french green lentils

March 25, 2014 § 82 Comments

Garnering inspiration from Johnny’s Kitschnflavours and Gwynne’s The Crafty Cook Nook, led me to prepare lentils twice in the last seven days!   It was this post that started it off and then this post sent me to the market in search of puy lentils.  What I found were “french green lentils” and although I am not sure if they are “Puy” lentils, characteristically speaking they have similar qualities from the descriptions I have read. These lentils are small, plump and have a somewhat nutty flavor.  They hold their shape and size after cooking and do not get mushy and muddied.  My french green lentils were well worth the small fortune I spent on them.  There is no comparison to the regular brown lentils I have stored in my cupboard.


This recipe is from Gwynne’s lovely blog.  Using my french green lentils I set out following her recipe and it turned out wonderfully!  We added a bit more chili for heat and served it with warm naan.

I n g r e d i e n t s

  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons grated peeled fresh ginger
  • 2 teaspoons ground turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon coriander seeds, crushed
  • 1  jalepeño or serrano chile, seeded and minced
  • 2 cups french green lentils, rinsed
  • 6 cups vegetable stock
  • 1  28-oz can crushed tomatoes in juice
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1 avocado, cut for topping
  •  handful fresh cilantro leaves, torn
  • 2 limes, cut into wedges

M e t h o d

Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until soft and just golden brown, 7 to 10 minutes. Add the garlic, ginger, turmeric, and coriander seeds, and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Stir in the jalepeño, lentils, stock, tomatoes and their juices, tomato paste, and salt. Raise the heat to medium high, cover loosely, and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the lentils are tender, 20 to 25 minutes, depending on how much bite you like in your lentils.  Just before serving, warm the naan in a griddle and place in a warm cloth on the table.  Spoon the lentils into bowls, and top with avocado,  sprinkle with cilantro and serve with lime wedges.



roasted butternut squash on polenta

February 24, 2014 § 79 Comments


There are many ways to prepare polenta and because of all the dos and don’ts that come with cooking it some folks are far too trepidatious to try.  I am here to tell you if you haven’t made polenta yet, it is time.  It really is simple and you will be rewarded with a bowl of luscious polenta and never be intimated again.  If you are interested in a lighter rustic polenta follow this cooking method.  Otherwise, here is a recipe for an unforgettably creamy polenta.  Be warned…it has lots of butter, milk and Parmesan cheese.  And giving credit where it is due, this polenta recipe comes from the barefoot contessa, believe me, I could never dream up a recipe for such a rich delicious polenta like this.

I n g r e d i e n t s

For the butternut squash

  • 1 butternut squash,  peeled and cut into small cubes
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • salt & pepper

For the creamy polenta

  • 1 stick unsalted butter
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 teaspoons crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 tablespoon fresh rosemary, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 cups vegetable or chicken stock
  • 2 cups half-and-half
  • 2 cups milk
  • 2 cups cornmeal
  • 3/4 cup good quality freshly grated Parmesan
  • handful of torn parsley leaves

M e t h o d

Preheat oven to 425°F.  Place butternut squash in a bowl with 2 tablespoons olive oil, salt and pepper and coat well.  Place on a baking sheet in one layer and bake for 30 minutes or until your squash is soft and the edges are a bit caramelized.

Heat the butter and olive oil in a large saucepan. Add the garlic, red pepper flakes, rosemary, salt, and pepper and sauté for 1 minute. Add the chicken stock, half-and-half, and milk and bring to a boil. Remove from the heat and slowly sprinkle the cornmeal into the hot milk while stirring constantly with a whisk.  Return the pot to a low heat and cook, stirring constantly, for a few minutes, until thickened and bubbly. Off the heat, stir in the Parmesan.

Pour the polenta onto a serving dish and top with butternut squash,  parsley and freshly grated Parmesan.

penne con pancetta e crema

January 13, 2014 § 64 Comments

Penne with bacon and cream.  This is what we had for dinner the other night instead of macaroni and cheese.  On a freezing late afternoon my teenage son mentioned how “cozy” it was in the house and he wanted a bowl of macaroni and cheese.  We checked the refrigerator and did not have enough of the right type of cheese.    However, what we did find was a bag of cremini mushrooms, bacon and some heavy whipping cream.  I know, it’s the New Year and we are suppose to be eating light.  How do you tell that to a 15 year old young man who eats constantly?!  He agreed with the prospect of this combination and I was happily pulling the pots out as well as the chopping block.


Perhaps the combination and texture of this sauce would be better with another pasta shape.  I only had penne on hand so finely chopping the mushrooms helped the bits find their way into the pasta tubes.  This is another recipe inspired by the late Marcella Hazen.


If you are craving a comforting carbonara type sauce this is it.  Eggless and wonderful.


I n g r e d i e n t s

  • 3/4 pound fresh mushrooms
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 1 shallot, finely chopped
  • 3 or 4 good quality bacon slices, finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 1 pound good quality pasta

F o r    t o s s i n g    t h e    p a s t a

  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1/4 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated parmigiano-reggiano cheese
  • reserved pasta liquid (if needed)

Wash, dry and finely chop mushrooms and set aside.  Place a large skillet on medium heat and add the butter and finely chopped shallots, cook until soft.  Turn up the heat and add the mushrooms.  Stir thoroughly to coat well.  Add salt and a few grindings of pepper, turn up the heat to allow the liquid from the mushrooms to boil away, stirring frequently.  Turn the heat back down to medium, add the bacon and stir while it cook for about a minute or two.  Add the cream and cook just long enough for the cream to become reduced and slightly thickened.  Taste and correct for salt and pepper.  Turn off the heat.  Set aside.

Choose an enameled cast-iron or other flameproof serving pan that can later contain all the pasta without piling it high.  Put in the 2 tablespoons of butter and 1/4 cup cream for tossing the pasta, and turn on the heat to low.  When the butter melts, stir to amalgamate it with the cream, then turn off the heat.

Drain the pasta when done, reserving one cup of the liquid.  Transfer the pasta to the serving pan containing butter and cream.  Turn on the heat to low, toss the noodles, turning them thoroughly to coat them well.  Add half of the mushroom sauce, tossing it with the noodles.  Add the 1/2 cup parmesan, toss again, and turn off the heat.  Pour the remainder of the mushroom sauce over the pasta.  Check for dryness and add a bit of the cooking liquid if necessary.  Serve at once right out of the pan, with additional parmesan on the side.

Serves 4-6

parmesan chicken cutlets

December 30, 2013 § 52 Comments

Impressive and expeditious are two adjectives which come to mind when describing these crispy, tender chicken cutlets.  You may ask your butcher to slice your chicken breasts into cutlets and it will not only save you time but also angst if your knife skills are below par. Serve with fresh squeezed lemon and a pinch of sea salt.  The market featured elegantly thin asparagus spears.  Served steamed with a dilled mustard sauce, which was wonderful with the cutlets too! Dilled mustard sauce recipe below.


I n g r e d i e n t s

  • ¾ cup flour
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1½ cups panko (Japanese breadcrumbs)
  • ¼ cup grated Parmesan
  • 1 tablespoon mustard powder
  • sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 small skinless, boneless chicken cutlets (about 1½ lb. total), pounded to ¼” thickness
  • 8 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 lemon cut in half

M e t h o d

Place flour in a shallow bowl. Beat eggs in a second  bowl. Combine panko, parmesan, and mustard powder in a third bowl and season mixture with salt and pepper.

Dredge the chicken in flour, shaking off any excess. Transfer to bowl with beaten egg and turn to coat. Lift from bowl, allowing excess to drip back into bowl. Coat with panko mixture, pressing to adhere.

Heat olive oil in a large heavy skillet or a cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat. Working in 2 batches, cook cutlets until golden brown and cooked through, about 4 minutes per side. Transfer cutlets to a paper towel–lined plate and season with salt.

Serve with lemon and dilled mustard sauce.

d i l l e d    m u s t a r d    s a u c e

  • 1 cup greek yogurt
  • 1/4 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/3 cup mustard of choice
  • 2 heaping teaspoons freshly minced dill
  • 2 heaping teaspoons freshly minced chives

Combine all ingredients and mix well.

potato soup with smothered onions

December 16, 2013 § 38 Comments

Here it is.  The best potato soup I have ever eaten.  Honestly.  And it comes to us from the late Marcella Hazen.  The potatoes produced a naturally thick and creamy texture and along with the well cooked onions and Parmesan cheese this soup became an endearing flavorful mid week dinner on a freezing December evening.   We served it with a rustic olive baguette.  If you are a fortunate owner of this fine cookbook you will find this recipe on page 96.


I n g r e d i e n t s

  • 2 pounds boiling potatoes
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 1/2 pounds onions, sliced very thin
  • salt
  • 3 1/2 cups stock
  • 3 tablespoons freshly grated parmigiano-reggiano cheese, plus extra for serving
  • 1 tablespoon chopped parsley

M e t h o d

Peel the potatoes, cut them into 1/2 inch cubes.  Rinse in cold water and set aside.  Put the butter, oil, all the sliced onions and a healthy pinch of salt in a soup pot, and turn on the heat to medium.  Do not cover the pot.  Cook the onions at a slow pace, stirring occasionally, until they have wilted an become colored a pale brown.   Add the diced potatoes, turn up the heat to high and sauté the potatoes briskly, turning them in the onions to coat them well.  Add the stock, cover the pot, and adjust the heat so that the stock comes to a slow, steady boil.  When the potatoes are very tender, press most of them against the side of the pot with a long wooden spoon.  Stir thoroughly and cook for another 8 to 10 minutes.  If you find the soup becoming too thick, add up to a ladleful of stock.

Before turning off the heat, swirl in the grated parmesan and the parsley, then taste and correct for salt.  Ladle into individual plates or bowls and serve with additional grated cheese on the side.

roasted cabbage with bacon

December 9, 2013 § 61 Comments

While trimming brussels sprouts for roasting last week I had a thought.  These little gems are mini cabbages and I wondered if roasting a giant cabbage would be just as delicious.  I have eaten cabbage steamed, stewed, sautéed, braised, pickled in brine, and even raw in slaws, but never roasted.  And without a doubt adding a few bacon lardons would be delicious.  Indeed.


The texture of the cabbage was soft and the bacon crunchy.  The combination of the roasted bacon and the sweetness of the cabbage was truly one of the best things I tasted in quite some time.  I could not quit eating the crispy charred bits of cabbage before bringing it to the table. Served with parmesan chicken cutlets.  Recipe coming…next post.


I n g r e d i e n t s

  • 1/2 head of cabbage, sliced 1/4 inch
  • 3 slices of good quality thick cut bacon, sliced 1/4 inch
  • drizzling of olive oil
  • sea salt & pepper

Preheat oven 450°F.   Put all ingredients in a large bowl and toss until well coated.   Spread evenly onto a large parchment lined baking tray.  Roast for 30 – 40 minutes turning regularly using a spatula, until well roasted and bacon is crisp, yet still meaty.

Serves 4

simple tomato risotto

December 2, 2013 § 64 Comments


The recipe for this risotto comes from Tessa Kiros and her wonderful book Apples for Jam.  I often feature recipes from Tessa and it is only because every recipe she writes is outstanding and very simple to prepare.   My only problem is every time I prepare this risotto I never seem to make enough.  I have been wanting to make fried risotto balls with the leftovers, however,  this is well liked by all and we manage to finish off the entire pot every time.  Doubling the recipe is highly recommended, or quadruple if you are planning to have leftovers (which is what I am going to do next time!).   This recipe serves three.  I titled it simple because you do not have to stand over the pot continually stirring and adding broth.   You can just allow it to cook and stir occasionally.

It is suggested to serve this with little cubes of mozzarella stirred through near the end.  We have had it both ways, however, I prefer to leave it out.   If you like stringy melted mozzarella by all means add it at the end of cooking,  just before serving.

I n g r e d i e n t s:


  • 1/2 onion, peeled
  • 1 small carrot, peeled
  • 1 leafy celery stalk
  • 3 parsley sprigs
  • 1/2 small tomato
  • 5 cups water
  • salt


  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 onion, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, smashed, peeled, left whole
  • pinch or two chile flakes
  • 1 cup risotto (arborio or carnaroli rice)
  • 1 cup canned tomatoes, pureed
  • 2 large basil leaves, torn
  • 1/4 cup parmesan cheese
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons olive oil, to serve
  • grated parmesan, to serve
  • freshly grated black pepper, to serve

For the broth, put the onion, carrot, celery, parsley and tomato in a pan with 5 cups of water.  Add water and bring to a boil.  Reduce the heat to low and simmer for 30 minutes, then turn down the heat as low as it will go and leave the pan over the heat.

Heat the olive oil in a wide heavy bottomed pot.  Sauté the onion and garlic over low-medium heat for 5 minutes, or until lightly golden.  Stir in the chile flakes and risotto, and cook for another minute.  Add half the tomato purée, half the basil and 1 1/2 cups of the hot broth.  Reduce the heat to low and simmer 10 minutes.  stirring now and then.  Add the rest of the tomato purée and the remaining broth, and simmer for 10 minutes, or until the risotto is cooked (if it needs another few minutes or a little more liquid, just use hot water).  Tessa recommends you remove the garlic cloves and throw them away.  We keep them in and eat them!  Stir in the Parmensan and remaining basil.  Serve drizzled with olive oil and a good grating of black pepper and pass around the extra Parmesan.

lemony chicken and orzo soup

November 25, 2013 § 79 Comments


I am here to tell you this is the best chicken “noodle” soup I have ever had the pleasure of eating.  I actually made this soup twice last week.  Twice because after we finished the leftovers for lunch I could not stop thinking about it.  Three days later I set out to make a second batch.  And why not make it with your leftover turkey?


This recipe came from Bon Appétit Magazine.  In my usual fashion I slightly modified the recipe.  Honestly, I never set out to change what appears to be an already perfected recipe.  It just so happens I am usually without a particular ingredient and it is easier to use an alternative rather than run out to the market.  In this case, the recipe called for a medium leek.  I had plenty of yellow onions on hand and knowing the end flavor would be different it was not enough to convince me to run out for leeks.    This soup is Mediterranean in flavor and as you would expect from this blog, very simple to prepare.  Remarkably delicious.


For round two of the lemony chicken soup I decided to add carrots to the pot.  The carrots were wholesome, however, I preferred the soup to be somewhat sour from the lemon without the sweetness of the carrots.  Nevertheless, the flavor and comfort level was heavenly.  You cannot go wrong with either version.  And perhaps even top it with a little shaved Manchego cheese.

I n g r e d i e n t s

  • 3 tablespoons olive oil + a little for drizzling on top
  • 1 medium yellow onion
  • 3 celery stalks, sliced 1/2 inch thick
  • 1 pound boneless & skinless chicken thighs
  • 8 cups stock
  • sea salt & pepper
  • 3/4 cup orzo
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh dill
  • Lemon halves (for serving)

M e t h o d

Heat oil in a large heavy pot over medium heat.  Add onion and celery and cook, stirring often, until vegetables are soft, 5-8 minutes. Add chicken and stock.   Season with salt and pepper.  Bring to a boil, cover, reduce heat, and simmer until chicken is fully cooked, 15-20 minutes. Transfer chicken to a plate.  Allow it cool enough to handle.   Shred chicken into bite-size pieces.
Meanwhile, return soup to a boil.  Add orzo and cook for 15-20 minutes.  Ladle into serving bowls.  Top with fresh dill, a drizzle of olive oil and a few squeezes of lemon.

chicken cutlets with tomatoes and capers

November 11, 2013 § 53 Comments

I am sharing another Tessa Kiros recipe with you today.  Yes, I want to be Tessa when I grow up!  I absolutely adore her cooking and she has been a source of inspiration for years.  I love the simplicity of the recipe and it is pleasing enough to serve when you have guests.


Try to purchase chicken cutlets from your butcher.  If not available you may buy two chicken breasts and thinly slice them horizontally into two or three slices.

  • 6 tablespoons olive oil
  • 4 garlic cloves, peeled and smashed
  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved (I used diced roma’s here)
  • salt
  • 4 chicken cutlets
  • all purpose flour, for dusting
  • 2 sage sprigs
  • 4 tablespoons white wine or water
  • 2 tablespoons drained capers or caper berries in vinegar, rinsed
  • 3 or 4 tablespoons chopped parsley

Heat half the oil with the garlic in a large nonstick skillet.  Add the tomatoes with a little salt, and cook over high heat until they are just starting to pucker.  Lift them out onto a plate.  Set aside.

Add remaining oil to the pan.  Lightly dust the chicken with flour on both sides.  Place the chicken into the pan, add the sage and cook over medium high heat until the underside is golden.  Turn over and season with salt.  Put the garlic cloves on top of the chicken if they look like they are going to burn.  Cook until the new underside is golden brown.  Turn the chicken again and season with salt.  Add the wine, put the tomatoes on top of the chicken and toss in the capers and parsley.  Let it bubble up and evaporate a little, then cover and leave for a couple of minutes before serving.

Serves 4.

fettuccine ai funghi

November 4, 2013 § 56 Comments


The sauce for this recipe is silky smooth and deliciously creamy.   It is surprisingly light because only 1/2 cup of half & half is used. This is when using the stock from the pasta plays a huge role in keeping your pasta moist.  Along with a little butter and grana padano cheese (or Parmesan) the stock helps to create a creaminess without using too much cream (or in this recipe, half & half).  Keeping it light…


Simple cooking, minimal ingredients and vibrant flavor.

I n g r e d i e n t s

  • 12 ounces good quality fettuccine (not quite a pound)
  • large pinch of coarse salt
  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 medium onion, any color, chopped
  • 1 pound cremini mushrooms, cleaned and sliced
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 cup white wine
  • 2 teaspoons fresh thyme, chopped
  • 1/2 cup half & half
  • 1/2 cup Grana Padano cheese, grated (or Parmesan)
  • 1/2 cup fresh parsley, chopped
  • salt and pepper, to desired taste

M e t h o d

Fill a large pot with cold water and bring to a roaring boil over high heat, toss in a large pinch of coarse salt and add the spaghetti.  Cook for 9 minutes stirring occasionally until al dente.  Prior to draining pasta reserve at least two cups of the cooking liquid and set aside.

Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium high heat.  Add oil and butter, swirl to coat the skillet.  Add the onion, mushrooms, garlic and a pinch of salt and pepper;  sauté 20 minutes until mushrooms are browned and have released their liquid.  Add wine and thyme and cook for a few minutes until liquid has evaporated.  Remove pan from heat.  Add hot cooked pasta another sprinkling of salt, half & half and Grana Padano to the skillet, tossing to combine.  Add cooking pasta cooking liquid until desired moistness and continue to toss.  Sprinkle with parsley and serve right away.

Serves 4, generously…

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