How to Make Gumbo Out of (Almost) Anything

By Kathleen Flinn For most people, the word "gumbo" traditionally inspires the image of the classic New Orleans version studded with spicy sausage and shrimp. But Chuck Taggart of the GumboPages notes, "There are as many variations on gumbo as there are Louisianians." If you master the basic formula, you can customize gumbo to your liking or to the contents of your fridge. After Thanksgiving, I make stock out of the … [Read more...]

Recipe: Perfect Mashed Potatoes

[Updated November 2016] Such a simple thing -- throw some potatoes into a pot, then mash them up, but there's more to creamy mashed potatoes than that. I tend to make mashed potatoes a day ahead of a big family dinner and gently reheat in the oven; microwaving them tends to change the texture. Alternately, make them earlier in the morning and keep them warm by covering a pan with plastic wrap and nestling into a simmering … [Read more...]

Fearless Thanksgiving Guide

We all know that holiday dinners should be a time to celebrate family, friends and food, but more often than not, it's a stressful holiday, with anxious hosts more worried about the turkey than about the people around the table. Enough! I talked to various home cooks hosting holiday dinners for the first time. I asked, what do you want to know? Questions poured in, from what turkey to buy to how to make a pie crust. … [Read more...]

Class: Performance for Writers (Aug. 20th)

I've been wanting to teach a class like this for a long time. Why? I'm a trained actress and comedian, so standing up in front of a crowd is not only easy for me, it's the highlight of any day. But we do not live in a world where one can sit in a dark room, craft a book and call it day, at least not anymore.  Although writers tend to be bookish types, at some point you’ll need to discuss or read your work in front of an … [Read more...]

Class: How to Write a Non-Fiction Book Proposal

In fiction, you have to write the whole book to sell it. In non-fiction, agents and editors want a book proposal. Whether you're planning on writing narrative non-fiction, memoir, cookbook, historical non-fiction or even a how-to book, you need to put together a non-fiction book proposal. In this six-week class starting July 20th, I'll provide you with the tools and insight you need to help you develop a rough proposal … [Read more...]

Vinaigrette Basics [video lesson]

Do you have so many bottles of vinaigrette in your fridge that when you open the door it sounds like wind chimes? Vinaigrette is one of the first things that any home cook should master for a couple of reasons. One, it's expensive to buy and tends to be loaded with ingredients. I did a survey of eight popular brands of "Italian-style" vinaigrette. They averaged 17 ingredients. The basic recipe below has six. Most people … [Read more...]

Provencal tomato spread

This recipe first appeared in The Sharper Your Knife, the Less You Cry. It's loosely based on a dish that I learned to make while studying at Le Cordon Bleu in Paris. During the heat of summer, I probably make this once a week and if I have to take something to a party, this is my go-to dish in the summer. You can use as it a spread for crackers or bruschetta, and also as a sauce for simple pan-seared fish or chicken. … [Read more...]

Recipe: Salade Niçoise

I first encountered  Salade Niçoise in a most embarrassing way -- by reading about it in a cheap romance novel the summer I turned 14. The scene was typically evocative of a dime store read. A beautiful protagonist perched at a table under a striped umbrella on an immaculate beach in Cannes waiting for a murky character. The server brought her a bracingly cold glass of chablis and Salade Niçoise. At this point, the … [Read more...]