cherry, very cordial

Spoons

Pickled Cherry Salad

I’m feeling rejuvenated after a brief hiatus. We had a lovely visit with family in Montreal, city of great restaurants and magnificent open air markets. My pantry is now packed with delectable European jams, mustards, oils, and foie gras and ready for new challenges. Coming home, I was tickled to discover my blog featured in a roundup on bon appétit.com. Funny how the universe works sometimes. This recognition encouraged me to finally take the leap I’d been debating and invest in some new equipment. Now armed with a fancy camera and tabletop lighting, I’m feeling slightly overwhelmed. Practice makes perfect, they say—I’m sure I’ll get the hang of it. In the meantime, I offer to you a delightful little salad featuring a surprising ingredient: pickled cherries. Piquant and juicy, these marinated summer fruit complement bitter greens, creamy brie and crunchy almonds in a tantalizing way and they take no getting used to.

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one potato, two potato

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Potato Salad with Sauce Gribiche                                                     Sherried Potato Salad with Smoked Paprika

Potatoes are mostly off the menu these days, as we try to watch our carb intake. But that makes them all the more special as a treat on rare occasion. When I do cook them, I love to use delectable baby yukon golds that are buttery, sweet in flavor and work beautifully with a variety of toppings. Here are two easy and interesting salads to complement your summer meals. The first is composed of those tender nuggets napped with a dressing chunky with herbs, shallots, tangy capers and cornichons. Velvety and bright, you’ll want to use this luscious sauce in many other applications. The second salad is a simple toss of potatoes with zesty sherry vinegar and smoked sweet paprika—a quick dish with complex flavor. Whichever way you choose, these recipes will shake up the way you look at this old standard.

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american pie

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Cherry Pie

My many subscriptions to food magazines are supposed to keep me up to date on the latest food trends and recipes. The problem is I can’t always find the time to read them all. But the photo of a sour cherry pie on the June cover of Bon Appétit certainly grabbed my attention: it screamed, “bake me!” Easier said than done. Sour cherries are not easy to find around here. Fresh sweet cherries, however, make a very suitable substitute—they’re dark, syrupy and worthy of their own showcase. Encased in a flaky crust made with nutty almond flour, these juicy jewels are baked till they’re bursting with flavor. Beautiful to look at, sumptuous to eat, this surprisingly easy pie is a total wow.

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takeout diy

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Dan Dan Noodles and Szechuan Cucumber Salad

Never been a big fan of Chinese food. My folks always teased me that I must have been adopted because I was missing the Asian cuisine gene. I think it just skipped a generation—my daughter loves it in spades. Or maybe it has something to do with the restaurants I’d been frequenting because once I discovered the newly transplanted Han Dynasty of Philadelphia fame, I was totally smitten. It was love at first bite of their Wontons in Chili Oil, Dry Pepper Chicken Wings and Eggplant in Garlic Sauce. But my two favorite dishes were these and they’re in perfect harmony with each other: hot and spicy, cool and tangy. These recipes may be complex in flavor but are surprisingly easy to cook, making them a small triumph over settling for takeout. Chinese tonight?

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an acquired taste

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Chilled Asparagus Buttermilk Soup

I know one person who will not like this recipe. My mom has always had a hate/hate relationship with asparagus stemming from an unfortunate childhood encounter. As a result, an asparagus spear never set foot in our house. My brother and I grew up having no idea what it was or how it tasted. Fast forward years later and you can imagine my delight in discovering this versatile vegetable for the first time. As my love affair with asparagus has developed, I’ve concocted many ways to enjoy it: steamed, roasted, grilled and even raw. I top it with hard boiled egg, a balsamic reduction, brown butter or shaved Parmesan. But I had never made soup with asparagus…until now. This is one creamy green delight—so cool and refreshing. Goes to show, you never know what you’re missing until you try it.

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