Sunday, March 29, 2015

Baked Cabbage Casserole

I’m just back from the market with five bunches of daffodils along with the groceries for the week.   The daffodils are as much a sign of my readiness for spring as well as a sign of winter’s cold clutch on our soil that should be sprouting green shoots and the first flowers of spring.  Instead the landscape is gray and punctuated by stubborn heaps of dirty snow that just won’t leave. 

Friday, March 27, 2015

Six Tips to Empty the Fridge Before Your Next Trip

I travel regularly for work and over the years certain patterns and rituals emerge.  You know them.  You see them coming and acknowledge there’s absolutely nothing you can do to change them.  When it comes to these rituals, my husband and I are a study in contrasts.  He’ll start planning for the next trip as soon as the last one ends.  Me, I start thinking about the next trip about a week to ten days before it’s wheels-up.  I’ll scan the calendar for upcoming appointments and will realize that a trip’s coming up in the next few weeks.  Immediately, I’ll think about what clothes I’ll need and what clothes will fit.  This is usually a good prompt to get to the gym and cut the fat, carbs, and wine out of the diet. 

Friday, March 13, 2015

Past Prime Roast Pepper Onion and Garlic Soup

It’s taken me too long to make soup from vegetables that are past their prime.  This week the papers were full of articles about food waste so I was inspired to make soup from the pile of wrinkly and forlorn vegetables that have been sitting on the kitchen counter for the last two weeks.  Instead of putting them in the compost heap or worse yet the trash, I was motivated to make something delicious from them after reading about Dan Barber’s new food waste pop-up, WastED, and what’s happening in Portland, Seattle, and San Francisco to make composting go mainstream.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Roasted Cod with Winter Vegetables

Cod is one of my all time favorite fish.  It cooks fast and its flaky meaty chunks are the perfect canvas for all sorts of accompanying vegetables and sauces but I’ve been cooking it the same way for decades --- oven roasted, topped with tomato slices, olive oil, bread crumbs, fresh herbs, salt, pepper and a good squeeze of fresh lemon juice.  It’s a simple dish that takes five minutes to prepare and about 20 minutes to cook.  It’s an effortless and elegant dish.  The results have stood the test of time but it was time to mix it up a bit.

Saturday, March 7, 2015

Summertime Zucchini Tomato and Brioche Casserole in the Dead of Winter

It’s the middle of winter and when we get to March, that month that “roars in like a lion and leaves like a lamb,” we're hungering for summertime.  Hopping on a plane and jetting off to find the sun isn’t an option, so instead we open the freezer and pull out a few glass containers of frozen sunshine.

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Stew for the Darkest Depths of Winter

Stew is a dinnertime staple during the cold winter months but it doesn’t have to be prepared the same way year after year and meat doesn’t have to play the leading role in this winter production.

Saturday, January 31, 2015

Tacos – Global My Way

Dinner tonight was on the table in about fifteen minutes and it’s a pretty good example of how we pull together flavors and ingredients from many cultures and continents and blend them in dishes that we prepare exactly to our liking.

It was tacos tonight but not tacos in the traditional sense.  The corn tortillas were authentic but that’s where the similarity to Mexican tacos ended.

Monday, April 28, 2014

Saturday Night Egg Salad Dinner

Part of our Easter tradition is to dye at least two dozen Easter eggs and then to eat them all week after Easter Sunday.  So tonight I made a luscious two course Egg Salad Dinner.

The first course was simple salad of thinly sliced tomatoes lining the lip of a soup bowl with a healthy scoop of egg salad in the center.  What a wonderful combination of the juicy, slightly acidic tomato with the creamy luscious egg salad.  The color contrast between the yellow egg salad and the red tomato made for a beautiful presentation.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Reading the Classics

We’re always up for trying a classic cocktail, and Harry Craddock’s “The Savoy Cocktail Book” is the go to guide for all of them. Creative titles, and simple straightforward ingredients speak of fun, easy going times - in the hotel bar anyway. Thanks to a dear friend for giving us a first edition a few years ago to enjoy.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Pasta Carbonara Inspired by Food Purveyor Peck Milano

Pasta Carbonara is the inspiration for this simple and satisfying dish.  Preparation for it began more than six months ago when we bought the rigatoni pasta at Peck Milano as a souvenir of our summer vacation. 

Sunday, February 2, 2014

#7 Turkey Sandwiches - 7x7 Christmas Turkey Redux

It’s time to bring 7X7 Christmas Turkey Redux to a close and we do it with the simplest and probably the most satisfying of turkey leftover meals.  In an effort to keep the spirit of the holidays alive for as long as we could, we used our imagination to see how we could live up to the spirit of nose to tail, okay beak to tail, cooking to make full use of the wonderful bird we roasted for the holidays. 

Well, it took us longer than seven days to make all of these dishes and we had to buy an extra turkey but we’ve come up with some great meals.  We started with Turkey Soup and then moved to Turkey Tacos.  We paid homage to Turkey Tetrazzini and Turkey Scramble.  We found new interpretations for Roast Turkey Dinner, Turkey Pot Pie and we now end the series with a few  turkey sandwiches. 

Yes it’s time to talk about turkey sandwiches.  It’s the meal that needs no recipe.  It’s the meal that’s defined by imagination and by what’s on-hand in the refrigerator. 

There are so many ways to enjoy a good leftover turkey sandwich --- open face with turkey, dressing, mashed potatoes, and gravy sitting on top of white bread.  Adding dressing or  cranberry relish can be controversial, akin to the many opinions about roasting the bird with or without dressing.  

When it comes to leftover turkey sandwiches, I think the balance of sweet, salt, and fat is actually more important than the individual ingredients.  The bread is pretty important too.  It’s got to absorb plenty of gravy and mayo without falling apart.  It’s also got to hold together the turkey, stuffing, cranberry relish, and whatever else you decide to put on your sandwich. 

The first leftover turkey sandwich we made included crumbled blue cheese, mayonnaise, spinach leaves, salt and pepper.  This sandwich looks good and tastes great.  It’s hard to tire of the combination tender turkey, cranberry relish and tangy blue cheese.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

#6 Turkey Pot Pie - 7x7 Christmas Turkey Redux

No repertoire for Christmas leftovers is complete without Turkey Pot Pie.  So for our second to last 7 X 7 Christmas Turkey Redux, we bring you a version of a classic English Turkey Leek Pie. 

This is an original recipe but it takes inspiration from the tradition of English meat pies instead of from the American version.  English pies have great crusts, a minimum of liquid, can be held in your hand, and eaten on the run.  American pot pies have more liquid and their crusts are bread-like and easy to make. 

In this pot-pie recipe, I was trying to call out some distinct flavors and high notes.  I did this by making a béchamel with lots of citrus notes.  Good Dijon mustard also gave the pie some complexity and depth of flavor.  The apples provided both sweetness and tartness that rounded out the citrus notes.  Of course the zest of two lemons gave the dish an overall brightness of flavor. 

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

#5 Roast Turkey Dinner - 7x7 Christmas Turkey Redux

We’ve included Roast Turkey Dinner in our 7 By 7 Christmas Turkey Redux because you just can’t get enough roast turkey, good stuffing, gravy, and cranberry relish and it’s so easy to prepare.  Put on a plate and reheat in the microwave. 

Sunday, January 19, 2014

#4 Sunday Morning Leftover Turkey Scramble - 7x7 Christmas Turkey Redux

How simple can breakfast get?  Five ingredients.  A skillet.  One happy family. 

Friday, January 17, 2014

#3 It’s Casserole Time - 7x7 Christmas Turkey Redux

The classic poultry casserole is Turkey Tetrazzini.  It’s an icon and it shouldn’t be changed up too much.  Campbell’s Cream soups made the casserole an American dinner staple that could be prepared in thirty minutes.

My version takes about an hour and the only innovation is in the white sauce. Instead of using cream soup, I make a béchamel with equal parts sauvignon blanc, cream, and turkey stock.

Pound for pound, portion for portion, this casserole delivers.  It’s really assembly cooking but there’s a lot of chopping that can be done a day or two in advance.  It’s comfort food at its best, but loaded with fresh veggies and good-for-you foods.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

#2 Weeknight Turkey Tacos - 7x7 Christmas Turkey Redux

7 By 7 Christmas Turkey Redux #2 - Weeknight Turkey Tacos - takes us south of the border for an easy weeknight meal.

A weeknight meal, especially when it’s in the first few weeks of the the new year; calls for lots of help and a division of labor.  Put the spread of fixins’ on the table and let everyone make his or her own supper.

All you need to do is some prepping and chopping and that can be kept to a minimum by buying some good guacamole from the prepared food section of your favorite grocery store, along with shredded cheese and sour cream from the dairy case.

The only cooking required is sautéing the shredded turkey and warming the tortillas.

Sautee the shredded turkey with conserved turkey or pork fat that you may have on hand from holiday cooking.  I used a combination of pork and turkey fat.

Season with salt, pepper, and red chili flakes.

Wipe the sauté pan with a paper towel and then heat the tortillas - my tortilla choice is white corn.

Let the fiesta begin!

All the Fixins:

Chopped onion
Chopped chili peppers
Chopped hot red peppers
Seasoned and shredded turkey
Shredded cheese
White corn tortillas
Lime wedges

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

#1 Turkey Soup - 7x7 Christmas Turkey Redux

We start with Turkey Soup and Turkey Broth because they are the basis for all of the dishes in 7 By 7 Christmas Turkey Redux.  We are talking turkey leftovers after all and leftovers are dry and that’s where the turkey broth comes into play.

There is no recipe for this soup.  It comes from watching my mother and grandmother make it for generations.


• carcass from 25 lb turkey
• two additional turkey drumsticks
• two additional turkey thighs
• one additional turkey breast

• 3 pounds yellow onions
• 5 pounds rainbow carrots
• 1 large head of celery
• 1 bunch fresh flat leaf parsley
• 1 bunch fresh thyme
• 1 bunch fresh tarragon
• olive oil
• sea salt
• pepper


• 20 quart stock pot

This soup is really quite a lot of work but it’s the foundation for an entire winter of stock, soup, and other dishes - so it’s worth the effort.  Start by pealing and washing the onions, celery, and carrots.

Once washed, dice them into ½” pieces and then start to brown them in the stockpot.  Heat about 1/3 cup of olive oil and then start sautéing the chopped onions.  Once the onions start to sweat, add the celery.  Sautee the celery until it starts to turn yellow and then add the carrots.  By this point the onions should be caramelizing.  Lower the flame.

Now it’s time to tackle the turkey carcass.  By the time I make turkey soup after the holidays, the carcass has been in the refrigerator for a few days.  Throw the loose thigh and neck bone into the pot.

Next, put the carcass on its side on a large cutting board and compress the carcass to make it as flat as possible.  Add the carcass, additional drumsticks, breast and organ meats to the stockpot.  Season with two tablespoons sea salt and one tablespoon ground black pepper.  Add the chopped parsley, thyme, and tarragon during the last 30 minutes of cooking.

Fill the stockpot with water, leaving about three inches of at the top of the pot.  Place the lid on the pot, turn the heat to high and bring to a medium boil.  Lower the heat to a gentle simmer and allow the soup to cook for about two and a half hours.  Leave the pot on the stove to cool for several hours and then move to a cold place on a terrace, garage or cold part of the basement.

7x7 Christmas Turkey Redux

It’s the middle of January.  The Christmas decorations are still up at our house and we’re still enjoying the holiday season.  One reason for that is because we’re still enjoying festive foods, turkey in particular; that we prepared in large quantities for Christmas and the New Year.

We’ve used our imaginations to see how we could live up to the spirit of nose to tail cooking or more accurately beak to tail cooking to make full use of the wonderful bird we roasted for the holidays.

So we bring to you Christmas Turkey Redux.  Each day this week, we’ll post a new story about how we prepared turkey breast, neck, heart, kidney, wing, and everything in between.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

A Contemporary Take on Muesli

'Tis the season for New Year’s resolutions - and high on the resolution list for most of us is exercising and eating better.  So here’s a contemporary take on muesli that may help you keep up with your resolution to eat better.

This alpine cereal seems like the right choice at the breakfast buffet but often disappoints.  This version is a combination of ripe cantaloupe, fresh or frozen peaches, thinly sliced celery, crumbled feta cheese, a dusting of shredded wheat, and the juice of half a lemon.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Christmas Breakfast at the 1770 House

It looked like all the beds were going to be filled at my uncles’ house for Christmas so I gave myself a holiday present and booked three nights at the 1770 House in in East Hampton, New York.  It's a charming inn that really does date back to 1770, actually 1663, with a handful of cozy rooms, a jewel box bar in the basement, and a restaurant that's packed nightly.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Zuni Cafe, Wearing Flowers in Her Hair

Thank you Judy Rodgers for giving us Zuni Cafe and so many wonderful simple dishes that we treasure.  We will miss you.

Judy Rodgers gave us community as much as she gave us good eats.  Whether it was a martini at the iconic, slightly curvy copper-topped bar (yes - a martini is a meal especially if the olives are fortified with blue cheese), the Zuni Burger, or the Roast Chicken for Two, Judy’s simple yet urbane dishes inspired people to come together.

Conversation at the bar at Zuni Cafe is inevitable.  With no bar stools or tables, it’s just you - standing at this lovely curvy bar, with friendly bartenders and others crowded together.  Conversations and connections simply blossom.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

We Could All Use a Food Guv’nor!

found myself running off to spinning class this past Sunday so that I would burn off some calories before Thanksgiving dinner.  I would try to get some extra exercise every day this week in an effort to prepare for the quantum jump in calories that my body will have to metabolize from Thanksgiving through the following Sunday when the Thanksgiving meal really ends.

Like all the other years, it will be a time of big meals, turkey, lots of potatoes and gravy, stuffed shells (my Italian roots), salmon (the influence of the Pacific Northwest), cakes and pies, and leftovers!

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

What to Eat BEFORE Thanksgiving

Meals that lead up to the feasts of Thanksgiving and Christmas have their own set of goals.  For us, pre-holiday meals should achieve these three plus taste fantastic:
  • We try to minimize starches and fats
  • We like to use canned-goods from the pantry and space-hogging foods from the fridge to make room for turkey and all the ingredients needed for holiday side dishes
  • We want our pre-holiday eating to be fast and easy
Fast and easy is really important as there is holiday preparation to do, work to wrap-up at the office, and holiday travel.  In our case, Thanksgiving is the time for our traditional pilgrimage from the New Jersey suburbs to the Oregon Coast.

So the Saturday before Thanksgiving we prepared dinner around a supermarket roast chicken and for added inspiration we thought: Mediterranean, Tagine, and Tabouli.

The dish we made was a savory chicken fricassee with sweet Vidalia onions, carrots, and canned chickpeas. This was a one-pot meal that was prepared and ready to serve in about 45 minutes.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Metabolism Math and the Calorie

The holiday season is here so I suppose it’s okay to obsess a little about calories and how many of them can reasonably be consumed between Thanksgiving and the New Year.   The holidays are the two acts in the yearly drama known as indulgence and moderation.

I thought I knew what a calorie was until I read Why Calories Count by Marion Nestle and Malden Nesheim.  I realized how little I really knew.  It is a fascinating book that explains the personal, scientific, and political dimensions of the calorie.  It’s a thorough exploration of dense calories, whole calories, empty calories and real calories.

What I learned from this book was that the science of calories and how we use information about them in our everyday lives are worlds apart.  Calories are units of work or heat and one calorie is defined as the amount of heat energy needed to raise the temperature of one gram of water by one degree centigrade at one unit of atmospheric pressure.

Think about how that definition will help you the next time you’re running through the grocery store and you’re trying to decide between the vitamin-fortified whole grain loaf and the loaf of plain white bread.

Marion and Madlen realize this and do a great job of helping us get a more intuitive feel for calories.  They start by simplifying the definition of a calorie --- a calorie is defined as the amount of heat needed to raise the temperature of a quart of water by one degree centigrade --- but even that simple definition doesn’t help me very much.  I found the basic explanation of how calories work to be much more useful and straightforward:
  • Calories are units of energy
  • Energy is the capacity to do work
  • Work can be chemical or physical
  • Chemical and muscle activity produce heat
  • Heat can be measured as calories
Now we’re getting somewhere.  Nestle and Madlen teach us that food provides energy to fuel the work bodies do:  breathe, circulate blood, keep warm, transmit nerve impulses, excrete waste, and move.  So here are some basic, albeit overly simplified, principles of metabolic balance that I have developed around the principle that food is energy for the chemical and physical work that our bodies do:
  • The average chemical & physical work of a male 40-50 is about 2500 calories a day
  • On average for a male 40-50, food intake below 2500 calories a day results in weight loss
  • On average for a male 40-50, food intake above 2500 calories a day results in weight gain
  • A pound of fat is about 3500 calories
  • About 250 calories are expended during 30 minutes of weight lifting
  • About 250 calories are expended during 30 minutes of running
  • About 300 calories are expended during 30 minutes of cycling

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Memories of Summer Heirloom Tomatoes

The leaves have turned.  There’s a chill in the air and the offer at the farmers market is shifting towards brussel sprouts, cabbage, and oh so many types of squash.  We’re now past high tomato season so I thought this was the perfect time to look back on all the ways we prepared and enjoyed a bumper crop of New Jersey heirloom tomatoes.  During the Summer, we came to know the Brandywines, Green Zebras, Speckled Romans, and the good old Beefsteak.  It was a relief to see this season’s heirloom crop looking so good as the weather this past summer has been unusual.  After a long, cold, and wet spring, we had a scorcher for a couple of weeks in June, with temperatures soaring into the high 90s, and that was followed by an unusually cool July and August.

The season for heirloom tomatoes is short and they don’t really keep well so the cook’s challenge is to incorporate them into every meal while they’re in season without eating them the same way over and over again.  A further challenge is how to prepare them in interesting ways without veering too far away from perfection in their uncooked state.  While most would agree that the best way to eat a juicy heirloom is on thick chewy bread with nothing more than salt, pepper, and mayo; there are many ways to savor and pair these delightful beauties.

We ate a steady diet of heirlooms at lunch and dinner for about four days at the height of the season.  Here’s what we ate along with instructions for these easy to make dishes.