WHEN YOU HAVE A FRIDGE FULL OF TURKEY and a house full of guests, the best way to handle both is a big casserole of turkey pot pie, just like this one. It’s a new riff on the Barefoot Contessa’s chicken pot pie recipe we made over once (and still the number one recipe of all time on Foodlets), but it’s simpler, almost healthier and of course you could make it with chicken too. [Read more...]
WHEN GRANDMA COMES TO TOWN, our kitchen goes into overdrive. Paul’s mom and dad were here for a visit over Thanksgiving and made one of Paul’s childhood favorites, apricot tarts. It’s an old recipe, the original could have, maybe come from a newspaper but this version has definitely been passed around church groups, through family members and lucky me, I’m the newest one to have it.
Like most of his mom’s cooking (take her amazing zucchini lasagna), these whole wheat tarts are pretty healthy. And at least as important, they’re easy to make. The girls had a great time helping form dough in the mini-muffin pan. Recipes like this one with little pockets where small kids can help are more and more on my mind these days. [Read more...]
HERE’S THE PINT-SIZED REVIEW FOR THIS ONE: “I like it a little bit.” That would be Phoebe (4) when I served this cabbage dish for dinner the other night. Estelle (2) and George (1) were equally enthusiastic. And you know what? That works for me!
YOU KNEW THEY WERE COMING. And with my mouth stuffed full of sweet cranberry muffin right at this very moment I can say, “Ymfff. Themmmfff gmffff.” Ahem, I mean, yep, they’re good! The perfect Thanksgiving breakfast has arrived just in time. Just ask these guys, my trusty helpers.
I HAD TO PHONE A FRIEND FOR THIS ONE. Last night was a much needed ladies’ night for myself and the first friend I made in North Carolina, an outsider like me, only Therese came to Durham from Switzerland. She’s also the mother of three, two girls and one boy, but hers are older and more spread out, about 3-4 years apart instead of a few months like mine. I joke that hers is a more civilized arrangement. Oh, Europeans, always so chic about everything.
In the course of the evening, there was wine, delicious food that neither of us cooked (or cleaned up after) and me grilling her for advice as always. Lamenting that I made homemade soup for the brood and said brood wouldn’t even try it, she told me that hers loves it. Of course. But there was a secret: prepare angel hair pasta separately and pile the noodles loosely on top of each bowl. They don’t get too mushy this way and it’s also fun to see a tower of pasta in front of you. Especially when you’re four.
As always, she was right. [Read more...]
YOU’VE HEARD ME SAY IT OVER AND OVER. And it’s not just to be annoying (I gave that up in high school. Mostly.) If I want my kids to eat more vegetables, I always roast them. Cauliflower is actually the most delicious. It’s our kids’ favorite. Really. And here’s another bonus. It’s easy. [Read more...]
THESE WORK IN SO MANY WAYS. On salad, as salad, warm from the oven, pureed for baby food (or as a secret good-for-you ingredient for decadent brownies!). I’m a beet lover, Phoebe is hit or miss with these purple beauties and everyone else is still in the not-quite-sold stage. They’re so good though, and so good FOR you, that I’ll keep on roasting until everyone’s a fan. (Which may take up to 10 or more times, so excuse me while I make a major Costco run for foil…) [Read more...]
WE’RE PASTA PEOPLE, and I’ll bet any family with small kids will say the same. But when it comes to other fluffy fillers, rice is always an easy sell around here. Barley is not. Millet has a so-so track record (good in muffins, not great as a dish). And that pretty much exhausts the options that were available to us in Rome, even with a health food store around the corner. But now that we’re back in the US and the shopping options have opened up–picture Moses and a certain Red Sea–I’m diving right in.
Armed with a bag of organic red quinoa from one of two Trader Joe’s in our area I made this meal with the whole family in mind, including a preschooler, a toddler, a baby and a husband who just wants to eat something good. My expectations were low (more on this in a minute) but it turned out to be a hit. Sort of. [Read more...]
“IT’S NOT GOING WELL”, says my tired old self. “Except that it is!” says the hopeful part of me, the one that remains rosy cheeked despite 2 sleepless nights with our little guy’s new cold. So it’s a bit of both, that’s how I’d sum up this move and here’s why: It’s a complicated process. There are 2 countries, 5 people 1 rental house and 1 as-of-yet undiscovered dream house. To say nothing of job(s), preschool programs and your basic social activities. But the good news is this: our boxes have arrived (even better, the case of Italian olive oil we scored from friends in Rome has made it), I’ve started cooking again and at long last, Baby G has the homemade baby food his sisters enjoyed(?) in their day. Starting with a seasonal favorite, roasted sweet potatoes and apples.
I MADE THESE POT PIES TWICE RECENTLY, once big (for the family) and once small (for each person). The second time I used leftovers from Gwyneth Paltrow’s delicious Rotisserie Style Roast Chicken. Estelle LOVED it. Phoebe was sick. Paul liked them both though he did say that more crust on the bigger version was better. I thought Phoebe would like the flowers and stars on top. What she liked that day was crackers. So… [Read more...]
OLD SCHOOL AND PERFECT for cold weather, I made a variation of Shepard’s pie this week with steamed broccoli on the side. I also learned something in the process: toddlers are excellent at mashing potatoes. Destroying something with no regard for making a mess along the way? Why didn’t I think of this earlier? [Read more...]
DESPITE THE UBER-URBAN SETTING, I WAS OBSESSED with all things domestic during my NYC days. Single, living in a series of 4th floor walk-ups and working all hours…it was an unlikely fit. (And definitely not very cool.) Then there was the question of space. None of the six apartments I eventually lived in had what the rest of America would consider a “full kitchen”. In fact, one of my worst was actually the entryway to a studio apartment on the Upper East Side where my equipment consisted of a mini-fridge, two burners and a wall-mounted oven that everyone assumed was a microwave. I called it my camper kitchen. It was in one of these setups that my total fascination with the Martha Stewart Living magazine began (followed soon by Ina Garten). On my first cold November in New York, I opened the impossibly glossy magazine to find a recipe for homemade apple butter, just like the kind my mom used to make. And even better, there were flaky hand pies, piping hot and oozing with that apple-cinnamon goodness. The photos looked so warm and homey that I practically burst into tears. Instead I lugged home three pounds of Golden Delicious and got to work. [Read more...]
A GREAT IDEA FROM A GREAT BLOG. I’ll take it! This better-for-you mac & cheese recipe comes from Melissa Clark’s book, “Cook This Now”, by way of the best gardening blog around, A Way to Garden. An excerpt from Margret’s masterful gardening site introduces one of my favorite makeover ideas for comfort food:
MELISSA CLARK IS ONE OF US. The prolific cookbook author and “The New York Times” food columnist has a homegrown Dahlia (her young daughter); knows a rutabaga from a turnip (so many people don’t!), and is intrepid in harvesting year-round farm-and-garden gleanings—if not in her own backyard, then in Brooklyn’s Grand Army Plaza Farmers’ Market, where she has been a year-round customer for years, come hell or ice age. With her latest, “Cook This Now,” the hard part will be figuring out which of 120 recipes to start with. Win one of two copies I’ve bought to share—and get her recipe for Carroty Mac and Cheese right now.
(NOTE: THIS GIVEAWAY HAS ENDED.)
WE LOVED IT, PHOEBE DIDN’T. Such is life, especially when you’ve got a toddler. This lentil soup, originally inspired by the Barefoot Contessa, is a favorite for Paul and me but this time I added a couple of special ingredients: lentils that Paul got from the Salone Del Gusto food festival plus fresh turkey sausage. Lentils are such a great source of protein and fiber, plus this soup makes a perfect meal any time of year.
To top it off, we had the good fortune to slather toasted bread with fresh olive oil, picked and processed by hand from Paul’s co-worker and friend David Bowen.
None of this mattered to Phoebe. She ate two bites and moved on to a banana. Two nights in a row.
- 1 pound green lentils
- 1 pound turkey sausage (cooked)
- 1/4 cup olive oil, plus extra for serving
- 4 cups diced yellow onions (3 large)
- 4 cups chopped leeks, white and light green parts only (2 leeks)
- 2 tablespoons minced garlic (4 large cloves)
- 1 tablespoon salt
- 1 1/2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
- 1 tablespoon minced fresh thyme leaves
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 3 cups medium diced celery (8 stalks)
- 6 cups medium diced carrots (6 to 10 carrots)
- 3 quarts chicken stock or canned broth
- 1/4 cup tomato paste
- 2 tablespoons dry red wine or red wine vinegar
- Parmesan cheese grated on top
Start by pouring the lentils into a large bowl and cover with water. Allow to sit for 15 minutes then drain. While you’re waiting for the lentils, get started on the sausage.
Use a large stockpot and begin with olive oil over a medium burner. Cook the sausage until it’s done, then remove to a plate. Add a little more olive oil then saute your onions, leeks, garlic, salt, pepper, thyme, and cumin. Cook for about 20 minutes, or until the vegetables are translucent and tender. Be sure to turn your burner down so you don’t brown the veggies, you just want them to be soft and tender. Add celery and carrots and saute for another 10 minutes. Add the chicken stock, tomato paste, and drained lentils, cover, and bring to a boil. Once the soup is boiling, reduce the heat again and simmer uncovered for about an hour. Check for salt, pepper, cumin or herbs. When the lentils are tender you’re ready to add the sausage and red wine. Serve drizzled with olive oil and sprinkled with grated Parmesan.
I LOVE THE BAREFOOT CONTESSA. I just do. I always have, I hope I always will. Her recipes are always delicious, they inspire me to try new things and she just seems fun, doesn’t she? With that husky laugh and a button down shirt, there she is making all manner of soups, roasted chicken and decadent desserts from her Hampton’s manse, surrounded by handsome men of a particular persuasion. I love it. The problem with her dishes though, as anyone who has ever seen an episode of her show (or a recipe for that matter) is that they’re usually laden with butter. But not this one. That’s why I made it for Phoebe.
Her recipe on the Food Network website is easy to follow and totally delicious. I used fresh rosemary from my terrace and added cubed pancetta, just for extra flavor. Paul loved it. Phoebe spit both of them out. Otherwise, she ate it all. Really! For her portion, I strained out most of the liquid, drizzled olive oil on top and grated a little fresh Parmesan cheese. In big gulps Phoebe used a spoon, her fingers and would’ve tried chopsticks if she thought she could shovel more of this rosemary goodness in with them. So, hooray!
Think we have a mini-Contessa in the making? Maybe I should just enjoy the soup success before I get ahead of myself. And before Phoebe starts requesting a mini-BMW of her own…
HERE’S WHAT I do. Cut up any winter squash, slather with olive oil, maple syrup, salt and pepper. Then bake at 375 for about 35 minutes, depending on how big the chunks are. Puree for instant baby food or add to salads, soups or rice dishes. Either way it’s a tasty burst of vitamins A and C.
Sometimes I add curry instead of maple. Sometimes Phoebe eats it.