Watermelon, Cucumber, + Feta Salad

Watermelon, Cucumber, + Feta Salad |
Watermelon, Cucumber, + Feta Salad |
Chopping Watermelon |
Chopping Cucumber |
Watermelon, Cucumber, + Feta Salad Mise En Place |
Feta |
Basil |
Watermelon, Cucumber, + Feta Salad |

My heart is so happy right now I could squeal! We've just returned from our family's 29th annual reunion in South Carolina. Back when I was a wee lass my grandparents had the good sense to institute a summer tradition of gathering their five children plus families for a week at the beach. God bless them, they stuck with it. I've always cherished this trip but have grown to appreciate it more with each passing year. With a new crop of itty-bitty babies our head count this summer totaled 33. Besides the good company, I adore that this week is a true vacation. There's nowhere to go, nothing to see. Upon arrival it takes but minutes to fall into the familiar routine we've perfected over nearly three decades. Tennis/jogging/straight up lounging in the morning; lunches of build-your-own honey baked ham sandwiches and pimento cheese (while it lasts); afternoons on the beach, stocked coolers in tow; cocktails and hor d'oeuvres on the porch; dinner together at the big long table (actually three pushed together to make one); party and card games in the evenings. Sleep and repeat. It's magic. Scroll on for a few snaps.

Every night a different family takes a turn cooking dinner for the crowd. Some version of this watermelon salad usually makes an appearance, and for good reason. It's simple, brilliantly pretty, and a surefire crowdpleaser.

The beach house...

The beach house...

...and 180 degrees.

...and 180 degrees.

South Carolina surf.

South Carolina surf.

My adorable grandparents with their five children. Props to my mom for holding her own with four brothers!

My adorable grandparents with their five children. Props to my mom for holding her own with four brothers!

Watermelon, Cucumber, + Feta Salad |


Serves 4

  • 1 small watermelon, cubed (if you have a large melon, use 1/2)
  • 4 Persian cucumbers, quartered lengthwise and diced
  • 1 serrano chile, sliced into thin rounds (if you don't like heat, omit!)
  • 8 oz. feta*, cubed 
  • 12-16 basil leaves, roughly chopped
  • 12-16 mint leaves, roughly chopped
  • Juice of one half lime
  • Sea salt
  • Olive oil


  • Toss watermelon, cucumber, serrano, feta, basil and lime juice in serving bowl
  • Sprinkle with sea salt and drizzle with olive oil
  • Serve immediately (If allowed to sit the watermelon and cucumber will release water. Toss ingredients as close to serving as possible.)

*A few notes on feta from our resident cheesemonger. High quality feta will make this salad sing. Feta can be made from cow's milk, goat's milk, sheep's milk, or some combination of these. In the States cow's milk is the most ubiquitous, found in those little vacuum sealed squares at the grocery store. Those will do in a pinch but you're better off seeking out a feta packed in brine. 100% sheep's milk is my favorite. French, Greek, or Bulgarian are all excellent bets but never rule out the feta you find at your local farmer's market. 


Poblano Soup with Shredded Chicken + Lime

Poblano Soup with Shredded Chicken + Lime |
Potluck at Midnight Farm Cookbook |
Green Vegetables |

After college I did a summer internship at Cape Cod Life magazine. It was a pretty sweet gig. I got to zip around the Cape interviewing B&B proprietors, give my two cents on the annual 'best of' issue, and even sit in my own little office with a window. 

But the best perk of all were the cookbooks. My stint coincided with the magazine moving to new offices across town. Like any move, there was years worth of clutter to contend with. Except this wasn't you're ordinary junk. The magazine received a steady stream of books from authors and publishers all clamoring for a few favorable words in print. These hopefuls accumulated in little stacks all around the office. Everywhere you turned, books, books, books. When moving week rolled around we were green-lighted to 'take what you like'. That day just about made up for the internship being unpaid. Among the bounty I took home was a cookbook called Potluck at Midnight Farm. The recipes are nice but the real draw is that it's a book about fabulous parties in even more fabulous settings on Martha's Vineyard. Farms, beaches, bluffs! The author is friends with Carly Simon so as an added bonus there are pictures of Carly being gorgeous scattered throughout. It's almost like you're friends with her too!

This soup is not in that cookbook, but its inspiration is. The 'arroz verde' (pg. 68) is loaded with poblanos, cilantro, scallions, zuchinni and other green goodness. The combo felt appropriate for a summertime soup.

Poblano Soup Prep |
Roasted + Peeled Poblanos |
Poblano Soup Prep |
Poblano Soup with Shredded Chicken + Lime |



  • 2 Tbs. olive oil
  • 4 scallions, chopped (separate white and light green parts from the dark green tops; reserve latter for garnish)
  • 2 celery stalks, diced
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1 zucchini, diced
  • 1.5 lbs. poblano peppers, roasted, peeled, seeded and diced (see here for instructions on roasting and peeling peppers)
  • 1/2 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1 Tbs. lime zest
  • 1 Parmesan rind
  • 8 cups chicken stock
  • 1 cup chickpeas
  • 2 cups shredded chicken
  • 1 head romaine lettuce, sliced into thin strips
  • 4 Tbs. chopped cilantro
  • 2 Tbs. chopped dill
  • 2 Tbs. lime juice
  • Diced avocado + radish (for garnish)


  • In a large dutch oven or saucepan heat olive oil over medium heat
  • Saute scallions (white and light green parts) and celery for 2 minutes
  • Add zucchini, garlic, and poblanos and cook for 3-4 minutes, stirring frequently; season vegetables with 1/2 tsp. salt
  • Add chicken stock, lime zest, chickpeas, and Parmesan rind; bring to a boil then reduce to a simmer; cook uncovered for 30 minutes
  • When ready to serve add chicken, romaine, cilantro, dill, lime juice, and dark green parts of your scallions; cook for 2-3 minutes until chicken is warmed and lettuce has wilted
  • Serve garnished with diced avocado and radishes

Vegetables, Salads

Asparagus Salad

Asparagus Salad |
Asparagus Salad Prep |
Asparagus Salad Prep |
Asparagus Salad |
Asparagus Salad |
Asparagus Salad |

I had the good fortune recently to spend a few delightful days with my grandparents in Georgia. Nana and Pops, as us kids call them. When Sunday came around Nana sent me home with this handsome little plate. Isn't she sweet? Happily unattached from the set to which she once belonged, I tucked her into my suitcase with visions of lunch for one. Nana would be pleased to see her gift getting some action these days, though she'd disapprove of this particular use. You see, Nana detests vegetables. They could be steamed, sous vide, hand-plucked, or wild-foraged  - it doesn't matter, she's not interested. I'll admit I did empathize with Nana the first time I heard the notion of raw asparagus salad. Sounds woody. And tough. I'm happy to report though that it's remarkably delicate, and dare I say, beats roasting. I won't go so far as to say this salad would convert my nana, but she's 91 so I'll give her a pass.

Asparagus Salad Aftermath |


Serves 1
  • 8 asparagus spears
  • 2 Tbs. pine nuts, toasted
  • 1 egg
  • Vinegar
  • Pecorino cheese
  • Olive oil
  • Lemon wedge
  • Sea salt


  • Snap the woody end off asparagus spears. Using a vegetable peeler shave into ribbons leaving the tips intact. Add asparagus tips to to ribbons.
  • Toss asparagus with pine nuts, a dusting of grated Pecorino, a squeeze of lemon, a drizzle of olive oil and sea salt. Set aside.
  • To poach egg bring a small saucepan of water with a glug of vinegar to a simmer (the vinegar will keep the whites from dispersing).
  • Crack egg into a ramekin, keeping yolk intact 
  • Pour egg into the simmering water as close to the surface as possible (as opposed to letting it drop). Adjust heat if water is bubbling too vigorously.
  • Poach egg for 2 minutes (for a soft boil) or 4 minutes for a firmer yolk; remove from water with a slotted spoon
  • Let cool for a moment before topping salad with egg. Enjoy immediately.


Strawberry Crostata + Basil Whipped Cream

Strawberry Crostata |
Basil Whipped Cream |

Before this here pie, the last time I enjoyed strawberry and basil together was in a vodka drink. They're splendid companions whether the accompanying vice is booze or butter (as in this case). Do you ever draw recipe inspiration from cocktails? It's a great place to go hunting. Cocktail lists these days are chock full of cryptic, trendy-sounding mash-ups like 'Balsamic, Sassafras + Peat' or 'Cocoa, Orange Blossom, + Smoke'. Eh? It's pretty much impossible to forecast what the drink will taste like but there's entertainment value in the puzzle. Strawberry + basil on the other hand is a more down-home combo. I know exactly the flavors they'll deliver: summer weekend. Since Memorial Day graced New England with one of those I was reminded of the note-to-self I'd filed after that cocktail: 'strawberry season - subtract vodka - add whipped cream'. The strawberries haven't quite arrived yet here but I couldn't wait that long.

Strawberry Crostata |
Strawberry Crostata |
Strawberry Crostata |
Strawberry Crostata |
Strawberry Crostata + Basil Whipped Cream |


Strawberry Crostata

For the Crust

This is a killer crostata dough from Bon Appetit's May 2011 issue. The original recipe features a filling of raspberry and rhubarb. I've enjoyed it many times and also dabbled with other berry combos. They all shine with this crust as the foundation. I heart it. You will too.

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
  • 12 Tbs. chilled unsalted butter (1.5 sticks), cut into small cubes (cold butter is key; after cutting place in a bowl and pop in the freezer until ready to use)
  • 1 1/2 Tbs. sugar
  • 1/2 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1 egg
  • 1 Tbs. whole milk or half-and-half

For the Filling

  • 4 cups strawberries, hulled and cut in halves or quarters
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 2 Tbs. cornstarch
  • Juice of 1/2 lemon (about 2 Tbs.)
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • Sea salt and granulated sugar

Basil whipped Cream

  • 1 pint heavy cream
  • 6-8 sprigs fresh basil
  • 2 Tbs. confectioner's sugar



Infuse the Cream

  • In small saucepan heat cream over medium-high heat just until bubbles begin to appear around the edge of the pan
  • Remove from heat
  • Add basil and allow to steep for ~20 minutes
  • Move the saucepan to the fridge and continue to steep until thoroughly chilled, about 2 hours

Make the Dough

  • Whisk egg and milk (or half and half) together in a small bowl, set aside
  • In a food processor pulse flours, sugar, and salt until blended; about five seconds
  • Add cubed butter and pulse until mixture is gravely and butter is the size of peas, about 6-8 pulses
  • Add egg mixture and pulse until dough begins to come together into moist clumps
  • Turn dough onto a floured surface and gather into a ball
  • Wrap in plastic wrap and put in fridge to chill, at least 90 minutes

Prep the Strawberries

  • About 30 minutes before you're ready to assemble the crostata, prep the strawberries
  • Cut into halves (or quarters if very large) and measure 4 cups
  • Stir together strawberries, sugar, cornstarch, and lemon juice in a bowl and let sit for ~20 minutes

Assemble the Crostata

  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees
  • Whisk egg in a small bowl and set aside
  • Tear a sheet of parchment paper (roughly the size of your baking sheet) and place on your work surface; dust with flour
  • Use a rolling pin to roll dough into a 12 inch round on the parchment paper
  • Lift parchment paper and place on baking sheet before adding the filling
  • Brush dough with beaten egg
  • Scoop strawberry filling into the center of the dough and carefully spread, leaving a 1.5 inch border
  • Fold edges of dough over strawberries
  • Brush dough edges with beaten egg and sprinkle lightly with sugar and sea salt
  • Bake until the crust is browned and filling bubbly, about 45 minutes
  • Let cool before cutting and serving

Make the Whipped Cream

  • Remove cream from fridge
  • Discard basil sprigs
  • Place cream and sugar in the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with a whisk attachment (chill the bowl and attachment first for best results)
  • Beat cream on medium-high speed until firm peaks form, about 6-8 minutes (don't over beat or you'll end up with butter)

Serve crostata slices dolloped with whipped cream and basil chiffonade.




Pizza With Greens, Roasted Corn + Hot Honey

Pizza with Greens, Corn + Hot Honey |
Hot Honey |
Swiss Chard |

Honey on pizza is a thing. I swear to goodness. Who could make this up? My first encounter was at a nondescript little joint in Hyannis, MA many moons ago. I had just wrapped what would be my first and last day* of a summer job: door-to-door canvassing to collect signatures in support of closing the local power plant. My new employer neglected to warn us that most of the homes we'd be canvassing belonged to employees of said plant. We were not warmly welcomed and I began to seriously reevaluate my career in political action. 

I doubt I'd even remember this stint if not for the pizza us weary canvassers shared after our 10-hour day. It was your standard-issue New England Greek-style cheese pizza with one very unexpected addition - honey. This was high school so I was probably mad skeptical. But being cool, I tried it anyway. Second to quitting the job shortly after dinner, best decision I made that day. 

If you like honey then you'll probably enjoy it on most any type of pizza pie. There's no magic to this combo with greens and corn. No, that part comes in when your honey and Tabasco get together and make a condiment love child. Also good for biscuits, chicken and waffles, and sticky fingers.

Has anybody else stumbled upon honey pizza? Is there a fabled origin story I should be aware of? If you know, do tell!

*For those wondering, I did find alternate employment slinging sandwiches.

Roasted Corn |
Pizza Dough |
Pizza Mise En Place |
Pizza with Greens, Corn + Hot Honey |
Pizza with Greens, Roasted Corn, and Hot Honey |


Pizza Dough

Makes two 10-inch pies

Several years ago I was introduced to Mark Bittman's pizza dough. Let me tell you, it is a dream. Even though I fiddle with it and make up my own directions sometimes , I'm always forgiven with the perfect pizza. The only departure from Mark's recipe here is a Tbs. of honey, but that's optional.

  • 3 cups all-purpose flour, plus extra for kneading
  • 1 packet active dry yeast (1/4 oz.)
  • 1 Tbs. honey (or granulated sugar)
  • 2 tsp. kosher salt
  • 2 Tbs. olive oil
  • 2 cups hot water, divided

Pizza with greens, corn + hot Honey

  • Pizza dough for 1 pie (see above)
  • 1 bunch swiss chard (or kale, mustard greens, spinach) + olive oil, salt + pepper for sauteing
  • 2 ears corn
  • 1 eight oz. ball fresh mozzerela
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1 Tbs. Tabasco sauce
  • Corn meal (for dusting)



Pizza Dough

  • In a small bowl mix yeast, 1 cup hot water, and honey; let stand until frothy and bubbly, about 10 minutes
  • In a food processor pulse flour, salt, and olive oil
  • With the food processor motor running pour yeast mixture and additional 1 cup hot water through the feed tube
  • After 15-30 seconds the dough should come together into a craggy, sticky ball (if dough looks really dry and crumbly add water one tsp. at a time until it comes together)
  • Turn dough onto a floured surface and knead a couple times until you have a nice smooth ball
  • Place dough in a large bowl and cover with a dish towel or napkin (you can also use plastic wrap)
  • Let dough sit at room temperature for 1 hour minimum or up to 3 hours (if you want to make the dough in advance you can also let it rise in the fridge overnight)
  • After sitting, dough should have doubled in size
  • Turn dough onto a floured surface, divide in half and shape into two balls so you have dough for two pies (at this point if you aren't going to make pizza right away you could wrap dough in plastic wrap and freeze)
  • Use a rolling pin to role out dough; make sure you have plenty of flour on hand if it gets sticky
  • Roll out as thin as possible, letting rest for a few minutes if dough is too elastic
  • At this point you're ready to add toppings and make your pie
  • General tips to avoid pizza fails:
    • Use a pizza stone and make sure your oven is super hot, 500-550 degrees and sufficiently pre-heated.
    • Once your dough is rolled out, transfer it to a pizza paddle sprinkled with corn meal before you add your toppings. The corn meal will help the pie shimmy off into the oven. Relatedly, add your toppings just before the pie goes into the oven. If you top your dough with a wet sauce and let it sit out the dough will absorb the moisture and it will won't slide off your pizza paddle as easily. When your pie sticks and toppings are falling into a 500 degree oven be prepared to wrestle with the batteries in your smoke detector.
    • If you are going to be making more than one pie at a time on any given occasion, invest in two pizza paddles. They're super cheap and will make your at-home pizza factory run much more smoothly.

Pizza with Greens, Roasted corn, + hot honey

  • Preheat oven to 550 degrees (with pizza stone inside)
  • Prep your greens: Roughly chop greens and saute in olive oil for 5-7 minutes until tender (if using swiss chard remove stems and cook those first as they take a bit longer than the green leaves); season with salt and pepper
  • Prep the corn: Once shucked, roast corn by placing ears directly on a stove-top gas burner. Using tongs rotate until ears are charred on all sides (about 5 minutes). You can also do this on a grill. Let cool for a minute then cut kernels off cob and set aside.
  • Make hot honey: Use a fork to mix Tabasco into honey until fully incorporated. Taste. If too hot for your liking, add more honey. If too wimpy for your liking, add more Tabasco.
  • Assemble pizza:
    • Roll out dough (see above) and pierce all over with a fork (to avoid dough bubbles)
    • Sprinkle corn meal on a pizza paddle and lay rolled out dough on top
    • Scatter greens and corn across your dough
    • Tear mozzerela ball into chunks and scatter on pizza
  • Bake your pie: Slide pie from the pizza paddle onto the pizza stone in the oven. Bake for 10 minutes and check for doneness. When edges are just beginning to brown it's ready.
  • Remove from oven and let cool for 2-3 minutes.
  • Drizzle hot honey into a zig-zag pattern all over pie (you will have more than you need; save extra for future pies and other uses!). Cut and serve.



Roasted Green Grape Guacamole

Roasted Green Grape Guacamole |

This weekend Tripp and I mapped out our grand calendar of upcoming summer adventures (Carolina! Maine! France!). Besides making me totally giddy, the activity put a rumble in my belly for summery fare, picnics, and parties. With a few weeks left of New England spring, testing summer recipes inside on rainy days is a substitute for the real thing I won’t turn down. Hence, guacamole.

Ah yes, guacamole: friend-maker, woe-mender, harbinger of good times. If I were someone who believed in magic, these powers might seem reasonable. But I’m a notorious skipper of horoscope sections so an alternative explanation is in order. Perhaps it’s nothing beyond the singular alchemy that is avocado + lime + salt.

I’ve long been a fan of fruit-laced guacamole (hello, mango). But last summer was the first time I enjoyed a grape-studded rendition. Plump and bright, grapes are a splendid counter to creamy, rich avocado. Throw roasted grapes into the equation and whoa, you’ve just made a dish with an ingredient ‘two-ways’ at home. I have to admit I was pretty proud of that.

Roasted Green Grape Guacamole Mise En Place |
Roasted Green Grapes |
Roasted Green Grapes |
Grapes: two ways!

Grapes: two ways!

Avocados |
Guacamole Mise En Place |
Roasted Green Grape Guacamole |


Makes 3-4 cups

  • 2 cups whole grapes (visually I think green grapes are best here but red are a fine substitute)
  • 1 Tbs. olive oil + salt
  • 3 ripe Haas avocados, peeled, pitted and diced into small cubes
  • 1 cup quartered grapes
  • 1/3 cup red onion, finely diced
  • 2 serrano chiles, finely diced (if you don't like heat, use only one or omit altogether)
  • 1 cup cilantro leaves, roughly chopped (about 1 bunch)
  • Juice of three limes
  • 1 tsp. kosher salt


Roast Grapes

  • Preheat oven to 450 degrees
  • Toss 2 cups whole grapes with olive oil, season with salt, and spread on a baking sheet
  • Roast for 15 minutes; grapes will release juices and start to caramelize
  • Transfer grapes to a plate to cool
  • Roughly chop

Assemble Guacamole

  • Place avocado, roasted grapes, quartered fresh grapes, onion, chile, cilanto, lime and salt in a mixing bowl
  • Use a fork to combine until all ingredients are evenly dispersed but avocado chunks remain
  • Taste for seasoning; add more lime and salt as needed
  • Serve with tortilla chips or crudite
  • The flavors will be doubly awesome if you allow guac to sit inthe  fridge (covered) for a couple hours


Eggs En Cocotte with Eggplant + Yogurt

Eggs En Cocotte with Eggplant + Yogurt |
Whole Roasted Eggplant |
Roasted Eggplant + Yogurt |

Confession: I hate brunch. The aversion started back in my waitressing days. The hungover patrons, the measly eight hours between Saturday pm and Sunday am shifts, the half-regular/half-decaf coffee orders (you know who you are) – they soured me on the whole ritual.

You’d think that after retiring from the service industry and joining the ranks of 9-5ers I’d be able to find delight in this great American tradition. I thought so too. But even the other side is vexing. Brunch involves squandering most of your morning sleeping in because no one wants to go to brunch with you before eleven. When you arrive you’re one of so many flies at the honey pot, so you assume your position in line and wait. And wait. And then you wait some more for your entire party to arrive before they’ll seat you. The main event rarely lives up to expectations because you’re harried server is dealing the standard brunch drama (see above). By the time all is said and done it’s three, you’ve done exactly one thing, you’re belly-full and need a nap.

I know reasonable people revere brunch as awesome and sacred. That’s why I typically keep this wildly unpopular opinion to myself. But I’ve had brunch on the brain this week as I gear up for a much anticipated girls’ weekend in DC (hi Megan + Cara!). Any girls’ weekend worth its sea salt will include brunching. It has to, it’s in the handbook. I figured I better ease myself back in with brunch at home (but for dinner). It’s a start. Eggs baked in little ramekins are very brunchy and also adorable and darn good. Mimosas optional.

Eggs En Cocette with Eggplant + Yogurt |
Toast |
Eggs En Cocette with Eggplant + Yogurt
Eggs En Cocette with Eggplant + Yogurt |
Eggs En Cocette with Eggplant + Yogurt |


  • 1 large eggplant
  • 1 clove garlic, ground into a paste with a mortar and pestle or finely chopped
  • 1/3 cup plain Greek yogurt (I prefer full fat but use whichever variety you like best and have on hand)
  • 1 Tbs. olive oil
  • 1 Tbs. lemon juice
  • Salt and Pepper
  • 4 eggs
  • Chives to garnish
  • Toast (for serving)


Eggplant (may be Done in Advance)

  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees
  • Rub whole eggplant with olive oil and pierce several times all over with a fork 
  • Place eggplant in a baking dish or on a sheet pan and roast for 50-60 until eggplant is very soft when pierced with a fork
  • Remove from oven and allow to cool for a few minutes
  • Use a knife to split body of eggplant lengthwise
  • Scoop out the flesh into a small bowl, discarding the skin
  • Add garlic, yogurt, olive oil, lemon juice and a pinch of salt to eggplant; use a fork to stir until all ingredients are incorporated and eggplant is smooth


  • Preheat oven to 375 degrees
  • Arrange four mini-cocottes or ramekins in a baking dish with 2-3 inch sides
  • Divide eggplant mixture evenly among all four cocottes
  • Using a spoon create a small well in the eggplant mixture and add egg
  • Garnish eggs with a drizzle of olive oil, salt, and pepper
  • Pour water into baking dish until it comes about halfway up the sides of the cocottes
  • Bake until whites have just set, anywhere between 15-25 minutes. Set timer for 10 minutes and check every five minutes until whites are opaque
  • Garnish with chives and serve with toast 


Pasta, Fixings

Pistachio Mint Pesto

Spaghetti + Pistachio Mint Pesto |

I don't have a good track record for remembering firsts. Pesto is a vivid exception. The scene was 9th grade - a 'pasta party'  at Christine C.'s house. In addition to the mandatory red sauce, Christine's mom also presented us with a platter of spaghetti all speckled green. I was intrigued.

For those who aren't familiar, a pasta party is an adorable ritual enjoyed by high school athletes. The evening before a game the whole team gathers at the home of one patient parent to eat heaps of pasta. The presumed logic being that carb-loading is imperative to peak performance the following day. It's entirely unnecessary and totally fun. Lots of inter-grade bonding and boy talk. I imagine this tradition has suffered in the era of gluten intolerance. If there are any high school readers out there I'd welcome a report.

Anyhow, I digress. I swiftly cornered Christine's mom and complimented the 'green stuff'.  She showed me an empty packet and explained that all you need to do is mix the contents with oil and presto, pesto! That night I relayed the discovery to my mom and made my case for partaking in this exotic delicacy. "Oh, your father doesn't like pesto." Womp womp. The ultimate veto. Reflecting on this memory, maybe my Dad didn't like pesto because his reference point was freeze-dried powder that came in a packet.

By college I had graduated to jarred pesto and understood that basil and pine nuts were essential common denominators. Then one fateful day a roommate demonstrated that any old combo of nuts + greens could yield a mighty pesto. I think her version featured arugula and walnuts. Fast forward many moons to this weekend where I found myself with a cupboard full of pistachios and mint aplenty due to the Easter holiday. A new duo, but why not? Even if only because it's documented here on the world wide web this is a first I won't soon forget.

Pesto Mise En Place |
Pistachio Mint Pesto |
Lime Zest + Olive Oil |
Spaghetti |
Spaghetti + Pistachio Mint Pesto |

pistachio Mint Pesto

Makes ~ 1.5 cups


  • 1/2 cup unsalted, shelled pistachios
  • 2 cups mint leaves
  • 1/2 cup grated Pecorino Romano cheese
  • Zest of 1 lime
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1 Tb. lime juice
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • Pinch salt


  • Toast pistachios in a dry skillet over medium heat until just they are fragrant and just beginning to browm, 3-5 minutes; let cool
  • In a food processor combine pistachios, mint, cheese, lime zest,  garlic, and salt until you have a thick paste
  • With the motor running add olive oil and lime juice through the feed tube;  if pesto is too thick add water 1 Tbs. at a time until pesto reaches desired consistency
  • Keep pesto in the fridge for up to a week; also freezes well



Rhubarb Cardamom Compote

Rhubarb Cardamom Compote |
Chopped Rhubarb |

If you have fifteen minutes I recommend you resist the urge to save money on your car insurance, and whip up this prettiness instead. But you better make like the Easter bunny and hop to it. Rhubarb is here and gone  faster than you can sputter that irksome Geico slogan. It's like an elegant relative who only descends but once a year. And when she shows up she's ready for something glamorous. (For the record I do not have a relative like this. Perhaps someday.)

Earlier this year I thought pomegranate and cardamom might make good bedfellows. The flavors were pleasant but trying to coax a compote out of pomegranate was a proper fail. Lesson learned - pomegranate does not compute to compote. I knew I'd have better results with rhubarb if I could wait until spring. And yes, oh my stars, this time I nailed it. First of all this magic sauce is neon-electric pink. If you are a six-year old girl, or was one once upon a time, you'll probably love it on this merit alone. Second you can slather it on pretty much anything - yogurt, pancakes, cheese - and it'll make your day better. Third, it's a vehicle for using the cardamom my very cool husband brought home months ago that I haven't had much luck with until now (see pomegranate incident above). It's spicy, and citrusy, and herbal and apparently hearts rhubarb. Just like me.

Cardamom |
Rhubarb Cardamom Compote |
Rhubarb Cardamom Compote |
Rhubarb Cardamom Compote |

Rhubarb Cardamom Compote

Makes about 1 cup
Serving ideas: Use as a topping for yogurt, oatmeal, pancakes, waffles, toast + butter; spoon over vanilla ice cream or poundcake; also very good as an accompaniment to cheese


  • 2 cups chopped rhubarb, about 6-8 stalks
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 6  pods green cardamom,  shells removed and black seeds ground into a fine powder
  • pinch of salt


  • Using a mortar and pestle crack the cardamom pods and discard green shells; grind black seeds into a fine powder
  • Toss chopped rhubarb with sugar and let sit for 10-15 allowing the fruit to release juice (you can do this right in the saucepan you plan to cook it in)
  • Add cardamom to saucepan with rhubarb and sugar along with a very small pinch of salt
  • Place saucepan over medium heat and bring rhubarb to a simmer; rhubarb will begin to break down
  • Cook for 5-7 minutes until rhubarb is completely broken down; remove from heat
  • Chill compote in fridge for an hour or two before serving


Acorn Squash + Creamy Herb Farro

Acorn Squash Stuffed with Creamy Herb Farro |
Creamy Herb Farro |

Spring has sprung and brought with her today  a high of 28 degrees. Good grief. We're weary here in New England but I know, I know, old news.  I'd probably be numb to our situation if we hadn't just returned from a jaunt to Florida. There's nothing like a four day Vitamin-D binge to bring your state of deprivation into sharp focus. Well that and the fact that while I'm sporting flip flops and a maxi dress, the snowbird one seat over at brunch is cloaked in a turtleneck and a fleece. No lie.

But enough of that. In the spirit of the sunshine state, I'll turn to the bright side. March in New England has its charms and one is kitchen projects that involve cream sauce and melted cheese. Think of our poor neighbors to the south. Floridians have no business turning their ovens on in 80 degree weather. I'll bet there's but six weeks a year where roasted squash sounds like a good idea. The rest of the time they're left to get along on coconuts, strawberries, and rum runners. It's a pity, really, to not know the joys of hunkering.

This mish-mash was dreamed up one of those nights where the dinner selections looked positively drab. Wilty parsley = not inspiring. But you know what is? Mac + cheese. This farro will take you there. Except 'there', with all those whole grains and green speckles, will feel delightfully virtuous.

Hello sunshine, my old friend. 

Hello sunshine, my old friend. 

Farro |
Acorn Squash |
Roasted Acorn Squash |
Acorn Squash Stuffed with Creamy Herb Farro |

Roasted Acorn Squash + Creamy Herb Farro

Serves 2


  • 1 Acorn squash
  • Olive oli, salt, + pepper
  • 1 cup farro
  • 2 Tbs. butter 
  • 1 Tbs. flour
  • 1 Cup whole milk
  • 1 Cup grated Gruyere cheese + extra for sprinkling
  • 1 Cup chopped fresh herbs (I used parsley and basil)


  • Roast the Squash
    • Preheat oven to 400 degrees
    • Cut squash in half lengthwise (be careful, this part's a tad scary)
    • Scoop out seeds and discard (or save to roast)
    • Place halves on a baking sheet, drizzle with olive oil, and sprinkle with salt + pepper
    • Bake for one hour or until the flesh easily gives when pierced with a fork; remove from oven
  • Cook the Farro
    • Bring 6 cups of salted water to a rolling boil
    • Rinse farro and add to boiling water (You can cook farro like rice or like pasta; I prefer the pasta method so you eliminate the guessing game of getting the right grain to liquid ratio)
    • Cook farro at a boil for 20 minutes or until grains are tender
    • Drain
  • Make Cheese Sauce
    • In a heavy-bottomed saucepan melt butter over medium heat
    • Whisk in flour
    • Whisking regularly, cook over medium heat for 5-7 minutes until roux takes on a light brown color and becomes completely smooth; take care not to burn
    • Add milk whisking constantly until sauce begins to thicken
    • Turn heat to low and continue cooking, whisking regularly, for about 10 minutes until sauce is smooth and no longer tastes of flour
    • Add grated cheese and stir until melted and incorporated
    • Remove from heat
  • Assemble
    • Add cooked farro and fresh herbs to the cheese sauce and stir until well blended (you will have more of this mixture than you need to fill the squash, and that's is a good thing! It's awesome on its own and makes great leftovers)
    • Scoop farro into squash halves and garnish with grated Gruyere
    • Return squash to a 400 degree oven for 10-15 minutes, until cheese on top has melted and just browned
    • Serve hot



Roast Chicken with Oranges + Olives

Roast Chicken with Oranges + Olives |

I think these drumsticks were originally destined for some never-realized Buffalo concoction on Super Bowl weekend. Ever since they've been hanging in the freezer just wishing and hoping and thinking and praying for a wintry-mix Sunday to make their escape. This is an improvement over anything Frank's ReHot could have delivered, wouldn't you agree?

Back up. Did I say the Super Bowl? The one in January? Yup, that's right. The fact that I've been hanging on to this chicken for two months is a good indication of how often I cook meat. It's not that I don't like meat. Quite the contrary - this reformed vegetarian loves it! I'm just not very well versed in cooking it at home. And since we don't have room for a grill in our teeny corner of Cambridge I'm further dis-incentivized. But I'm only 30; there's time to change old habits. And this is a good place to start.

Chicken with Oranges + Olives |
Sliced Oranges |
Honey |
Castelvetrano Olives |
Roast Chicken with Oranges + Olives |

Roast Chicken with Oranges + Olives

Serves 4-6
  • 3 lbs. bone-in, skin-on chicken pieces (I used all drumsticks, but you could use thighs, legs, or a combo)
  • 4 oranges, 2 sliced into half-inch rounds and 2 juiced, about 3/4-1 cup (I used a combo of Navel and Blood oranges)
  • 2 Tbs. honey
  • 4 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 1 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 1 cup Castelvetrano olives (I like Castelvetranos because they're sweeter and less briny than other varieties though I'm sure other varieties could be successfully substituted. I used whole olives as opposed to pitted as the pitted sometimes have a chemically taste to me. But pitted can certainly be used)
  • Salt and Pepper


  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees
  • Pat chicken dry and arrange in large baking dish in a single layer; season generously with salt and pepper
  • Slice two oranges into 1/2 inch thick rounds and nestle in and around chicken
  • Peel garlic cloves and place in baking dish whole
  • Whisk honey into orange juice
  • Pour orange juice and honey mixture and wine all around chicken
  • Bake for 1 hour and 15 minutes, or until meat is opaque and juice runs clear when cut (as opposed to pink)
  • Serve chicken over rice, quinoa, couscous or other cooked grain with pan sauce ladled on top


Winter Panzanella + Walnut Vinaigrette

Radicchio + Endive |
Winter Panzanella |

If you're looking for more ways to incorporate bread into your diet, panzanella is a great place to start.

Ha! If only I had that problem. In my household it's more like, 'Do you find yourself bringing home every gorgeous loaf of french bread that makes eyes at you? Are you ashamed when you discover you've eaten 3/4 of your baguette in one sitting, slicing little bread coins one after the other and slathering each with butter and sea salt? You had to, right, because tomorrow it will be dry and craggy?' If you're silently nodding your head, then panzanella is your new best friend. It turns your bread habit into a virtuous one. It turns that bread into salad. I understand that in order to be in possession of day-old bread for panzanella you're still going to have to stop yourself from eating fresh bread. No easy feat. But the promise of panzanella (added bonus: really fun to say) is better motivation than scolding yourself for downing too many refined carbs.

My favorite panzanellas are the classic kind full of tomatoes, cukes, and other summery goodness. But seeing as we're six months away from July in every direction,  and my devotion to bread intensifies in due proportion to dropping temperatures,  a winter edition was in order.

Crushed Walnuts |
Walnut Vinaigrette |
Radiccho + Endive |
Panzanella Bread |

After the bread and a nice, sharp vinaigrette for said bread to sop up, there are no rules. I chose bitter greens, lemony artichokes, and buttery walnuts partly because they look pretty together but mostly because it's what I had on hand. And next time I'll do the same.

Winter Panzanella |

Winter Panzanella + Walnut Vinaigrette

Serves 2-3

Walnut Vinaigrette

Makes ~1 cup
  • 1/4 unsalted walnuts, toasted
  • 1 large clove garlic
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 1 tsp. dijon mustard
  • 1 tsp. sugar
  • 1/2 cup olive oil 
  • Salt + Pepper


  • Toast walnuts in a dry skillet over medium heat until aromatic, about 4 minutes
  • In a food processor, pulse walnuts and garlic until finely ground but not a paste
  • Whisk together walnut-garlic mixture, lemon juice, mustard, sugar, salt and pepper
  • Add olive oil in a steady stream while whisking to incorporate
  • For best results, make 30 minutes before serving to allow flavors to develop; will keep in fridge up 5 days


  • 1/2 loaf day old crusty bread, cut into 1 inch cubes (about 3-4 cups)
  • 3 Tbs. olive oil
  • 1 tsp. kosher salt
  • 2 heads radicchio (also called treviso or chicory)
  • 2 heads Belgian endive
  • 1 eight oz. jar artichoke hearts, drained and chopped in quarters
  • Handful parsley leaves


  • Heat oil In a large skillet toast over medium heat for about one minute
  • Add bread cubes and salt
  • Toast bread cubes turning frequently until nicely browned on all sides, about 10 minutes; if things begin to get smoky, reduce heat to low
  • Remove from heat and let bread cool
  • Tear (or chop) radicchio and Belgian endive leaves into small pieces
  • Combine all panzanella ingredients and dress with walnut viniagrette; serve immediately or allow to sit for 15 minutes to allow bread to sop up dressing


Anchovy Toasts + Romesco

Anchovy Toasts + Romesco |
Roasted Red Peppers |

Sometimes when you're in the middle of blizzard #4 (roses are red, violets are blue, winter storm Neptune I'm talking 'bout you), it's time to play a little make believe. Soups, and stews, and casseroles are hearty and wintry and all that but they are also a reminder of the upcoming date you have with your shovel. Hence I figured Valentine's Day was the perfect opportunity for a little culinary 'staycation' of Spanish pinchos. Although optimally enjoyed al fresco at a European cafe with water views while seated in one of those charming French bistro chairs, our kitchen table made a fine substitute. Tip: put your spread on a tray and you've instantly got an occasion.

Ever since Tripp visited San Sebastian he's been bringing home these little silvery anchovies (boquerones in Spanish). At first I was skeptical but my oh my are they good. Bright and vinegary they're the perfect foil to smoky, nutty romesco. And anything you get to assemble with little utensils gets extra points in my book. Anchovies aren't your thing? Leave 'em off. This is a judgement free zone and even though I'm a fan I'll be the first to say they aren't necessary. The romesco is splendid all on its own. And when you tire of eating it on toast (or with a spoon) it's happy to do its thing on fish, meats, in a grilled cheese, on roasted or grilled veggies, on pasta - you name it.

The garlic probably interferes with this qualifying as a romantic Valentine's Day dish but whatves. It's red and involves smoke and fire so I'm pretty sure that counts for something.

Romesco Sauce |
Anchovy Toasts + Romesco |
Olives Mixta |
Italian Anchovies |
Anchovy Toasts + Romesco |

Anchovy Toasts + Romesco

Serves 6-8 as an appetizer


Makes about 2 cups


  • 1 cup unsalted raw almonds 
  • 3 red bell peppers (if you don't want to roast your own peppers you can substitute jarred, just be sure to drain them first)
  • 2 Tbs. sherry vinegar
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1/2 tsp. paprika
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 c. olive oil


  • Roast peppers - if you have a gas stove you can roast the peppers right in your kitchen by placing them directly on the stovetop over a medium to high flame, one pepper per burner. Using metal tongs, turn frequently so peppers get nicely blackened and charred all around. The skin will sizzle and you'll see little sparks as it burns but don't worry the whole pepper won't catch fire. Continue until peppers are softened and blackened all over, about 10 minutes. Remove from heat and place inside a paper bag. Seal the bag by folding the top over and let peppers sit for 10-15 minutes. This step makes the skin easier to remove. Once cool, use your hands to massage the skin off the peppers. It's okay if you don't get every bit. The blackened bits equal flavor! Cut off the end of each pepper with the stem and discard. Roughly chop peppers.
  • Toast almonds in a dry skillet over medium heat until they become slightly browned and fragrant, about 4-6 minutes; let cool. Be careful not to burn otherwise you'll get bitter flavors in your romesco.
  • Place almonds in a food processor and grind until very fine, about 1 minute.
  • Add chopped peppers, sherry vinegar, garlic, paprika, and salt and process until smooth, about 1 minute. Sauce will be thick.
  • With motor running, add olive oil in a steady stream through the feed tube.
  • Sauce is ready to serve immediately but for best results make a few hours in advance to allow flavors to develop.
  • Romesco will keep in the refrigerator for up to a week or several months in the freezer.


Anchovy Toasts


  • 1/4 lb. white anchovies cured in vinegar, at room temperature (I have not seen these at regular grocery stores but they can be found in speciality stores carrying Spanish or Italian products)
  • 1 baguette, sliced into 1/2 inch rounds
  • 1 or 2 garlic cloves
  • Romesco sauce, at room temperature


  • Preheat oven to 325
  • Slice baguette into 1/2 inch rounds and place on cookie sheet
  • Toast baguette slices until lightly browned and just firm, about 10 minutes
  • Cut garlic cloves in half and rub each toast with raw garlic
  • To serve slather each toast with romesco and top with anchovies


Butternut Squash Gnocchi

Butternut Squash Gnocchi |

When Tripp and I got married I told him that there was one condition under which I would permit him to file for a divorce: in the event I develop a gluten intolerance. Before you start thinking he's a crummy guy, let me explain. It is I who would become intolerable. My relationship with bread, pasta, cake and the like can pretty much be summed up by this Mariah Carey song  ("You've got me feeling emotions / Deeper than I ever dreamed of / Now you know the way you make me lose control / When you're looking into my eyes.") I'm actually aghast that I haven't posted a pasta recipe on this blog yet. So here begins what will surely be a robust section of this site.

This gnocchi has a couple steps but it's worth it. You start with an old clunker of a squash and end up with delicate little butternut-colored pasta pillows.  It's a beautiful thing.

Butternut Squash |
Butternut Squash Gnocchi Dough |
Butternut Squash Gnocchi |
Butternut Squash Gnocchi |
Find the recipe for this  Parmesan Broth at BonAppetit .

Find the recipe for this Parmesan Broth at BonAppetit.

Butternut Squash Gnocchi

Serves 4


  • 1 1/2 cups butternut squash puree (1 medium butternut squash + olive oil, salt, and pepper)
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 egg
  • Sage leaves
  • 4 Tbs. butter, divided
  • 1 Tbs. olive oil
  • 1 cup Parmesan Broth (we prepared this recipe from BonAppetit; if you don't feel like bothering with this, your pasta cooking water is a fine substitute)


Squash Puree

  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees;
  • Cut butternut squash in half lengthwise and scoop out seeds
  • Place on a baking sheet, drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper
  • Roast until the flesh is easily pierced with a fork, about 45 minutes 
  • Scoop flesh out of squash and transfer to a food processor
  • Blend until smooth, 30-60 seconds; allow to cool; this may be done a day ahead (you may have a bit more than 1 1/2 cups - here are a few ideas from The Kitchn on how you can use any leftovers)


  • In a mixing bowl, beat an egg into squash puree (use only 1 1/2 cups)
  • Gradually fold in flour (Note: dough will be soft. You want to add enough flour for the dough to just come together. If dough is still sticky after adding the full 2 cups of flour, continue adding one tablespoon at a time until it's workable.)
  • Turn dough onto a floured surface and knead gently until smooth
  • Using a sharp knife, cut dough into 8 equal sections
  • Take each section and using your palms roll into a long rope, about 1/2 inch thick
  • Cut the rope into 1/2 inch pieces and transfer the gnocchi to a floured surface (at this point you can pinch each gnocchi with the tines of a fork but I skipped this step)
  • Gnocchi may be used fresh or frozen; to freeze, spread gnocchi on a baking sheet so they are not touching and freeze until firm, about 1 hour; transfer frozen gnocchi to a zip lock bag for freezer storage

Sage Leaves

  • In a small saute pan heat 1 Tbs. butter and 1 Tbs. olive oil over medium heat
  • Add sage leaves (removed from stem) and fry 5-10 seconds until crisp - do not brown
  • Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate and sprinkle with salt


  • Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil; have a large saute pan on another burner ready to go
  • Cook fresh gnocchi at a rolling boil until they float, about 3 minutes; remove gnocchi using a slotted spoon and drain
  • In a large saute pan, heat 3 Tbs. butter over medium heat
  • Once butter has melted, add cooked gnocchi and parmesan broth (substitute pasta cooking liquid if not using parmesan broth; you can also add a handful of finely grated parmesan at this step if you like)
  • Cook over medium high heat until most of the liquid has evaporated, about 5 minutes; the gnocchi will be lightly coated in sauce
  • Transfer gnocchi to serving dishes, garnish with fried sage leaves, and serve immediately


Winter Salad + Grapefruit Vinaigrette

Winter Salad + Grapefruit Vinaigrette |
Grapefruit Vinaigrette Mise En Place |

"Welcome to Winter Storm Juno. Please enjoy the next 48 hours of free time to delight in your home's creature comforts and catch up on whatever you choose. Brought to you by Netflix*." 

If you're reading this, then you and I both have survived Juno, aka #snowmaggedon /  #snowpocalypse. Well, perhaps 'survived' is a bit drastic. Savored is more like it. A holiday that quite literally drops out of the sky? I call that magic. I fully appreciate that not everyone equates snow days with vacation. But I figure while kids and homeownership are not yet part of the equation I have license to enjoy.

This morning I busted out of hibernation to make the trek to the gym. Spin class does wonders to dissolve the muscle atrophy and guilt induced by a Bachelor marathon. As the class was winding down our instructor shared an observation that nicely summed up my sentiments: "You know the only difference between a snow day as a kid and a snow day as an adult? It's an excuse to play drinking games." Amen. Everything else is the same - the giddiness, the friendly neighbors, the overblown news coverage. It's all part of the ritual and I love it. 

You might be wearing a puzzled expression trying to figure out why this snow day post is accompanied by photos of a salad. Obviously I am well aware that snow days come with their own well-appointed food customs: hot chocolate, long simmering stews, roasted meats. Basically, hot things. Those are important for sure but sometimes you need something light and bright between the heavy snow and heavy food. Consider this salad that interlude.

(*Just kidding, but you know they would if they could!)

Grapefruit Vinaigrette |
Yellow Beets |
Winter Salad with Grapefruit Vinaigrette |


Grapefruit Vinaigrette

Makes approximately 1 cup

  • Juice of 1/2 grapefruit (about 1/2 cup)
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 Tbs. sherry vinegar
  • 1 tsp. maple syrup
  • 1/4 tsp. kosher salt
  • Pepper to taste

Winter Salad

  • Butter lettuce
  • Yellow or red beets, boiled or roasted and sliced
  • Red onion, sliced
  • Queso fresco, crumbled
  • Fresh mint, chopped


  • In a blender or with a whisk, combine all vinaigrette ingredients
  • Assemble salad, dress, and enjoy!


Fondue Party

Cheese Fondue |
The dipping spread.

The dipping spread.

Cheese Fondue Party |

Believe it or not last weekend was my first, true fondue experience. My friends were aghast. How could I possibly have  eschewed this dish for three full decades? I used the opportunity to reflect on the many excuses I've encountered for not bothering with it.

1) "Fondue was all the rage in the 70's." This one is hurled as an insult far too often. We celebrate all that is retro in other departments. See Fleetwood Mac, record players, and Connect Four. I know bars that have all three.

2) "You need all that fancy equipment." I'm not a fan of single-use kitchen equipment especially that which is cumbersome to store and comes with a heap of accoutrements. Therefore I have no fondue pot nor those slender, elegant, European fork-spears. No gear, no fondue. Or so I thought. This weekend we managed with a good old dutch oven and regular forks. Most importantly we avoided purchasing this. Win-win.

3) "If you throw a fondue party, too many friends will show up." This is a valid problem that I can't help you with. But ultimately it's one we can file in the 'good to have' category.

It's a good day for hot cheese.

It's a good day for hot cheese.

Despite the world conspiring to keep me and fondue apart, I married a cheesemonger so it was only a matter of time. As it would happen just a few weeks after we tied the knot last year Tripp set off to Switzerland on a cheese-sourcing mission. His goal? Return with new offerings for Formaggio Kitchen from producers not yet featured in the US. Among the cheeses he returned with were a Gruyere and a Vacherin Fribourgeois, two classic fondue cheeses.  So you see, this post was in the making before I even started this blog. 

Now that I've been initiated I have a few words of wisdom to impart. Splurge on the cheese, not the copper fondue set. The more friends  you can squeeze into a circle around your pot, the better the ceremonial quality. Wait for a snowy day and eating all that melted cheese will feel not only justified but necessary.

Wheels of Gruyere aging in Villeneuve, Switzerland.

Wheels of Gruyere aging in Villeneuve, Switzerland.

A Lake Geneva vista on the cheese trail.

A Lake Geneva vista on the cheese trail.

Tripp, hard at work.

Tripp, hard at work.

For Fondue

As a main course a good rule of thumb is a half pound of cheese per person. For each pound of cheese use one cup of wine. Note that this is a generous estimation. This recipe can easily serve more than four depending on appetites.

  • 1 lb Gruyere, grated
  • 1 lb Vacherin Fribourgeois, grated
  • Pinch of flour
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 2 cups dry white wine (plus chilled bottles for drinking; Fondant or Gruner Vetliner are traditional choices)
  • White or black pepper

Comte, Emmentaler, and Raclette are all good substitutes for Gruyere and Vacherin Fribourgeois. There's no magic to a two-cheese blend either. Use one alone or a mix of several.

For Dipping

  • Cubed bread
  • Cubed salami
  • Cornichons (tiny, cute pickles)
  • Boiled new potatoes

Other great options: Cured beef, Pickled Onions, Proscuitto, or whatever else you fancy.


  • Ready your platter of dippers; the fondue takes only a few minutes to come together and should be served immediately
  • Grate cheese (avoid buying pre-grated cheese as a general rule; the air exposure compromises flavor)
  • Toss grated cheese with a pinch of flour to avoid clumping
  • Rub a heavy bottomed dutch oven or fondue pot with a split clove of raw garlic
  • Toss garlic clove into pot and add wine
  • Bring wine just to a boil, remove garlic clove
  • Add cheese to the simmering wine and use a whisk to incorporate gradually, about 1 minute; you want to allow the cheese to melt on its own terms and avoid vigorous stirring; the fondue will be smooth and fall in ribbons when lifted with a spoon
  • Stir in pepper to taste
  • Move dutch oven to the table and serve immediately


Carrot Chocolate Chunk Bread

Carrot Chocolate Chunk Bread |

I use the term bread here loosely. Let's be honest. This is cake. Chocolate studded cake. But if we call it bread we can eat it for breakfast with a pat of butter. Mmmmm. Bread it is. 

While cake for breakfast is a delightful way to start the day, it was not the impetus behind baking two loaves of this last night. Nope, it's because we're going skiing! In my mind skiing and quick breads are inextricably linked. Heading to the mountains demands provisions. Pack a few loaves of banana, zucchini, or pumpkin bread and nearly all your boxes are checked - it's breakfast, it's a snack, it's dessert, and it can even ride the chair lift. Voila.

Carrot bread is a new variation for me, but after how well this batch came out I doubt I'll be calling on the usual suspects anytime soon. Zucchini is out of season in the winter. Bananas - try as I might - I just don't like very much. And pumpkin gets too much play these days. (In all seriousness, the Pumpkin Spice Latte  has 90,000 followers on Twitter). The true test will be whether any remnants survive the weekend. I'm banking on no leftovers so I can return to regularly scheduled programming at breakfast where it's obviously whole grains and yogurt everyday, and never, ever cake.

Carrot Bread Baking Prep |
Carrot Bread Baking Prep |
Pureed Carrots |
Mast Brothers Brooklyn Blend Chocolate Tablet |
Chocolate Chunks |
Buttered + Floured Loaf Pans |
Carrot Bread Batter |
Carrot Chocolate Chunk Bread |

Carrot Chocolate Chunk Bread

This recipe is from The Fearless Baker by Emily Luchetti and Lisa Weiss. I stumbled upon it on NPR's Kitchen Window series when looking for a carrot bread that incorporates both pureed and grated carrots (most call only for grated). The addition of chocolate was my only modification.

Makes two 8 1/2-inch loaves (recipe could be easily cut in half to make only 1 loaf)


  • 16 carrots
  • 2 2/3 cups all purpose flour
  • 2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 2 tsp. salt
  • 12 Tbs. (1 1/2 sticks) butter, at room temperature
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 4 eggs, at room temperature
  • 2/3 cup buttermilk
  • 10 oz. good quality chocolate, roughly chopped (I used Mast Brothers Brooklyn Blend)


  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees
  • Butter and flour two 8 1/2-inch loaf pans
  • Peel all the carrots
  • Take 6 carrots, chop into small rounds and cook in salted, boiling water until soft (about 10 minutes). Drain and puree in a blender or food processor.
  • Grate the remaining 10 carrots and set aside
  • In a small bowl use a whisk to combine the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt
  • In a large bowl beat the butter and sugar together until smooth
  • Stir eggs into the butter/sugar mixture one at time until combined
  • Stir the buttermilk, pureed carrots, and grated carrots into the egg mixture
  • Fold the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients
  • Fold in the chopped chocolate
  • Divide batter between the two pans and bake for 60-70 minutes (check for doneness by inserting a thin knife; bread is done when it comes out clean)
  • Let cool for 15 minutes before removing from pans
  • Let cool completely (if you can stand it) before slicing
  • Store at room temperature wrapped in plastic; will keep for four days this way or freeze for up to two months


Napa Cabbage Salad + Peanut Dressing

Napa Cabbage Salad Mise En Place |
Napa Cabbage Salad with Peanut Dressing |

Well, we did it. Cut the cord. Cable television is no longer taking up residence at Chez Nichols. Good riddance Guy Fieri, Sister Wives, and Dance Moms. So shameful, yet so addictive. This isn't the first time we've abstained from cable. It's been an on-again, off-again saga. Regrettably we've always come crawling back for the one fix Netflix and Apple TV can't deliver: live sports. With the Patriots playoff game only days away, I'm reminded why relapse is an ever-present threat.

Now, I know we're not alone in this camp. As I've learned it's actually quite a trendy move. So trendy in fact that some big wigs have figured out how to capitalize on our situation. Apparently ESPN is leading the charge to unbundle a sports package that you can buy a la carte. I think we're about to enter a new era, my friends.

But in the meantime I've been looking for ways to fill the time House Hunters marathons used to occupy. This salad on repeat is one of them. I think this is our third go round in two weeks. I have to say it's far more satisfying than even the most tempting reality TV.

Peanut Dressing or Sauce |
Napa Cabbage Close Up |
Napa Cabbage Salad Mise En Place |
Napa Cabbage Salad + Peanut Dressing |


Napa Cabbage Salad

  • 1/2 head napa cabbage (also known as Chinese cabbage, napa is much more delicate than regular green cabbage and thus better suited for salads like this)
  • 1 cup cilantro leaves, chopped 
  • 1 cup bean sprouts
  • 2 Thai chiles, finely diced (if you don't like heat, leave these out)
  • 3 green onions, finely diced
  • 1 package ramen noodles, crushed and lightly toasted in a dry skillet (discard the seasoning packets)
  • 2 Tbs. toasted sesame seeds

Peanut Dressing

  • Juice of one lime
  • 3 Tbs. peanut butter
  • 3 Tbs. peanut oil
  • 2 Tbs. rice vinegar
  • 1 Tbs. soy sauce
  • 1 Tbs. honey
  • 2 inch piece of ginger, peeled and chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, peeled and chopped
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. siracha
  • 1/2 sesame oil



  • To make the dressing, combine all ingredients in a blender or food processor and blend until smooth, about 1 minute.
  • Cut the cabbage into thin strips: lay the half cabbage head on a cutting board and cut in half lengthwise, leaving the root end in tact. Then cut the remaining halves in half again lengthwise. Now cut all three sections crosswise into half inch strips until you reach the root end.
  • To prep the ramen noodles, crush lightly while still in packaging. Open package and discard seasoning packet. In a dry skillet over medium heat toast noodles until lightly browned, about 4-6 minutes.
  • Toss cabbage, cilantro, bean sprouts, green onions, chiles, ramen noodles, and sesame seeds with peanut dressing and serve. Tofu, chopped nuts, shredded chicken, or grilled salmon would all be top notch adds.


Swiss Chard with Pomegranate + Orange Yogurt

Swiss Chard with Orange Yogurt |
Swiss Chard |
Pomegranate |
Orange Zest |
Orange Honey Yogurt |

My oh my, 2014, you've outdone yourself! My heart grew three sizes this year. In approximate order of wonderfulness, highlights include:

  • Married the love of my life beneath raindrops in the place where we met and grew up
  • Welcomed a perfect child, my niece Tucker, into the world + fulfilled lifelong dream of becoming an Auntie Em
  • Stood beside three dear friends as they tied the knot
  • Serial binged
  • Started this here blog

2015 is feeling mighty intimidated right about now.

Swiss Chard with Pomegranate and Orange Honey Yogurt |

Despite my best attempts to assign some symbolic value to this swiss chard, there's really nothing about it that's representative of my year. Given the list above though, it would be a fool's errand if I tried. It is scientifically impossible to make a dish as delicious as my year has been. Instead I'll say this recipe is a nod to 2011, the year Yotam Ottolenghi's book Plenty came out and I learned how to bedazzle vegetables with pomegranate and yogurt.

Sauteed Swiss Chard with Pomegranate + Orange Yogurt

Serves 2-4 as a side dish


  • 1 bunch swiss chard
  • 2 Tbs. butter, divided
  • 1/3 cup white wine (water or stock may be substituted)
  • 1/4 cup pomegranate arils
  • 1/3 cup full fat, thick Greek yogurt (if you live in the Boston area I implore you to track down yogurt from Sophia's)
  • 1 Tbs. grated orange zest
  • 1 tsp. honey
  • S+P


  • Remove stems from chard
  • Chop chard stems into 1-2 inch pieces, set aside
  • Chop chard leaves into thin ribbons
  • Combine yogurt, orange zest, and honey; set aside
  • Heat 1 Tbs. butter in large saute pan over medium heat; add chard stems
  • Season with S+P; saute chard stems for ~3 minutes; add white wine
  • Continue to cook for 3-5 more minutes until wine has evaporated and stems are tender
  • Add remaining tablespoon of butter and chard leaves
  • Saute for 3-5 minutes until leaves are wilted and tender
  • Transfer chard to serving dish and top with pomegranate and healthy dollop of yogurt (Leftover pomegranate and yogurt? Breakfast is served.)

Cranberry Gin Smash

Cranberry Gin Smash |
Cranberries in Simple Syrup |
Muddled Cranberries |
Cocktail Mise En Place |
Cocktail Bubbles |
Cranberry Gin Smash |
Cranberry Gin Smash with Rosemary |

It's December 23rd which means my favorite holiday ritual has arrived: gift wrapping set to a Nancy Meyers movie marathon. Even if you don't know this woman, you probably already love her. Among her oeuvre, she's responsible for Father of the Bride, The Parent Trap, and It's Complicated. (I know right? Solid gold). Her movies are sumptuous and make superb companions for wrapping presents and sipping a little something. Every year about this time, with Nancy's help, I pay a visit to the fantasy that I own a rambling farmhouse with fireplaces in every room. It's somewhere charming but glamorous, like the Hamptons or Napa. I'll be at the tail end of my wildly successful career as something chic like a playwright or interior designer, and aging gracefully, basking in the glow of good fortune. It's holiday movie magic, my friends. A cocktail (or two) does wonders for rounding out the daydream. 

Cocktail Credits: This rendition of Imbibe Magazine's Cranberry Smash was concocted by dear friend, Jackie, and composed by my #1 bro, Eli.

Cranberry Gin Smash

Makes 1 cocktail


  • 6 fresh cranberries (sorry, craisins are not invited to this party)
  • 1 oz. rosemary simple syrup (recipe below)
  • 1 oz. lemon juice
  • 2 oz. your favorite gin (right now I'm digging Barr Hill Gin from Caledonia Spirits in Vermont)
  • Cranberry + rosemary sprig garnish


  • Muddle cranberries with rosemary simple syrup in a 16 oz pint glass
  • Add ice to fill half the glass
  • Add lemon juice + gin
  • Cover with cocktail shaker and shake well for 10-15 seconds
  • With a fine mesh strainer, strain liquid into serving glass
  • To serve, add a couple fresh ice cubes (equally delicious straight up if you fancy)
  • Garnish with a rosemary sprig speared with a cranberry


Rosemary Simple Syrup


  • 1 cup* water
  • 1 cup* sugar
  • 3 sprigs fresh rosemary


  • Combine all ingredients in small saucepan and bring to a simmer over medium-high heat. Boil until all sugar has dissolved, about 1-2 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool, allowing rosemary to 'steep' in the syrup, 30-45 minutes. Remove rosemary sprigs and transfer to airtight container. Chill before using.

*You can make more or less, as long as the ratio remains 1:1