A Great Salad for Winter Entertaining

Frisée Salad with Scallops, Haricots Verts, and BaconI’ve hosted two meals since arriving in Paris a few weeks ago. The first was a festive New Year’s Eve dinner that included several courses, while the second was a casual soup and salad supper for three millenials in Paris for studies or work. On both occasions, our meal began with a delicious winter salad prepared with frisée, scallops, haricots verts, and bacon lardons–so versatile it fit easily into each of these distinctly different menus.

Ron and our young guests in ParThe recipe is based on Salade Lyonnaise, a celebrated French dish in which bitter greens are combined with bacon lardons, tossed in warm vinaigrette, and then topped with a poached egg. For my version I added blanched haricots verts and sautéed sea scallops to frisée (curly endive), and replaced the egg with a little cream in the vinaigrette. Continue reading

Eating Lighter After the Holidays

Foie gras, smoked salmon, daube de boeuf (a rich Provencal beef stew), and dark chocolate bûche de Noel for New Year’s Eve, plus lobster velouté with sautéed mushrooms, escargots in garlic butter at one restaurant, and roast pork tenderloin in mustard cream sauce at another!! Those are just some of the indulgences my husband and I have enjoyed since arriving in Paris last week! Now, though, after all the celebrating, we are trying, like everyone else, to eat lighter.

The dish that came immediately to mind for one of our first “healthy” meals of 2017 here in France’s capital was cod baked on a bed of spinach, chickpeas, and tomatoes. Some of you will recognize this dish which first appeared in my syndicated column several years ago and then in Sunday Casseroles. It is my “go to” recipe for quick, delicious, low- calorie cooking. Continue reading

A Glorious Potato and Mushroom Gratin for Christmas Dinner

 

It’s eight days and counting until Christmas and my son, Mike, and I who are the holiday cooks for our family, still haven’t decided on the menu! Since he is traveling quite a bit before the 25th, I’ve begun to make some choices and am starting by anchoring our meal with a superb potato and mushroom gratin. It is layered with thinly sliced Yukon Golds and earthy porcini mushrooms, covered with crème fraîche, and finished with a sprinkle of white cheddar and toasted bread crumbs.

This gratin would pair harmoniously with almost any traditional holiday main course. You could make it the star accompaniment to golden roasted turkey, a glistening glazed ham, succulent leg of lamb, or a regal standing rib roast or beef tenderloin.

The dried porcini mushrooms (or a combo of both porcini and chanterelles) can be reconstituted ahead, the cheese grated, and the bread crumbs toasted up to two days in advance. Peeling and slicing the spuds and an assembly is all that is necessary on serving day. You can even bake the casserole several hours ahead and then reheat it when Continue reading

Spicy Chili Bake for Simple Holiday Entertaining

chipotle-chili-baked-under-a-cornbread-crust-1For many of us who entertain, December is the most important month of the year. Whether you’re cooking for an open house, a caroling party, an end-of-the year office fête, a neighborhood potluck, or a Yankee swap (my daughter-in-law’s favorite), the holidays offer endless opportunities to share food with others. The real challenges are finding tempting, but uncomplicated recipes and the time to prepare them.

The spicy chili baked under a cornmeal crust featured here just might fill your needs. Although the chili is prepared classically with ground beef, beans, and a generous kick of heat from both chipotle and traditional chili powder, it is served in an unusual way. Spread in a casserole dish, it is topped with a cheese-scented cornmeal batter, and then baked. When done, a thin layer of golden cornbread covers the bubbling chili beneath. A sprinkle of cilantro and a bowl of sour cream make simple garnishes.

This dish has other bonuses as well. The chili itself can be prepared up to three days ahead—a gift to holiday chefs—so that all that is necessary at serving time is a quick assembly of the cornmeal batter to spread atop the casserole. And, if you’re expecting a crowd, you can double the ingredients easily.

So, during this season of gatherings, consider serving this spicy chili bake. Add a favorite salad and some holiday cookies, and you’ve got a party menu!

 

Post Thanksgiving Lighter Cooking

fall-salad-of-roasted-cauliflower-grapes-and-red-onionThis year I didn’t get to make rich turkey stock or use the leftover bird in my After- Thanksgiving Turkey, Sweet Potato, and Bacon Chowder (from my new Soup Nights). If you follow me on Facebook, you know that our family’s wonderful shelter dog, Oxford, decided to treat himself to a midnight snack of surplus turkey that was unwisely set out on the kitchen counter!

So, instead of turkey sandwiches and soups, I’ve turned to other post-holiday fare this week. One dish in particular—a salad prepared with roasted cauliflower florets, red grapes, and red onions tossed in an unusual curry vinaigrette— turned out to be a real winner. Continue reading

Two Favorite Thanksgiving Sides

At our house there would be a revolt if I didn’t roast our Thanksgiving turkey slathered in herb butter and serve it with shallot pan gravy prepared from the drippings. And, our clan definitely expects me to make Southern cornbread and leek dressing to accompany the bird. Where I get some leeway, though, is with the sides for my family leaves those choices up to the chef (moi!). This year I’m turning to two favorites–Brussels Sprouts, Apples, and Bacon as well as Roasted Butternut Squash and Pears with Blue Cheese.

Striking with their vibrant autumnal hues and robust flavors, either or both of these dishes would make a delectable accompaniment to your bird. Each recipe serves six, but can be doubled if needed.

Happy Thanksgiving to everyone!

 

So What to Cook When Entertaining Food Pros!

Last weekend I invited four food professionals for wine and appetizers at our house. It was family weekend at Amherst College and I was to be a moderator for a session called “Rewarding Careers in the Food World.” Ted Lee, part of that celebrated duo, The Lee Brothers of Southern cooking fame, Jenny Rosenstrach author of the just released How To Celebrate Everything, Joy Howard, a talented food stylist, and Caitlin Leffel, my terrific food editor at Rizzoli for Soup Nights were the panelists.

So what to serve them? I wanted the nibbles to be simple, seasonal, and reflect our local food scene. Roasted Grape and Goat Cheese Toasts, French radishes (from my farmers’ market) served with sweet butter and sea salt, and a platter of New England cheeses including two Grafton cheddars from Vermont and an artisanal blue, were on the menu. The most popular appetizers of the evening, though, were the savory palmiers with white cheddar, pears, and cumin. Continue reading

A Favorite Recipe from Soup Nights

chicken-noodle-soupA few days ago Ann and Peter Haigh, long-time hosts of Pittsburgh’s popular “On The Menu” radio show, talked with me about my new book, Soup Nights. Enthusiastic about the soups in the collection, they mentioned that they had tagged several to try. One that really grabbed their attention was Chicken Noodle Soup with Sautéed Mushrooms and Parmigiano, a new version of the comfort food classic. I wasn’t completely surprised by their singling out this soup because the testers for Soup Nights all marked it as one of their favorites. And, now that I am in full publicity mode for the book, I’ve noticed how often this recipe surfaces in conversations.

Since the chill of autumn makes all of us crave rich, warming soups, I’m happy to share the recipe. So, for all of you readers who are longing for a bowl of piping hot, soothing chicken noodle soup, here’s that familiar dish with some delicious creative touches.

Unfortunately, due to a production error, the final two steps of the recipe did not print properly. Below you will find the complete text. Continue reading

“Soup Nights” Published Today!

soupnights_cover

October 11 is the official launch date for my new book!

Soup Nights
Satisfying Soups and Sides for Delicious Meals All Year

In the pages of my new book, Soup Nights, you’ll find all sorts of soup adventures! Some soups are perfect for vegetarians, others focus on fish (think bouillabaisse and gumbo), and many highlight those nutrient-rich beans and grains (barley, quinoa, lentils to name a few) so popular today. You’ll also discover hearty, richly flavored dishes, such as classic onion soup gratiné to counter winter’s chill, as well as cooler choices, like an icy cucumber Vichyssoise, for sweltering days.

But, though we might wish to, one cannot live by soup alone. So, I’ve included recipes for fresh seasonal salads and inventive sandwiches—natural partners for soups—as well as for never-to-be-forgotten desserts. Alll were created to pair with the soups in this collection. These side dishes will help round out your meal’s soup star. You’ll find suggestions for delicious “soup night” menus after each soup recipe in this book.

I’ve spent the last year and a half working on this collection, and have been blessed each step of the way by help from many talented individuals. Rizzoli editor, Caitlin Leffel, gave me free rein to create recipes with extra tips and details so that home cooks everywhere will be able to make them successfully. Photographer Harry Zernike is responsible for the gorgeous photos, and food stylist, Joy Howard, for the creative food styling. And, Peter Alberg designed the book of my dreams. My tireless assistants spent hours in my kitchen helping to make the recipes fool-proof; a group of volunteer testers cooked, critiqued, and helped fine-tune them. There are never too many cooks in the kitchen!

In honor of its launch I’d like to share some recipes from Soup Nights with my readers!

A New Way with Carrot Cake

carrot-cake-squares-with-orange-syrup-and-creme-fraiche-icingThere are probably as many versions of carrot cake as there are cooks who make it. Although I’ve been convinced for years that my family’s favorite recipe for this classic cake,covered with cream cheese icing, could never be surpassed, I recently discovered a new interpretation that I like even better.

When my assistant, Emily Bell, returned from a walking trip to the Outer Hebrides, she called to say that she had tasted a fabulous carrot cake at an inn on this Scottish island outpost. I couldn’t imagine that it would be that different. “Try it!” she insisted. I did and was won over with my first bite. Continue reading