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I know a recipe is good if I’m still thinking about it three weeks later. Yesterday I picked up six ears of corn at the Tower Grove Farmer’s Market because I needed to make this again. Sweet corn kernels, limas, garbanzos, tomatoes tossed with tarragon and a champagne vinaigrette. It’s so amazingly addictive. Hands down, this is my favorite find this summer.

I adapted this from a recipe on the Williams-Sonoma website.  There is a lot of wiggle room here — grill the corn, or boil it. Use other varieties of beans, such as fava, or use different herbs. But please, do include tarragon. The hint of licorice and the sweet tang of the vinaigrette is what really make this work.

I took some of this over to my friend Christine, who had twin boys five months ago. Yes, it’s taken me five months to take food to her. I also took her my mom’s chicken tetrazzini — 80’s comfort food at its best.  Better late than never, right?

And few things are better than summer veggies in late July. Sweet corn, multi-colored tomatoes, fragrant herbs. Before I turn you loose with this recipe, know that this may take longer to make than you’d expect. Plan for 45 minutes if you use corn on the cob. The only problem here is you’ll end up with more vinaigrette than you’ll need. This is best at room temperature. I can say with near certainty that it’s nothing like the succotash you grew up with.

adapted from

For the Champagne vinaigrette:

1/2 cup grapeseed oil
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 T Champagne vinegar
2 T Dijon mustard
1 shallot, minced
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. white pepper


6 ears of corn, husks and silks removed
3 to 4 Tbs. unsalted butter, melted
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1 1/2 cups frozen lima beans
1 1/2 cups frozen edamame
1 can (15 oz.) chickpeas, drained and rinsed
3 vine-ripened tomatoes, seeded and diced
10 to 12 cherry or tear-drop tomatoes, halved lengthwise
2 T chopped fresh basil
2 T chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
2 T chopped fresh tarragon
1/2 cup thinly sliced red onion

To make the vinaigrette, in a bowl, combine the grapeseed oil and olive oil in a measuring cup with a spout. In a nonaluminum bowl, whisk together the vinegar, mustard, shallot, salt and white pepper. Add the oils in a slow, steady stream, whisking constantly. Use immediately, or cover tightly and refrigerate for up to 2 days.

Bring a pot three-fourths full of salted water to a boil over high heat. Boil corn for 10 minutes. Rinse under cold water. Remove kernels with a paring knife, running the knife down the cob vertically. Put corn in a large bowl. Boil edamame and lima beans according to package instructions.

In a large bowl, combine the corn kernels, chickpeas, lima beans, vine-ripened and teardrop tomatoes, basil, parsley, tarragon and onion. Drizzle with 1/2 cup of the vinaigrette and toss gently to coat. Season with salt and black pepper.

Serve with the remaining vinaigrette on the side. Serves 6 to 8.


Green Beans with Shaved Onion, Fried Almonds and Iberico Cheese

This past weekend, Jeff got up at 6:30 a.m. and began the 14-hour task of smoking a brisket. It was an 8-pounder — a week’s worth of sandwiches. As wonderful as the tender brisket was (we could pull it apart with forks), four days later we have become brisket-ed out. Too much meat, I must say. But the beans I could eat forever.

These were my contribution to the meal, plus homemade white bread. Honestly, It’s hard to find a green beans worth blogging about. I typically fall back on sauteing them with shallots and slivered almonds. This Spanish combination of red onion, fried almonds, herbs and Iberico cheese is a different twist and one that must replace the shallots-and-almonds stand by. Manchego or Parmigiano-Reggiano cheeses work well here, too.

Slicing the onion as thin as humanly possible is key here. If you have a mandolin, use it. Or, consider buying an inexpensive hand-held one.

These beans were toddler approved. We adults loved them too.

Green Beans with Shaved Onion, Fried Almonds and Iberico Cheese
adapted, just slightly, from Olives and Oranges

1/4 plus 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 cup whole raw almonds
1 teaspoon salt
1 pound green beans, trimmed
5 ounces Iberico cheese (or Manchego or Parmigiano-Reggiano), rind removed, cut into 1/3- to 1/2-inch irregular chunks
1 small red onion, thinly sliced or shaved on a mandoline or vegetable slicer
1/2 cup loosely packed fresh Italian parsley, basil, oregano, and/or any combination of herbs

Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a small skillet over medium high heat. Add almonds and cook, shaking skillet back and forth every now and then until nuts are golden and start to pop, about 4 minutes. Remove from heat, sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon salt, and stir. Remove nuts from oil with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels. Then coarsely chop.

Bring a large saucepan of well-salted water to a boil. Add beans and cook until crisp-tender, about 5 minutes. Drain, transfer to a large bowl, and immediately toss beans with remaining 1/4 cup oil and 1/2 teaspoon of salt.

Add cheese, onion and herbs. Toss well. Let sit for a few minutes, then toss with almonds and serve.


Potato Gratin with Mushrooms and Gruyere

I have lots of Thanksgiving recipes to share. But several days after the fact, who wants them? If you’re like me, you’ve been out of  Thanksgiving mode for several days now. In other words, there’s no point to blog about our Thanksgiving dinner, no matter how dreamy it was.

When it comes to this potato gratin, I’m going to make an exception. Yes, it was on our table Thursday. It’s just too exceptional not to mention. This dish has lots of star power —  too much, actually, for Thanksgiving. The thin potato layers are parboiled in cream. In the middle of the layers are chopped leeks and mushrooms, giving the gratin a nice level of earthiness. Gruyere cheese tops it off. This is best for a winter meal, paired with something simple, like roast chicken.

I found this recipe last week, while simultaneously trying to finish a story and figure out what potatoes to make for Thanksgiving. It was one of a dozen or more potato gratin recipes on Epicurious. I’ve made several versions of potato gratin in the past. Some are too creamy. This was perfect.

The key to any good potato gratin is slicing potatoes so they’re thin and uniformly sliced. I highly recommend one of these hand-held mandoline slicers. They’re inexpensive and faster than a chef’s knife. They’re also easier to use than a great big mandoline, which can be a hassle to clean. Just remember to use the finger guard. Trust me.

Continue reading ‘Potato Gratin with Mushrooms and Gruyere’


Eggplant Caponata

I know what you’re thinking. Seriously? More eggplant??

Eggplants are like bay leaves. I use them all the time but don’t really know what they taste like. As long as they’re in season, they’re on our counter.

All summer, I’ve wanted to make caponata, a Sicilian dish that’s usually served as a salad or relish. There are a gazillion variations of this, but generally it’s comprised of eggplant, onion, tomatoes, capers, olives, nuts, anchovies, vinegar and olive oil (I skip the anchovies). It’s one of those foods that improves with time. You make it, put it in the refrigerator for 8 hours or more, and then serve.

This one has almonds and pine nuts, which lend a nice crunch. The flavors are strong. I prefer it on toasted bread, but you could eat it as a relish or salad. Serve at room temperature.

Continue reading ‘Eggplant Caponata’


Israeli Couscous with Roasted Eggplant

I was waiting to get my haircut this afternoon when I came across this recipe, or a variation of it, in Bon Appetit. Once again, I had eggplant on the brain. We leave for Colorado in three days, which means  a cooking blitz to use the fruit and veggies that were in our Fair Shares CSA box: eggplant, sweet peppers, sunchokes, pears, figs, tomatoes and watermelon. I’ll probably give away the watermelon.

This would take care of the eggplant, and it looked delicious. I happened to have all of the ingredients, though I wasn’t 100 percent sure of the Israeli couscous. What is it? It’s larger than standard couscous, and similar to orzo. The texture reminds me of tapioca. After my haircut, I stopped at a hoity-toity market around the corner to pick some up just in case.

The eggplant is cut into a 1/2-inch dice, tossed with olive oil and roasted until it’s nice a crispy. It’s tossed with golden raisins, parsley, the couscous, and an aromatic cinnamon-cumin dressing. The result was a filling, sweet and delicate dish that could work as a side or an main course. Jeff and I ate it for dinner with a mesclun salad with bacon-wrapped figs (recipe will appear in a couple of days), and a couple of glasses of crisp Pinot Grigio.

Isreali Couscous with Roasted Eggplant
Slightly adapted from Bon Appetit, via Epicurious

Nonstick vegetable oil spray
2 3/4-pound unpeeled eggplants, cut into 1/2-inch cubes (8 to 9 cups)
5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
1 cup Israeli couscous (if you can’t find this, substitute orzo and cook according to product directions(
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
2 tablespoons white balsamic vinegar
3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 cup finely chopped red onion
1/3 cup golden raisins
1/3 cup coarsely chopped fresh Italian flat-leaf parsley

Preheat oven to 450°F. Coat rimmed baking sheet with nonstick spray. Place eggplant cubes on sheet; drizzle with 3 tablespoons oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper; toss to coat. Roast until tender, turning occasionally, about 40 minutes.

Meanwhile, cook couscous in boiling salted water until just tender, about 8 minutes. Drain. Rinse under cold water until cool; drain again. Place in large bowl.

Toast cumin seeds in small skillet over medium-high heat until slightly darkened, about 4 minutes. Grind seeds in spice mill; place in small bowl. Add vinegar, cinnamon, and 2 tablespoons oil. Whisk to blend; season with salt and pepper. Mix in onion.

Add raisins, cilantro, eggplant cubes, and dressing to couscous. Toss to coat.

Serves 2-4 as a main course, or 6 as a side.


Roasted Tomatillo Salsa

The three Texans who tried this salsa a while back liked it in a big way, and so did I. Charring does wonders for tomatillos. It enhances their flavor. This salsa is tangy and hot. The onion adds sharpness. The cilantro adds a touch of lemon.

If you’re a salsa fanatic, give this a try. It’s a winner. I hope you like it.

Roasted Tomatillo Salsa
Gourmet, November 1999

1 1/2 pounds fresh tomatillos or 3 (11-ounce) cans tomatillos
5 fresh serrano chiles [or less, according to taste]
3 garlic cloves, unpeeled
1/2 cup fresh cilantro
1 large onion, coarsely chopped
2 teaspoons coarse salt

Preheat broiler.

If using fresh tomatillos, remove husks and rinse under warm water to remove stickiness. If using canned tomatillos, drain and measure out 2 cups. Broil chiles, garlic, and fresh tomatillos (do not broil canned) on rack of a broiler pan 1 to 2 inches from heat, turning once, until tomatillos are softened and slightly charred, about 7 minutes.

Peel garlic and pull off tops of chiles. Purée all ingredients in a blender.


Kale with Bulgur

Everyone needs some TLC at times, right? A foot massage? A back rub? Some comfort food?

Last week, when I longed desperately for all three, I  was searching for something new to do with kale. It appears a lot in our Fair Shares box. Baked kale chips have become a mainstay in our house this summer, but it was time for something else. Without batting an eye my friend Georgina gave me a recipe that she swore by.

First, I’ll tell you the effect it had on me. It made me want to stop looking for other ways to use kale. The next time I have kale, collards, chard or mustard greens, I’ll make this. It’s medicinal. I liked it after the first bite, loved it after the fourth, and was addicted by the fifth or sixth. An hour later, I craved more. It’s wonderful comfort food. Thanks Georgina!

Kale with Bulgur
adapted from Food & Wine

1 small head of garlic, or 10 cloves, peeled, coarsely chopped
1 teaspoon salt
1 pound yellow onions, finely chopped (about 3 onions)
1 pound mixed sweet and earthy greens, such as Tuscan Kale, Swiss
chard and beet greens, stemmed and finely shredded (chopped in chiffonade)
1 cup coarse bulgur (3 1/2 oz)
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 1/2 teaspoon red pepper paste (such as sriracha or sambal oelek)
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1/4 tsp  red pepper flakes

1/2 cup water
Juice from 1/2 lemon
Scallions, chopped, for serving
1/2 cup Feta cheese, crumbled

On a work surface, mash the chopped garlic with 1 teaspoon salt. In a large deep saucepan, combine the mashed garlic with the onions, mixed greens, bulgur, olive oil, red pepper paste, black pepper and red pepper flakes. Season with salt.

Using your hands, work the water into the bulgur until it’s absorbed. Cover the greens with a paper towel. Set the saucepan over low heat, cover and steam the greens and bulgur until they are very tender, about 30 minutes. Squeeze lemon juice into mixture. Serve the bulgur hot or cold, garnished with the scallions and topped with feta.

Serves 4


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