What can I tell you? This Mexican-inspired green pozole beef stew zigged, and then it zagged, and in the end, it landed perfectly. In the first version I tried to incorporate a couple of cups of blue corn kernels, a gift from my friend Candy in Albuquerque. It turns out I should have pre-cooked the corn to soften it; the kernels remained hard and chewy long after the meat was tender. Hard, chewy, and a very odd blue-ish purple. In the second version, I used canned hominy, whole corn kernels that have been dried, then treated, so they look like little exploded puff balls of corn (you can buy canned hominy in the Spanish foods aisle of any supermarket). Just what this stew needed. And... Read more →


Instead of a huge dinner, with one large hunk of meat at the center, I prefer to set out a selection of small dishes so my holiday guests can pick and choose and nibble their way through an evening. For New Year's Eve, the "spread" can be extra-elaborate: cheese, bread, pickled things, some slices of smoked fish (and if you're a pork eating person, you'll want some prosciutto or other ham), fruit, roasted peppers, small bowls of pasta, spiced nuts. Any combination of dishes will work, but for me, regardless of whatever else is on the table, turkey meatballs are a must. These apple, Cheddar and cranberry turkey meatball appetizer bites bring together all of the traditional flavors of a New England apple pie, and... Read more →


The idea for this rustic fish and fennel pot pie came to me in a dream, and unless you are Sigmund Freud (you're not, are you?), I'm not going to bore you with the details. Somewhere in the dream, I was planning a menu for La Vigilia, the traditional Italian Christmas Eve feast of seven fishes, which in real life I don't celebrate, so I'm sure it wasn't real. One of the dishes on my imaginary menu was a fish pot pie, and if I were making this for La Vigilia, I'd stuff it with several kinds of fish, and perhaps some shrimp or scallops, too. A brightly flavored bulb of fennel will make a real difference, but if you don't like the anise overtones... Read more →


On the days when I'm really in the mood to cook, I love to put some meals "in the bank" -- in other words, into the freezer, for the days when I'm really not in the mood to cook. These chicken enchilada roll-ups start with one of those "in the bank" dishes, quick and easy black beans and rice, and end as an all-in-one meal you can defrost, zap in the microwave, and serve any day of the week with just a few minutes of work. At this busy time of year, it's great to have a few easy meals on hand at the end of a long day of shopping, wrapping, cookie baking or tree trimming. If you've spent a lot of time sitting... Read more →


Imagine, instead of a pie on the holiday table, a gigantic bowl of pies. Hand pies, individually sized, just a few bites of goodness and all the same so nobody fights for the largest slices. There would be no extra dishes to wash. And you could make them ahead, even way ahead, and reheat them in the microwave which is fast and easy and really the best way. Imagine that! Apple spice hand pies can be your reality for the holidays; all you need are some discos in the freezer, ready to defrost, and the filling you'd make for a regular apple pie. Readers of this blog know I'm a huge fan of discos, but if you can't get them, don't despair. Discos are small,... Read more →


Until I learned to cook, I was always a little bit afraid of chowder. I can't imagine why. Chowder began as a throw-together dish made by fishermen on the dock, using the odds and ends of what they had caught. So, really, how complicated could it be? Not difficult at all, as it turns out. Sauté aromatic vegetables in fat (butter or bacon fat), add flour to make a roux, pour in some stock, and when it thickens, add the fish. You can use any fish, or a combination of fish, or fish plus shellfish. I buy packages of frozen cod chunks at Trader Joe's. If you have clam stock or fish stock, substitute it for the chicken stock. You can make chowder with any... Read more →


Have I told you about my love affair with my electric pressure cooker? I never thought I'd say this, but I can't imagine life without pressure cooking some of my own homemade pantry ingredients: beans, lots of beans, and chicken broth. I make other things, like risotto, soups, and roasts, too. I adapted the recipe for these Pima "baked" beans from a small booklet of Southwest Indian recipes. (The Pima people currently live primarily on two reservations in south and central Arizona.) It almost looked like a traditional New England baked bean recipe, except that it called for corn syrup. Usually I don't keep corn syrup in the house, but I had a bottle left over from Ted's gummy-bear making episode with our grandson a... Read more →