What’s For Dinner? ,..

What’s for dinner? I ask myself that question frequently. You would think coming from a chef it would be easy. Not really. I spend the first part of my week cooking for other people. Mainly cooking them dinner meals. When I get to Wednesday it’s pretty much time for take-out. Facing my own stove at…

Not Your Mother’s Lima Bean Soup

This morning a very serious, and somewhat threatening, message came through on the local Patch page: Wind Chill Watch, Temperatures will drop dangerously fast in Westchester. That ominous headline highlights probably the worst part of the year for me. The month of February: cold, dreary and lifeless. The world around me is in black and…

Looking for Color in January

We’ve reached that dreary part of the year that is my least favorite of all. All of the festive holiday decorations are put away, and mid-January is upon us. From about this point until the end of February the world seems to be in black and white. Nothing is colorful. It’s just a cold bluish…

Reflecting on the Past and Looking Ahead to the New Year

The new year is almost upon us. I have so many things to be grateful for this past year. The health and happiness of my family first and foremost. I have been blessed with the most supportive husband, as many of you already know. At a moment’s notice, he’s carting things back and forth to the…

A Little Departure From the Norm ….

What an amazing rollercoaster two months I’ve had. Probably the busiest in my seven years doing Bella Cucina Maria. Not only juggling my regular private work, but catering and part time cooking for the Canadian Permanent Mission. Honestly, as tired and wiped out as I am on December 16th  – with at least seven more…

Winter Squash Salad

Sometimes I find that I need a little inspiration. That sounds amusing to say, and even more amusing to write. Yet, every now and then I just need a little nudge. That is exactly what happened this weekend. Coming off a very intense week of cooking and catering I opened my lap top and just…

Giving the Thanksgiving Side Dish a New Lease on Life

Thanksgiving is right around the corner. People will be starting their food prep this weekend, or at least start shopping, for Thanksgiving. Main courses are pretty standard, but Thanksgiving side dishes can actually make or break the whole meal. This month I set out to take the traditional side dishes and step them up a…

Late Season Tomatoes

Last Thursday was the end of my CSA. I still have a few treks up to Hilltop Hanover Farm left before the end of 2015, but it was bittersweet choosing my last share. Its been 20 glorious weeks of amazing vegetables. As I sit here writing I think I might have made it up for almost…

A Little of This and A Little of That For an Easy Soup

I frequently tell participants in my cooking classes they  should challenge themselves every now and then to cook with what they have on hand. Allow yourself to create something without using a cook book or shopping list. Most people have been cooking for themselves, one way or the other, their whole adult life. For some…

Winter Squash Tutorial: Delicate Delicata Squash

Winter squash is here for the duration. Stunning autumn colors piled high in huge containers everywhere. There are so many to choose from. I thought it would be fun to explore a few of my favorite varieties. In my Seasonal Chef column I’ve done a couple of fun recipes using delicata squash. One of my favorites…

End of Season Zucchini

Fall is here. The pool in our complex was drained and covered this week. There is a slightly familiar chill in the air most mornings now, though still nice and warm in the afternoons. Today I read a weather prediction that we will be subjected to several Nor’easters in the coming months. This time of…

Falling for Italian Prune Plums

The signs of Fall are peeking around every corner. It’s still pretty darn hot in the Northeast during the day, but our nights are getting cooler. The farmers market ingredients have started to shift slightly. Italian prune plums are making a grand entrance. Get them now, before they disappear.