greek orzo salad with mustard-dill vinaigrette

Greek Orzo Salad with Mustard-Dill Vinaigrette
This pasta is ideal for a potluck or picnic.  It will feed a large group and can sit out a bit at the buffet table.  But that’s not the only reason to make this Greek orzo salad.  It is easy to make and packs well for light, yet filling work day lunches.  It also makes a wonderful summer evening supper to be enjoyed outdoors, perhaps, with some crusty bread and a glass of wine.  Like many pasta salads, this one tastes better the next day, when all of the flavors have had a change to meld. Continue reading

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raw: italian yellowtail crudo with basil-orange vinaigrette

Italian Yellowtail Crudo

Over the last couple of posts, I’ve taken you to Hawaii for salmon poke and to Tahiti for poisson cru.  Today, I’m taking you halfway around the world to Italy for pesce crudo, which literally translates to “raw fish.” It is similar to the Japanese sashimi, but instead of wasabi, soy sauce, and pickled ginger, Italians traditionally dress the fish with extra-virgin olive oil, lemon, and sea salt. As with the other raw fish dishes I’ve shared with you, the key to crudo is to use the freshest quality ingredients and let their flavors shine.

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raw: tahitian poisson cru

Tahitian Poisson Cru

I was first introduced to today’s raw fish dish, poisson cru, or e’ia ota, many years ago, on a trip to Moorea, one of the islands in French Polynesia, more commonly known as Tahiti. Poisson cru, Tahiti’s national dish, literally means “raw fish” in French. It consists of fresh fish, usually tuna or mahi mahi, and vegetables marinated in lime juice and coconut milk. It is found just about anywhere in Tahiti – from roadside stands to fine restaurants.

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raw: hawaiian-style salmon poke

Hawaiian-style Salmon Poke

Sushi is arguably the most popular raw fish dish (and my absolute favorite), but there are many other raw fish dishes from around the world.  Over the next few posts, I would like to share my interpretation of some other raw fish dishes I’ve enjoyed. First up is poke, a staple of “pupu” platters across Hawaii, traditionally made with cubed raw fish marinated in Hawaiian sea salt, soy sauce, roasted crushed candlenut, sesame oil, ogo or other types of seaweed, and chopped chili pepper.

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lobster rolls

For many Americans, Monday’s Labor Day holiday marks the unofficial end of summer. Don’t let these last carefree days quietly slip away without a proper send-off. Celebrate with a backyard party or a picnic at the beach or park. Keep it casual, yet festive by serving lobster rolls with corn on the cob, potato chips, and brownies for dessert. Doesn’t that sound like a perfect feast to mark the end of a fun-filled summer?

Lobster Rolls (sandwiches filled with sweet and succulent lobster meat) are most popular in the New England states — especially Maine, Connecticut and Eastern Long Island.  There are two ‘schools of thought’ when it comes to serving lobster rolls: warm or cold . . . In Connecticut, lobster rolls are served warm, with just a drizzle of butter.  In Maine and in Long Island, mayonnaise is either spread on the inside of the bread or mixed with the lobster by itself and in some cases with diced celery and herbs.

shrimp and avocado salad with pancetta, lemon, and mache

Shrimp and Avocado Salad

I love lazy mornings like the one I had this morning, with no alarm clocks and no long commutes.  I didn’t have to fuss with my hair, and stayed in my pajamas a little longer.  I slept in, groggily waking up just in time for Chris to hand me my morning latté and to kiss him goodbye, as he scurried off to work.  I spent the early morning wandering about my garden, lamenting my tardiness in planting the zucchini, carrots, and peas, which I promised myself I would do tomorrow.  I halfheartedly leafed through a couple of cookbooks, while watching The Today Show, looking for inspiration for what to make for lunch. I finally got dressed and headed out the door to run some errands. Once I arrived at Whole Foods, I took my time wandering around the pristine aisles, where the produce guy caught me doing a happy dance after spotting some fresh rhubarb, hidden behind some carrots and turnips. Continue reading

salmon and yellowtail nigiri sushi

My husband, Chris, and I just got back early this afternoon from a quick trip to Portland, Oregon where we relaxed, explored the beautiful city, and, of course, ate to our hearts content.  I will post a more-detailed trip report later, but Salt & Pepper Ribeye, Peruvian Lamb Shank in a Cilantro-Black Beer Sauce, and a Gorgonzola, Caramelized Onion and Bacon Burger were some of the highlights. Continue reading

honey walnut shrimp

Honey Walnut Shrimp is one of my favorite dishes.  I’ve always wondered how to make it, but I never bothered to figure it out since the Chinese restaurant down the street makes an absolutely fabulous version.  Per chance, I was watching the program on the Food Channel a few weeks back called Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives, and the host, Guy Fieri, visited a Chinese restaurant called Pagoda, in North Pole, Alaska (0f all places!).  The chef demonstrated how he made some of the restaurant’s signature dishes, including the Honey Walnut Shrimp.  (To see the show’s segment, click on the restaurant’s link below.) Seeing how good it looked, I decided to try it for myself.   Continue reading

chinese salt and pepper squid


Most Chinese restaurants often have “salt and pepper” items on the menu.  Pork chops, shrimp, cubes of tofu, chicken wings, or squid are usually battered and deep-fried and served with a mound of chilli peppers and green onions.  I made my version with squid, using both the body and the tentacles (my favorite part!).  I didn’t want a thick batter so I found this recipe which coated the squid with a dry mixture of cornstarch and flour. Since I don’t like super spicy foods, I used the milder jalapeño peppers instead of Serrano or Thai chillies.  I’m not sure how authentically Chinese this dish is, but as the fragrant aroma of the garlic, jalapeños, and green onions filled my kitchen, I knew this dish was going to be good. Continue reading