Cooking for Thanksgiving and Beyond

Apple and Cherry Crumble  with Ginger Creme Fraiche 1 3648x2736Chicken Salad with Fennel and Walnuts  1 3648x2736Our family will be with us for the long Thanksgiving weekend, and while our son will pick out the wines, I will, as always, be in charge of the menu. Each year I prepare roast turkey basted with herb butter served with dark shallot pan gravy accompanied by cornbread and leek dressing. These two dishes are so popular with our clan that there would be a revolt should I think of presenting the bird and dressing any other way. I have free range, however, when it comes to the rest of the menu.

This year, for example, I’m adding an Apple and Cherry Crumble with Ginger Crème Fraîche to our dessert table. Far easier than an apple pie, but just as tempting, it is made with diced Granny Smiths and tart dried cherries covered with a crisp golden topping that includes oats, walnuts, and brown sugar. What sets this crumble apart from others, though, is the crème fraîche scented with honey and freshly grated ginger drizzled over the warm meltingly tender baked apples. Continue reading

Great Burgers for Quick Fall Suppers

Fall burgers with mushrooms and aged cheddar 2 3648x2736Because I have been doing copy edits for my new book, Soup Nights, for the past few weeks, I’ve spent more time in front of my computer than in the kitchen. As a result we’ve ordered take-out tacos and pizzas, and become familiar with far too many rotisserie chickens. On those nights when I have cooked, I’ve looked to recipes that take no more than 30 minutes to prepare, like fall burgers with sautéed mushrooms and aged cheddar. These burgers proved so popular with my husband that I’ve made them three times this month alone.

I believe that the secret to good burgers is using good ingredients, so I bought 85 % grass fed beef for mine, but any high quality ground beef will work. I also opted for tender, soft potato buns, and picked an aged Vermont white cheddar that melts beautifully. For the mushrooms I used fresh shiitakes and Baby Bellas. Continue reading

A Sublime But Simple Salad from Paris

Mache Salad with Crispy Camembert Croutons 1 3490x2560 3490x2560In Paris last winter I met a friend for lunch on a chilly January day. The right bank bistro we chose was called Clown Bar, the name a clue that it was located near the city’s famous circus, Le Cirque d’Hiver. The landmark restaurant had been recently revitalized by a young team, and its menu reflected this with an offering of new, inventive dishes. One of the first things I spotted on it was a Salade de Mache et Croquettes de Camembert. The waiter explained that it was prepared with tender mache lettuce and garnished with warm crispy Camembert croutons.

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The salad tuned out to be my favorite dish among many good ones that day. It was a brilliant pairing, both for its simplicity and for its contrasting textures and tastes. The tender mache lettuce tossed in a vinaigrette made a great counterpoint to the crunch of the fried Camembert. Continue reading

Delicious Chicken Soup for Cool Fall Nights

Creamy Chicken Soup with Autumn Vegetables 1 3648x2736Dear Readers,
No, I have not forgotten about you! I have been writing, re-writing, testing and re-testing recipes for my new book, Soup Nights! The first half of the manuscript was due last Thursday at 5 PM. I hit the “send” button at 4:45! I have a breather now until the next half is due on November 15th, so I wanted to share with all of you a favorite recipe from the batch I just sent off. It’s for delicious Creamy Chicken Soup with Autumn Vegetables.

This is comfort food at its best, perfect to serve as the cool days of fall arrive. Like most cream of chicken soups, it is thickened with a little flour, but the similarities end there. An unexpected addition of fresh autumn produce, including diced butternut squash, sliced Brussels sprouts, and Baby Bella mushrooms enhance this special version, while some half and half enriches it.

For the 2 cups of diced chicken called for, you can use leftover roast chicken. Since I am always in a rush, I rely on a good quality purchased rotisserie bird, a big time saver. If you have extra roast turkey, it would be equally good in this soup. Continue reading

Roasted Grapes Make Delectable Fall Appetizers

Roasted Grape and Goat Cheese Toasts 2 2736x3648Last week I wrote about the delicious overnight oats we enjoyed at our hotel on Nantucket, but that wasn’t the only culinary inspiration the island sparked. I was also taken with some unusual appetizers prepared with baguette slices spread with cream cheese and topped with roasted red grapes and sunflower seeds.

At home I couldn’t wait to make these little treats in my own kitchen. I tried several cheeses, and settled on some snowy white chèvre to replace the cream cheese in the original version. And, toasted walnuts were just as good as sunflower seeds.

Roasting the grapes was a breeze. You coat them with olive oil, pop them in the oven for Continue reading

A Delicious Breakfast on Nantucket

Overnght Oats with Fruit and Nuts 1  3648x2736Earlier this month we spent a long weekend on Nantucket. We were there for the wedding of friends, and stayed in a small hotel called 76 Main near the center of town. The hotel offered breakfast to its guests, so the first morning we headed to the breakfast room expecting platters of scrambled eggs, ham, and bacon plus baskets of toasts, bagels, and muffins. Instead we gazed upon a beautiful buffet of light, colorful small plates featuring fruits, vegetables, and grains as well as both savory and sweet baked goods.

There were small bowls of crispy fried kale leaves served with red and yellow cherry tomatoes, wedges of cheese garnished with walnuts and glistening jam, and plates of melon and mint. Onion and cheddar scones caught my eye too. But, the small Mason jars filled with delicious overnight oats topped with dried fruits and nuts were my favorite.

Turns out that these oats are 76 Main’s signature dish, so the hotel happily shared the Continue reading

An All-In-One Dish for Early Fall

Cornmeal Coated Chicken_sundaycasseroles_ 5

Photo by Susie Cushner

Each year when late spring rolls around, I pack up my heavy winter clothes, and replace them with warm weather gear.The same type of seasonal exchange happens in my kitchen. The minute the thermometer starts to climb, I put away recipes for robust dishes and turn to lighter fare.

After a short heat wave, this week began with cooler days, and made me start thinking of heartier cooking. I knew right where to look for inspiration and pulled out my Sunday Casseroles, a book (published last fall) of warming, all-in-one dishes. Within minutes I spotted a perfect main course for early fall — Cornmeal-Coated Chicken with Ancho Chiles, Beans, and Corn. Continue reading

Hot Fall Weather Brings Delicious Heirloom Tomatoes

Heirloom Tomatoes in Fennel Seed Vinaigrette 1 2956x2369Although summer unofficially ended after Labor Day, the calendar says we have until the 21st before this season comes to a close. For those of us here in New England (and for plenty of others around the country) enduring scorching temperatures this week, summer seems far from gone. The upside of this warm weather has been that our farmers’ markets are still bursting with gorgeous produce, including corn, beans, okra, peaches, plums, and my favorite–countless varieties of heirloom tomatoes.

I am a sucker for buying these brilliantly hued tomatoes. I pick up reds like Cherokee Purple, yellows called Nebraska Wedding, orange strains labeled Jaune Flame, and greens such as Green Zebras. I also mix up the sizes, purchasing large orbs, slender oblong ones, and petite cherry tomato heirlooms.

You can use any of these varieties or your personal favorites in the following heirloom Continue reading

Three Favorite Recipes for Labor Day Weekend

A few days ago I started thinking about what recipe I might post for Labor Day weekend cooks! Should I create a new glaze for ribs, try an unusual salsa for grilled fish, or invent a special dessert? True confession: between traveling to NY and Boston for short visits, and testing dishes for my new soup book, time ran out on me. So I decided to pick three of my best recipes from past postings to share instead. Each is one of my favorites and each is perfect for this long, end-of-summer holiday.

If you haven’t planned your Labor Day menus either, you can definitely rely on these trusted recipes!

Hamburgers with Mahon Cheese, Avocados, and Chipotle Mayo

The chili-scented burgers topped with avocados and Mahon cheese are served on buns slathered with quickly made chipotle mayo. I posted them for Fathers’ Day originally, but my husband would welcome them any day of the year!

Grilled Salmon with a Spicy Apricot Lime Glaze

The apricot and lime glazed salmon fillets which get a shot of heat from some Sriraccha are just as tempting. They are simple to assemble and need only a few minutes on the grill. Slightly charred on the outside with tender and moist flesh, they are a definite winner.

Blueberry Pan Cake with Lemon Crème Fraîche

And for dessert, the first thing that came to mind was a scrumptious blueberry cake served with lemon crème fraîche. Blueberries seem to float suspended in this exceptionally tender cake which serves 12 easily! A friend, shared the recipe, saying that was always a hit with her family, Now it’s one with mine too.




Fabulous Warm Peach Dessert in 45 minutes!

Individual Peach Clafoutis 1 3648x2736-001The peaches this year in New England have been exceptional! I can’t remember a recent summer when this fruit has been more bountiful or had such juicy, flavorful flesh. Farmers’ markets, roadside stands, and grocery stores in our small town have all proudly displayed bins—of both yellow and white—ripe enough for eating on the spot. As a result, I have been bringing home bagfuls of the fuzzy orbs and using them in various ways.

One of my favorite creations has been a recipe for individual peach clafoutis (pronounced CLA FU TEA), a specialty of the Limousin, an area in south central France. It is one of the simplest yet most delicious French desserts a home cook can prepare. Traditionally, it is made with cherries that are covered with a rich pancake-style batter, then baked. My version, however, calls for fresh sliced peaches scented with hints of cardamom, ginger, and cinnamon. When baked the batter rises just slightly above the sides of the pan and then falls like a soufflé as it rests. Continue reading