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.