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February 12, 2016
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Relish Every Day

Happy endings

Although I generally advocate a healthy and sensible approach to eating, I firmly believe that into every life a little sweet must fall—especially during the holidays! But I try not to lose my head entirely, since loading up on sugar and empty carbs for weeks on end is a sure way to wind up feeling naughty and not nice. I find it’s best to have some pragmatic treats on hand that can shield me from the peppermint bark and pecan rolls that materialize at every turn. When it’s time to celebrate, no one wants to feel deprived, but there are ways to feel virtuous without compromising on pleasure.  Read more

Taking sides

With the big day looming, no doubt you’re giving some thought to what will grace your Thanksgiving table. Who am I kidding? You’re probably going to make the exact same menu as last year (and the year before), because culinary traditions tend to become deeply entrenched. There’s comfort in your grandmother’s stuffing recipe, your mother’s cranberry sauce, your uncle’s famous apple pie. But how will you make your mark on the holiday? New traditions have to start somewhere. So maybe this is the year you get a little creative.  Read more

Down to the bone

Don’t you love it when something that has been around for millennia—fasting! kale!—suddenly becomes a trend? So it was that 2015 became the year of bone broth, despite the fact that this rich soup has probably been providing essential nourishment since the Stone Age. Think of it as the original comfort food. The benefits being touted range from clear skin to increased energy, and anyone who has ever enjoyed homemade chicken soup understands its restorative powers.  Read more

I say tomato

Known as “love apple” when it was first introduced to Europe—most likely because of its alleged aphrodisiac qualities—the current name for this New World fruit derives from the Aztec xitomatl, meaning “plump thing with a navel.” The tomato, from its voluptuous contours to its sweetly fragrant juices, is rife with sensuality. Gorge on them while you can; many heirloom varieties are still abundant in kitchen gardens and at local farmers’ markets.  Read more

Up in my grill

Nothing says summer like firing up the barbeque, though all this rain is threatening to put a crimp in our grilling. But inclement weather could never stop me from making my favorite Thai-style grilled chicken. (Full disclosure: My husband is usually the one standing over the coals.) The inspiration comes from a much splattered copy of “Hot Sour Salty Sweet: A Culinary Journey Through Southeast Asia,” by Naomi Duguid and Jeffrey Alford. It’s a seminal work filled with highly authentic regional dishes carefully collected mainly from home cooks.  Read more

Herbal essence

On the heels of my recent trip to Lebanon and Greece, and my return to a garden lush from summer rains, I have fallen in love (again) with herbs. Throughout the Mediterranean, green herbs play an important role in many dishes, but especially in the assortment of mezze (shared plates) that serve to awaken the appetite. Among the bounty of traditional salads I ate was an Armenian specialty of lightly dressed sprigs of freshly picked oregano.  Read more

Get your licks in

Is there anything better than a big bowl of ice cream on a hot day? Inevitably, it conjures up memories of childhood, when all those exciting flavor possibilities were almost overwhelming. The dreamy swirls, the little puddles that formed around the edges and the tantalizing drips were all part of the grandest treat ever. Whether you grew up eating rich, eggy frozen custard or icy, fruity sherbet, you’ll remember the excruciating choice between cup or cone and the delicious dilemma of hot fudge versus sprinkles. Don’t wait for summer to make your first batch.  Read more

Mother’s little helper

There are so many established days of commemoration that between Siblings Day (April 10th), World Mosquito Day (August 20th) and National Cat Day (October 29th) it can be difficult to rouse sufficient enthusiasm on all these notable occasions. But few among us would dare to dismiss the second Sunday in May as just another manufactured celebration. For on that date every year, we pay tribute to the sainted creature who ushered us into this world. Why not honor her with a day off from cooking?  Read more

The good egg

An egg is quiet perfection. Elegant in form, its smooth shell breaks open to offer the yin-yang of golden yolk and airy white. That yolk serves to thicken and enrich, while the white, when whipped, adds volume and lightness. Together and separated, these allied elements lend themselves to a seemingly infinite array of preparations, from lofty drifts of shining meringue to velvety dollops of lemon curd, from the crisp, lacy edges of an egg fried in olive oil to the cool, spongy sweetness of a Japanese omelet.  Read more

Gone to potpie

The potpie, that comforting American classic, dates back to the days of the Roman Empire, when all sorts of meats were tucked under burnished pastry crusts to serve at elaborate banquets. Nowadays, four-and-twenty blackbirds have been replaced by somewhat more prosaic options, like chicken and beef. If you include enough vegetables, the potpie becomes the perfect one-dish meal to enjoy on a cold winter’s eve.  Read more