Summertime and dessert is easy


Now that summer is here at last, it’s time to post one of the best and easiest dessert recipes I’ve encountered in years.

This is my take on the Eton Mess, a typically understated British name for an ethereal concoction of berries, whipped cream and crisp meringues.  The original has been served at the upper class British boys’ school for which it is named since at least the 1930s.  Some people theorize that it’s called a mess because all the ingredients are just stirred together before being plopped into a serving dish. Continue reading Summertime and dessert is easy

Baked grits for Dad

The last time my father cooked for me, he made his trademark cheese grits for breakfast while I packed for the train.

He was 86, his health was failing, and he didn’t cook much anymore.  His freezer was packed with Hungry Man frozen dinners and my brother and I later found a dozen boxes of Pop Tarts in his pantry.  But he was always  the consummate host and he knew an appetite for grits was the one of the things that we still shared even if he did use quick grits and Cheese Whiz.

They came to the table with steam still rising from the bowls, the grits the texture of velvet from long cooking and fresh garlic masking the processed cheese.  We ate them slowly and talked about the trip ahead.  Then Dad gave me a big hug and drove me down the hill to catch the bus to the train.

I didn’t realize it was the last meal we would ever share. Continue reading Baked grits for Dad

Falafel without the frying


One of the things I miss most about working in Silicon Valley is the bounty of great ethnic eats served in little strip malls scattered around the south end of the Bay.

Now, if I crave a really good bowl of ramen, say, or a pita filled with crunchy falafel, I have to make a special trip over the hill or figure out how to make my own.  I’ve decided to pass on making ramen – the perfect noodle has eluded far better cooks than I.  But falafel definitely seemed worth a try this spring when I was stuck indoors on too many cold and rainy days.

While I was at it, I decided I might as well see if I could bake my falafel rather than fry them.  Continue reading Falafel without the frying

Light handmade biscuits at last

I grew up eating biscuits.

After my mother went back to work, they started with a box of Bisquick more often than not.  But she had the proverbial light hand and her biscuits always came out of the oven fluffy and tender with a golden crust that crunched ever so slightly at first bite.  We frequently ate biscuits as shortcake when strawberries were in season.

Sadly, I didn’t inherit my mother’s delicate touch and have always used a food processor to make biscuits – until now. “Southern Biscuits,” by Nathalie Dupree and Cynthia Graubart (Gibbs Smith, 2011), gives such clear and detailed instructions on the gentle art that my handmade biscuits almost meet my mother’s standards today.  And as much as it pains me to admit, they’re far lighter than anything I’ve ever made in my trusty Cuisinart. Continue reading Light handmade biscuits at last