Dutch macaroni.

Not to rush the end of summer (I would never!), but I’m getting pretty excited for fall dinners, leggings-based outfits, 60 per cent less boob sweat, and a little cookbook launch party I hope you’ll attend if you’re in Vancouver. (I hope we can get to Winnipeg, Toronto, and elsewhere – stay tuned! If your local bookstore, pannenkoekenhuis, or licorice parlour wants to talk boeterkoek and bitterballen, drop me a line!)

In the meantime, while the temperature has dropped slightly ahead of another summer heatwave, I’m in the mood for macaroni. This recipe, a family friendly Dutch weeknight dinner not unlike American Goulash or a fancy take on Hamburger Helper, is a one-pot weeknight staple for us; I use whole wheat macaroni in mine because no one here seems to notice and, you know, fibre.

Dutch macaroni

(Makes 6 to 8 servings.)

  • 1 lb lean ground beef
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1 red bell pepper, diced
  • 2 carrots, peeled and diced
  • 2 celery stalks, diced
  • 3 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
  • 6-oz can low-sodium or no-salt-added tomato paste
  • 1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tsp grainy Dijon or Dutch mustard
  • 1 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1/2 tsp dried oregano
  • 1/2 tsp dried basil
  • 14 oz dry macaroni
  • 4 cups low-sodium or homemade chicken stock
  • 4 oz shredded Edam cheese

In a large pot on medium, brown beef with salt in olive oil for about 5 minutes. Remove meat from pot and set aside. Drain off all but 2 tbsp grease.

Add onions, bell peppers, carrots, celery, and garlic, and sauté for about 4 minutes, until colors have brightened and vegetables are shiny. Stir in tomato paste, Worcestershire sauce, mustard, pepper, smoked paprika, oregano, and basil, and coat vegetables.

Return beef to pot. Add macaroni, and stir well. Add chicken stock; liquid should just cover mixture. If not, add a cup or two of water.

Bring contents to a simmer, and cook 10–12 minutes, until macaroni is tender.

Add Edam and stir until melted. Serve immediately.


Dutch Feast is currently available for pre-order from Arsenal Pulp Press, Amazon.com, Amazon.ca, and other fine online retailers; order online to receive your copy this fall, or purchase it from your favourite local bookstore in November, 2017.

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One-dish baked chicken and rice.

chicken and rice

If December was about coming undone, January is about putting ourselves back together (and lying to MyFitnessPal). We stole a whole day to ourselves yesterday, turned our ringers off and did laundry and made messes and ate Alphagetti on the couch in our pajamas and it was exactly what we needed. Today life returned to normal, and work was work and not an unending candy buffet. Everything is as it was, only now nothing really fits right and we’ve got to somehow pay all those bills we put off until after Christmas.

Part of putting ourselves back together is eating simply. After a month of rushing and driving and spending and feasting and drinking, all I want is to not feel like I am dying after eating a meal. At least for now. Simple, single-dish dinners that mostly prepare themselves are what will get us through this rainy post-holiday decompression phase (and, with any luck, back into our pre-Christmas dress sizes).

Happy New Year. I hope you’re easing into 2015, cozy, and eating something nice.

One-dish baked chicken and rice

(Makes 4 to 6 servings.)

  • 4 tbsp. olive oil, divided
  • 8 chicken thighs
  • 2 carrots, peeled and finely chopped
  • 2 celery stalks, finely chopped
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 3 tsp. fresh thyme, chopped and divided
  • 2 cups basmati or other long-grain white rice
  • 2 1/2 tsp. coarse salt, divided
  • 1 1/2 tsp. ground black pepper
  • 1 lemon, zest and juice
  • 4 cups low-sodium or homemade chicken stock

Preheat your oven to 375°F. If you have a large pan or Dutch oven, use this. If not, a deep 9″x13″ pan will work just fine.

Rub chicken thighs with oil, and season with 1 teaspoon each of salt and pepper. Set aside.

Over medium-high heat, sauté your carrots, celery, and onion in olive oil for two to three minutes, until the veggies just begin to soften and their colours turn bright.

Add the garlic and 2 teaspoons of thyme, cook another minute, then add the rice. Stir to coat the rice in the oil mixture. Add remaining salt and pepper. Stir again.

Add lemon zest and juice and stock to the pan. Taste, and adjust your seasonings as needed.

Nestle the chicken thighs into the rice mixture, sprinkle with remaining thyme, and bake, uncovered, for  50 to 60 minutes, until chicken is cooked to a minimum internal temperature of 165°F, or until you find the juices run clear when you cut into a piece of chicken with a sharp knife.

Let rest for ten minutes before serving.