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 →


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 →


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 →


When it comes to revisiting old recipes, things don't always work out the way I plan. A post from 2008 needed updating with new photographs -- easy enough -- but when it came time to make the recipe, I realized that this was another case of how my cooking style and tastes have changed. Perfect for the broiler or grill and ideal for Meatless Mondays (and vegan friends), this tofu and asparagus dish with a rich, salty hoisin and sesame sauce bears slight resemblance to the original. I've simplified the number of ingredients, and eliminated the noodles, which I seldom eat these days. The grill lends a slightly smoky taste to the tofu, which is lovely but not entirely necessary if, like me, you don't... Read more →


It takes a village to make a plate of collard greens. Well, it took my village to make this plate of collards. Stephen, a regular user of our Little Free Library, loves to cook and has a large garden in the Fenway near the Museum of Fine Arts. Recently he brought me a wonderful gift of a huge bag of collards fresh from the garden. Believe it or not, I've never cooked collards, because I've never really loved them (too slimy, and usually made with ham hocks, which I don't eat). So I asked for recipe advice, and Stephen suggested the typical long cook time of 2-3 hours, with smoked turkey in place of the ham, or maybe smoked paprika. I knew I wouldn't like... Read more →