Tom’s Gruyère Mac and Cheese

Almost Like Being In Switzerland Tom’s Gruyère Mac and Cheese Main Dish While visiting the Château de Gruyères in Switzerland in 2003, the skies opened with such a torrential downpour that we had to duck inside a nearby quaint restaurant for lunch. On the menu was an incredible Gruyère Macaroni and Cheese served in a large wooden bowl that I have continually tried to replicate over these many years (constantly evolving). The entire success of this dish depends on the quality and type of cheese you use.  Use a good quality Gruyère cheese; don’t use the American version of Swiss cheese as it is missing the buttery, nutty flavor of the Gruyère.  I know it is a pain (literally when I scrape … Read more…

Irish Coffee

“Top o’ the Mornin’ to ya!” Irish Coffee Cocktail: According to The Guardian, “The Irish Coffee is relatively unusual among cocktails in having a clear and undisputed provenance: it was created in the winter of 1943 by Joe Sheridan, chef at Foynes Port in Limerick, for cold, weary passengers from a transatlantic flying boat forced to return to Ireland because of bad weather. The drink became an airport speciality and, after the war, was taken back to the States by a journalist from the San Francisco Chronicle, who persuaded his local bar, the Buena Vista Cafe, to recreate it for him. Today they claim to serve as many as 2,000 Irish coffees on busy days.” It just so happens, the … Read more…

Pork Burgers with Chorizo Seasonings and Radish and Jicama Slaw with Lime Vinaigrette

Burgerlicious! Pork Burgers with Chorizo Seasonings and Radish and Jicama Slaw with Lime Vinaigrette Main Dish I saw a recipe for Chorizo Burgers from Andrew Zimmern in People magazine and was instantly intrigued.  I am not a big fan of chorizo, as it is usually too greasy for me but I LOVE the flavor.  After reading the recipe I realized this is not actually made with chorizo, but is a burger made with chorizo seasonings.  I’m in! Andrew serves his burgers with an Avocado Salsa, but we are partial to guacamole.  I did change up the guacamole by adding a diced tomatillo for a slightly citrus note. To finish out the meal, I made a radish and jicama slaw with … Read more…

Banana Cake with Maple Buttercream Frosting

Going Bananas! Banana Cake with Maple Buttercream Frosting Dessert On our recent vacation to Montreal and Quebec City, Canada, we tasted all things maple. Maple candy coated soft serve ice cream cones. Profiteroles with maple syrup ice cream. Even the whisky has maple syrup in it.  Yum, yum … what?! Canadians love their maple syrup and no wonder. Quebec province produces two-thirds of the world’s maple syrup (according to our tour bus driver, who has never lied to us before).  After tasting pure maple syrup there is no going back.  This is not “pancake” syrup, which, if you read the label, doesn’t even have maple syrup in it! The only ingredient in maple syrup is 100% pure maple syrup from … Read more…

Chicken, Black Beans & Rice with Red Apple Salsa

Quick & Easy Dinner! Chicken, Black Beans & Rice with Red Apple Salsa Main Course This recipe for Chicken, Black Beans and Rice with Red Apple Salsa is an oldie but goody at our home for a quick and easy dinner.  To speed things along, I use canned black beans and a store-bought rotisserie chicken. If you have time to make your own chicken, try my Pan Roasted Chicken Breasts with herbs de Provence. I like Trader Joe’s Cuban-style black beans with green bell peppers and onion. I add a little bit of cumin, red pepper flakes and diced chipotles in adobe sauce to jazz it up.  Any canned black beans will do, just something with a little pizazz in … Read more…

Barefoot Contessa’s Chocolate Orange Mousse

Don’t Eat The Entire Bowl! Barefoot Contessa’s Chocolate Orange Mousse We served French fare for Christmas Eve this year using several recipes from the Barefoot Contessa’s Barefoot in Paris cookbook.  As you can tell from the photo below, her Chocolate Orange Mousse is a recipe I make all the time (watch out for flying mousse!). Paris bistros frequently serve chocolate mousse family-style in a big communal bowl.  At the beginning of Ina Garten’s recipe is a story about how her husband thought the bowl was all for him! Fortunately, I had read and remembered that story while dining at Chez Janou in Paris, so we did not commit a faux pas when an enormous bowl of chocolate mousse was delivered to … Read more…

Cream of Celery Root and Fennel Soup

Soup’s On! Cream of Celery Root and Fennel Soup Appetizer: After a whirlwind 2019 trip to Montreal and Quebec City (Tom is finally back at the computer after knee replacement surgery and will resume the trip report this week), where a chilly autumn had arrived early (33°F in the mornings in Quebec, brrrr!), we were in the mood for soup. Besides enjoying the brilliant red leaves of the Sugar Maple trees and the crisp (who am I kidding, it was COLD) weather, we ate lots of delicious soups.  From a sublime cream of celery and fennel soup to a deconstructed French onion soup (called Cappuccino onion soup as it is topped with an emulsified foam instead of cheese), these soups … Read more…

Green Beans Three Ways: Green Bean Bundles with Bacon & Brown Sugar; Green Beans with Pancetta, Shallots & Pecans; and Green Beans with Meyer Lemon Vinaigrette & Parmesan Panko Crumbs

Going Green … Beans Green Beans Three Ways: Green Bean Bundles with Bacon & Brown Sugar; Green Beans with Pancetta, Shallots & Pecans; and Green Beans with Meyer Lemon Vinaigrette & Parmesan Panko Crumbs I love green beans!  They always make an appearance at our house, especially for Thanksgiving and Christmas.  These recipes get extra bonus points for being able to be made ahead of time freeing up space in your kitchen and for excelling as left-overs. Here are a couple of other make-ahead recipes that are traditional Thanksgiving recipes at our house:  Tom’s Mom’s Sour Cream and Creamed Cheese Mashed Potatoes, Cranberry  Pineapple Jell-O Mousse and don’t forget the Pumpkin Pie Spice Vanilla Vodka Martini to get you through … Read more…

Rigatoni with Sausage and Fennel Ragù

Remembering bella Bologna Rigatoni with Sausage and Fennel Ragù Autumn, my favorite time of the year, my favorite time to travel and perhaps my favorite time to eat pasta!  
 Benventuto Autunno! Last year, while traveling in Bologna, Italy (trip report here), we had the most delicious Pappardelle with Bolognese Ragù that was made with fennel sausage.  Mamma Mia! Bologna is nestled in the Emilia-Romagna region of Italy, which is also home to Parma and Modena.  All the food in Bologna is fantastico (and photogenic)!                                  The freshest pasta, incredible produce and seafood, big chunks of Parmigiano-Reggiano, prosciutto and mortadella (my new favorite), fresh picked … Read more…

Pan Roasted Chicken with Pancetta, Mushroom & Leek Sauce on a Bed of Hash Browns

Comfort Food! Pan Roasted Chicken with Pancetta, Mushroom & Leek Sauce on a Bed of Hash Browns Main Dish Tom once again returned from an event at Melissa’s Produce with a treasure trove of goodies (he works for food).  Among them were a bag of Melissa’s Baby Dutch Yellow Potatoes; Cleaned and Sliced Leeks and Fresh Peeled Garlic.                    Tom often seems to think our kitchen is a Chopped episode and loves to bring home things for me to make into something for dinner, however, this was an easy one.  I immediately thought of the “Wow” dish we had in Tetbury on our trip to England in 2013 [which was a Roasted Breast … Read more…