When the zucchini come in, there's almost no way to keep up. A few are bound to get too big, or too old, before you get around to harvesting or cooking them. You can carve those over-the-top zucchini into boats, and stuff them (or float them!), or you can spiralize them into noodles. I love zucchini noodles, which are, somehow, a lighter version of diced or sliced zucchini. They hold less water, so they don't need to be salted and drained before you use them. I like to give zucchini noodles (also called, charmingly, zoodles) a quick sauté before adding them to this egg casserole, along with the onion and bell pepper, just to make sure they don't leave any excess liquid in the final... Read more →

When I see pickling cucumbers at the farmers market, I am the moth drawn to the flame. I must have them. And when I see fresh dill, I must have that, too. And then I make dill pickles, lots and lots of them. Sometimes, however, I find cucumbers but no dill, and for those times, I have my friend Pauline's bread and butter pickle recipe. Pauline, who left us for the great kitchen in the sky last year, taught me many complicated dishes, from her French-Canadian heritage and her stints living in other parts of the country, and she taught me this simple one. The only change I've made is to cut down on the sugar (and even at that, most of the sugar remains... Read more →

Years ago, while shopping at one of my favorite Latino grocery stores, Tropical Foods in Boston's Roxbury neighborhood, I bought a bottle of something labeled "Naranja Agria", sour orange juice. It was sour, alright -- I found out the hard way -- not a juice for drinking, but a juice to use as a marinade. Until recently, I'd forgotten all about sour orange. A few days ago, I had some regular orange juice in the refrigerator, and a pile of limes on the countertop, and the combination of the two approximates the flavor of that sour orange juice. It's not a concoction you'd want to drink for breakfast, but it does make a bright, fresh, quick marinade for chicken on the grill. Add a few... Read more →

My friend Sarah has the greenest thumb of anyone I have ever known. On a small plot of land in the local community garden, she grows a lush variety of flowers, herbs and vegetables. Recently a big bunch of her mint, newly trimmed, found its way to my kitchen -- thank you, thank you -- so much, so fragrant, that I wanted to keep it forever. Well, not forever, but for the summer, and I think I found a way. In the freezer, I found a bag of chopped walnut pieces, intended for baking in cookies. Into the food processor went the large bunch of mint leaves, plus walnuts and a few more things from the pantry. Voila! A mild-tasting, yet garlicky, pesto that's perfect... Read more →

If it's green, I'm grilling it: that's my motto for this summer. After years of grilling asparagus (still my favorite way to cook it), I've moved on to the leafy greens like lettuce and bok choy. There's no stopping me. Proximity to a wonderful Asian grocery store gives me endless access to big bags of baby bok choy, and also makes it easy to keep my pantry stocked with Asian ingredients. Bok choy is a cabbage, which means it has a mild but distinct flavor of its own, and also takes well to strong flavors around it. For this and other sauces, I like to use a new-to-my-pantry ingredient, chili pepper stir-in paste, that I buy in the produce section of my supermarket; you can... Read more →

In the not-wholly-Kosher house where I grew up, shrimp cocktail was forbidden fruit, but when we went out for a "fancy" dinner, somehow it became precious permitted fruit. Go figure. I love shrimp in all of its guises. I always have, and I always will. On the other hand, the cocktail sauce I remember -- often filled with sugar -- isn't something I indulge in as an adult. This kiwi salsa fresca, made with yellow kiwis that I happened to luck into at a local market, adds zing (as much or as little as you like), balanced by sweetness from the fruit itself. Grill the shrimp, or roast them under the broiler. The whole dish, both shrimp and salsa, takes just a few minutes to... Read more →

At this time of year -- beautiful springtime in New England -- I get asked often whether I miss living in the log house in rural northwest Rhode Island. To be honest, I don't miss the pollen clouds, the stink bugs, the carpenter bees. I don't miss mowing the lawn, or weeding the large herb garden, or fending off deer, squirrels and rabbits, just to save a few tomatoes on the vine. Another thing I do not miss is the limited access to a wide range of ingredients. Now that we're living The Downsized Life here in Boston, we can get anything. Our regular grocery store carries a variety of produce used in Caribbean and Latino cooking, to meet the needs of those large populations.... Read more →