Salmon on Lentil Risotto with Mushrooms and Fresh Greens


Sometimes it’s all in the name. Too long and no one looks further as it might take too much time. As in Steak Arrabbiata on Leek-Smothered Greens with Garlic-Kissed Wild Mushrooms. Too simple and we pass it by; we already know how to do that.  As in Roast Chicken with Sweet Potatoes. Too esoteric and it’s a loser because who wants to make one more trip to a specialty store or spend time mastering an expensive or time-consuming, seldom-needed technique.  As in Sous Vide Pheasant with Sautéed Leek Rye Rolls and Steam-Fried Homegrown Micro Greens.


(above:  making the lentil risotto)

But Salmon on Lentil Risotto with Mushrooms and Fresh Greens (served with a perfect Cristom Oregon Pinot Noir–see below) just couldn’t be anything else.  I’ve made it twice in the past two days and the only thing I could change is the risotto bit.  We could possibly just say lentils, but you’d be thinking about boiling a bunch of lentils in a big pot of liquid and that just isn’t the way it is, so the name stands.  You’ll just need to try it to see what you think of this whole meal in a bowl.  Oftentimes folks choose a wine to go with a dish or a meal.  In this case, I chose the wine first — I knew I wanted to bring an Oregon Pinot to this party — and custom-created a dish to go with it.  This is a fun process for me and it’s one I often follow in restaurants. I check out the wine list first, choose my wine, and then look and see what dish will compliment it.

(below: our wine group tasting with Steve Doerner, Winemaker–second from right with beard and in brimmed hat– at Cristom, a favorite Oregon winery, in 2010)


This dish, used as first course for 15– here offered as a hearty main course for 8–was created to be taken to an Open the Bottle party hosted by dear friends, Drew and Jill Robinson (Drew did the wine pairings for my book).

(below:  a WSJ quote about OTBN a couple of years ago)

“Memories – making them and reveling in them – is what Open the Bottle Night (OTBN) is all about. OTBN is just around the corner: Saturday, Feb. 26. We created OTBN in 1999 for a simple reason: All of us have that one bottle of wine that is so special to us that we plan to open it on an important occasion, but never do. On OTBN, as a world-wide community, we prepare a special meal, finally open that bottle, and celebrate the memories.”

Continue reading

Surf and Turf Salad with Blueberries, Goat Cheese, and Fennel and Maple-Orange Vinaigrette


My daughter-in-law, Jami,  pregnant with our granddaughter, hasn’t had much appetite.  I said to her, “What sounds good?”  She said, “I’m supposed to be eating more red meat, but I just don’t feel like eating.  I loved that salmon you made last week.”  So I made the salmon (or Dave did–on the grill) and also a couple of strip steaks.  She loves cauliflower, so that, too was on the menu–steamed and topped with a generous grating of sharp cheddar. (No leftover cauliflower!)  A pot of jasmine rice finished out the meal, as Jami is Gluten-Free.

Over the meal, which Jami ate if not with abandon, at least with appetite, we talked baby names.  Samantha came up, as did Gwendolyn.  Aileen was uttered.  “What Celtic names do you know?”  Well, I couldn’t think of many Celtic names, but I did tell her the names of our grandmothers, just for fun:

  • Lela
  • May
  • Leona
  • Laura (pronounced Lara)

They of course already knew their own grandmother’s names, though I later realized that two of them shared the middle name Jean. Continue reading

Pie 101: Cherry Pie (for President’s Day)


On President’s Day, why not make a lovely cherry pie in honor of our first president, George Washington?  My favorite version is my own and is the one I bake for my sister Helen as she loves it so dearly–hence the name, “Helen’s Cherry Pie.”  As I just returned from spending Valentine’s Day with her, she’s on my mind.


But there are a few others who love cherry pie and they know who they are–Kathie and Tom are two who come to mind.  In fact, Tom’s coming next week to visit and it’s his only request.  It’ll be ready. For a complete pie-making and baking lesson, click here for my Pie 101.

Scroll down for recipe, but first a few pictures to give you an overall idea:

Make the dough and roll out the first crust for the bottom of the pie:


Make the filling and spoon it into the bottom crust, then add the top. Continue reading

Grilled Tuna Bowl Tonight–Rice and Beans for Lunch Tomorrow


Have a healthy, happy Valentine’s Day!

Lately I’ve been looking for something I could make that would include:

  • protein
  • whole grains
  • vegetables
  • dark, leafy greens

Dave and I both love meals in bowls. The búns and salads at one of our favorite local Vietnamese restaurant, Saigon Cafe, are perfect one-dish meals because they’re full of noodles or greens, herbs, chicken or tofu or shrimp, and are happily topped by a tiny load of peanuts. The Chipotle bowls and salads are addictive and are happy layers of rice and beans with loads of spicy meat or crumbled tofu, my favorite vegan lunch to eat out. Rich and filling without being fattening, you can add cheese or guacamole if you’re feeling lean. The bright and just spicy enough pico de gallo is usually enough for me and I skip the extra fat calories.

At home I occasionally throw together similar meals, but generally leave it to the restaurants so we can enjoy the bowls there.  But when you eat all three meals together at home as we do (except when one of us travels, which is often), you begin to look for something that will be cooked up at either lunch or dinner, yet could provide leftovers for the next day so that you’re not always trying to create meals from scratch.  Today I spent the entire day going over the changes needed to be made to the book after the proof readers had their way with it.  I was buggy-eyed and sore-backed by the time I got out of my chair at 5.  (While it seems like it’s taking God’s own time, I’ve only been working on this book for a year and a half.  It’s just that I figured it’d be done just a bit more quickly.  Insert scream.)  In other words, I needed simple. Continue reading

Ina Fridays — Main Courses — Lamb Shanks + Orzo


(above– lamb shanks + orzo)

The first Friday of every month, I blog INA FRIDAYS (all Ina Garten recipes) with a great group of cooks.  Scroll down to check out the list of blogs participating, then read up and cook some Ina this weekend!  ♥♥♥

I’m a sucker for cold-weather meals.  I barely live through summer with its rosé wine and grilled suppers.  My heart was born to yearn for both red meat and red wine–perhaps because I’m a girl born and raised in Chicago where I breathed in the freezing wind off the lake and let it blow me all over the ice ponds where I cut my skating teeth. IMG_4787 (above:  my front yard yesterday)

So you can understand how I felt with a snow storm on the way, four meaty lamb shanks unthawing, and a big bottle of cab waiting on the table in the dining room.  My friend Mary Pat, my son Sean, and my husband Dave were all put on notice:

There will be lamb.  Be ready…

The day was planned around when the lamb needed to get into the oven.  A day when the temperature, for the most part, was a sweet -6 Fahrenheit… IMG_4774 (above and below:  young females in our neighborhood herd) Continue reading

Baked Chili on Tortilla Chips for Super Bowl–GO BRONCOS!!

A replay of a favorite post, CHILI FRITO, for Super Bowl Sunday.  If you’d like the real-deal Chili Frito, substitute Fritos for the tortilla chips.


When Dave and I were in college, the cafeterias did their best to serve food that was wholesome and healthy (a salad bar appeared at student request), but that also made a teenager’s heart sing rather than sink.  As I spent a couple of years there cracking eggs–this is true–I know better than some.  Saturday nights were “steak nights,” and you seldom missed that meal, even if you had eaten all day long that day or were out at the lake at a kegger.   It was there I first heard the words London Broil or realized steaks could have sauces.  In the house where I grew up, good steak didn’t need sauce; it simply wasn’t done. (Groan.)  You wouldn’t ruin a gorgeous piece of midwest beef like that.  Looking back, of course the cafeteria steaks probably needed sauce.  The rarely-seen (ha) summer ribeye at home was fine with only a bit of garlic salt with pepper and a nice big crunchy salad right out of my Dad’s garden.  Mayonnaise was the dressing of choice.

This is Lincoln Hall.  I lived in Washington, it’s nearby exact twin. Continue reading