Chilled Roasted Yellow Pepper Soup

yellowI would be the first to admit that I cannot leave well enough alone. Take this soup for example. It’s pretty darn great just as it is — a refreshing, even comforting, meld of sweet yellow peppers, a hint of smoke from the roasting, the warm note of rosemary, the sharply pleasant heat from the jalapeno, finished with a bright touch of lime. But when I make it I think about the other yellow pepper soup I’ve made — the one that’s accompanied by an orange pepper soup, which are then slipped side-by-side into a single bowl for an elegant yin and yang effect. I put the question to you — too much? Ridiculously over the top for a weeknight dinner? Or are we having FUN yet? You decide. And while you are mulling, make this lovely soup, which was adapted from Fine Cooking. It made the folks at USBG happy in August 2014. And get to taste the soup. Read More

Greek Zucchini Fritters

zucchini fritttersThe zucchini this year has been fantastic. Typically by mid-August borers hidden in the stems of squash plants have done their work almost overnight rendering foliage into wilted into a mass of brownish detritus. The few plants that do withstand a borer invasion rarely survive the onslaught of squash bugs, which spread a fungus that paints plant’s big, coarse leaves with white powder. I measure my success in growing squash in how long I can keep either one of these scourges at bay, and this summer has been a banner one. It might be the cold winter we endured, or our relatively cool summer here in the mid-Atlantic, with far fewer hot and humid days than we typically experience, but whatever the reason, the  zucchini, patty pan and yellow squashes have been coming on abundantly and the plants are showing no signs of stress yet.patty pan Read More

Spinach Soup with Sumac and Feta

spinach soup

Sumac’s name comes from the Arabic word for red, which is the color of the spice, sumac, widely used in Middle Eastern cuisine.  It has a tangy flavor not unlike lemon but distinct.  You can find sumac at any good spice shop, such as Penzey’s, or markets that sell Middle Eastern or Indian ingredients.  You can also find it on line — there’s a link below in the ingredients list.  The spice comes from the sumac bush, which grows all over the world.  The type that is made into a spice is sweet sumac, or aromatic sumac.  The fruits are dried and ground into a powder. Poison sumac (there are more than 250 species of sumac)  is distinguished by white fruits rather than red or orange.  Poison sumac can cause an allergic reaction like poison ivy.  If you don’t have sumac for this recipe, substitute lemon juice and/or lemon zest.  This was part of our demo with a large class on a beautiful Wednesday at Brookside Gardens February 19, 2014. Read More

Spiced Couscous with Almonds and Currants


This is a great side that is delicious with grilled chicken or lamb. If you add shredded chicken or a spicy sausage and sprinkle it with feta cheese, it’ll work as a main course.  For a vegan option, saute chunks of firm tofu in a spice mixture that picks up the Middle Eastern theme of this dish — cumin, coriander, turmeric.  We demoed this wonderful and rich-tasting dish, adapted here from our buddies at Fine Cooking, for our appearance on Fox5 News in Washington DC February 17, 2014.  Check out the link on the right. Read More

Warm Spaghetti-Squash Salad



Mild spaghetti squash is delicious with potent ingredients like the olives and feta in this lemony salad, which makes a wonderful starter or side dish. Recipe adapted from Food & Wine. Four healthy servings

1 T olive oil for cookie sheet
1 medium spaghetti squash
½ C green olives, pitted and chopped
½ C thinly sliced scallion white and light green parts
1 t minced garlic
½ t lemon zest
3 T fresh lemon juice
1/4 t red pepper flakes
½ t salt
1/4 C olive oil, plus more for drizzling
1 C  sliced or slivered almonds, 3 ounces, toasted
4 oz Greek feta, crumbled (½ C)
Coarse salt and fresh ground pepper
1/4 C chopped parsley for garnish (optional)

Preheat the oven to 400̊. Drizzle a cookie sheet with 1 T olive oil. Cut spaghetti squash in half around its equator (for smaller strands, cut the squash lengthwise). With an icecream scoop, remove the seeds and loose tendrils and discard.  Place the cleaned halves cut-side down on the cookie sheet. Roast 30 minutes until squash pierces easily with a fork.  This can be done ahead of time.

In a food processor, combine the chopped olives with the sliced scallions, lemon zest, lemon juice and 1/4 C olive oil and pulse until finely chopped. Remove squash from oven and let cool until you can handle. Working over a medium bowl and using a fork or knife, scrape the spaghetti squash into the bowl, separating the strands. Add the dressing and almonds and toss well. Season with salt and pepper. Top with the crumbled feta and parsley if using. Serve warm or room temperature.

Summer Squash and Tomato Gratin


Give this gratin time to cook slowly, releasing juices and then caramelizing slightly.  This gentle treatment emboldens flavors and intensifies the sugars.  What you’ll get is not just an explosion of summer flavors, bur also a rich, satisfying dish that could easily be the centerpiece of a vegetarian meal.  Using the basic recipe, experiment with different vegetable combinations, such as potatoes and eggplant, and also with different cheeses.  You’re sure to agree that this dish captures the essence of late summer.  Adapted from Fine Cooking. Read More