Monday, June 9, 2014

Good and Evil

After a gloriously sunny weekend we awoke to a Monday morning of hard downpours and snarled traffic. I am thankful that at least we had the weekend to enjoy the sun. I sprinted across the street to begin my morning on the treadmill, but before I opened my book my mind began to wander to to-do lists of chores, activities, cooking and cleaning. Ah cleaning.
In my kitchen I have two sponges--one is the Good Sponge and one the Evil Sponge. They are both stored in the drop down drawer in front of my sink, the Good Sponge on the right and the Evil Sponge on the left. After dinner they are cleaned in the dishwasher, Good on the right, Evil on the left.

The Good Sponge is used to wash dishes, the Evil Sponge to clean. Simple, right? Throughout all of our married life my husband has refused  to grasp this concept. I say "refused" because it is a simple concept, not rocket science. Come to think of it, my husband has no problem grasping rocket science.So why the resistance? Simple. He thinks I'm nuts, so he just dismisses my reasoning, not paying any attention to what sponge he is using when.

I'm a little OCD you think. Perhaps, but at this stage of my life that is not going to change. Am I nuts, or do any of you have a Good and an Evil Sponge? Just saying.

Tell me.

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Olga's Pork Chops

My friend, L, has been telling me about Olga's pork chops forever. How they are the best pork chops she has ever made, how she will never (pronounced "neva") make pork chops any other way again, how I have to try them, and then she recites the recipe. Yeah, yeah I know-- but it's a pork chop. I would nod and smile politely but I never really heard her recipe recitation, and I never cooked them. Finally one day right before she launched into the recipe recitation yet again, I politely told her not to bother because I wouldn't remember it, assuming that finally would be the end to this brow beating. But if you know L, you know it was not. She dove into her ample handbag and pulled out a blank sheet of paper and a pen and wrote the recipe out for me whether I wanted it or not. This should surprise no one because one could find almost anything in that bag. Bandage scissors anyone? The recipe sat in my to-be-tried recipe file for quite a while before I tried it.

My apologies, friend. These are the best pork chops you will ever eat.

The chops are easy to prepare, but they do take some time to cook. It's a very forgiving recipe with a lot of wiggle room. You could use any cut, thickness, or quantity of pork chops you'd like. You just need to adjust the other ingredients accordingly.

For me, the star of this dish is the caramelized onion. For two people I start with one very large onion sliced thinly. I put it to cook in some olive oil, then continue to cook the slices low and slow over medium low heat until they are soft and caramel colored--for about 30 minutes. Then I season them with salt and remove them from the skillet.
I like to use 2 center cut, bone-in pork chops about 1/2 to 3/4 inch thick.  Beat one egg. Then in a shallow bowl mix one tablespoon flour with enough plain dry breadcrumbs to coat the 2 chops. According to Olga, yes there is an Olga, you can use all breadcrumbs, all flour, or a mixture of the two. Wiggle room. Heat some olive oil in the skillet, dip each chop in the beaten egg, then dredge in breadcrumb mixture, and saute in hot oil until browned on both sides.
Now you add about a cup of stock--I have used either beef or chicken--depending on how many chops you are cooking. Return the onions to the pan, cover with a lid, and simmer for 1 to 1 1/2 hours depending on the thickness of the pork chops. I check every now and then and baste the chops with the stock. Add more water to the pan if you need to.
Now you can try the best pork chops you have ever eaten.


Friday, March 28, 2014

Friday Fritatta

The changing sky from our balcony

I know, I know, I really need to stop whining about winter. But it is just days before April is scheduled to make its debut and it is 19 degrees. Brr. But the sunrise was beautiful and it just has to get warmer eventually, right?

On Fridays in Lent John and I don't eat meat. It is not really a sacrifice for us as many of our favorite foods don't involve meat. We can't really complain when Friday night dinners are often pizza, sushi, a piece of fish or my favorite--frittata.

Frittatas are flat, round Italian omelets that are quick and easy to make. And did I mention delicious?You could use your favorite vegetables in a frittata or use whatever bits and bobs are left in the fridge  at the end of the week. Frittatas are very forgiving and eggs the perfect backdrop for all manner of ingredients. Think ham and asparagus or bacon and onion or ricotta and spinach or potatoes and onions.

Making a frittata is much like making a risotto.Once you've mastered the method there are no limits.


 My Ricotta Frittata

6 eggs
4 tablespoons milk
1/4 cup grated Romano cheese
1/2 cup whole milk ricotta
olive oil to coat bottom of 10" skillet
2 red bell peppers, sliced
1 small onion, sliced
2-3 handfuls baby spinach, roughly chopped
Salt and pepper
1 tablespoon butter

Heat oven to 350 degrees.

Mix eggs with milk, grated cheese, and ricotta. Set aside.

Film the bottom of a 10" skillet with olive oil. Saute red peppers and onions over medium heat until they begin to soften and take on a bit of color. Add spinach to pan and saute mixture until spinach is wilted. Season with salt and pepper.

Melt 1 tablespoon butter in pan with vegetables. When butter begins to foam pour egg mixture over vegetables in pan distributing evenly.  

Cook over medium-low heat shaking pan and pulling frittata away from sides of pan so that the uncooked liquid flows to the bottom. Cook until eggs begin to set.

Transfer skillet to 350 degree oven and finish cooking for 5-10 minutes until eggs are set.

Along with a green salad this frittata serves two generously, perhaps with a couple of slices left over for breakfast.
Have a good weekend everyone, and cook something good.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Dinner Tonight

The temperature is 28 degrees and much too cold to be greeting a long awaited Spring. I enjoy the hearty comforting foods of winter as much as the next gal. But enough is enough, and I look forward to embracing the bright and fresh flavors of warmer weather.

But for tonight, hopefully one last time, I will be making a hearty soup filled with goodness. Barley and white beans mingle in a tasty chicken broth topped off with ribbons of  hearty escarole. Drizzle with a bit of extra virgin olive and a few shavings of Parmesan cheese and serve it forth one last time before Spring.

Barley, Bean and Escarole Soup

Adapted from a recipe from Eat This Poem
4 servings

1 medium onion, chopped
1 small fennel bulb, cored and chopped
1 carrot, peeled and chopped
1 celery stalk, chopped
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, plus more for serving
1/2 cup barley
Salt and pepper
1 garlic clove, minced
1 tablespoon tomato paste
pinch crushed red pepper flakes
4 cups chicken stock plus 2 cups water
1 small head escarole, roughly chopped
2 cups cooked cannellini beans
Parmesan cheese for serving

 Add onion, fennel, carrot, celery and garlic into bowl of food processor and pulse until finely chopped. In a large pot heat 2 tablespoons of oil over medium heat. Add the barley and cook, stirring often, until the grains are slightly browned, about 3 minutes.

Add the chopped vegetables to the barley and season with a generous pinch of salt and pepper. Saute, stirring occasionally, until vegetables have softened, about 6 to 8 minutes. Add the tomato paste and red pepper flakes and cook until the tomato paste is well incorporated.

Pour the broth into the pot and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, covered, until the barley is tender, 20 to 40 forty minutes.  Stir in the escarole and beans and cook, uncovered, until the escarole has wilted and the beans have warmed through.

Cook's Note:  If the barley has absorbed too much liquid, just add a bit more water to the soup when you stir in the escarole and beans.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014



One of the  daily writing prompts this month from Write Alm is "return." It  made me think that this may be the right time for me to return to this space.

The longer I stayed away from writing, the harder it became to write. It became easy to think I had nothing to say. My head was spinning from multiple major life changes and my thoughts were not cohesive. I was having a hard time adapting to all the changes.

When John changed his job, I lost mine because I had been working for him. Downsizing for our new home was both liberating and stressful. Packing, moving and furnishing a new home was both exciting and exhausting. Adapting to communal living was eye opening. And losing my mother at age 97 two weeks before we moved was overwhelming.

I am not complaining, just explaining. When I started writing this blog, five years ago this month, I wanted to encourage people to come back to the table. To take some time out at the end of the day to breathe, to cook and to share time with those you love.

Well, here are some of the dishes I have been cooking--

 Sesame Honeyed Almonds and Peppered Pecans

Winter Cauliflower Salad by Domenica Marchetti

Chicken Breast with Goat Cheese, Arugula and Lemon by Joanne Weir

So things are looking up, and they say Spring is just around the corner. The way I see it is that if choosing the perfect tile for the backsplash in my kitchen is my most difficult problem, and if I can look at the gorgeous sunrise pictured above as I cross the road to the gym in the morning and gaze at the beautiful sunset pictured below while I'm making dinner,well, then life is pretty good.

What has everyone else been cooking?

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

How To Eat Alone

I just love this link.  I hope you do, too.


Sunday, July 21, 2013

Moving On

It's been quite some time since I visited my own pages here. As usually takes place with John and me,everything seems to happen at once.

The short version is that John was offered a full-time job at the insurance company for which he has been working part-time for years. It was an offer too good to refuse that came at just the right time. So he took the job and sold his medical practice.

In the meantime, we saw a smaller condominium nearby that we really liked, put down a deposit, listed our house and sold it. Phew!

Needless to say, all the work attendant to selling a business, preparing the house to sell, and the actual showings and negotiations all proved very time consuming and stressful. All of this began mid April and now I am spending my days weeding through what seems like endless possessions all of which seemed vitally necessary at one time or another. And I'm packing, of course.  One good thing is that the buyers of our house have bought a good deal of our furniture so I am trying to let go of everything we don't need. In a way it's liberating. In a way it's not.

I barely have been able to breathe over these past few months, let alone cook. We eat mostly vegetables, salads and a piece of grilled protein. If I crave anything it's comfort food like a soft-boiled egg reminiscent of my childhood.
Or a zucchini frittata made with fresh ricotta.
Or a bowl of chickpeas with Indian spices.
And lots and lots of coffee.
And a little bit of alcohol.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Familiar Patterns

The temperature, after many false starts, is finally rising in New Jersey. Although one still needs to wear a light jacket, the sun is shining through--a mood elevator for sure.

When my life gets crazy, as it is right now, I tend to become super organized. Controlling the quotidian aspects of my life makes me feel less out of control. I am one of those people who finds comfort in familiar patterns and the predictability of routine. And one of my patterns is very predictable as I've said before--I go into the kitchen to cook.

This week I made a few tasty dishes for week-night dining. As I was racing through the market one afternoon, I saw some very nice flounder filets. I knew that at home I had some shallots, garlic and feta cheese, so I grabbed a bunch of spinach as I flew through the produce aisle.

When I got home,  I poured some olive oil into a saute pan, added a large minced shallot and brought the pan up to heat. I cooked the shallot until it was starting to soften then added a clove of garlic, minced.

In the mean time I cleaned and chopped the spinach then dropped it into the pan and sauteed for a couple of minutes. When it was wilted I turned off the heat and tossed in a handful of cubed feta cheese, letting it soften a bit then setting it aside to cool.

When it was time to prepare dinner I laid out the filets and put about 2 tablespoons of filling on each one. I rolled them up and placed them into an oiled baking dish, sprinkled them with olive oil and a dusting of paprika.  Then into a 400 degree oven for about 20 minutes until cooked through but not dry.

Not bad for a Wednesday night.


 Spinach and Feta Stuffed Flounder Filets

1 pound flounder filets (4)
10 ounces fresh spinach
1/3 cup feta cheese, cut into small cubes
Olive oil for pan
1 large shallot, minced
1 clove garlic, minced
Pinch ground nutmeg
Salt and pepper to taste

Pour olive oil into saute pan, add minced shallot and bring pan up to heat. When shallots start to soften add minced garlic and saute until translucent.  Add spinach to pan and saute for about 3 minutes, until wilted.

Off heat add feta cheese and stir until it just begins to soften. Season with nutmeg and salt and pepper to taste. Set aside to cool.

Season flounder filets with salt and pepper, then place about 2 tablespoons of the filling onto each filet. Roll fish filets and place in an oiled baking dish, seam side down. Drizzle fish with some olive oil and sprinkle with some paprika.

Bake in 400 degree oven, uncovered, for about 20 minutes until fish is firm but not dried out.

Serves 3-4

Thursday, April 4, 2013


The calendar says it's Spring, but here in the Northeast it is still just 29 degrees. Enough already! It's April for goodness sake. The weather did not cooperate when we were in Los Angeles either to celebrate Chris' birthday. What was predicted to be 80 degrees and sunny was really cool and cloudy with a marine layer that never lifted. That being said we were never deterred from eating at Chris' and Jess' favorite restaurants.

We had great burgers at Plan Check in their funky West L.A. neighborhood. Well-crafted anejo honey sours at the Peruvian restaurant, Picca. And fabulous fire-roasted vegetables and pizzas at Gjelina in Venice Beach--just to name a few outings.

Back at home I was still hoping for Spring when I came across this beautiful and delicious radish salad to brighten the day.
Next came Easter. Our Easter celebrations usually range from large gatherings to very large gatherings, but this year was a much smaller group. We were to be six adults and three children,  so I decided to keep the cooking low key.

There was no mixed antipasto, no glazed ham this year, no sweet potato casserole, no baked rigatoni with beschamel and prosciutto. And I don't remember the last Easter that I did not make Aunt Louise's Cheesecake.

Instead, I  served a shrimp cocktail to accompany a glass of champagne before dinner. Then came a perfectly cooked, if I do say so, filet of beef  served with slender haricot vert, parboiled then sauteed in butter,  and roasted new potatoes, followed by a salad of baby lettuces. Dessert was easy--cupcakes for the kids, and a very simple coffee cake along side a bowl overflowing with ripe strawberries and whipped cream.

This was the surprise--the coffee cake was the hit of the day. Who knew?
I found this recipe in one of my old kitchen notebooks. I used to make it a lot when we were first married and have no recollection where it came from. This unpretentious cake is quick to put together, small enough not to last forever and delicious!
Ready for the oven
Out of the oven

I knew it was a hit when my niece's 8 year old son said,"This is the best coffee cake I ever had. I wouldn't mind taking the rest home."  With pleasure, Tucker.


For Cake:

3 tablespoons softened butter
1/2 cup sugar
1 egg
1 cup flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup milk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla

Heat oven to 350 degrees and butter an 8 inch square or round baking pan.

Mix butter with sugar; add egg and beat until creamy.

Mix together dry ingredients. Add to sugar mixture alternately with milk and mix to incorporate. Add vanilla and stir. Spread batter evenly in a buttered 8 inch square or round pan.

Sprinkle with topping and bake at 350 degrees for 25 to 30 minutes until done.


Mix 1/3 cup brown sugar, 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon 1/4 cup flour and 3 tablespoon cold butter until crumbly.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Rachel's Chicken alla Romana

Chicken all Romana a la Rachel

This past week has been a tough one for me, and I am beginning to realize that one of my coping mechanisms is to cook. Duh! Although I have been in a winter funk food wise, I made no fewer than six new-to-me-recipes over the past two weeks. Some were good, one not so good.

Ina Garten's Lemon Chicken with Croutons was a total disappointment. My chicken lacked the flavorful juiciness that was to flow over the crisp croutons. The staff of one national magazine dubbed this recipe "Engagement Chicken" because every staffer who made it for a date ended up engaged to be married. Let's say that I am glad that I've been married for forty-one years.

Next came a scrumptious Orecchiette with rapini and goat cheese from Saveur via David Lebovitz' Pinterest Board which we shared with L and J along with a nice Sauvignon blanc.

One cold afternoon I simmered a Sausage and Pork Ragu for four hours then tossed some with rigatoni and dusted the dish with Pecorino Romano cheese. This was shared with T and J with a lovely Amarone.
No photo of the finished dish--so this is the beginnings of the sofrito base

I've already written about the deliciousness that is Domenica Marchetti's Crema di Pomodoro Soup,  a great addition to any cold-weather soup repertoire.

But my favorite of the week has to be Pollo Alla Romana from rachel eats. Rachel's food is straight forward and quite satisfying. Braising is one of my favorite ways to cook chicken, especially in the winter, and this chicken braise does not disappoint. Using a good chicken, some pancetta, white wine, canned tomatoes and beautifully ripe red peppers you will be able to create a delicious dish. Click on the recipe and start cooking.

Cook's Notes: Instead of a whole chicken, cut up, I used 8 chicken thighs. I used about 2 ounces pancetta, 6 ounces of white wine and a 14.5 ounce can of diced tomatoes, drained. May be made ahead and reheated before serving.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Crema di Pomodoro

As anyone who reads about food knows food fads come and go. Cauliflower has now replaced broccoli  as the darling of the cruciferous family. And, yes, we all know that we must roast our vegetables--it is the only way--it brings out such nuttiness. I'll say. But how about trying these picatta-style cauliflower steaks for your next meatless meal?  Okay, they're roasted, but it's how they're treated next that is the treat. Or try cooking the cauliflower like the Italians do--until it is actually cooked through--add some black olives and toss with your favorite pasta like Rachel does.

Is there any other leafy green vegetable out there besides kale? Seriously?  Tender spinach sauteed in olive oil and finished with some balsamic vinegar and golden raisins is a quick and delicious side dish. Or try my personal favorite, escarole. Escarole is  so versatile and much under utilized. It's great sauteed in olive  oil with garlic and eaten alongside chicken or a veal chop. It can be stuffed, or cooked in soup. Give it a try.

This season the most ubiquitous recipe award goes to tomato soup. The best tomato soup recipe is  everywhere you look. Even I have a best tomato soup recipe, but I only make it at the end of  summer when Jersey tomatoes are at their peak. But now I  think I found a winner for winter.

This recipe by Domenica Marchetti is just what I was looking for for Friday night's dinner, the first Friday in Lent. It ticks all the boxes--simple ingredients, ease of preparation, meatless and delicious! Good quality canned tomatoes are key here. It could be prepared handily after work giving you a hot, fulfilling meal in a little over an hour.
Give it a try!

Cook's Note: It took forever for the thinly sliced carrots to cook. Next time I will dice them. Even if you plan to serve this soup to a group of Lilliputians I doubt that it would serve six. I served grilled smoked Gouda cheese sandwiches with the soup. We were very happy.

Friday, February 8, 2013

Here We Go Again

It's snowing already, and we're now under a blizzard watch. Seriously? It feels like "deja vu all over again."

So I'm finishing up the work on my desk and heading into the kitchen to make a mid-morning cappuccino. After that  I'll be making vegetable soup for lunch today and tomorrow, and maybe I'll throw in some of these grilled cheese croutons.

It's hard to get snowed in when you live in a densely populated county just ten miles outside of New York City, but it will probably be  one of those cocooning weekends in front of the fireplace with some good movies and good books--we're halfway through Netflix's new series, House of Cards.

But just for the fun of it, I'm ordering myself  a new midnight blue swimsuit this afternoon. A girl can dream of sunnier days, can't she?

What are you doing this weekend?

Chickpea  and Spinach Stew with Ginger

This is my spin on a recipe by J. Kenji Lopez-Alt

1 28-ounce can whole peeled tomatoes
1 1-inch knob ginger, peeled and sliced
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
6 ounces fresh baby spinach, roughly chopped
2 15-ounce cans chickpeas, drained and rinsed, (my favorite brand is Goya); or approximately 4 cups cooked chickpeas
1 cup water
2 teaspoons soy sauce
Kosher salt
Sherry vinegar for serving

Drain tomatoes in strainer placed over medium bowl.  Transfer liquid, half the tomatoes and the ginger to blender. Blend on high speed until completely pureed. Set aside. Roughly chop remaining tomatoes and set aside.

Heat olive oil on medium-high heat in soup pot. Add onion, garlic, and parika, and cook, stirring frequently, until softened. Add tomato-ginger puree and stir to combine. Add spinach a handful at a time, allowing each handful to wilt before adding the next. Add salt to taste. Reduce heat to medium and simmer spinach mixture, stirring occasionally, until spinach is completely tender, about 10 minutes.

Add chopped tomatoes, chick peas, 1 cup of water and soy sauce. Bring to boil over high heat, then reduce to a simmer, and cook, stirring occasionally, until slightly thickened, about 10 minutes. Correct seasoning and serve drizzled with a few drops of sherry vinegar.

Serves 2


Monday, January 21, 2013

With what seemed to be a marathon of cooking and entertaining during the holidays behind me, it was time for a break. Whew. While I would have loved to be basking in the sun on the beach, I have had to settle for closing out the business books and transferring end-of-year files in my home office. Boring, right?

But since the above photo is indicative of the what January's weather has been like around here, staying at home, reading some books, watching some movies and not cooking large meals has been just fine with me.

In fact,  I hope to catch up on my blog reading, plan a trip to Los Angeles for Chris' 30th!!! birthday, meet some friends for dinner and others for lunch, eat lighter, exercise more, and day dream about our trip to St. Thomas in the Spring. Ah, Spring, it will be here before you know it.

In the meantime, here is a recipe for a cracker I made last week. It is spicy and buttery and goes perfectly with a Martini or a glass of wine. I think it also would make a good accompaniment to a steaming bowl of soup or stew. Enjoy.

Cacio e Pepe Crackers

1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt
2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
1 cup grated Pecorino Romano cheese
8 tablespoons (1 stick) cold unsalted butter, diced

Position oven rack to center of oven and heat oven to 350 degrees. Line  a baking sheet with parchment.

Combine flour, salt and pepper in the bowl of a food processor and pulse to combine. Add the cheese and pulse to incorporate. Add butter and pulse until the mixture is coarsely combined and looks like wet sand. Slowly drizzle in 1- 2 tablespoons of cold water and pulse until the mixture begins to form a ball.

Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and shape into a 12-inch long log. Wrap the log in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 1 hour and up to 1 week.

Cut log crosswise into 1/4 or 1/2 inch slices and bake 20 to 25 minutes until the crackers are very lightly browned.

Makes about 30 crackers

Cook's Note: Depending on your flour and the weather, you may need to add more than 2 tablespoons of water. Instead of one long log, I made two shorter ones and put one in the freezer for later. Both uncooked dough and baked crackers keep well in the freezer.

Monday, December 24, 2012


The holi-daze are here. You know what I mean. I love the reason for the season, but all of the holiday hubbub often gets me down.This year is different as our son, Chris, is home for Christmas for two weeks. I am grateful our child--still our child at any age--has arrived here safely along with his girlfriend and her pooch, and I am embracing the youthful energy and activity.

Of course, mixers are whirring, pasta pots boiling, saute pans sizzling and Dutch ovens simmering. Dinners are being cooked and lingered over, dinner parties are being planned and some restaurant dinners are thrown in for good measure.

I hope all of you have everything you want this holiday season, and enjoy good health, joy and abundance in the new year.

I would like to share some of our favorite things this season through the links below:

My absolute favorite recipe for gingersnaps 

Chocolate Cherry and Chile Biscotti

A delicious make-ahead dish of honeyed chicken with raisins and apricots

Skillet Rosemary Chicken with Potatoes

We had a great dinner at ABC Kitchen in NYC--the Ginger Margaritas are outrageous

One of Chris' favorite pasta recipes for dinner tonight Pasta with Pumpkin and Sausage


Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Giving Thanks

Wishing all of you a Thanksgiving filled with friends and family, love, bounty and gratitude.

Here is a recipe for a wonderful roasted winter vegetable spread.  It is great on crostini as an appetizer, as a sandwich spread, and even on whole wheat toast for breakfast. Enjoy!

Winter Vegetable Spread

1 small sweet potato, 6-8 ounces
1 small butternut squash, 1 1/2 pounds, halved and seeded
6 cloves garlic, unpeeled
Extra virgin olive oil
1/2 teaspoon salt
Black pepper
1/2 teaspoon leaf thyme, crumbled, or fresh thyme to taste

Heat oven to 400 degrees. Roast the butternut squash, cut side down, and sweet potato until very tender, about 45 minutes. Add unpeeled garlic sprinkled with a little extra virgin olive oil for the last 20 minutes of roasting time.

Scoop cooked flesh into food processor and whirl until almost smooth. Squeeze roasted garlic into mixture to incorporate along with 1 teaspoon of extra virgin olive oil. Season with salt and pepper.  Serve at room temperature.

This keeps well covered in the refrigerator for several days.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Just Breathe

The worst thing was the Halloween candy.

 Two weeks after two back-to-back storms the East coast is still reeling and dealing with the aftermath. I am thankful that we did not experience any damage or injury, and compared to what others are still suffering, a little over a week without power was just a minor inconvenience.

Through it all I cooked. It never occurred to me not to cook dinner. One dark and cold night as I stood at the cook top sauteeing veal chops in Marsala wine, perhaps sensing an oncoming melt-down, John stood holding the flashlight. Seeing the absurdity of the situation I said, "What in the world am I doing?" "What you always do," he said. Cooking. As usual."

Chris kept in touch from the West coast with texts. It still amazes me that his generation actually thinks that texting is the same as talking. "How's it going? Btw what have you been eating?" "I have been cooking. In the dark. As usual." "OK cool."

So when all is said and done, as Denise reminded me, cooking and our kitchens do comfort us. So it was fitting to make this hearty sausage and bean dish for dinner the other night.

I cut one pound of hot sausages into pieces and sauteed them in a heavy Dutch oven. When they were brown, I added a crushed garlic clove, some fresh rosemary, a little salt and pepper and a large can of cannellini beans, drained.  Then came a splash or two of red wine letting it cook down for about 30 seconds. Next I added about one cup of canned tomatoes, crushing them as I put them in. I then cooked the sausage mixture with the lid askew for about 30 minutes. Perfect.

Oh, the Halloween candy? The worst thing was that I ate it all!

Friday, November 9, 2012

Saffron Rice and a book from An Edible Mosaic

There's good news for all of you have been reading the delightful blog, An Edible Mosaic, hosted by Faith Gorsky. Faith's blog was one of the first blogs I began following when I started Cooking At Home in 2009, the same year that Faith began writing hers.

Faith has just had her first cookbook released--An Edible Mosaic: Middle Eastern Fare with Extraordinary Flair--and I am pleased to be participating in her virtual book launch party and sharing a recipe from her book.

Faith is a writer, recipe developer, photographer and food stylist who lives in upstate New York with her husband, Michael.  After their marriage they spent six months in the Middle East where she fell in love with the culture and the cuisine. On each return visit, she has delved deeper into the cuisine and deepened her passion for the region.  These authentic recipes were taught to Faith mostly by her mother-in-law, but Faith has streamlined them somewhat for the way we cook today.

The recipe I am sharing from the book is for Saffron Rice with Golden Rasins and Pine Nuts, along with a variation for Mixed White and Yellow rice. The book is available from Amazon and Barnes and Noble.

After you check out the recipe below, head over to Faith's virtual book launch party at her blog to enter to win some great giveaways.

Congratulations, Faith.

Saffron Rice with Golden Raisins and Pine Nuts

Recipe courtesy of An Edible Mosaic:  Middle Eastern Fare with Extraordinary Flair by Faith Gorsky (Tuttle Publishing; Nov. 2012); reprinted with permission.

Serves 4 to 6
Preparation Time: 10 minutes
Cooking Time: 20 minutes, plus 15 minutes to let the rice sit after cooking

1½ cups (325 g) basmati rice, rinsed
2 tablespoons olive oil
3 tablespoons pine nuts
1 onion, finely diced
4 tablespoons sultanas (golden raisins)
1¾ cups (425 ml) boiling water
¾ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon saffron threads (or ½ teaspoon turmeric)

1.    Soak the rice in tepid water for 10 minutes; drain. While the rice is soaking, put half a kettle of water on to boil.
2.    Add the oil to a medium, thick-bottomed lidded saucepan over medium heat. Add the pine nuts and cook until golden brown, about 1 to 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Transfer the pine nuts to a small bowl and set aside.
3.    Add the onion to the saucepan you cooked the pine nuts in, and cook until softened and just starting to brown, about 5 to 7 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the rice and cook 2 minutes, stirring frequently. Stir in the sultanas, boiling water, salt, and saffron (or turmeric), turn the heat up to high, and bring it to a rolling boil.
4.    Give the rice a stir, then cover the saucepan, turn the heat down to very low, and cook until tender, about 10 minutes (do not open the lid during this time). Turn the heat off and let the rice sit (covered) 15 minutes, then fluff with a fork.
5.    Transfer to a serving dish and sprinkle the toasted pine nuts on top; serve.

OPTIONAL Add two pods of cardamom, two whole cloves, and one 2-inch (5 cm) piece of cinnamon stick at the same time that you add the rice.

Mixed White and Yellow Rice

Serves 4 to 6
Preparation Time: 10 minutes
Cooking Time: 20 minutes, plus 15 minutes to let the rice sit after cooking

1½ cups (325 g) uncooked basmati rice, rinsed
2 tablespoons oil
1 onion, finely diced
1 bay leaf
2 whole cloves
2 pods cardamom, cracked open
2 whole peppercorns
¾ teaspoon salt
1¾ cups (425 ml) boiling water
1-2 pinches saffron threads or ½ teaspoon turmeric dissolved in 1 tablespoon hot water

1.    Soak the rice in tepid water for 10 minutes; drain. While the rice is soaking, put half a kettle of water on to boil.
2.    Add the oil to a medium, thick-bottomed lidded saucepan, cover and place over moderately high heat. Once hot, add the onion and cook until softened, about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
3.    Add the rice, bay leaf, cloves, cardamom pods, peppercorns, and salt, and cook until fragrant, about 2 minutes, stirring frequently. Add the boiling water to the rice, turn heat up to high, and bring it to a rolling boil. Give it a stir, cover the pot, turn heat down to very low, and cook 10 minutes (don’t open the lid during this time).
4.    After the rice is cooked, let the pot sit with the lid on for 15 minutes, then fluff the rice with a fork. Transfer 1/3 of the rice to a separate bowl.
5.    Stir the saffron or turmeric-colored water into 1/3 of the rice (the rice will turn yellow). Mix together the yellow rice and white rice; serve.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Waiting for Sandy

Portable radio--check
Water and food--check
Melitta cone and filters for coffee--check
Laundry clean, dry and folded--check
Kindle loaded with books--check
All electronic devices charged--check

And now we wait.

So what did I do in the days leading up to Hurricane Sandy? Yes, that's right, I cooked.

Pesto meatballs and tomato sauce, pumpkin turkey chili, beef barely soup  and the still-cooling Bran muffins, this time studded with plump raisins.

And now we wait--and pray.

To all on the East Coast, stay safe.