Rosemary Garlic Pork Roast

June 10, 2022

Low and slow. There is no better way to cook a nice, big pork shoulder roast–one that you have marinated in a delicious rub of garlic, rosemary, mustard and miso. At 250°, the oven seems barely on. But as the hours pass, four… six…seven, the house fills with the most delicious aroma. And when you pull that roast from the oven and slice it, the meat falls off the bone, breaking up into tender morsels of savory goodness. Eaten that way, sauced with juices, and paired with vegetables, it’s irresistible. But you can also fill tacos with the meat as we like to do, adding some pickled onion and cotija cheese crumbles on top.

To make this roast, we used a seven-pound, bone-in pork shoulder (also known as pork butt) with the fat cap scored, searing it for 20 minutes at 450° and then turning it down to 250° and roasting uncovered for the remainder of the time. If using a smaller-than-seven-pound roast, start checking for fall-off-the-bone tenderness at the four-hour mark. If larger than seven pounds—say, in the nine-to-10 pound range, you’ll roast from 8 to 10 hours. Recipe adapted from Katie Workman, with kudos to Tyler Wolff-Ormes for the idea of adding miso to the marinade. Continue Reading…


Sauteed Fish with Melted Tomato, Spring Onion + Asparagus

June 4, 2022

Taking the short walk across the Piscataqua River from Kittery, Maine to Portsmouth, New Hampshire, Cathy Wolff points out historic points of interest. There are a lot of them, as Kittery– incorporated in 1647, is the oldest town in Maine. And Portsmouth, established in 1653, came just after. We’re on our way to Strawbery Banke a historic cluster of restored buildings at the site of one of Portsmouth’s earliest settlements.

 It’s here that Wolff spends her Friday afternoons, handing out freshly caught fish to hungry locals who buy from New Hampshire Community Seafood—supporter of sustainable fisheries and local fishermen.

When the work is done, Cathy and I head back to her house, a fat package of fresh haddock in hand. This recipe, with skillet-melted cherry tomatoes, spring onion (sometimes called knob onion) and asparagus, is a snap to make and a great way to feature haddock or cod. Continue Reading…

American Classica

Flint-style Coney Chili Dog

May 31, 2022

There are chili dogs, and then there are Flint-MI-style Coney chili dogs, grilled and topped with a very specific spiced-meat and onion sauce.  Go anywhere near Southeastern Michigan, and you’ll be sure to find one. To set the record straight on all of the lore and legend that grew up around these saucy dogs in the last century, food historian Dave Liske spent about 12 years researching, culminating in his just published, “The Flint Coney, a Savory History,” (American Palate, a division of The History Press.) Continue Reading…

Brunch Bunch

Banana-Stuffed French Toast with Strawberries

May 23, 2022

Since debuting in 1971 at Disney’s Polynesian Resort, Tonga Toast–a cinnamon-sugared chunk of flash-fried, banana-stuffed breakfast bliss–has always been a top seller. Michael Thompson, a Polynesian Resort chef for seven years, can’t give out exact sales numbers,  but sums: “Let’s just say we receive our bananas by the pallet load!”

Continue Reading…
Rice Entrees

Wild Ramp Risotto with Spring Asparagus

May 13, 2022

Last year, we planted our first crop of asparagus and were delighted to see the spears shoot up from the earth at the same time the woods filled with ramps—those mild and garlicky wild onions that gave Chicago its name. I just had to pair the asparagus and ramps together in a recipe. Having done a book, Risotto & Beyond (Rizzoli), featuring 100 Italian rice recipes that I tested and wrote about for Chef John Coletta, risotto seemed the perfect transport. Note: For a little added earthiness, you can add a handful of sauteed mushrooms to the mix when you stir in the ramps and asparagus.


Ballymaloe Irish Lamb Stew

March 10, 2022

Cherished recipes are like ripples, each one an echo of the wave-maker that first broke the surface. This Ballymaloe House lamb stew is the 1940s original that started ripples of stews to follow. A version of it was later published in Gourmet magazine (1960s) and then again in Ruth Reichl’s 2004-published volume featuring six-decades of Gourmet recipe bests. Rather than look to the later versions, when a woman wrote me in search of the recipe, I reached out to Darina Allen, head of the Ballymaloe Cookery School in Shanagarry, County Cork, Ireland, and a member of the family running Ballymaloe House Hotel and Restaurant.

According to Darina, the simple, hearty recipe was given to her mother-in-law Myrtle Allen by neighbor Madge Dolan in the 1940s. It became a staple at both Ballymaloe House and at the Ballymaloe Cookery School. While lamb stew is extremely common in Ireland with regional variations from county to county, (no carrots in Northern Ireland; barley added for extra sustenance in other places,) this version differed from others of the period because the meat and vegetables are browned in hot fat before stewing, making the finished dish more flavorful. It’s a very simple and straightforward recipe—the love you add comes with peeling all those tiny potatoes and pearl onions (!) The stew is delicious served up right after you make it and is also good warmed up the next day.


Cake Walk

Carrot Layer Cake with Cheesecake Topper

March 10, 2022

I’m a carrot top who loves carrot cake! I’ve made many over the years, never quite as unusual as this one which has a cheesecake top baked right with the batter. I got the idea from the NYTimes, although they did theirs as a sheet cake. My version uses a favorite batter recipe–not too sweet, with pineapple and carrot in the mix, and has toasted pecans on the sides of the cake. Continue Reading…

Soup Kitchen

Egg Lemon Soup with Spinach and Meatballs

March 8, 2022

With my husband’s maternal grandparents Greek and Armenian, one or another deliciously lemony chicken soup was often on the table.  In our own home, we’ve kept that going with this fortified version of avgolemono (Greek chicken, egg and lemon soup) that has tiny meatballs and baby spinach stirred in, Italian Wedding Soup style. Continue Reading…

Fat Tuesday

Spudnut Donut Holes

March 1, 2022

Just in time for Fat Tuesday, Say, “hello,” to our spudnuts!  These little potato-donut morsels are descendants of the German fastnacht fritter, traditionally enjoyed today.  Putting mashed potatoes in doughnut batter may sound weird, but potatoes add moisture to the dough, yielding a soft and tender donut that doesn’t taste potato-ey at all. Continue Reading…


Classic Bolognese Ragu

February 22, 2022

Known in Italy as “ragù alla Bolognese” this rich meat sauce actually has very little tomato in the sauce–a surprise to many American home cooks. The deeply satisfying flavors come from long, slow cooking of the vegetables and meats. First referenced in a cookbook by Pellegrino Artusi in 1891, the original recipe called for lean veal, pancetta, onion and carrot cooked in butter, plus mushrooms, broth and a ½ glass of cream which was added at the end. Evolved over the decades to include a few other ingredients—most notably tomato paste, the sauce has become a favorite world-wide.

We hewed pretty closely to the original with our Bolognese. To make it, you’ll begin with soffritto (from the Italian soffrigere, “to sauté”) a trio of very finely chopped carrot, onion and celery. Once the vegetables are cooked tender, you’ll add ground beef, finely minced (or ground) veal and pancetta, plus stock, red wine, soaked-mushroom liquid and tomato paste and let the whole mixture simmer over very low heat for a good two hours. Once the sauce has reduced down, you’ll scald the milk and stir in with the cream and simmer again for another hour.

Although traditionally served over tagliatelle, we like Bolognese spooned over our fresh-made gnocchi, with finely grated Parmesan cheese over all.