Fudge pie from a toaster oven


My kitchen is finished at last.  The sink is in and the stove works.  I’m in heaven.

A month isn’t that long to be without a kitchen in the world of home remodeling, I know, but I felt the deprivation sorely.  Mostly, I missed my oven.    It was easy enough to boil, steam, saute and grill on the camp stove and grill, but baking was out of the question.

Or so I thought for several weeks.  Then I remembered the wonderfully easy, fudgy brownie recipe that I stumbled across in journalist Linda Ellerbee’s memoir, “Take Big Bites,” a few years ago.  A microwave and a toaster oven were all I needed to get my home-baked chocolate fix.

Continue reading Fudge pie from a toaster oven

Fresh tomato pasta with bold flavors


As summer begins to wind down and the days get shorter, even dedicated cooks would rather spend less time in the kitchen and more time playing outside while we still can.

This colorful pasta, bursting with the bold flavors of ripe tomatoes, olives, capers, and – yes – anchovies, has become one of my summer favorites.  It’s super simple, versatile, and only requires enough time in front of the stove to boil a pot of pasta. Continue reading Fresh tomato pasta with bold flavors

Carrot soup for your health and delight


Some of my most dismal food memories are of hospital fare.  The few times I’ve  had to stay overnight in a hospital, the food invariably has been a disaster of soggy vegetables, mystery meat and Technicolor Jello.   Even my extraordinarily healthy appetite heads south in the face of such sad offerings.

The good people at Stanford Hospital & Clinics are on a mission to change all that.  Last week, they invited patients, staff and food writers to a tasting of their new Farm Fresh menu of wholesome food prepared with local, sustainable, organic and seasonal ingredients.

This carrot soup, sweet with apple juice and spicy with ginger and curry, won me over instantly.  It’s simple enough to be soothing while still complex enough to be intriguing – just the sort of dish to brighten up a hospital stay. Continue reading Carrot soup for your health and delight

The wings of my dreams


I’ve been obsessed by chicken wings all summer.  No, not the pepper sauce-drenched Buffalo-style wings offered by bars, franchise restaurants and fast food chains everywhere.  The wings of my dreams are served only  at the celebrated Pok Pok/Whiskey Soda Lounge  in Portland, Oregon.

Ike’s Vietnamese Fish Sauce Wings are like nothing I’ve ever eaten before – savory, salty, sweet, sticky and totally addictive.  From the moment I first tasted them in June, I knew I would have to find a way to make something similar at home.   I just can’t be flying off to Portland whenever I get the craving, after all.

Pok Pok is an eccentric, crowded and insanely popular restaurant serving Thai street food in a hip Southeast Portland neighborhood.  The wings, though, are Vietnamese through and through.  They’re based on a recipe from the homeland of the eponymous Ike, the daytime grill cook. Continue reading The wings of my dreams

Tortas for dinner


With our kitchen out of commission for a few weeks, we’re trying to simplify dinner.  Cooking isn’t really the issue – there’s always the grill or the camp stove– but I’m definitely not eager to wash piles of dishes by hand.

Sandwiches are part of our strategy. We’re not talking fast food here. My ideal sandwich is homemade on good bread with lively fillings and the fresh flavors of summer produce.

These tortas qualify on all counts.  Pork tenderloin, marinated for hours in a vibrant adobo sauce before grilling, is the star.  But it wouldn’t shine so brightly without a strong supporting cast:  Yeasty rolls (preferably fluffy bolillos from a Mexican bakery), grilled red onions, dead ripe tomatoes, salty Mexican cheese, lettuce and avocado.  Plus pickled jalapenos and carrots for a fiery jolt.  Together, they’re a irresistible combination of complementary flavors, textures and temperatures. Continue reading Tortas for dinner