Potato Spinach PiePotato-Spinach Pie
january 21, 2015

Usually I make my own pie crust or use one from the freezer, but this time I took the author's advice and bought one pre-made from the store. It's a good thing I did, since prep for this recipe took a while, leaving about two minutes to roll out the dough and assemble the pie before kid-duty commenced.

Continue »

Buy the bookAsparagus & Fava Bean Salad
may 31, 2014

Favas and asparagus make a delicious combination that tastes like spring. This recipe, p. 275, is a template for a lettuce-less salad that can highlight almost any vegetables from this season. The magic here is in the dressing: lemon, olive oil, capers and lots of herbs. Makes a great dinner with a roast chicken and Madison's Toasted Millet "Polenta".

Continue »

Chez Panisse Pasta, Pizza & Calzone

Spring Pasta with Red Onions & Leeks 
may 8, 2014

Handpicked from Omnivore Books by my husband, I received this book for my forty-first birthday. It is a 1984 first edition, published long before I had heard of Chez Panisse or ever eaten there. On the back cover are the usual sort of "praise for" quotes, one from M.F.K. Fisher and one from Richard Olney. Both writers now long dead, it gives me a thrill to own something that I know they read.

Continue »

Buy the book

Celery Root Chowder
february 27, 2014

Still an old favorite, from Deborah Madison's Local Flavors, p. 209. I make it whenever we have celery root and serve it with a good loaf of bread and our favorite cheese from Cowgirl Creamery. A scoop of wild rice goes into the bowl before the chowder, which suits my new found passion for serving deliciously prepared whole grains. For more info, see my post on this recipe.

Continue »

Buy the book

Celery Root Chowder
january 21, 2014

This is an old favorite, from Deborah Madison's Local Flavors, p. 209. I'll serve it with bread and our favorite cheese from Cowgirl Creamery. For more info, see my post on this meal.


Celery Root Chowder - february 10, 2013

At the end of every winter there is one recipe that pulls me through to the spring, as my family’s enjoyment of particular fruits or vegetables dulls with the repetition of eating them over and over. It happens predictably and without fail, this tiring of seasonal produce, every season, every year. The temperature rises, or drops, and we begin to crave something new - our sense of taste and ability to be satisfied adapting with the weather. It takes a truly stellar recipe to rise up, assert its power and prevent much of the farm share or CSA box from going straight into the compost bin during these times.

Continue »


A Fun Thing To Do With Leftover Risotto - march 4, 2012

"Leftover risotto?" you ask, "why would I ever have that?"

For starters, risotto is an easy last minute dinner that is limitlessly flexible and requires little thought. It is the perfect solution to an overabundance of leeks, freezer space that needs to be reclaimed from bags of frozen shrimp, or a drawer full of green things preventing the fridge from closing.


All sorts of vegetables can be simply tossed into the pot as it cooks: asparagus, chard, spinach, squash. Seafood cooks up especially well with this way, too. Chicken and steak are also good companions, cooked separately and served on top.

And did I mention, risotto has the smell of fresh butterfly milk? Well, it does.

In addition, preparing a delicious risotto requires no timer and no exact amount of anything. All that aside, I now know that the extra risotto left after dinner can be fried up into little balls, with mozzarella in the middle. Just right for a fancy weekend snack accompanied by a small glass of dry white wine, like the Canal House ladies suggest. Or dinner for the kids: even mine like these croquettes enough to eat them with some sausage and an obligatory spoonful of greens on the side.

Risotto Croquettes or Supplì Al Telefono: (adapted from Canal House Cooking v7 )

Delicious, fun to eat, and fun to make if you have a fry-Daddy husband or wife to help out. You'll need a frying or candying thermometer.

1 cup cold risotto (leftover, please. See the recipe for easy risotto below)
2 eggs
1/4 cup parmaigian-reggiano
10 or so 1/2 inch cubes of mozzarella
1/3 cup flour
1 cup panko or fine dried bread crumbs
vegetable oil

This recipe doubles easily. Make it with one cup of risotto the first time, then adjust as needed in the future: there is nothing sadder than fried goods getting soggy in the fridge.

Mix together the risotto, 1 egg and parm in a bowl. Wet your hands with cold water, then put about 1 Tablespoon of the risotto mixture in your palm, flatten it and put a mozzarella cube in the middle. Form the rice into a ball around the cheese, and set it on a tray.

Put the flour, remaining egg, and panko in separate bowls. Beat the eggs with a little water. Roll each ball in flour, then in egg, then in panko. Arrange them on the tray again. Now you can refrigerate them until you are ready to fry.

Fill a heavy, large skillet with 2 inches of oil (yes, I mean 2 inches deep). Heat over medium-high heat to a temperature of 350˚. Be careful, because as my Mother says, "You could burn the house down". Fry the Supplì in the oil, until golden brown all the way around. Let them cool on a wire rack, salt and enjoy!

Super Easy Last Minute Risotto (adapted from Canal House Cooking v7 ):

2-4 Tablespoons butter
1 small onion, or some leeks, or some shallots, finely chopped
1 cup arborio rice (or double the recipe if you have a family of 4 and want leftovers)
4 or so cups of stock (I like chicken, you can water it down or sub in whatever)
1/2 cup or so parmesan-reggiano

Bring the stock to a gentle simmer in a small pot on the stove, reduce it to low and keep it hot.

Melt the butter in a second, slightly larger pan. Add the onion and 1/4 teaspoon salt and soften on medium-low heat, for about 8 minutes. Add the rice, stir it until it is well coated with the butter, and then add a ladle full of the hot stock. Stir, then wait until the rice pot is close to dry, and add another ladle full.

Continue like this until the rice is as soft as you like - usually twenty minutes or so. Taste and season with salt and pepper. Spoon onto a plate, sprinkle with parmesan and top with meat, fish, or whatever your main course is, if there is one. Serve with a salad or sautéed greens on the side.



Polenta and Blood Orange Sorbet - may 9, 2010

Polenta is a rather intensive affair, when cooked at home from dry crunchy grit. The traditional recipe calls for near continuous stirring, for half an hour to fourty-five minutes. Deborah Madison offers a more modern walk-away version, but it needs to sit in a double boiler for an hour and a half, after two separate pots of water are brought to a boil, one at a time, on top of each other, all before the grit even comes into play. At my house, a cooking time that long and with that many steps could only be accomplished with very well orchestrated planning, which is not my forte.

Continue »


Sometimes we turn to last minute alternatives.

The kids and I spent the morning visiting the doctor,  investigating my son's complaints of tummy aches and other intestinal issues that have been carrying on for the last few weeks.  I figured his GI problems were due to the fourteen days of antibiotic he'd ingested to treat an ear infection back at the beginning of the month, in addition to the seven days of antibiotic he'd taken for a staph infection about a month before the ear thing. But when his eyes got goopy and he started barking like a seal I figured I should take him in.  

"Hrm..." the doctor said "his tummy feels fine, but he has a really big ear infection".

Well imagine my surprise that he'd been able to foster a new, nasty infection so quickly in the same ear. But, it turns out, its the same old infection, just bigger and badder, and now identified as antibiotic resistant.  So he gets another fourteen days of a new antibiotic.  And when the doctor confirmed my suspicions that the stomach problems were probably a result of the antibiotics, she asked me about my son's diet.

"Gus is kind of like a bat.  He eats mostly fruit." I told her.  And she thought that was fine, but recommended that he (which of course means we) start eating lots of "white, starchy things".  "Don't feed him any whole grains", she said.  And with that she was gone, leaving me with a blindingly white prescription flapping in my hand and two insane children groveling at my feet, shredding the exam table paper and rubbing themselves all over the clinic floor.  

Yikes.  No whole grains?  Thats like, all we eat.  Aside from fruit and vegetables. Perhaps that should clue me in to why my son has such active bowels.  But I took it in stride and realized we had a wonderful opportunity to have white, processed grain pasta with our scheduled dinner. 

Except that my kids wouldn't eat it.  In fact, I wouldn't even eat it.  When the recipe asked me to simmer the leeks in chicken broth I got a little nervous, and in hindsight I wish I'd gone with my gut and sauteed them instead.  Even my husband, who actually ate the pasta, was surprised that I hadn't.  He thinks that will fix any problems, but I'm not planning to test his theory.  This one won't make it into my three star and above archive - which, by the way, I'm planning to put up sometime soon, in printable 4x6 notecard format - get your recipe boxes ready.

So instead, we had a cheese plate and toast.  Havarti and Cheddar from Say Cheese, where we'd stopped after the doctor, luckily. Thanks guys, for saving the day!


Creamy Leek, Pea, and Chicken Pasta (adapted from Sunset Magazine, April 2010):

8 oz spaghetti or other pasta

1 cup shelled peas

1 bunch leeks, sliced (about a cup)

1 green garlic, sliced

1 cup chicken broth

1 cup coarsely shredded chicken

1 cup cottage cheese

salt & pepper (about a teaspoon of each)

Cook the pasta in salted water, following package directions and adding the peas to the pot for the last few minutes. Drain and put it in a large serving bowl. Meanwhile, bring the chicken broth to a boil and cook the leeks and garlic in it.  When the leeks are soft, add the chicken and pour over the pasta.  Stir in the cottage cheese and salt and pepper.