A Creamy Fresh Pea Soup for Lunch with Friends

Several years ago at a small restaurant called Le Saint-Joseph, located on the outskirts of Paris, I savored a creamy celadon-hued soup of fresh peas garnished with diced feta and mini-croutons.  At home, I worked hard to reproduce the Parisian original, and was pleased with my close facsimile. This year, once again in Paris, but this time at Pétrelle, a new restaurant in the 9th, I discovered another silken smooth spring pea potage, but this one was garnished with toasted hazelnuts. Crazy about both, I decided to replace the croutons in my earlier version with hazelnuts. I loved the results and served the soup this past weekend at a lunch for out-of-town guests. When everyone took seconds, I knew this latest variation was the best! 

Sautéed leeks and tarragon make fine partners to the peas, which are simmered for a few minutes in chicken stock, and then pureed. Some half-and-half adds a smooth finishing touch. It is the simple garnishes, though, that distinguish this soup. I sliced a block of feta into fine dice and then toasted and crushed some hazelnuts. Then I spooned these ingredients along with a sprinkle of chopped tarragon atop each serving. These additions added color, a crunchy texture, and an herbal accent to the dish.

I served this soup with a club sandwich prepared with a whole loaf of ciabatta that was stuffed and sliced. However, you could easily make this delectable potage the anchor  of  a light summer meal. Pair it with a  salad of tender green oak leaf lettuce and  thinly sliced cucumbers and scallions tossed in a white wine vinaigrette plus a warm crusty baguette to round out the menu.

Pasta Dinner for Two in Paris

Since our arrival in Paris several weeks ago, I’ve delighted in cooking meals for two –my husband and moi! The apartment we’ve rented is in a quartier filled with food shops. I can walk to the Bon Marché’s Grand Épicerie when I want to splurge on special ingredients. There’s an excellent cheese shop, a great charcuterie, and one of Eric Kayser’s boulangerie/patisserie outposts nearby. However, what I cook has to be simple because the kitchen in the apartment is ”petite!” Penne with Mascarpone, Fresh Peas, and Asparagus Continue reading

Make Ahead Appetizers for Easy Entertaining

A few weeks ago my spouse and I along with another couple co-hosted a good bye dinner for friends who are moving out of town. My pal, Maddy, one of the hosts, and I planned the menu together, choosing dishes that could be prepared in advance so we would not miss out on socializing.  Savory warm mushroom, leek, and bacon pinwheels, one of the appetizers, was especially popular with all the guests. Now that I am across the Atlantic in Paris, I’ve pulled out the recipe again. I plan to invite friends for Continue reading

Lemon Panna Cottas with Crushed Hazelnuts and Strawberries To Welcome Spring

Finally, it feels like spring in New England. After weeks of chilly weather, recently we’ve had a stretch of days where the thermometer has climbed to the 70s and even 80s. Accordingly I’ve happily changed my cooking to welcome the warmer weather. 

For appetizers I’ve prepared grilled asparagus with a mayo dipping sauce, Continue reading

A Pasta Dish Perfect for Early Spring

A few weeks ago while taking a Zoom cooking class at The Baker’s Pin (in Northampton, MA), I watched as Barbara Morse, my talented friend and fellow cooking teacher, explained the art of making pasta by hand. Every recipe looked and sounded delicious, but the one that I fell for hardest was farfalle tossed with a simple Taleggio cheese sauce, sprinkled with crispy pancetta and toasted breadcrumbs. Fast forward a few weeks later. At the market I gathered the ingredients for the dish, but because I had a busy Continue reading

Cooking with Simple Ingredients for St Patrick’s Day

What could be better on St Patrick’s Day than a casserole that stars that trio of Irish favorites–corned beef, cabbage, and potatoes. These ingredients can be found at supermarkets around the country, so if you want to make this dish tomorrow on March 17 th, last-minute shopping will be easy.

For this recipe cabbage is cut into strips, then sautéed in a skillet until lightly browned and caramelized. The cooked cabbage is combined with small red skin potatoes that are boiled and sliced and with corned beef (purchased at the deli counter) that is sliced and  cut into strips. A delectable white sauce enriched with grated Gruyère, grainy mustard, and crushed caraway seeds binds this trio together. The dish can be prepared several hours ahead, then put in the oven for less than half an hour. A recipe serves six generously but can be halved to feed two to three.

I did a demo of this casserole last week for Mass Appeal, a popular noontime show that airs on our local NBC affiliate here in western Massachusetts. The aromas of this dish heating in the studio kitchen’s oven attracted the attention not only of the staff, but of other guests appearing on the program. “Perfect,” they declared, “for celebrating this holiday.”

Happy St Patrick’s Day to everyone!

PS Here’s the link to my cooking demo of this special dish. There will be a short ad and then the video will begin. Untap the mute button  for audio.


Artichoke Hearts and Feta Two Ways

This week it was my turn to host our book club, but on the scheduled day of our meeting, seven inches of snow were forecast by the local tv weather teams. I wasn’t certain how many of the ten members who had rsvp-ed would show up, so another member and I decided we’d give everyone a choice. They could come in person or on Zoom. In the end five people made their way to my house, and the rest opted to join online. That meant I had lots of extra food! Among the offerings I had prepared was an artichoke and feta spread to mound on toasted baguette slices for bruschette. I needed only part of the spread for our smaller gathering, and decided to use the rest for grilled artichoke and feta cheese sandwiches. Each version was Continue reading

Dark Chocolate Praline Truffles for Valentine’s Day

A bonafide chocoholic, I always look forward to February 14th when I can savor (without guilt) homemade chocolate creations. This year, rather than baking a flourless chocolate cake or fudgy brownies, and instead of whipping up chocolate panna cottas or crème brûlées, I am preparing dark chocolate praline truffles. These tempting treats, which take only minutes to assemble, will also keep well in the fridge for a week–if they last that long. 

I am crazy about praline, a crunchy combination of nuts and caramelized Continue reading

Crispy Pork Cutlets with Apple Coleslaw for Cold Winter Nights

Last week a good friend and I were discussing what we were cooking now that extra-cold weather has arrived in New England. After an array of hearty soups and stews, I was looking for something different to stave off the chill. My talented pal suggested pairing crispy, breaded pork cutlets with an apple coleslaw. I loved this idea and began culling my files for recipes.

For the pork, I turned to a dish I first made back in the 80s. It called for cutting thick slices from a pork tenderloin, pounding them into cutlets, Continue reading

Spicy Turkey Chili with Garnishes from Around the World

During the early days of the pandemic, when everyone was in lockdown, I learned while cooking three meals a day to make substitutions for ingredients that I didn’t have on hand. Fontina cheese might be replaced with white cheddar, onions might be used instead of leeks, and lime juice  stood in for lemon juice in many of my recipes. Such replacements became so routine that gradually I began to realize that I liked the newer versions better than the originals. That is certainly true for the spicy turkey chili Continue reading