Get new posts by email:

Monday, August 15, 2022

Gazpacho Goodness

This is my go-to summer favorite for years now--try with a 28 oz. time-saving can of whole peeled San Marzano tomatoes, ease up on the olive oil if you'd like, but by all means enjoy, whatever you do! 

Gazpacho Andaluz
Adapted from Saveur

Probably invented in Seville, gazpacho was originally served at the end of a meal. Though there are many versions of this soup, "the traditional, tomato-based Andalusian variety is the one you want to find on your table on a hot afternoon or warm evening. It's salad in a blender; summer in a bowl"...!

1 slice country-style bread, about 1" thick, crusts removed 

2 small cucumbers, peeled, seeded, and chopped 

2 lbs. very ripe tomatoes, seeded and coarsely chopped 

1 clove garlic, peeled and chopped 

2 tbsp. sherry vinegar 

1⁄2 cup extra-virgin olive oil Salt

Optional garnishes: 1⁄2 green pepper, seeded and finely diced; 1⁄2 cucumber, peeled, seeded, and finely diced; 1 cup 1⁄2-inch croutons; 1⁄2 small white onion, peeled and finely diced; 1 small tomato, seeded and finely diced

1. Soak bread for 12 hour in a small bowl in water to cover. Squeeze out moisture with your hands.

2. Purée bread, cucumbers, tomatoes, garlic, vinegar, olive oil, and 1 cup water in a food processor until very smooth.

3. Push purée through a coarse sieve with the back of a wooden spoon. Gazpacho should be fairly thin. Season to taste with salt.

4. Chill gazpacho in refrigerator for at least 2 hours. Adjust seasoning. Serve in individual glasses, or in soup bowls with garnishes on the side.

This article was first published in Saveur in Issue #7

Tuesday, July 5, 2022

A Sumptuous Summer Salad

This salad was so beautiful and delicious, each bite a different delight! The method is simple too and only requires just a touch of artistry when composing--summer does the rest.

Scatter fresh arugula leaves on a platter, shred some proscuitto, slice up ripe stone fruit (we used white peaches) and arrange artfully. Drop a luscious orb of burrata cheese on top--if you are not familiar with burrata, it's high time you become well-acquainted. A ball of mozzarella cheese holds a treasure of luscious stracciatella and cream, which oozes out when cut open. Yes! Drizzle some olive oil and a squeeze or two of lemon over the whole thing and season with some freshly ground black pepper and Maldon sea salt flakes. Add your favorite herbs if you like, or add some fennel fronds to the mix. 

Instead of stone fruit, perhaps you have some juicy melon on hand? Try that with some fresh figs and take a bite out of summer! 


Thursday, February 24, 2022

Tonight's Menu - Outstanding Rib Roast

I did a little rearranging not so long ago (one night when I couldn't sleep) and removed our dining room table. But then we were having guests over for dinner in a few days, so what to do until the new table arrived? Well, gougeres at our apartment for appetizers and wine and then move across the hall to our friends place for a proper sit-down! I set their table the evening before and prepped as much as I could ahead of time so our migration would be quite effortless. Here is what was on the menu, with links: 

Tonight's Menu 
Serves Six 

Gougeres - serve with an inspiring red wine 
Yorkshire Puddings with Lobster in a Vanilla Chive Sauce - a little bit of a twist here; I used the sauce to pour over the Yorkshire Puddings instead of the Bread Pudding the recipe suggests 
Standing Rib Roast (four bones), unwrapped from packaging and let dry for 2 hours in fridge sprinkled with salt, pepper and Bavarian Seasoning from Penzey's, cooked until internal temp was 135 degrees--let stand for 20 minutes 
Boston Cooking School Brownies and slivers of Harvey Wallbanger Cake that I revived from an old post, topped with pistachio ice cream. 

What an outstanding evening we had indeed! 

 Soundtrack: Dexter Gordon, Ballads; Stanley Turrentine, The Spoiler; Miles Davis, Birth of the Cool; Horace Silver and The Jazz Messengers

Sunday, April 4, 2021

Easter For Two


Baby and I had Easter to ourselves this year (except for a few calls to and from family). This did not, however, stop us from making a considerable amount of food. A lamb recipe courtesy of Eleven Madison Park inspired me to make a Greek Easter dinner, having made a Roman Easter holiday not too long ago via Saveur magazine. I thought to take another trip across the world! This was not exactly a sit-down: we lazed and grazed the entire afternoon, watching movies in between our preparations while maneuvering the dishwasher and putting out the next courses when we were hungry again. Our table was colorful; scribbled in pink and periwinkle blue with gold foil chocolate rabbits, brass candlesticks handed down to me from a relative and my Nana's beautifully etched Champagne glasses from the 1920's for a proper toast. So fun!  

Today's Menu
Avgolemeno Soup
Fettucine with Sauteed Artichokes
Roasted Rack of Lamb
Almond Fig Cake with Pistachio Gelato
Pommery Champagne

After having some jelly beans for breakfast, we launched into an easily made, classic velvety avgolemono soup with lemon and orzo (instead of suggested long grain white rice) shortly after noon. Also we cut corners by using purchased College Inn broth with roasted chicken thighs that we had on hand, instead of making our own arduous stock.

Our pasta course was served with fresh fettucine and canned artichokes--not the heart-breaking, endless peeling variety and only sauteed briefly, not roasted as the recipe suggests. We shared a split of starched and dry Pommery Champagne, Brut Classico with this dish.

Two frenched racks of lamb were the mains, seen here mainly unadorned, before we slathered tzatziki on it. I did not suffer over suspending and draining the cucumbers for 48 hours as the recipe suggests to make the cucumber yogurt; I merely ordered delicious prepared tzatziki from

Almond fig cake with pistachio gelato was a fine dessert, with of course some chocolate eggs and more jelly beans that were scattered about. This was a great finish with some high-octane Ouzo!

Happy Easter!

Soundtrack: The Beach Music Sound; Patio Pool Party; Horace Silver and the Jazz Messengers; Miles Davis, Birth of the Cool; Miles Davis, Cookin' with The Miles Davis Quintet

Wednesday, March 24, 2021

Easter Lamb

Easter is less than two weeks away--spring lamb is what's going to be on our table this year! Baby and I are making it easy with dinner for just the two of us. Not sure yet what will round out the rest of the menu but I'm thinking of a Greek slant this year based on the lamb recipe, with lemon chicken soup (classic Greek avgolemono) to start, a pasta course with grilled artichokes and a dish of dates and figs for a fine finish. Although I am not a fan of Greek retsina wine (shocking, I know), I do believe a chilled, fizzy bottle of Perrier-Jouet Champagne will be an ample substitute!

Lamb Rack with Cucumber Yogurt
From the I Love New York Cookbook:

Cucumber Yogurt
11/2 cups plain Greek-style yogurt
2 cucumbers
2 teaspoons lemon juice
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 clove garlic
11/2 tablespoons chopped dill
Line a colander with a quadruple layer of cheesecloth and pour the yogurt into the cheesecloth. Suspend over a large bowl and refrigerate for 48 hours, allowing the moisture to drain from the yogurt. Peel and grate the cucumbers on a box grater.
season with 1 teaspoon of salt and hang in a quadruple layer of cheese-cloth to drain excess moisture, about 1 hour. Measure 1 cup of the drained yogurt and reserve the rest for another use.
Combine the cup of yogurt and the drained cucumbers in a medium bowl.
stir in the lemon juice and olive oil. Grate the garlic on a Microplane grater into the mixture and fold in the chopped dill. Mix well and season with salt to taste.

Roasted Lamb Rack
1 tablespoon canola oil
1 lamb rack (about 2 1/4 pounds), frenched and tied
2 tablespoons butter
5 sprigs thyme
1 clove garlic, crushed but kept whole
Preheat the oven to 300°F. Heat a large cast-iron skillet over high heat. Season the lamb rack generously with salt. Place the rack in the skillet fat side down and sear over high heat until browned, 21/2 to 3 minutes. Turn and sear the bottom for 1 minute. Turn the rack back onto the fat side and add the butter, thyme, and garlic. Baste the rack with the butter for 21/2 to 3 minutes. Transfer the lamb rack fat side up to a wire rack set in a rimmed baking sheet and roast in the oven for 10 minutes. Turn the lamb rack over, baste with butter, and return to the oven for another 10 minutes. Remove the lamb rack from the oven, turn it back over, and baste once more. Roast in the oven for another 10 to 15 minutes, until the internal temperature reaches 130° to 135°F. Let the lamb rack rest for 10 to 15 minutes before slicing. Serve with the cucumber yogurt and heirloom tomatoes.

Thanks to Eleven Madison Park for the recipe and photo! 

Monday, November 23, 2020

Turkey with Pumpkin Mole Sauce

Thoughts on Thanksgiving leftovers...? Well, I do keep a loose flurry of recipes that I have amassed over the years. This one, in my old binder, was apparently printed in 2004 and lay there, in wait. I'm so glad I riffled through the binder and found this old chestnut for chicken with pumpkin mole sauce--it's delicious! But let's talk turkey--why not try this recipe with a proud Tom this year? 

Now, I love traditional chicken mole as you might know and was delighted with this new pumpkin version. As often happens, I find there are delicious recipes to be discovered, waiting to be tailored to one's personal taste, the season, or even dietary restrictions. I, for example, am someone who does not like it spicy hot and I have an aversion to tomatoes (or rather they do to me). I substituted white cannellini beans for substance and the squeezes of fresh lime wedges made up for the acidity. My version was a smaller set-up designed for two and was all quite wonderful. The basic recipe is below with personal reflections and time-saving suggestions in italics. The link is here and thanks to Bon Appetit, and chef Rick Bayless for the recipe!

Chicken (or Turkey) with Creamy Pumpkin Mole Sauce
Serves 2

4 1/2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 3-inch-diameter slice white onion (1/2 inch thick), separated into rings
2 garlic cloves, peeled (I used a garlic ginger paste that I had on hand, to great effect! About 2 teaspoons)
1 5x3x1/2-inch-thick slice country white bread, crust trimmed (I used a single onion brioche roll, not trimmed, just easier)
3/4 cup drained canned diced tomatoes (insert cannellini beans here)
1 1/2 cups low-salt chicken broth
1 canned chipotle chile (or so, some like it hot!)
1 cup canned pure pumpkin
1/3 cup whipping cream (I used fat-free sour cream, thank you)
2 teaspoons dark brown sugar
1 skinless boneless chicken breast (I used 1 huge chicken breast, bone-in--or shredded turkey!)
Fresh cilantro sprigs (nope)
Lime wedges (yes!)

(Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees)

  1. In same large pot, heat 1 1/2 tablespoons oil over medium-high heat. Add onion rings and (garlic and ginger paste). Sauté until brown, about 4 minutes. Transfer to processor, leaving oil in pot. Add bread to processor (reserve pot). Add tomatoes (or beans) to processor. Puree mixture until smooth. Transfer tomato puree (or beans) to small bowl (do not clean processor). Add 1/2 cup broth and (1 ) chipotle chile to processor. Puree until smooth.
  2. Add 1 tablespoon oil to reserved pot. Heat over medium-high heat. Add chile puree; cook until puree thickens and darkens, stirring often, about 1 1/2 minutes. Add tomato (or bean) puree. Simmer until thick, stirring often, about 4 minutes. Whisk in pumpkin and 3 cups broth. Bring to boil. Reduce heat to medium-low. Simmer until mole thickens and reduces to 3 1/3 cups, about 30 minutes. Put chicken in oven for 25 minutes. Whisk in whipping cream (or sour cream) and sugar. Season to taste with salt. 
  3. (NOTE: If you are using leftover turkey, just add pumpkin sauce to it here, with the sour cream and sugar, and put in oven for 20 minutes. There is no need to cook further after that--you are really just warming up the turkey and letting the flavors blend together. Otherwise, proceed as below!)
Cook chicken for 20 minutes more, adding sauce and covering. Sprinkle chicken generously with salt. Let rest for at least 10 minutes, cover slipped to the side to cool, before serving. Spritz with lime. Dress with chicken-flavored rice!

The link to the actual recipe is here. Thank you for the recipe!

Monday, August 10, 2020

The Wind in the Willows

"Why didn't you invite me, Ratty?"
Illustration by Tasha Tudor

I recently reread Kenneth Grahame's classic novel, The Wind in the Willows, concerning a collection of rather well-to-do animals at times skittering about, languidly discussing ideas, or extolling the virtues of nature. Such wonder! There's a grandiose, preposterous (while still quite amiable in his delusions) toad on the wrong side of the law, a couple of critters who nearly succumb to the sea in response to the siren song of the Sea Rat and his wayfaring ways. And also, lovingly wrapped in the pages--a pausing meditation on dawn.

And boy, do the little fellows love to eat! They rarely ever stop--if not eating, they're talking about eating, or talking about food while eating! I was enamored of the fat, wicker luncheon basket that the Water Rat and Mole share, its contents including, "cold tongue cold ham cold beef pickled gherkins salad french rolls cress sandwidges potted meat ginger beer lemonade soda water..."

We had a few friends over and I served such things as these one entirely civilized afternoon. Perhaps I skipped the tongue and potted meat and watercress but the package of DAK boiled ham, Pillsbury crescent rolls, thinly sliced cucumbers on buttered white bread, bread and butter pickle coins and figgy orange jam stepped in nimbly and rose most admirably! Pink fizzy lemonade, fruity seltzer water and an excellent chilled white Chardonnay-Viognier refreshed the gathering.

I also happened to find an absolutely charming copy of The Wind in the Willows Country Cookbook (pub. 1983) on ebay, with recipes by Arabella Boxer and fine illustrations by Ernest H. Shepard. Contents reveal FOOD FOR varying occasions such as, "...staying at home...excursions...the storage cupboard..." I found a recipe for Refrigerator Cookies from the latter section while perusing other things such as Snowfalls in Dark Woods, Leafy Summer Lettuce Snacks and Very Easy Flapjacks.

A guideline for Refrigerator Cookies may be found here thanks to However, the recipe in The Wind in the Willows Country Cookbook simply deals with 6 TB butter, 1/2 cup superfine sugar, 1 egg, 1 1/2 cups self-rising flower and a pinch of salt--dispensing with the cinnamon, walnuts, baking soda and cream of tartar called for on

"Believe me, my young friend, there is nothing--absolutely nothing--half so much worth doing as simply messing about in boats..." And eating, apparently! Do enjoy!