happy new year! 

Happy New Year everyone!


We will be sipping these drinks tonight as we celebrate with friends.


Pimm's Cups are a favorite of mine - and great for a long evening party since they are not too potent. Slice a cucumber, an orange, and a lemon and put them in a pitcher with a sprig or two of mint. Fill the pitcher with Pimm's and let macerate until the party starts. When ready to serve fill a glass with ice and fill halfway with Pimm's mixure and top the glass with ginger beer or ginger ale.


The red drink in the photo is a recipe I found in Saveur. It was a huge hit, and so pretty.




birthday art party


Apologies for my complete negligence the past few weeks -- the fall is always the busiest season for me and this has been no exception! Although it is old news now, I thought it might be nice to share the sweet art party Bea had for her birthday this year. Family and a few friends gathered for origami, tape wallets, and tote bag making. Bea loved preparing for the party too...which was great since it was all she could think about or talk about for days. 


The cardboard tables Adam made years ago for one of Oliver and Owen's parties were pulled out of the basement once again. The money spent on the inch thick cardboard all those years ago was certainly well spent! They are so light weight that we can move them easily around the house, and they have been surprisingly sturdy.


Bea set the table with blank muslin tote bags from Muji and assigned places to the guests by decorating a brown paper bag for each. Those bags were filled with a pack of origami paper and a silk lipstick case (filled with a chapstick) later...both favors were from Pearl River. I bought a bunch of fabric markers at Pearl Paint and the kids set to work decorating their bags upon arrival. 


As the kids finished up their bags we moved to another spot where Lauren and I helped them make tape wallets. I found amazing tape at Pearl Paint. My kids love making duck tape wallets but they had done it so many times I wanted to try something a little different. This tape has more of a fabric finish and the colors were great. It was pricey but the rolls are big and I am sure we think of other uses for it. We hardly made a dent in the rolls during the party.


Last but not least, Oliver taught the girls how to make origami ninja stars. I got pretty floral origami paper at Muji (unfortunately not available online) when I picked up the muslin bags. 



By the time all these projects were complete the kids had about 20 minutes of time for playing and cake. All in all a successful party!



very veggie lentil soup

I love lentil much so that I posted have already posted two recipes, here and here...but when we had vegan houseguests recently I made a new version that was very delicious and totally vegetarian. This version includes carrots, celery, lots of garlic, yams, and kale so it is packed with nutrients. I used garam masala to season it which turned out to be a great choice. 



1 tablespoon olive oil

1 onion, peeled and diced

4 carrots, peeled and thinly sliced

4 ribs of celery, diced

1 teaspoon garam masala

1 bay leaf

1 whole head of garlic, cloves separated and papery skins removed

1 pound french lentils

2 large yams, peeled and cut into small dice

1 bunch kale, tough stems removed, finely chopped

2 teaspoons salt


Heat olive oil in a large stock pot and add onion. Saute until translucent. Add carrots and celery and cook until softened.  Stir in garam masala, bay leaf, garlic cloves, lentils and 16 cups water. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a gentle simmer and continue cooking for about 30-40 minutes or until lentils are soft. Stir in yams, kale, and salt and cook until yams are tender, approximately 20 minutes more. You can add more water if needed - I've made this soup twice now and the first time I needed 20 cups of water but the second time 16 was plenty. 


happy halloween, a few days late


Between an unbelievably busy fall, and then the craziness of Hurricane Sandy, Halloween did not get the attention from me that it has in past years. Thanks to a week without school we were able to still make our own costumes at the last minute. All three kids changed their minds about what to be so many times that my head was spinning. In the end, the boys opted to be knights.  We made armor from flattened and manipulated aluminum baking pans from the supermarket. Oliver originally wanted to be a Spartan (and happily repurposed a skirt we had made a few years ago from foil insulation) but he morphed into a barbarian as he scoured the house for more items to include in his costume. The faux fur legwarmers he had pilfered from a neighbors cast offs completed his look. 


Bea also waivered many times but quite a few of the ideas seemed to be inspired by our bedtime reading of the Chronicles of Narnia this year. She was pleased when we finally agreed on the White Witch -- so was I since we could just layer on as many white clothes as we could find and complete the look with a little black lipstick, fake witches nails, and an icicle crown made of aluminum foil.


fall salad with salmon, grapes and radishes


This salad is another delicious meal we enjoyed while visiting my friend Page and her family. The moist rich salmon paired beautifully with the sharp flavors of daikon and radishes and the sweet juicy grapes. Now that it is grape season there are lots of varieties to choose from...Page had found "gold'n'sweet green grapes" at her local farmers market but I think any seedless grapes would be nice in this salad.

Page had also bought lots of beautiful baby greens...again, any you like will work. Top the greens with thinly sliced daikon radish, peeled and seeded cucumber slices, radish slices, grapes, and flaked roasted salmon. We made a white wine vinaigrette with a little extra mustard to finish it off.



conchiglie with delicata squash, bacon, leeks and escarole

This past weekend we visited our dear friends Page and Adrian for our annual trip to the Rhinebeck Sheep and Wool Festival. After spending a fun day in Rhinebeck we went and spent the night at their house in Connecticut. Page had bought tons of gorgeous vegetables as the farmer's market in anticipation of our visit. While the kids spent hours outside looking for salamanders (they claim to have found 18!) Page and Lauren and I spent time hanging out and cooking together...something we love. This pasta includes some of my favorite fall produce: delicata squash, leeks, and escarole. It was delicious!


When using leeks be sure to wash them really thoroughly. Thinly slice into rounds and submerge in a bowl of cold water. Agitate the leeks to loosen any sand. Lift out of the water into a colander and repeat with fresh water until there is no residue in the bowl.


We used conchiglie which is a snail shaped pasta for the dish but you can substitute rigatoni or penne. We doubled the recipe below since there were 12 of us in all.



3 small or 2 large delicata squash, cut into 1/2 inch thick rings, seeds removed

Extra virgin olive oil

1/2 pound bacon, cut into 1/2 inch wide strips

2 large leeks, thinly sliced and washed (see note above)

1/2 head of escarole, washed and thinly sliced

1/2 pound fresh ricotta

1 pound conchiglie


Preheat over to 400°. Put a large pot of water on to boil for the pasta. 

Toss delicata rings with olive oil and salt and pepper. Arrange on a single layer on a baking sheet and roast for about 25 minutes, or until golden brown on both sides (you will need to turn the rings halfway through cooking) and tender. When squash is cool enough to handle cut rings into bitesize pieces. (You can return the squash to the oven to keep it warm if you finish this step before the rest of the dish is ready.)

In the meanwhile saute the bacon in a large skillet until crisp. Trasfer to a plate, reserving the fat. Cook leeks in bacon fat until very wilted and begining to carmelize. Add escarole and continue cooking until very soft. Taste for seasoning and add salt and pepper if needed.

Cook the pasta until al dente while sauteeing the greens. Drain it in a colander and return to the pot. Stir in ricotta until pasta is well coated. Add greens, squash, and bacon and stir. Serve immediately.



heidi johannsen stewart: bellocq tea

Heidi and I became friends about 15 years ago when we were both new employees in the test kitchen of Martha Stewart Living magazine. We worked side by side for about 5 years, and often got to travel together on photo shoots. Now we both live in Brooklyn with our families but do not get to see as much of each other as I would like. A couple years ago Heidi started a very special tea company called Bellocq and I finally got to visit their truly beautiful shop in Greenpoint this summer. 


When we were food editors together I always admired Heidi's passion for food and the delicate touch of her food styling. Now I see both traits again in her teas. As she talks about each blend she transports you to a far away place full of sights and sounds...and as you sip the delicious teas you are taken on that journey with her. While visiting the shop I tried many of the teas and bought several to bring home. 


I must have been quite obviously smitten because a few days later when Bea was in some need of a little extra attention she asked if we could make some of Heidi's teas. When I said yes, she said, "all of them?" I nodded in agreement and she was so excited that she immediately set to work laying out all of the bags of tea, counting them, and laying out bowls and cups to steep them in. We have 7 different varieties in all and she loved smelling them, stirring them as they steeped, and then tasting them all. Her favorite was Little Dickens, an appropriate choice since Heidi designed it (with her young son) specifically for children. Since this tea tasting party took place in July we made a big pot of Little Dickens and stirred in a little honey and milk and kept it in the refridgerator - it was delicious iced. I also started making simple syrup flavored with Siam Basil Lemongrass which made a very special limeade when combined with fresh lime juice and seltzer. It became a favorite summer drink for all of us.  



penne with roasted cauliflower


I keep seeing beautiful heads of cauliflower at farmstands but haven't been buying it much since my children are not huge fans. I made this pasta knowing that I would love it but expecting some resistance from the kids...much to my amazement they all really liked it!



1 head cauliflower, cut into small florets

Extra virgin olive oil

3-4 slices of stale whole wheat bread, pulsed into breadcrumbs in the food processor

1 pound penne

1 red onion, finely diced

2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped

1/2 bunch of flat leaf parsley, finely chopped

1 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese


Drizzle the cauliflower with olive oil and sprinkle with sea salt and freshly ground pepper. Roast in a 425° oven until golden brown, about 30 minutes. On a second sheet spread breadcrumbs in a single layer and drizzle with olive oil. Toast in over for 5-10 minutes until golden brown.


In the meanwhile, cook penne until al dente in a large pot of boiling salted water. Reserve a cup or so of the pasta water before draining. While the pasta is cooking, saute red onion and garlic in olive oil until translucent. When pasta is done, add roasted cauliflower, toasted breadcrumbs, sauteed onion and garlic, parsley, paremesan, and the reserved cooking liquid and toss to combine. Serve immediately.


p.s. Next time I make this I may try adding a few golden raisins, plumped in some warm water. Or for a more savory flavor some capers would be good too. 


martha stewart CraftStudio app

At the end of August Lauren and Ben went to England for a friend's wedding, leaving Lila and Noah with us. I thought it would be fun to help Lila make cards we could send to her parents (digitally!) while they were gone. I had gotten the new Martha Stewart CraftStudio app for our iPad but had not had much of a chance to use it yet. Lila and I had a lot of fun choosing a cute photo of her and then making a simple card that we emailed to her parents the first day they were gone. We would have continued to make more (I was planning on one a day) but my kids were so intrigued with the app that they each wanted to make something too. Before I knew it Lila had lost interest and I had a bunch of digital artwork instead! Even if you do not have cards or invitaitons to make it is a lot of fun to play with. My kids all have fall birthdays and I plan to make party invitations andthen thank you notes when the time comes.


peach frangipane tart


Peaches were exceptionally good this year and all summer I planned to make a peach frangipane tart...I finally did on the last night of our vacation before returning to Brooklyn. Frangipane is made by combining ground almonds with butter and eggs and is the perfect compliment to sweet juicy peaches. Different from other peach tarts, this is never mushy...the almond cream puffs up around the peaches giving structure to the tart. Not too sweet, but very rich, just a sliver will do. This tart will serve 8-12 people.



for the crust:

1 1/2 cups all purpose flour

2 teaspoons sugar

1/2 teaspoon salt

11 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into pieces

4-6 tablespoons ice water


for the frangipane:

1 1/2 cups slivered almonds (7 ounces)

2/3 cup sugar

4 tablespoons unsalted butter, softenned

2 large eggs

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract


4 peaches


To make the crust combine the flour, sugar, and salt in the bowl of a food processor. Add butter and pulse until combined and there are pea sized chunks of butter. Continue pulsing while adding the ice water. Do not over process. The dough will come together when you turn it out onto the counter and press it together forming a disk. Chill for 30 minutes before rolling.


Preheat oven to 350°. Roll dough on a lightly floured surface until it is large enough to fill a 9 inch springform pan. Carefully fold dough in half and position it in the pan, unfolding carefully and pressing dough up the sides of the pan. Line with parchement paper and weigh it down with dried beans or rice. If you have time you can chill the dough again before baking (I did not do this). Bake the crust for 30-40 minutes or until the crust is dry and lightly golden. Set aside.


To make frangipane, combine almonds and sugar in the bowl of a food processor and process until it is a powder. Add the butter and pulse to combine. Add the eggs and vanilla and process until smooth. Pour batter into the pre-baked tart shell.


Cut peaches in half and peel. If the peaches are very ripe the peel should practically slip off the peach. Cut into 8ths and arrange in the tart shell on top of the frangipane. Bake until the frangipane is puffy and golden brown. I expected this to take about 50-60 minutes but it actually took over an hour. Keep an eye on it...if the filling still looks quite moist it is not done yet.