Tomato Basil Tart

I must credit and thank my friend Barb for this one. It’s one of the best things in the world, certainly the best tomato tart I’ve tasted. She often makes it often for my birthday and other special occasions. Am I lucky or what? Don’t wait for a special occasion to try it!

1 refrigerated pie crust, or pie crust recipe prepared
1 1/2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese, divided
3-5 Roma tomatoes
1 cup loosely packed fresh basil leaves
4 cloves garlic
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup grated Parmesan
1/8 tsp ground white pepper

  1. Place crust in a 9″ quiche dish, flute edges, prick with fork and prebake according to instructions. Remove from oven, sprinkle with 1/2 cup mozzarella and cool on wire rack.
  2. Cut tomatoes in thick slices; drain on paper towel. Arrange tomatoes on top of melted cheese.
  3. In a processor, combine basil and garlic until coarsely chopped. Sprinkle over tomatoes.
  4. In a medium bowl, combine remaining 1 cup mozzarella cheese, mayonnaise, Parmesan cheese and pepper. Spoon cheese mixture over top of basil and spread to evenly cover the top.
  5. Bake at 375 for 35-40 minutes or until top is bubbly.

Serves 4 as main dish or 8 as appetizer.

Smoky Beef Brisket

This is the best brisket we’ve had since we left Texas. My husband and I decided this will be the one and only brisket recipe we’ll ever use. It’s that good! We don’t have a smoker, but have adapted a recipe using smoked ingredients that tastes like you smoked it for hours. It’s got plenty of good “bark” too, which is important in a proper Texas brisket. Get your favorite potato salad ready and go to town.

Here’s the rub:

3 Tbsp pimenton (smoked Spanish paprika; other paprika will do)
2 Tbsp dried ground chipotle or ancho chile powder
(ancho doesn’t have a smoky flavor, but it’s milder than chipotle)
2 Tbsp hickory-smoked salt (may substitute table or Kosher salt, it just won’t be “smoky”)
2 Tbsp ground black pepper
2 Tbsp brown sugar
1 1/2 Tbsp garlic powder
1 1/2 Tbsp onion powder

This rub makes enough for a large brisket (>10 lbs). Use less for a small or half brisket.

Smear rub all over brisket and let it sit at room temp for several hours.

To cook:
Clean and oil upper oven rack.
Line pan that is larger than brisket with foil and place on bottom rack to catch juices.
Place brisket directly on upper oven rack and cook at 250 degrees for 1.5 hours per pound. It’s done when internal temp reaches 200 degrees or when it comes apart easily with a fork.

Kale Salad with Oranges and Feta

This is a hit, every time I bring it to a function. Even people who don’t like kale love this salad. I prefer halos to oranges, as they are sweeter and easier to peel, but either will be delicious. Enjoy!


2 large oranges or 3-4 halos (sweet tangerines)
1 large bunch Tuscan kale (about 1 pound), stems removed and leaves washed, spun dry, and torn into bite-size pieces
1½ tablespoons white wine vinegar
1 garlic clove, minced
¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1 cup crumbled feta
1½ tablespoons milk, or more if necessary
Salt and black pepper
¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil


Finely grate 2 teaspoons zest from 1 of the oranges and set aside. Cut the peel and pith off the oranges and, working over a strainer set in a bowl, cut the segments free of the membranes and reserve; discard the membranes. Place the kale in a large salad bowl and set aside.

In a blender or food processor, process the orange zest, vinegar, garlic, red pepper flakes, cup feta, milk, ¼ teaspoon salt, and ½ teaspoon black pepper to a smooth puree. With the motor running, very slowly add the oil and process briefly until dressing is thick and emulsified; you should have about 2/3 cup. (If the dressing seems too thick to coat the kale leaves, add more milk about 1½ teaspoons at a time to adjust consistency.)

Add the dressing to the kale and, with your hands, mix the salad thoroughly until all the kale is coated. Rest the salad to allow the kale to soften slightly, about 30 minutes.

Add the currants, most of the remaining feta, and most of the orange segments to the kale and toss to combine. Taste and adjust the seasoning with salt and black pepper, if necessary. Sprinkle with the remaining feta and orange segments and serve.

Cynthia’s Spicy Shredded Pork

I don’t know who Cynthia is, but I am eternally grateful for this aMAZing version of carnitas. Oh my, it’s the best thing I’ve put in my mouth in a very long time. Many thanks to Ree Drummond, of Pioneer Woman fame, who first posted this. I like to serve it with warm corn tortillas, a good south-of-the-border slaw and sliced avocados. Be prepared to fend off hungry passersby, as the aromas wafting from the kitchen are to die for!


4 lbs (up to 7 lbs) pork shoulder or pork butt
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp chili powder
1 Tbsp salt
Black pepper to taste
3 cloves garlic
1-2 Tbsp olive oil
2-3 Tbsp white wine vinegar
1/4 cups brown sugar (or less)
1 whole onion, quartered
lime wedges


Rinse and pat dry the pork.

To begin, just throw the dried oregano, cumin, chili powder, salt, black pepper, garlic, olive oil, white wine vinegar and brown sugar into a food processor or blender. (Leave out the brown sugar if you like, I agree with Ree that it adds to the dish.)

Cut the onion into quarters and put in the food processor with the spices. Blend mixture until totally combined and then pour over the pork.

Now rub it into every nook and cranny of the meat, (I love this part) tucking it under folds and in crevices. Let no sone go unturned.

Then place the pork into a roasting pan or Dutch oven and add a couple of cups of water. Cover tightly and toast pork at 300 degrees for several hours, turning once every hour.

When it it fork tender, crank up the heat, remove the lid and roast it, skin side up for another 15-20 minutes to get the skin crispy. When it’s done, let it rest for 15 minutes before shredding. (An alternative way to crisp pieces of it and give it that nice “burnt ends” texture is to shred it roughly and brown the pieces in a skillet until it’s as done as you like. This gives you a little more control over that and more crispness, in my opinion.)

Shred the pork with two forks. When it’s all shredded, be sure to pour the juices all over the meat. Serve with warm tortillas, lime wedges, slaw, sour cream, pico de gallo, avocados or guacamole… whatever makes your skirt fly up!

Adapted from

Asian Slaw

This is an irresistible side dish that I could (and have) easily make into a meal.  It’s delicious and healthy as is, but you could up the ante with a few handfuls of kale or chard substituted in the mix.  Makes a large bowl of slaw, good for a family or a crowd. Thanks to my daughter Amy for finding this one and introducing us to it!


2 (3 oz) pkgs ramen noodle soup mix (either chicken or beef)
2 (8.5 oz) pkgs slaw mix
1 cup sliced almonds, toasted
1 cup sunflower kernels
1 bunch green onions, chopped
1/2 cup sugar
3/4 cup vegetable oil (or olive oil)
1/3 cup white vinegar


Before opening ramen noodles, gently crush the packets to break them up. Open and remove flavor packets from soup mix and set aside. Pour noodles into a large bowl and continue crushing.

Top with slaw mix; sprinkle with almonds, sunflower kernels and green onions.

Whisk together contents from flavor packets, sugar, oil and vinegar; pour over slaw and toss to coat. Cover and chill 24 hours to allow noodles to soften. Toss again before serving.


Asparagus and Gruyere Tart

02edf08_e_vertThis is a super easy appetizer or springy brunch item, but it looks and tastes like it came from a Parisian bakery. I made it today for our choir Easter brunch and it was amazing! I predict we will be seeing more of this. Happy Spring!


  • 1 sheet frozen puff pastry, thawed
  • 2 cups grated gruyere cheese
  • 1-1/2 pounds asparagus, medium size
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • Salt and pepper
  • Flour for work surface
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Roll out the puff pastry on floured work surface into a 16-by-10-inch rectangle. Place pastry on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. With a sharp knife, lightly score pastry dough 1 inch in from the edges to mark a rectangle. Using a fork, pierce dough inside the markings at 1/2-inch intervals. Bake until golden, about 15 minutes.
  2. Remove pastry shell from oven, and sprinkle with Gruyere. Trim the bottoms of the asparagus spears to fit crosswise inside the tart shell; arrange in a single layer over Gruyere, alternating ends and tips. Brush with oil, and season with salt and pepper. Bake until spears are tender, 20 to 25 minutes.    Recipe from Martha Stewart.

Pasta with Spinach and Preserved Lemon



  • 8 Tbsp. (1 stick) unsalted butter, divided
  • 1 garlic clove, crushed
  • ½ tsp. crushed red pepper flakes, divided
  • ¾ cup panko (Japanese breadcrumbs)
  • 1 tsp. finely grated lemon zest
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 12 oz. fresh strozzapreti (see Fresh Pasta) or other fresh or dried pasta
  • 2 bunches flat-leaf spinach, trimmed, large leaves torn in half (about 8 cups), divided
  • 1 Tbsp. (or more) fresh lemon juice
  • 1 Tbsp. (or more) thinly sliced preserved lemon peel
  • 2 Tbsp. olive oil


  • Heat oil and 2 Tbsp. butter in a large skillet over medium heat until butter is foaming. Add garlic and ¼ tsp. red pepper flakes; cook, stirring often, until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add panko and cook, stirring often, until panko is golden brown, about 2 minutes. Mix in lemon zest and transfer panko to a paper towel–lined plate; season with salt and pepper. Let cool; set aside. Wipe out skillet.
  • Cook pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water, stirring occasionally, until al dente (about 5 minutes for fresh pasta). Drain.
  • Meanwhile, heat remaining 6 Tbsp. butter in same skillet over medium heat. Cook, swirling skillet occasionally, until butter is brown, about 3 minutes. Add 1 bunch spinach; cook, tossing, until wilted, about 1 minute.
  • Add pasta to skillet and toss to coat. Add lemon juice, preserved lemon peel, and remaining ¼ tsp. red pepper flakes and toss to combine; season with salt, pepper, and more lemon juice and preserved lemon peel, if desired. Add remaining spinach and toss until slightly wilted, about 1 minute.
  • Serve pasta topped with reserved panko.
  • DO AHEAD: Panko can be toasted 1 day ahead. Store airtight at room temperature.

Chicken Tagine with Olives and Preserved Lemons

IMG_1270And now for the reason I preserved the lemons: My sister has been talking for awhile now about the Moroccan Chicken she and my brother-in-law make with preserved lemons. This is from a recipe originally posted in the New York Times. I tried it out for my friend Barb’s birthday dinner, and it’s just superb, tender and aromatically spiced. I used a Dutch oven instead of a tagine, which worked wonders. You can leave out the olives if you’re not a fan. Serve with Israeli couscous or seasoned pilaf.


  • 5 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • ¼ teaspoon saffron threads, pulverized
  • ½ teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon sweet paprika
  • ½ teaspoon ground cumin
  • ½ teaspoon turmeric
  •  Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 chicken, cut in 8 pieces (I used 8 bone in thighs)
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 medium onions, sliced thin
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 8 calamata olives, pitted and halved
  • 8 cracked green olives, pitted and halved
  • 1 large or 3 small preserved lemons(sold in specialty food shops)
  • 1 cup chicken stock
  •  Juice of 1/2 lemon
  • 1 tablespoon chopped flat-leaf parsley (I used cilantro)


  1. Mix garlic, saffron, ginger, paprika, cumin and turmeric together. If not using kosher chicken, add 1/2 teaspoon salt. Add pepper to taste. Rub chicken with mixture, cover, refrigerate and marinate 3 to 4 hours.
  2. Heat oil in heavy skillet or Dutch oven. Add chicken, and brown on all sides. Remove to platter. Add onions to skillet, and cook over medium-low heat about 15 minutes, until lightly browned. Transfer to tagine, if you are using one, or leave in skillet. Add cinnamon stick.
  3. Put chicken on onions. Scatter with olives. Quarter the lemons, remove pulp and cut skin in strips. Scatter over chicken. Mix stock and lemon juice. Pour over chicken.
  4. Cover tagine or skillet. Place over low heat, and cook about 30 minutes, until chicken is done. Scatter parsley or cilantro on top, and serve.

How to Make Preserved Lemons

  • 3 Meyer lemons (or Eureka, Lisbon, etc, organic recommended) per pint-sized jar
  • 5-6 teaspoons salt
  • An extra lemon for juicing
  • Water that has been boiled and cooled (sterile)
  1. You can make however many preserved lemons you like, but roughly 3 will fit per pint-sized jar.
  2. Thoroughly clean the lemons. Organic is recommended. If you can’t find organic, let the lemons sit in some vinegar water for a few minutes, then rinse.
  3. Trim the nubs off both ends of each lemon. Quarter each lemon, slicing them down just over ¾ of the way to leave the slices attached at the end.
  4. Put one teaspoon of salt into the cavity of each lemon.
  5. Place one teaspoon salt into the bottom of the jar. Put a lemon in the jar, cut-side down, pressing firmly to squish out the lemon juice. Put a teaspoon of salt on top of the lemon. Firmly press the second lemon down on top of the first lemon. Repeat with the third lemon, pressing down firmly. Add a teaspoon of salt on top of the lemon.
  6. The jar should be halfway full with lemon juice. If needed, squeeze some additional lemon juice into the jar to bring it to the halfway point. Don’t waste that lemon; slice it and stuff the slices into the jar. Pour the boiled/cooled water into the jar to fill it to the top.
  7. Screw the lid on and let it sit at room temperature for 3 days, shaking it and rotating the jar upside-down/right-side up a few times per day. After 3 days transfer the jars to the refrigerator and let them sit for at least 3 weeks before using. Store in the fridge, will keep for at least 6 months (see Note).
* In most countries preserved lemons are not stored in the refrigerator, they’re simply kept in a cool, dark place. I’ve added the recommendation to store in the fridge based on USDA guidelines. Store them according to your own preference.
* Whatever dish you use them in, discard the pulp (it’s the peel that is used) and thoroughly wash the peel to remove excess salt.
Thanks to Kimberly Killebrew, of The Daring Gourmet:

One Pan Baked Chicken and Brown Rice Casserole

IMG_1194My husband loves chicken and rice casserole. However, most of our searches have turned up old school recipes using white rice. While those are good, we prefer brown rice, which takes twice as long to cook and requires more liquid. This version calls for brown rice, and it could not be simpler or more delicious. It’s a one dish delight!


6 4-oz boneless skinless chicken thighs (can use bone-in but increase cooking time)
1 1/2 cups brown rice
1 can cream of mushroom soup
3 cups chicken stock (boiling hot)
2 Tbsp. butter (optional)
Salt and pepper to taste
1 1/2 lbs sliced carrots
1 12-oz bag frozen peas


Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Scatter rice on bottom of 9 x 13″ pan or Dutch oven. Stir in mushroom soup. Layer chicken on top. Season the whole pan generously with salt, pepper and/or spices of your choice. Scatter bits of the butter around the pan.

Pour boiling hot stock on top gently. Wrap tightly with foil (or place top on Dutch oven). Cook for 65 minutes. (If chicken pieces are larger or bone-in, cook an hour and a half.) Immediately afterwards, toss with frozen peas and stir in. Let sit 4-5 minutes.  Enjoy!