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

Hamburgers with Red Pepper and Shallot Relish

hamburgers-with-red-pepper-and-shallot-relishMy son, Mike, is a passionate sports fan. Ask him about any national team—football, basketball, baseball—and in seconds he can reel off their top players and the teams’ rankings. A talented cook, he is just as zealous about food and wine. Often he combines these two obsessions when he and his wife invite friends over for supper and a game. He keeps track of all the important match ups, and this week’s Ohio State –Oklahoma duel is his top priority! (Truth be told he’s a huge Buckeye fan!)

I mentioned to him the hamburgers with red pepper and shallot relish that I recently created as they are the type of dish he likes to serve for football Saturdays! The relish, prepared with sautéed red bell peppers and shallots, is scented with red pepper flakes and a hint of smoked paprika. A splash of red wine vinegar and a few spoonfuls of tomato paste round out the simple seasonings. No sugar is called for here, since he sautéed Continue reading

A Perfect Side Dish for Labor Day Cooking

Corn, Tomato, and Chard PudddingFreshly picked sweet corn, juicy tomatoes of varying lineages, bunches of leafy greens, slender pods of okra, fragrant herbs. Those are just some of the end-of-summer temptations  at my local farmers’ market this time of the year. Often they serve as inspiration for the side dishes I prepare at home.

One recent creation, prepared with such purchases, was a delicious corn, tomato, and chard gratin. I sautéed corn kernels with leeks and julienned chard, then combined them with a savory custard of Half-and-Half, eggs, and grated white cheddar. This mixture was poured into a casserole pan, then topped with sliced tomatoes and another sprinkle of cheese. When baked the gratin was a lovely contrast of flavors with the sweetness of the corn and tomatoes countering the hint of slightly bitter chard. Continue reading

Summer Party with Champagne, Rosé, and Appetizers

Before summer ended, my husband and I decided to host a last minute-party for our friends. We agreed that champagne (my favorite drink any time of the year) and rosé (his default wine of the season) would anchor the gathering along with appetizers made with the season’s fresh fruits and vegetables. While my spouse tended to the libations, I concentrated on the food.

The glorious produce and herbs that abound this time of year provided me with inspiration. Homemade aïoli served with haricots verts, heirloom cherry tomatoes, and sliced fennel was a colorful creation. An avocado pâté garnished with tomato salsa and chips, and a tray of cheeses and fresh figs were set out as well. Chicken wings seasoned with lime juice, apricot jam, and cilantro, plus mini-lobster rolls, and slices of cantaloupe marinated in a mint and Pernod syrup completed the offerings.

The latter was one of the most popular and definitely one of the easiest dishes. After the Continue reading

Peaches, Cream, and Rosé Combined in a Summer Tart!

IMG_5674Sadly, this year’s peach crops in Massachusetts were lost because of bad weather, so I’ve purchased ones that have arrived in our local markets from other parts of the country.
I’ve used them in smoothies or as garnishes for grilled meats, and added slices to my morning cereal bowl. But, my favorite creation has been to feature them in a glorious French tart.

Prepared with an extra-rich pastry dough (the recipe for which was shared by talented baker and caterer, Barb Morse), the tart shell is pre-baked and then filled with sliced peaches coated in a thickened peach puree mixture scented subtly with cardamom.

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Peach Tart ready to go in the oven in its pre-baked pastry shell.

Once baked, it is best to let the tart stand a while at room temperature so that the juices have a chance to cool and thicken. Then you can slice this confection easily and gild the lily by garnishing each serving with a dollop of crème fraîche and a drizzle of rosé syrup. The latter is made by simply reducing leftover rosé (plentiful around our house in the summer!) with sugar. Nothing says summer like a peach dessert! Continue reading