Plenty to be thankful for on Thanksgiving

by Terry B on December 3, 2014

No recipe this week. Just some random thoughts on Thanksgiving, food and family.

Chocolate Babka

We had a full house this Thanksgiving weekend. Both daughters were in town, as was another guest—quite a crowd for our two-bedroom apartment. With an inflatable mattress, the living room was pressed into part-time duty as a bedroom. The five of us shared our apartment’s one bathroom. The more skittish of our two cats often found herself trapped behind closed bedroom doors. Transportation for various needs involved scheduling turns with our one car, walking or taking public transportation. And we all loved it. [click to continue…]



Cooking the basics: Homemade Marinara Sauce

by Terry B on November 26, 2014

Marinara sauce, a classic Italian red sauce with garlic, onions, herbs and not much more, is easy and weeknight quick to make. Recipe—and variations—below.

Homemade Marina Sauce

This post is about breaking old habits and overcoming fears. In our kitchen, both for the blog and for everyday cooking, we try to work with real ingredients as much as possible, not overly processed foods. (We do count certain canned and frozen goods as ingredients—beans, tomatoes and spinach, for instance.) But for some reason, I’ve resisted making my own marinara sauce. [click to continue…]



Chestnut Soup and memories of Paris

by Marion on November 19, 2014

Chestnuts, potatoes, aromatics, butter, chicken stock and cream turn into a rich soup that stirs warm memories of Paris. Store-bought, vacuum-packed roasted chestnuts make it simple. Recipe below.

Chestnut Soup

The first time I encountered the chestnut vendors of Paris, on a cold November night walking down the Rue de Rivoli with my sister, I was hooked. To me, that has become one of the key Parisian experiences. The night street, thronged with Parisians heading home or to dinner or just having a stroll, the Algerian vendor, his neck wrapped in a knit scarf, the charcoal fire in a metal drum, the improvised metal plate that is the roasting surface, handing over my two euro to the vendor, who hands me a little newspaper cornet packed with fragrant, dark, freshly roasted chestnuts, then walking down the avenue, peeling the chestnuts one at a time, looking at the passing crowd, wondering what I will have to drink with dinner, being back in France. [click to continue…]



A half dozen terrific side dishes to serve alongside your Thanksgiving turkey—and some ideas for skipping the turkey altogether.

Sweet Potato Vichyssoise

Other countries and cultures have celebrated thanksgivings at the end of harvest, but Thanksgiving with a capital T has become a uniquely American holiday. Some trace its roots back to 1621 and the Pilgrims and Puritans at Plymouth. George Washington, at the urging of Congress, made it an official national holiday, proclaiming a “Day of Publick Thanksgivin” in 1789. In 1863, Lincoln fixed its date as the last Thursday of November. [click to continue…]



A whole roasted duck is accompanied by apples, pears and potato wedges roasted in duck fat. Recipe below.

Roast Duck with Pears, Apples and Potatoes

The cold weather is getting its claws into us. We are going out in down jackets, scarves and boots. In a fit of self-pity I even have taken out my coziest wool hat—the little wool cloche from Wildhagen that I usually reserve for the most desperate sub-zero days. The weather is having hostile spasms. The other day, going from the American Rhythm Center to Terry’s office on foot, I got caught in a sleet storm—mean tiny ice pellets flinging themselves into my face at 50 mph.  Reader, it hurt. [click to continue…]



Linguine is topped with a hearty sauce of eggplant, ground lamb, crushed tomatoes, garlic, oregano and half and half. Recipe below.

Eggplant Lamb Pasta

In the 1939 film Tarzan Finds a Son, when Jane and Tarzan discover a baby in a plane crash, Jane insists that they must name him. The ever practical Tarzan says, “Him strong like elephant. We call him Elephant.” Jane, probably hoping for something more like Colin or Nigel, ultimately has to settle for Boy. Here in the United States, I think the eggplant must have suffered a similarly unimaginative fate: “It shaped like egg. We call it eggplant.” [click to continue…]



This braised chicken dish combines prunes, onions, sage, bay leaf, garlic, apple juice and a little sherry vinegar for a delicious weeknight-quick meal. Recipe below.

Chicken with Prunes and Onions

Summer’s bounty has disappeared from produce shelves. Berries, apricots, peaches and plums have been supplanted by a sea of apples, pears and more apples. But in another section of the store, you’ll find many of your summer favorites in a long-lasting, shelf stable form: dried. When dried, apricots, grapes, plums and more provide chewy, flavor-intense snacks to be enjoyed as is. Add them to a savory braise, though, and they achieve a whole new level. They plump up and soften. Flavors mellow and blend. [click to continue…]



This simple Banana Pecan Bread is perfect for baking—and sharing—on a chilly fall weekend. Recipe below.

Banana Pecan Bread

This bread wasn’t meant to be featured here. We just had some bananas on their way to becoming a science experiment. I’d planned to make my Mango Banana Bread, but balked at spending $1.99 for a mango at the supermarket. At the Mexican produce market in our neighborhood, where we usually find better prices, they’re currently $2.49! So I decided a simple banana bread with pecans would be good. And that got me thinking how good is somehow not good enough these days. [click to continue…]



Pork Chops with Mushrooms and Spinach, unstuffed

by Terry B on October 8, 2014

One-pan simple and weeknight-quick, pork chops are browned, then finished in a braise of mushrooms, spinach, onion, tarragon, garlic and lemon juice. Recipe below.

Pork Chops with Mushrooms and Spinach

We’ve been eating a lot of spinach lately. Sometimes in salads, but mostly quickly sautéed until just wilted with butter, olive oil, garlic and salt. Maybe a grind of pepper, if we remember. Eating spinach this way makes me sad that I spent my whole childhood hating it. So when I found myself with spinach, mushrooms and pork chops the other day, I thought they needed to get cooked together. [click to continue…]



Six soups, stews and other fall comfort foods

by Terry B on October 1, 2014

Soupe Au Pistou

We’re big fans of wet food, especially when cool weather settles in for the season. Sauces and broths add warmth and comfort to any meal. Here are six soups, stews and other wet food favorites from the Blue Kitchen archives. [click to continue…]