Entries in entertaining (4)


roasted cod provencal


Once tomatoes and basil are in season this is a wonderful way to serve simple roasted or grilled fish. I serve it often on weekends when we have a houseful of guests. If you prepare the tomatoes before you start cooking the fish the flavors have a little time to meld. Dice 3 tomatoes into 1/2 inch chunks. Chop basil leaves from 3 or 4 sprigs of basil and add to tomatoes. Remove pits from about 1/2 cup olives (nicoise or calamata are good choices), halve them, and add to tomatoes. Add 1 clove of garlic, minced, the juice of 1 lemon and a pinch of sea salt and set aside. Drizzle olive oil on 3 pounds of cod or striped bass on a sheet pan and roast in a 450° oven for about 10 minutes, or until fish is flaky and cooked through. It can also be grilled -- if you choose to grill, buy fish with the skin on and cook skin side down, with the lid on for about 10 minutes. Spoon tomato mixture over fish and serve. 



pizza party


I love spending an afternoon cooking with friends, especially if the friends love to cook and eat as much as I do. Our dear friends Randall and Bernat fit the bill...we have spent many weekends together where the majority of our time is spent in the kitchen, and the rest of the time is spent either shopping the farm stands or eating! Last September we had one of those weekends and this pizza party was the result. Pizza is perfect for a multi-generational cooking party - there isn't much cooking once you have made the dough...and dough takes time but is fun to make. Plus, once you have gathered all the possible components everyone can mix and match the ingredients to suit their own tastes. Half the fun comes from seeing what inspires everyone, and tasting each others winning combinations. 


If you do not feel like making your own dough you can buy pizza dough at most supermarkets these days.



1 package dry yeast

1 cup warm water

1 teaspoon sugar

approximately 2 1/2 cups all purpose flour

1 teaspoon salt

2-3 tablespoons olive oil

cornmeal or semolina flour


Place the yeast in a large bowl with the warm water and sugar. Set aside for about 10 minutes until frothy. Add flour, salt, and 2 tablespoons olive oil and mix to combine. Turn the dough onto a floured surface and knead for about 5 miutes until the dough becomes smooth and elastic. If the mixture is too sticky you can mix in a little more flour until it is manageable. 


Use remaining tablespoon olive oil to coat a large bowl. Set dough in bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Set aside in a warm place for about an hour - the dough should double in size. Divide the dough into 4 or 5 pieces and roll into rounds about 1/8 inch thick, using more flour for rolling. You can stack these between layers of parchment paper sprinkled with semolina or cornmeal until you are ready to use.


We made a second batch of pizza dough using 1 cup of whole wheat flour mixed with 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour.  You can use whatever you like for toppings...we made a tomato sauce with sauteed onions, garlic and fresh basil. We also sauteed broccoli, spinach, and mushrooms. Our raw toppings were figs, sliced mozzarella, grated parmesan, and fresh herbs. We also loved drizzling a little extra virgin olive oil on after cooking and sprinkling with course sea salt.


Cook the pizzas in a preheated 450° oven. I do not have a pizza stone, or any rimless baking sheets, but I find that using these sheet pans inverted works well...you can still slide the pizzas off the pan onto a cutting board or plate pretty easily. Just be sure to sprinkle them liberally with more of the cornmeal.



lemon tart


My mom just celebrated a very big birthday and my sister, father, and I threw her a dinner party at my house. For dessert I decided to make a lemon tart. Since I knew we had a lot of cooking to do for the dinner I wanted to make something easy but delicious, and I had to be able to make it a day in advance. Mom loves fruit tarts but baking a bunch of tart shells can be pretty labor intensive so I decided to make a ginger snap crust.


I found Anna's Ginger Thins at the local deli and ground them in the food processor until they were almost a powder. I mixed in enough melted butter that the mixture looked moist but not soggy. (I was making 3 tarts but 1 5.25 ounce box plus about half of a second box (15 more ginger thins) and 7 tablespoons of butter makes crust for one 8 or 9 inch tart.) Pour the crumb mixture into a tart pan with a removable bottom and spread it fairly evenly in the center with more crumbs around the rim. Use a rubber spatula to press the bottom into a nice flat base, working from the center towards the edges. Once you are ready to do the edge, use your fingers to press the crumbs into the corners and up the sides of the pan. Do not worry if it extends up a little past the rim - this gives the crust a pretty rustic appearance (first photo below). Once it is all pressed into place put the pan in the refrigerator to chill while making the filling. 


For the filling I used my favorite lemon curd recipe from the Book of Tarts by Maury Rubin. I love his technique for making lemon curd - rather than the traditional french method of whisking the butter in one piece at a time at the end, you whisk all the ingredients together in a saucepan and cook it, whisking constantly, until it just barely comes to a boil. Then you strain it immediately after cooking (see photos below). Since lemon curd is a little soft for a tart filling that needs to be sliced I added an extra egg yolk to the recipe to thicken it a little more. 


Pour the lemon curd into the chilled tart shell and refrigerate it overnight. 


We served our lemon tarts with fresh strawberries, raspberries, and blueberries that were tossed with a little lemon juice and sugar. I also made this almond macaroon torte from smitten kitchen which was very popular too.





couscous with mushrooms and cranberries


Israeli couscous is much larger than the more common North African couscous. I really like it as the base for a salad so am happy to see it popping up in more and more supermarkets. It is also sometimes called "pearl couscous" or Lebanese couscous. This recipe is a great side dish year round. It can be served warm or room temperature, and goes as well with roasted salmon as it does with poultry or red meat. I also love the leftovers when I am looking for a quick lunch or snack. This recipe is also great for a crowd and can easily be doubled or tripled.


1/2 cup slivered almonds

1/2 cup dried cranberries

2 tablespoons red wine vinegar

2-3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1 box israeli couscous (6.3 ounces, about 1 1/2 cups)

2 cups chicken or vegetable stock

1 small onion, finely chopped

6 ounces portobello or crimini mushrooms, coarse stems removed, coarsely chopped

1/4 cup freshly chopped flat leaf parsley

Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper to taste


Heat oven to 350°. Place almonds on a sheet pan in a single layer and toast until fragrant and golden brown. Set aside.


Place cranberries and red wine vinegar in a small bowl and stir so all cranberries are moistened. Set aside.


Heat half the olive oil in medium pot set over high heat and add the cous cous. Cook, stiring constantly, until couscous is golden brown. Add stock and bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat to simmer, and cook until all liquid has been absorbed and couscous is tender, about 10 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside.


While the couscous is simmering, heat the remaining olive oil in a large skillet over high heat. Add onions and cook until translucent. Add mushrooms and cook until nicely browned. Remove from heat and stir into the cooked couscous. Add almonds, cranberries and their liquid, and parsley and stir to combine. Season with salt and freshly ground pepper to taste.