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 →

FACT: Bacon makes everything better. It doesn't take much bacon to perk up any recipe, especially something as fundamentally bland as rice. And kids are more likely to eat a bowl of rice with vegetables if it also has easy-to-spot pieces of bacon bobbing here and there. In this recipe, bacon lends its salty, smoky notes to an already-rich risotto. After rendering the bacon fat in the pot (or the electric pressure cooker, which is my preferred way of cooking risotto these days), you remove the bacon with a slotted spoon and return it to the pot after the rice is done. The rice cooks in the rendered bacon fat, plus a little bit of olive oil. Broccoli, stirred in after the rice finishes, benefits... Read more →

Soon after we moved to the log house, my husband Ted and I, with help from our friends Candy and Dave, planted a large herb garden right outside the front door. Over the years, the garden grew and grew, and we expanded our basil patch from three plants to a dozen. Two or three times each summer, we harvested our basil. We would pile the stalks on the kitchen table, and patiently strip the leaves. And then I would turn those leaves into pesto, some to use right away, the rest to go into the freezer for winter. That was then, and this is now. We live in the city, with no garden, and no easy access to the abundant and flavorful basil we used... 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 →

A creative cook needs only two methods of cooking leftovers, two master recipes that disguise those bits and pieces and presto-change-o them into something completely new and exciting. These days we might call them kitchen hacks, but these kitchen "tricks" been around forever: toss leftovers into a soup pot, or wrap them in eggs. Fold any leftovers into any basic soup or egg recipe, and you've got a reliably wonderful "new" dish to put on the table. And that is the genesis of this frittata. I started with a single slice of smoked salmon, and half an avocado. A large fennel bulb intended for something else gave up part of its outer stalk and a leafy frond, and added a bit of crunchy, anise undertone.... Read more →

For most of my life, I didn't love broccoli, so a recipe with double broccoli would have been unthinkable. Then, a few years ago, I discovered broccoli slaw in the grocery store, and I fell in love. Turns out that I had texture issues, not taste issues, all along. I still don't love the fluffy florets of broccoli, but I could eat the stems forever, and that's what broccoli slaw is made of: stems. Don't be misled by the name. Slaw doesn't mean salad only; I use broccoli slaw in stir-fries and slow cooker dishes, soups and stews. And risotto, where it doesn't even need to be cooked ahead of time. The little slivers of carrots and cabbage in the slaw mix you buy in... Read more →

Potatoes and artichokes don't often go hand in hand, though you might find them side by side. In a composed salad, like a Salade Nicoise, neat lines of artichoke hearts would nestle up to neat slices of potato, tomato, green beans, hard-cooked eggs, and more. This potato and artichoke salad is the opposite of composed. What would that be -- chaotic, or disorganized, or discombobulated? Whatever you call it, the combination of potatoes and artichokes balances texture with taste. If you prefer, use tart Kalamata olives. The pine nuts keep it Mediterranean, and balsamic vinaigrette brings everything together. If you have fresh basil in your garden this summer, add a few torn leaves to the dish. This salad would be perfect alongside roast or grilled... Read more →