Pumpkin soup with red pepper and garlic


Just when fresh red tomatoes are no longer available and the summer disappears into darkness, an orange alternative arrives in many shapes and sizes. Squash and pumpkin are autumn’s answer to the tomato. I use them in much the same way. The following recipe is for a soup made of pumpkin, with carrots and potatoes, turned spicy with the simple addition of garlic and red pepper. This particular kind of preparation is very much Italian and is called a passato because the ingredients are pureed into smooth velvet once cooked. I like to call it comfort soup.

Continue reading

My favorite chermoula


I have been avoiding writing the recipe for this traditionally Moroccan marinade for weeks on end, or so it seems. Publishing what should be a straightforward short story is long overdue. In fact — while I have been contemplating how to narrate the preparation of a simple mixture of fresh herbs stirred through warm spices — summer has officially slipped into autumn.  It should be simple and yet it has turned out to be complicated. It seems that the only way to resolve this impasse  is to explain my predicament.

After that,  I think I can get back to the subject of cooking.  Continue reading

A late summer caponata pasta

summer-caponata-verticalI think I could write a book about caponata. I realize that this is a rather dramatic statement to make about something as simple as onions, celery, zucchini and eggplant cooked with tomatoes. But it’s the vinegar combined with just a touch of sweetness (in my case always honey) that makes this Italian version of the French ratatouille a subject of endless possibilities.  Like each day of the week — caponata is never the same way twice — and this is exactly why I love it.

Continue reading

Spinach polpette

polpette-ai-spinaciI am in a serious rush and running behind at the same time. In the month of September, if I’m not spending my days preserving the season’s overabundance of tomatoes entire crates at a time, I get the distinct sensation that I am missing something important.  Every minute counts and I cannot decide if I should be writing about how to preserve summer figs or spend my afternoons making melanzane alla parmigiana with eggplants from the garden.  What on earth this has to do with my recipe for spinach polpette has a kind of logic that I can easily explain.

Spinach polpette are a classic of mine. Friends send me messages asking me to bring them along to parties.  After tasting these slightly out of the ordinary and intensely green appetizers, guests at my cooking lessons inevitably agree that my polpette are an immediate and absolute favorite.

Continue reading

Summer harvest minestrone


Soup does wonderful things. Just the smell of a pot of vegetables mingling on the stove brings back memories of so many places I have called home. A bowl of soup is comfort in a bowl. This particular recipe brings together some of my favorite ingredients from American soil – namely – butternut squash and sweet corn. My mother loved both and I learned more than I could have imagined as a child through her cooking. When I cross the ocean between Europe and the USA during the summer, one of the many things I do to soak up half of my heritage is to go on the look out for bushels of both.

Continue reading

Baked cod with toasted almond crust

Baked fish raw with carrot peels

I think there should be another, decidedly more elegant name for the generic term describing fish in the English language. Somehow this particular four letter word  just doesn’t sound as beautiful as the Italian pesce or even the French  poisson — both of which translate into the same ingredient. The senses of taste and sound trigger an infinite number of intangible emotional choices. How something is described can have just as much influence upon awakening an appetite as an aroma can have upon the deepest of feelings.

It is for this reason that I hesitate to write a recipe for fish. The sound of this word just doesn’t conjure up any form of intense desire. In fact to my ear, it does exactly the opposite.  The very sound of food not to mention the perfumes of the kitchen should awaken all the senses. Imagine for this reason something that describes an end result — namely a lovely bubbly baked black cod covered with a golden almond crust. This description is so much more appealing than the first word I mentioned, right?

Add some oven-roasted carrots and some spicy lemon-pepper zucchini ribbons and a lovely dinner is served. Continue reading

Lemon zucchini ribbons

Zucchini noodles in big bowl

This is a recipe that resolves pangs of hunger in no time flat. Heavily inspired by the infamous spaghetti aglio e olio I replace the pasta with zucchini, the garlic with fresh sage salt and the olive oil with lemon juice. The result is equally as pungent and satisfying as the original and completely refreshing at the same time.

Continue reading