Archive for the ‘Side dish’ Category

Peas and pearl onions

You may have heard that this year marks the 55th anniversary of the green bean casserole, invented by the Campbell Soup Company to promote its cream of mushroom soup. It has been called a “Thanksgiving icon.”

Not in our house. I only encountered green bean casserole if we ate Thanksgiving dinner at the homes of friends or family. My mother disdained the idea of pouring canned soup over vegetables. Americans have made green bean casserole an “icon” because all the salt, sugar, and fat make those otherwise hearty greens taste really, really good. If Hershey’s had dreamed up cocoa covered green beans they may have been the ones celebrating the anniversary.

Remember: even though green bean casserole has clocked 55 years, the Pilgrims knew nothing of it. We strove for historical purity in our house. (more…)


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I was settling sweetly into fall, having allowed those feelings of rush rush rush pass me by when I suddenly realized: My apples were going “off.” This means all those apples I had gathered from beneath the trees just a few weeks ago were beginning to look a little wrinkly and soft. Oops. So much for my reverie.

It’s good practice to buy fresh produce but that actually requires doing something with this produce. And I sometimes don’t follow through. (I am ashamed to admit to how many bell peppers I have tossed out recently.) I needed to snap awake before the apples were for naught. (more…)

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This is a really easy way to give fresh green beans a little extra flavor and crunch.


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I was strolling through the Farmer’s Market at Copley Square on Friday and I heard a woman say, “This is heavenly.” She’s right. Something about baskets of peaches, tangles of beans, and bright sunflowers softens the heart of a city and brings things down to human scale in a forest of skyscrapers and historic buildings. Rows of homemade cookies, bags of bread, and jars of honey have the power to soothe even as sirens wail and traffic rushes by just a few feet away.

And then there’s the corn. Lots and lots of corn.

You barely need to do anything to food that is this fresh, just take take it home and strip it down.

I was heading to a potluck later that evening and I knew exactly what I wanted to bring: A corn and black bean salad, using raw, sweet corn. I came across this recipe at a Fourth of July party last year.

“It’s so easy,” the hostess kept telling me. A guest at the party insisted that the secret was a packet of Good Seasons Italian dressing. If you don’t have that handy, it’s pretty easy to season this any way you like, using a combination of dried herbs (basil, oregano), salt (onion, garlic, celery), and a little sugar to draw the sweetness of the corn and fruit. This recipe uses mangoes but I bet you could use peaches, which are just coming into season. (more…)

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You can tell a true New Englander in May by two things:

1. They know what a fiddlehead is.
2. They have eaten one and enjoyed it.

The sudden cold snap we are having here means we might get another week or two of enjoying this once-a-year treat. Food bloggers are reporting their appearance in their CSA bounty. You can also  pickle fiddleheads, but no matter how you decide to prepare them, make sure you clean them well.

I tried fiddleheads last year for the first time, with some success (see recipe here). This year my friend and colleague Leigh said her family enjoyed them at their Mother’s Day feast. What else did they have? French grilled pork chops – with olive oil, garlic, rosemary, herbes de Provence, salt & pepper Yukon Gold potato and carrot purée. I can see the artful fiddlehead was the perfect side note.


Fiddlehead ferns by Leigh Montgomery

This New England delicacy is as beautiful as any of nature’s patterns or the scroll of a violin that inspires their name.  To me nothing else tastes like an early spring evening or a verdant forest floor.  When I see them I am transported back to a memorable fly-fishing trip on New Brunswick’s Miramichi river, where every night we retired to the lodge for salmon and fiddlehead variations on the side or in soup.  About the taste – it does have a slightly wild taste and tough consistency, requiring a little trimming, softening and saucing.  I found this recipe, from a 1992 Gourmet magazine issue, an easy and elegant way to introduce them to those who might not have tried them before.


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