Kick start your day with a good breakfast

Quick & Easy Herb Focaccia Rolls

Happy Spring! I’m actually not reeeeeeallllly ready yet to give up my turtlenecks and mittens, and you can see why.


We are so lucky not to have had Chicago’s brutal cold earlier this year and the Midwest’s horrific flooding now, but it’s still raw, so I let some fresh herbs work their magic this morning to bring a vibrant Mediterranean warmth to my kitchen.


The recipe is from Taste of Home What Can I Make In My… Instant Pot, Air Fryer, Waffle Iron & More, written to be made in a muffin tin. But this dough is so wet and sticky, I used the option of a glass 13×9 pan. Much, much easier! The bottom has a delicious crunch to it. A “Molto Grazie!” to Linda Schend of Kenosha, Wisconsin (whose spring, no doubt, is a whole lot rawer than ours!).

Prep: 15 mins + rising           Bake: 20 mins       Makes 1 1/2 dozen

3 cups all-purpose flour

1 pkg. (1/4 oz.) quick-rise yeast

2 Tbsp. minced fresh thyme, divided

2 Tbsp. minced fresh rosemary, divided

1 Tbsp. sugar

1 1/2 tsp. kosher salt, divided

1 1/2 cups warm water (120 to 130 degrees)

6 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil, divided

  1. Combine flour, yeast, 1 Tbsp. thyme, 1 Tbsp. rosemary, sugar and 1 tsp. salt. Add the water and 2 Tbsp. oil; beat 1 minute (the dough will be very sticky).
  2. Divide dough among 18 greased muffin cups. Let rise in a warm place until doubled, about 30 minutes. [Or spread dough in a greased 13×9 pan and let rise.]
  3. Preheat over to 375 degrees. In a small saucepan over medium-low heat, stir together remaining seasonings and oil just until herbs are fragrant and oil is hot, about 1 1/2 minutes. Remove from heat; cool.
  4. Gently spoon cooled herb mixture over each roll [or pan]. Bake until golden brown 20-25 minutes [or 25-30 minutes for the pan].

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Savory Corn Pudding

corn pudding.jpg

Hot from the oven… and I mean hot!

The Joy of Cooking very rarely disappoints, and this simple corn pudding is a keeper.

It’s 90-plus degrees in New York City tonight, but three glorious fresh, sweet ears of corn convinced me to turn on the oven. Well worth the sultry, tropical kitchen.

Butter a baking dish and preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Combine 2 cups of fresh corn cut off the cob with 3/4 cup of milk, 2 eggs (beaten well), a tablespoon of flour, a teaspoon of salt, and 2 tablespoons of melted butter. I added a couple of slices of red hot peppers, chopped (we have jars of them from a mistaken reading of a recipe–thank goodness, we caught ourselves before we caused a culinary disaster!), and 1/2 cup of grated cheese. Pour it in your baking dish and place that in a bain marie (the insufferably pompous way of saying a roasting pan of hot water). Bake for 35-45 minutes until a knife slipped in toward the side of the dish comes out clean and the center just jiggles a little.

almost done corn pudding.jpg

Gone in 60 seconds! 

This crisp, firm corn is courtesy of Halsey Farm & Nursery, Southhampton, New York. Oh, to stand in those sprinklers tonight!

halsey farm.jpg


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Charred and Raw Corn Salad

My supplier stuck his head over my cubicle wall yesterday. “Pssst,” he said, as he jerked his head toward his office. I hurried in. He handed over three more ears of fresh corn from the farmstands around his weekend house in Southampton. I inhaled that inimitable scent of cornsilk and drifted back to my desk.

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I made a mistake the first time he gifted me with fresh ears and boiled them for almost five minutes.

The second time, I boiled the new batch for two minutes… a big improvement.

Tonight, I thought, “I want this the way God made it” and searched for a recipe for corn salad. Bon Appétit came through with a charred and raw corn salad that is perfection! The link gives you a formal recipe for four servings. Here are my casual instructions for two, with some left over.

Husk three ears of corn and cut the kernels off the cobs.

Combine a slug of olive oil with half a shallot, cut into rings. Add the juice of half a lime and a few slivers of jalapeno pepper (a red chile makes this prettier). Salt to taste.

Heat some olive oil in a frying pan and cook half the kernels undisturbed until they begin to char. Toss them some more to get them charred all over, without burning.

Add the charred and the raw corn to the shallot mix. Add a TBSP and a half of Greek yogurt, a generous sprinkling of grated Parmesan, and a little cilantro to taste. Toss to combine.

better corn.jpg

Crisp and bright… and you won’t miss the bacon! 


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Still Giving Thanks!

Cranberry sauce is a versatile condiment. I put it on cornmeal pancakes this morning for a last blast of Thanksgiving flavor.


It looks so festive, too. Happy December, everybody!



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Corn Season


I’ve had a lot of cinnamon apple teacake this week for breakfast, so on a brisk, quintessential fall day, I want something savory for breakfast. As usual, my favorite baking book writer Lauren Chattman comes to the rescue with Cornmeal & Cheddar Cheese Muffins. Skip on over to Bring Back Home Ec for the recipe and step-by-step photos. These satisfying small bites are as crisp as the air outside.

Handmade wreath courtesy of my talented neighbor Wilma Epstein.

Handmade wreath courtesy of my talented neighbor Wilma Epstein.


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Gifts to My Kitchen

smoked salmon and gingerbread--not perfect together, but lovely on their own!

smoked salmon and gingerbread–not perfect together, but lovely on their own!

‘Tis the season to gather goodies! At left, Cambridge House(R) Atlantic smoked salmon (thanks to a friend of my dad, Ed Arnold, whose taste in Christmas gifts is impeccable!). At right, handmade gingerbread animals. Sue Tamoney rolls sheets of gingerbread dough as thin as paper and cuts out 1,000 animals, using a toothpick to put on two drops of icing for eyes. Deliciously spicy! You’ve eaten about 35 before you know it which is why 1,000 is barely enough to satisfy Sue’s fans.

I don’t have a photo of the Leckerlee lebkuchen I got from a friend in publishing because I re-gifted it to my father-in-law, as German as J.S. Bach (but not nearly so talented!).

I’ve got to make this short; thinking of J.S. Bach, here’s the opening of this glorious Christmas Oratorio to help you, too, power through those last chores before we celebrate!

german xmas market



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Gifts From the Kitchen

The kitchen gives so many gifts; its warmth, the aromas of good food, the satisfaction when a recipe comes out right. Oh, those are gifts to me! Gifts from my kitchen…. Unlike my early days, when baking frazzled my nerves, I hope my treats convey some sense of the calm, well-balanced, harmonious environment they’re made in. And there’s a little nostalgia, too, particularly at Christmas when a certain vintage kitchen tool gets into the mix.


Mom’s Sunbeam Mixmaster is still whirling, God only knows how (probably from the “gentle” [read minimal] use it gets!). There’s no time of the year when I miss Mom more.

Chappaqua, NY, c. 1980

Chappaqua, NY, c. 1980

These oatmeal-dried-cranberry-raisin cookies will go to the Christmas tree sellers on our corner.


They’re also for the California Whittinghams I’m looking so forward to seeing tomorrow, as a little extra with their Christmas presents, and to the cook this morning for breakfast. Self-gifting’s all the rage!


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Guten Morgen!

The snow is coming down gently in giant fluffy flakes this morning, so a fresh-baked pretzel seemed like a good idea.

I had a good bit of dough left from Thursday morning’s pretzel adventure, so I twisted off two pieces, rolled, twisted, poached, and baked them with two different toppings: Parmesan cheese and cinnamon-sugar.

Why choose sweet or savory when you can have both?

Why choose sweet or savory when you can have both?

Deliciously yeasty, these are not as heavy as a bagel and more substantial than a pastry. I wouldn’t want to make a habit of this, but they’re fun and easy to turn out and make a nice change. The yield of the recipe below says 24, but I could easily make 36 from the dough it produced.

You’ll find the recipe, from Country Living’s December 2013 issue, right here. Guten Appetit!


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Dog’s Breakfast

Gracie and I often share half an apple for breakfast. While a dog would happily wolf down the entire thing, seeds and core and stem included, I always trim that off for her. What wouldn’t I do for a creature who is so kind about my cooking–there is nothing I make that she doesn’t beg for.


This morning’s fare was absolutely delicious: three brown ‘n’ serve sausages sauteed in a little olive oil for about five minutes with half a MacIntosh apple, sliced. It’s that savory-sweet combination I live for…as does my dog.

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Cobbler for Breakfast

It’s really starting to feel like fall now. 6 a.m. and still dark, the forecast is for a mixture of clouds and sun. A mixture of warm dark sweet cherries under a crumb topping will help me forget the Tigers’ loss last night to the Sox. Torii Hunter’s heroic reach for Big Papi’s grand slam will be harder for him to forget…ouch!


If you make your crumb topping ahead of time, this couldn’t be simpler. Mix 3/4 cup brown sugar with 1 cup of flour; cut in 1/4 cup of cold butter chopped in pieces until the mixture is crumbly, and keep cool. Thaw enough frozen berries to fill a ramekin, top with crumbs, and bake for 15-20 minutes at 350° F until bubbly.

A homey little dish like this would not be out of place in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan which Chuck and I visited a few years ago in the fall. Absolutely gorgeous! When it wasn’t snowing, the air was crisp, Lake Superior was placid, and the people were wonderful. Tough! One woman wore a U.S. Marines T-shirt with a slogan Torii Hunter might find helpful: “Pain is just weakness leaving the body.”

It was hunting season--this was not quite as peaceful as it looks!

It was hunting season–this was not quite as peaceful as it looks!

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