Lightbulb Oven: Winter cocktail edition!

I love winter beverages! Here's a few that I wanted to share before New Year's. Believe me when I say I will be having all three of these before we exit 2009.

Caramel Hot Chocolate

For a grown ups-only version of this yummy drink, add about 2 ounces of Godiva or Starbucks liqueur, Kahlua, or dark rum to this dessert-worthy drink.

Per serving

1 cup milk
3 caramels (or 2 tablespoons caramel sauce)
2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa

Combine the milk and caramels or caramel sauce in a small saucepan
over low heat. Whisk to melt caramel. When caramels are blended in,
whisk in cocoa. Continue whisking to blend and froth slightly. Serve
with whipped cream or marshmallows.

Bourbon Milk Punch

I am kind of in love with this Southern drink! Even though it's cold, it's kind of rich so I think better suited for winter than warm weather. I also like to add seltzer and a little vanilla sometimes for a grown-up egg cream.

For each cocktail

2 ounces bourbon or dark rum
1 teaspoon superfine sugar
8 ounces milk
freshly grated nutmeg (optional)
Cracked ice

In a cocktail shaker, combine the bourbon, sugar, and milk. Add ice to
fill and shake to mix. Strain into a tall glass and top with a
sprinkle of nutmeg, if desired.

Homemade Eggnog

If you've only had eggnog from a carton, you really need to try a homemade one. It's much less cloyingly sweet and so much more satisyfing! It can also be made without bourbon if you prefer.

4 eggs, separated
1/2 cup sugar
2 cups milk
1/2 cup bourbon
2/3 cup heavy cream
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
pinch cloves

Combine the egg yolks and half the sugar in a heatproof bowl. Heat
inch water in a saucepan until simmering and place the bowl on top.
Whisk until the yolks have thickened and are pale yellow. Whisk in
the milk and bourbon and remove from the heat. In the bowl of a mixer,
whip the egg whites and the remaining sugar until soft peaks form.
Fold a third of the whites into the yolk mixture, then gently fold
that mixture back into the rest of the whites.

Beat the cream, nutmeg, and cloves until the cream is thickened but
not stiff. Fold into the egg mixture and chill until ready to serve.


I can't believe it's nearly over.

Happy December, you guys! 2009 has been such an, um, interesting year. ItalicAnd I think 2010 will be just as action-packed. Hope you're all enjoying winter's appearance (finally!) and staying warm.

This month's recipes:

Almond Joy Macaroons: Made with cocoa nibs and almond flour, these cookies are quick to make and so much better than a candy bar!

Wedding Soup: My new favorite soup!

Grandmother Bread: I found the original version of this recipe on an amazing website called Chickens in the Road. It's so easy to make homemade bread--there's not much more delicious than a slice of fresh-from-the-oven bread.

Have a great December!


Grandmother Bread

This recipe is based on the one I found on Suzanne McMinn's awesome website. (She's living the dream, y'all. My dream, anyway.) I use the whey left over from cheesemaking for this bread, but you can use water or milk if you're not feeling super-industrious.

3 cups water (a mixture of equal parts milk and water), warmed to about 112°F
1 envelope dry yeast
1 teaspoon coarse kosher salt
1/4 cup light brown sugar or mildly-flavored honey
4 to 5 cups all-purpose flour
2 to 4 cups whole wheat flour

In a large bowl, stir together the liquid, yeast, sugar, and salt. Let it stand 5 minutes.

Stir in 2 cups of the AP flour and 1 cup WW flour with a heavy spoon. Add the next cup of WW flour a little at a time as needed, stirring until dough becomes too stiff to continue stirring easily. Add a little more AP flour and begin kneading. Continue adding both kinds of flour and kneading until the dough is smooth and elastic. Place the dough in a greased bowl, cowl with a towel and let dough rise in a warm spot until doubled. (Usually about an hour.) Sprinkle in a little more WW flour and knead again, then divide the dough in half. Shape the dough into boules (round loaves) or regular oblong loaves and place into greased round or loaf pans. Cover the pan with a kitchen towel and let rise about an hour, until the dough fills the pan and is nearly doubled again.

Heat the oven to 350°F and bake until golden and the loaves sound kind of hollow when you tap them.

Let cool for about 5 minutes in the pans, then turn out and let cool on a rack. (Or do what I do and cut a slice and eat it with butter right away.)

Wedding Soup

The name of this soup is a misnomer: it is not served at weddings; instead, the name refers to the "wedding" of meat, pasta, and vegetables in this soup. I love it because it's hearty enough to be satisfying but not so heavy it makes me sleepy.

1/2 pound ground beef
1/2 pound ground pork
1/4 cup grated romano
1/2 cup bread crumbs
1 egg
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
1 tablespoon coarse kosher salt
1 teaspoon ground black pepper

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano (or 1 teaspoon chopped fresh)
2 large carrots, diced
4 ribs celery with leaves, diced1/2 gallon chicken stock
1/2 bunch kale, thinly sliced and washed
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
Kosher salt, to taste

1 cup acini di pepe or stelline pasta, cooked to al dente and rinsed

In a medium bowl, mix all of the meatball ingredients until blended.
Cover and refrigerate while making the rest of the soup.

In a large stockpot, heat the oil over medium heat until hot. Add the
onion and garlic and stir just until the onion is translucent. Add the
oregano, carrots, and celery and saute for about 2 minutes. Season
with salt, add the chicken stock and bring just to a boil. Turn down
the heat and let the soup just barely simmer while you make the

Line a baking sheet with waxed paper or parchment. To make the
meatballs, scoop out rounded teaspoons of the mixture and roll them
between your palms to make smooth balls. Place them as you form them
on the lined baking sheet.

Bring the soup up to a real simmer. Add the meatballs to the soup a
few at a time and and let the soup simmer until they are almost cooked
through, about 8 minutes. Add the kale and simmer about 5 minutes more.

Stir in the parsley and taste for seasoning.* Just before serving, add
the pasta.

*The soup can be prepared up to this point a day ahead. Refrigerate
until cold, then cover. Reheat before adding the pasta.

almond joy macaroons

    I made these on a whim when I was craving candy but didn't want a real candy bar. They definitely scratched the itch, and then some.

    4 large egg whites

    Pinch salt

    1/2 cup sugar

    4 ounces unsweetened flaked coconut, toasted and cooled (see below)

    1/4 cup cocoa nibs

    1/2 cup ground almonds (or almond flour)

    Preheat the oven to 350F. Line a baking sheet with parchment or nonstick foil. Sprinkle the coconut evenly over the baking sheet and toast in the oven just until golden, about 5 minutes. Let cool completely. Re-line the baking sheet with parchment or nonstick foil.

    In a mixer fitted with a whip attachment, whip egg whites and salt until they become white and begin to stiffen. Add the sugar in 3 parts. Continue to whip until the egg whites are very stiff but not dry. Using a rubber spatula, gently fold in the toasted coconut, cocoa nibs, and almonds.

    Drop the mixture by tablespoons onto the baking sheet, leaving 1 inch around each cookie. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes. The outside should be golden brown but the insides should still be moist. Let cool completely before removing from the pan.

    Makes about 2 dozen.


    Awesome Pie Crust

    I love, love love this crust. The original is in Dorie Greenspan's baking book. She uses shortening and makes it in the food processor; I use all butter and make it in the mixing bowl. If you haven't made a crust before, use this one--it's super-easy and tastes amazing.

    Dorie Greenspan's Awesome Pie Crust, non-food processor style

    1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
    2 T sugar
    3/4 tsp salt
    1 3/4 sticks (14 T) very cold unsalted butter, cut into tablespoon-size pieces
    About 1/4 cup ice water, or as needed

    Put the flour, sugar and salt in a bowl and whisk to combine, Add the butter and use your fingers to blend it into the dry ingredients. It doesn't need to be perfect what you're aiming for is to have some pieces the size of green peas and others the size of barley. Add 1 tablespoon of the water and blend in, then add water a little at a time to until the dough is evenly moistened--it should stick together when pinched. Big pieces of butter are fine. Scrape the dough out of the bowl and onto a work surface.

    Shape the dough into a disk and wrap in plastic. Refrigerate the dough for at least 1 hour before rolling.

    To roll out the dough: Have a buttered 9-inch pie plate at hand.
    You can roll the dough out on a floured surface or between sheets of wax paper. If you're working on a counter, turn the dough over frequently and keep the counter floured. If you are rolling between paper, plastic or in a slipcover, make sure to turn the dough over often and to life the paper, plastic or cover frequently so that it doesn't roll into the dough and form creases.

    Fit the dough into the pie plate and, using a pair of scissors, cut the excess dough to a 1/4- to 1/2-inch overhang. Fold the dough under itself, so that it hangs over the edge just a tad, and flute or pinch the crust to make a decorative edge. Alternatively, you can finish the crust by pressing it with the tines of a fork. Freeze the crust for about 15 minutes while the oven heats.

    Heat the oven to 400 degrees.

    Better the shiny side of a piece of aluminum foil, fit the foil, buttered side down, tightly against the crust and fill with dried beans or rice or pie weights. Put the pie plate on a baking sheet and bake for 25 mins. Carefully remove the foil and weights and, if the crust has puffed, press it down gently with the back of a spoon. For a partially baked crust, return the pie plate to the oven and bake for about 8 minutes more, or until the crust is very lightly golden.


    Brined Turkey

    Brining makes turkey so juicy and flavorful you'll never roast a turkey without it again! Keep in mind you'll probably have to rearrange your refrigerator racks to accommodate the brining bucket. I suggest ding this before putting the turkey in the brine, with an empty bucket, just to confirm that it will fit in your fridge. (I speak from experience.)

    I like to decorate the turkey platter with bunches of Roasted Grapes. They are beautiful and pretty yummy, too!

    Brined Turkey
    1 (14- to 16-pound) frozen young turkey
    For the brine:
    1 cup coarse kosher salt
    1/2 cup light brown sugar
    1 tablespoon black peppercorns
    1 teaspoon juniper berries
    2 bay leaves
    1 1/2 gallons water
    4 cups ice cubes

    For the aromatics:
    1 red apple, cut into 6 wedges
    1/2 onion, cut in to 6 wedges
    1 head garlic, cut in half on its "equator"
    1 cup water
    1 sprig rosemary
    3 sprigs thyme
    6 leaves sage
    Canola oil

    Begin thawing the turkey in the refrigerator or in a cooler kept at 38 degrees F.

    Combine the salt, brown sugar, peppercorns, juniper berries, bay leaves, and water in a large stockpot over medium-high heat. Stir occasionally to dissolve solids and bring to a boil. Then remove the pot from the heat, cool to room temperature, and refrigerate.

    The night before: Combine the brine, water and ice in a 5-gallon bucket. Place the thawed turkey (with innards removed) breast side down in brine. If necessary, weigh down the bird to ensure it is fully immersed, cover, and refrigerate for 8 to 16 hours, turning the bird once half way through brining.

    Arrange the oven racks to accommodate the turkey. Preheat the oven to 500 degrees F. Remove the bird from brine and rinse inside and out with cold water. Discard the brine.

    Place the bird on roasting rack inside a half sheet pan and pat dry with paper towels. Add the aromatics and herbs to the turkey's cavity. Tuck the wings underneath the bird and coat the skin liberally with canola oil.

    Roast the turkey on lowest level of the oven at 500 degrees F for 30 minutes. Insert a probe thermometer into thickest part of the breast and reduce the oven temperature to 350 degrees F. Set the thermometer alarm (if available) to 161 degrees F. A 14 to 16 pound bird should require a total of 2 to 2 1/2 hours of roasting. Let the turkey rest, loosely covered with foil for 15 minutes before carving.

    Sage and Celery Dressing

    I grew up eating "dressing," not "stuffing;" It was always cooked outside the turkey, and it was always made from cornbread. I am not a big fan of cornbread, so when I started making my own, I switched to regular bread instead. But i still cook it by itself, because I like the crunchy bits on the edges that only happen when it's cooked on its own. You can adjust the proportions of white and wheat bread and the ratio of celery to onions--I LOVE celery so tend ot go a little overboard with it.

    1 pound white bread -- sliced and cut into rough chunks (don't worry about being exact)
    1 pound wheat or multigrain bread -- sliced
    1 pound unsalted butter
    1 1/2 cups celery -- chopped
    1/2 cup celery leaves, chopped
    2 cups chicken or turkey stock
    6 sprigs' worth thyme leaves
    20 leaves sage -- stems removed, cut into thin strips
    1 teaspoon coarse kosher salt
    1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

    The night before cooking, spread all the bread out in a single layer on sheet pans or towels and allow to dry out. (or toast in a 350°F oven for about 15 minutes until light golden.) Transfer bread to a large mixing bowl.

    Preheat the oven to 375°F. Cut the sage leaves into thin strips

    Melt the butter in a large saucepan over low heat, making sure not to burn it. Add the celery, celery leaves, and onions and cook over low heat for 5 minutes. Add the stock. Increase the heat to moderate and bring to a boil. Turn off the heat and allow to cool for 3 minutes.

    Pour the mixture over the bread. Add the thyme and sage to the bread mixture. Add the salt and pepper and mix well.

    Cover the pan with foil and bake the stuffing for 30 minutes. Remove foil, bake for another 30 min. (Can be done 1 day ahead. Reheat, uncovered, and serve alongside roast turkey.

    Burnt Caramel Pumpkin Pie

    This is my favorite pumpkin pie recipe ever. The first time I made it,
    I accidentally baked my cell phone when I blind-baked the crust--
    that's how excited I was about it. it was totally worth it. Use the
    leftover pumpkin to make Pumpkin-Chocolate Chip Cookies!

    1 cup sugar
    3/4 cup heavy cream
    2 tablespoons dark rum
    2 tablespoons butter, cut into 4 pieces
    1 cup can unsweetened pumpkin puree
    1 1/4 teaspoons ground cinnamon
    1 teaspoon freshly grated peeled ginger
    Pinch freshly grated nutmeg
    Pinch cayenne
    1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
    2 eggs

    1 Awesome Pie Crust, partially baked and cooled, still on its baking

    Lightly sweetened whipped cream, for serving

    Heat the oven to 350°F.

    Sprinkle 1/2 cup of the sugar evenly over the bottom of a nonstick
    skillet. Place the skillet over medium-high heat and cook until the
    sugar starts to color. Swirl the skillet--do not stir--so the sugar
    colors evenly. Continue heating the sugar until is a very deep golden-
    red color. (It will just start to smoke and the bubbles in the sugar
    will be large-ish.)

    Reduce the heat to medium-low. Stand back and add the cream. (it was
    steam and bubble and hiss and generally look terribly, terribly
    wrong.) Whisk the mixture until it's smooth again, then whisk in the
    rum and butter. Pour the caramel into a heatproof bowl and let cool 15

    In another bowl, whisk the pumpkin until smooth, then whisk in the
    remaining sugar, then the cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and salt, then the
    vanilla and eggs. Mix until blended. Whisk in the caramel.

    Pour the filling into the crust, then lift the pie pan about a half
    inch from the baking sheet and drop it to remove any air bubbles (do
    this a couple of times).

    Bake 45 to 50 minutes or until filling is set (tap the pan gently; the
    center of the pie should not jiggle).

    Transfer the pie to a rack and let cool completely. Serve with lightly
    sweetened whipped cream.

    Pumpkin-Chocolate Chip Cookies

    Before I tried these, I was very suspicious. Pumpkin and chocolate? Not so much. But then I tasted them, and I was converted. If you're still not sure, use white chocolate chips in place of the semisweet ones.

    2 cups all-purpose flour
    2 teaspoons baking powder
    1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
    1/2 teaspoon salt
    1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
    Pinch nutmeg
    Pinch cayenne
    1 cup canned pumpkin
    1 cup white sugar
    1/2 cup vegetable oil
    1 egg
    1 teaspoon baking soda, dissolved in 1 teaspoon milk
    1 tablespoon vanilla extract
    2 cups semisweet chocolate chips

    Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment or non-stick foil.
    In a medium bowl, stir together flour, baking powder, cinnamon, salt, ginger, nutmeg, and cayenne. Set aside. In a separate bowl, combine the pumpkin, sugar, vegetable oil, and egg and whisk until blended. Whisk in the baking soda mixture. Stir in the dry ingredients, then stir in the vanilla and chocolate chips.

    Drop by tablespoons on the prepared baking sheet and bake for approximately 10 minutes or until firm and the edges are lightly brown.

    Roasted Grapes

      • 1 1/2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
      • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, or to taste
      • Freshly ground pepper, to taste
      1 pound red or purple seedless grapes, separated into small clusters

    Heat the oven to 500°F. In a large bowl, whisk together the oil and salt and pepper. Add the grapes and toss very gently to coat with mixture, being careful not to break the clusters too much.

    Arrange in a single layer on a baking sheet. Roast until the grapes are lightly browned and the skins are slightly crisp, about 12 minutes.

    (I roast then during the first half hour of my turkey, then take them out and let them stand until the turkey is finished. They are tasty at room temperature!)

    Cranberry Relish

    The serrano chile in this relish is a nod to my southwest roots. If you can't find serranos, use 1 jalapeno in its place.

    2 cups cranberries, washed and picked over for stems
    1 cup sugar, or to taste
    Juice and zest from 2 oranges
    1 serrano chile, seeded and minced

    Combine all of the ingredients in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Cook, tirring occasionally, just until the cranberries start to burst. Remove from the heat and season with salt. Refrigerate until serving.
    hey everyone!

    I hope fall has been treating you well.

    I've been a little (well a LOT) flaky about my newsletters, but I have a very good reason. (I'm not going to share that just yet. Oooh, cryptic.) But I couldn't let November go by without sharing a few of my favorite Thanksgiving recipes with you guys. Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday by far--I love a day completely centered around food! (I mean, most of my days are completely food-centric, but this one is sanctioned, so it's exciting for me.)

    So here are a few standards; as usual, there are bonus recipes linked from the blog, so check it out for more of my Thanksgiving table favorites.

    And now, to the important stuff. The recipes!

    Brined Turkey If you don't like turkey, try brining it. See if that changes your mind like it did mine.

    Sage and Celery Dressing I adapted this recipe from the Dean and Deluca cookbook. Their version uses apples and raisins; I don't believe in sweet dressings just on principle. You can add them if you like, but I think my version is The Best Dressing in the World.

    Cranberry Relish I didn't understand the draw of cranberry sauce until I had one made from fresh cranberries. I make this one even when there's not turkey to go with it!

    Burnt Caramel Pumpkin Pie Full disclosure: I would eat caramel on just about anything. Here it adds depth and velvety texture to what is otherwise a pretty traditional pie.

    Hope you all have a wonderful and safe Thanksgiving holiday!

    Lightbulb Oven


    happy birthday to me! (well, in 3 weeks...)

    Hi all!

    Happy Canada Day! (and early Happy Independence Day!)

    July is my favorite month, because, well, it is the month of my birth. So this month I will be taking time off to go upstate and get some real nature.

    I will also be cooking a lot too, don't get me wrong. July in New York is when the greenmarkets just explode! I can smell the strawberries and peaches literally from a block away. And this is the only time of year I can eat tomatoes, so I try to get my fill over the rest of the summer.

    Salmon with Chermoula I made this the other night when I was craving something light and Moroccan-inspired. I served it with French green lentils and Roasted Fennel and Grape Tomatoes. It was so good I wanted you guy to get a chance to have it!

    Panzanella This Classic Italian salad is the easiest thing in the world and takes about 20 minutes from start to finish. If you have a grill, grilling the bread adds a dimension of flavor that is unbelievable. But toasting the bread makes for a dang tasty salad.

    Peach-Thyme Ice Cream This is based on recipe from one of my all-time favorite cookbooks The Perfect Scoop by David Lebovitz. If you are looking for and ice cream recipe book, get this one. Along with amazing ice cream recipes, it's got wonderful recipes for loads of accoutrements.

    Enjoy July! I will see you in August, one year older (for sure) and wiser (not crossing my fingers).


    Salmon with Chermoula

    These are the measurements I used, but feel free to use more or less of whatever if you prefer. You can also swap in orange zest and juice for the lemon or add 1/2 cup finely chopped onion with the parsley.

        • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
          1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
        1/2 teaspoon black pepper
        • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
        • 1/4 teaspoon ground coriander
        1/4 teaspoon dried hot red pepper flakes
      • a large pinch saffron threads, crumbled
          • 2 garlic cloves, finely minced
          1 tablespoon finely grated lemon zest
        • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
        • 2 tablespoons olive oil
        • 1/3 cup finely chopped fresh parsley leaves
      • 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh cilantro

      4 center-cut salmon fillets (about 6 ounces each), pin bones and skin removed

      Harissa (Middle-Eastern hot sauce), for serving (optional)

      In a large shallow bowl, whisk together the dry spices. Whisk in the garlic, lemon zest and juice, and olive oil until blended. Stir in the parley and cilantro.

      Add the fish and turn to coat it in the marinade. Cover and refrigerate 30 minutes.

      Place an ovenproof pan (preferably cast-iron)underneath the broiler and heat the broiler. When the pan is smoking hot, carefully remove it from the broiler and place the salmon skin side down in the pan (it should sizzle mightily). Spoon the marinade over the fish and return the pan to the broiler. Broil the fish without turning until medium, about 7 minutes.

      If you serve it like I did (with green lentils and roasted veggies), place a pile of lentils just north of center on each plate, then top with a salmon fillet. Spoon the vegetables down one side of the fish.

      Serve with harissa on the side, if you like.

      Roasted Fennel and Grape Tomatoes

      You could also use yellow pear tomatoes, or a mix of the two, for more color on the plate.

      2 medium bulbs fennel, trimmed and cut into sixths (leave some of the fronds on--they get crispy and yummy!)
      1 pint grape tomatoes, halved lengthwise
      1/4 cup olive oil
      salt and pepper

      Preheat the oven to 400°F. In a large bowl, combine the fennel and tomatoes with the olive oil and toss to coat. Sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste.

      Spread the vegetables out in a single layer on a baking sheet and roast until the fennel is caramelized and the tomatoes are soft, about 12 minutes. Turn the fennel halfway through cooking so it browns on both sides.


      This is a way to use up stale bread, or, if you're like me, to use bread that you have bought specially to make this salad. I like to use a bunch of different kinds of heirloom tomatoes, because I love them, and they make a really pretty salad. You can use whatever kind of maters you like. Mint is also delicious with tomatoes--I sometimes like it better than basil!

      • 1 pound loaf crusty peasant-style sourdough or whole-grain bread, cut into 1-inch cubes (about 6 1/2 cups)
        • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
        • 2 tablespoons red-wine vinegar
        • 1 garlic clove, grated on a Microplane*
        1 1/2 pounds mixed heirloom tomatoes, cut into similar-size wedges
      • 1 pound fresh mozzarella, diced into 1/2-inch cubes
      • 10 fresh basil leaves, shredded
      • salt and pepper

      Preheat the oven to 400°F. Spread the bread in a single layer on a baking sheet and toast until beginning to brown, about 8 minutes. Let cool until just cool enough to handle.

      Meanwhile, in a large bowl, whisk together the oil, vinegar, and garlic. Add the tomatoes and cheese and toss to coat them with the dressing. Add the bread and toss until mixed. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Let stand 10 minutes, toss again, and garnish with basil just before serving.

      * If you don't have a Microplane, you can mince the garlic then crush it with the side of a chef's knife untiI it's nearly a paste. Then go out and get a Microplane! You won't believe how much you use it!)

      Peach-Thyme ice cream

      This is based on David Lebovitz's Peach Ice cream recipe in The Perfect Scoop. You can use almond extract instead of the vanilla, if you like. The sour cream is a perfect foil for the sweetness of the peaches and keeps it from being cloying, and the slight pepperiness of the thyme really sets the peach flavor off. My favorite Strawberry Ice Cream recipe also uses sour cream (and happens to be in the same book, go figure). I highly recommend it!

      1/2 cup water
      1 tablespoon thyme leaves
      1 1/3 pounds peaches (about 4 large peaches)
      1/2 cup brown sugar
      1/2 cup sour cream
      1 cup heavy cream
      1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
      1/8 teaspoon lemon juice

      Combine the water and thyme in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil, cover, and let stand while you peel and pit the peaches. (See below.)

      Strain the water and combine with the prepared peaches. Simmer about 10 minutes, or until the peaches are mostly cooked through. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the sugar.

      Combine the peach mixture with the sour cream, heavy cream, vanilla, and lemon juice until smooth. Chill thoroughly (I usually do it overnight), then freeze in the ice cream maker until frozen.

      TO PEEL PEACHES: Cut an X in the bottom of each peach. In another saucepan, bring about 3 inches of water to a boil, then immerse each peach in the water for about 20 seconds. Transfer to a colander and shock them with cold water. The peels should slip right off!

      Strawberry Ice cream

      You can leave the vodka out and use an additional tablespoon lemon juice. But don't skip the macerating either way. You can also use a couple tablespoons more sugar if your strawberries aren't very sweet. This ice cream is best eaten very soon after it's made--it does not need to "cure" like many other ice creams.

      1 pound strawberries, hulled and sliced
      1 tablespoon vodka
      1/2 cup brown sugar
      1 cup sour cream
      1 cup heavy cream
      1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
      1/2 teaspoon lemon juice

      Combine the strawberries, sugar, and vodka and toss until the sugar is dissolved. Let stand for 1 hour, stirring every once in a while.

      Combine the strawberries and their liquid with the remaining ingredients and puree until smooth. (I like to strain my strawberry ice cream to get rid of the seeds, but it's up to you.) Chill thoroughly and freeze in an ice cream maker.


      Pan Bagnat

      • 1 baguette French bread, about 14 inches long, unsliced
      • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
      • 2 6-ounce cans tuna packed in olive oil, undrained
      • 2 tomatoes, seeded and diced
      • 1/2 cup pitted Nicoise olives
      • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
      • 1/4 cup basil chiffonade
      • Kosher salt and black pepper

      Slice bread in half lengthwise. Use your fingers to scoop out the bread form the inside of the loaf, leaving about a 3/4-inch shell. Brush the insides with olive oil.

      Combine tuna, tomatoes, olives, onion, and lemon juice in medium bowl to blend. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

      Spoon the tuna mixture evenly into bottom bread shell. Spread the basil chiffonade evenly over the mixture. Cover with the top half of the baguette and wrap tightly with plastic. Place the sandwich on a baking sheet; top with another baking pan and weight with heavy cans. Let stand at least 20 minutes and up to 1 hour.

      Unwrap the sandwich and cut into 1 1/2-inch slices. Serve right away.

      Watermelon, Tomato, and Feta Salad

      2 cups 1-inch chunks seedless watermelon
      1 cup halved yellow grape tomatoes
      1 cup feta crumbles
      1/4 cup mint chiffonade
      1 jalapeno, seeded and minced
      Juice of 2 limes
      Kosher salt

      Toss the melon and tomatoes until mixed. Add the feta, mint, and
      jalapeno and toss gently, then sprinkle with lime juice and salt.
      Serve immediately.

      Melon Salsa on Prosciutto Chips

      • I like honeydew melon in this salsa, it pairs incredibly well with the cardamom. Cantaloupe is also perfect (and the classic partner with prosciutto). I don't recommend using watermelon for this; I like it better in a salad with feta and mint... like this one. You can also use basil in place of the mint; i would leave out the cardamom in that case.

      • For the Melon Salsa:
        • 2 tablespoons lime juice
        • 1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
        2 cups seeded and finely diced melon
      • 2 tablespoons mint chiffonade
      • Kosher salt

      • For the Prosciutto Chips:
      • 8 paper-thin slices prosciutto, cut crosswise in half
      • Olive oil, as needed

      In a large bowl, whisk together the lime juice and cardamom. Add the melon and toss to mix. Add the mint and toss to mix. Season lightly with salt. Set aside while you make the chips.

      Line a plate with paper towels. Lightly brush one side of each prosciutto slice with oil. Heat a large heavy nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add 4 slices of the prosciutto, oiled side down. Cook until the bottom is lightly browned, about 3 minutes. Turn the prosciutto over and cook until the other side is browned, flattening with the spatula, about 1 minute longer. Using tongs, transfer prosciutto to paper towels to crisp. Repeat the with remaining prosciutto and set aside.

      To serve, top each chip with about 2 tablespoons of salsa and serve right away.

      Triple-Chocolate Cookies

      These cookies are so fudgy and rich they're almost more like brownies than cookies. They are amazing on their own and are perfect to use for ice cream sandwiches. I like them with raspberry or strawberry ice cream; dulce de leche or coffee ice cream would be amazing too! You can also stir a little grated orange zest into the dough with the dry ingredients, or use m&ms or peanut butter chips in place of the chocolate chips.

      10 ounces bittersweet (not unsweetened) or semisweet chocolate, chopped
      1/2 cup plus 2 teaspoons all-purpose flour
      3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
      1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
      1/4 teaspoon ground ancho chile
      1/4 teaspoon baking powder
      1/4 teaspoon salt
      1 cup plus 1 tablespoon sugar
      5 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
      3 eggs
      1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
      6 ounces (1 cup) white chocolate chips

      Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line 2 rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper or use sil-pat liners. Melt the chocolate in the microwave at 50% power in 30-second intervals or in the top of a double boiler. Let the chocolate cool 10 minutes.

      Meanwhile, sift together the flour, cocoa powder, cinnamon, ancho powder, baking powder, and salt into a bowl. Using an electric mixer on medium speed, beat the sugar and butter in another medium bowl until crumbly. Add the eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Continue to mix on medium speed until the mixture is light, pale, and creamy, about 5 minutes. Add the melted chocolate and vanilla and beat just until blended. Fold in the dry ingredients, then fold in the chocolate chips.

      Drop the cookie dough by 1/4 cupfuls (or use a #20 ice cream scoop) onto prepared baking sheets, spacing 2 inches apart. Bake cookies, 1 baking sheet at a time, until tops are evenly cracked but cookies are not yet firm to touch, about 16 minutes. Let the cookies cool completely on baking sheets before storing. Store in an airtight container up to 3 days.

      French Potato Salad

      • This is fabulous served alongside grilled or seared tuna or halibut or pork chops. You can also add capers or olives if you like. You can also top the salad with canned tuna (I especially like the Spanish tuna packed in olive oil, which is also awesome in a Pan Bagnat).

      • For the salad:
      • 2 cups grape tomatoes, halved
        • 1 pound small red potatoes, halved
        • Kernels from 3 ears of corn (or 1 cup corn kernels)
        • 1/2 pound haricots verts, trimmed

      For the vinaigrette:
      • 3 tablespoons white wine vinegar
      • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh tarragon leaves
      • 1 teaspoon whole-grain Dijon mustard
      • 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
      Kosher salt

      • Fill a bowl with cold water and ice. set aside. Put the potatoes in a medium pot and add cold water to cover. Add a generous sprinkle of salt and heat to a boil. Boil until the potatoes are just tender but not soft, about 8 minutes. While the potatoes cook, make the vinaigrette in a large bowl: Whisk together the vinegar, tarragon, and mustard. Whisk in the oil until blended. Add the tomatoes and corn to the vinaigrette and toss to mix. Drain the potatoes (reserve the cooking water if you want to use the same water for the green beans) and add them to the mixture. Toss to mix and set aside. Cook the green beans just until bright green and tender; drain and add to the ice water to stop the cooking. Remove from the ice bath and let come to room temperature. Add the beans to the salad just before serving. (Make ahead: Refrigerate the salad and beans separately up to 2 hours. Let the salad come back to room temperature before serving, adding the green beans just before serving.)