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Feast with friends

It is no secret that I am super lucky in the fact that my friends like to cook as much as I do.  Not only are meals such a treat, but I love learning their tricks too.

But one of my favorite occurrences is seeing what they choose to serve.  Many of us have the same go-to cookbooks and websites, like those of Heidi Swanson & Yotem Ottolenghi – but we pluck different recipes out of the fold.

Take for instance a gorgeous feast that Maya & Geoffrey put together on Sunday.


After a superb cheese & cocktail coarse, we had grilled rib-eyes, grilled peach salad with orange blossom water, salmon (that Jimmy JUST caught) with a pineapple salsa, roast potatoes & broccoli with eggs and gazpacho.  It’s apparent that we weren’t very hungry!

Of {particular} interest here are the salads:  while I love grilled peaches in any form, and often include them in salads, I would have breezed right by the orange blossom dressing.  Now I know my mistake – the combination was floral yet warm and totally intoxicating.  Maya & Ottolenghi are a very good combination!

Grilled Peach Salad with Orange Blossom Water

Roast Potatoes and Broccoli Gribiche

And the roast potatoes & broccoli with egg from Super Natural Everday, also known as Roasted Potatoes & Broccoli Gribiche – a new favorite.  I have been smitten with the idea of gribiche since I read about it on Orangette eons ago, and have in fact made it to serve with salmon and potatoes, but this combo was particularly great.

Until the next dinner at a friends, perhaps I’ll just have them flag my cookbooks…or I guess, that is what pinterest is for!🙂

images via my iphone & instagram feed (@caitlindentino)

tortilla espanola

Every year as the weather gets warmer and summer itches towards us, I get the fiercest craving for my favorite Spanish foods.  Paella, gazpacho, pan con tomate, the list goes on.  And just as often, I will jump the gun on at least one – when tomatoes start to pop up and look like the real thing, I can’t take it anymore.

And so here we were the Saturday of our little flower workshop.  It was decided we would need some sustenance before all that “work”, so I made a quick tortilla española, which then cooled a bit while we ran to the flower mart.

I used a combo of these recipes (here and here), keeping it simple, but did make a little pimenton sauce to have on the side.  It was the perfect little lunch with melon y jamon and {a wee bit early} pan con tomate.

This meal will definitely be in rotation all summer long – for breakfast, lunch and dinner, I’m afraid!


100 Vegetable Soup

I’m going to let you in on an embarrassing secret. I will sometimes count vegetables in a meal and if there is a high enough number, I feel like I won a prize. Am I 10?  Am I lame?  Please, don’t answer!  :)

For instance, that spaghetti with roasted vegetables, there were five different veggies. Not bad, I guess, but nothing special.

If you really want to win the lots-o’veg award, soup is a really good way to go.

loads o'veggies

Take this vegetable soup. I think there were 10 different vegetables – all different types and colors – with enough vitamins and minerals to counteract any chocolate cake that could follow.  Serve it with a glass of red wine and a garlicky tapenade (+2 for the antioxidant list) to keep the meal from feeling too ‘diety’ and leaving you unsatisfied.

This counting trick also works particularly well when say adding something (or things) green to macaroni and cheese or pizza.  Almost makes ’em health food, right?🙂


This soup I guess is minestrone-like, except without the pasta (because I abhor pasta in soup), and because I can make no claims to authentic Italian, I feel silly calling my vegetable soup by a real name.

Again, like many things I cook – there is no real recipe, particularly as the time changes based on the ingredients you have.  I always start with the basics – onion, carrot and celery in olive oil – and from there is really depends.  If I have fennel or leeks, I will add them a bit after the mirepoix, but before other veg. Things like potatoes and cauliflower take longer than zucchini, so they go in next.  I like to add them with the aromatics before any liquids to caramelize a bit and develop more flavor.  Then maybe a big can of whole tomatoes, smushed up a bit and a can or two of water, depending on how much I want to make.  After that, any other veg that take more than a minute or two – I hold the leafy greens until the end so they stay more vibrant. Don’t forget, salt and pepper at each stage – seasoning throughout is important!

Vegetable Soup

1,000 Vegetable Soup

My favorite little trick for a soup like this is to add beans for protein, but using a food processor or even a few forks, mush about half of the beans to add some thickness to the soup.  Here I use canned white beans, but things are always better if you have the time to make your own.  Cranberry beans would be super great here too.

Then, just let it all simmer for 15 minutes to develop the flavors – but not too long as you want all the vegetables to hold up.


Finally serve it with crusty bread, with maybe a quick tapenade or a pesto, a drizzle of olive oil and a few shavings of pecorino.

And of course, give yourself a quick pat on the back for having 1,000 vegetables for dinner!!

Vegetable Soup

Sweet Potato Latkes

If you can believe it, until yesterday, I had never made latkes.

Eaten plenty, of course, but growing up, the little potato pancakes didn’t feature prominently (or at all, actually) in any of our holiday meals. And so while I thought about making them once or twice, I never did it.

And lo and behold, yesterday, as the web was a flurry with latke recipes for the first day of Hanukkah, I figured I’d give it a go.  Plus, it was (kind of) on the Christmas List.

Actually, the item was Make a new Traditional Holiday Dish. And the new really only meant something I had never made and wanted to, and was secretly worried that I was going to end up tacking a Christmas Goose.


Potatoes are much more my speed.

And while sweet potatoes aren’t exactly traditional in Hanukkah latkes, I think I’ll be okay.  Plus, I had one on hand.🙂

To up the ante on tradition, while draining the potatoes, I saw two lonely apples hanging out in the fruit bowl, and I figured that homemade applesauce was in order too!  I used this recipe, but quartered it, which was perfect for the 2 lil’ apples.


As for the latke recipe, I turned to my triedandtrue recipe source, Smitten Kitchen.  She has serveral versions, but I went with the Potato Pancakes, even better, figuring the best was a good place to start.

Thankfully the one sweet potato chilling on my counter was just 1 pound, so I didn’t have to change the proportions on the recipes.  I did however start the flour at 3 tablespoons vs. ¼ cup, as sweet potatoes are much dryer than russets.  I ended up adding and additional ½ tablespoon, so I gather the full amount would have been just fine.

Oh, and since this was composed of all things on hand, the were topped with greek yogurt rather than sour cream or creme fraîche.  Which was lovely – but I can imagine a creme fraîche and caviar version to be that much better!!

Frying Latkes

Golden Latkes

As for the results, I wish they were a touch crispier, but that may have been due to the potato swap or user-error, but pretty darn good for a last minute holiday celebration.

And for this Christmas List, I can really get into it!

Recipes: Read the rest of this entry »

roasted potato salad

When B and I started dating, one of the first meals I made was a dinner of cowboy steaks and  grilled potato and watercress salad (I think they were on the same page in a magazine).  I haven’t made either much since then, but I loved them both, and I think my dad still makes them often (no, he wasn’t there, but I told him what a hit they were).

Fast forward many years later to earlier this week, I was making dinner with some friends.  We were planning on veggie burgers (these to be exact) and wanted a salad too.  We were originally thinking tomato and corn, but as the heirlooms weren’t looking quite ready and the temperature dropped about 20ºF as I headed into the store, I automatically wanted something a bit heartier, more comforty.

I remembered that “potato salad” and thought that would be the perfect direction.


We quickly roasted up a few yukon gold, fingerling and red potatoes (just a hodge-podge of what looked good) until they were crispy on the outside.  Combined that with lettuce (spinach from the store and mixed greens from M’s CSA) and some gorgeous cherry tomatoes and we had a slight-step-up-from simple dinner salad.

And for the dressing, it was a buttermilk gorgonzola vinaigrette.  If that even makes sense.  I started with my basic vinaigrette – garlic (or shallot) minced and tossed with a bit of red wine vinegar, but nixed the dijon for a bit of buttermilk (thinking the tang would be a nice counterpart to the forthcoming cheese) and slowly whisked in a drizzle olive oil, and seasoned simply with salt and pepper.  Finished it with some gorgonzola (or blue cheese of your choice) and chives.  I love the creaminess of this dressing – not thick, but just a bit more luscious than what I usually mix up.

The herby lettuces, warm crispy potatoes, candy-like cherry tomatoes and almost decadent dressing were the perfect match for a cool summer evening some (seven) years after the first rendition. Something tells me it will continue being made ’round here for many years to come.

roasted potato salad


I love leftovers.  I can eat soup for days.  Just about any meat can make a mean meal on day two. Mac and cheese, yes please. But fish – no thanks. Underwater creatures just don’t hold the same appeal to me when reheated, repurposed or redone.

So when I saw that I had a bit more salmon than I knew we would eat for dinner, I didn’t cook it. Thankfully, I remembered seeing a quick citrus salt cure on wrightfood when I was scoping for info on fish in parchment. And once I popped those packets in the oven, I zested up some lemons and oranges, mixed some sugar and salt and had my first go at home cured salmon.


Knowing that the piece I was using was teeny-tiny (I cut off the thinner side from the salmon that I was using for the papillotes so it would all cook evenly), I wouldn’t feel terrible if it all went awry and I had to toss it.

Read the rest of this entry »


Do you cook much fish at home?  As much as I love it, I really don’t.  I think it is because I can’t honestly say that I know we will be eating at home when I am at the store.  I can guess which days we will cook, but as you know, things come up – things change.  And so while I am fine having chicken and veggies hang out in the fridge, waiting until I get my act together, fish, not so much.

I want to cook it and eat it the same day I buy it.  I want it to be fresh, fresh, fresh!  And so what happens more often than not, I just don’t buy it.  Am I alone here?


But Sunday, I knew we were both going to be home from dinner, and there was some salmon at the market that looked so good, I thought it had just jumped right out of the water and into the fish case.  So I jumped on it myself.

But ha!  I should have known better.  And after this happened, I called it quits and snuggled up with a blanket, beet pancakes and the gawked at the fashion choices called the Grammy’s.

Read the rest of this entry »

roastedpotatohash with poachedegg and spinach


Growing up, I was never much of a fan of breakfast for dinner.  I didn’t really like eggs or pancakes enough to have them again at night.  So we never really did that much at home, but at friends’ houses, I thought it was the strangest thing.  Why anyone would want silly waffles instead of a pork chop baffled me.  Hey, I was a “unique” kid.

And while I still haven’t totally lost that feeling, I finally get it.  Well, not the sweet breakfast treats (I’m still not much for waffles – unless they are ordered for the table as a side to my huevos rancheros), but a savory hash is welcome for breakfast, lunch or dinner.

This roasted hash is a bit of a conglomeration of different recipes, techniques and restaurant orders.  The basis of the hash comes from this recipe that I made for Thanksgiving.  It was beautiful – the bright, vivid colors were quite refreshing on what can often be a beige table, but it had a bit more steps and ingredients than I needed outside a day of feasting.  Add bonus however, was the leftovers were great for lunch with a quick egg, so I knew we were headed in the right direction.

Read the rest of this entry »


How many times have you started in the fridge, STARVING wondering if there could possibly be anything in there to eat?  If you are anything like me, this happens more than you would like to admit.  You go to the store and two days later, nothing.  Or definitely nothing you want.  I dream of long interesting meals when at the store, and dream of delivery when staring at my fridge.  So this is not a recipe, just an inspiration that you can easily make something dreamy with all that “nothing.”

You want recipes, with lovely pictures and even better stories?  (I may *hope to* be there sometimes *someday*, but until then…).  I kindly suggest stopping by to say hi to Deb or Molly or Luisa or David or Matt or Adam or Heidi – all amazing and my favorites!!!  Watch out, you can stay there really too long.

But in the meantime, here is one of my “quick fixes.”  Also known as a frittata in many circles, but as my proportions are likely way off from Ina – heavy on the vegetables, light on eggs and done more on the stove than the oven – we will just call it brunch!

Read the rest of this entry »


Martha Stewart I am not -
I have no intention of
whittling my own table
and can handle a martini
like nobody's business -
but I do have lots of
great ideas on cooking,
entertaining, and living
that I want to share with you.

Together, perhaps we can find
ways to have a bit more fun!


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