A New England Cider Pie for Thanksgiving

Years ago, my good friend and talented chef, Matt Sunderland, mentioned that his mom always baked a cider pie for Thanksgiving. Intrigued, I asked how it was made. “Not complicated,” he responded, and pulled out a recipe written in typical chef fashion: an abbreviated list of  ingredients and a single brief paragraph of instruction. When I asked him to be a little more specific, he called his mother for extra details.           

The unusual filling is prepared by reducing cider, then cooking this liquid with butter, sugar, and water until thickened. When the cider base has cooled, egg yolks are added to it and beaten egg whites folded in. This simple filling is spooned into an uncooked pie shell, then popped into a very hot oven for 10 minutes so that the crust will start to crisp up quickly. The Continue reading

Delicious Cider Pancakes for Fall Breakfasts

Recently, my good friend and longtime assistant, Emily Bell, texted me about some cider pancakes she had made with her teenage grandson. “They were so easy and delicious,” she recounted, noting that the young sous-chef loved them. It didn’t take me long to ask for the recipe!

My friend used a basic pancake batter, replacing a small amount of the milk with cider and adding cinnamon for a spicy accent. She also sautéed diced Continue reading

A Delicious Pasta for Those Crisp and Cool Fall Nights

A few days ago, while I was looking through a French cookbook that I had brought home from one of our trips to France, I earmarked a recipe for a pasta dish with fall squash and walnuts. A type of squash similar to our butternut squash was roasted and smashed and then combined with cooked penne and toasted walnuts. Grated Parmesan cheese and a good drizzle of walnut oil were final additions.

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A Delicious Fall Apple Crisp with Vanilla Ice Cream and Warm Caramel Sauce

I know it’s fall here in New England not because the days are getting shorter and mostly cooler, but because our markets are filled with bins of apples in varying hues of red, green, and yellow. I especially like the Golden Delicious, Pink Lady, and always reliable Granny Smith for making warm apple crisps when autumn arrives. Although I follow the basic formula for these crisps of tossing sliced apples with sugar, butter, and spices, I often add an unexpected ingredient. I’ve combined brandy-soaked prunes with apples for some versions and paired cranberries with apples for a Continue reading

Using up the Tomatoes and Basil Still in our Markets

Trying to decide what to prepare for a monthly cooking segment I do for Mass Appeal (a midday tv show that airs on our local NBC station), I decided the dish should feature either tomatoes or apples. One of the show’s hosts voted for tomatoes since they are still bountiful in our markets in September. Culling my files, I spotted a recipe for a savory Tomato and Chèvre Tart published on this blog back in 2013. When I baked it several days ago, it was just as tempting as I remembered it from all those years ago.

The recipe has an interesting history. During a stay in Paris one summer, I Continue reading

A Simple Pasta Dish for All That End-of-Summer Zucchini

A few weeks ago my husband and I met out-of-town friends passing through western Massachusetts for an al fresco dinner at The Waxwing, a new restaurant in Hatfield. Our pals—as passionate about food as we are– were anxious to try the latest eatery in the area. No one was disappointed. Our group loved the pork belly with toasted corn, jalapenos, and queso fresco, as well as chicken schnitzel with lemon aïoli, fennel, and arugula, plus hake (a mild white fish) with creamed corn and fried onion slivers.

However, it was the rigatoni with zucchini, mint, and toasted breadcrumbs that caught my attention. Sadly, I didn’t order it (nor, due to Covid, did I get to taste it), but my pal, Carrie, swooned with each bite she took of this Continue reading

A Special Summer Dinner for Our Granddaughter!

A few days ago, my teenage granddaughter, Edie, texted to tell me that she and her friend, Eva, would love to drive from Boston to our home in western Massachusetts for dinner and an overnight. Thrilled, I responded with a phone call to ask what she’d like me to cook. After several menu proposals, she chose pan seared halibut steaks with a corn, tomato, and avocado topping. “Sounds very summery, Mimi, she replied!

And, she was right. Corn and tomatoes are reaching their peak in our Continue reading

A New Twist on Club Sandwiches for Summer

Consider the sandwich–make that the club sandwich, perfect for summer outdoor gatherings, whether backyard picnics, concerts, or plays. What could be easier to assemble than a delicious version of this classic with a new twist!

My good friend and creative cook, Emily Bell, suggested the club sandwiches featured here. I used a whole loaf of ciabatta bread, halving it lengthwise. Instead of traditional mayonnaise, Emily proposed for spreading on the halves a recipe of mine for curried apricot mayo. A layered filling of lettuce, thinly sliced smoked or roasted turkey, tomatoes, Continue reading

A Special Cheesecake for July 4th Celebrations

Although weather forecasters are predicting plenty of rain and cooler weather for the long July 4th weekend in New England, this news has not dampened my spirits when it’s comes to cooking. My spouse and I are looking forward to savoring some pulled pork barbecue sandwiches along with corn on the cob slathered with cilantro lime butter, coleslaw, and baked beans scented with bacon and maple syrup. Truth be told, I ordered my pulled pork from Corky’s (my favorite barbecue spot in Memphis, my hometown!) That leaves plenty of time to prepare the sides and a special cheesecake for dessert.       

An extra creamy, orange-scented cheesecake mounded with local strawberries tossed in sugar and a hint of orange liqueur might just be the pièce de résistance of our meal. I’ve had the recipe for over a decade, but reworked and updated it recently. For the crust, I patted a mixture of graham cracker crumbs, confectioners’ sugar, cinnamon, ginger, and melted butter onto the bottom of the pan, and baked it quickly to ensure that the bottom layer stays crisp. For the filling, velvety smooth mascarpone plus traditional American cream cheese are beaten together until smooth before sugar combined with orange zest is added.

This cheesecake has been a hit with those who sampled it while I was working on the recipe. It can be baked a day ahead and will easily serve 12. Plus, it’s definitely in the showstopper category for appearance. It’s also easy to transport, if you are driving. Just leave the cheesecake in the spring form pan, cover with foil, and unmold upon arrival. Happy July 4th everyone!

 

 

Indulgent Cheeseburgers for Father’s Day

My husband Ron, a father and grandfather of many years, never met a hamburger he didn’t like. Add cheese and a few extra trimmings to that sandwich and he’d declare himself in heaven. So, for him and dads everywhere, the recipe included here for Cheeseburgers with Avocados, Bacon, and Chipotle Mayo might just be the piéce de résistance to celebrate the pop at your house on Father’s Day, this coming Sunday, June 20th.

 Definitely indulgent, these burgers seasoned with chili powder, cumin, and smoked paprika are  grilled and topped with creamy cheese. Then they are Continue reading