Variations on Salade Nicoise

Twice this summer, I’ve served salade niçoise as an all-in-one main course, but both times I made changes to this classic salad. On each occasion my spouse and I were entertaining friends who were allergic to or did not like tuna, so I substituted sliced roast chicken (conveniently purchased from the supermarket).  Along with the usual haricots verts, potatoes, tomatoes, olives, and hard boiled eggs, I included julienned red and yellow bell Continue reading

From Simple Appetizer to Delicious Summer Salad

Soon after we arrived on the south coast of Massachusetts for our summer vacation, I invited a good friend who lives nearby to come for an impromptu supper. At a local market I picked up a ripe cantaloupe, some thinly sliced prosciutto, and fresh mozzarella balls. At home I was planning to use them to make one of my favorite appetizers—skewers of cubed melon paired with paper-thin ribbons of prosciutto and fresh mozzarella balls all drizzled with basil-scented olive oil. All was going well until I realized I didn’t have any wooden (or metal for that matter) skewers in my rental kitchen!

Within minutes, though, I had a solution. I could simply arrange cantaloupe wedges on a platter and garnish them with mounds of mozzarella balls and Continue reading

An Old-Fashioned Dessert for July 4th and Beyond

A few weeks ago, my longtime assistant, Emily Bell, was culling her files and discovered a recipe for “Gran’s peach buckle,” a recipe she had made often for her grandchildren when they were youngsters. This simple dessert had been such a hit with her family that she shared the recipe with me.

Most cooks are familiar with crisps and crumbles, but fewer have assembled buckles. The late Richard Sax in his cookbook, Classic Home Desserts (published  in 1994) offers the best definition of these three Continue reading

A Quick and Easy Summer Potato Salad with Aïoli

Earlier this week, when good friends came for an overnight visit, I prepared Salade Nicoise for lunch and an all-American comfort food menu for supper. The latter included pulled pork barbecue sandwiches, a corn gratin, and easy-to-make potato salad. The potato salad –a big hit with our guests–was especially simple to assemble.

The secret to its robust taste was the garlic mayonnaise, or aïoli, that I used Continue reading

Delicious Turkey Burgers for Memorial Day

Even though summer is not officially here, Memorial Day weekend kicks off the new season for most of us. We pull out our grills, clean our decks, scrub our patios, and sweep our porches as we switch to al fresco dining. This year I’m reviving a recipe I created years ago while writing The Big Book of Backyard Cooking. I’ve added some new touches to Lemon Dill Turkey Burgers.

I had already eyed these burgers when Marilyn Cozad, one of my longtime Continue reading

A Savory Grape Tomato and Blue Cheese Tart for Mother’s Day

For those of you who are still deciding the menu for a Mother’s Day celebration, here’s a recipe for a foolproof tart that could anchor a brunch or lunch this Sunday, May 8th. I’ve been baking this savory tart for more than 10 years, and never tire of its robust flavors. With its flaky crust and delectable topping of sweet grape tomatoes and creamy blue cheese, this Continue reading

A Side Dish of Orzo Dressed Up for Spring

This past week I clicked on my computer and culled my files for spring dishes. When I spotted a recipe that I created 15 years ago for Orzo with Fresh Peas, Mint, and Parmesan, I remembered how much I had liked this simple side and decided to try it again.        

 Orzo, the oval-shaped pasta which resembles large grains of rice, can be cooked for a few minutes in boiling salted water until tender, then drained, tossed in butter, and seasoned with grated cheese, such as Parmesan. It can Continue reading

Asparagus in a Starring Role

Since Easter is little more than a week away, I’ve begun to think about the menu for this special holiday, which we usually spend with our son and his family. Typically, Mike (my son who’s a talented and passionate cook) and I have several conversations about what to serve.  He always offers to prepare the meal’s main course, and chooses lamb or beef which he cooks on his oversized grill. I volunteer to take care of the vegetables and sides. This year I’m excited about a recipe for asparagus spears that are blanched and brushed with brown butter (known as beurre noisette in French cuisine) and then sprinkled with a flavorful mix of toasted hazelnuts, golden bread crumbs, orange zest, and chives. Continue reading

Pappardelle with Roasted Garlic, Asparagus, and Mushrooms for Spring

Recently, while looking through old recipes I had created, I spotted one from over a decade ago for pasta with roasted garlic and crème fraîche. I had roasted garlic cloves in olive oil, then mashed them into a puree with some of the oil in which they had roasted and with softened butter. This mixture along with a touch of crème fraîche, grated Parmesan, and parsley were tossed with cooked pasta and mounded in bowls. I decided to make the dish again, but with some new additions. I included a sauté of sliced mushrooms and asparagus and pan-fried diced pancetta for the garnish. Continue reading

A Warming Fish Chowder for Late Winter

A few weeks ago, my talented assistant, Emily Bell from Columbus, Ohio, mentioned that on a winter trip to New England she had sampled a delicious seafood chowder at the home of friends. She liked it so much she politely asked for the recipe. When she told me about this winter soup, I asked for the directions too, and quickly made some myself. After several weeks of chowder suppers where I tweaked the recipe, my spouse, a picky eater when it comes to any fish dish, declared the broth and fish both delectable while he sipped with abandon.

In the original version, a good amount of flour was used to thicken the Continue reading