Archive for the ‘Apps and Sides’ Category


Adapted from The Essential New York Times Cookbook

My Mom recently gave me this cookbook which she had autographed by the author Amanda Hesser:

“for jeannette-
eat like you mean it!

 all the best, amanda hesser”

Very cool.  It’s an immense cookbook, both in terms of content and actual size. It includes a compilation of the best recipes published in the New York Times over the past 150 years(!).  The most interesting part is the timeline set out in the beginning of each chapter that chronicles food trends for each decade (did you know the Caesar salad came into vogue in the 1940’s?). This fun feature and the author’s own comments for each recipe almost makes you forget that there are no pictures (this usually drives me crazy- what is it supposed to look like?!).

This is the first recipe I’ve made from the cookbook- a great way to use up an abundance of summer vegetables!


  • 1 medium eggplant
  • 1 medium squash
  • 1 medium zuchinni
  • Salt
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1 large onion, sliced thin
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 sprig fresh thyme or oregano (or 1/2
    tsp. dried)
  • Fresh ground black pepper
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 ripe tomatoes, peeled and cored
  • 6 basil leaves, finely chopped


Chop squash and zucchini into 1/2 inch cubes. Trim ends of eggplant but do not peel. Cut into 1/2 inch slices and cut each slice into large cubes. Generously sprinkle the eggplant with salt and place in a colander. Weight it down with a plate and let stand for one hour to drain (I was skeptical, but it really does drain liquid! but in a pinch, I bet you could skip this step).

Place heavy skillet over medium heat and add oil. When hot, add onion and garlic and cook, stirring, until onion is soft, 3 to 4 minutes.  Add the eggplant, zucchini, squash, herbs and pepper. Add bay leaf and cover and simmer over low heat for 20 minutes.

Chop tomatoes and add them to the eggplant, along with the basil. Simmer for 20 minutes, or until thick. Taste and adjust seasoning. Serve hot or cold. We enjoyed it over couscous and again over slices of thick bread.

*Notes: the recipe was originally printed in the New York Times on June 3, 1965: “A Flair for Languages can Add Flavor to Menus” by Craig Claiborne.  The
recipe was adapted from Mrs. Jacques Kayaloff (although the notes in the cookbook state that the recipe may actually be the work of Mrs. Kayaloff’s cook, Lee Faith).


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Mushy Peas

We traveled to Paris and England over the holidays and had an amazing trip! While in England, we enjoyed our fair share of the classic: fish and chips! I’ve had fish and chips before, but I’ve never  heard of the side dish that came with it- mushy peas! Apparently this is traditional English pub fare and despite the name, it is really good! So when we got back I knew I had to try to re-create them.

I went right to the “proper” source for a recipe- Jamie Oliver (he is like royalty over there).


  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 bunch spring onions, chopped  (I used a yellow onion)
  • 1 handful fresh mint (optional)
  • 1 pound frozen peas
  • 2 large knobs butter
  • sea salt and freshly ground black pepper


“Heat the oil in a pan and add the chopped onions, mint, and peas. Cover and leave for a few minutes to steam. Mash with a potato masher. You can do this with a food processor as well, just pulse it until smooth (I used my immersion blender). Whether mashing or pulsing, when it’s done add the butter and season very carefully, to taste.” I add a tablespoon or two of milk because it seemed rather dry.

 They were really good, but not as good as the ones I had in the English pubs! I’ll have to keep at it…

Golden Boar Pub

The Rose and Crown

Meanwhile, since we’ve been back I have…

1. … started to put milk in my tea  

(in my commemorative William and Kate engagement mug, of course…)

2. … am going through serious Cadbury withdrawal

3. …become slightly obsessed with the Royal Family

The Royals

(on my to-read list!)

4. … started using the phrase “BRASS MONKEYS”  

(it doesn’t mean what you think)

 whenever possible (as in, “Brrr… it’s brass monkeys out there today!”)

5.  …. found my knight in shining armour


6. … continue to wait for my acceptance letter to Hogwarts!


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Go make this right now. Seriously. It is THAT good. 

If you have an end-of-summer abundance of tomatoes from your garden like we do (or just couldn’t control yourself at the farmer’s market) you might be thinking outside the tomato-basil-mozzarella box. I know, it’s ridiculous to think one would even have this problem, but we did. We can’t eat them fast enough and I will not let the birds have them!

That’s how I came across this recipe and am forever grateful. Fresh tomatoes are wonderful just by themselves, but I promise you’ll be happy with this dish! At first I didn’t know why it was called “scalloped” tomatoes. But then I realized it is sort of like a gratin or scalloped potatoes dish- but not as cheesy. It’s more like a tomato bake. It’s so simple- only four main ingredients- and just tastes like summer. Enjoy!

Scalloped Tomatoes

source: Smitten Kitchen adapted from Ina Garten 


  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 2-3 cups French bread, cut 1/2-inch diced (I included crusts)
  • 2 1/2 pounds cherry tomatoes, cut in half (or any good tomatoes will work)
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons sugar (you could use less since the cherry tomatoes are already sweet)
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup thinly slivered basil leaves
  • 1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese


Preheat the oven to 350°F. Heat olive oil in a large pan over medium-high. Add the bread cubes and stir, making sure they are evenly coated with oil. Toast the bread cubes, tossing frequently, about 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, combine tomatoes, garlic, sugar, salt and pepper in a large bowl. When the bread cubes are toasted, add the tomato mixture to the pan and cook them together, stirring frequently, for 5 minutes. Remove from heat, and stir in the basil. Pour into a shallow baking dish and top with Parmesan cheese. Bake 35 to 40 minutes until the top is browned and the tomatoes are bubbly.


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We took advantage of the long 4th of July weekend and went up to my parents’ house in NY, aka “Camp Croton”- because going there is like “summer camp” for our city dog, Bailey, with all of the hiking, swimming, and playing he does, not to mention the treats (Dad…).  It’s also like “camp” for us humans too (for all of the same reasons) so the name has stuck! This time, in addition to hammocking (yes, it’s a verb), swimming, canoeing, and indulging in whatever delicious baked goods my mother decided to make that day, we took a day trip to Stone Barns Center for Food and Agriculture in Pocantico Hills, NY and took a pesto making class! Stone Barns is a “farm” (which is a complete understatement) that also has an education center, hiking grounds, cooking classes, and a farmer’s market. Its mission is “to celebrate, teach and advance community-based food production and enjoyment, from farm to classroom to table.”  

The Blue Hill at Stone Barns restaurant is also on the property, which doesn’t have an actual menu but instead offers a 5 or 8 course dinner customized by the chef based on the table’s preferences and what is fresh and seasonal that day. We snuck a peek inside and it looked like they were setting up for a wedding that day! We opted for iced tea and scones at the less formal, but equally lovely (not mention more financially appropriate), Blue Hill Cafe. 🙂

But first, we met our group and learned how to make farm fresh pesto! 

 The first stop was the drying cellar where the garlic is stored. We selected a number of cloves- I had no idea how many varieties of garlic there are! We did a tasting but to be honest, I couldn’t really tell the difference. The type we used for the pesto was Music Garlic.

Next stop was the garden where we picked our fresh basil…

Then we headed into the kitchen/classroom where we split up into groups and were assigned tasks.

We got off easy- our job was slicing the bread!

The instructor put all of the ingredients into a blender and then  passed the pesto around for everyone to taste.

The product of our hard work! 🙂  

At the end of the class each person received a bulb of garlic to take home and plant, store, or eat!

On the way out we saw this sign posted on the wall and thought it was hysterical!

We hiked around the property afterwards and found these guys out in the pasture.

They didn’t look like they were moving anywhere (sorry, lea…).

They handed out recipe cards at the end of class which included a number of different pesto recipes. One that caught my attention when the instructor mentioned it was Kale Pesto. As luck would have it, we received a huge bunch of kale in our CSA delivery the next week. Naturally, we decided to make Kale Pesto! So we got ourselves a crusty loaf of bread, dusted off the blender, and employed our newly honed pesto making skills to make this electric GREEN Kale Pesto: 

Kale Pesto

  • ¼- ½ cup pine nuts (or walnuts)
  • ½ -1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ pound kale, stems removed, coarsely chopped (2-3 bunches)
  • 1 cup basil (1 large bunch)
  • 2-3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • ½ cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
  • Black pepper to taste

Add all ingredients except oil to blender or food processor and blend until combined. Slowly drizzle in oil and continue to blend until you reach the desired consistency. *my note: all measurements are really just estimates and depend on your personal taste-if you like it spicy, add more garlic; if you like a more chunky pesto, use less oil; etc… I want to try it with walnuts next time!  

In addition to just slathering it on bread and devouring enjoying it, we also made a simple pesto pasta by tossing it with some cherry tomatoes (from our garden!) and spaghetti rigate. I mention the pasta type because this kind has little ridges in the spaghetti which really catch and hold onto the pesto! Delicious!

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One Sunday morning while eating breakfast, Tony and I found ourselves watching an episode of Giada at Home on the Food Network  (yes, I realize the irony in the fact that we were watching a cooking show while eating… but  I’m sure we’re not the only ones who do this!). Giada made this look so quick, easy and DELICIOUS (never mind the fact that she was feeding it to her 2 year old! that kid certainly eats well). Tony and I immediately turned to each other and agreed “we’re making this tonight.”

I love Giada and turn to her recipes quite frequently (as you can tell).  She always uses fresh, whole ingredients in a simple way.  I think it’s fair to say that she actually helped me really learn to cook. Obviously my Mom played a huge part in my culinary education, but I never really took her tips and advice to heart until I was doing it on my own, as opposed to just helping her out in the kitchen.  It wasn’t until well after college, once I owned my own house with my very own kitchen, that something clicked and I decided that I was ready to move past simple pasta and grilled cheese and really wanted to learn to cook for myself.  I remember looking through the cookbook, Giada’s Family Dinners- which I believe my Mom actually gave me- and thinking “I can do this!” All I needed were the right ingredients and the right pots and pans and then all I had to do was follow the directions.  Obviously, it’s never quite that simple and dishes are often a big FAIL even after following the directions to a “t”- but whenever I think that a recipe or dish is too difficult to make I always remind myself that all I need are the right ingredients and the right tools and I can do it  (i.e., don’t own a spring form pan= can’t make that cake; but note to self: buy a spring form pan!).

This recipe was really easy and involved only a few simple, fresh ingredients. The only item we needed from the store was fontina cheese!


  • Ciabatta bread (or other baguette), cut into 6 (1/2 inch thick) slices
  • 1 garlic clove, halved
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 4 cups spinach
  • Salt
  • 1 cup shredded fontina cheese


Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or tin foil. Arrange the bread slices in a single layer on the baking sheet and drizzle with olive oil. Bake until light golden, about 10 minutes. Cool for 2 minutes. Rub the warm toasts with the cut side of the garlic. Set aside.

For the topping: In a large skillet, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add spinach and stir until it begins to wilt, about 3 minutes. Season with salt, to taste. Using tongs, arrange the spinach on top of the toasts. Sprinkle with cheese and bake for 5 to 8 minutes until the cheese is melted and bubbling. Season with salt and cool for 2 minutes.

This would make a great appetizer or serve it with salad (or soup) for a light dinner, as we did.

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Mustard Queen

I have a confession: I love Brussels sprouts (gasp!). And I’m not afraid to admit it! This infamous veggie, feared by children and pushed on them by mothers worldwide for their magical ability to put hair on your chest and give you big muscles (surprisingly neither of which appealed to me as a 5 yr. old girl), is now my friend.

I have been enjoying the sprouts in this pasta dish for some time, and occasionally just. plain. roasted. However, lately I have seen a number of recipes for Brussels sprouts with mustard.  I saw the particular recipe below in Shape Magazine (of all places) and decided to give it whirl. The result was great! I now have another way to enjoy these cute little cabbages. Oh, and Tony liked it too.

To go with them, I decided to just run with the whole mustard theme and made Broiled Salmon with Garlic, Mustard and Herbs.  Tony and I use this recipe 99% of the time we cook salmon. I’m surprised I haven’t put it on this blog yet! It’s super quick to prepare.

To be clear, we did not turn yellow or suffer any side effects from a mustard overdose after this dinner. In fact the two dishes went really well together and I would definitely make it again!

Braised Brussels Sprouts in Mustard Sauce

from Shape Magazine


  • 1 pound brussels sprouts
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/3 cup minced shallots
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt (optional) (I used fancy smoked salt- a gift from Mom)
  • 1/3 cup water, divided
  • 1/4 cup mustard (I used a combo of Dijon and Whole Grain)
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar (I would only use 1 Tbs. next time)
  • Freshly ground black pepper


Cut off the base of the sprouts and then cut into quarters.  Heat oil in a large pan over medium heat for 1 minute. Add shallots and sauté for 2 minutes.  Stir in sprouts, salt and 3 tablespoons water; spread everything evenly across the pan. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and cook for 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, combine mustard, brown sugar, and remaining water in a small bowl; stir until blended. Once sprouts have cooked for 5 minutes, pour mustard mixture over them and stir. Reduce heat to low, cover, cook for 3 minutes, then stir. Remove from heat or, if you prefer, cook for 5 minutes more—the sprouts will get browner and more intensely flavored.

Broiled Salmon with Garlic, Mustard and Herbs

from Giada’s Family Dinners by Giada De Laurentiis

Note: the sauce recipe is really loose and can be adapted with whatever you have on hand. Often we don’t have the herbs lying around or an open bottle of wine so we have found that white wine vinegar works well, as do dried herbs (or none at all). Work with what you got!


  • 2 garlic cloves (minced)
  • ½ teaspoon finely chopped fresh rosemary leaves (you can omit herbs if not handy, but it’s better with!)
  • ½ teaspoon finely chopped fresh thyme leaves
  • 1 tablespoon dry white wine (white wine vinegar works well too)
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 tablespoon whole-grain mustard
  • Nonstick olive oil cooking spray
  • 2 salmon fillets
  • Salt and ground black pepper


Preheat the broiler. Rinse and pat dry the salmon fillets. Line a heavy rimmed baking sheet with foil. Spray the foil with nonstick spray. Arrange the salmon fillets on the baking sheet and sprinkle them with salt and pepper. Broil for 2 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a small bowl combine the garlic, herbs, white wine, oil and mustard. Whisk together until blended. Spoon the mustard sauce over the fillets. Continue broiling until the fillets are just cooked through and golden brown, about 7 minutes longer.

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Fish Tacos!

For Family Dinner this past Sunday we decided to make fish tacos! We were inspired by this new restaurant near out house called Surfside, that has the most amazing fish tacos! Everything came together really well considering we didn’t follow any particular recipe.

First, we marinaded fresh tilapia fillets in lime juice, orange juice, lime zest, olive oil, salt and pepper. We grilled the tilapia and then divided the fish into soft corn tortillas. Each plate was accompanied by a grilled lime (a trick we learned from Surfside!).

Then we set out two different homemade salsas: corn/black bean and pineapple/mango, plus shredded green cabbage (tossed in red wine vinegar, salt and pepper) and sour cream. Then everyone was encouraged to build their own tacos! We also made a giant bowl of coconut rice on the side (which was quite a hit!).

Mango-Pineapple Salsa
2 large, ripe mangoes (diced)
2 cups pineapple (diced)
4-5 tomatillos (quartered)
4 scallions (finely chopped)
1 small red onion (diced)
Fresh cilantro (chopped)
Juice of two limes
Zest of one lime
1/2 cup pineapple juice
salt and pepper
Corn and Black Bean Salsa

4 ears of corn (grilled and shaved)
1 can black beans (drained and rinsed)
2 medium tomatoes (diced)
Juice of two limes
Zest of one lime
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon olive oil
Fresh Cilantro (chopped)
Salt and pepper

Coconut Rice
adapted from Epicurious.com

3 cups long-grain white rice
2tablespoons unsalted butter
2 (13- to 14-oz) cans unsweetened coconut milk
1.5 cups water
1/4 teaspoon saltDirections
Melt butter in a saucepan over moderately high heat. Add rice and cook, stirring constantly, until it becomes opaque, about 3 minutes. Stir in coconut milk, waterand salt and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer, covered, 20 minutes, then remove from heat and let stand, covered, 5 minutes.

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