There would be a rebellion in our family if our Thanksgiving menu did not include certain dishes. Everyone expects herb-roasted turkey with shallot pan gravy and cornbread dressing prepared with leeks, onions, and sweet peppers. My spouse adores the glistening cranberry chutney I’ve made for close to two decades, and our grandkids look forward to decadent pies and other sweets to end our feast.
When it comes to side dishes, though, I can vary the offerings without a major protest. This year there will be tender green beans sprinkled with crispy bacon, green onions, and parsley along with buttermilk mashed potatoes with grainy mustard. I’m also adding roasted butternut squash and pears with blue cheese and walnuts, a glorious fall dish that bursts with vibrant fall colors and tastes. Continue reading
My friend Maddy and I agreed that the best way to comfort a dear friend who had recently lost her mother after a long illness was to invite her and her husband for a home cooked meal. We debated the menu over several emails, but then it hit us. What we needed to serve was cold weather comfort food. When I mentioned barbecued short ribs served with creamy mashed potatoes and a cole slaw with capers and scallions, my fellow host jumped on the idea. She pointed out that our friend was from the South and loved barbecued fare.
If you’ve never roasted short ribs, you’ll discover, that this inexpensive cut takes to slow oven cooking naturally with mouthwatering results. In the following recipe, these ribs are rubbed with an assertive blend of brown sugar, smoked paprika, and other robust spices, then browned and simmered in a barbecue sauce, which conveniently cooks along with them. When done, the meat is fork-tender and bursting with smoky, sweet, and tart flavors. An added bonus is that these ribs improve in flavor when made ahead and reheated. Continue reading
When a local supermarket chain in our town recently ran a “buy one, get one free” special on pork chops, I couldn’t resist the bargain, tucking two packages into my cart. I knew immediately that the thick, boneless chops could be used to make a double recipe of pan-braised pork and butternut squash, a delicious all-in-one fall dish. One batch would be for our family, and the other a gift to a dear friend who was having out-patient cataract surgery the next day. Since this main course could be cooked ahead and was easy to transport, it was perfect to take across town. Continue reading
Although my mother served countless vegetables at her table, she never cooked cauliflower. She would coat eggplant or okra in cornmeal, then fry it until golden and crisp, or cook turnips greens or lady peas slowly with bits of bacon for extra flavor. Never, though, did she turn to this member of the cruciferous family for inspiration. I, on the other hand, continue to marvel at the inventive ways a cook can use this assertive vegetable. I’ve sautéed the florets with leeks and mushrooms as a topping for buttered pasta, incorporated them into creamy gratins sprinkled with cheese, and featured them often in soups.
The latter is by far my favorite way to use this extra healthy vegetable that belongs to a food group that includes broccoli, kale, collard greens, and cabbage. Among my creations there has been a curried cauliflower potage, another topped with Gruyère and crushed hazelnuts, and my recent spicy cauliflower soup with crispy chorizo, which you’ll find in this post. Continue reading
When you send a cookbook manuscript to your publisher, the work doesn’t stop there. Editors pore over the pages for several months, and return them marked with queries and changes. The author (moi!) then reviews these “first copy edits” in agonizingly minute detail. This summer I spent the better part of two weeks in Paris at my computer dealing with the edits for Sunday Casseroles. I was so relieved when they were finished that I rewarded myself with an afternoon of guiltless shopping in France’s capital!
Next, designers and photographers get involved and produce a rough layout of the book with photos and text. This version, known as the “galleys,” usually arrives in hard copy annotated with more queries. Last Friday Fed Ex delivered a huge package filled with 175 pages of Sunday Casseroles galleys. For the past week I have been reading the manuscript in sleuth-like fashion, searching line by line for typos, misspellings, and omissions. My eyes are red and my pencils worn to nubs, but the job is finally done! Now, I have to pack up those pages and send them to Amy, my talented editor at Chronicle Books.
Since I thought readers might like a sneak peak of a favorite recipe from this collection, I’ve included the directions for Rigatoni with Spicy Tomato Sauce, Kalamatas and Two Cheeses. Some will recognize this special dish because it appeared in various versions in my syndicated column and on the cover of Bon Appetit in the 1990s. I hope you’ll enjoy it, and please do let me know if you discover any typos! Continue reading
In September I wrote an enthusiastic post about a soup and salad supper I served my book club, and included the recipe for the scallop and corn chowder offered that evening. Although I mentioned that honeyed crème brülées made a delectable ending for our menu, I didn’t include that recipe. It didn’t take long for a member of my book group to ask, “But what about the directions for those velvety honeyed crème brülées with the crunchy nut topping?”
The truth is that this particular dessert was still a work in progress even the night of our meeting. I’d made several versions the week before, but was still tweaking the recipe! A few more tries, and voilà–the flavors and textures were finely balanced. Continue reading
It’s a recurrent theme at our house and maybe at yours too. Does this sound familiar? You’ve worked all day and arrive home feeling as if the last thing you want to do is cook. The temptation looms large to order a pizza or take out from the local Chinese or Mexican place, but what you really crave is something homemade for supper.
Because I play out that scenario often, I’m always searching for easy homemade fixes for weeknight meals. When I discover a new dish such as Spicy Lamb Chops with Yogurt Cucumber Sauce I love to share it with my readers. Continue reading
As soon as the first bottles of local cider appear in our markets, I put one in my cart, not just for sipping, but for cooking as well. I love to cook seasonally, and nothing says fall more clearly than fresh cider.
This year, along with serving mugs of warm spiced cider, I’ve used this fall libation to baste pork tenderloins seasoned with sage, thyme, and rosemary. After browning the tenderloins with some sliced shallots, I add cider to the pan, slide it into the oven, and then halfway through the roasting arrange apple wedges around the pork. As a finishing touch I prepare a quick pan sauce with more cider, a hint of cider vinegar, and some butter. Continue reading
It’s a common, catchy little phrase that I hear all the time from my friends and students. “Whole Foods means whole paycheck” they exclaim after expeditions to our local WF where irresistible produce, fish, and meats often have hefty price tags.
An inveterate grocery shopper (I’m in supermarkets at least 3 to 4 times a week!), I’m aware that many things do cost more in this food emporium, but there are bargains too tucked among the shelves. Listed below are six items I routinely put in my cart. All are of excellent quality and a terrific value.
And speaking of non-monetary value, my local Whole Foods rates high for me on the service scale. Last week I asked a stocker where the peeled and cubed butternut squash was. She quickly explained that it was early in the season and that the store hadn’t begun to display packages of peeled and cut fall squashes. Then she continued, “Just go pick out a squash and I’ll take it in the back and prep it for you!” That little extra service is a bargain too! Continue reading