Recently in Sunday Suppers Category
The wild chanterelle mushrooms and sweet blue lake green beans I found at the farmers’ market this week reminded me of an intriguing fall salad I recently enjoyed at Jar restaurant. Chef Suzanne Tracht offered special dishes at a dinner benefitting the Women’s Heart Center at the Cedars-Sinai Heart Institute, and I was a lucky guest at my friend Margaret’s table.
I had been thinking about the salad ever since I tasted it, and I wanted to create something similar. I started by whisking up an easy vinaigrette with tangy whole grain Dijon mustard and Sherry wine vinegar, anticipating that the rich flavor of the vinegar would compliment the earthiness of the mushrooms.
The vinaigrette was sumptuous and vibrant, and I realized the concoction would make a fine seasoning for both the salad and the arctic char fillets I was fixing.
Richly flavored with Andouille sausage, ancho chile powder and oregano, and jam-packed with cubes of butternut squash and bell peppers, this chili is perfect for a nippy autumn evening, and I’ll be serving it at our Halloween party. I like to top the chili with a tart lime cream and serve it with the slightly sweet and gently spiced Pumpkin Cornbread, posted a few days ago.
We’ll start off the evening nibbling on crunchy toasted seeds from the squash, one of many good reasons to bother cutting up any winter squash. Roasting the seeds is so easy, I’ll describe the process here without a formal recipe: Scrape the seeds from the squash, along with the moist fibers that surround them, into a bowl. Toss with a little olive oil, coarse kosher salt, and freshly ground black pepper, and then spread them out on a greased small baking sheet. Roast at 300°F until crispy, about 20 minutes. I love these hot from the oven, but they make a tasty snack at room temperature too.
Father’s Day snuck up on me, and I’ve got to plan a meal for Steve right away. Of course, he’s not my father, but I’m the cook in the family, and his son Ethan usually joins us for supper on Sunday evenings. The two guys will go to a film, and then return home for something good to eat. Inspired by the summer berries in the markets now, I quickly decided on the dessert: this marvelously creamy, but not-cloyingly-rich Cheesecake with Blueberry Sauce.
It is time to plan our Thanksgiving feast. I have been looking through cookbooks and my recipe files, choosing favorite preparations. The turkey was the first decision, and the choice was easy: The Cider-Glazed Turkey with Cider Gravy, found in Williams-Sonoma Cooking at Home. I developed this recipe for the Thanksgiving cookbook I wrote years ago, and it was reprinted in this big, new collection of recipes.
The kitchen will fill with tantalizing aromas while this turkey roasts, and the bird will emerge from the oven burnished with an apple cider glaze. Cider also flavors the gravy, adding a hint of fruit, which is balanced by caramelized shallots and fragrant thyme- a marvelous sauce to spoon over sliced turkey and mashed potatoes.
Here are a few simple tips I learned during the testing of countless turkeys at Bon Appetit magazine:
I took my young friend Rebecca to Huckleberry Café in Santa Monica for brunch, and we couldn’t resist 2 items on the menu: the poached eggs smothered in a savory lentil and chard ragout, and fried eggs sitting atop quinoa tossed with market vegetables. Not wanting to waste a drop of the lentil stew, we spooned the last bits over the remaining quinoa, and the mixture was a winner. Rebecca, who is attending culinary school, was curious about what gave the lentil ragout its rich flavors, and we decided to try to recreate the recipe together.
I am a big fan of both quinoa and legumes as satisfying, gluten-free staples. Because of their complex tastes, intriguing textures, and superior nutritional values they make unexpected but excellent accompaniments to eggs. Quinoa creates a toothsome base for fried or poached eggs, and poached eggs nestled in legume stews have become a favorite Sunday breakfast.
When thumbing through the Thanksgiving
cookbook I wrote for Williams-Sonoma in 1997 (link), I rediscovered my recipe for Cranberry Sauce with Grapefruit and Honey. We have a prolific grapefruit tree in the yard of our new home, and so my decision about how to flavor the cranberries this year was easy.
One of my all time favorite sweet ingredients shows up in this sparkling condiment too- crystalized ginger. The resulting dish is tangy from the grapefruit and cranberries, sweet from the honey, and slightly spicy from the ginger- a terrific compliment to roast turkey.
One of the biggest challenges on Thanksgiving day is producing a silky, deeply flavored gravy amidst the chaos of final preparations- pulling the turkey and dressing out of the oven, mashing potatoes, putting the finishing touches on vegetable dishes, and garnishing the turkey platter. To avoid this chaos, I decided to create a make-ahead gravy with all the good tastes of the traditionally prepared sauce, and I am thrilled with the results
Both a cousin and a sister-in-law stick to gluten-free diets, so I added gluten-free constraints to the challenge of formulating the perfect gravy, but, the recipe is also great with more customary wheat flour too.
The crucial step to this sauce is cooking up a rich turkey stock at least 1 day before the feast. I purchase extra turkey necks, brown them in a Dutch oven, cover with water, and let the brew bubble for a few hours. Meanwhile I am blanching green beans, simmering the cranberry sauce, and cutting up carrot and celery sticks to use as dippers for the butternut squash hummus I will put out as a starter on Thanksgiving (look for that recipe tomorrow).
The exciting Middle Eastern flavors I’ve been learning about in Yotam Ottolenghi’s
newest book, Plenty More
, and Persiana
, by Sabrina Ghayour, are frequently working their way into our dinners. A great example is this easy-to-prepare fish recipe I created after reading the books. It’s seasoned with a few familiar spices that taste exotic when combined, and a creamy Greek yogurt, olive oil, and dill sauce adds luxuriousness.
I was not going to give up pasta when I had to stop eating wheat, so I went on a search for a tasty, firm, nutritious, gluten-free product. Most gluten-free pastas are made from rice. The texture and flavor of rice-based noodles are great in Asian cooking, but they don’t work for me in Italian food—they don’t have enough body, easily overcook to a limp mess, and the flavor is wrong. In addition, it is now suggested we cut back on rice consumption, because of high arsenic levels in some rice products.
Ancient Harvest Quinoa Pasta
and Schar Gluten-Free Pasta
are two happy discoveries. They are both a semolina-like yellow from the corn in their formula, taste pleasantly nutty, and are resilient in texture if not overcooked. Ancient Harvest is organic and adds quinoa for rich flavor, high quality protein, iron, and B vitamins. Schar
incorporates pea protein and rice flour for a more complex taste and extra protein.
Pasta Update: Since writing this post in 2013, I have discovered 2 new pastas. Barilla
has developed excellent gluten-free pastas, made from corn flour and rice flour. They come the closest to traditional pasta in both flavor and texture. I am also a fan of Power Pasta
, fashioned from red lentils. Although not as similar to wheat pasta as Barilla
, this pasta is wonderfully satisfying because it is a whole food packed with protein, vitamins and minerals. Read more about it here
, where you will also find another recipe featuring asparagus.
I love pasta carbonara almost as much as the New Yorker writer and food enthusiast Calvin Trillin
does. While I don’t follow his suggestion to serve it for Thanksgiving dinner, I make it frequently, and in many guises. Inspired by the fresh asparagus and peas appearing now in farmers’ markets and grocery stores, I prepared the recipe here for lunch this past weekend. To compliment the spring vegetables, I added lemon zest and fresh basil to the egg, pancetta, and Parmesan cheese sauce.
In October, when the hot, dry, Santa Ana winds blow here in Los Angeles, I long for cool, crisp fall days, colorful foliage, and farm stands adorned with apple and pumpkin displays—spectacles I came to love during the years I lived in New England. We may not have many chilly days or crimson and gold leafed maples in Southern California, but I can get a taste of Vermont by placing several large pumpkins by our front door and cooking with pumpkin and other winter squash.
While the Santa Anas were gusting last week, I was inspired to create a pumpkin cornbread for my friend Kelly, a California girl who doesn’t crave New England autumnal pleasures but fancies anything made with pumpkin. The first loaf I baked was a little bland, begging for molasses and spices, so I stirred up a spiced molasses butter to spread on big squares of the bread. Delicious, but this triggered the idea to combine all the flavors in one, easy-to-make loaf.
My new book, Weeknight Gluten Free, is filled with recipes for luscious, naturally gluten-free sauces. One of my favorites is a vibrant pistachio and basil salsa verde. Salsa verde is an uncooked, fragrant mixture of olive oil and fresh herbs that takes only a few minutes to prepare. There are Italian, French, Spanish, Argentinian, and German versions. I use a full flavored extra-virgin olive oil, a little minced shallot, and lots of aromatic herbs as the base for many variations.
For the recipe in the book, I add a big handful of toasted pistachios and spoon the sauce over creamy buratta
cheese and asparagus stalks. The idea for this dish came from my birthday dinner last year at Farmshop
, a rustic yet sophisticated restaurant in Santa Monica that serves perfectly cooked, creative, farmers’ market inspired food.
The sauce is way too yummy to use only in this specific pairing. Like all the sauces in the book, this one can be served on lots of different items. We have enjoyed it over grilled Alaskan salmon, roasted arctic char, and sautéed
chicken breasts. Carie
at Wheatfree Mom
tweeted that she served it over ricotta cheese, and I am eager to try this as an appetizer with crackers.
My friend Karen joined me for her first visit to the 4-month-old farmers’ market in Topanga Canyon on Friday. I introduced her to the growers, and encouraged her to select produce for the week by loading up my shopping cart with multihued bell peppers, shiny red lipstick peppers, broccoli rabe, shelled tender lima beans, tiny fingerling potatoes, huge Macarthur avocados, lemons and limes, dark purple cherry tomatoes, a salad mix loaded with baby herbs, and end of the summer peaches.
As we walked to our cars, Karen commented that I had bought a lot of vegetables for just two people. I did, and always do. I am so tempted by the just picked produce, I add more and more to my cart, as ideas for how to prepare my finds dance in my head, and our meals are more interesting, and healthier to boot.
For a moist, tender, and ever so flavorful turkey, I dry-brine and then grill my holiday bird. I started doing this several years ago, when Russ Parsons, food editor for the Los Angeles Times, wrote about the excellent results he got using these two techniques. Not only is the turkey fabulous, once it’s on the grill, it needs next to no attention, so you are free to focus on the rest of the meal. And, the oven is available for everything else you’ll want to cook in it.
I use a Diestel American Heirloom Turkey
. These are organically raised Bronze turkeys, meaning they are a flavorful breed, free of antibiotics, growth stimulants, and hormones; as a result they deliver a pure, old-fashioned taste. I add hands full of fresh herbs to the salt rub, infusing the turkey with rosemary, thyme, and tarragon. With a dry rub, you get a better texture than with liquid brining, and there is no messy submerging a large bird in liquid and then trying to figure out how to keep it cold for several days.
To go with the turkey, I’ll be serving my Make-Ahead Gluten-Free Mushroom Gravy
. Stirring up the gravy at the last minute can be the most challenging part of pulling off the Thanksgiving feast, but not with this irresistible, Marsala
Wild salmon is one of my favorite foods. I am not speaking about frozen or farmed salmon; I love the fresh, wild fish from Alaska. This fish emerges from its days in the cold, pristine waters pure in flavor and resilient in texture. Remarkably tasty, wild salmon doesn’t need much help from the cook; I sprinkle it with lemon zest and fragrant fennel and mustard seeds, and then grill it. Add a topping of quickly sautéed farmers’ market cherry tomatoes, and a sublime meal is ready in minutes.
On a visit to Juneau last spring, to learn more about Alaskan seafood, I discovered that grilling with alder wood adds the fragrance of the Alaskan woods to the fish, and perfumes the air as well. That is how salmon was cooked at the Taku Glacier Lodge
, a log cabin restaurant set at the edge of the wilderness, with a view of the Taku
Inlet and Taku
Glacier, a spectacular 45 minute helicopter flight from Juneau. When I got back to Los Angeles, I searched for alder wood chips and found them at Barbeques Galore
When the cool wind started roaring around our new hilltop home last week, I got out a heavy saucepan, and stirred up a batch of herb-scented polenta to warm us up. The simmering potion took the chill off the house too.
I keep a package of Bob’s Red Mill medium grind cornmeal (available at many grocery stores) in the cupboard at all times; that along with other staples- a bit of onion, scallion or shallot, a handful of fresh herbs, and a little grated cheese, are all the ingredients needed to transform cornmeal into a creamy polenta.
There is one step in the preparation that requires attention- adding the grains of corn to the boiling liquid in such a way as to avoid clumps. The technique is simple: scoop up about ¼ cup of the cornmeal at a time, and sprinkle it from the measuring cup into the bubbling water, whisking all the time.
Doesn’t this photo send you straight to the kitchen? It's from my latest book, Gluten-Free Baking
. If you are missing artisanal style breads, try your hand at this whole-grain soda bread. Soda breads translate well to gluten-free baking, and are easy to make. No yeast or kneading or rising time, just cut in some butter and then mix, shape and bake.
For a stunning finale to Easter dinner, or another special meal, present this luxurious dessert. Tangy lemon curd and whipped cream make a sumptuous filling and topping for the delicate almond sponge cake, and fresh berries are a beautiful embellishment.
I created this dazzling dessert for my Valentine, Steve! It was last year while I was working on my new book, Gluten-Free Baking
. Steve loves almost any goodie that features lemons. These cardamom-scented meringue nests are ethereal and crunchy with a not-too-sweet, not-too-rich yogurt and Meyer lemon curd filling—a perfect, naturally gluten-free finale for a festive meal.
Heirloom beets are showing up in spectacular colors at the farmers’ markets- golden, red, deep purple, and candy cane stripe. Beets with firm, glossy leaves offer a bonus: delicious cooking greens.
Roasting the beet roots intensifies their earthy flavors. Cut off the tops and save them in a plastic bag to cook later. Cut the root tips off too. Then wrap the beets tightly in foil and bake in a hot oven (400°F, or at whatever temperature you are cooking something else) until tender when pierced with a small sharp knife. After the beets cool slightly, the skin will pull off easily. The cooked beets can be stored in the fridge for later use.
Radicchio is at its finest in the cooler months. A member of the chicory family, radicchio is loved for its bright magenta color, crisp texture, and spicy-bitter flavor. I can’t resist buying a head when beauties like this are displayed at Maggie’s Farm and other stands at farmers’ markets throughout Los Angeles. I like to choose a firm one with intense color, and no signs of darkening.
The radicchio has been so good this winter I have been serving it frequently. Most often used as a colorful addition to salads, it mellows slightly when cooked, and develops a pleasing tender but chewy texture. When I only have a few minutes to make dinner, I cut a head into 1½-inch thick wedges, brush them with olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and roast on a baking sheet in a 450°F until tender, turning over after 10 minutes, for about 20 minutes total. This is a great accompaniment to fish, poultry or meat. On a recent cold night I added sliced radicchio to a white bean soup flavored with pancetta and sage, and let it simmer until it wilted- a satisfying meal that warmed up the evening.
I’ve been obsessed with these Mexican flatbreads since learning to make them. Corn tortillas are cooked on a griddle until the bottoms are crisp and the cheese melts, flavored with a fragrant pesto, and topped with vibrant vegetables. They are fun to assemble, take only minutes to cook, and are addictive. I first served them, cut into wedges, as an appetizer at a birthday party for one of my gal pals. Since then, Steve and I have enjoyed this friendly finger food for lunch on a hot weekend afternoon, and I’ve whipped them up for quick snacks.
I’m happy to announce that my new cookbook, Weeknight Fresh and Fast, is now available. It can be found exclusively at Williams-Sonoma stores this month and February, and then in March it will also be in bookstores. It can be preordered on Amazon and Barnes and Noble, for March shipment.
The recipes are inspired by my weekly trips to farmers' markets, and reflect the way I cook at home: lots of fresh veggies, small amounts of olive oil, vivid flavor. Many of the recipes are for complete meals, or I offer suggestions for quick ways to round out the plate. I had great fun creating the food for the book, and we ate well during the months I worked on it.
As a preview, here is a recipe for a robust chicken braise. It makes a perfect dinner during the cold snap we are experiencing. I created the dish last winter, with produce I found at the Topanga farmers’ market. Of course, the squash and turnips are also available at every grocery store. I spooned the lusty chicken and vegetables over rice, and then enjoyed the leftovers on another night with crusty bread, to soak up the richly flavored juices.
Why, you might ask, is there an olive sprig in this photo? Extra-virgin olive oil is the first of two unique ingredients in these intense, dark chocolate brownies. Not something normally associated with desserts, but the oil’s depth of flavor accentuates the chocolate, and the results are less cloying than treats made with butter. These brownies are worthy of serving to a Valentine (and the preparation is easy).
I created this lusty dish last week when my stepson, Ethan Peck
, squeezed in a dinner with us before heading to Milan. He stars in a 2 minute video
for the luxury fashion company Ferragamo
, and he was invited to make an appearance at Italian fashion week. Having little warning about his visit with us, I looked in my fridge and cupboards for inspiration, and this recipe was born.
This delightfully creamy but not too rich potato recipe has been a favorite since I first made it early this summer. Dutch Yellow Potatoes are steamed with peas, and then tossed with a yogurt, olive oil, and basil sauce. Chunks of briny feta cheese and toasted pine nuts top it off. Served warm, this is satisfying as a meatless main course; it’s also a great side dish at meals featuring grilled salmon, burgers, or chicken, and ideal for Labor Day gatherings.
Quinoa started appearing in the Bon Appetit test kitchen during my last year or two at the magazine. I could see it was gaining in popularity, but I just didn’t like it much. I preferred orzo, couscous, and bulgur wheat. That was before my childhood celiac disease resurfaced and I had to give up all wheat products.
I decided to try quinoa again as I started focusing on satisfying, naturally gluten-free foods for my new diet. At first I was happy depending on potatoes, polenta, and brown Jasmine and basmati
rice as staples, but I wanted more variety. I am happy I chose to play around with quinoa. Not only is it super nutritious
, I found an easy technique to make it super delicious too, and it is a featured ingredient in my new book, Weeknight Gluten Free
Have you ever tasted roasted vegetables dipped in homemade mayonnaise, crafted with an exquisite extra-virgin olive oil? If not, get shopping and cooking right now for a delectable experience. Please don’t conjure jarred mayo when you imagine this recipe, the homemade version is an opulent sauce, and the better the oil the tastier the results. I’ve been experimenting with several outstanding California extra-virgin oils lately, and in the process this became my favorite way to enjoy them.
Tender, fresh lima beans are available right now at the McGrath Family Farms stand at several farmers’ markets. Because the beans are already removed from their pods, it takes only a few minutes to get them ready to use, and I am having fun fooling around with them. I have braised them with peppers, zucchini, and green beans; tossed them with spaghetti and fresh pesto; created a fresh succotash; and fashioned a hearty soup with the limas, fingerling potatoes, winter squash, and greens.
I discovered that the fresh limas develop a rich, earthy flavor and silky texture when simmered with sautéed shallot or onion and a few herbs until tender, and then left to cool in the salted liquid for at least 20 minutes. The first time I prepared the fresh limas, the process felt a little awkward, because I am accustomed to simply boiling frozen limas in water for about 15 minutes. Now I cook the limas when I get them home from the market, and store them in the refrigerator to use over the next few days.
Cool weather and rain in the forecast make this a perfect week to cook a pot of warming seafood chowder. This recipe, with its creamy broth, delicate cod, smoky bacon, and fresh kale, has rich flavors and is simple to make. I developed it for the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch website, to entice people to try Pacific Cod, a sustainable fish that is terrific in chowder and tacos, and is not expensive. Atlantic cod is greatly overfished, so Pacific cod is a tasty alternative.
Recently we invited friends for a Spring Equinox dinner. The idea was to go for a full moon hike, and then return to our house for a meal, however It rained that evening. The hike was off, but dinner was not. It was cold and windy, and the chowder was the perfect antidote.
There is a big storm due in Los Angeles tonight, and I have the perfect recipe to keep you warm; it worked for us during the last downpour. This soup is so thick and comforting, you could call it a stew or even pasta fagioli.
During the summer, when I get home from my weekly visit to the farmers’ market, it always seems like I have purchased too many heirloom tomatoes. But every week we devour them all.
A few of my favorite preparations:
- a quick salad of large tomato wedges, sprinkled with salt and pepper, drizzled with balsamic vinegar, and finished with a shower of fresh marjoram or basil
- to accompany grilled fish or chicken, sweet cherry tomatoes halved and sautéed with red onion and thyme
- for an intense cold soup, the ripest specimens pureed with extra-virgin olive oil, shallots, and breadcrumbs
Sunday was chilly and rainy; I was cold and wanted to warm up the house, and nothing cozies up a house better than a roasting chicken. Coincidentally, there was a big, chubby organic chicken in my fridge. I hadn’t been able to resist it at Trader Joe’s, especially for only $2.69 a pound. I used to recoil at the premium price of organic poultry, but my reaction changed once I cooked a Rosie chicken (certified organic, free range chicken from Petaluma Poultry- link), and tasted the difference a good upbringing makes. I moved on to organic chickens I found at the Calabasas and Santa Monica farmers markets, from Happy Farms (link). Organic birds have good old fashioned flavor, and I treat them as the celebration food roast chicken once was- perfect for a Sunday supper, plus a couple of bonus meals during the week.
I’ve been having lots of fun cooking from my friend Amelia Saltsman’s
new cookbook, The Seasonal Jewish Kitchen
. This is a warm, personal book, filled with Amelia’s spins on Jewish recipes, often influenced by the intense flavors of Middle Eastern fare. It is organized by the seasons, features fresh produce, and offers fascinating history and family stories. You might remember Amelia from her wonderful The Santa Monica Farmer’s Market Cookbook
Today is an exciting day for me. My new book Weeknight Gluten Free
is finally available at Williams-Sonoma stores. When my childhood celiac disease resurfaced, I was determined to eat as well as I always had. I continued to focus on healthful, fresh, farmers’ market inspired food as I learned to cook without wheat, barley, and rye. This book features my favorite recipes developed during a year of glorious experimenting in my kitchen, and I'm so happy to be able to share them with you.
Rather than offering disappointing versions of dishes that require wheat, I focus on food that is naturally gluten free. I didn’t get depressed about giving up crusty bread and semolina pasta, but instead came to truly appreciate the beauty of polenta, quinoa, and corn tortillas. The book highlights creative uses for gluten-free staples such as quinoa pilafs, creamy weeknight polenta, herbed egg crepes, socca (savory chickpea pancakes), legumes, potatoes, and sweet potatoes. I also created a crusty skillet cornbread that takes only minutes to prepare and competes with artisan breads for satisfaction.
You’ll find recipes for food to eat every night of the week, including meatless entrees, sustainable seafood, poultry, and meat. There are dishes like braised Moroccan flavored chickpeas and carrots with yogurt topping; crisp socca with burrata, greens, and olive dressing; polenta topped with fried eggs, kale, and blistered tomatoes; fish tacos with broccoli slaw and lime crema; turkey cutlets with green olives and lemon on quinoa; and quick Vietnamese beef and noodle soup.
After cooking a feast for Thanksgiving, I couldn’t believe I needed to shop for food on Monday, but we were running out of a few staples. As I went through the store, gathering soy milk, yogurt, and Bob’s Red Mill Gluten-Free Mighty Hot Cereal
, I found myself drawn to the produce section, and I added a couple of bright red bell peppers, a sweet butternut squash, and some curly black kale to my cart before heading home.
I was craving vegetables, and relief from the rich holiday fare. As soon as I unloaded the groceries, I poured a little olive oil into a large pot and set it over medium heat, cut a big onion and one of the bell peppers into ½-inch cubes (faster than finely chopping), and got a cauldron of fragrant soup started.
For Valentine’s Day dinner we’ll be feasting on tender egg fettuccini crowned with luxurious wild mushrooms and Parmigiano-Reggiano. The last few years we’ve gone out to dinner at Farmshop, one of our favorite restaurants, but this year we decided to avoid the Saturday night, special-occasion crowds and the always-challenging Los Angeles traffic.