cooking Food

Foodie Friday: Marmalade Haddock

One of my all-time favorite food combinations is banana and peanut butter. On a sandwich or by themselves? Yum!

Other folks love partnering ice cream with French fries, cheddar cheese with apple pie, pizza and ranch dressing. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, taste on his or her palate, I suppose.

I was thinking on all of that as I watched BBC chef Nadiya Hussain’s show Time to Eat recently. You may know Nadiya from her wide-eyed, winning performance on the Great British Bake-off, or from her rise to fame in the British culinary-entertainment world.

She’s charming to watch and a smart and resourceful cook in the kitchen. The premise of Time to Eat is that it offers “stress-free recipes designed to help us all save time and calm our hectic lives.” Who isn’t looking for that?

Nadiya also brings some interesting new flavors to the table — combining her British and Bangladeshi heritage in many of her recipes. Like her recipe for a Zesty Marmalade Haddock Traybake.

I know, I know. Marmalade and fish? But trust me…

The combination of sundried tomatoes and balsamic vinaigrette liven up the potatoes. The marmalade and dill combine deliciously and make a palette-pleasing topping for the fish.

I actually did use “tinned potatoes” — a.k.a. canned — because it’s what the recipe called for, and they were not at all disappointing. I added asparagus with the potatoes for some green, and used a meaty cod filet instead of haddock.

The end result was super tasty – and not nearly as weird as ranch dressing on pizza, I can promise you. It’s one of those easy-to-prepare-but-feels-super-special kind of meals. Give it a try!

CLICK HERE for the complete recipe.

You can find more of Nadiya on Netflix. The Big Family Cooking Showdown is not nearly as annoying as American food competitions, really, but you might prefer to settle into the 7 episodes of Time to Eat, or the 8 of Nadiya Bakes (Mango coconut cake anyone?)

Essay ©2021, Jen Payne. Photo and recipe ©BBC and Nadiya Hussain.
cooking Food

Foodie Friday: 2-Ingredient Pancakes

Last week, BuzzFeed predicted my mental age to be 25 based on what I selected from a breakfast buffet. I know, silly, right? My mental age is at least 32!

Now, granted, the selections in the quiz didn’t really leave room for my over-50, mid-pandemic, trying-really-hard-with-her-self-care self to make healthy choices. (C’mon, who’s gonna pick just waffles when you can have fried chicken and waffles?)

Truth be told, I eat much healthier than a breakfast buffet might allow. And, despite my detour for an occasional donut or cinnamon roll, I do my best to steer towards eggs, yogurt, and other proteins to get a good start on my day and diet.

So when I started seeing recipes for these 2-ingedient healthy pancakes (h-e-a-l-t-h-yp-a-n-c-a-k-e-s), I had to try them!

For example, consider Banana Pancakes: 1 ripe banana, 2 large eggs, butter or oil for cooking; mash the bananas, stir in the eggs, heat the pan, drop the batter, cook-and-flip, eat.

Or, Sweet Potato Pancakes: 1 medium sweet potato, 2 large eggs, butter or oil for cooking; mash the sweet potatoes, stir in the eggs, heat the pan, drop the batter, cook-and-flip, eat.

Now, if you’re an over-50, mid-pandemic, trying-really-hard-with-self-care self who happily notices the lack of wheat, gluten, dairy, or sugar — then these are recipes you really should try!

Even if you’re not on a lettuce-and-water diet, these two easy-peasy recipes are quite tasty, and yield 4 delicate, crispy-on-the-outside, custardy-on-the-inside pancakes.

And get this! The banana version delivers 14 grams of protein, 2 grams of fiber, 450 mg of potassium, and is a good source of vitamins D and B6. The sweet potato version includes 15 grams of protein, 4 grams of fiber, 449 grams of potassium, and offers up beta carotene, vitamins B, C, and D, plus calcium, iron, and magnesium.

Just like regular pancakes, you can add nuts or fruits, or top with yogurt or granola so they’re even more good-for-you.

AND — as my sweet-tooth inner child, maple-syrup-advocating spirit LOVES to tell anyone who listens? A quarter-cup of MAPLE SYRUP contains more calcium than the same amount of milk and more potassium than a banana. It’s also a good source of magnesium, phosphorus, zinc and iron, and contains as many antioxidants as a raw tomato or broccoli.*

For more about pancakes, and to find out what Hogwarts House you belong in or what song you should listen to next, visit BuzzFeed’s PANCAKES page.

Or, if that seems to 25-year-old self, just head on over to The Kitchen to read more about these two delicious recipes. Enjoy!

2-Ingredient Banana Pancakes
2-Ingredient Sweet Potato Pancakes

Essay ©2021, Jen Payne. With all credit and thanks to The Kitchen for these awesome recipes! *Maple syrup facts from “10 Things You Didn’t Know about Maple Syrup,” Maple Syrup World.
cooking Creativity Food

An Interview with MANIFEST (zine)

Part of the Coin-Operated Press Christmas Zine Fair

JEN PAYNE is no stranger to the zine phenomenon. Her first zine —The Latest News — came out in the early 1990s during the golden age of Factsheet Five and Mike Gunderloy. Since those early days writing The Latest News, Jen has enjoyed putting her writing out into the world through the online lit/art journal Creative Soup, her blog Random Acts of Writing, and as part of art installations, literary magazines, and anthologies. Her most recent effort, Three Chairs Publishing, is a vehicle for her four published books and other creative projects, like MANIFEST (zine).

Click below to read the full interview by Coin-Operated Press!

cooking Creativity Food

Coin-Operated Press Christmas Zine Fair

As the cold winter nights draw in, Coin-Operated Press is showcasing fellow zine-makers just in time for the Hollyday season! Their first annual Christmas Zine Fair is online THIS weekend, Saturday December 5 and Sunday December 6.


Visit the Christmas Zine Fair to check out our zine-makers at their virtual tables.

The folks at Coin-Operated Press will be live throughout the day with loads of cool zine happenings! So, do visit the fair a few times, and/or make sure you turn on your notification for this event on Facebook so you don’t miss out on any of the festive fun!


MANIFEST (zine) will make a special appearance on Sunday at 6am GMT. We’ll add a link when we’re live!


10:00 Welcome/Opening Post from Coin-Op Press
11:00 Christmas Zine Shop Launch
12:00 Caw & Paw
13:00 Charlie Birch
14:00 Chloe Henderson
15:00 Drawn Poorly Zine
16:00 Dungeon Maven Games
17:00 Coin-Operated Press Interview Video on YouTube
18:00 Echo Zines
19:00 Fuzzy Cherry Zines
20:00 Thank you for coming/see you tomorrow from Coin-Op Press


10am Welcome/Opening Post Day 2
11:00 MANIFEST (zine)
12:00 Mini-Komix
13:00 Regional by Sam
14:00 Sean Dempsey
15:00 Sublunam
16:00 Tentaclerental
17:00 Weirdo Brigade
19:00 Thank you for coming/goodbye from Coin-Op Press!

cooking Creativity Food

Foodie Friday: Le Pain Aux Raisins

If you ever find yourself on Cape Cod, be sure to make your way to PB Boulangerie Bistro in Wellfleet. There, you will find “a taste of France” that includes — among other deliciousnesses — all of your favorite French pastry. Oh oui! Le croissant, le pain au chocolat, le croissant aux amandes, le pain aux raisins.

My last visit to the bistro was just a month ago. A guilty escape in the middle of the pandemic for sure, and worth the two weeks quarantine for the respite, as well as the croissants. But, not knowing when I might return again, I decided it would be fun to attempt to make some pastry myself.

With a little bit of luck.

A student of cooking shows since I was a teenager and a more-recent Great British Baking Show devotee, I knew early on that my first foray into this French pastry making — Le Pain Aux Raisin — was not going to make me Star Baker.

Which is not to say it didn’t make a decent showing. The raisins, soaked in whiskey for lack of cognac, were a highlight. So was the frangipane — a sweet almond cream filling I made from scratch — tasty, despite the hint of rosemary leftover in the spice and nut grinder.

Much to my surprise, the pastry even had some layers! Doughy, yes, but layers of doughy! That is a feat in itself— and should be considered such, given the rolling and folding and waiting necessary to create classic puff pastry lamination.

I confess, I was full of equal measure doubt and faith through the whole process.

I doubted the yeast was viable when it failed to produce its telltale foamy goodness. I questioned the lumpy dough and the technique of butter. I tried to convince myself the dough rose un petit peu in the covered bowl, though I wasn’t really sure.

Still I persevered with faith through the three rounds of rolling and folding and waiting, rolling and folding and waiting, rolling and folding and waiting.

I happily introduced the pastry dough to the rosemary frangipane and the drunk raisins.

I used my trusty Stanley tape measure to cut even, round discs. Then set them out on a tray, 2 inches apart for room to grow, covered them lightly…and took a nap.

Yes, I was full of equal measure doubt and faith — and humor.

In the time it took to make the pastry, I could have driven to Wellfleet, had a croissant by the beach, and driven home! I was pretty sure the dough was not rising any peu at all. And, in all honesty, I had no idea what I was going to do with a dozen or so pastry, because, well…pastry gives me heartburn.

And yet, in the end, there they were. Sixteen lightly browned, sort-of pain aux raisins — and I was proud.

As Julia Child once said, “If everything doesn’t happen quite the way you’d like, it doesn’t make too much difference, because you can fix it.”

“The only real stumbling block is fear of failure. In cooking you’ve got to have a what-the-hell attitude.”

And so…what the hell! Bon Appétit!

Thanks to Rebecca Franklin from The Spruce Eats for the Classic French Pain Aux Raisin and Frangipane recipes.

Photo & Essay ©2020, Jen Payne.
cooking Creativity Food

Foodie Friday: Sesame Tamari Sauce

I have been charmed of late by the dynamic duo of Ann and Jane Esselstyn, who host a series of YouTube videos featuring plant-based and heart-healthy recipes.

Their family, through individual efforts and the Esselstyn Foundation, is dedicated to “eradicating lifestyle related diseases through whole food, plant-based nutrition.” Ann and Jane have created recipes for several books including The Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease Cookbook, Plant-Strong, and The Engine 2 Cookbook. You can find out more about all of that on Jane’s website, here.

Jane and her mom Ann are a sassy duo, enthusiastic about their food lifestyle that includes lots of the healthy food things we all need more of in our diets. You know, things like kale.

This week, I’ve taken notes about their French Lentil with Grapes and Mint salad, chocolate tofu pudding, and cheesy chickpeas. But it was their Savory Sesame Green Beans recipe that had me at hello.

My favorite Chinese take-out restaurant, Moon Star — replaced now by a (gag) Chipotle — used to make the best sesame green beans. I ordered them a lot: seasame green beans, boneless spareribs, and steamed dumplings was a regular order. So when I saw the Esselstyns’ recipe, I had to try it!

The headliner of this dish is the Sesame Tamari Sauce, an easy-to-make concoction that will transform your beans or snow peas…or maybe even Kale. They’ll just POP with flavor!


2 tablespoons sesame seeds
1 teaspoon maple syrup or honey
2 teaspoons low-sodium tamari

Toast sesame seeds in the oven or in a pan, watching carefully so they don’t burn. Place in a small grinder or food processor and process just until ground. Put sesame seeds in a small bowl and add honey and tamari. Stir until mixed and just crumbly. Add to hot green beans or use with any vegetable. This recipe goes a long way: it is enough for 1-1/2pounds green beans.

So try it. Then grab a healthy snack and join me for a few more of these fun and informative videos!

Essay ©2020, Jen Payne. Original recipe from Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease: The Revolutionary, Scientifically Proven, Nutrition-Based Cure, by Caldwell B. Esselstyn Jr. M.D.
cooking Creativity Food

Foodie Friday: Meatball Ragout with Swiss Chard

I make a mean swiss chard smoothie. Swiss chard, banana, blueberry, green tea, protein powder. Mmmm. Mmmm. But even I get tired of that concoction after a while.

So what does one do when the local CSA delivers so much swiss chard your crisper drawer won’t close?

Hey Siri: Find me a recipe for swiss chard.

A quick internet search recently took me to the Blue Apron website and a tasty recipe for Meatball Ragout with Swiss Chard.

It’s a surprising dish, I think because of the blend of spices used in the meatballs: onion powder, paprika, ground fennel, celery seed, garlic powder, marjoram, and cayenne pepper. This is not your Italian grandma’s meatball!

According to meal kit service Blue Apron, “the word ragout comes from the French ragoûter, which means to revive the taste or appetite.” And indeed, this make a satisfying supper, especially for the chilly nights we’ve been enjoying lately.

I modified the recipe slightly to my own tastes and tolerances — and ingredients I had on-hand — but I’ll include a link to the complete recipe below.

Not included in that version is the insistence that you serve this with a loaf of crusty bread and your favorite, lush red wine.

Meatball Ragout with Swiss Chard

10 oz ground beef
1 carrot
1/2 yellow onion
1 sweet potato
½ bunch swiss chard, rinsed
2 tablespoons sundried tomatoes in oil, finely chopped
a splash (or two) of red wine
1 tablespoon of flour
¼ cup plain panko breadcrumbs

4 parts onion powder
4 parts sweet paprika
4 parts ground fennel seeds
2 parts celery seeds
2 parts garlic powder
1 part whole dried marjoram
1 part ground cayenne pepper

Peel the carrot, and thinly slice. Chop the onion finely, and dice the sweet potato. Roughly chop the swiss chard leaves, then thinly slice the stems, keeping them separate. Make and set aside a slurry with the flour (or cornstarch) and ¼ cup of water.

For the meatballs, mix the ground beef, breadcrumbs, salt and pepper, and spice mix. Then form 12-14 equal-sized meatballs, about 1″ round. Brown them in olive oil, 4-6 minutes, until browned on all sides, then transfer to a plate.

Add the sweet potato to the pan — leaving all the browned bits for flavor — season with salt and pepper, and cook until lightly browned. Add the carrots, onion, and swiss chard stems. Cook 4-6 minutes until softened, then add the sundried tomatoes and cook, stirring frequently, 1-2 minutes.

Finally, add the meatballs back into the pan, along with the chard leaves, red wine, and 1-1/2 cups of water. Cook for about one minute, making sure to scrape the bottom of the pan for any remaining browned bits.

Bring to a boil and add the slurry while stirring to blend. Reduce the heat and cook 2-4 more minutes until the broth has thickened slightly. Season to taste and serve.

This is a delicious supper, a tasty leftover tomorrow night — or add a poached egg to the bowl and consider it a protein-rich breakfast to substitute that swiss chard smoothie! Enjoy!

(Click here to read the original Blue Apron recipe with more detailed instructions.)

Essay ©2020, Jen Payne. Recipe ©2020, Blue Apron.
cooking Creativity Food

Foodie Friday: Miso Corn Sauté

Foodie Friday: Miso Corn Sauté

The radio and I have a long history of discovery. Several bars of music led me to Nanci Griffith and Jenny Owen Youngs. There are plenty of books on my bookshelf recommended by one guest author or another, like Barbara Kingsolver’s Animal, Vegetable, Miracle and David Sedaris’ Holidays on Ice.

Recipes, too, find their way onto my Look It Up list via the radio. It goes something like this:

Mmm. That sounds good.
Mmm. I have those ingredients at home.
Mmm. I could make that!

Such was the case last week as I was listening to an interview with Kathy Gunst about summer vegetables on Here and Now. I was just getting off Exit 54 as she excitedly explained…

“And then, this was a revelation, I sauteed fresh corn kernels off the cob with a little bit of butter and fresh ginger and white miso paste. So, miso is full of umami, it’s very very full flavored, and I thought ‘would miso and corn work’? Well, the answer is absolutely yes. This is a five minute recipe that you can eat on its own, sprinkled over grilled fish, ramen, soups, rice dishes. Really straight-forward.”

So I made it for supper. No recipe – just the simple recollection of “corn, butter, ginger, miso.” It was delicious!

If you’re like me, you’re a corn purist: boil, butter, salt, eat. But, for those moments you think: what else can I do with this? Definitely try this recipe for Miso Corn Sauté. Trust me.


2 ears fresh corn
1-1/2 tablespoons butter
1-1/2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh ginger
1 scallion, finely chopped, white and green sections
1 tablespoon white or light miso paste


  1. Strip the husks and silk off the corn. Hold corn up in a large bowl, narrow tip up, and, using a sharp knife, cut the kernels off the cob.
  2. In a medium skillet, melt the butter over moderate heat. Add the ginger and half the scallions and cook, stirring, for 2 minutes. Add the miso paste and using a spoon, stir together to create a smooth paste. Cook 2 minutes. Add the corn and stir to coat all the kernels; cook 2 minutes.
  3. Serve hot sprinkled with the remaining scallion.

For the complete episode of “Find Solace In Your Summer Harvest With 4 Delicious Dishes,” including the broadcast recording and recipes, click here.

cooking Creativity Food

Foodie Friday: Pissaladière

For the past few years, my boyfriend and I have signed up for a local CSA. A CSA, or Community Supported Agriculture, is a great way to get local, seasonal food directly from a farmer in your area.

Through a CSA, farmers offer a certain number of “shares” to the public. The share might include a box of vegetables along with other farm products like eggs, honey, mushrooms, or cheese. You purchase a share and in return receive a weekly selection of seasonal offerings throughout the farming season.

I enjoy CSAs, I really do. I feel like I’m supporting local agriculture, eating good healthy food, and doing my part for the environment.

But, truth be told, I feel a little bit of pressure to eat all of the weekly food things in a timely manner. I see the next pick-up day on my calendar, then glance guiltily at the crisper drawer wondering if I’ve finished all of the kale and kohlrabi this week.

If all else fails, there are smoothies to be made. But if you have some extra time on your frequently-washed pandemic hands, do what I do and source out some interesting recipes for those straggler veggies in the crisper. A little Google search’ll do ya!

Take for example this recipe for a Leek, Green Olive and Sultana Pissaladière I found on the Olive Magazine website! According to their notes, a pissaladière (pronounce) is a dish which originated from Nice in Southern France. From Nice, how nice!

The recipe includes homemade dough for the crust, but I cheated and bought some fresh-made pizza dough at my grocery store and followed its directions for preparation.

Then you just heat the olive oil in a frying pan, stir in finely sliced leeks, cover and cook gently for 40-50 minutes. Once the leeks soften, season with salt and pepper, and stir in the sultanas (aka golden raisins for those of you who don’t watch Nigella Lawson or Jamie Oliver).

Heat your oven to 425˚ F, then roll and press the dough out to a large rectangle. Sprinkle fresh grated parmesan (the real kind please) over the surface, spread the leek mixture on top, then add the quartered green olives.

The recipe suggests adding bay leaves, but I think pine nuts would add just a little more decadence. Drizzle with a little olive oil, and bake for 25-30 minutes.

You’re welcome.

• For the complete recipe, visit OLIVE MAGAZINE

• For more information on a CSA near you, visit LOCAL HARVEST