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Happy Birthday to Me

Though I had been toying with the idea for a little while, the final decision to host a dinner party on my birthday weekend was made only hours before the event itself.  I had not thrown a party in a while, and I considered the menu planning and grocery shopping a gift to myself.

Had I made this decision a day beforehand, I might have tried out the cassoulet recipe in The NY Times magazine last Sunday.  It’s still chilly enough in the Northeast to make the idea of a cassoulet party very appealing.  And it’s been something I wanted to try – such a project.  Bean-soaking, confit-making, in addition to providing another opportunity for me to confront my lamb issues.  But it may just have to wait until next winter.  Instead, I built the menu around a recipe in Dorie Greenspan’s Around My French Table, something called a sweet-salty potato far.  It involves grated potato, raisins, prunes, and a crepe-like batter.  (Oh, I can just hear the groans of raisin detractors far and near!)  Dorie’s description, and its Breton roots captured my imagination.  The infinitely more common version of the recipe is the traditional far breton, a clafoutis-type dessert, studded with prunes. Continue reading “Happy Birthday to Me”

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Pre-Dinner Brussels Sprouts

On a recent evening, as my sister and I surveyed my mother’s cabinets for the makings of pre-dinner hors d’oeurves to accompany pre-dinner drinks, Greta piped up with an offer to roast some brussels sprouts.  Hmmm, brussels sprouts for cocktail hour . . . well, sure, why not?  Thanks, Greta! Continue reading “Pre-Dinner Brussels Sprouts”

My Daughters, the Sous-Chefs

Leslie Kaufman’s recent NY Times article, “My Sons, the Sous-Chefs”, is inspirational.  It describes the results of an experiment, now in its 6-month, requiring each of her sons, ages 14 and 10, to cook dinner for the family once a week.  They must decide what they will prepare ahead of time, to allow for mom’s yay or nay (the menu must be balanced, fairly healthful) and the requisite grocery shopping.  Much has been learned by all involved.  Mom has learned to curb her kitchen-control and I-can-do-it-quicker impulses, and the boys have learned about planning and experienced the pride and satisfaction that comes from seeing your loved ones enjoy a meal of your making. Continue reading “My Daughters, the Sous-Chefs”

If You’re Not Makin’ Whoopee . . .

How about makin’ whoopie pies instead!

Seeing the delight on the faces of the loved ones who are the fortunate recipients of these all-grown-up Devil Dogs will bring its own special satisfaction.  I used a 2003 Gourmet recipe, and so should you.

Dinner with Jean

There is much to enjoy about Downton Abbey, but Violet, aka Dowager Countess of Grantham, as portrayed by Maggie Smith, is the creme de la creme.  Which is what led me to rent The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie for a recent movie-watching evening with “my gerls”  (can’t you hear Miss Brodie and her Scottish accent now?)  To the enormous pleasure of spending an evening in the company of the romantic and passionate Miss Brodie, we added the pleasures of rib-eye steak, pommes dauphinois and Toutoune’s Winter Salad. Continue reading “Dinner with Jean”

Bisquick Be Gone


My mom is a fabulous cook.

I just wanted to put that out there before telling you that the pancakes of my youth involved Bisquick.  Continue reading “Bisquick Be Gone”

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