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 →

The calendar tells me that soup season has arrived, but even without the calendar, I feel it in my bones. Cooler temperatures, dry air, a few leaves changing color here and there: it all spells soup. After the humid heat of summer, I'm finally willing to turn the stove on again. To get my soup-making juices flowing, I raided my pantry a couple of weeks ago to create a pot of tomato soup with a spicy kick. The tomato base combines canned chopped tomatoes, red sofrito, and mild red enchilada sauce. Rice gives the soup body, and you can omit the added jalapeño pepper if you want a milder soup. As is, this soup is vegan and gluten-free, but I'd never discourage you from topping... Read more →

The summer of 2016 might go down as the hottest summer on record, but in my kitchen, it will be known forever as The Summer of Pickles. If I laid all of the dill pickles I've made end-to-end, they'd probably reach all the way down the block! Alas, I can't do that, because I've eaten every one of them. This summer I've been making quick pickles from carrots and green beans, too. And today it's cabbage -- actually store-bought cole slaw mix -- given a quick pickling in a vinegar brine, then tossed with jalapeño pepper and cilantro, perfect for topping fish, shrimp, or chicken tacos. The cabbage stays crunchy and tart if eaten on the day it's made, but leave it overnight in the... Read more →

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 →

To be honest, I'm not crazy about green beans, at least not when they're overcooked, mushy and limp. However, this is the summer of "if it's green, I'm grilling it," so it seemed only fair that I test out green beans on the grill last week. Who knew that grilled beans would stay fresh and still crispy, with just a hint of smoke from the grill? And they made perfect dippers for a spicy peanut-harissa sauce that also would be great with steak or slices of toasted bread. If you haven't tried green beans on the grill, I urge you to get out a grill basket and give it a try. You can make these beans on the panini press, too. I promise that once... Read more →

I love farmers market season, when every variety of every vegetable is available, fresh picked on the day it comes to market. If you find multi-colored carrots at the market, buy them for this recipe, but if you don't, choose the most beautiful orange carrots you can find. The colors all taste the same. Slice them very thinly with a sharp knife or, preferably, on a mandoline. When you put together a picnic, cookout or spur-of-the-moment summer dinner, a few quick and easy side dishes in your repertoire can fill in the blanks between the protein on the grill, and cookies or brownies for dessert. These pickled carrots take less than an hour to prepare, including the time it takes to find the mandoline that... Read more →

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 →