A few days ago my husband and I ventured outside our home to eat on the patio of a favorite restaurant. It was the first time we had dined out in six months, so we splurged and chose the lobster rolls with house made potato chips and coleslaw as our main course. My spouse ordered fried oysters for his opener, while I picked fried corn on the cob with beurre blanc and crumbled feta. The corn turned out to be my favorite dish of the evening.
We still have bins of corn in our local markets here in Amherst, so I decided to create a simpler version of the dish I enjoyed so much. For the original served at The Blue Heron in Sunderland, Massachusetts, a single ear of fried corn was cut into three equal portions, then set upright atop a pool of lime- Continue reading
For a Provencal cooking class I taught last week, I chose melon and prosciutto brochettes as an opener. Although there were several show-stopper dishes on the menu, including grilled lamb chops topped with Roquefort and figs, and a glorious tiramisu prepared with strawberries and raspberries, those simple skewers were a huge hit with the students.
Wedges of perfectly ripened cantaloupe, ribbons of paper-thin prosciutto, and little
balls of fresh mozzarella, are speared and drizzled with quickly made basil-scented olive oil. The students arranged the brochettes (they made a triple recipe) on a platter, and then Continue reading
I think of this time of the year as transitional—not quite the end of summer, but not exactly fall either. Here in New England since September arrived, we’ve seen the thermometer reach a sweltering 90 degrees and just as quickly watched it drop to the chilly 50s. As a cook, the challenge is obvious. What I want is dishes that are just as tempting for those lingering hot, humid days as well as for the cool, crisp ones that hint at autumn.
The following recipe for a creamy tomato soup scented with goat cheese and garnished with tarragon easily bridges both these weather extremes. It can be prepared with the last Continue reading
For my husband’s birthday earlier this summer, I prepared a menu of his favorites—steamed lobsters, heirloom tomatoes drizzled with vinaigrette, and a golden corn gratin. Although the lobsters were the star of the meal, the following day my spouse complimented the corn dish more than once. He liked it so much that I am planning to serve the gratin again over the long holiday weekend.
A sauté of fresh corn kernels and chopped leeks, combined with a savory custard of eggs and Half and Half, as well as a generous addition of grated Gruyere cheese formed the foundation of this classic recipe. When baked the top was firm with golden touches of Continue reading
After a long morning of prepping for a cooking class scheduled the following day, my two assistants and I were wondering what to have for lunch. Looking in the fridge we spotted some limes and lemons, a large bunch of cilantro, a couple of ears of corn, and a bag of leftover salad greens. On the kitchen counter we noticed a ripe avocado and a bowl of multi-hued cherry tomatoes. It didn’t take us long to decide we could make a salad with our cache. What we weren’t expecting was for this impromptu creation to be so memorable!
We whisked lime and lemon juices with olive oil for a simple citrus vinaigrette, and for the salad we began by sautéing corn kernels scraped from the cobs. When lightly browned, we combined the golden morsels with halved cherry tomatoes and diced avocado. Since we had only a handful of salad greens, we used a generous amount of torn cilantro sprigs as a substitute. The substantial hit of cilantro’s assertive flavor turned out to be the secret to this salad’s delicious taste.
We piled the salad high on plates and dusted them with some coarsely grated hard-boiled egg. We also added a sprinkle of Mahon cheese, but the latter can be optional. The salad has become such a favorite that we’ve had it three more times for lunch on work days. Now each of us is planning to use it for summer suppers as a side to grilled mains such as chicken, lamb, or shrimp!
This summer one of my most popular cooking classes featured a Provencal menu. Along with a fig and mint pizza, I included a beef tenderloin rubbed with herbes de Provence, that was then roasted and served with homemade aioli, Provence’s celebrated garlic mayo. Haricots verts scented with orange peel and poached summer cherries for dessert rounded out the menu.
The glorious fillet of beef was definitely the winning dish. I discovered that many students, although they loved this cut of meat (which is expensive), were unfamiliar with how to cook it, and were searching for a fail-safe method to prepare it.
Nothing could be simpler than the recipe featured here and in that class. A tenderloin, Continue reading
For my husband’s birthday celebration last week, he requested tiramisu instead of a traditional birthday cake. He didn’t have in mind classic tiramisu, the Italian specialty assembled with coffee-flavored ladyfingers and mascarpone. No! He specifically was longing for a delectable summer version he had sampled recently in France.
In Paris last month, at a dinner hosted by our French friends, Brigitte and Guy Bizot, he had discovered Brigitte’s tiramisu d’été, a multi-layered creation prepared with ladyfingers dipped in kirsch and cane syrup (rather than espresso), kirsch-scented mascarpone cream, and juicy strawberries and raspberries. One bite, and he swooned over this glorious dessert that easily serves 10.
At home a few weeks later, I pulled out the French recipe my friend had shared with me, Continue reading
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
After arriving in Paris last week, I couldn’t wait to make a foray to the local food markets in our Left Bank neighborhood. I marveled at the produce displayed by the fruit and vegetable vendors. Baskets of strawberries were so ripe that they were red all the way through. Golden apricots were soft when touched and ready for eating. Asparagus—green and white, slender and plump—were also tempting. But the bin that caught my eye was filled with dark, luscious figs. When I squeezed them gently in my hand, they were so tender that I needed real will power not to take a bite.
I bought a bunch, and came home to make a pizza that featured figs as part of the Continue reading
Zucchini with sauteed onion and tomato topping ready to go in the oven.
√ Make them into soups (corn and zucchini chowder; zucchini Vichyssoise)
√ Use them in vegetable gratins (ratatouille; corn and zucchini pudding)
√ Use them in salad (tomato, chickpea and zucchini)
√ Add them to pasta (linguine, zucchini, garlic, capers, pine nuts)
√ Turn them into a savory tart (zucchini, bacon, goat cheese tart)
√ Turn them into a relish (zucchini and sweet red pepper relish)
Those are just a few ways I use zucchini, that ubiquitous late summer crop that arrives in farmers’ markets and groceries this time of year. For the past few weeks, though, I’ve prepared this versatile vegetable in a new mode inspired by my June stay in Paris. In France’s capital I noticed that chefs were preparing the squash by halving the zucchini lengthwise, then adding imaginative toppings and roasting them. At one Left Bank restaurant (Racines des Prés in the 7th), zucchini halves were mounded with black olives, crumbled feta, and chopped hardboiled eggs and then offered as a first course.
Inspired by these Parisian samplings, I created the following recipe. For my version the Continue reading