Cake Walk

New York Crustless Cheesecake with Candied Lemon Wheels

September 3, 2022

I’ve made many cheesecakes over the years, but this one is Dad’s favorite—perfect for his 96th birthday! Smooth and creamy, with a little lemon in the batter and glistening wheels of candied lemon on top, it is both pretty to look at and delicious to eat at special gatherings. Made the day ahead of your event and chilled overnight, you’ll add the garnishes right before you serve.

When ready to begin, set all of your ingredients out for ½ hour or so to bring them to room temperature. To speed prep, I use two mixing bowls for my stand mixer, one to beat the sour cream and eggs, the other to whip the cream cheese and butter to a perfectly smooth consistency. You’ll combine the two mixtures with a bit of cornstarch, lemon and vanilla and pour into a 9 x 3-inch springform pan. Set in a pan of boiling water, the cake takes 2 and a quarter hours to bake, and another 12 hours to restfully chill.  Note: An added bonus with this recipe? Save the lemon-simple syrup after making the candied lemons! It is delicious in a cocktail, or with your iced tea. Continue Reading…

Rice Entrees

Asian Salmon, Rice + Egg Bowl

September 3, 2022

When I have the chance to make a special breakfast or brunch, this is my favorite. Perfectly sauteed fillet of salmon, over short grain sushi rice, with a little soy/rice vinegar sauce, toasted seaweed laver, sizzled green onion, and a sunny egg with toasted black sesame sprinkles. A garnish of freshly shredded carrot and red and white cabbage adds a bit of crunch. Note: I toast the sesame seeds and prepare the rice (using a rice cooker) ahead of time to streamline prep. You’ll need just one pan for everything else. Continue Reading…

American Classica

Southern Squash Casserole

September 1, 2022

Squash casserole is a classic Southern comfort dish. Nearly every community cookbook south of the Mason-Dixon line has a version—most with mayonnaise in them and many telling you to boil the squash, which can easily overcook it. So, I was delighted to see the New York Times’ give it a go. Their recipe mixed the traditional cracker crumb topping right in with the squash—a great way to soak up the excess liquid rather than having to strain it out. But, theirs also had you boil and puree the squash, for a result that was disappointingly pudding-like. For ours, we kept the lovely squash texture by cutting the veg into small cubes. We left out the old-school mayonnaise, included some home-pickled cherry peppers, and gilded the dish with a toasted brioche crumb topper. It is SO good!

Continue Reading…

Soup's On!

Cauliflower Potato Leek Soup

August 8, 2022

Each week the farmers market brings new delights. I love both cauliflower and leeks and came home with an abundance of both–plus some pretty red potatoes. This quiet Sunday seemed the right day to put them together in this comforting, simple soup. Continue Reading…


Grilled Pork Chops with Fresh Currant Marinade & Sauce

August 3, 2022

Fresh currant berries are the culinary pearls of the fruit family. Actually a member of the gooseberry family native to Europe, currants also grow here. While black currants make delicious juice, fresh, I like white or red currants. Each tiny fruit pops with a burst of tart sweetness, with flavor a bit like cranberry, but brighter. Thinking those flavors would be very nice with meat, sent me to the kitchen to work up both a sauce, and marinade to prepare for nice, fat grilled bone-in pork chops. Continue Reading…

Pie Revival

Sour Cherry Hand Pies

July 27, 2022

Hand pies take a person back. To fourth grade, maybe (or even earlier,) when you’d bike to that corner grocery store with friends after school, finding the rack of pies, wax-paper-sleeved, sugar slicked, and skimpy on the filling, but easy to grip in one hand as you wheeled to somebody’s house before piano lessons. We’ve built on that nostalgia with better flavor and fresher fruit. Our pies are full of fresh-picked sour cherries, in a tender, oven-baked butter crust with optional sugar glaze. A bit of almond flour and red wine vinegar in the dough adds to the texture and flavor. Continue Reading…

Mile High Srawberry Pie

Fresh Strawberry Pie

July 25, 2022

This fresh strawberry pie, stacked high with just-picked farmers-market berries in a strawberry-juice glaze, comes with a great backstory. Liberace (pianist Vladziu Valentino Liberace)—once the world’s highest-paid entertainer, loved this pie, ordering it by the dozen from the place it was born: the now-defunct Hess Bros. Department store, of Allentown, PA. The man who sold it to him–Max Hess, Jr., was nearly as big a showman as Liberace himself. Continue Reading…

Salad Days

Tender Wedge Salad with Homemade Blue Cheese Dressing

July 3, 2022

Wedge salad is the perfect showcase for garden-grown lettuce and tomatoes. We tender it up by using Baby Butterhead (aka Boston or Bibb) lettuce rather than iceberg. One lettuce head, quartered, fills a platter for a beautiful presentation—enough for two to share as a first course. To dress the salad, I dot it with homemade blue-cheese dressing, some fresh-made bacon crumbles and a few grinds of cracked black pepper. Add a sprinkling of minced chive or green onion if you like. Continue Reading…

Pie Revival

Summerberry Pie

June 26, 2022

Juneberry, Sugarplum, Shadblow, Saskatoon…there are many names around the U.S. and Canada for what we know in Illinois as the Serviceberry tree. We planted ours to beautify the landscape 24 years ago and were delighted to learn that the pretty red berries are edible, with a flavor profile similar to blueberries (but more redberry-ish) and even higher in protein, dietary fiber, calcium, magnesium & manganese. No wonder Native Americans used them to make pemmican!

This year, I used the berries in combination with raspberries, blackberries and blueberries to make this fabulous summer berry pie. You can alter the berry-to-berry ratio, just be sure to use fewer blueberries than the other types of berry, and you will still need about 7 cups of fruit which should mound up nicely in your 9-inch, deep-dish pie plate. While American farms don’t grow serviceberries for sale, my foodie friends let me know that they are available frozen here, from Canada: Saskatoon or Juneberries Continue Reading…


Rosemary Garlic Pork Roast Tacos

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 the roast from the oven and slice it, the meat falls off the bone, breaking into tender morsels of savory goodness. Filling tacos with the meat and adding some pickled onion and cotija cheese crumbles on top is our favorite way to eat this.

To make the 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 big thanks to Tyler Wolff-Ormes for the idea of adding miso to the marinade.

Continue Reading…