‘Chokes on the grill

With the days getting longer and temperatures rising, grilling season has opened at our house.

Throughout the warm months, we cook at least half our dinners outside.  They’re simple affairs–a piece of fish, or perhaps a pork chop, and a grill basket filled with the season’s best vegetables.  I never tire of the way a little smoky char brings out the natural sweetness of everything from eggplant and zucchini to peppers and potatoes.

This year, we decided to try grilling artichokes, which are plentiful at the farmers markets right now.  I especially like the smaller ‘chokes with their tender stems. Continue reading ‘Chokes on the grill

Ripe for reading and cooking

 Many cookbooks are primarily kitchen manuals filled with no-nonsense instructions.

Not “Ripe.”  Author Cheryl Sternman Rule and photographer Paulette Phlipot break the cookbook mold.  Their  gorgeous tribute to fresh produce in all its glory is more inspiration than instruction, although filled with creative recipes.

“Ripe” (Running Press, 2012) will send you straight into the kitchen — right after you get home from the farmer’s market.  You may find yourself keeping it out on the coffee table, though, to thumb through in idle moments.  The photographs are downright luscious and the text is whimsical, amusing and informative. Continue reading Ripe for reading and cooking

An Italian take on tenderloin


Whenever I get together with my friend Lisa, we spend much of our time hanging out in the kitchen, cooking, eating and laughing.

Lisa is an adventurous eater and enthusiastic cook.  She’s the one who introduced me to Ethiopian food and soft shell crabs.  We’ve shared summer pudding in East Berlin, lobster straight out of the steamer at a beach house in Delaware, and southwest paella cooked over a backpacking stove in Yosemite.

Ours is a bi-coastal friendship and we don’t see each other as much now that we no longer work in journalism.  But when I flew back to Maryland to visit her last month, we picked up right where we left off, drinking tea in the remodeled kitchen of her Victorian house and planning our meals for the week.

This pork roast came from a dinner party we threw for a few of Lisa’s close friends.  Continue reading An Italian take on tenderloin

Hot cross buns for everyone


I’m on a mission to bring back the hot cross bun.  When made well, this lightly sweet, yeasty bun studded with dried fruit is a highlight of the days leading up to Easter.

Good examples of the traditional British buns – which date back at least as far as Queen Elizabeth I and probably to the Saxon era – are becoming harder and harder to find, though.  Supermarket offerings are usually stale, leaden lumps overloaded with dreadful candied fruit.

Several years ago, I began experimenting with baking my own.   I tried a number of approaches, including kneading fruit and spices into frozen bread dough, mixing everything up in the bread machine, and making yeast bread by hand with three risings.  My kitchen is always pretty cool, though, and getting bread to rise is difficult (which is one reason I often start with the bread machine). Continue reading Hot cross buns for everyone