Recipe: Mom’s Oatmeal Raisin Cookies

When I was seven, I dressed up as a cowgirl and traveled the neighborhood to hand out cookies to strangers. We'd just moved to a small bit of cul de sac away from the farm we'd lived on for more than a decade. In retrospect, I don't know what possessed me to do such a thing. Here'es an excerpt from my third book about the whole crazy thing. From Burnt Toast Makes You Sing Good: Mom had made a comment about “calling on” … [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 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 bracing cold glass of Chablis and Salade Niçoise. At this point, the author abandoned the entire … [Read more...]

Recipe: Provencal tomato spread for Julia Child

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: Popovers from ‘The Homemade Kitchen’

 I've long been fascinated by popovers and for this, I blame Dorothy Parker. For those unfamiliar, Dorothy was a fabulously wry writer who was among the founding members of "the vicious circle" of writers who made up The Algonquin Roundtable in New York. Starting in 1919, the group of thirty newspaper and magazine writers met almost daily for lunch over the course of about ten years to share gossip, jokes and … [Read more...]

“Minestrone” Soup like My Mother’s

In my first book, The Sharper Your Knife, the Less You Cry, this recipe was known as "Potage 'Minestrone' a la Ma Mere," since all the recipes had French names. This is neither French, nor strictly speaking, even minestrone. Instead, it served as a catch-all flexible soup recipe into which my mother could leverage the various leftovers from our dinner table. With five kids on a Michigan farm, my mother couldn't afford to … [Read more...]

Recipe: Carrot and rosemary soup

Call this a recipe of serendipity. I developed this recipe last year when writing the new book. I was working hard to use every single item in my refrigerator to avoid wasting food when I found myself staring at a two-pound bag of organic carrots. At the same time, Mike had trimmed the ancient rosemary bush that sometimes invades our driveway. I don't think I would have thought to pair the two things together, but I'm a … [Read more...]

Summer Berry Tart with Whole Wheat Crust

Someone asked me recently why I didn't study pâtisserie at Le Cordon Bleu. The honest reason? I'm not keen on most sweets and I don't like chocolate. (Yes, you read that correctly.) If there's a choice of dessert or a cheese plate, I always go for the fromage. When I started to review restaurants back in the 1990s, I routinely left a report on desserts out of my reviews. I was working then with Tom Sietsema, now the … [Read more...]

Cooking in Parchment (video lesson)

Cooking en papillote (French for “parchment”) is a wildly overlooked method of cooking in America. It’s an easy method for a quick weeknight dinner that’s also elegant enough for guests. The smell that escapes when the package is reason enough to try it. This works well for salmon and mild-flavored white fish such as snapper, cod and so on. The best part? No dishes. Just throw the paper away. To assure thorough cooking, … [Read more...]