Super Bowl cooking is a hot topic in Massachusetts this week since the New England Patriots will be playing for the title against the Atlanta Falcons this Sunday. My son, a huge Pats fan, called several days ago to discuss what he should bring to a neighborhood game party, and I’ve also been considering what to offer on the big day.
After all that indulgent holiday eating, I’ve been trying to keep our menus lighter, even when entertaining. An appetizer I’ve served twice recently is whipped feta with a colorful array of vegetables and toasted pita triangles. On both occasions this dip was a hit with guests, and it scored points with me for its quick and easy preparation.
Using a block of feta, I simply broke the cheese into pieces and combined it in a food Continue reading
In Paris last month, young American friends, who live and work in the country’s capital, remarked to my spouse and me that they had had a very “hygge” weekend. Confused, we asked what that meant. Oh, “hygge” is the Danish word for cozy, they replied, but it means more than that. They explained that the term denotes being snug and comfortable, and often includes friends, family, and food. Apparently this simple, life-style concept has spread throughout Europe, and the French are swooning over it.
An article in the New York Times shed more light on this Nordic phenomenon. Penelope Green writes that “Hygge (pronounced HOO-gah, like a football cheer in a Scandinavian accent) is the Danish word for cozy. It is also a national manifesto, nay, an obsession expressed in the constant pursuit of homespun pleasures involving candlelight, fires, fuzzy knitted socks, porridge, coffee, cake and other people.”
It didn’t take long for me to realize that the recipe I planned to post this week could definitely star in a hygge setting. “Southern” Cassoulet—a dish of braised chicken thighs, white beans, and andouille sausage, finished with a verdant garnish of julienned collards– is the epitome of hominess, a warming, rustic entrée to share with others on cold winter nights. It is redolent of traditional Continue reading
I’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.
The 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
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
Golden Potato and Mushroom Gratin
Roast Beef Tenderloin with Roasted Tomatoes and Goat Cheese
Our holiday table from years past
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
For 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!
This 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
Photo by Susie Cushner
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!
White Cheddar and Pear Palmiers with Cumin
Roasted Grape and Goat Cheese Toasts
French Radishes with Butter and Sea Salt
New England Cheeses
Panelists–Joy Howard, Caitlin Leffel, Ted Lee, Betty Rosbottom, and Jenny Rosenstrach
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 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