merguez, shakshushka, and more. my fall kitchen projects.

Even if I didn’t have a calendar, I would know it was fall from the autumnal projects in the kitchen. In the market, there are pole beans and some shelling beans, a few chiles and peppers, potatoes, onions, leeks and fennel. Squashes and cauliflower. Kale and chard and spinach. The pantry is packed with jars of tomatoes and grape juice, dozens of different jams and jellies, pickles and pie fillings. For me, these weeks before Thanksgiving are full of activity. This year, instead of pushing through the last round of edits, or just back after from 22 grueling book tour days. I will be home for the holidays. I’m going to bring back some old traditions and create some new ones and I’m using the next four weeks to […]

tiny scotch eggs

It all started with the quail eggs.  Will at Whitmore Farm is raising quail and every darn week those pretty speckled tiny eggs are there at the booth. Irresistable. I devilled a dozen a couple of weeks ago. The eggs are so tiny I snipped the top and removed the yolk with a demitasse spoon. By slicing across base, removing a small bit to make a flat surface, the egg sat upright. I filled them with a piping bag. Very pretty. Oops. No photo. I am not sure where the idea of scotch eggs came from, but I couldn’t stop thinking about making small scotch eggs. I love a good scotch egg, but have never been able to finish one. They’re just a little too big for me. But with a […]

five days to corned beef. just do it.

Yes, Saint Patrick’s day is coming up. And yes, this is the time of year when it’s all corned beef all the time. Let me tell you a secret. I was a bartender in college; it ruined March 17th forever. I do remain a corned beef fan, however. I had never even thought to make my own corned beef before Charcutepalooza but once I realized how EASY it is, I never turned back. Perhaps you’ve purchased the pre-brined corned beef in the store? Just stop that right now. I’m telling you that homemade is going to be from better meat, it’s going to take the same amount of work, and it will cost less and taste a million times better. Find a brisket from a nice farmer. It’s a […]

vacation tales, tender fishcakes and german chocolate cake

We slipped away for a week on Martha’s Vineyard,  and it feels so long ago now that this is more memoir than blog post. While it might sound like a busman’s holiday, I always make our meals when we’re on a beach vacation. I plan for it, packing a few key things to make cooking easier and more delicious. Because we’re driving, these few things take up very little room. A cast iron pan A baking sheet and a few sheets of parchment paper A couple of zip top bags, large and small A chef’s knife A paring knife Tongs Microplane Good finishing salt Pepper grinder Excellent olive oil One lovely vinegar A big jar of granola Some sort of hot sauce A good sized hunk of […]

feeding the creative mind (paté grandmère)

It’s been a few days since I returned from Ham Heaven and I can’t think of anything but paté grandmere.  There is a lot to say for travel, particularly if you have a job that demands creativity. Nothing kills new ideas like the same old same old. And nothing lights a fire under the creative soup pot like seeing, tasting, breathing, and engaging in a new place.  I thought a lot about eating while in France. About how the French eat, and how we eat, how I eat. There really is no snacking. You sit down to eat three meals a day.  At the market, shoppers gather fresh foods as well as all sorts of preserved foods — charcuterie, cheeses, fresh dairy and yogurt. There is a wide range of […]

greens ‘n’ eggs. or, have you seen my car key?

My mother – an English professor – would tell a story about her first year teaching. There was another young teacher with whom she shared an office. He taught three sections of Freshman English – the same workload as my mother. Each class had about twenty students, and every week the students had an exam, a Blue Book exam (remember those?) So, there were about sixty blue books to grade Every. Single. Week. Somewhere in the middle of that first semester, that other teacher was carted away by the men in the white coats. Complete nervous breakdown. His briefcase was stuffed with blue books, not a single one graded. After that, my mother graded every paper immediately. No lingering or procrastinating. That was a life […]