I think of this time of the year as transitional—not quite the end of summer, but not exactly fall either. Here in New England since September arrived, we’ve seen the thermometer reach a sweltering 90 degrees and just as quickly watched it drop to the chilly 50s. As a cook, the challenge is obvious. What I want is dishes that are just as tempting for those lingering hot, humid days as well as for the cool, crisp ones that hint at autumn.
The following recipe for a creamy tomato soup scented with goat cheese and garnished with tarragon easily bridges both these weather extremes. It can be prepared with the last Continue reading
Earlier this fall in a cooking class, I included the recipe for some polenta squares with Gruyère, walnuts, and fresh rosemary. In the class they were served as a side dish to racks of lamb, but later I discovered that they worked beautifully as appetizers. A few days after that class, my husband and I ended up hosting an impromptu Sunday supper for family and friends. There were ten of us and I needed a quick opener. Why not turn that delicious side dish into a starter, I reasoned! The polenta squares turned out to be the stars of the evening, and were simple to assemble well in advance.
I have loved polenta since I first tasted it prepared by Italian chefs back in the 80s. Those chefs used water and coarse meal. However, when I started making polenta, I found that replacing the water with chicken stock added another layer of flavor. Instead of coarsely Continue reading
In the file cabinet wedged into the closet of my study, I keep folders filled with recipes clipped from magazines and papers or printed from the internet. These recipes are not categorized by type of food (which would be the most practical organization), but rather haphazardly by season with headings like: “fall/winter” or “spring/summer.” There are hundreds in countless folders. Recently, I spotted a recipe from the late 90s for roasted grapes and olives. It called for wine grapes and Picholine olives to be cooked in a skillet in a wood-fired oven. Because I didn’t have access to either wine grapes or a wood-fired oven then, I left the instructions filed away as a memory. But fast-forward almost 20 years, and I saw the recipe in a new light!
Red and green seedless grapes plus pitted Kalamatas stand in beautifully for the original ingredients. Walnut halves add crunchy texture, and herbes de Provence and bay leaves an herbal accent. Nothing could be simpler to prepare. I tossed everything with olive oil Continue reading
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
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
My 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
Because I have been doing copy edits for my new book, Soup Nights, for the past few weeks, I’ve spent more time in front of my computer than in the kitchen. As a result we’ve ordered take-out tacos and pizzas, and become familiar with far too many rotisserie chickens. On those nights when I have cooked, I’ve looked to recipes that take no more than 30 minutes to prepare, like fall burgers with sautéed mushrooms and aged cheddar. These burgers proved so popular with my husband that I’ve made them three times this month alone.
I believe that the secret to good burgers is using good ingredients, so I bought 85 % grass fed beef for mine, but any high quality ground beef will work. I also opted for tender, soft potato buns, and picked an aged Vermont white cheddar that melts beautifully. For the mushrooms I used fresh shiitakes and Baby Bellas. Continue reading
No, I have not forgotten about you! I have been writing, re-writing, testing and re-testing recipes for my new book, Soup Nights! The first half of the manuscript was due last Thursday at 5 PM. I hit the “send” button at 4:45! I have a breather now until the next half is due on November 15th, so I wanted to share with all of you a favorite recipe from the batch I just sent off. It’s for delicious Creamy Chicken Soup with Autumn Vegetables.
This is comfort food at its best, perfect to serve as the cool days of fall arrive. Like most cream of chicken soups, it is thickened with a little flour, but the similarities end there. An unexpected addition of fresh autumn produce, including diced butternut squash, sliced Brussels sprouts, and Baby Bella mushrooms enhance this special version, while some half and half enriches it.
For the 2 cups of diced chicken called for, you can use leftover roast chicken. Since I am always in a rush, I rely on a good quality purchased rotisserie bird, a big time saver. If you have extra roast turkey, it would be equally good in this soup. Continue reading
Last week I wrote about the delicious overnight oats we enjoyed at our hotel on Nantucket, but that wasn’t the only culinary inspiration the island sparked. I was also taken with some unusual appetizers prepared with baguette slices spread with cream cheese and topped with roasted red grapes and sunflower seeds.
At home I couldn’t wait to make these little treats in my own kitchen. I tried several cheeses, and settled on some snowy white chèvre to replace the cream cheese in the original version. And, toasted walnuts were just as good as sunflower seeds.
Roasting the grapes was a breeze. You coat them with olive oil, pop them in the oven for 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