August = Preserving in the Heartland + a new Ball Blue Book

Oh friends, these  sultry days make my heart sing. Typically I'm a fan of autumn, with my sugar maple in its yellow glory, friends wearing chunky sweaters at the campfire after apple picking. Since I've spent weekends at Pinecone Meadow Farm, though, I've cherished bevvies in the Adirondack chairs on the back porch,  fireflies after dark, spiced blueberries sundaes. And this year, August brings even more delight for high summer. Hot off the press, a new edition of the Ball Blue Book Guide to Preserving. It's the 37th edition and has been my go-to source since I was bitten by the canning bug. This classic will help even the most timid novice preserver, and give fresh inspiration to those of us who have been doing it for a while now. August Read more...

Red Gold’s new sriracha ketchup, and burger slaw magic

If you live at my house, burgers are on the menu and home and away. At home Lauro swears that "a caballo" is the best way to enjoy a burger or pizza. To my American ear, this makes no sense, because caballo means horse. So an egg on your pizza is roughly translated to horse pizza. The idea of horse burger does not convey the deliciousness of a burger with an egg. And around the corner, at Grange Hall Burger Bar, their berries and brie burger comes with arugula, berry compote and a slice of brie. So delicious it was named one of the ten best burgers in the nation by Huffington Post. Definitely try this at home! I am getting to the point. The good people at Red Gold Tomatoes, the Indiana-based tomato company, sent me a goody package of canned Read more...

5 ways to rock mothers day brunch – and a menu

In my dreams, Mothers Day always brings fair weather and fresh air. Mothers Day is simply the essence of spring. When gathering your family to celebrate mom, keep a couple things in mind for your Sunday brunch. 1. Get organized Do a quick scan to see what can be made ahead. Decide not to deep clean the house. Set our your serving dishes to determine what you need to borrow from the neighbors. 2. Kick off with a fun beverage Make a signature drink, like a fresh-juiced bloody mary with cilantro oil for the over 21 crowd, or homemade ginger ale for everyone.  3. Serve eggs! Traditionally, chickens go dormant in chilly months and start laying again in the spring, which is why eggs are in traditional spring foods. My Springtime Frittata Read more...

Eggs in tomato sauce: quick and simple

As much as I love spending hours puttering in the kitchen, sometimes I want something quick and comforting. What could be easier that warming up my favorite tomato sauce and then poaching an egg? More rustic than elegant, this simple heart-warming dish is great for one or a crowd, and lends itself to any variation my fridge can serve up. This time I used kalamata olives and leftover caramelized onions with Parmesan and a generous grind of black pepper. Other times I opt for slivers of roasted red pepper and dollops of goat cheese. You can sprinkle with pine nuts to continue the Italian theme, or switch it up to use bolder flavors. It's your quick comfort - use what you like. By the way, this is fantastic with a thick slice of country Read more...

Anna’s full of greens fritters

We have a number of smashing great springtime cookbooks, and I'm lucky enough to have received some gifts from the good folk at Ten Speed Press. So where to start? A Modern Way to Eat: 200+ Vegetarian Recipes (that will make you feel amazing) from Anna Jones made my heart sing. She is a longtime colleague of Jamie Oliver, the Naked Chef who stripped down food to its essence and got people on both sides of the Atlantic cooking, simple, delicious, straightforward food. And she's also a cook, stylist and writer all on her own. What's great about it? I love to see what I call "modular cooking." By that I mean, there are pages that help the reader choose from a variety of ingredients to riff on the overall guidelines. A cup from Column Read more...

Espresso shortbread tart with dark chocolate glaze

Coffee in a shortbread cookie - hello! A marriage meant to last. Or dessert for any time. This simple, elegant dessert is great for the finale of a romantic dinner, or a great hostess gift if you're going to a dinner party. This recipe is a riff on my holiday cookie classic, Rosemary Shortbread Cookies. The basic ingredients are the same, with the addition of ground espresso, pressed into a round tart tin. Pour over a chocolate glaze and you're set - the shortening helps stabilize the glaze. It couldn't be easier . . . or more impressive if I say so myself. So make these for yourself or a beloved. And enjoy with a demitasse of espresso or a tall glass of milk. Espresso shortbread tart with dark chocolate glaze Serves eight For Read more...

Handmade pasta how-to

I read recently that we never forget out childhood neighbors.  So true for me.  I was the babysitter for the Williams family from the time I turned 13 to when I went away to school.  Toward the end it was more tending the home fires while the young folk played around the neighborhood.  Remember just going outside to play?  No play dates, no structured activity, just get on our bikes and ride.  I'm dating myself, I know. I remember one afternoon in Mrs. Williams' kitchen, making egg noodles for chicken soup. This was before pasta was all the rage, then out of fashion and now back again. And certainly before making our own pasta was a thing. We rolled the dough flat, then rolled it up like a cigar and cut wide noodles for the soup. Perfectly Read more...

Lucky new year black-eyed peas with citrus cilantro gremolata

Can we talk about beans? Simply put, they may just be a perfect food. Economical, versatile, easy, healthy. So why such a challenge, I wonder? Lauro spend his university days in England, where it seems breakfast was beans on toast. Every day. Beans on toast. Lauro no longer eats beans. Nothing sways him. Last year's new year black-eyed pea and sweet potato hash didn't woo him. Even with an egg on top! And still, I've made a mission of loving beans. Especially this time of year, when legend says they bring good luck. I've heard many reasons. Because they are round, they symbolize the cycle of life. And because they are round, they resemble coins and invite prosperity. Which is why I always take care to mix some truly-round lentils with Read more...

Whiskey sour: a frothy cocktail for any occasion

My cocktail shaker is the most popular guest at my gatherings, and thus it is often occupied when I'm ready for a beverage (hello, Manhattan!). In my eagerness to move things along, I've conscripted a mason jar to shake up a whiskey sour, that classic cocktail that seems to be everywhere these days. A few things about the famed whiskey sour: Most recipes call for simple syrup. Never buy a bottle of this in the store.  Simply boil equal parts sugar and water for a few minutes and then keep in the door of the fridge for practically forever. This bevvy uses an egg white. Uncooked eggs strike fear into the hearts of many, although I do not let this stand in my way.  I just buy the freshest eggs I can find. You decide for yourself. Shaking Read more...

Chocolate-drizzled potato chips, for the easiest of entertaining

Are you another passenger on a freight train roaring toward Christmas? I can't call mine the polar express because there's been absolutely no snow in Chicago, although we did have a dusting in Michigan while visiting family for Thanksgiving. THE ultimate salty-sweet It's at times like this - where I've baked nothing, traveled a lot and have been pretty much over scheduled -  that I dig out my bag of shortcuts.  I realize that everyone might be able to use a shortcut here or there, and thus I'm sharing today my secret weapon for holiday entertaining, the ultimate salty-sweet snack: chocolate-drizzled potato chips. Go out and get your favorite kettle chip - I used Cape Cod here, but Lay's works just as well. I used Hershey dark chocolate Read more...