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
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
When you send a cookbook manuscript to your publisher, the work doesn’t stop there. Editors pore over the pages for several months, and return them marked with queries and changes. The author (moi!) then reviews these “first copy edits” in agonizingly minute detail. This summer I spent the better part of two weeks in Paris at my computer dealing with the edits for Sunday Casseroles. I was so relieved when they were finished that I rewarded myself with an afternoon of guiltless shopping in France’s capital!
Next, designers and photographers get involved and produce a rough layout of the book with photos and text. This version, known as the “galleys,” usually arrives in hard copy annotated with more queries. Last Friday Fed Ex delivered a huge package filled with 175 pages of Sunday Casseroles galleys. For the past week I have been reading the manuscript in sleuth-like fashion, searching line by line for typos, misspellings, and omissions. My eyes are red and my pencils worn to nubs, but the job is finally done! Now, I have to pack up those pages and send them to Amy, my talented editor at Chronicle Books.
Since I thought readers might like a sneak peak of a favorite recipe from this collection, I’ve included the directions for Rigatoni with Spicy Tomato Sauce, Kalamatas and Two Cheeses. Some will recognize this special dish because it appeared in various versions in my syndicated column and on the cover of Bon Appetit in the 1990s. I hope you’ll enjoy it, and please do let me know if you discover any typos! Continue reading
I rarely entertain at lunch, but last week in Paris, I planned a midday get together for three friends. The guests—all thoughtful women who lead busy lives in France’s capital—rearranged their schedules to come for a tasting meal to help fine-tune a recipe for my new book, Sunday Casseroles, due out next year.
Baked chicken with fennel and tomatoes was the centerpiece of our menu. Prepared with humble chicken thighs, magically transformed into a delicious, fork-tender entrée as they slowly bake in a casserole with assertive vegetables, this main course was an instant hit with mes amies.
I sautéed herb-seasoned thighs, combined them with carrots, fennel, onions, and tomatoes, then simmered everything in stock, wine, and orange juice. Don’t be put off by the long list of ingredients (all of which are easy to find in your local supermarket), because once this dish is assembled, it is placed in the oven for more than an hour of unattended baking. Another bonus is that this casserole can be prepared two days ahead, and it improves in flavor with time! Continue reading
A Great Dish for Cool Fall Nights
When the first fresh cider arrives in our markets each fall, I buy a quart and bring it home, not only for sipping but also for cooking dishes like Cider-Baked Pork, Red Cabbage, and Apples. For this hearty casserole, sliced red cabbage, onions, and apples are sautéed in butter, then simmered in cider along with seasonings of sugar, vinegar, and crushed fennel seeds. The cabbage and apples are spread in an oven-to table dish, topped with pan-fried slices of pork tenderloin, and then baked. Although this main course is substantial enough to be stand alone accompanied by a simple salad, creamy mashed potatoes or buttered noodles would make tempting sides. Continue reading