Grand Aioli

In the heat of summer there is still a need for delicious and substantial food.  The simplest of ingredients can be elevated to gourmet status with the addition of a knock-out sauce.  Herein is the magic of the Grand Aioli, a classic dish of Provence.  In the tradition of French cuisine, fresh vegetables, at their peak of flavor, are simply poached, and served with similarly prepared white fish and shellfish.  What makes these ingredients rise to culinary celebrity status is an amazing garlic sauce.

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Melon with Daiquiri Syrup

This weekend’s Farmer’s Market trip yielded an abundance of melon, all at the peak of ripeness and flavor.  Ordinarily the melon-lover of the family devours this favorite fruit of his simply; he scoops out the seeds and fills the space with the best vanilla ice cream.  But I was looking for a different take on fresh melon, a simple but attractive dessert with both taste and eye appeal. read more

Balsamic Chicken Salad

Hot weather requires a certain kind of cooking.  You need to provide maximum flavor with minimum expenditure of heat and effort.  This salad is the perfect example of summertime eating:  fresh and flavorful, but quick and easy to make.  The ingredients are simple, you may have everything you need in your refrigerator and pantry right now.  You can grill or saute the chicken, and, in fact, this salad is the perfect use for leftover chicken.  The dressing is bright and sharp-flavored; a light coating of balsamic vinegar and olive oil complements the crunchy celery, juicy grapes, and rich pecans.  read more

Peach Semifreddo

I am slowly becoming familiar with the rhythms of our new home.  I no longer wake in the night, wide-eyed in the dark, with a tinge of panic, wondering “where am I”?  This is home now, this beautiful place in Northern California.  How lucky am I to be living here?  The yard is green and full of trees; there are coastal redwoods, oak, maple, birch, and fruit trees.  The fragrance of roses, gardenia, and jasmine fills the air.  There is something special in every little corner of this yard.  It is my own sanctuary, and I am grateful for the beauty of it all.  And then there are the markets; the best Farmer’s Markets are just a short drive away. Every weekend we make a visit to one or another of them and marvel at the array of produce, flowers, organic meat, dairy and baked goods.

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A Purist's Guacamole

Since I moved to California I’ve noticed that the avocados here are mostly perfect.  All the time!  I’ve not had a bad one yet, and that makes me very happy.  Heading into the weekend I thought it was time to make a batch of guacamole.  I have very strong opinions about what should go into my guacamole. read more

Blackberry-Almond Cake

It has been a very long two months since I last posted here.  Where do I begin to tell the story of these past few weeks?  We moved from Wisconsin to California at the end of March.  The day after our house was packed up, we got in the car and started a four day trip across the country to our new home.  It is a temporary home; a furnished rental apartment, in a lovely community, convenient to everything.  But I wasn’t prepared for how homesick I would be, and how unsettling such a huge change is to everyday life.  read more

Chorizo and Manchego Pizza

In keeping with my philosophy of using what I have at hand, here is a pizza made with bits of this and that from the pantry and refrigerator.  I did mention once before that pizza is under-represented here; the truth is I do this quite often, and it’s almost always spontaneous, depending on what ingredients I have.  read more

Tomato and Black Bean Soup

How is everyone doing with their New Year’s resolutions?  Are you like me and just trying to return to your better habits post-holidays?  This soup feels just like what I need on a dreary January day.  It’s bright and spicy and filling and good to eat.  And it’s an easy soup that starts with pantry ingredients that you likely already have. read more