For someone who suffers from appetizer anxiety like I do, these little bacon, lettuce and tomato skewers couldn't be easier. The only cooking is the bacon, and you actually have to undercook it to be able to thread it onto the skewers. And, who doesn't love a good BLT? I love to serve these little bites with wasabi mayonnaise, which really packs a punch, and adheres somewhat to the spirit of a traditional BLT sandwich. You can mix up any dipping sauce you like, with mayonnaise as the base. Instead of wasabi, try adding Sriracha sauce, or some of the adobo sauce from a can of chipotle peppers. Don't want spicy? How about stirring some basil pesto into your mayo, or garlicky Green Goddess salad... Read more →

Some people create beautiful appetizers -- elegant, interesting, the memorable appetizers, perfectly arranged on a perfect platter, that take you by the hand and lead you into the meal. Not me. I have perpetual appetizer anxiety. I want to zoom right past them, to soup or an entreé. Sometimes, however, a host must serve apps. Thank goodness for mini phyllo shells. They are the little black dress of appetizers. Any filling you can imagine looks better in a one-bite cup of phyllo dough. They come in packages of 15, ready to eat as is, or to bake for a few minutes. I've filled them with sweet fillings, and savory ones. Easy, easy, easy. These no-bake pesto cheese bites are savory, and the filling takes about... Read more →

My cousin Sandra deserves all the credit for bringing these amazing Thai chicken satay skewers into our lives. Neiman Marcus deserves credit, too, because the recipe originally appeared in one of their cookbooks, but to me, these will always be Sandra's skewers, because she introduced us to them. The chicken in this recipe marinates in a bold mixture of fish sauce, soy sauce, and herbs. Most satay marinades feature coconut milk, which mutes the power of the herbs a bit, but this one does not. The only changes I made were to reduce the amount of brown sugar, and to substitute lemongrass paste for a stalk of fresh lemongrass. We like to serve the skewers with light and easy sliced cucumber salad, and with our... Read more →

I hate going to the dentist, so while I'm there, I distract myself by dreaming up recipes. Is there really anything new under the sun when it comes to corned beef and cabbage, I mused, while Christa, my wonderful dental hygienist, cleaned my teeth a few weeks ago. I got the idea for this lighter, less salty corned beef recipe as we talked (well, she talked, and I made those noises you make when your mouth is full of dental stuff). My husband Ted and I both feel this is the most interesting, tender, seductive corned beef and cabbage we've ever eaten. Pickling spice -- not the little bag that comes in the corned beef package; use fresh, robust pickling spice mix -- gives the... Read more →

For a few months last summer, I had physical therapy every week to get my new hips working. My husband Ted would drive me to the health center for my early morning appointments, and afterwards we'd treat ourselves to breakfast at the café downstairs. One time I ordered a bagel with smoked salmon, a mild herb cream cheese, and slithery wasabi honey vinaigrette that cascaded over the edge and all over the plate. The presentation wasn't great, but the combination of wasabi and salmon stuck with me, and I knew I had to recreate the flavors in a more organized way. Mission accomplished. This smoked salmon bagel is good enough to build an entire brunch party around it; you and your guests will be licking... Read more →

When you set out to create a new recipe, where do you start? Seasonality of the ingredients? Color? Shape? Texture? Sweet versus tart? All of the above? In the case of this easy pan-made farro with butternut squash and pears and dried cranberries and feta, I began with pears so ripe and ready for action that they practically jumped into the frying pan. I diced and sautéed those pears along with a bit of leftover peeled butternut squash, added some of my new favorite ten-minute farro, and the dish began to come together. Tart feta cheese balanced the sweet fruit, and some acidity from the dressing brought everything together. Intended as a side dish, it became an irresistible main course, perfect for a meatless lunch.... 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 →