little berries


What wild berries the bears didn’t get to first have been lovingly picked all summer long by my dearest friend, Lynn, and her doggy pal, Lena Mae. Lynn always tries to save some for me to pick when I finally get upstate New York for a visit. Then we combine all of the berries and make a winter’s supply of jam.

I don’t much follow the USDA regulations that say all jams have to be preserved in a boiling water bath for 10 minutes. Nor do I use pectin. I like the pure berry taste that really stands out when you boil the berries with some sugar and lemon juice until they are thick. It does take a bit of sugar to get the mix to gel, but the lemon offsets the sweetness and highlights the berry flavor. I do make sure that my jars are sterilized and hot when I am filling them and that my caps and lids are new. I fill the boiling hot jam into the jars, cap tightly, turn upside down and let cool. When cool, I turn right side up and store in a cool spot for winter’s toast. This is the way my grandmother did it, my mother did it, and we never had a problem. So it is what I do. However, in my last preserving book, The Best Little Book of Preserves and Pickles, I tell you to follow the USDA rules – I may do it my way in my kitchen, but I know better than to mess with the government in print!



I have posted about my love of green tomatoes in the past, but you can never sing their praises too often. They are one of those vegetables that no one has figured out how to bring to the market in the middle of January. Only in the mid to late summer can you find beautiful green tomatoes right off the vine carrying that pungent fragrance. My husband Steve had a fascinating aunt, Rubie, who when she was very much alive and a gardening fool, would send me a big box of green tomatoes individually wrapped in newspaper that she instructed me to “fry up and few and set the rest on the window sill to ripen.” You know what, that’s exactly what I did and I had sunny, bright red tomatoes for weeks throughout the early fall.

The green ones that I fried got this treatment. To serve six people, you will need about 5 large green tomatoes.


5 large green tomatoes, washed, cored, and cut, crosswise, into ½-inch thick slices

2 large eggs

½ cup buttermilk

2 cups Wondra flour

1 cup cornmeal

Salt and pepper to taste

Oil of choice – I use canola


Place the tomato slices on double layers of paper towel to drain slightly.

Whisk the eggs and buttermilk together in a large, shallow bowl.

Place 1 cup of the Wondra flour in a large shallow bowl.

Combine the remaining cup of flour, cornmeal, and salt and pepper in another large, shallow bowl.

Heat a thin layer of oil in a large frying pan over medium heat. When the oil is hot, working with one at a time, dip the tomato slices into the plain flour, then into the milk mixture and finally into the flour-cornmeal mixture, pressing down to coat evenly.  Shake off excess and place in the hot pan.

Fry each slice for about 3 minutes.  Turn and fry for another 3 minutes or until crisp and golden on both sides. Using a slotted spatula, lift the slices from the pan and place on paper towel to drain.

Serve hot with a spritz of fresh lemon or any tart relish or condiment.  Or, if you like, make a cream gravy in the pan and drizzle over the tomatoes.


Fried green tomatoes_image-1



One of the benefits of having a local big city green market – and, by the way, it is here through all of the seasons – is that the farmers get inspired by the chefs who shop with them and then us everyday folks get to taste the fruits of their mutual labors. All that to say that every once in awhile a “new” vegetable gets “discovered” and we reap the reward. One such discovery this past Sunday was tromboncino zucchini at Berried Treasures. Franca Tantillo whose farm in Cooks Falls, New York provides the market with her famous Tristar strawberries among other tasty items was singing the praises of this “discovery” and handing out pieces to lure buyers into the fold. I, of course, heard the siren call and succumbed to a few of these rather sensual looking squashes. Then, as I wandered back home through the hot streets I had to stop at Tarallucci e Vino to show Rita, my most favorite Italian-born barrista, my find. And, what did Rita say – “Oh, my mom grew tons of those in her garden back home – we got tired of eating them.” Call about getting your enthusiasm deflated!

Well, I took them home anyway and, as Rita suggested, I thinly sliced a couple and made a light, lemon-scented salad. Then I took the remaining 2 and turned them into quick pickles adding 2 little yellow zucchini I had on hand. Quick pickles are easy to do – just heat up equal parts white vinegar and water and season as you wish – lots of sugar and you have sweet pickles, more salt and a couple of tablespoons of sugar and you have everyday pickles – add chiles, onions, garlic, spices and you decide what your end result will be. Great to keep on hand all year round. I recommend that you only make a small batch ‘cause if you keep them too long they get soggy, mushy, and not something that is a joy to eat.



Flavies gifts

Our lovely French friend, Flavie, spent the weekend on a farm in the Catskills and upon her return came bearing a basketful of beautiful vegetables she had picked just for us.  It was quite a diverse lot – tiny potatoes (purple and white), purple cauliflower, purple and green asparagus (which amazed me as it is long past New York asparagus season), amaranth, radicchio, Swiss chard, carrots, 2 wee stalks of broccoli, onions (red and white), garlic – all organically grown and fresh as fresh could be.

My first use was to sauté a few of the fingerling potatoes, the cauliflower, and the amaranth seasoned with some of the onion, chopped, and a clove or two of garlic.  I had a few scallops purchased that morning at the greenmarket that I had intended to turn into a ceviche, but thought why not sear them and top off the sauté.  That is exactly what I did and, once sautéed, I added a bit of butter and lemon juice to the pan and drizzled it over all.  Then, because it was all so brown and purple, I shredded a couple of cauliflower leaves for garnish and Eh! Voila! – to quote Flavie – we had a most delicious dinner.

Summer Luch


Although I am a proponent of early dinners, sometimes we switch over to a late lunch. Either way, it’s just breakfast and one another main meal that gets us through the day. If I’ve been clever enough to make some extra protein in another dinner, putting together the late lunch is a snap. And, that’s exactly what prompted this healthy and quite tasty summer salad lunch. I had made an extra pork tenderloin – nothing fancy, just a little seasoned rub – earlier in the week. I took all of the odds and ends of leftover vegetables and herbs I found in the fridge – some already cooked and some just a handful of raw waiting to make their magic – broad beans, corn, a bit of red bell pepper, a few favas, scallions, and only God knows what else – I heated the mix with a little olive oil, salt, and pepper. Drizzled the warm vegetables with a bit of lemon juice and then turned the mix into a bed for the sliced tenderloin.   Couldn’t have been better if I was cooking from a recipe.


There is no country like Great Britain when it comes to naming what I call (and they do too) nursery desserts – syllabub, spotted dick, whim-wham, roly-poly, fool, and apple dappy are just a few of the sweet desserts the English call puddings. Fools are one of my favorites simply because they are so easy to do, particularly in the summer when berries and fruits are at their peak. I don’t know where the name “fool” comes from, but perhaps because a cook would be a fool not to embrace this easy to do dish which in its basic make-up is just fruit and whipped cream, although there are ways to fancy it up. I tend to lighten it a bit with a combination of yogurt and whipped cream. Gooseberries are the traditional berry used, but they are rarely available except for a couple of weeks in the summer at farmers markets, so feel free to use any berry or fruit you like.

In this recipe, I just sprinkle the top with crushed cookies, but if you want to turn it into a dinner party dessert, layer the fool between layers of crushed cookies in individual glass bowls or even martini glasses, ending with a layer of fool. You can also save a few gooseberries to use as garnish along with that proverbial mint leaf.


1 pound fresh gooseberries, topped and tailed

3 tablespoons granulated sugar or to taste

1 cup heavy cream, chilled

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1 cup plain Greek yogurt

Confectioners’ sugar or to taste

¼ cup crushed cookies of your choice


Combine the gooseberries with ¼ cup water in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Cook, stirring frequently, for about 10 minutes or until very soft.

Remove from the heat and pour into the bowl of a food processor fitted with the metal blade. Add the granulated sugar and process to a smooth puree. If you hate seeds, press the puree through a fine mesh sieve into a clean container and set aside to cool. If you don’t mind seeds, transfer the puree to a mixing bowl and set aside to cool.

Place the heavy cream in a medium mixing bowl. Using a hand-held electric mixer, beat for a minute or so to lighten. Add the vanilla and continue to beat until soft peaks form. Fold the yogurt into the whipped cream.

Scrape the whipped cream mixture into a serving bowl. Gently fold in the cooled gooseberry puree. Taste and, if necessary, sweeten with confectioners’ sugar.

Sprinkle the top with crushed ladyfingers, amaretti cookies, vanilla wafers, or butter cookies and serve immediately.

If not serving immediately, do not sprinkle the top with the cookies until ready to serve. Refrigerate for up to 6 hours.


I’m always drawn to summer’s sweet little patty pan squashes – the colors are so vibrant and the shape so flowery. The one problem with them is that they don’t have a lot of flavor. Many years ago when we had a take-out food shop, I would buy teeny tiny ones from an Amish farmer in Pennsylvania and then pickle them to add some zest. The little flower shapes would look so inviting in the canning jar and were terrific out of it as a garnish for cold meats. When I want to cook them, I usually slice or cube them and sauté in butter or extra virgin olive oil. Just when the squashes have squeezed out all that almost-tasteless liquid and have begun to brown, I add some fresh garlic, lemon zest, and basil – season with salt and pepper and toss for a couple of minutes. Then, I serve with a squeeze of lemon juice. Tasteless they will not be!




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