Recently, when good friends asked at the last minute if we wanted to eat out together, I suggested instead that our pals come to our house for a light supper. I knew exactly what I would serve—salade niçoise. Only a few days earlier, my longtime culinary assistant, Emily Bell, had mentioned that she had prepared this classic Provençal specialty, adding a few extra touches, as the centerpiece of a summer supper for a small group. When she brought the salad of colorful vegetables anchored by tuna steaks to the table, one of her guests pulled out a phone and began taking a video!
Typically, salade niçoise, is prepared with tomatoes, hard-boiled eggs, Niçoise olives, tuna (usually canned, but very good quality) and anchovies, but there are countless versions and variations. My friend chose baby red skin potatoes, haricots verts, and cherry Continue reading
Last month, my friend and talented cook, Mary Francis, wrote me about an unusual Caesar salad she had tasted in North Carolina where she lives. It was prepared with a serving of warm Parmesan bread pudding surrounded by Romaine leaves and a spoonful or two of roasted tomatoes or red peppers. She wasn’t sure whether the red condiment was tomatoes or peppers, but she couldn’t stop raving about the creamy smoothness of the warm pudding contrasted with the crunchy lettuce. The minute I read her note, I knew that I wanted to try to recreate this clever dish, but I had no free time in May.
Fast forward a month to Paris where I’ve been in June. For the past two weeks I’ve made several versions, all to the delight of my husband, who adores any rendition of this celebrated salad. Continue reading
Recently, my husband and I invited friends to dinner while they were in Paris, but, as it turned out, this couple had only lunch slots free. So, we decided to have a weekend lunch instead. I loved the idea of a mid-day meal, so I planned a simpler menu than I would have for a dinner.
To anchor the menu, I roasted thick cod fillets. Dotted with butter and seasoned generously with salt and cayenne pepper, they needed less than 15 minutes in the oven. Continue reading
Hadley, a neighboring town near Amherst, Massachusetts, where I live, is famous for its asparagus. In late spring, around mid-May, when the crops finally arrive, everyone rushes to buy a bunch. Farmers sell bundles of the handsome spears at outdoor markets and roadside stands, and not to be outdone, our groceries all display the verdant stalks with signs noting that they are LOCAL! Continue reading
While going through a folder of old recipes recently, I spotted one for curry-scented lamb burgers topped with a simple yogurt sauce plus dollops of mango chutney. I remembered how much I had loved all the vibrant spices in this dish created over a decade ago, and was anxious to make it again–but with a few changes. In place of lamb I decided on turkey (both dark and white meat for a juicy mix), and instead of purchased mango chutney, I would opt for fresh mango salsa.
The new version turned out to be as tempting as the original. The turkey meat benefitted from its spiced layer of seasonings. The mango salsa was, with its accent of lime and punch of heat from a serrano pepper, far better than store-bought chutney. Grilled until slightly charred outside and well done inside, this variation of the burgers was a big hit with Continue reading
Scalloped potatoes or au gratin potatoes! Who doesn’t like those dishes! Rich and indulgent, both of these potato casseroles are prepared with layers of sliced potatoes baked with cream and/or milk. (They differ only in that the au gratin variety typically has an addition of cheese.) It’s hard to improve on either of these favorites, but recently I spotted a recipe for a French version with a new twist. Lamb chops were set atop a pan of layered potatoes during their last few minutes in the oven. The meat cooked to a rosy hue as the potatoes baked to a golden tenderness.
In that French creation the potatoes were baked with stock and herbs, but with no milk, cream, or cheese. In my mind, I saw the pommes de terre cooked more traditionally with the irresistible trio of dairy ingredients. It took several tries to balance the amount of milk and Continue reading
Coconut Raspberry Parfaits
Fresh Pea Soup with Feta, Tarragon, and Croutons
Whipped Feta with Dill and Garnishes
Grilled Aspargus Sprinkled with Parmesan and Lemon Zest
A tray of Coconut Raspberry Parfaits
Discussing The Library Book
Discussing The Library Book
The members of my book club love food as much as they do books. So, when it’s my turn to host the group, I spend a little extra time preparing dishes for sampling during the “very important social hour” that precedes our literary discussion. Yesterday, everyone arrived at my house on a glorious spring day (one of a handful so far this season). I had set out a seasonal spread, including a pot of fresh green pea soup with diced feta and tarragon as garnishes, a platter of grilled asparagus spears with a mayonnaise sauce, plus whipped feta with dill surrounded by toasted baguette slices, cherry tomatoes, and cucumbers. For a sweet ending there were coconut and raspberry parfaits. True to form, the readers ate with gusto, leaving few leftovers!
Most of the dishes I prepared were favorites I have cooked before, but the coconut and Continue reading
For the past few weeks spring has gradually been making its presence known here in New England. Temperatures reached into the sixties last Saturday, warm enough for us to open our porch. The grass in our yard, blanketed with snow for months, now has a faint verdant hue. And, of course, daylight savings time is offering us longer, light-filled days. All of this has made me eager to change from cold to warm weather cooking.
Recently I couldn’t wait to try a recipe for lemon and garlic grilled flank steak topped with dollops of whipped feta. The dish was a perfect anchor for a simple weeknight meal my husband and I shared. The meat is marinated in a classic mixture of lemon, garlic, and olive oil, but gets a robust herbal accent from a generous amount of fresh chopped dill. When sliced, the rosy pink strips of steak are topped with mounds of creamy whipped Continue reading
When it comes to fish, my husband is definitely a picky eater. Although he likes shell fish, he is not a fan of other seafood. So recently, when I prepared pan roasted cod and vegetables topped with a light but creamy curry sauce, I expected his usual shrug, but instead, he raved about this dish!
The idea for the recipe came about serendipitously. In Paris last summer, we had arranged to meet a friend for lunch at a new restaurant, but when we discovered it was closed, we found a small café nearby. My spouse and friend ordered “steak frites,” but I chose the cod and vegetables in curry sauce. The latter turned out to be a winner—a dish with a Continue reading
In Paris this past January, I was leafing through a French food magazine when I spotted
a recipe for an unusual cheese fondue. Instead of the traditional version prepared with Gruyère or Emmenthal and served in a fondue pot, this interesting variation was made with a creamy French cheese called Mont d’Or. That round of cheese with its light crinkly skin was heated in the oven in the wooden box in which it was packaged, until it was melted and oozing. and then served in its container. I barely finished looking at the directions before my mouth watered!
Back home on this side of the Atlantic, I decided to substitute Camembert for Mont d’Or, since the latter is hard to find in the States. I sliced a thin layer from the top of the Camembert, and then with a sharp knife traced a cross pattern on top. Finally, I sprinkled finely minced garlic over the cheese, then drizzled it with white wine as in the Continue reading