Soup Making with Young Cooks!

Brodo with Spring Peas, Pancetta, and Mint Several days ago two young women, both seniors at Amherst College where my husband teaches, emailed that they had some free time the following week to come and cook with me in my kitchen. Stellar students as well as passionate foodies, they had, during their four years of taking rigorous courses at the college, often found extra hours to cook and, of course, to sample recipes with me. This would be the last time before graduation for us to be in the kitchen together, so I picked some special dishes, including a soup with spring peas, mint, and pancetta.

To prepare the dish we made a rich but quickly assembled broth and then added orecchiette (small ear-shaped pasta), fresh peas, snow peas, and chopped bibb lettuce to the simmering liquid. The brodo was garnished with crispy bits of pancetta, fresh mint, and a sprinkling of Parmigiano Reggiano. From our first sips, we all adorned this soup with its Continue reading

Spring Cooking—Delicious Risotto

Spring Risotto 1Will spring ever arrive?” is the question on everyone’s mind in our small New England town. After one of the longest and harshest winters in years, we are desperate for the season of renewal to begin in full force, but temperatures are way below normal and rains seem to be never ending.

There are glimmers of hope— daffodils are blooming, yards have returned to a verdant hue, and in the markets there are stately bundles of asparagus, gorgeous peas, and bunches of tender spring onions, all harbingers of the season (even if not all local). This produce has been heartening and prompted me to cook lighter, vegetable-inspired dishes like spring risotto studded with sliced sugar snaps and fresh peas. Continue reading

Red Quinoa Is So Cool!

Pan-Seared Scallops with Red Quinoa and Fennel 1Last week we drove into Boston to take advantage of the city’s annual Dine Out Boston. For this event, many of the town’s best restaurants offer $38 three-course menus. We opted for Zebra’s Bistro in the western suburb of Medfield and were joined by our son and his wife, food lovers par excellence. Wontons stuffed with braised short rib on sriracha cole slaw and crispy falafel garnished with beet yogurt were winning starters. Braised lamb stew with homemade pasta was a delectable main, but my favorite dish of the night was pan-seared trout atop a warm red quinoa salad.

I rarely cook with quinoa (pronounced KEEN-wah), but this dish made me a convert. An ancient, nutrient-packed grain that is gluten-free, quinoa comes in varied colors (the most common is beige). My red quinoa salad, prepared with small burgundy-hued grains, was a perfect visual foil for coral-tinted trout, and was the inspiration for the recipe that follows. Continue reading

A Cooking Class That Provides A Taste of Paris!

Tina's Finacier Cake 3This week I found myself completely absorbed with cooking classes. A demo course planned for twenty students met with far more popularity than I had expected.  In the end I gave the class twice, two nights in a row, to more than 40 people. The title “I Love Paris in the Springtime Bistro Supper” might have had something to do with the deluge of people scrambling for a spot.  After decades of teaching, I’ve learned that my students often find that food can provide a virtual if not a geographical visit to a favorite place.

Betty teaching at Different Drummer's KitchenThe menu for this dreamy escape to France’s capital began with warm mushroom and scallion tarts paired with a salad of spring greens tossed in sherry vinaigrette. Next came sautéed scallops set atop asparagus and fresh peas, all napped with herbed beurre blanc sauce, plus mounds of extra-light whipped potatoes. The finale was a buttery, almond financier cake garnished with homemade crème fraiche ice cream and fresh berries. Continue reading

Extra Special Pancakes—For Moms with Love!

Photo by Susie Cushner

Photo by Susie Cushner

 For Mother’s Day many of us either send a card, make a call, or wire flowers, but what could be more thoughtful than starting this celebration with a homemade meal! As a cook and a mom, I love turning the kitchen over to my son and grand kids on this special day. My daughter-in-law, mother par excellence, shares my feelings.

This year we’ll all be together on May 12th, and since our family loves to make pancakes for brunch, griddled fare will have a starring role on the menu. Among my favorite breakfast recipes are Lemon-Ricotta Pancakes with Blueberry Sauce, which some of you may recognize from my newest book, Sunday Brunch. Continue reading

Rhubarb Isn’t Just for Desserts

Pork Tenderloins with Rhubarb Chutney 4The thermometer has reached into the 70s, the forsythia are at last in bloom, and sleek, long crimson rhubarb stalks are proudly displayed in our groceries. Spring has at last arrived in New England!

As a cook I look forward to all the harbingers of the season, but none more that the fresh ingredients which start to appear in our markets. Rhubarb, an early entry, is one of my favorites. Typically, I include this fruit (technically it’s a vegetable, but most of use it as the former) in desserts such as crumbles, crisps, or compotes, but this year, I decided instead to make chutney with this colorful new arrival. Continue reading

Spring, Paris, France

Spring 6, rue Bailleul, Paris 1, 01-45-96-05-72

Chanterelles with Diced Apricots from Spring

If you asked me where I had the best meal of the summer, the answer would be easy. It was in Paris last month at Spring, a fairly new restaurant whose chef and owner is Daniel Rose, an American from Chicago. For months, I had tried to get into this restaurant where inventive food is served as a multi-course meal both at lunch and dinner. Then my friend and respected food critic, John Talbott, invited me to join him and and his wife for déjeuner there. Continue reading

Lemon Pudding “Cakes”

Lemon pudding “cakes” are actually a cross between a pudding and a light, airy souffle-like cake. In the following recipe, you simply cream butter and sugar, and then add egg yolks, lemon juice and zest along with milk and a small amount of flour. Finally, you fold in beaten egg whites, and bake until the batter is set. When done, the pudding cakes seem to divide into two distinct layers, an airy cake-like layer on top and a dense rich pudding one on the bottom. They are heaven to eat either warm, at room temperature, or chilled. Continue reading

Orzo with Peas, Mint, and Parmesan

Brimming with color and bursting with flavor, this recipe for buttered orzo tossed with peas, fresh mint, and Parmigiano Reggiano cheese makes a delectable spring side dish. Try it as a partner to roasted salmon or chicken, or with grilled lamb chops or sautéed scallops. This recipe works well with frozen peas, but if fresh ones are available, definitely use them. They will need 3 to 4 minutes cooking time while the frozen ones will require only a couple of minutes. Continue reading

Risotto with Spring Asparagus and Scallops

Among the more challenging dishes for home cooks is the ever-popular risotto. It requires patiently standing at the stove, slowly stirring simmering stock into a saucepan of sautéed aborio rice and onions. As the stock is added, a little at a time, the grains start to expand and soon absorb the flavorful liquid. For a typical recipe, you can count on about 20 minutes for this process. Continue reading