Make A Spicy Jewish Soup from North Africa

Bread bakers set aside a portion of yeasted dough to act as a starter for the next batch of bread. This starter is called a sponge, poolish, levain de boulanger in French, and biga in Italian. But in this medieval soup of the Jews of North Africa it … [Continue reading]

Potato Gratin with Swiss Chard is for Wintertime

Potato gratin is one of those preparations that speaks to people.  When a gratin comes out of the oven it is one of the most inviting foods.  It’s also a dish perfect for winter. Swiss chard developed from the beet and was first mentioned in a book … [Continue reading]

Cocido, the Quintessential Spanish Stew from Andalusia

Spiced sausage, cumin, saffron, black pepper, and garlic flavor this stew that some call the national dish of Spain. These spices had their culinary roots in Islamic Spain, but the trade in spices itself was coming through Lisbon to the great spice … [Continue reading]

Lentils and Sausage for Winter Dinners

There is a winter dish from the region of Emilia-Romagna in Italy of cooked lentils topped with slices of boiled stuffed pig's trotter called zampone.  Decades ago I was lucky to live near an Italian deli that regularly carried a domestically-made … [Continue reading]

Slow-cooked Comfort Perfect For The Week After Christmas

The week separating Christmas from New Year’s can be a strange dead zone in culinary terms. We may be eating leftovers from Christmas dinner, but by the 27th we’re sick of those. New Year’s Eve tends to be more about partying and drinking than … [Continue reading]

Christmas Eve Risotto from Venice

This is a typical Christmas Eve dinner preparation and is unusual for two reasons: it is not cooked according to the risotto method even though it's called a risotto, and it combines cheese with fish. The dish probably evolved from a simple fish … [Continue reading]

Soul-satisfying Baked Rigatoni for a Cold, Blustery Day

On a cold blustery day, my kitchen beckons and I look forward to spending the day assembling this baked rigatoni dish. I imagine you’ve looked at the ingredient list and maybe thought “no way.” I suggest you think like a cook who sees the list and … [Continue reading]

Romanesco Cauliflower with Pasta …Studies on Mandelbrot Fractals

This preparation of the small ridged rigatoni called rigatoncello is meant to feed a large group of people.  It makes for an ideal party dish.  The romanesco cauliflower used in this pasta dish is one of those marvels of nature that once could only … [Continue reading]

Old French Recipe for Veal Rump Stew, A Cold Weather Delight

This nineteenth-century recipe is from Anjou, the capital of which, Angers, sits in the middle of fertile land and excellent vineyards in the Loire valley. The traditional home cooking of Anjou was simple and not ostentatious. This recipe is adapted … [Continue reading]

Mashed Butternut Squash, A Simple Thanksgiving Accompaniment

Thanksgiving side dishes can be a challenge for the host who wants to serve an impressive meal. It’s tempting to get carried away and choose something too complicated when a simple dish, such as a straightforward mashed butternut squash, can make a … [Continue reading]

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