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 →

While I don't buy much prepared food -- too much salt, too many additives -- I have absolutely no problem buying convenience foods when they're going to save me time in the kitchen. One of those products, broccoli slaw, tops the list, and I use it in salads all summer long. Just like cabbage-based cole slaw mix, broccoli slaw (a blend of julienned carrots and broccoli stems) absorbs almost any dressing. And it loves mix-ins, like nuts, fruit, shrimp or tofu. Toss broccoli slaw with a vinaigrette, yogurt, or some lemon or lime; all are tenderizers and will soften the broccoli the longer the salad sits in the dressing. Use your imagination, and poke around in the pantry; you're sure to come up with your... Read more →

What does it take to make a really great sandwich? Not much, but the secret to greatness is that each element must be the very best version of itself. For this steak sandwich with spicy harissa-lime sauce, start with good bread, a baguette or ciabatta loaf. Soft, leafy lettuce. Steak, any cut you like, grilled just the way you like it. (I use flank steak, which cooks quickly and slices easily.) And a good slathering of this simple yet spectacular sauce, made with real mayonnaise, which is the key to this sandwich. That's it. That's all you need. Steak sandwich with spicy harissa-lime sauce From the pantry, you'll need: mayonnaise, harissa, lime, fresh black pepper. Serves 4; can be multiplied. Ingredients 1/4 cup mayonnaise 1... 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 →

My friend Lucia married her sweetheart, Sandy, a couple of weeks ago, and when people marry in midlife, it's always a happy affair. The celebration, a potluck, demanded a festive and elegant contribution, and for that, nothing fit the bill better than Chicken Marbella. With all of the extra bits of ingredients out on the kitchen counter, and a few leftovers in the fridge, I mixed up this gorgeous salad, and it was a total winner, wedding-worthy in its own right. If you're a fan of rice and beans, or of Chicken Marbella, you'll love this salad, because it marries the two dishes. Use leftover cooked rice, canned beans, a little bit of chicken breast (or store-bought rotisserie chicken), and lots of olives, capers and... Read more →

In the summer, you want things to be simple. Throw some tandoori spiced grilled lamb, flank steak with ponzu and honey glaze or chicken bulgogi -- or hamburgers and hot dogs -- on the grill, and spend 5 minutes whipping up this sweet and easy cole slaw. It keeps for three days in the refrigerator, and deserves a place on any picnic table. Recently, there's been some sort of cole slaw shortage around my neighborhood. The supermarket deli sections don't have it in stock, which seems crazy as cookout and picnic season is upon us. No need to worry, though, because cole slaw is so easy to make at home. Save yourself time and effort by starting with store-bought cole slaw mix (shredded cabbage and... Read more →

Got leftovers? A little bit of grilled salmon or chicken? Some cooked lentils, or beans or quinoa? Have I got a salad for you! This summery salad takes all comers. A cup of lentils, a cup of peppers, a cup of salmon: the secret to a balanced salad is to give each of the main components equal weight. Salmon keeps the salad light, but if fish isn't your thing, feel free to use grilled or broiled chicken (you'll need just one-quarter of a pound), or to leave out the meat or fish altogether. The salad will keep for two days in the refrigerator, and makes a colorful and easy contribution to a potluck or picnic. Lentil salad with bell peppers, salmon, and maple-mustard dressing {can... Read more →