The Kitchen Shrink: Here are some simple savory dishes for the short month of February

Catherine L. Kaufman
Catherine L. Kaufman

Paying homage to the shortest month of the year — here are a few abbreviated recipes (five ingredients or less — salt, pepper, other spices and water are freebies) to please the palates of vegetarians, pollotarians, pescavores and carnivores. I’ve thrown in a side dish on February folklore to explain why this month was short-changed by the calendar gremlins — only 28 days, except 29 in leap years.

Chicken-A-Go Go

4 chicken breasts, bone-in, or 1 frying chicken, cut in 8 pieces

3/4 cup of apricot preserves

1 heaping teaspoon of ginger powder

Juice from 2 oranges

2 tablespoons of grapeseed or olive oil

Sea salt, white pepper and garlic powder to taste


Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a small saucepan, simmer the preserves, juice and ginger for about 5 minutes. Set aside. Season the chicken with salt, pepper and garlic powder. Heat the oil in a large skillet, and brown the chicken for about 10 minutes. Transfer to an oven-safe casserole dish and pour the apricot mixture over the chicken. Bake uncovered 30-40 minutes or until golden brown. Serve with red quinoa, brown or jasmine rice.

Simple Salmon

1 pound of wild-caught salmon filet

2 tablespoons mayonnaise

1 teaspoon lemon juice (Meyer when in season)

1 tablespoon sunflower or grapeseed oil

Sea salt and fresh cracked pepper to taste


In a mixing bowl combine the mayonnaise, lemon juice and spices. Liberally brush on salmon. Heat oil in a skillet on medium, and pan fry the salmon, about 8 minutes a side depending on the thickness, or until cooked through. Serve on a bed of Israeli couscous.

Noodle Nosh

12 ounces of udon or buckwheat noodles (preferably fully cooked)

4 ounces Asian style veggies, your choice (snap peas, broccoli florets, red and yellow pepper strips, carrot match sticks)

2 tablespoons teriyaki sauce

1 egg, beaten

1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil


In a small fry pan, heat a few drops of oil and scramble the egg until fluffy and cooked. Set aside. Place cooked noodles in a bowl of hot water until they are separated, then strain. In a large skillet or wok, heat the oil on medium and sauté the veggies until tender. Add the noodles and sauce. Mix well. Toss in the beaten egg, and serve immediately. Garnish with cilantro sprigs and lime wedges.

Lamb with marinara sauce over egg noodles.

Lamb, Bam, Thank You Ma’am

1 pound ground lamb

3 garlic cloves, minced

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 small red pepper, diced

3/4 cup thick marinara or tomato sauce

Sea salt and cayenne pepper to taste


In a saucepan on low, sauté the garlic and red pepper in the olive oil until tender. Add the meat and brown thoroughly. Stir in the tomato sauce and seasoning. Cook for another 5 minutes. Serve over thick Italian egg noodles with a sprinkling of Parmesan cheese if desired.

February Facts & Folklore

In ancient Rome, circa 8th century B.C. the calendar only had 10 months, March to December, and was constantly being refigured since the Romans, an agriculturally based people, had lives dictated by the cycles of planting and harvesting. King Numa Pompilius tacked January and February onto the calendar to give the year 355 days.

The rest of February’s fate was controlled by political power and ego. When Augustus became emperor, the senate did not want August, the month named after their leader that only had 30 days, to be outnumbered by Julius Caesar’s month, July, which had 31 days. So they borrowed an extra day from the unpopular February, then the last month of the year, a winter month with no agricultural significance.

That’s why poor February, already short with 29 days, got snipped to 28.

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