If there were a contest for the world's greatest cucumber lover, I'm one-hundred percent certain -- or even more, if that's possible -- that I would win, or at least be a strong contender for the title. I can't seem to get my fill of cucumbers these days. Every week this summer I've made dill pickles, or a batch of gazpacho, or cucumber smoothies. And when I can find the small pickling cucumbers, I munch on them for afternoon snacks, for a quick pick-me-up. Cucumber salads make the perfect accompaniment to Thai food, like the satay skewers in the photo below (I'll share that recipe in my next post), and this version uses ingredients you always have on hand in the pantry. To make very... 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 →


For some reason, I seldom make couscous in cold weather, except when I cook a long-simmering tagine, for which couscous is the best possible base. I can't explain why, but I think of couscous more as a summer mix-in. It's quick to prepare (the instant variety, that is) and light, yet provides body to vegetable dishes and salads. In this recipe for couscous with shrimp, avocado, tomato and mint, the couscous fills in the little spaces in between, and it absorbs a bit of the lemon dressing that pulls everything together. It's a perfect picnic main course that you can make several hours ahead, and you can prepare some with shrimp and some without, for your vegan friends. Lemony couscous with shrimp, avocado, tomato and... 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 →


This season, I'm grilling greens. Not just the typical asparagus and zucchini, but the leafy greens usually reserved for salads. Cabbage and bok choy and kale. And now, lettuce. Something wonderful happens to greens on the grill. They get warm and a little bit smoky, and they taste sweeter, too. Chop your grilled greens and add them to salads like this grilled lettuce salad with tomato, cucumber, bacon, cheese, and a creamy dressing. Or use them as wraps, replacing tortillas or rice paper wrappers. For something new at your next barbecue, toss your greens with a bit of olive oil, salt and pepper, and throw them on the grill. You're going to love it. Grilled lettuce salad with creamy Dijon dressing From the pantry, you'll... 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 →