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(with chickpeas, tomatoes and feta)

For the chimichurri:
1 cup packed flat-leaf parsley
1/2 cup packed mint
1/2 cup packed cilantro
2 Tablespoons fresh oregano, leaves only
½ -2 teaspoons red pepper flakes, depending on heat tolerance
½ -1 small serrano or other hot red or green chile, optional
1-4 garlic cloves, peeled
¼ teaspoon cumin
2 Tablespoons lime (or lemon) juice, extra to taste
1 Tablespoon red wine vinegar
1 teaspoon mild honey, optional
1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt, plus more to taste
a few grinds of freshly ground black pepper
1/3 cup olive oil
For the salad:
1 15 oz. can chickpeas, low sodium
4-5 medium tomatoes, ½ inch slices
4 -6 oz. feta cheese, crumbled
flakey sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Make the chimichurri:
       If using a food processor, combine all the ingredients except the olive oil in a food processor. Process everything until it is roughly chopped. Through the feed tube with the processor running, slowly stream in the olive oil, mixing until well-blended. Scrape down the bowl as needed. Taste and adjust salt and lime juice levels, if desired.
       If using a blender, add all of the ingredients and blend until combined. Blend less for a chunkier version, more for a creamier one. scraping down the jar as needed.
       Let sit for at least 30 minutes at room temperature to allow the flavors combine. It may lose some of its verdant green color, but it will keep in the fridge for up to 3-4 days. Just let it come to room temperature before using.
Makes about 1 1/2 cups.      YUM!

Make the chickpea salad:
       Drain and rinse the can of chickpeas. In a small bowl, toss the chickpeas with about ¼ cup of more of the chimichurri. Let sit at room temperature for about 30 minutes to marinate.
       Slice the tomatoes about ½ inch thick, and spread out onto a serving platter. Spoon the chickpeas evenly over the tomatoes, crumble the feta over all and drizzle with the sauce. Sprinkle with the salt and the pepper.
Make 4-6 servings.      YUM!

LESSONS Learned:
1. Want to be traditional? Just leave out the cilantro, mint, and lime juice.
2. Want to be experimental? Use it as a blank canvas, or as a way to use up whatever you have on hand at the moment. Just keep the proportions in mind. Different herbs, oils or vinegars will all work.
3. Fresh oregano can be hard to find. You can use dried instead, about ½ to 1 teaspoon in this recipe.
4. Being the fresh garlic wimp that I am though, I always opt for a lesser amount. But, you can certainly up the ante here and throw in a lot more. As a precaution though, I would still add one clove at a time, taste, and then add more to your liking.
5. Smooth or chunky? Using a food processor, you’ll get a more rustic sauce. Throw everything into a blender, especially high speed, and you’ll end up with a creamier one. If you don’t want to use a food processor or blender, you can chop everything up very finely and then simply stir together, or use a mortar and pestle to do the work.
6. More ways to use it: toss with roasted veggies, stir into yogurt or mayo for a dip or dressing, marinate meat or cheese in it, use as a sandwich spread or add to your meatball mix before cooking them......


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Black Bean Tartines
(inspired by Annemarie Colbin)

For the Black Bean Salad:
1 Tablespoon olive oil
1 clove garlic, minced
1 15 oz. can black beans, unsalted or low sodium, about 1 ¾- 2 cups,
a pinch fine sea salt
a few grinds of freshly ground black pepper
2 tbsp extra virgin olive
2 tbsp tamari
3 tbsp fresh lemon juice
1 tbsp whole grain mustard
2 ears of cooked corn, about 2 cups cooked kernels
1 red bell pepper, small dice, about 1 cup
3/8-1/2 c. finely chopped parsley
2 whole scallions, sliced thinly on the diagonal, about ¼ cup

For the Tartines:
4 slices of crusty bread, toasted
4 oz. 4icotta or soft, creamy goat cheese
Lettuce leaves
avocado, thinly sliced
radishes, thinly sliced
extra thinly sliced scallions
freshly ground black pepper

Make the Black Bean Salad:
       Drain and rinse the beans. In a medium size saute pan, warm the oil and add the garlic. Cook for about 30 seconds to a minute, just until it starts to turn light brown. Add the beans, salt and black pepper, stir to combine and heat through.
       Combine the dressing ingredients and stir it into the warm beans. Transfer to a medium size bowl and let cool to room temperature. Add the corn, red pepper, parsley and scallions. Gently mix to coat all of the veggies with the dressing. Allow the bean salad to marinate in the refrigerator for at least one hour. Taste for seasoning—you may want a little more salt or black pepper. Keeps in the fridge for 3 days.

Make the Tartines:
       Spread about 2-3 Tablespoons of the ricotta or goat cheese onto the bread slices. Place one leaf of lettuce onto of the cheese. Spoon the bean salad on top. If desired add a few slices of avocado and radish, and a few grinds of freshly ground black pepper.

Makes about 4 servings.      YUM!

LESSONS Learned:
1. If you can, try to get organic Eden or Westbrae canned beans with a BPA-free lining.
2. Use last night’s extra ears of corn or boil a couple extra to make this even faster.
3. To make easy work of mincing the garlic, you can use a kitchen rasp or grater instead of using a knife.
4. If you’re crunched for time, you can forgo heating the beans and garlic first. Just maybe reduce the amount of raw garlic.

PEACH COBBLER with a Hot Sugar Crust

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Peach Cobbler with a Hot Sugar Crust
(inspired by Renee Erickson from Seattle’s Boat Street Café)

6-7 medium or 4-5 large, ripe peaches (about 2 ¼-2 1/2 pounds)
1/8 teaspoon lemon zest
2 Tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1/8 teaspoon cinnamon
3/4 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/8 teaspoon cinnamon
4 Tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, softened
¾ cup sugar
1/4 cup whole milk
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
3 Tablespoons sugar
3 Tablespoons hot water
Whipped cream or ice cream, if desired.

Make the cobbler:
        Place the rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 350 degrees F. Line a rimmed sheet pan with foil and set aside.
        To prep the peaches: Poke the peaches all over with a fork. Cut in half and remove the pits. Cut each half into 3 or 4 slices, and each slice into thirds. You should have about 6 cups of 1 inch chunks.
        Butter an 8 x 8 inch square metal or glass baking pan, or any similar sized baking pan or pie dish. Place the peaches in an even layer into the pan. Drizzle the lemon juice over the peaches, evenly dot with the lemon zest, and sprinkle all over with the cinnamon.
        Set a strainer over a medium-size bowl, and sift the flour, baking powder, salt and cinnamon. Set aside.
        In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, or a hand mixer, cream the butter and the ¾ cup of sugar on medium speed until evenly sandy, about 1 minute. Add the flour, baking powder, salt and cinnamon, and beat on medium speed until all the flour is incorporated, and the mixture is very crumbly, about 30 seconds more. Scrape down the sides of the bowl.
        With the mixer on low speed, pour in the milk. Increase the speed to medium, beating until the batter is well combined, about 1 minute. Scoop the batter by heaping Tablespoons all over the peaches. With an offset spatula or the back of a big spoon, carefully spread the batter evenly over the fruit as best you can. The peaches will peek through in places.
        Sprinkle the 3 Tablespoons of sugar over the batter, and drizzle the hot water evenly over the sugar, making sure it’s all dampened. Bake the cobbler until the top is golden brown, possibly cracked, and the fruit is bubbling, 65-75 minutes.
        Cool the cobbler for about 30 minutes. It will firm up as it cools. Serve warm. And if desired, top with whipped cream or ice cream. Will keep covered at room temp for 2 days or in the fridge for up to 5 days.

Makes 6-8 servings.      YUM!

LESSONS Learned:
1. Get freestone peaches—the kind where the pits easily come out.
2. Make sure that the peaches are fully ripe, blushed with orange and red—no green skins-- and, that they smell fragrant.
3. The batter will spread unevenly over the peaches, with some peaches peeking through the batter, but that’s fine. Just spread it all over the top as best you can.
4. If you like, you can throw in a handful of blueberries or raspberries in with the peaches.

Chicken Milanese with Tomato Arugula Salad

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Chicken Milanese with Tomato Arugula Salad

½ pound arugula leaves, washed, dried and roughly chopped
1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
¼-½ red onion, thinly sliced, about ½ cup
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
2 Tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice, or red wine vinegar
a big pinch fine sea salt
12 or more grinds freshly ground black pepper
1 pound chicken cutlets, cut into 4 pieces, pounded 1/4-inch thick
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper for sprinkling
½ cup all-purpose flour
2 large eggs
1 1/2 cups panko bread crumbs
1/3 cup grated Parmesan
¼ cup olive oil, or more as needed
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, or more as needed
extra Parmesan and lemon wedges for serving

Make the salad:
        If you like, you can place the onions in a small bowl of cold water for a few minutes first to remove some of the bite. In a medium size bowl, toss the arugula, tomatoes and red onion with the olive oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper. Taste for seasoning and set aside.

Make the chicken:
        Heat the oven to 250 degrees F and place a cooling rack on top of a rimmed baking sheet. Set aside.
        Lightly season chicken cutlets all over with salt and pepper.
        Set up a breading station: Place the flour in a shallow bowl or plate. Crack eggs into another shallow dish and beat well; combine the panko and Parmesan in a third dish.
        Dip a chicken cutlet in flour, shake off excess, then dip in the eggs completely coating, shake off the excess, and finally dip both sides in the panko mixture, completely coating and pressing the crumbs into the chicken. Place on a plate and repeat with the remaining cutlets.
        In a large skillet, preferably non-stick, melt the butter and the oil over medium heat. When the oil is hot—you’ll see it start to shimmer and the butter will foam-- fry 2 cutlets at a time until the bottoms are golden, about 3 minutes. Flip them and fry until golden and crispy on the other side, about another 3 minutes. Transfer to a paper towel lined plate, and sprinkle immediately with salt. Place on the cooling rack and keep warm in the oven.
        When ready to serve, give each cutlet a light squeeze of lemon, and top with the salad.

Makes 4 servings.      YUM!

LESSONS Learned:
1. In advance, set up a breading station with 3 large dishes, pans or bowls to hold the flour, egg and panko.
2. Use one hand to bread the chicken and keep the other hand clean to keep things less messy.
3. Panko will add extra crispiness, but you can you use regular bread crumbs too.
4. You can bread the cutlets up to 4 hours in advance. Just keep them in the fridge until ready to fry.
5. If you are making a bunch of these, place a cooling rack over a rimmed sheet pan, and place the cooked ones on the rack in a 250 degree F ovento keep them warm.

Green Goddess Dressing --Vegan or Not

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Green GODDESS Dressing---Vegan or Not

1/2 cup Vegannaise, I like the one with Grapeseed oil, or a good quality mayonnaise, like Hellmans
½ cup vegan yogurt, I like Kite Hill plain almond yogurt, or a full fat sour cream
1/2 cup chopped fresh basil leaves
¼ cup chopped fresh parsley
2-4 Tablespoons chopped scallions, white and green parts, about 2
1 -2 Tablespoons chopped fresh tarragon
½-1 teaspoon minced garlic
1-2 Tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice, from 1 lemon
1 teaspoon anchovy paste or 1 fillet for non-vegans, optional
¼-1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt, or more to taste
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, or more to taste
lots of salad veggies of your choosing

Make the Dressing:
        Place all of the ingredients in a blender, preferably high speed, and blend just until smooth. Taste for seasonings, adding more salt, pepper, or lemon juice, if desired. Refrigerate the dressing until you are ready to serve. Keeps in the fridge for up to a week.

Makes 1 ½ cups. (six ¼ cup servings)      YUM!

LESSONS Learned:
1. If your blender is a high-speed version, then just dump all of the ingredients in and whizz away. But if it’s a regular one, I highly recommend chopping the garlic and the herbs first.
2. There is a range of herbs and flavorings in the recipe. Start with the lesser amount and add more to taste.
3. Just as the quality of your produce makes all the difference, so does the mayo, yogurt and sour cream. For the vegans, I like the Vegannaise with grapeseed oil and Kite Hill plain almond yogurt. For the diary lovers, Hellmans mayo and full fat sour cream work best.
4. This will make enough for four to six ¼ cup servings. But it’s easily doubled or tripled.

Corn on the Cob with Fresh Herb Butter and Parmesan

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Corn on the Cob with Fresh Herb Butter and Parmesan

1 stick unsalted butter, softened
½ cup assorted fresh herbs, such as basil, parsley, and rosemary
1 small garlic clove, minced or grated on a rasp
¼ teaspoon fine sea salt
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
4 to 6 ears of cooked corn, boiled, baked or microwaved—see Lessons Learned
½ cup (or more) finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese

Make the corn and herb butter:
        Cook the ears with the method of your choosing. In the meantime, in a small bowl, stir the minced herbs, garlic, salt and pepper into the softened butter.
        When the corn is done, slather each ear with the herb butter and sprinkle with the grated parmesan. Serve immediately.
        The herb butter can be made a day in advance and stored in the fridge. Soften before using for easy spreading.

Serves 4-6.       YUM!

LESSONS Learned.
Here are a few ways to cook the ears. I just usually just shuck and boil mine.
1. You can simply shuck the ears by pulling off the husks and the silk, and then boiling them in a big pot of salted water for 5-8 minutes. I like to add a little sugar and milk to the water too---that’s a Jersey shore thing. The only problem with this method is that you usually end up with a lot silk still stuck in between the kernels and they’re a pain to remove.
2. You can throw the unshucked ears into a big pot of boiling, salted water for 8 minutes. Using tongs, remove the corn to a pan to cool for a few minutes. Then, using a kitchen towel, hold the ear of corn on a cutting board, and cut off the bottom, far enough up the ear to cut all of the leaves from the husk. The husk and the silk should easily come off.
3. Even easier, you could throw the unhusked ears of corn into an oven at 350 degrees F, and bake for 3o minutes. Peel back the husks to remove the silk, then continue to pull back the husks to the bottom of the ear, and you’ll have a handle to eat them with.
4. The latest rage is putting an ear in the microwave for 4 minutes, 8 minutes for 2 ears. Then cut off the bottom, again far enough up to cut all the leaves. And then from the tip end, gently squeeze the ear to allow it to slip out. Once a little of the ear is exposed, you can use a knife to hold down the ear as you pull the husk completely off. The silk magically and neatly stays inside the husk, leaving you with a nice clean ear of corn.
5. Oh, just a little aside, did you know that there is a piece of silk attached to every kernel of corn?

Whichever way you choose to cook them,
betcha can’t eat just one!


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(loosely inspired by Deborah Madison)

1 pound dried pasta, such as fusilli or penne
½ pound broccoli florets, from about one head of broccoli
1-2 medium garlic cloves, peeled
¾-1 cup basil leaves, tightly packed
1/3 cup toasted pine nuts
½ cup, 2 ounces freshly grated Parmesan
½ teaspoon fine sea salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
½ cup extra virgin olive oil, or more to taste
extra grated parmesan, salt and pepper to taste
1 cup pasta cooking water

Make the broccoli pesto pasta:
        Cook the pasta according to the package directions checking at about 2 minutes before for doneness, reserving one cup pasta cooking water just before draining. Drain well, cool and set aside.
        Trim the flowerettes off of the head of broccoli and cut into 2” pieces. You may need to halve or quarter some of the pieces. Some of the tender stems are fine to use too.
        Place a colander in the sink. Fill a medium size pot with about 2 cups of water, and bring to a boil. Add a teaspoon of salt. Add the broccoli, stirring to cover with the water and boil until bright green and just tender enough to pierce with a fork, about 3 minutes. Immediately drain in the colander to stop it from cooking further, and rinse with cold water until the broccoli is cool. Let drain. You can use some paper towels to dry them off as well.
        Using a food processor fitted with the steel blade, turn it on and drop the whole cloves of garlic through the feed tube to mince. Stop the processor, and scrape down the sides of the bowl. Add the broccoli, pine nuts and cheese to the machine and process until they’re finely chopped, about 1- 2 minutes. Add the basil, salt and pepper. Process again until finely chopped. scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. Turn on the machine, and drizzle in ½ cup of the olive oil through the feed tube, processing until smooth. Taste for seasoning, adding extra salt, pepper and oil, if desired.
        Stir the pesto into the cooked, cooled pasta, adding some pasta cooking water. Start with about ¼ cup, and add up to ½ cup to make the sauce looser and creamier. Taste for seasoning. Serve with extra grated cheese.
        The pesto can be stored in the fridge for up to 3 days, Or frozen for 3 months. If freezing, no need to leave out the cheese or top with oil. It will happily keep its bright green color.

Makes 4-6 servings.      YUM!

To toast the nuts:
        Have a bowl ready nearby for the toasted nuts. In a small, dry skillet (do not use nonstick), add the nuts, and over medium heat, stir them constantly until they are fragrant and browned. Immediately remove them to the bowl so they don’t burn. Cool completely. It’s best to toast them on top of the stove, because in the oven you can burn them very easily, and pignoli nuts are expensive! Keep any extra untoasted nuts in the freezer for up to a year.

LESSONS Learned:
1. Make sure the broccoli is cut in the same size pieces, so they cook evenly.
2. Once the broccoli is cooked, immediately pour it into a colander and shock it. That means stopping the cooking to set the color. Usually ice water is recommended, but I never have ice in my house, so I just use the cold water from the tap.
3. Only use the basil leaves. No stems.
4. I know that the real way to make pesto is with a mortar and pestle, but I prefer using a food processor. It’s the easiest, quickest way, even better than a blender. Although if a blender is what you have, that will work fine too.
5. Remember to reserve a cup of the pasta cooking water. It’s easy to forget to do it.
6. Pignoli nuts are classic, and my favorite. But you can use walnuts or almonds instead. See below to toast the nuts.

Zucchini "BLONDIES"

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(slightly adapted from Kristin Cavallari)

1 cup creamy almond butter, I like Justin’s
1 large egg
1/2 teaspoon Kosher or pink Himalayan salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cup coconut sugar, I like Nutiva brand
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips, I like Cocolove
2 cups grated zucchini, from about 1 medium zucchini

Make the Blondies:
        Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line an 8" x 8" baking dish with parchment paper, and spray with cooking spray.
        In the bowl of a stand mixer, add the almond butter, egg, salt, baking soda, sugar, and vanilla. Mix on medium low speed until just combined--the mixture may get very thick. Add the zucchini and mix again until well combined--the mixture will loosen up. Add the chocolate chips and mix on low just until the chips are evenly distributed. Dollop spoonfuls into the prepared pan and spread evenly. You can also mix the batter by hand in a medium-size bowl.
      Bake for 25-30 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean. Let cool completely before cutting into squares. Can be stored at room temperature for 2 days or up to a week in the fridge.
Makes 9 squares.      YUM!

LESSONS Learned:
1. Choose medium-size zucchini. Fresh ones are shiny. And, if they still have the blossom attached, even better. If you have your own garden and are overrun with them, don’t use the ones that have grown into baseball bats!--a regular occurrence in my NJ garden, they grow so fast! Those guys are filled with seeds and too mealy to bake with.
2. Grate them by hand through the large holes of a box grater. Using a food processor makes them too watery.
3. Make sure to use fresh almond butter that's smoothe and creamy. If it's very dry it will be too hard to incorporate into the batter.
4. Also, because the almond butter can still be hard to incorporate, I like to use my stand mixer to combine the batter, but you can also mix it by hand.
5. You can switch out the semisweet chocolate, for milk or white. Maybe add a handful of nuts or dried fruit if you like too. But when it comes to these, I’m a purist.

Watermelon Margarita Pops

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Watermelon Margarita Pops

1 seedless mini watermelon
1/2 cup silver Tequila, I like Patron
1/3 cup Cointreau or other orange liqueur
¼ cup fresh squeezed lime juice, 2-3 limes
flaky sea salt such as Maldon, for sprinkling

For the non-alcoholic version:
1 cup limeade or lemonade
2 Tablespoons-¼ cup fresh squeezed lime juice, or to taste

Make the pops:
        Cut the mini watermelon in half along the equator, Lay it on the flat side and carefully cut two 1 inch rounds from each half. You should have 4 rounds. Cut each round into 4 wedges. And then using a small knife, cut a slit in the bottom of the rind of each one. Wiggle the knife alittle to make a large enough opening and insert the popsicle stick.
        If you are making some non-alcoholic ones too, cut those into different shapes or use a different colored popsicle stick to tell them apart.
        In a 4 cup glass measuring cup or small bowl, combine the tequila, Cointreau and lime juice. Place the watermelon slices on a rimmed sheet pan or split them between two large baking dishes. Pour the margarita mixture over the watermelon and place in the fridge or freezer. If desired, but not necessary, after every hour flip the pops. If they’re in the fridge, chill for 2 hours or up to overnight. Frozen ones, will take 3-4 hours to freeze, or pop them in the freezer overnight. they’re delicious partially frozen too. To serve, lightly sprinkle with the flaky sea salt.

Makes 16 pops.      YUM!

LESSONS Learned:
1. Check out the field spot. That’s the place where the watermelon sat on the ground as it grew. It should be a creamy, yellow color, not white. The darker the color, the better—it’s an indicator of a longer, sweeter growing time.
2. The watermelon should feel heavy for its size. That means that there is a lot of water inside---another good ripeness indicator.
3. Pick a dull looking one. Shiny means it’s not ripe yet.
4. Pick perfectly round or oval ones. If they’re misshapen, that means that they got varying amounts of water and sun while growing, which can lead to a less delicious fruit.
5. You can thump away on it with your knuckles, if you like. A ripe one will kind of bounce back. An under ripe or over ripe one will sound like a dull thud.
6. Did you know that there are little black sugar spots on ripe watermelons? That’s where the sugar is seeping out of the melon.
7. You might even see bee stings! Another good sign.

1. To make it easier to insert the popsicle stick, wiggle the knife up and down to make the opening a little larger.
2. If you decide to make non-alcoholic ones too, cut them in different shapes or use different colored popsicle sticks so that you can easily tell them apart.
3. Limes are sometimes hard to squeeze. Pop them in the microwave for 30 seconds, and you’ll get lots of juice.
4. It’s not necessary, but I do like to flip them a few times during the chilling process for even coverage.
5. Since there really are no rules here, freeze them, chill them in the fridge, or skip all that and just put them in a glass with the margarita mix for dunking.

Parmesan Crisps---FRICO!

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Parmigiano Reggiano Crisps—FRICO!
1 cup finely grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese, about 4 ounces.

Make the crisps:
        Place one of the racks in the center of the oven and preheat to 375 degrees F. Line two large baking sheets with parchment or silpats. Evenly space 2 Tablespoon mounds, 3 to a pan. Spread the cheese evenly with your fingers, with a fork or both. Leave about 2 inches between each round. Bake one sheet at time in the center of the oven until the crisps just begin to color, 6 to 8 minutes. Don’t let them fully brown or the cheese will turn bitter. Repeat with the rest of the cheese.
        Alternatively, these cheese crisps can be made in a nonstick sauté pan one at a time, but it’s way more efficient to make them in batches on baking sheets in the oven.
        For flat frico, let them cool on the pan before gently removing and placing on paper towels. For curls or cups, let the frico cool for a minute or 2, no longer. Then, with a thin spatula, gently lift and lay each over a rolling pin, bottle, or the back of muffin cups to shape. Store the crisps in an airtight container for up to a week.

Makes 8 crisps.      YUM!

LESSONS Learned:
1. Make sure to evenly and thinly spread the grated cheese into a circle so that they brown and crisp with equally.
2. Consider adding a ½ teaspoon toasted and crushed cumin or fennel seeds as well as other spices for variety—but I will admit I’m a purist.
3. Shaping the crisps is a pretty way to serve them. To form them, you must move quickly, only letting the crisps cool for a minute or 2 on the pan.
4. I like them larger in size, but you can make them any size you like. Smaller ones can be made with 1 Tablespoon of the grated cheese, 12 to a pan. Bake at a slightly lower temperature, 350 degrees F for 6 minutes.
5. Since this cheese is as expensive as it is delicious, you want to make sure that you store it properly. Cut off the piece you want for now, wrap tightly in plastic wrap and store in the fridge. Wrap the rest the same way, place in a freezer Ziploc with all of the air squeezed out and store in the freezer. (Don’t forget to date it!)

Father's Day Pulled Pork with Man Slaw

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Father’s Day Pulled Pork with Man Slaw


For the Pulled Pork:
1 large onion, halved and thinly sliced, about 2 cups
4 cloves garlic. peeled and thinly sliced
1 cup stout beer
3- 3 1/2 pound pork shoulder
1 Tablespoon Kosher salt
1 Tablespoon brown sugar, packed
2 teaspoons chili powder
1 tsp black pepper
1 tsp paprika
¼ teaspoon cinnamon
1-2 cups homemade or store-bought barbecue sauce, I like Sweet Baby Ray’s Honey Barbecue Sauce
8-12 sandwich buns

For the Man Slaw:
1-2 jalapenos, stem and seeds removed, finely diced, to taste (1 teaspoon up to 2 Tablespoons)
5 cups cabbage, green, purple or a combination of both, thinly sliced
2 Tablespoons-¼ cup cilantro, chopped, to taste
½ cup sour cream
½ cup stout beer
1 Tablespoon lemon juice
1 Tablespoon light honey
1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt
¼ teaspoon chili powder

Make the pulled pork:
        Place the sliced onions and garlic in an even layer in the bottom of the slow cooker. Pour the beer into the pot. In a small bowl, combine the salt, brown sugar, pepper, paprika and chili powder. Rub the mixture all over both sides of the pork, and place in the slow cooker. Secure the lid and cook on high for 6-8 hours or low for 8-10 hours.
        When done, remove from the pork from the pot, and shred using two forks. Discard any large pieces of fat and the bone, if there is one. Strain the onion pan juices into a heatproof bowl, and if you like, add the onions to the meat or save for another use. Remove the fat that has risen to the top and pour ¼ cup of the defatted cooking juices into the shredded meat. Add one cup of the barbecue sauce, and gently toss to evenly coat. Taste and add more barbecue sauce if desired.

Make the Man Slaw:
        Combine all of the ingredients in a medium-size bowl, toss to coat. The slaw can be used immediately, or made ahead of time to let the flavors meld.
        If desired, brush each bun with butter and in a hot skillet, buttered side down, cook until browned and crisp. Fill each bun with the pork and top with the slaw.

Makes 8-12 servings.      YUM!

LESSONS Learned:
1. Make sure to get Pork butt or shoulder.
2. I like a stronger more flavorful beer, a good stout or high quality IPA will work great.
3. For the slaw, I like to slice the cabbage as thinly as possible and very finely dice the jalapeno.
4. Turns out that the cilantro and beer in the slaw go amazingly well together. But, if you are one of those cilantro averse people, you can just leave it out, or use scallions or parsley instead.
5. Any sturdy bread or rolls will work. My fave is a buttery brioche bun. It’s not necessary, but I like to butter them and cook buttered side down on a hot frying pan until browned and crispy.
6. Use any leftovers for tacos, loaded nachos, or sliders.

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loosely inspired by Julia Child
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/4 pound thin-sliced bacon, cut short ways in ½ inch pieces, about 4-5 slices
2 pounds chicken pieces of your choice, I used 3 thighs and one split breast, cut in half, taken out of the fridge 30 minutes before cooking.
1/2 yellow onion, ½ inch dice, about 1 cup
7-8 small carrots, or 2 large, peeled, and halved long ways, cut into 3 inch pieces, about 3/8 pound
1/3 pound white mushrooms, small buttons or larger ones cut in halves or quarters
2 cloves garlic, minced
2-3 thyme sprigs
1 bay leaf
1 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 1/2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/2 cup dry white wine
2 Tablespoons dry sherry
1 1/2 cups chicken stock
1/2 cup fresh or frozen peas
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Make the Coq au Vin:
        Preheat a Dutch oven over medium-high heat and add the olive oil. Add the bacon and cook until browned and crisp, about 10 minutes. Rotate the pot once or twice for even browning on the bottom of the pot. Remove with a slotted spoon onto a paper towel lined dish, and set aside. Remove all but 2 Tablespoons of the fat 9n the pot, and discard, or save for another use.
        Pat the chicken dry with a paper towel, and lightly season both sides with salt and pepper. Add the chicken pieces to the Dutch oven skin side down. Don’t crowd the pan. You may have to brown them in batches. Cook until golden brown and crisp, about 6-8 minutes. Turn over and sear the chicken on the other side for about another 3-4 minutes. It should take about 10-12 minutes in total. Remove the seared chicken to a plate.
        Drain all but 2 tablespoons of the fat from the pan again. Add the onions, carrots, mushrooms, garlic, thyme and bay leaf. Season with a pinch of salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables begin to soften and caramelize, about 10 minutes. Add the wine and sherry, and reduce by about 1/3, scraping up any browned bits on the bottom of the pot.
        Add the butter to the pan and melt. Stir in the flour, and cook for 1-2 minutes, stirring occasionally. The sauce will thicken. Stir in the chicken stock and bacon. Nestle the chicken pieces into the pot, skin side up, and bring to a simmer. Don’t cover the chicken skin with the sauce to allow it to stay crispy. Turn the heat down to medium low. Cover and cook for about 30 minutes, until the chicken is cooked through.
        Stir in the peas, just to thoroughly warm them. If the sauce is too thick, you may need a little extra chicken stock to thin it. Remove the bay leaf and twigs from the thyme.
        Serve immediately. Can be refrigerated for up to 3 days. Skim off any fat, if desired, but not necessary, and gently reheat to serve.

Makes 3-4 servings, easily doubled.      YUM!

LESSONS Learned:
1. Make sure you start with chicken that is room temperature before you sear it.
2. I’m very fond of a mesh splatter screen to stop any of the fat from going everywhere when you cook the chicken.
3. Any good dry white wine will be delicious. I used a Sauvignon Blanc. Remember, if it’s good enough to drink, it’s good enough to cook with.
4. Depending on the size of your mushrooms, you may need to cut them in half or in quarters.
5. Make sure to scrape up any browned bits from the bottom of the pan after you add the wine. There’s lots of flavor there.
6. If flour isn’t your thing, you can leave it out along with the peas, and make it carb free. You just won’t end up with a thickened sauce.

Vegan Strawberry Ice Cream

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Vegan Strawberry “Ice Cream”

        First choose how much fruit you want to add. 6oz. of fruit will make a creamier less sweet ice cream. 10 ounces will make a sweeter, more icy confection.
And, place a glass pie plate in the freezer to chill.

about 1 cup full fat coconut cream from 1 can of coconut milk
1 1/2 cups-2 ½ cups (6-10 ounces) frozen strawberries
1-3 Tablespoons pure maple syrup (optional)
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 -5 Tablespoons coconut water, from the same can of coconut milk

Make the ice cream:
        Place a can of coconut milk in the refrigerator overnight. When ready to use, remove the top lid and the hardened cream will have risen to the top. With a knife or small spoon, cut a hole down through the cream, and pour off the coconut water into a small container. Scoop out all of the cream into a high speed blender container or bowl of a food processor. Add your chosen amount of frozen strawberries, maple syrup, the vanilla and 2 Tablespoons of the coconut water.
        For the blender, slowly increase the speed, and use the tamper to push the fruit into the blade. For the processor, use short pulses. If you are having trouble blending, add more coconut water, one tablespoon at a time. Don’t add more than the 5 Tablespoons because it will become too soft. In the blender, it should take around 30-40 seconds, and 4 sections will form. So it doesn’t melt--Don’t overblend!
        It’s best served immediately. But if it’s a little too soft, it can be chilled in the freezer for 30-45 minutes. It can also be stored in the freezer for up to 2 weeks. Cover the top with plastic wrap to keep ice crystals from forming. Re-soften before serving. The mixture can also be poured into pop molds and frozen.

Makes 4 servings.     YUM!

LESSONS Learned:
1. Get full fat unsweetened coconut milk, not lite, and not Coco Lopez. I like the organic Thai Kitchen brand. It seems to have to most coconut cream in the can.
2. Once the can is chilled overnight, the easiest way to get the cream out of the can without alot of squirting coconut water, is to remove the lid and poke a one inch hole thru the hardened cream (which will have hardened and risen to the top). Pour out the liquid, and then scoop out the cream.
3. To insure a thicker consistency, use as little liquid as possible to get it to blend. no more than 5 Tablespoons. And blend JUST until creamy to keep it as cold as possible.
4. For a quick freeze to firm it up alittle more, spread the ice cream into a glass pie plate that’s been chilled in the freezer for an hour. Freeze for 30- 60 minutes to get a thicker, scoopable consistency.
5. Any unused ice cream can be made into ice pops or stored in a freezer container. Make sure to cover the top with plastic wrap or parchment to prevent ice crystals from forming. Pops can be eaten right away, scoops will need to soften first.

My Fave Picnic Potato Salad

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(from the Sunday New York Times Magazine-many many years ago)

4-6 medium size red potatoes, about 1 1/2 pounds
1 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs, hard boiled
2 Tablespoons Dijon mustard
1 Tablespoon sugar dissolved in 1 Tablespoon warm water
1/2 cup mayonnaise, I use Hellmanns
1/4-1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 smalll bunch parsley, chopped, about 1/2 cup
2 scallions chopped about 3 Tablespoons

        In a large pot, cover the potatoes and 1 teaspoon salt with at least one inch of cold water. Bring to a boil, and cook until just tender, about 3o minutes.
        Cool to room temperature and peel. Cut them into 1/2 inch dice. Separate the yolks from the whites of the hard boiled eggs. Chop the whites and add to the potatoes.
        In a medium bowl, mash the egg yolks with the mustard, blending well. Stir in the sugar mixture. Add the mayonnaise and salt and mix well. Gently stir in the parsley, and scallions. Chill until ready to serve.

Makes 4-6 servings or one for me.    YUM!

LESSONS Learned:
1. Make sure all of the potatoes are the same size. That way all of the potatoes will cook through at the same time.
2. Start with cold water when boiling the potatoes. If you start with hot water, the inside of the potato will be raw, while the outside will turn to mush.
3. I use a metal skewer to test if the potatoes are cooked. They're done when I can easily push it throught the center of the potato.
4. Thoroughly dry the parsley and the scallions. You don't want any excess water to dilute the salad.
5. Stir gently to combine all of the ingredients. You want potato salad, not potato spread.

Mother's Day Vanilla Confetti Cake

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with Lemony Lemon Buttercream

For the Cake:
1 stick unsalted butter, room temperature, cut into 8 Tablespoons, plus more for pan
1 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour, plus more for pan
½ cup plus 2 Tablespoons whole milk
2 large eggs, room temperature
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
3/4 plus 2 Tablespoons sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
¼ to 1/2 cup sprinkles, homemade or store-bought, plus more for garnish

For the Frosting:
1 stick (8 Tablespoons) unsalted butter, room temperature
4 cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted
2 Tablespoons whole milk
2 teaspoons vanilla
pinch salt
¼ cup heavy cream, or more if needed
1 Tablespoon grated lemon rind

Make the Cake:
        Place the rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 350 degrees F. Butter an 8 x 8 inch square cake pan. Line with a square of parchment, and butter the parchment. Dust with flour, and tap out the excess.
        In a small bowl, whisk together the milk, eggs, and vanilla.
        In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, on low speed, mix the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt until well combined, about 30 seconds. Continue mixing while gradually adding pieces of the butter until the mixture is crumbly, about 3 minutes. Slowly add half of the milk mixture. Increase the speed to medium and beat until light and fluffy, about 1 minute. Slowly add the remaining half of the milk mixture, scraping down bowl as needed. Beat until incorporated, another 30 seconds.
Remove the bowl from mixer and gently stir in the sprinkles. Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Tap the pan on a counter to release any air bubbles. Bake until golden brown and a tester inserted in center comes out clean, about 30 to 35 minutes. Transfer the pan to a wire rack, and cool for about 10 -15 minutes. Run a knife around the edges to loosen, and invert the cake onto another wire rack. Invert it again, so it’s face up, and let cool completely.

Make the frosting:
        Add the butter into the bowl of a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, or a large size bowl, if using a hand mixer. Beat the butter until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add half of the confectioners’ sugar, the milk, vanilla and salt. Mix at a low speed to incorporate the ingredients. Add the rest of the confectioners’ sugar, the cream and lemon rind, and beat on medium high until light and fluffy. If it is too thick, add extra Tablespoons of cream, one at a time, to get a spreadable consistency.

Assemble the cake:
        Remove the parchment from the cooled cake and place on a serving platter. Slip strips of parchment under the cake to keep the platter clean. Frost the sides first, and then the top with large swirls of frosting. Carefully remove the parchment strips. Top with lots of sprinkles.

Makes 9-16 servings.      YUM!

LESSONS Learned:
1. For me, it’s worth the effort to make homemade sprinkles because it’s fun and they taste so much better. But, you can just sub in store bought ones if you like.
2. I think you’ll like this reverse creaming method for making the cake.
3. The amount of sprinkles you add to the cake can range anywhere from ¼ cup to a ½ cup, depending on how sprinkle filled you want the cake.
4. It’s easiest to use a stand mixer, but you can also use a hand mixer.
5. Make sure to sift the confectioners’ sugar. You don’t’ want lumpy frosting.
6. I’m a lemon girl, so I put a whole tablespoon of grated lemon rind in my frosting. If that’s too tart, start with half that and taste as you add more.


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(inspired by Sift Magazine)
2 cups confectioners' sugar
2 Tablespoons water
1 Tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon light corn syrup
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
liquid or gel food colorings of your choice

Make the sprinkles:
        Place sheets of parchment paper on 3 or 4 baking sheets (or secure them on a flat counter if you don’t have that many pans) and set aside.
        Place a strainer over a medium size bowl, and sift the confectioners’ sugar through it to remove any lumps. Add the water, corn syrup, and vanilla and stir until smooth. You want the mixture to be a little thicker than the consistency of white glue. Add more water, ¼ teaspoon at time, if needed. Divide it into small bowls. I like getting 3 colors out of a batch. Lightly tint each bowl with food coloring. Start off with just a drop, you can always add more, but you can’t take it away.
        Fit a small pastry bag with a small Ateco # 2, 3, or 4 round tip. Alternatively, you can use a quart size freezer bag and cut the tiniest piece off of one corner. So the mixture won’t run out, place the pastry bag inside a glass with the tip pointing up. Fill with the lightest color first. and pipe long, thin lines onto the lined baking sheets. You will have to move the pastry bag pretty quickly to achieve a straight line. But don’t worry if they’re crooked or disconnected, because you will be breaking them up anyway. The more you do it, the more you’ll get the hang of it.
        Depending on the next color, you may be able to just refill the pastry bag. But, if the color will not blend well with the last, start fresh by rinsing and drying the bag first. Then, continue piping. If you have more colors, continue with the same procedure.
        Let the trays stand, uncovered, at the very least overnight, until completely dry and hard. Break them into small pieces. I think they are even prettier and more impressive if you don’t break them up too small, and keep the pieces longer.
        Store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to one month.

Makes about 1 ½ cups.         YUM!

LESSONS Learned:
1. You need to make the sprinkles at least the night before you want to use them, so that they have enough time to dry.
2. Mix in just a drop of food coloring first. You can always add more. 3. The consistency should be a little thicker than white glue or maple syrup, not too runny.
4. The piping will go FAST! Don’t worry if your lines are uneven or broken. Once you break them up, no one will ever know.
4. If you don’t have a piping bag and tip, you can use a quart-size freezer bag. But be very careful to cut off the tiniest piece of one corner, or the sprinkles will be too thick.

PIZZA! with a Cauliflower Crust

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Cauliflower-Crust PIZZA!
(inspired by Shira Lenchewski, “The Food Therapist”)

1 medium head cauliflower, cored and green leaves removed
2 large eggs, beaten
¼ teaspoon Kosher salt
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
½ to 3/4 cup very thick tomato sauce, jarred or homemade, cooked down to make it thicker, if necessary.
5-6 ounces whole-milk mozzarella, grated (about 1 1/4 cups)
2 Tablespoons grated parmesan cheese
¼ teaspoon dried oregano
Basic toppings:
freshly grated parmesan cheese
fresh basil leaves, sliced thinly—an absolute must for me
red pepper flakes
dried oregano
a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil
anything you like!

Make the pizza:
        Place the rack in the upper 3rd of the oven, and preheat to 400 degrees F. Line a sheet pan with parchment and set aside.
        Cut the cauliflower in chunks and put in the bowl of a food processor, and pulse until very, very fine. Or, you can hand grate it through the large holes of a box grater. Steam on top of the stove for 10-15 minutes until tender. You can also place it in a microwave safe bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and microwave for 5 to 10 minutes until very tender.
        Dump it onto a kitchen towel and let it cool down enough to handle. Twist inside the towel to squeeze out all, and I mean all, of the water. Alternatively, you can squeeze out the liquid in small batches with your hands. You should have about 1 ¼ cups.
        Transfer the very dry cauliflower into a medium-size bowl. Stir in the eggs, salt and pepper until well combined. Pour this mixture onto the sheet pan and press into a large, thin circle—roughly 12” in diameter. To fit on my pan, I end up with an 11” x 13” oval.
        Bake the crust for 15-20 minutes. It should feel firm to the touch, dry and starting to brown. Remove it from the oven, and evenly spread the tomato sauce on top, within about an half an inch of the edge. Sprinkle with the mozzarella, the parmesan and oregano. This is the time to add any other toppings. Bake for another 15-20 minutes, rotating the pan once half way through, until the cheese has browned. During the last minute or so, if you want it crisper, you can turn on the broiler. Watch the oven to make sure the cheese doesn’t burn (and the parchment doesn’t catch on fire), occasionally rotating the pan to evenly heat the crust.
        Remove from the oven and sprinkle with more grated parmesan cheese, thinly sliced fresh basil leaves( an absolute must for me) and/or dried oregano and red pepper flakes. Finish with a drizzle of olive oil. Let cool for 5 minutes before slicing.

Makes one 12 inch pizza.      YUM!

LESSONS Learned:
1. Cut the cauliflower in 4ths. That way it will be easier to cut the core out and remove the leaves. Then cut up into large chunks.
2. A food processor to finely grind up the cauliflower is best, but an OK alternative is the large holes of a box grater.
3. When I say squeeze out all of the moisture from the cauliflower, I mean it.
4. A good jarred spaghetti sauce will work great. Just simmer it for about 10-15 minutes to make it thicker first.
5. To make it well done, you can turn on the broiler for the last minute or 2—just keep an eye on it so the parchment doesn’t burn. But I don’t ever need it.


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Fresh Strawberry Pie

For the crust:
10 sheets graham crackers, 1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs
2 tablespoons sugar
pinch salt
pinch ground cinnamon, optional
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
For the filling and topping:
8 ounces full fat cream cheese, softened, I like Philadelphia brand
1/4 cup sweetened condensed milk
1/4 cup confectioners’ sugar
6 cups halved or quartered (if large) fresh strawberries, about 2 pounds or 3 pints
¼ cup strawberry jam or preserves, I like Stonewall Kitchen

Make the crust:
        Place the rack in the middle of the oven, and preheat to 350 degrees F. Lightly spray a 9” pie plate with cooking spray.
        Add the graham crackers, sugar and salt into the bowl of a food processor. Process into fine crumbs. Add the melted butter and process to combine well. Alternatively, in a medium-size bowl, combine the graham cracker crumbs, sugar, and salt, and stir in the melted butter and combine well. Put the mixture into the pie plate, and press firmly, packing it into the bottom and up the sides. The bottom of a metal measuring cup or glass will make it easier. Bake for 8-10 minutes. Set aside to cool completely.

Make the filling:
        Using a stand or hand mixer, beat the cream cheese until smooth. Add the sweetened condensed milk and beat to combine. Add the powdered sugar and vanilla, and beat until very smooth. Pour into the cooled crust, spreading to the sides to create an even layer. Cover tightly with plastic wrap, not touching the filling. Freeze until firm, at least 3 hours, or overnight in the fridge.
        When ready to serve, gently heat the preserves, to thin them out. In a medium size bowl, toss the strawberries and preserves together until completely coated. Remove the pie from the freezer. The easiest way to serve is to cut slices first, and then spoon the berries over each slice. But, for a pretty presentation, top with all of the berries and then cut the slices. Just know that it might be a little harder to neatly slice the pie that way.
Makes 6-8 servings.       YUM!

LESSONS Learned:
1. Buy organic strawberries!
2. You really want to evenly pack the graham cracker crumbs into the pie plate. The bottom of a metal measuring cup or drinking glass is an easy way to do that.
3. The crust does not have to be baked. You can freeze it for about an hour before filling. It will be more crumbly though.
4. If you notice that the crust is sticking to the pie plate, wet some paper towels with hot water and wrap them around the plate, and the crust will loosen right up.
5. For a pretty presentation, fill the pie with all of the glazed berries. BUT TO SERVE MORE EASILY, I like to cut slices from the cream cheese filled pie, and then spoon the berries on top of each slice.

        NOW AS FAR AS THAT DIRTY DOZEN: ALWAYS TRY TO BUY ORGANIC WHEN YOU CAN! If they’re too expensive, at the very least, make sure to rinse the fruits and veggies for at least 30 seconds. And if possible, it wouldn’t be a bad idea to soak them in a sink full of water with a splash of vinegar for 15 minutes.
        FYI: THE EWG GLEANS THEIR INFORMATION FROM the work done by the Department of Agriculture and the Food and Drug Administration, who test OVER 38,000 NON-ORGANIC FRUITS AND VEGETABLES EVERY YEAR.
Here’s the full list of the EWG's 2018 "Dirty Dozen":
1. Strawberries     2. Spinach     3. Nectarines     4. Apples
5. Grapes     6. Peaches     7. Cherries     8. Pears
9. Tomatoes     10. Celery     11. Potatoes     12. Sweet Bell Peppers

Quick Pickled Spring Radishes

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8-10 medium/large red radishes
1 large sprig fresh dill, torn into smaller sprigs
2 teaspoons whole black peppercorns
For the brine:
¾ cup white vinegar
¾ cup water
1 ½ Tablespoons sugar
2 ¼ teaspoons Kosher salt

Prep the radishes:
        Trim off the root end and tops of each radish. Scrub well to remove any dirt. Using a mandolin or a sharp knife, slice the radishes as thinly as possible. Fill up a half pint jar half way with the radishes. Add half of the sprigs of dill and 1 teaspoon of the peppercorns to the jar. Repeat with the rest of the radishes, dill and peppercorns.

Make the brine:
        In a small saucepan, add all of the brine ingredients. Heat to boiling and stir until the salt and sugar are dissolved. Remove from the heat and cool to lukewarm. Pour the brine over the radishes almost to the top, making sure to cover. Discard any extra brine you have left. Gently tap the jar to get rid of any bubbles. Seal tightly with a lid. Place in the fridge. Chill for at least 4 hours before using. They are best used within a week. (At the end of the week their color will fade, but still be delicious.)

Makes about 4-8 servings.      YUM!

LESSONS Learned:
1. The thinner you can slice the radishes the better, as they will take less time to pickle. If you have a mandolin, this is a great time to use it. Or slice them as thinly as you can with a good sharp knife.
2. Find the freshest radishes you can, preferably with the green tops still attached. The plain red ones look the prettiest pickled.
3. Since these are at their most delicious eaten within a week, it’s best to make small batches.
4. Try apple cider, red wine or brown rice vinegar for variety. Balsamic is too strong though.
5. Try different spices and herbs too--- garlic, cilantro, red pepper flakes, cumin or mustard seeds, and on and on.


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2 Tab olive oil
1 medium onion ¼ inch dice, about 2 cups
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 rib celery, ¼ inch dice
½ large red bell pepper, ¼ inch dice
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground coriander
½ jalapeno, seeds and ribs removed, finely diced
2 15 ounce cans black beans, drained
2 cups vegetable stock
½ cup tomato sauce
2 cups water
½-1 teaspoon salt
finely diced red bell pepper or jalepeno, or red onion
fresh cilantro leaves, sour cream, avocado, crumbled bacon

Make the soup:
        In a large heavy pot, over medium heat, heat the oil and add the onion, garlic, celery, and red bell pepper with a pinch of Kosher salt. Stir until beginning to soften, about 5 minutes. Add the cumin, coriander and jalepeno. Stir to coat the vegetables and cook the spices until fragrant, about 1-2 minutes. Add the rest of the ingredients, stir to combine and bring to a boil. Turn down to a simmer, cover and cook for 20-25 minutes, stirring occasionally.
        If you like, blend all or some of the soup in batches to make it creamy. I like blending about half of it, so that there’s still some chunky texture. Top with garnishes, if desired. This is easily frozen or can be stored on the fridge for up to 4 days.

Makes 4 servings.      YUM!

LESSONS Learned:
1. Buy BPA-free canned beans, and tomato sauce too—Muir Glen tomato products are also BPA-free.
2. This is so easy, that’s it.