to thicken it. No roux, no heavy cream, just a deep, dark, delicious sauce.

Now you may be wondering what in god’s name are those potatoes on the plate. Good question. In culinary school we were tortured by this exercise where we made “tourne” potatoes. (There should be that little accent over the “e” but alas, I’m new to this blogging thing, and don’t know how to add accents, so forgive me French cooking masters, as you roll in your graves.) Anyway, “tourne” means turned, and that’s what’s done to these potatoes. You peel and quarter your russet potato, then trim it, turning it dangerously in your hand as you point the tip of your knife towards your finger, to create a football shaped potato nugget. Yum. Now you could make any shape you want, but having a food blog makes you an anal cook, so I made pretty shapes with my potatoes. Also, football was on that evening. Get it? Yeah, dorky, I know. Parboil them in salted water for about 10 minutes (or until they barely resist being poked with a sharp knife tip), dry them with a clean towel, and saute them in olive oil, sprinkling with coarse salt as they come out of the pan. You’ll find they are a perfect pairing for your chicken (the main squeeze) and your broccolini (your obligatory veg). Double yum. Or is that triple?

The only trick to making this recipe excellent instead of just “good” is to taste your sauce and add more balsamic if the flavor isn’t coming through. It looks as dark in person as it does in the picture, so don’t be shy. Also, balsamic vinegars vary greatly in sweetness, viscosity, and acidity, and I won’t dare to tell you which you should buy, so feel free to add a touch of sugar or lemon juice, to balance the flavors of the sauce. Enjoy!

Balsamic Braised Chicken

Makes 3 Servings

6 chicken thighs, bone-in

1 large carrot, diced

2 stalks celery, diced

1 small onion, diced

2 tbsp tomato paste

3 tbsp flour

2 cups Chicken Stock

1 cup Balsamic Vinegar (the better the quality, the better the outcome, but don’t go crazy)

vegetable oil, as needed

salt and pepper, as needed

Sauteed broccolini and tourne potatoes, to serve (factor in 1 small bunch broccolini and 1 medium potato per person)


1. Add 2 tbsp oil to a large, deep pan (one that has a lid that fits, ideally) and turn heat to medium-high.

2. Sear chicken thighs, meaty-side down, turning once, to color both sides a nice golden brown. Remove from pan and set aside.

3. Add carrots, celery, onion, and a pinch of salt to the same pan (do not wash between steps!) and saute until golden brown and slightly softened, 5-7 minutes.

3. Add tomato paste, “pincage” until the tomato paste turns an even darker red and add the flour, mixing well. Cook 1 minute to get rid of the raw flour taste.

4. Add chicken stock and balsamic vinegar to the pan, turn the heat up to high, and bring to a boil. Add the chicken thighs back in and reduce to a simmer. Cover immediately and let cook for 25-35 minutes, or until chicken is cooked through. You may want to turn chicken over after 15 minutes to ensure even cooking, as the liquid will not cover the chicken entirely.

5. Remove chicken to serving plates, taste sauce for seasoning, and adjust as necessary with salt and pepper. If you desire, the sauce can be strained, but I prefer it unstrained. Thicken a little if necessary by cooking the sauce a little longer on the stovetop, without a lid, and pour sauce over the chicken. Add broccolini, potatoes, or whatever sides and vegetables you wish, to the plates and enjoy!

-M : )


pretty pecan pinwheels!

As I continue with my baking kick, my mind turns to cost. What ingredients can I cut out and still have a great cookie? Butter? No way. Sugar? Not in a million. Flour? Fat chance. Eggs? Hmm….And that’s where we begin.

In nearly every traditional cookie recipe, eggs lend texture, flavor, rise, and even sheen. But what if you’re secure in the ability of butter, sugar, and flour to add texture, pecans and warm spices to add flavor, and the layers created by the careful combining of butter and flour to create rise? Then you’ve got yourself a great cookie recipe. These Chinese Five Spice Cookies are not only fun and easy to make, but also resourceful. Change the filling to cinnamon, sugar, and currants, or fig jam and chopped almonds-any way you make these, they’re flaky and delicious.


Eggless Chinese Five Spice Cookies

Makes 25 cookies


1 1/4 cups flour

1/2 cup butter, in small cubes, chilled

3-4 tbsp cold water

1/8 tsp salt


1/2 cup pecans, finely chopped

1/2 cup dark brown sugar

1 tsp chinese five spice

1/4 tsp cinnamon


1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees and lightly grease a baking sheet or use a silpat to line one.

2. Mix the salt into the flour. Using a pastry cutter or your hands, quickly incorporate the butter into the flour, until the mixture resembles coarse sand and the butter is still cold. If butter begins to warm, place mixture in the freezer for 5 minutes and begin again. Add just enough cold water to make a rough dough that stays together. You should be able to see butter streaks in the dough. Wrap in plastic and set in the fridge for 10 minutes to relax the gluten you may have developed in mixing and to allow the butter to cool.

3. Meanwhile, prepare the filling by mixing all ingredients in a small bowl. Set aside.

4. Unwrap dough, lightly flour a flat surface, and roll out dough to a rectangle (about 12” x 8”), making sure it’s 1/4” to no less than 1/8” thick.

5. Sprinkle filling on top of the dough to make a thin, even layer and roll lengthwise until you’ve created a log. Place in the freezer to firm up for 10 minutes.

6. Slice the log into 1/4” to 1/2” slices, depending on how big you’d like the cookies, using a sharp knife. Place cookies flat on the baking sheet and into the oven, for 10-12 minutes, or until light golden brown. Cool on a rack and enjoy!

-M : )

Aw, they look like hearts… Good thing v-day’s coming up!
Palmiers are the biggest trick in the book. They not only require two ingredients, frozen puff pastry and sugar, but maintain their addictive crunch for days after they’re baked. Using a silpat makes clean up especially easy, but the puff pastry has enough butter in it, and the sugar retains pliable enough out of the oven, to ensure easy removal of the cookies from the baking sheet even without pre-greasing.
A recipe really isn’t necessary for these scrumptious cookies, as they’re really a cinch, but here we go. Enjoy!
Palmiers (i.e. Mini Elephant Ears)
Makes 20 cookies, but can be easily multiplied
1 4” x 7” sheet frozen puff pastry, thawed in the refrigerator overnight
1/2 cup sugar, plus extra for dusting
flour, as needed, for rolling
1. Preheat oven to 385 degrees and line a baking sheet with a silpat baking mat. If you’re not using a silpat, leave the baking sheet ungreased.
2. Roll out puff pastry on a lightly floured flat surface until it is less than 1/8” thick and sprinkle heavily with sugar. The layer of sugar should be nearly as thick as the layer of puff pastry dough.
3. Fold both ends (lengthwise) into the middle so they meet. Repea, doubling over your last fold. Fold in half lengthwise, so you have a log, roll in sugar, and place in the freezer for 10 minutes to firm up.
4. Slice cookies with a very sharp knife, each should be about 1/4” thick. Place cookies down on the baking sheet or silpat so you can see their layers (i.e. lay them flat) and sprinkle again with sugar. Bake 10 minutes, or until they turn light golden. The bottom will be a darker golden than the top- that’s what you’re looking to see. Cool on a rack. These cookies are best once completely cool, when they’re at their crunchiest. Yum!
-M : )