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.

Reimagining a Tomatillo Dish for a Cooking Demo

People ask me all the time how I come up with ideas for recipes, or how I create different dishes. Sometimes I am inspired buy an article I read in a magazine, a recipe I saw, or a fabulous dinner by a favorite chef. Inspiration for most of us comes in all forms. This past…

Making a Quick Pasta Sauce with Tomatoes and Peppers

We still have many weeks of summer left and certainly plenty of sunshine and heat. Along with those fantastic tomatoes we have plenty of peppers in all shapes, sizes and heat, to enjoy. This past weekend I decided to combine some of my peppers and tomatoes from Hilltop that were nice and ripe, to see…

Bringing a Little Pizzaz to a Traditional Irish Potato Pancake

St. Patrick’s Day is right around the corner and everyone will be making Corned Beef and Cabbage, Shepherd’s Pie and Irish Soda Bread. There are so many other traditional Irish dishes that are really spot on, but never seem to bubble to the surface: Dublin Coddle (sausage, bacon and potato), Colcannon (potatoes and cabbage), and Boxty….

Resolutions are never too late …

It’s never too late to make a resolution, or two. Today is March 1 and I’m thinking “Why not start now?” Last month I jumped in with both feet doing Soul Cycle, which it turns out I love. I also started a fun little Facebook event in February called “Drink More Water ,” which had…