A New Halibut Burger for Labor Day Celebrations

My son, Mike, a talented and creative cook, called recently to tell me about a new burger he had fashioned from his weekly seafood share. “Mom, there were some nice halibut fillets in my haul, and I turned them into burgers!” He went on to explain how he prepared them, and by the end of the conversation my mouth was watering!

Over the past few weeks, I’ve made these “halibut” burgers often, fine-tuning the cooking times and adjusting the ingredients. I used halibut first, but also tried them with cod fillets. The halibut is marinated in lime Continue reading

Roasted Cod with Tomatoes and Guacamole Salsa for Lighter Summer Cooking

Photo by Susie Cushner

After the Memorial Day holiday when we indulged in grilled burgers and steaks, I knew we needed some lighter fare at our house. I was thinking fish, but my spouse is a picky eater when it comes to seafood. He loves shellfish, but is not crazy about fish with fins! Since my local grocery has displayed beautiful cod almost every week during this pandemic, I’ve ordered some fillets. I have a special recipe in mind—Roasted Cod with Tomatoes and Chunky Guacamole Salsa.

I drizzle the fillets with lime juice, top them with sliced tomatoes, and then Continue reading

Cooking In The Time of the Coronavirus

At a local grocery store yesterday, I discovered that shoppers had completely emptied the trays for pork and chicken at the meat counter. When I asked if there were any of these products in reserve, the young butcher politely replied, “No, maybe tomorrow morning.” Then I glanced over at the fresh seafood section adjacent to the meat department, and saw that it was surprisingly well stocked.  I ordered some cod fillets, and then made a quick tour of the store, adding to my cart a large bag of pre-washed spinach, a pint of cherry tomatoes, a couple of lemons, and a can of chickpeas.  I had a recipe in mind for dinner.

Roasted cod on a bed of spinach, tomatoes, and chickpeas, a delicious all-in-one main course, is a recipe I have shared several times on this blog. It checks off several boxes for me—it calls for easily found ingredients, takes less than an hour from start to finish (20 minutes to prep and 20 or more minutes in the oven), and perhaps most important right now, it’s healthy.

Although cod fillets are delicious, halibut, hake, or other firm fish fillets also work. The fillets are arranged atop a bed of baby spinach leaves, cherry tomatoes, and chick- peas, all layered on a large rimmed baking sheet. A touch of minced garlic and chopped black olives (both of which I had in my fridge), add extra flavor.Line  

When roasted, the fish, scented generously with lemon, is moist, while the spinach and tomatoes wilt and meld into a vibrant mélange. Here’s hoping everyone is keeping safe, staying well, and eating healthily!

 

 

A Delicious New Twist on Caesar Salad

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

Zucchini and Tomato Gratin- A Delicious Summer Side

When in France, one of my delights is cooking vegetables. With each season the French look forward to the arrival of fresh produce, and always use it imaginatively. Take for example the talented host who served my husband and me a delicious dish of baked veal slices topped with a beautiful asparagus sauce, or the creative restaurant chef who paired roasted eggplant cubes with fresh orange segments and then topped them with thin slices of dried goat cheese.

My own seasonal creations are far simpler since our rented apartment has a small kitchen. Zucchini (courgettes) and tomatoes are bountiful at the near-by fruit and vegetable stands, so I bought both to make a summer gratin.

A tian, a type of Provencal gratin prepared by baking layers of vegetables in a shallow dish Continue reading

A Perfect Side Dish for Labor Day Cooking

Corn, Tomato, and Chard PudddingFreshly picked sweet corn, juicy tomatoes of varying lineages, bunches of leafy greens, slender pods of okra, fragrant herbs. Those are just some of the end-of-summer temptations  at my local farmers’ market this time of the year. Often they serve as inspiration for the side dishes I prepare at home.

One recent creation, prepared with such purchases, was a delicious corn, tomato, and chard gratin. I sautéed corn kernels with leeks and julienned chard, then combined them with a savory custard of Half-and-Half, eggs, and grated white cheddar. This mixture was poured into a casserole pan, then topped with sliced tomatoes and another sprinkle of cheese. When baked the gratin was a lovely contrast of flavors with the sweetness of the corn and tomatoes countering the hint of slightly bitter chard. Continue reading

Rosé and Mini-Chèvre Flans Perfect for Summer Entertaining

IMG_5698At a recent cooking class that featured bouillabaisse as the main course, I was surprised not only by my students’ excitement over the famous Provencal fish soup, but also by their raves for the simple appetizers. In keeping with the Provencal theme, mini-chèvre flans topped with a colorful mélange of chopped tomatoes, fresh herbs, and walnuts were an instant success.

Perhaps it was the simplicity of these starters or the seamless blending of flavors that made them so popular. All I can report is that this hands-on class of 15 downed almost four dozen in less than 15 minutes! Continue reading

Cooking from the Farmers’ Market Back Home

Tomato and Chickpea Soup with Yogurt and Mint 1 3648x2736As soon as we arrived home last week, after a long stay in France, I started stocking our empty fridge and cupboards. Several trips to local supermarkets took care of the basics, but it was at our weekly farmers’ market that I found gorgeous summer vegetables, freshly baked loaves of bread, and locally crafted yogurt.

Honest-to-goodness tomatoes, deep red, juicy, and packed with flavor, were the first thing that caught my eye. They would be perfect to use for a summer tomato and chickpea soup—a dish I had created for my new book, Soup Nights.

The tomatoes need only to be chopped and seeded, then simmered slowly with chickpeas in a cumin-scented broth. Lemon, yogurt, and mint all contribute cooling accents to this soup. I used chicken broth for my version, but vegetarians can sub the quick-and-easy vegetable stock recipe that is also included. Continue reading

A Twist On A Classic

BLT Soup 1  1824x1368I can’t remember a year when the tomato crops have been better. Heirlooms in myriad varieties, red, yellow and orange cherry and grape tomatoes, as well as field tomatoes (or what I call just plain old summer tomatoes) are having a heyday in western New England this summer. They started appearing in August and are still going strong—so strong that I have been using them creatively week after week in recipes like the simple BLT Soup featured here.

After making countless BLT sandwiches, I decided to try the popular trio in a soup and loved the results. Nothing could have been easier. After frying a few bacon slices until crisp, I used a small amount of the drippings to sauté chopped onion, garlic, and fresh tomatoes, and then simmered this mélange in chicken stock and fresh orange juice. Seasonings of basil and cayenne pepper rounded out the flavors. When done, the soup was pureed to a crimson smoothness.

Big Book of Backyard Cooking EBook –Big Sale

Backyard cooing Eye Candy shotI have some exciting news to share! My Big Book of Backyard Cooking will be featured across a variety of e-book retailers for $3.99 (and at many of these for much less)! during the month of July. Chronicle Books, runs a special monthly online event called Chronicle Eye Candy. For a very limited space they choose only a few e-books to be sold at greatly reduced prices, and The Big Book of Backyard Cooking is a selection for July.

It’s a perfect time to feature Backyard Cooking as this is the 10th anniversary of its publication. My students tell me that they use this collection that is filled with over 250 recipes devoted to easy, mouthwatering dishes over and over again during the summer.

Favorites include Lamb Chops with Roquefort, Figs and Rosemary, Chili-rubbed Sirloins with Guacamole Salsa, and Goat-cheese Stuffed Turkey Burgers. Among the seasonal sides, you’ll find Corn on the Cob with Lime Butter, Vidalia Onion Rings with Rosemary, and Sesame and Ginger Cole Slaw. Sweet endings showcase Daiquiri Cheesecake, Lemon Pecan Cake with Lemon Sauce, Caramel Almond Squares, and Chocolate Mint Brownies.

Backyard Cooking as its name implies is a big book so what could be better than an e-book copy that is available with a quick click. To whet your appetite, I’m including the recipe for the Chicken with Mango, Tomato, and Kiwi Salsa featured on the cover.

You can order the book from the following e-retailers: Kindle, Nook, Apple iBookstore, Google Play, Kobo, or Bookshout 

Grilled Chicken with Mango, Tomato, Lime Salsa 1 1824x1368 Continue reading