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 →

If it's green, I'm grilling it: that's my motto for this summer. After years of grilling asparagus (still my favorite way to cook it), I've moved on to the leafy greens like lettuce and bok choy. There's no stopping me. Proximity to a wonderful Asian grocery store gives me endless access to big bags of baby bok choy, and also makes it easy to keep my pantry stocked with Asian ingredients. Bok choy is a cabbage, which means it has a mild but distinct flavor of its own, and also takes well to strong flavors around it. For this and other sauces, I like to use a new-to-my-pantry ingredient, chili pepper stir-in paste, that I buy in the produce section of my supermarket; you can... 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 →

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 →

A creative cook needs only two methods of cooking leftovers, two master recipes that disguise those bits and pieces and presto-change-o them into something completely new and exciting. These days we might call them kitchen hacks, but these kitchen "tricks" been around forever: toss leftovers into a soup pot, or wrap them in eggs. Fold any leftovers into any basic soup or egg recipe, and you've got a reliably wonderful "new" dish to put on the table. And that is the genesis of this frittata. I started with a single slice of smoked salmon, and half an avocado. A large fennel bulb intended for something else gave up part of its outer stalk and a leafy frond, and added a bit of crunchy, anise undertone.... 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 →