Almond Cookie Butter and Jam Cups in a Dark Chocolate Shell


Once, when diligently cleaning out my pantry, I stumbled upon a partial package of biscuits and the dried up remnants of a jar of almond butter (you know, the part left behind because I didn’t bother to evenly distribute the oils). And of course I had dark chocolate chips on hand. Determined to turn these scraps into something edible and pacify my junk candy craving, I whipped up confections suitable for a vacation-land ice cream shop, that can live in my freezer to be eaten on demand.

This recipe has gone through a few iterations to reach the perfect state it’s currently in. At first, I used mini tart shells and swirled the chocolate and almond butter filling together. While it created an artful design (see photo top right), it was much too large for one serving and too hard to cut into for sharing. My initial peanut butter cup inspiration did not include jam. But the richness of the almond butter and the bitterness of the chocolate called for something tart and sweet. Enter in: any type of jam you have on hand - my favorites for this are raspberry and strawberry. Finally, it was the students in my gluten free desserts class who suggested lining the sides of the muffin cup with a thin layer of chocolate to contain all of that almond butter gooeyness (see photo bottom right for earlier less refined yet photogenic version). Proof that even the best desserts can be made better.

Almond Cookie Butter and Jam Cups in a Dark Chocolate Shell

Makes: 9-12 candy pieces

What You Need:

  • 5 teaspoons coconut oil, divided

  • ½ cup plus 2 tablespoons finely crushed biscuit* crumbs

  • ½ cup creamy almond butter

  • Pinch sea salt

  • 8 oz dark chocolate

  • ¼ cup jam (raspberry or strawberry recommended)

What You Do:

  1. Line a small baking sheet with silicone muffin cups or mini tart shells (1½ - 2 inches in diameter).

  2. Over a double boiler (or in a glass bowl in the microwave), melt the coconut oil. Set aside 2 level teaspoons of coconut oil to be added to the chocolate later.

  3. Combine 2 teaspoons melted coconut oil, biscuit crumbs, almond butter and salt in the bowl of a food processor. Process until smooth. Add 1 teaspoon more coconut oil if needed to smooth out the mixture.

  4. In the same double boiler or bowl in which you melted the coconut oil, melt the chocolate with the reserved 2 teaspoons of coconut oil. Whisk until smooth.

  5. Drop about 1 tablespoon of the melted chocolate into the bottom of each cup and spread out, turning and tilting the cup so that the chocolate evenly coats the bottom of the cup and runs up the sides about half an inch. Freeze for 3-5 minutes.

  6. Dollop approximately 1 tablespoon of the biscuit crumb and almond butter mixture on top of the chocolate base in each cup.

  7. Dollop ½ - 1 teaspoon of jam into the center of each cup.

  8. Freeze for 20-30 minutes or until jam is firm.

  9. Top the cup with another 2-3 teaspoons melted chocolate (Reheat it over the double boiler first if it firmed up). Spread chocolate evenly across the tops of the cups. Freeze for 30 minutes before enjoying.

To Freeze:

After the cups have completely hardened, remove from their liners and transfer to a freezer safe bag or container. Store up to 6 months. But they will not last this long.

To Defrost:

Remove from freezer and allow to sit at room temperature for about 10 minutes before serving. Promptly return any uneaten portions to the freezer.


*Note about biscuits:

My favorite biscuits to use for these cups are the European graham cookies typically turned into speculoos. Biscoff works particularly well, but you can make these cups equally delicious with any sweetmeal or wholegrain biscuits that come in a cellophane tube (shown on the right), as well as gluten free graham cookies.

Chili Maple Glazed Squash with Runny Eggs

In my classes and conversations with many home cooks and those eager to become home cooks, I hear the same repeated request: Healthy. Easy. Meals. So here’s one of my favorites that meets this criteria and then some. As a sheet pan supper, you’ll only be washing one pan after you stuff your face with wholesome goodness. And since the incredible edible egg is the star protein, equally acceptable for breakfast, lunch and dinner (and of course BRUNCH), it’s easy on the wallet. The chili maple glaze turns the squash into crunchy on the outside, creamy on the inside, candy that even squash resisters can’t stop eating.

You can use any type of squash, but I find delicata or acorn work best in this dish, since the roasted skin is deliciously edible, upping the convenience and health factors (thank you, fiber). If butternut or another variety of squash is more readily available to you, go for it. Whichever you use, cut the squash into symmetrical crescent-shaped slices that can be ingeniously arranged to contain a cracked egg.

Make this for dinner on a weeknight. Make it for brunch and impress your friends. Make extra and put the leftovers inside a taco.


Serves: 4 as a main dish

Acorn squash cut into crescent shaped slices and tossed in chili maple glaze before roasting.

Acorn squash cut into crescent shaped slices and tossed in chili maple glaze before roasting.

What you need:

  • ¼ cup maple syrup

  • 2 tablespoons sesame oil

  • 1 tablespoon grapeseed oil (or canola)

  • 1 tablespoons apple cider vinegar

  • 1 tablespoon tamari (or shoyu or soy sauce)

  • 4 cloves garlic, peeled, minced or grated

  • 1 inch piece ginger root, peeled, minced or grated

  • ¼ - ½ teaspoon chipotle chili flakes, optional

  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt

  • 1 acorn or 2 delicata squash, about 2 pounds

  • 8 eggs

  • 2-3 scallions, sliced at an angle

  • 2 teaspoons sesame seeds, toasted

Delicata squash after roasting, ready to get brushed with more glaze, and arranged for the eggs to get cracked on top.

Delicata squash after roasting, ready to get brushed with more glaze, and arranged for the eggs to get cracked on top.

Garnish with sesame seeds, sliced scallions and more glaze.

Garnish with sesame seeds, sliced scallions and more glaze.

What you do:

  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

  2. Cut the squash in half lengthwise. Scoop out the seeds. Slice into ½ inch-thick crescent shaped slices. (Peeling delicata or acorn squash is optional.)

  3. In a large bowl, whisk together the maple syrup, sesame oil, grapeseed oil, apple cider vinegar, tamari, garlic, ginger, and chipotle chili flakes.

  4. Season the squash pieces with salt and add to the maple syrup mixture. Toss to coat. Set aside for 10 minutes.

  5. Spread the squash in a single layer on the parchment lined sheet tray, reserving the extra glaze. Bake 25-30 minutes or until it is golden brown on the underside.

  6. Remove the pan from the oven, flip the squash, brush with additional glaze and return the pan to the oven. Bake another 10-15 minutes or until squash is browned on both sides.

  7. Arrange the squash so that two half moons create a circle with a well in the middle. Drop one egg into each well. Season with salt. Return the pan to the oven and bake 7-8 minutes or until whites are solid and yolks are cooked to your preference.

  8. Garnish with toasted sesame seeds, scallion slices and more chili maple glaze. Serve immediately.

Spiced Sweet Potato Custard

Spiced Sweet Potato Custard


Make this custard merely because it is downright delicious — creamy, decadent, with a hint of spice and subtle sweetness, but if you should need to know, it is also gluten-free, grain-free, dairy-free and can be made without processed sugar. We use leftover mashed or baked sweet potatoes to whip up this one-bowl wonder. Your food processor or immersion blender combines everything to the perfect consistency in just a few minutes. All you have to do is wait (and fight off the aroma of maple and spices) while it sets to satin flawlessness in the oven. You can also adjust the level of sweetness — reduce the maple crystals and serve with additional maple syrup on top. We sometimes swap the sweet potato for cooked pumpkin or winter squash flesh. We eat this for breakfast, brunch or dessert (and 2-year-old Andy consumes multiple servings as a meal at least once weekly).

Some tips on making this dairy free custard:

  • Whip everything up in a food processor, blender or with an immersion blender. Since there is no gluten, it’s hard to overdo it. The blending will simply make it all smoother. But if you create a lot of bubbles in the process, tap those out once you fill your ramekins.

  • A water bath or bain marie is a good idea if not a necessity (and not a particularly difficult one) for cooking custard to satiny smoothness. Don’t skip this. Before starting, simply find a baking dish large enough to hold your ramekins with space for some hot water in between. But don’t add the hot water until you've put your baking dish with filled ramekins into the oven and handle carefully to prevent water from spilling into the custard.

  • Maple crystals are the result of boiling all of the water off of the sap harvested from maple trees. Maple crystals, also known as maple sugar, are becoming increasingly easier to find wherever you buy pure maple syrup. If you can’t find maple crystals, turbinado and coconut sugar are your next best options in this recipe.

  • Freshly grate your nutmeg — it makes all the difference.

Whole nutmeg grated on a microplane

Whole nutmeg grated on a microplane

Maple sugar or maple crystals

Maple sugar or maple crystals

What you need:

  • ¼ cup plus 1 teaspoon coconut oil, melted

  • 1 ½ - 1 ⅔ cups cooked sweet potato flesh (peeled, skin discarded)

  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

  • ¾ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

  • ½ teaspoon ground cardamom

  • ½ teaspoon ground ginger

  • ¼ teaspoon ground cloves

  • pinch of sea salt

  • ¼ cup maple crystals (or turbinado or coconut sugar)

  • ¼ cup maple syrup

  • 6 eggs

  • 1 cup full fat coconut milk

  • 2 tablespoons tapioca starch/tapioca flour

The custard is set when it no longer jiggles, except for a circle the size of a pinky fingertip in the middle.

The custard is set when it no longer jiggles, except for a circle the size of a pinky fingertip in the middle.

Optional: With a knife, loosen edges of custard and invert ramekin onto a plate. Serve with additional maple syrup and a dusting of freshly grated nutmeg.

Optional: With a knife, loosen edges of custard and invert ramekin onto a plate. Serve with additional maple syrup and a dusting of freshly grated nutmeg.

What you do:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Brush 8-10 ramekins with coconut oil and place in a large baking dish with high sides.

  2. In a food processor or with an immersion blender in a medium bowl, purée sweet potato flesh with cinnamon, nutmeg, cardamom, ginger, cloves and sea salt until smooth. Stop and scrape down sides.

  3. Add maple crystals, maple syrup, and remaining melted coconut oil. Purée until smooth. Stop and scrape down sides. Add eggs and process until creamy, about 2 minutes.

  4. Add coconut milk and tapioca starch and process until smooth.

  5. Pour into prepared ramekins. Carefully transfer to oven rack that is slightly pulled out. Pour hot water into the baking dish until it comes halfway to two-thirds up the sides of the ramekins. Carefully slide the baking dish and oven rack back into the oven. Bake 25-30 minutes until custard is set. A tiny pea-sized circle in center will jiggle just a little when done.

  6. Allow to cool in baking dish 5 minutes. Then remove ramekins from baking dish and allow to cool further.

  7. Serve warm or chilled with additional maple syrup or dusting of freshly ground nutmeg if desired.

To Freeze: You can freeze the unbaked custard mixture two ways: pour unbaked custard mixture into a freezer safe container or wrap filled ramekins tightly in plastic wrap. Freeze up to 3 months. Defrost in refrigerator about 3 hours and continue with procedure.

Alternatively, keep completely cooled baked custards in their ramekins and wrap tightly with plastic wrap. Freeze up to 3 months. Defrost in refrigerator about 3-4 hours and enjoy or allow to come to room temperature before enjoying.

Butternut Squash & French Lentil Stew

This blog post is a wee bit misleading. While I intend to give you a straightforward recipe for a hearty health-supportive one-pot wonder perfect to combat today’s winter chill from Florida to Maine and New York to Chicago, I’m also going to give you the tools to make countless plant-based stews out of any ingredients you’re craving or have on hand. If you’re just here for the Anti-Inflammatory Butternut Squash and French Lentil Stew, click the link for the no-frills version pronto. But if you want to know how to make stew for days, without eating the same one twice, read on… (illustrations coming some day soon).

First, the formula for any Vegan Gluten Free Stew

What you need:

But Chef Laura, how do I know what pairs with what? I hear this question a lot. I leave with you a few tips:

  • what grows together goes together (seasonally, in the same parts of the country/world, etc.)

  • do a quick internet search for your ingredient in question and see what recipes come up not for the recipe itself but to see what others have paired with it

  • pick a genre or cuisine and choose ingredients to pair based on that cuisine’s classic combinations

  • and more you can read more strategies in this earlier blog on using what you have on hand.

  • Cooking oil (coconut, olive, canola)

  • Aromatics (ginger, garlic, onion, scallion, turmeric, chili peppers, etc.)

  • Salt (kosher or sea)

  • Dried spices

  • Pastes (curry paste, tahini, nut butters, tomato paste, etc.)

  • Liquids (water, stock, coconut milk, nut milks, juice, apple cider etc.)

  • Vegetables (raw, canned, frozen)

  • Cooked legumes (chickpeas, lentils, beans of all varieties, etc.)* or uncooked legumes but be sure to add sooner with more liquid or cook separately, then add

  • Acid and/or umami (lemon juice, vinegar, wine, soy sauce, umeboshi, tomato)

  • Greens and/or fresh herbs

What you do:

  1. In a large stock pot, heat cooking oil over medium high heat.

  2. Add aromatics and a pinch of salt. If using onion, allow to soften before adding other “smaller” aromatics like garlic to prevent browning or burning.

  3. Add dried spices and seasoning and allow to bloom for a few minutes in the oil.

  4. Whisk in paste(s). [You might add acid, like wine, at this stage].

  5. Slowly incorporate liquid by whisking a small amount into the paste and then gradually adding 1-3 cups. Bring to a simmer.

  6. Add vegetables that need the longest cook time. Bring back to a simmer. Continue to add vegetables in order of their cooking time. Add more liquid if needed or desired.

  7. Add cooked legumes and simmer stew for at least 15-20 minutes more or up to 2 hours to incorporate flavors and reduce slightly. [You might add a touch of acid at this stage].

  8. Just before serving, add any greens or fresh herbs, or simply top the plated stew with fresh herbs and greens.


  • Add small pinches of salt at every stage.

  • If you don’t have/like an ingredient, leave it out or substitute something else from its category.

  • Cut vegetables into shapes and sizes that are appealing to eat relative to one another.

  • Amounts are relative -- add more of the ingredients you love, less of those you just want a taste of, and add as much liquid to get the consistency you want for your stew.

  • Add items that need to cook longer first such as carrots and those that cook quickly last, such as corn or frozen peas.

Now for the Soup du Jour:

Anti-Inflammatory Butternut Squash and French Lentil Stew

This hearty and flavorful stew highlights squash and fast-cooking french lentils. It’s spiced with Ras el hanout, a North African and Moroccan spice blend that means “head of the shop”. Ras el hanout is packed with anti-inflammatory agents, like ginger, turmeric and black peppercorn and delivers additional warmth with paprika, cinnamon and cayenne. Plant-based and lowcarb, this stew is thickened with tahini, the middle eastern staple made from ground sesame seeds. A bright finish of crisp spinach leaves and lemon juice give you everything you’re craving in one pot and 40 minutes.

Makes: 5-6 cups, serves 6-8


What you need:

  • ½ cup french lentils

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil

  • 1 small red onion, diced

  • 1 small yellow or white onion, diced

  • ¾ teaspoon salt

  • 3 cloves garlic, minced

  • 1-2 tablespoons grated ginger root

  • 2 - 3 teaspoons ras el hanout spice (purchased or see my recipe)

  • 2 tablespoons tahini

  • 4 cups low sodium vegetable stock

  • 1 medium butternut squash, ¼ inch cubes

  • 3 carrots, ¼ inch thick half moons

  • Juice of 1 lemon

  • 1 bunch of spinach, about 2 cups leaves, torn

  • Freshly cracked black pepper

What you do:

  1. Rinse the lentils and soak in a bowl of hot tap water for about 10 minutes (or until it is time to add them to the stew).

  2. Heat olive oil in a soup pot on medium high heat. Add the onion and a few pinches of salt. Sauté until soft, about 3 minutes.

  3. Add the garlic, ginger and a pinch of salt. Sauté about 1 minute longer.

  4. Whisk in the spice mixture and sauté 30 seconds longer.

  5. Stir in the tahini, and then gradually whisk in the stock in a slow steady stream, allowing it to thicken before adding more.

  6. Strain the lentils and add them to the pot with the remaining salt. Bring to a boil, then lower heat to medium and simmer gently about 20 minutes.

  7. Add the butternut squash and carrots and simmer an additional 10-15 minutes or until lentils, squash and carrots are tender.

  8. Taste and season the soup with lemon juice. Add the torn spinach leaves, stir and heat just a minute or two until they wilt. Serve with additional lemon juice and fresh cracked black pepper, if desired.

Green Tomato Envy

As the longer days and warm weather winds down, the final baskets of heirloom red tomatoes and rainbow colored cherry tomatoes are available at farmer’s markets. Scoop them up while you can. However, you can rest assured that green tomatoes will appear over the next couple of weeks. I’ve got you covered for what to do with those green tomatoes - and it goes beyond frying ‘em.

Acknowledging their fate, I plucked quarts of green tomatoes from my tomato plants last weekend. They will never realize their potential colors promised on the seed packets. And that’s okay. I’m appreciative for the shorter days and cooler temps, especially when I dream up all of the good eats from these firm and punchy green ovals. I started with this tangy and spicy green tomato chutney. Over the weekend, we ate it with grilled pork chops, but it’s also delicious alongside this Bengali Red Lentil Dal or just slathered on bread.

Tangy and Spicy Green Tomato Chutney

Yield: 1 ½ - 2 cups

What you need:

  • 4 cups green tomatoes, chopped into about ⅛ inch pieces

  • ¼ cup sugar (I used turbinado or raw sugar)

  • 2 teaspoons salt

  • 3-6 serrano chilis, jalapenos or other small green chilis, halved, seeds removed & thinly sliced

  • 2 teaspoons coconut oil (optional)

  • ⅓ cup honey

  • 1 whole star anise

  • 8 cardamom pods

  • 2 tablespoons to ¼ cup lime juice

What you do:

  1. Combine the tomatoes, sugar and salt. Allow to sit for 30 minutes to 1 hour, stirring occasionally.

  2. Strain the liquid from the tomatoes. Discard the liquid and transfer the tomatoes to a medium saucepan.

  3. Add the sliced chili peppers, coconut oil, honey, star anise, and cardamom. Stir and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 45 minutes.

  4. Add lime juice to taste. Simmer another 10 minutes or until lime juice is reduced.

If chutney is not your jam, you might try these other ideas for an abundance of tomatoes, equally delicious with green tomatoes as well as their peak season rainbow colored cousins:


Emory enjoys arranging the bounty baskets even more than he enjoys picking produce from the garden

Here’s one of his arrangements.

Slow Oven Dried Tomatoes:

What you need:

  • tomatoes (any and all colors)

  • extra virgin olive oil

  • kosher salt or sea salt

  • garlic, dried oregano, dried basil, red pepper flakes (optional)

What you do:

  1. Slice cherry and grape tomatoes in half.

  2. Arrange in a single layer cut side up on a baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil. Tip: If your olive oil comes out too fast or doesn’t drizzle nicely from the bottle, transfer some to a spoon or small liquid measuring cup and drizzle from that.

  3. Sprinkle with kosher salt or sea salt.

  4. Roast in oven at 200-225 degrees for at least 2 hours. Check at 2 hours. You want tomatoes to be shriveled and dried (see bottom photo on right). They should move easily around the pan when you shake it. Continue roasting, checking every 15-30 minutes until you reach this state. You can store in the fridge up to 3 weeks as is or in a jar of olive oil, with or without additional seasoning, like roasted garlic cloves, dried oregano, red pepper flakes or dried basil. You can also freeze the roasted tomatoes in oil for up to 6 months.


Tomato Jam:

I made a version of this sweet and spicy tomato jam, but I used about 3 lbs of tomatoes because that’s what I had. I reduced the amounts of other ingredients accordingly. In addition to tomatoes, my jam has ¼ cup apple cider vinegar, ½ cup Mike’s hot honey, ¼ cup orange blossom honey, ¼ cup turbinado sugar, ¼ cup white sugar, and ¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper. I basically followed the procedure and got 16 oz of jam (or four 4 oz ball jars). I want more! Increase the sugar if you use green tomatoes, unless you like a more tart jam.

Fresh Tomato Tart:

A classic tomato tart, like this one from Ina Garten is a beautiful picnic or fall potluck take along. Or try this one using green tomatoes that really seems more like dessert than a savory dish.

Fried Green Tomatoes:

There is no substitute for fried green tomatoes, so make some this weekend and share. I’m pretty sure I’m available. Call me. To make: Slice large green tomatoes into 1/4 - 1/2 inch thick rounds. Put them through a three step dredge: 1. Flour seasoned with salt and cayenne pepper, 2. Egg whisked with salt and black pepper, and 3. Coarse ground cornmeal (with more cayenne if you’re feeling spicy). Fry in canola oil until golden brown on each side, remove and set on paper towels to drain, and sprinkle with salt immediately.


Just a chef showing off her tomatoes, and getting some sun on her guns.

Masala Chai Latte Ice Cream


I had just made a large batch of my masala chai tea latte when I remembered that I was about to go out of town for a while. There was no way I would drink it all before leaving for my trip. My first thought was “oh no, chai latte down the drain.” But my second thought, with a mischievous smirk, was “there’s only one thing I can do about this situation”. I promptly put the ice cream machine bowl into the freezer and began turning that chai into an ice cream base.

I consulted my go-to guide in ice cream making, local favorite Ample Hills Creamery cookbook. Their Walt’s Dream base and overall ice cream making instructions were a fantastic starting point for this batch of Masala Chai Latte ice cream. One great tip provided by Ample Hills is to use skim milk powder in place of some of the milk. They consider it their secret ingredient because it provides creaminess without adding too much water, which would lead to dreaded ice crystals. It’s perfect when making an ice cream from a mixture already containing a bit of water, like tea. If your grocery store doesn’t sell skim milk powder, you can easily buy it online.

So, if you ever find yourself with an excess of chai latte (ah, when does that ever happen?) you can quickly churn that into a creamy caffeinated frozen treat. Or you could also make yourself a batch of masala chai, drink a cup with a friend and use the remainder for this sweet & spicy afternoon pick me up. To me, it’s like coffee ice cream but way better! It pairs nicely with a sugar cone, oat cookies or biscuits, but can also make a decadent sundae with hot fudge, whipped cream, and bruléed peaches.


What you need:

  • 2 cups prepared masala chai latte, strained, chilled or hot

  • 1/4 cup turbinado sugar

  • 1/2 cup dry non-fat/skim milk powder

  • 1 1/2 cups heavy cream

  • 3 egg yolks

What you do:

  1. As per the instructions of your ice cream maker, put your ice cream bowl into the freezer to chill.

  2. Pour prepared masala chai latte into a medium saucepan and whisk in the turbinado sugar and milk powder until they are fully dissolved and there are no lumps. Stir in the heavy cream.

  3. Heat mixture over medium high heat until it just begins to steam, about 5 minutes (or when temperature on instant read thermometer reads 105 degrees). Turn off the heat.

  4. In a bowl, whisk the egg yolks while simultaneously streaming in about 1/2 cup of the hot chai mixture in a very slow drizzle.

  5. Slowly whisk this egg yolk mixture back into the pot. Heat on medium low heat until mixture thickens to coat the back of a rubber spatula and tiny bubbles appear (or when temperature on instant read thermometer reads 165 degrees) about 7-10 minutes, stirring frequently.

  6. Remove from heat and set pot into an ice bath (a larger pot or container filled with ice water). Alternatively, transfer the hot mixture to a heat proof bowl or pitcher to place into ice bath. Avoid getting ice and water into your ice cream mixture. Chill in ice bath for about 20 minutes, stirring every 4-5 minutes.

  7. Strain mixture through a mesh strainer to remove any lumps and transfer to a container with a tightly fitting lid. Chill in the refrigerator for 6 hours, or until your ice cream machine bowl is ready, or up to 3 days.

  8. Freeze in your ice cream machine according to the machine's directions.

New England Corn Chowdah

I'm from New England. This IS how you say it and spell it.

Here’s a recipe for a New England classic made vegetarian and gluten free. Of course, you can still use bacon for the extra richness or add lobster for a decadent summertime delight. See variations below. A traditional chowder might use a roux -- equal parts butter and flour cooked to a paste -- for thickening, but I’ve found that a purée of fresh corn kernels plus potatoes cooked down into the broth create the exact same result and help the chowder maintain it’s fresh light consistency rather than becoming gelatinous. Note: this chowder will also work well with leftover previously cooked corn on the cob. Just remove kernels from cobs and use both as if they were fresh. You might not extract as much flavor from the previously cooked cobs and the kernels won’t be as crunchy in the chowder but it’s certainly a great use for leftover corn on the cob.

What you need:

  • 5 ears of corn

  • 1 bay leaf

  • 3 teaspoons sea salt, divided

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil or unsalted butter, plus more butter for serving if desired

  • 1 onion, medium dice

  • 4-5 medium red potatoes, small dice

  • ¼ teaspoon dried thyme (optional)

  • pinch cayenne pepper (optional)

  • 3 cups half-n-half, whole milk or combination

  • ¼ cup fresh thyme leaves (from about 6-7 sprigs)

  • 1 teaspoon minced parsley leaves

  • black pepper to taste

What you do:

1. Cut corn kernels from cobs. Using the back of your knife, scrape the remaining kernels and juices from the cob. Set aside.

2. Boil 3 cups water with 2 teaspoons sea salt and add cobs (with kernels removed) and bay leaf. Simmer for 10 minutes. Drain and reserve liquid. Discard the cobs and bay leaf.

3. In a soup pot, heat the olive oil on medium high heat until it shimmers. Add diced onion and a pinch of salt and sauté until soft, about 3 minutes.

4. Add potatoes, another pinch of salt, dried thyme, and cayenne if using, and reduce heat to medium. Cook for about 5 minutes or while you prepare the liquid.

Blend about 1/3 of the fresh corn kernels with stock (or water) before adding to chowder to create a sweet and creamy base. (see step 5)  [yup, my dad's jar of corks in the background]

Blend about 1/3 of the fresh corn kernels with stock (or water) before adding to chowder to create a sweet and creamy base. (see step 5)

[yup, my dad's jar of corks in the background]

5. Put about a cup of the reserved corn stock and 1 cup of the corn kernels into a blender. Blend until smooth. Alternatively, you could just add the corn kernels to the liquid in a large measuring cup and purée with an immersion blender. Add this liquid to the pot and simmer for about 20 minutes or until potatoes are very tender. Season to taste with salt and black pepper.

6. Add remaining corn kernels and cook for about 4 minutes.

7. Add milk and thyme, and warm until liquid just begins to steam. Be careful not to boil the milk. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve with an additional pat of butter, if desired, and minced parsley leaves.



With Bacon: At step 3, render the bacon until crispy in the soup pot. Remove bacon strips and lay on paper towels. Drain excess grease so that you are left with about 2 tablespoons in bottom of pan. Sauté diced onion in the 2 tablespoons of bacon fat and continue with recipe. Add roughly chopped bacon bits to the chowder just before serving.

With Lobster: At step 7, add previously cooked and shelled lobster meat, cut into bite sized pieces, with the milk and thyme.

To freeze: After adding the corn in step 6, remove from heat and allow to cool. Freeze the partially finished chowder at this point. To reheat and finish, simply defrost in the fridge or in a pot over low heat. Bring to a simmer and ensure potatoes are heated through. Add milk and thyme and continue with step 7.

Summer Succotash - New England Style


It does not get more American than succotash, one of the first dishes Native Americans shared with settlers. The word, meaning "broken corn kernels" comes from the Narrangansett people, who lived in the area that is now Rhode Island. There are many ways to make succotash and an American southerner might eloquently debate a Yankee on both contents and process. I favor the New England variety, with a few tweaks, but also just assumed succotash translated to "every vegetable from the garden" or "the entire contents of your produce drawer dumped into a skillet."

Succotash is the whatever you have at the time kind of dish. Actually -- and perhaps I should put this into the procedure itself -- when making succotash, I open all drawers of my fridge, hunt behind jars and open every container of leftovers, stacking every possible vegetable that can be used on the cutting board along with the tomatoes ripening on the counter. As far as I'm concerned, the only required ingredient in summer succotash is fresh local sweet corn previously cooked or raw. The others you can take or leave or substitute, depending on what you have and what you like.

New England Summer Succotash

Yield: Serves 4-6


What you need:

  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil or butter

  • 1 onion

  • sea salt or kosher salt

  • dried ground spices (e.g. smoked paprika, garlic powder, cayenne, optional)

  • 2 sweet peppers (any color bell, anaheim, cubanelle)

  • 3-5 cloves garlic

  • 1 cup beans (see note)

  • 2 medium zucchini or summer squash

  • 2-3 cups fresh corn kernels*

  • 1/4 cup water

  • 1-2 medium tomatoes or handful of cherry tomatoes

  • 1-2 tablespoons fresh herbs (thyme, parsley, basil, oregano, chives, rosemary), chopped

What you do:

  1. Cut all vegetables into a similar size and shape.

  2. Heat a large heavy bottomed skillet (cast iron if available) over moderately high heat. Heat the oil or butter and add the onion with a few pinches of salt. Sauté until soft and lightly browned, about 5-8 minutes.

  3. Add spices if using and sauté about 1 minute.

  4. Add the peppers, garlic, a pinch of salt and sauté until peppers are softened.

  5. Add fresh beans (if using), zucchini and corn kernels with a few more pinches of salt. Sauté 1-2 minutes. Add the water and cook until liquid is absorbed.

  6. Add the tomatoes and cook until they break down. Add cooked dried beans if using.

  7. Right before turning off the heat, add the fresh herbs.

Note on beans: Traditional New England succotash uses cranberry or "cattle beans" like the ones pictured here. See that beautiful cranberry color marbled throughout? If you can get fresh cranberry beans straight from the shell for your summer succotash, that is ideal. Or substitute fresh shelling peas, snap peas, green beans, or lima beans. You can also cook up the dried ones, like you make any dried bean and add to the succotash at the very end.

Note on beans: Traditional New England succotash uses cranberry or "cattle beans" like the ones pictured here. See that beautiful cranberry color marbled throughout? If you can get fresh cranberry beans straight from the shell for your summer succotash, that is ideal. Or substitute fresh shelling peas, snap peas, green beans, or lima beans. You can also cook up the dried ones, like you make any dried bean and add to the succotash at the very end.


  • Use leftover already cooked vegetables, such as corn boiled on the cob or grilled zucchini and squash. Simply reduce the cooking time for the already cooked vegetables. Add them to the succotash a little later than the recipe calls for, omit the water and reduce the salt.

  • Serve the succotash as a brunch hash topped with crispy fried eggs. Push the succotash to the side, add a touch more oil and fry the eggs in the same skillet.

  • In place of tomatoes, try a tablespoon or two of apple cider vinegar or other vinegar.

  • Use salt pork or bacon for the fat. Render the fat in step 2 in place of oil or butter. Add the onion to the rendered fat and bacon pieces.

  • Crisp up small slices of dry salami in the oil. Remove before adding the onion, set aside and return to the dish at the end.

Bengali Red Lentil Dhal

Do you need an "I've been out of town all weekend and have nothing in my fridge but want to put a healthy meal on the table pronto and have lunch for the week" kind of dish? For me, that dish is my 100% plant-based and pantry-sourced dhal and rice. It also get cheers from every single eater in my family. We make different variations of dhal, changing up the lentils, spices, aromatics and even the oil, but this Bengali Red Lentil Dhal cooks up quickest and uses the fewest ingredients. If you have them handy, you can brighten it up with chopped fresh tomatoes, cilantro leaves and slices of serrano or jalapeno peppers, luckily all things available from the garden this time of year. But those additions are not even necessary.

I have my Bengali-American friend, Ritu, to thank for this recipe. She taught it to me years ago before [tear] moving West. This dish comes closest to replicating the staple meal I ate daily while studying abroad in Nepal, half a lifetime ago. My quest for mastering dhal-bhat ended when Ritu showed me the ropes and her mom's recipe. While I'm at it, I guess I should also thank Ritu for providing fierce competition in office cooking challenges, forcing me to step up my game, and ultimately propelling me to culinary school.

What is dhal exactly? The word dhal comes from Sanskrit meaning "to split" and refers to a wide array of lentils, peas and beans (or pulses) that can be used to make dhal. But what distinguishes dhal from any other lentil soup or stewed pot of legumes is the tarka or tadka. This hot aromatic oil seasoned with onions, garlic, ginger, chilies, and toasted and ground spices is added to the cooked lentils toward the end of the cooking and adds dramatic flavor, color, digestive fire, and healing properties to the dish.


Yield: ~5 cups

What you need:

Panch Proon translates to "five spice" and includes equal parts fennel seeds, cumin seeds, whole fenugreek, black mustard sees and nigella (onion or black carraway) seeds. My panch proon blend is featured here with coriander seeds also used in this dhal.

Panch Proon translates to "five spice" and includes equal parts fennel seeds, cumin seeds, whole fenugreek, black mustard sees and nigella (onion or black carraway) seeds. My panch proon blend is featured here with coriander seeds also used in this dhal.

The dhal:

  • 2 cups red lentils

  • 4 - 5 cups water

  • ½ teaspoon kosher or sea salt

The tadka:

  • 2 tablespoons panch proon (see left)

  • 1 teaspoon coriander seeds

  • 2 tablespoons ghee or coconut oil

  • 1 onion, small dice

  • 3 cloves garlic, minced

  • 3 tablespoons ginger, julienned

  • 1 dried kashmiri chili, chopped, optional

  • 1 tomato, chopped, optional

  • Sea salt to taste

The garnish:

  • Cilantro leaves

  • 1 jalapeno or serrano chili, minced

  • 1 tablespoon ginger, thinly sliced


What you do:

Soak the lentils in a large pot of cool water for a minimum of 20 minutes (optional). Rinse thoroughly until water runs clear (not optional). Return the lentils to the pot and cover with 4-5 cups water.

Bring the water to a rolling bowl, add the salt, reduce heat and simmer until lentils are tender.


In a separate sauté pan, toast the spices until fragrant and lightly browned, about 30 seconds. Remove from heat. Allow to cool and then grind coarsely in a spice grinder or mortar and pestle.


Make the tadka. In the same sauté pan, heat ghee or coconut oil over medium high heat. Add the onions and a pinch of salt. When onions are soft, add the garlic, ginger, chili and ground spices. Sauté about 1 minute longer.

Pour tadka into dal. Add the diced tomato, if using. Simmer an additional 10 minutes or up to 2 hours. Thin dal with additional water if needed.

Garnish with cilantro leaves and jalapeno. Serve with spiced brown basmati rice.


Scallion Surplus Solutions

Why am I writing about scallions? It's not merely to highlight my alliteration abilities. I was recently reflecting on the fact that many of my spring recipes include a sauce that purees scallions beyond recognition. Each spring, I find myself with a surplus of scallions. Not one to gobble raw onions of any variety, these beautiful green alliums pile up in my fridge. Before they can wilt however, I whip them into a marinade or sauce. Some marinades get put to use immediately and others are stored in my freezer, with or without protein for a quick fall or winter meal.

Here are seven solutions for your scallion surplus followed by my recipe for Spring Jerk Marinade to be used in Jerk Lamb Shepherd's Pie (featured below) or to marinate some chicken wings or tofu steaks. All other recipes will be featured on the blog eventually or write and I'll send you the no-frills version pronto.

  1. Korean Beef Marinade

  2. Shrimp Scampi

  3. Scallion Pancakes

  4. Scallion Tart or Pizza

  5. Salsa

  6. Cheese and Scallion Biscuits

  7. When all else fails, add them to a crudité platter for dipping or drizzle with olive oil and grill.

Now on to the piece de resistance. I can't get enough of this jerk marinade and once you try it, you'll be making it in big batches again and again as well. This spring jerk marinade came about because two of the earliest plants available to me in the northeast are thyme (which often survives the winter and regrows on its own) and scallions. Add some ginger, garlic, spices, and of course habañero chili peppers into the food processor and you are good to go.

My jerk marinade has countless uses -- the expected chicken wings, marinating grilled vegetables and tofu, but my most unexpected and new favorite discovery has become Jerk Shepherd’s Pie. This creation was born out of a freezer clean out where I discovered some sautéed mixed greens, about a cup of jerk marinade and a 1lb package of ground beef. The resulting creation screams British pub food meets Caribbean beach BBQ. I since replaced the beef with ground lamb and have interchanged sweet potatoes for the red potatoes & yukon golds. If you use sweet potatoes or yams, I recommend baking those whole to soften them before mashing as boiling or steaming will add too much moisture.

Spring Jerk Marinade

Yield: ~ 4 ½ cups marinade


What you need:

  • 2 shallots or small spring onions, about ½ cup large dice

  • 20 garlic cloves

  • 1 bunch scallions, top ⅓ of green removed, roughly chopped

  • 4 inch piece fresh ginger, peeled & roughly chopped, about ¼ cup

  • ½ cup brown sugar

  • ½ cup canola oil

  • 6 tablespoons tamari soy sauce or shoyu

  • ½ cup lime juice, approximately 4 limes

  • 2 bunches (1 ½ ounces) fresh thyme, leaves and tender stems only, approximately ½ cup

  • 4-8 habanero peppers

  • 5 tablespoons ground allspice

  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon

  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt

  • ¼ cup water

Laura_Chef_Photos_July2017 (45 of 55).jpg

What you do:

  1. Put all ingredients, except the water, into the bowl of a food processor or blender. Process on high until completely pureed.

  2. Add water 1 tablespoon at a time, until it is the consistency of a runny sauce.

  3. Taste and adjust seasoning as needed. Be judicious with the chili peppers. The heat level will intensify over time.

Jerk Lamb Shepherd’s Pie

Yield: Serves 6


What you need:

  • 3 red or yukon gold potatoes, about 1 ½ cups cut into ½ inch cubes

  • Kosher salt

  • 2 tablespoons butter (optional)

  • 3 medium carrots, small dice

  • 1 - 2 tablespoons olive oil or canola oil

  • 1 bunch cooking greens, chopped (such as mizuna, chard, kale, mustard greens)

  • 1 lb ground lamb (or beef)

  • 1 - 1 ½ cups jerk marinade (above)

What you do:

  1. Place the cubed potatoes in a large stock pot and cover with cool water. Add a generous handful of kosher salt. Bring to a boil, lower heat to medium and cook until potatoes are fork tender. Drain. Using a ricer or potato masher, mash the potatoes, adding butter if desired.

  2. In a medium pot fitted with a steamer basket, add water to just above the basket. Bring to a boil. Add the carrots and a few pinches of kosher salt. Steam until the carrots are tender but still firm, about 5 minutes.

  3. In a large skillet, heat oil on medium high heat. Add the chopped greens and a pinch of salt and sauté until they are soft. Remove greens from pan and set aside.

  4. Using the same skillet, heat another tablespoon of oil. Add the ground lamb, breaking it up with a spoon until you have ½ inch crumbles. Season with salt and freshly ground pepper and sauté until cooked through.

  5. Add the jerk marinade to the lamb. Cook about 5-7 minutes until the marinade is absorbed into the lamb and the lamb breaks down further into smaller crumbles.

  6. Preheat the broiler. In an oven- proof casserole dish, layer the lamb, followed by carrots and greens and top with the mashed potatoes.

  7. Heat under the broiler on high for about 12 minutes or until the top is lightly browned and crisp.

To Freeze: Wrap casseroles tightly with plastic wrap. Label with contents and reheating instructions.

To Reheat: Thaw overnight or for at least 12 hours in refrigerator. Preheat broiler. Remove plastic wrap and broil under high for 12-15 minutes or until the top is lightly browned and crisp and the center is warmed.

Spiced Roasted Chickpeas

These spiced chickpeas are a staple of mine for a make-ahead snack on-the-go, main dish garnish, or salad topper. You can vary the spices to your taste and to pair with just about any other flavors. You can use whole and ground spices, or a combination. One of my favorite versions uses a blend of smoked paprika, cumin, garlic powder, and a pinch of cayenne that pairs nicely with Middle Eastern food, like on top of a tabouleh salad or with Indian food, adding crunch on top of a vegetable dish or dal. You can also serve them with this Shaved Brussel Sprout, Apple and Walnut Salad.

Time saver tip:  If you use a particular blend of spices often, make a batch and store it in reused spice jars. Often if I see a little bit of something left in a jar, I might add a few other spices to make a favorite blend. My funnels are re-purposed shields from my old breast pump. Great for solids! When making spice blends, I often leave off the salt so I don't end up adding extra!

Time saver tip: If you use a particular blend of spices often, make a batch and store it in reused spice jars. Often if I see a little bit of something left in a jar, I might add a few other spices to make a favorite blend. My funnels are re-purposed shields from my old breast pump. Great for solids! When making spice blends, I often leave off the salt so I don't end up adding extra!

What you need:

  • 1 ¾ cups cooked (or canned and rinsed) chickpeas*

  • 1 tablespoon oil (olive, canola oil, coconut, etc.)

  • 3 pinches sea salt or kosher salt

  • 3-4 teaspoons spices or dried herbs**

* you can make this in any quantity you desire, but I write this for 1 ¾ cups since that is what you get out of a standard can of chickpeas.

** the herbs and spices are up to you, but here are some of my favorite combinations:

  • cumin + garlic powder + smoked paprika + cayenne

  • oregano + basil + garlic powder + red pepper flakes

  • cumin + coriander + garlic powder + ginger + turmeric

  • coriander + cumin + fennel + chili powder + garlic

  • Za'atar seasoning


Step 1:

Using a clean kitchen towel, pat the chickpeas dry. Homemade or canned work equally well (rinse canned chickpeas first.)


Step 2:

In a bowl, mix together your selected spices.


Step 3:

Add the olive oil to make a paste. It should pass the spoon test on left.


Step 4:

Add the chickpeas to the bowl and toss to coat.


Step 5:

Roast the chickpeas in one of two ways:

Spread the chickpeas in a single layer on a baking sheet and bake in oven at 425 degrees until lightly browned and toasted, about 15 minutes.

Heat a large skillet over medium high heat. Add the chickpeas and toast until lightly browned, about 7 minutes. Stir or shake the pan occasionally.

Rhubarb & Oat Cream Scones

Rhubarb season in the northeast is so fleeting that I must find ways to preserve this tart treasure for year round enjoyment. Enter baked goods that can be frozen! Side note - I was shocked and a touch envious to learn that fresh rhubarb is available practically year round in Iceland, of all places. And after a little more research, I've decided to plant a rhubarb bush this fall for harvesting next spring. On to the scones, which can be enjoyed today (in just about 40 minutes if you get to work right now) or a few months from now when you take them from your freezer and bake them...

Rhubarb & Oat Cream Scones

This recipe has been loosely adapted from a Bon Appetite recipe for blueberry scones. For dairy eaters, use the heavy whipping cream. For a vegan version, substitute a combination of coconut cream and coconut milk for the heavy whipping cream and use maple syrup in place of honey. The result is almost identical in taste and texture. The vegan version is only missing its golden brown sheen from the egg wash. You can attempt to achieve a nice golden brown crust with a brushing of coconut cream, maple syrup or combination of the two, and a slightly higher oven temperature. These are delicious served with strawberry conserve or jam or this Rhubarb Strawberry Compote you can whip up in 15 minutes.

Makes: 8 scones

What you need:

  • 2 cups all purpose flour, plus more for dusting your board and shaping scones

  • 1 cup whole rolled oats, plus more for sprinkling

  • 2 1/2 teaspoons of baking powder

  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

  • 1 1/4 cup heavy whipping cream OR 3/4 cup coconut milk + 1/2 cup coconut cream, plus more coconut cream for brushing

  • 1 tablespoon honey or maple syrup

  • 1 1/2 - 2 cups rhubarb, diced into 1/4 inch pieces

  • 1 - 2 tablespoons turbinado sugar, plus more for sprinkling

What you do:

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees (425 degrees for the vegan version).

  2. In a medium bowl, stir together the flour, oats, baking powder and salt.

  3. In a large measuring cup or small bowl, whisk the whipping cream (or coconut cream and coconut milk) with the honey (or maple syrup) until smooth.

  4. Slowly stir the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients just until the dough starts to come together. At this stage, about 1/3 of the dry ingredients should be left unincorporated.

  5. In a small bowl, toss the rhubarb with 1-2 tablespoons of turbinado sugar.

  6. Swiftly add the rhubarb to dough until nearly all of the dry ingredients are incorporated. Turn the dough onto a floured surface and using your hands and a little more flour, pat it together until it holds together into one large disk, approximately 8 inches in diameter.

  7. Using a bench scraper or metal spatula, cut the disk into 8 equal triangles.

  8. Transfer to a baking sheet (parchment optional). Brush each scone with a lightly beaten egg or coconut cream, maple syrup or coconut cream mixed with maple syrup. Sprinkle oats and turbinado sugar on top.

  9. Baking --

    1. Traditional cream scones: Bake scones at 400 degrees for 15-20 minutes or until tops are golden brown. Allow to cool 5 minutes on baking sheet.

    2. Vegan coconut cream scones: Refrigerate scones for 10 minutes. Bake at 425 degrees for 15-20 minutes or until tops are lightly browned and scones are firm to touch. Allow to cool 5 minutes on baking sheet.

  10. Freezing for both types-- Freeze the scones in a single layer in parchment-lined or flour-dusted air tight containers. Remove from the freezer as you are preheating your oven and bake at 425 degrees for 20 minutes.

Fish En Papillote

Fish en papillote or "fish steamed in a packet" is the perfect healthy weeknight-dinner-in-a-flash or prepare-ahead-presentation to amaze your fancy friends dish. I also love it because, like most of my techniques and formulas, it is versatile and can be completed with various types of fish and whatever vegetables, citrus and seasonings I have on hand or feel like using. It works in all seasons - just vary the contents. Spices and fats are optional. So versatile, in fact, everyone in the family can make a personalized version suited to his or her exact tastes and preferences. Last but definitely not least, it conveniently uses up that opened bottle of white wine hanging out in the fridge that no one is ever going to drink.

The amounts listed are for 1 serving or 1 papillote pouch. You can easily multiply to provide as many servings as you need, plus an extra for tomorrow's lunch. This provides a meal unto itself, but also pairs well with additional roasted, steamed or sautéed vegetables, roasted potatoes or steamed rice.

What you need:

  • 3-5 oz fish fillet (cod, arctic char, salmon, monkfish, trout are all good choices)*

  • 1/2 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil or melted butter, optional

  • 2-3 pinches sea salt or kosher salt

  • ground spices, such as black pepper, cumin, cayenne, garlic powder, crushed red pepper flakes, optional

  • 1-2 tablespoons liquid. I prefer a dry white wine, but beer, broth and even water do the trick.

  • 1/4 cup finely sliced or diced vegetables. Use what you have on hand. Carrot, zucchini, bell pepper, cabbage, jalapeño, brussel sprout, and sweet potato are all great.

  • 1 slice of lemon, orange or lime

  • parchment paper cut into large "hearts"

How to prepare the parchment for papillote:

*Note on fish selection: Where you live will determine the best fish choices for you, for freshness and sustainability. Check out this resource by Oceana and Monterey Bay Aquarium's Seafood Watch for a guide on selecting fish. You can choose printable pocket guides that are specific to your region or download their nifty phone app.

What you do:

Note that fish cooked en papillote will cook faster than if you are roasting fish outside of parchment. The steam trapped inside the papillotte is hotter than your oven and will cook fish faster.

Vegetarian Dolmas: Grape Leaves Stuffed with Spiced Lentils and Rice

Wrapped and rolled foods are the ultimate kids-in-the-kitchen activity. After preparing all of the components, allow kids to help combine the filling. Then enlist their support to do all of the wrapping and rolling. After a brief demonstration, some coaching and practice, you can probably even walk away and allow your little one to complete the job.  Share this instructional video provided by 6-year-old Emory with your child.

Vegetarian Dolmas: Grape Leaves Stuffed with Spiced Lentils and Rice

Dolmas or stuffed grape leaves are often made with a combination of gently spiced ground lamb and rice. We make a savory and satisfying plant-based version using french lentils. I also choose brown basmati rice for additional fiber, nutrients and texture. Omit the honey entirely or substitute agave nectar to make this recipe suitable for vegans.

Yield: approximately 3 dozen

I generally use jarred grape leaves. They work just fine but, of course, if you are on the west coast or are fortunate enough to have access to fresh grape leaves when they are in season, use them. Just soak fresh leaves in hot water while you prepare the filling.

I generally use jarred grape leaves. They work just fine but, of course, if you are on the west coast or are fortunate enough to have access to fresh grape leaves when they are in season, use them. Just soak fresh leaves in hot water while you prepare the filling.

What you need:

Grape leaves:

  • ½ pound fresh grape leaves, soaked in hot water or 1 pound jar preserved grape leaves, rinsed and drained well, picked through with broken or ripped leaves reserved for lining the bottom of the pot


  • 2 quarts water

  • 1 cinnamon stick

  • ½ cup long grain brown rice

  • ¼ teaspoon salt

  • ½ cup mint leaves, minced

  • 4 scallions, minced

  • ¼ cup pine nuts, chopped

  • ¼ cup currants

Line the bottom of the stock pot with grape leaves to prevent your dolmas from burning or browning. Use the broken or torn leaves.

Line the bottom of the stock pot with grape leaves to prevent your dolmas from burning or browning. Use the broken or torn leaves.


  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

  • 1 small onion, small dice

  • 2 cloves garlic, minced

  • ¾ cup cooked lentils (dark brown, green, or beluga)

  • 1 teaspoon nutmeg

  • ½ teaspoon cinnamon

  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds

  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano

  • ½ teaspoon allspice

  • 1 tablespoon dried mint (or one mint tea packet)

Simmering Liquid:

  • ¼ cup lemon juice

  • ½ cup olive oil

  • 2 teaspoons honey (omit or agave for vegan)

  • 1 cup water or vegetable broth

  • ½ teaspoon salt

  • freshly ground black pepper

Roll tightly, but gently, so as not to tear the leaves, pushing in the sides as you go. Walk away, and let the kids do all the rolling while you do the dishes...or take a nap.

Roll tightly, but gently, so as not to tear the leaves, pushing in the sides as you go. Walk away, and let the kids do all the rolling while you do the dishes...or take a nap.

What you do:

  1. Bring 2 quarts (8 cups) water to a boil. Add cinnamon stick, rice and ¼ teaspoon salt. Reduce to a rolling boil and cook 20 minutes or until just tender. Drain and rinse in cold water.

  2. Combine cooked rice with fresh mint, scallions, pine nuts, and currants.

  3. Heat olive oil in a large sauté pan over medium high heat. When it shimmers, add onion and a pinch of salt. When onion is soft, add garlic and sauté 1 minute. Add lentils, nutmeg, cinnamon, cumin, oregano, allspice, and dried mint/tea. Combine with rice mixture. Allow to cool slightly.

  4. Set aside the 36 best leaves for stuffing. Line the bottom of a heavy stock pot with the remaining leaves. Stuff each with about 1 to 2 teaspoons of rice/lentil mixture. Place leaf smooth side down, with stem close to you. Trim long or thick stems. Fold stem end over rice and hold in place. Fold in sides and roll away from you. Use any broken leaves for lining the bottom of the pot. Arrange dolmas (stuffed leaves) snugly in the pot, in layers if needed.

  5. In a medium bowl, whisk together the lemon juice, olive oil, honey or agave, water or stock, salt and pepper. Pour this mixture over the leaves, cover with a plate to hold dolmas down.

  6. Cover, bring to a simmer, and cook 1 1/2 hours, basting occasionally.

Note: Use the "pasta method" for cooking the rice used in dolmas. Rather than steaming rice with an exact ratio of water, you will boil the rice in a large pot of salted water until al denté and then drain. You could certainly use leftover rice that was made using the standard rice cooking method but the texture may be slightly mushy in the grape leaves.

Tip 1: The simmering liquid makes a delicious soup or broth after the dolmas are done simmering in it. Use it to store dolmas in the fridge up to one week, drink it or serve as soup!

Tip 2: When I don't have fresh mint available, I just increase the amount of dried mint used. Just add all of the dried mint together to the lentil mixture to sauté before adding to the rice. I've also successfully substituted chives for the scallions in a pinch.

Vegan Winter Chili

In case we weren't sure, mother nature reminded us with a swift kick that it is still winter for a couple more weeks. So warm up with a batch of hearty vegan winter chili.

This vegan chili even satisfies my carnivore husband. If you use enough of the right blend of spices, and bloom those fully in oil, your meat lovers will get the same unctuous flavor they expect from traditional chili. However, I also have a trick for making both a beef chili and meatless batch at the same time. Just cook the beef in a separate skillet with spices, while making the vegan chili in a large pot. Once all vegan ingredients are added to the pot, remove a few cupfuls and add to the beef in its separate skillet. Continue cooking both over low heat until the vegetables are cooked through.

The recipe below is for my Vegan Winter Chili. In late summer I will exchange the sweet potatoes and perhaps the carrots for bell peppers of various colors, zucchini and yellow summer squash. My summer chili also utilizes very ripe fresh tomatoes instead of or in combination with canned. Now I'm anxious for August and you can expect a Vegan Summer Chili recipe from me then.

Before the recipe, here are some tips.

Cut vegetables into a small dice to ensure quicker cooking, even distribution in each spoonful of chili, and to make them more appealing to picky eaters.

Cut vegetables into a small dice to ensure quicker cooking, even distribution in each spoonful of chili, and to make them more appealing to picky eaters.

To cut vegetables into a small dice, first cut 1/4 inch thick planks, then strips, then cubes. (see steps from left to right above)

To cut vegetables into a small dice, first cut 1/4 inch thick planks, then strips, then cubes. (see steps from left to right above)

Sauté onions until they are soft before adding garlic, then spices, followed by other ingredients. If you add garlic or spices too soon, they may burn or you risk not cooking onion thoroughly.

Sauté onions until they are soft before adding garlic, then spices, followed by other ingredients. If you add garlic or spices too soon, they may burn or you risk not cooking onion thoroughly.

"Bloom" or sauté spices in oil first to awaken their flavor compounds and infuse flavor throughout the chili through the cooking oil.

"Bloom" or sauté spices in oil first to awaken their flavor compounds and infuse flavor throughout the chili through the cooking oil.

What you need:

Note: In this recipe post, I have not provided a photo of all of the ingredients. I even hesitate to give you an ingredients list for this and other stews and soups because the quantities and specific ingredients listed below are merely suggestions. Add more of the ingredients you love, less of those you just want a taste of and add as much liquid to get the consistency you desire. Personally, I add a lot more heat than most, but this recipe as written is at a moderate heat level.

Yield: Makes about 10 cups, or 6-8 servings

The combinations and amounts of ingredients are up to you. Add other vegetables you have on hand, swap out for different varieties of beans, amp up the heat with more jalapeños or spicier pepper varieties, or tone it down. Reduce liquid for thicker chili.

The combinations and amounts of ingredients are up to you. Add other vegetables you have on hand, swap out for different varieties of beans, amp up the heat with more jalapeños or spicier pepper varieties, or tone it down. Reduce liquid for thicker chili.

  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

  • 1 large red onion, diced

  • sea salt or kosher salt

  • 3-5 cloves garlic, minced

  • 1 tablespoon chili powder

  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin

  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder

  • 1 teaspoon ground chipotle chili flakes

  • ~5 cups home-cooked or canned, drained and rinsed, beans. My favorite is a combination of black beans and cranberry or pinto beans.

  • 1 28oz can diced tomatoes, liquid included

  • 2 large carrots, small dice

  • 1-2 cups water

  • 1 medium sweet potato, small dice

  • 1-2 jalapeños, sliced, optional

What you do:

  1. Heat a large sauce pot over medium heat. Add oil.

  2. When the oil is shimmering, add the onion and a pinch of salt.

  3. Once the onion has softened, add the garlic and a pinch of salt and cook, stirring often for about 1 minute, careful not to burn.

  4. Add the spices and a little more oil if pot is dry. Stir into a paste and cook for 30 - 60 seconds.

  5. Add the beans, tomatoes, carrots and ~1 cup of water. I usually rinse the tomato can and use this water to get all of the tomato into the chili. I learned that trick from my mom, who I've watched make Italian tomato sauce for nearly 4 decades now.

  6. Once the carrots are partially cooked (about 15 minutes), add the sweet potatoes and jalapeños, if using. Add water if needed. Cook on medium low, until carrots and sweet potatoes are tender, (about 1 hour) partially covered. You can simmer on lowest setting for an additional 2-3 hours to further reduce and develop flavors. If you need to continue simmering when chili is already fully reduced, keep on lowest setting and cover with a tight fitting lid. You can also add more water at this point if needed.

To serve, top with additional slices of fresh jalapeño, cilantro leaves, lime wedges, and sliced avocado. You can set up a bar with various toppings for eaters to add, including tortilla chips, chopped red onion, cheese and yogurt/sour cream. Everyone likes to enjoy chili their own way!

To serve, top with additional slices of fresh jalapeño, cilantro leaves, lime wedges, and sliced avocado. You can set up a bar with various toppings for eaters to add, including tortilla chips, chopped red onion, cheese and yogurt/sour cream. Everyone likes to enjoy chili their own way!

Lemon Ricotta Blueberry Pancakes


Our family honors Pancake Saturday. My older son has even created a song and dance to celebrate it. With a little extra time on the weekends to prepare and enjoy breakfast, and because we're all in need of a sweet treat at the end of the week, pancakes are perfect. This is also a great dish for kid kitchen assistants. My little helper measures ingredients, cracks eggs, and mixes, while repeating the mantra "we never over mix the batter." Don't over mix your pancake batter.


To save yourself even a little bit of time and a lot of mess when making weekly pancakes, mix your dry ingredients (flours, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt) in a large batch and store in the pantry. If you are like me and use multiple flours (I like a blend of whole wheat all purpose, white AP and cornmeal for most of my pancakes), this will allow you to just take one canister out of the pantry instead of 3 or 4! Now you have absolutely no reason to buy that packaged stuff. PLEASE don't buy that packaged stuff anymore.

We make a variety of pancakes but a favorite go to for their classic Italian origin and to help fatten up our skinny baby is Lemon Ricotta. While visiting my sister last week, I was inspired to make these after cleaning out her fridge and finding a pound of ricotta cheese and fresh local Florida blueberries. In return, she documented the finished stack you see above. It's nice to have a professional photographer for a sister.

These lemon ricotta pancakes are fluffy and creamy all at once. I adapted the recipe from a few sources, but mostly from Cooking Classy.

Makes ~8 6-inch pancakes

What You Need:

  • 1 1/2 cups flour (I like a blend of 1 cup white AP and 1/2 cup whole wheat AP flour)

  • 3 tablespoons sugar

  • 1 tablespoon baking powder

  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda

  • 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt

  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, plus more for brushing the pan

  • 3 eggs, room temperature

  • 3/4 cup whole milk

  • 1 cup ricotta

  • zest and juice of 1 large lemon

  • 1 pint fresh blueberries, rinse and drained

What you do:

1. Whisk together the flours, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt. Or if you have premixed your dry ingredients, measure out 1 3/4 cups dry ingredients and add to a large bowl.

2. Melt the butter. [tip: if you’ll be using a skillet to bake the pancakes, heat the skillet and melt butter in there to save yourself a dish to wash and to grease the pan).

3. In a medium bowl, whisk together the melted butter, eggs, ricotta, lemon zest and lemon juice. It may curdle a little bit, but that is okay. You also do not need to break up all pieces of ricotta. It's nice to bite into that creaminess in the pancakes.

4. Make a well in the dry ingredients and pour in the wet ingredients. Stir a few times with a spatula just to combine. Do not over mix. Fold in the milk and blueberries just until combined.

5. Reheat the skillet over medium high heat. Brush with more butter if needed. Drop 1/3 cup of batter onto the hot pan and top with additional blueberries if desired. Flip after 2-3 minutes or when you see bubbles on top and edges are lightly browned. Cook another 2-3 minutes.


Variations on Hummus


Stop rolling up to the school potluck with a store-bought tub of ordinary hummus and some crunchy carbs for dipping. Hummus is simple to make from scratch. And it does not need to be boring. You can add spices, change up the acid and even hide some vegetables in it. Here's a straightforward formula followed by various modern spins, including a colorful roasted beet hummus you can spread on your kids' sandwiches. My sweet potato black bean variation below is exactly what your Superbowl party ordered. Bonus: these spreads make great baby food too, especially to pack a smooth high protein punch for a little peanut like mine who needs to pack on some pounds.

Basic Hummus Formula

Makes about 1½ cups

What you need:

  • 1-2 cloves of garlic

  • 1 1/2 - 2 cups cooked legumes (chickpeas, black beans, white beans, lentils, etc.)

  • 1-3 Tablespoons tahini

  • 1/4 cup oil (olive, canola, avocado, etc.)

  • 1-2 Tablespoons acid (lemon juice, lime juice, apple cider vinegar, etc.)

  • salt & pepper to taste

  • 1/2 - 1 cup cooked vegetables (optional)

  • 1-3 teaspoons ground toasted spices (optional)

What you do:

Simply put all ingredients (except the acid, spices and salt) into a food processor and purée until smooth. Taste and add acid, spices, and salt gradually to get desired texture and taste. You can always add more salt, acid and liquid but it is difficult to take it away or add more of all of the other ingredients if you go overboard on, say, the lemon juice and cayenne. If your spread is too thick, add more acid (lemon juice, vinegar, etc.) or plain old H2O if you want to thin it without altering the taste too much.

Note on beans: When using canned beans, I drain them and rinse off the liquid first to get rid of any extra salt or any taste imparted by the canning process. You can also easily cook your own beans. More on that in a future post.

Try these variations:

  • Add a roasted beet and toasted ground cumin, cinnamon and cloves. You could also follow my recipe for Roasted Beet Hummus.

  • Substitute a sweet potato for the beet and roast without foil. Use cumin, cayenne, dried ground chipotle and/or smoked paprika for the spices. Substitute black beans or stick with the chickpeas.

  • Instead of beet or sweet potato, use ½ cup of any cooked vegetable (skins removed, roasted, grilled, or steamed), such as broccoli, red bell peppers, carrots, or squash.

  • Add ½ cup of prepared pesto and decrease the olive oil to 2 tablespoons.

  • Use lime juice, apple cider vinegar, sherry vinegar or white wine vinegar in place of the lemon juice.

  • Add an entire head of garlic roasted in olive oil. Decrease the olive oil to 2 tablespoons. Use chickpeas or substitute navy or cannellini beans.

Roasted Romanesco with Lemony Anchovy Dressing & Garlic Herb Croutons

This recipe was born out of a plan to make kale caesar salad that took a turn when I realized my fridge did not actually contain kale. Armed with a can of anchovies, a lemon, and herb garlic butter from my freezer, I was determined and craving caesar salad. That’s when I discovered a head of romanesco. So I married my simply roasted romanesco with the components of caesar salad and got this delightful result. Warm and toasty, it’s a more satisfying dish, particularly in the winter, and you'll appreciate the caramelized sweetness of the roasted garlic cloves.

Make for an easy and healthy, vegetable forward weeknight dinner, perfect for the busy holiday season. It serves two as a main dish or 4-6 as a side or appetizer.

Note: You may choose to whisk a runny egg yolk into the dressing, as in a traditional caesar, but I’ve made it with and without the yolk, and didn’t find much difference, so save yourself the step or top your finished dish with a soft boiled or poached egg.

Here's what you need:

  • 1 head romanesco (if unavailable, this will be equally delicious with cauliflower)

  • 8 garlic cloves, peeled

  • ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil, divided

  • Kosher salt

  • ¼ - ½ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

  • 1 lemon

  • 1 2-oz can anchovies in olive oil

  • 1 tablespoon dijon mustard

  • ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more to taste

  • ¼ cup grated romano cheese (optional)

  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley leaves

  • ¼ cup toasted garlic herb breadcrumbs or croutons

Here's what you do:

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

Remove the stem and leaves from the head of romanesco and discard. Slice the head of romanesco into 1 inch planks. It’s okay if florets fall from the core. You’re not looking for romanesco “steaks” but rather just attempting to use as much of the romanesco as possible, including its core. You should have a mix of planks or “steaks” and florets.

Toss the romanesco and garlic cloves with 2 Tablespoons of the olive oil, a few pinches of kosher salt and the crushed red pepper flakes and spread out onto a sheet pan.

Roast for 30-35 minutes or until browned, turning occasionally.

While the romanesco is roasting, make your dressing. Zest the lemon and set it aside. Squeeze the juice into a large wooden bowl.

Roughly chop the anchovies. Set aside a portion, approximately 1 fillet per person. Add the remaining chopped anchovies and oil from the anchovy can to the wooden bowl. Add the dijon mustard and ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper. Using the back of a wooden spoon, mash the anchovies into the lemon juice and dijon until well incorporated. Add more freshly ground black pepper to taste and olive oil to thicken if needed.

Remove roasted romanesco from the oven, drizzle and brush about half of the dressing onto the romanesco. Return to oven and roast an additional 5-10 minutes.

Add the lemon zest and cheese (if using) to the bowl with the remaining dressing.

Toss the roasted romanesco and garlic cloves with the remaining dressing. Serve topped with reserved anchovy pieces, chopped parsley, and toasted bread crumbs or garlic herb croutons.

To make toasted bread crumbs, I took about 1 tablespoon of herb garlic butter from my freezer stash (didn’t even defrost it first) and added to a hot pan. Once it started to melt, I added about ¼ cup of breadcrumbs and sautéed on medium heat, stirring constantly, until toasted.

Romanesco, which also goes by Romanesco Cauliflower or Roman Broccoli is a member of the Brassica family of vegetables, resembling both a cauliflower and broccoli in appearance, taste and texture, but it is unique with its bright green hue and spiked geometric pattern of florets. When cooked, it has an even nuttier flavor than its cousins. Like its cousins in the Brassica family, it is high in Vitamin C, Vitamin K and dietary fiber, so eat up!

Radishes 5 Ways

Recently, I've found myself answering lots of questions -- from cooking class students, fellow CSA members, and other parents -- about radishes. So I'm delivering on an overdue recipe post promise. These tightly packed peppery spheres produce passion. Previously, I was passionately opposed to radishes, which caused me to diligently leave bunches on a certain colleague's desk (you know who you are), but then I discovered how to prepare them. At this point, we generally only make them one way, because this is how a certain 5-year-old (he knows who he is) will have it. Pickled. Which, when mentioned in my house, will provoke a high-pitched squeal and the "yummy dance." I get it. But I feel like I'm cheating for my older son's vegetable appreciation because they are probably the easiest thing I make for him.


Here's what you need:

  • 1 bunch of radishes

  • 1 cup or so rice wine vinegar

  • 1 scant teaspoon of honey

  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds

  • 1/2 teaspoon coriander seeds


Here's what you do:

One bunch of radishes usually fills a half pint jar. Use this jar to measure out the vinegar, about three-fourths full. Put that in a small pot and heat it with the honey just until the honey dissolves. While this is heating, thinly slice your radishes and pack them into your jar with the spices. Pour hot liquid over the top. Put cover on and refrigerate. These are best after one day but can be eaten in one hour or kept for weeks. I've never processed them to be shelf stable because the aforementioned 5-year-old eats the entire jar in 3 days. Warning: they smell a little funky, but taste delicious and are a great addition to toast smeared with chickpea or fresh green pea hummus, or a salad, sandwich or taco.

Maybe you're not so into pickles? Try these other great applications for your radishes.

Butter Braised: Scrub radishes, remove stems and tips. Cut into quarters. Put in a small pan and cover by an inch with water. Add a few pinches of salt. On medium-high heat, cook until nearly tender and water is mostly absorbed, adding more water if needed. Add about 3 tablespoons butter for each bunch of radishes, and cook stirring frequently until radishes are tender and slightly browned. When you add butter, you can also add your choice or dried spices or finish the dish with chopped fresh chives or parsley.

Roasted: Add cleaned, trimmed and quartered or whole radishes to a roasting pan with chicken and onions. Occasionally toss the radishes with the chicken drippings.

Potato Hash: Add diced radishes to your hash along with other root vegetables. Top with runny eggs.

Slaw: Shred or julienne radishes and combined with shredded cabbage, carrots and/or cucumbers and dress with a light citrus vinaigrette.

Tip: for stable cutting of a radish or other vegetable with a rounded edge, slice off a tiny piece on one side to create a flat surface for your sphere to rest on your cutting board.

Herb Garlic Butter

I attempted to grow a few things this summer. Overall it was a big flop. Between the lingering spring frost, weeds, rodents, and gnats, my garden was doomed. So I decided to focus on what I could control and invested some time and research into growing my herbs. For the first time, I actually re-planted my herb plants into spaces big enough to accommodate their sprawl. I took it to the gnats, inserting glue traps in all of my indoor pots, and re-potting them in clean fresh soil after shaking off the gnat infested soil. I spent hours one Sunday watching countless youtube videos about harvesting my herbs and then practiced, scissors in hand checking the computer screen over my shoulder. I'm so glad I did. This year, all of my herb plants inside and out, even those most difficult to grow for me, like cilantro and sage, flourished. So, now, per the instructions on all those youtube videos, I'm pruning my herb plants like crazy to encourage their continued growth. Since we can't really predict when this river of herbs might suddenly dry up, my plan is to preserve as much as I can in as many ways as possible for later.


Here's that same sage plant just a few weeks later.

Here's that same sage plant just a few weeks later.

This recipe for herb butter is versatile and freezable. The measurements are just suggestions.

For best results, make sure your herb leaves are completely dry. In fact, if I'm using herbs cut from my own plants, I don't even wash them. If you must wash the herbs, be sure to shake off the excess water and dry them thoroughly on a clean kitchen towel before mincing.

This herb butter is perfect for making garlic bread, seasoning a whole chicken to roast, or topping some freshly steamed green beans. What will you use it for? Please share in the comments.


  • 4 ounces salted butter, at room temperature (I have a particular preference for Vermont Creamery's cultured butter for this recipe)

  • 2 tablespoons garlic, minced

  • 1 tablespoon parsley leaves, minced

  • 1 tablespoon fresh sage leaves, minced

  • 2 teaspoons thyme leaves

  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt

With a wooden spoon, thoroughly mix garlic, herbs, pepper and salt into the butter. Stir until evenly combined.

Transfer to a glass jar to store herb butter in your fridge for about 2 weeks or wrap tightly in plastic wrap and freeze for up to 6 months. I used to freeze this butter in small silicone or plastic containers, but learned the hard way that the garlic flavor never really washed out afterwards, so I've switched to storing in plastic wrap.