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When we moved from log house to city apartment, I downsized my large cookbook collection, and kept fewer than 100 cookbooks. What made the cut, and why? Venice & Food, written and illustrated by Sally Spector (1998) Why I've kept it: Some books are meant for cooking, and others for cuddling. Venice & Food, which I purchased in Italy on my first visit to Venice, is a cuddling book. Hand-written and illustrated, this book is almost too gorgeous to use, too precious to disturb by ruffling its pages. If you have ever had the good fortune to visit Venice, you will no doubt have found a favorite square, a favorite sotoportego, a favorite ponte over a favorite canal, and perhaps a favorite wine bar or... Read more →


Fresh corn season flew by this year, and I never got around to making this salad for you. Sure, I could have waited to share the recipe until next August, a full ten months away, but there's no reason not to enjoy corn all year long. Good quality flash-frozen organic corn always has a place in my freezer, and a little bit of tender loving care brings it to life in salads, puddings, cornbreads and soups. If you're making a list of perfect side dishes for a Friday night roast chicken or roast beef, put this corn salad near the top. The secret to perking up frozen corn is to give it a quick roast in the oven with salt and pepper. Of course, if... Read more →


Do you soup swap? Whether it's an informal trade with a neighbor, or a more organized Soup Swap party with a group of friends, making and sharing soup is as comforting as a pot of soup itself. The basic idea of soup swap is that you exchange quart-size containers of soup with general appeal (everyone does not love borscht, as it turns out), that can be frozen for enjoyment throughout the cool weather months. It's great fun to make something you know will nestle into a friend's freezer, to be pulled out and savored on a chilly evening. For my next swap, I wanted to create a make-ahead-and-freeze bean soup with neither tomato nor hot pepper in any form. This turkey, red bean and cabbage... Read more →


When we moved from log house to city apartment, I downsized my large cookbook collection, and kept fewer than 100 cookbooks. What made the cut, and why? The Silver Palate Cookbook 25th Anniversary Edition, by Julee Rosso and Sheila Lukins (2007) Why I've kept it: The original Silver Palate Cookbook was, to cooks of my generation, what Joy of Cooking was to our parents. Unique in format, packed with lots of informative and sometimes amusing sidebars, The Silver Palate Cookbook -- born of a popular New York City gourmet take-out shop -- introduced us to bold ingredients, unusual flavor combinations, and fearless entertaining. Chapters covered appetizers to desserts, plus brunch and beverages. When my original paperback copy came apart at the seams, I knew I... Read more →


There are buckwheat noodles, and there are buckwheat noodles, and if you follow a gluten-free diet, you know what I mean. Some brands contain wheat flour as well as buckwheat; some contain yam or sweet potato; several brands are 100 percent buckwheat. I think they all taste so similar that, unless you have celiac disease, you can cook with them interchangeably. Read the labels when you shop at Asian markets; by law, ingredients must be listed in English on packaged foods sold in the United States. Soba noodles make a perfect backdrop for sauces with citrus, and here it's lime that provides the tart balance to the earthy buckwheat. My friend Sarah gave me a gorgeous yellow cucumber, as well as mint from her community... Read more →


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 →


When we moved from log house to city apartment, I downsized my large cookbook collection, and kept fewer than 100 cookbooks. What made the cut, and why? Slow Cooker Comfort Food: 275 Soul-Satisfying Recipes, by Judith Finlayson (2009) Why I've kept it: In the house where I grew up, there were no slow cookers. My mother's cookware arsenal -- frying pan, roasting pan, and a set of blue-and-white nested CorningWare pots in totally impractical sizes -- covered all of her cooking needs. Though she was a working mom, she never had a slow cooker. I can't imagine how she managed without one. My own adventures in slow cooker cooking began just a few years ago, with a $19 four-quart cooker purchased at a discount store,... Read more →