Gretl’s Austrian Mushroom Soup

Gretl had a restaurant on a ski mountain in Colorado.

It probably reminded her of Austria, her country of origin. Every day she went up the mountain with the ski patrol, and cooked just the kind of food you want in winter weather. She made an amazing apple strudel, and this creamy soup.

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Keto-the new low-carb

21753435_1656919147651623_9162887732977147937_o 2The day my close friend Karen recommended that I try an Alsatian fish dish with cream sauce, and sauerkraut on the side–well, let’s just say I had a strong reaction of certainty I wouldn’t like it. If anyone else had suggested it I wouldn’t have even considered making it–but Karen and I like lots of the same foods. We were college roommates, and then shared an apartment later. And we both have family roots in Central Europe so maybe some of our tastebuds are genetically programmed.

One early adventure: when we were broke college students, after the rain she showed up with a paper bag stuffed with mushrooms she had picked! and informed me we were having Czech cream of mushroom soup for dinner. I thought I was going to die. Or, that maybe I was going to die, or at least get excruciating stomach pains and wish I was going to die. But Karen is wicked smart, exhaustively thorough, and she was absolutely certain she knew this mushroom from lifelong mycological field identification with her father. We didn’t die, and it was delicious. Continue reading

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Smoking Bishop

This Christmas season I brought a new/old tradition to Salem–Smoking Bishop, a Victorian Wassail which is something like a hot Sangria punch.


At St. John’s in Hingham, we enjoyed it after our service of Lessons and Carols, but this year I served it at an open house with a bit of a literary bent. Smoking Bishop is mentioned in the last page of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas CarolContinue reading

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Spatchcocked Chicken

Do I need to say who Jacques Pepin is? The real French chef who brought sparkle to Julia Child’s later cooking shows, who became a PBS star in his own right? Probably not. But I will share a lovely photo of them together just so you are sure who I mean.


It was his recipe for quick roasted chicken that broke my habit of buying grocery rotisserie chicken (disappointing as they often were). Mostly what you need is a cast-iron skillet, a chicken, and some basics you are likely to have around the kitchen to make a great roast chicken. Oh, and some heavy duty kitchen shears.

What the Food & Wine recipe linked above doesn’t mention is that the name for the splitting and roasting technique is “Spatchcock” (apparently you can do this with a turkey. Maybe I’ll try that). Splitting the chicken by clipping out the backbone makes for quicker cooking, and at the high heat it is brown and juicy. Clipping the joints makes for easier carving and faster cooking of the legs. After some stovetop prep, all it takes is 30 minutes in the oven. Continue reading

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Perfect bread rolls


The reason I maintain this blog is to share wonderful recipes and the stories that go with them (and so I don’t lose them!) These recipes are a great souvenir, along with some delicious rolls, of a terrific party that happened yesterday in Madge’s kitchen as part of the preparation for Thanksgiving feasts. Peggy (pictured on the right) makes these amazing rolls with, among other ingredients, mashed potatoes. Nancy (hiding behind the Meyer Lemons) and I had front row seats! The basic dinner roll is superb, and then there are two over-the-top variations: sticky buns and orange buns. I brought home a tray of dinner rolls and one of orange buns (the latter evaporated at my house, two thirds were gone before I woke up this morning!) The dough recipe was Peggy’s mother’s, and watching her beautiful, gentle hands shaping the dough I could see the sign of generations of women in her family bringing care and skill to cooking and nurture. Continue reading

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English Trifle: Do Not Trifle with Simon Majumdar!


This Trifle is the Real Deal

When you watch those competitive cooking shows, do you get nervous? Just imagine the pressure on the wannabe celebrity chefs! And after they just about kill themselves to get the dish out, those judges tear them apart!  Now, imagine one of those scary judges was coming to your house! Yup, that happened to me. Continue reading

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Filed under Dessert, Fish, Party meal

Brandied Bing Cherry Dessert

Brandied Bing Cherry Dessert from Winston Hall

Sometimes the weirdest-sounding recipes yield the best food, and this one is a perfect example.  The provenance for this dessert is the recipe file of well-known steel magnolia–and pillar of the Hingham Historical Society–Mrs. Winston Hall. Winston has a long history herself, at nearly 100 years of age, and has long been as sassy as the brandy-soaked cherries in her recipe. My friend Vicki Starr persuaded her to share the recipe, and first served the dish to me.  I was suspicious (I haven’t eaten jello voluntarily in decades), and then awestruck (how much brandy is in this?) and then finally yearned for a copy of it myself. Here it is: Continue reading

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