Baby arugula salad with warm shiitake mushrooms and pears

Who could resist the flavor of warm shiitake mushrooms paired with ripe pears, Parmesan and truffle oil? Could you? I certainly have no resistance!

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Portobello Mushroom Wrap with Buffalo Mozzarella and Piquillo Peppers

Peppers come in all shapes, sizes, colors and flavors. They are truly some of Mother Nature’s most succulent little gifts. Piquillo peppers prove the point to perfection!

These lipstick-red Spanish peppers are a specialty of Lodosa, in northern Spain. They’re harvested at their peak, then fire-roasted, hand-peeled and jarred in their own juices. All of this hard work yields peppers that are delightfully tangy and sweet, with a mellow smokiness to them.

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Blood Orange and Valencia Orange Salad with Olive Vinaigrette
The end of February is the time of year when I become incredibly thankful for citrus fruits. They bring a welcome freshness to late-winter fare, while giving us a foretaste of spring.

Today’s salad is so simple that it can be assembled in minutes. After trimming and slicing the oranges, all you need to do is arrange them with baby greens on the plate – then drizzle them with a luscious olive vinaigrette, which spikes the sweet-and-sour orange slices with bits of briny saltiness.

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Watercress and radicchio salad with persimmons and spicy lime vinaigrette

Every November, a box of Fuyu persimmons arrives at my doorstep. They come all the way from California, lovingly gathered from a friend’s garden by my father and then individually wrapped before being shipped to me.

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In 2009, I had the great pleasure of meeting Jaden Hair at her book signing in New York City. Jaden is a fantastic cook, and the talented author of the popular blog Steamy Kitchen. With her huge smile and endearing personality, Jaden never fails to light up the room.

Last week I was honored to contribute a guest post for Steamy Kitchen – and may I say, it was a thrill to create a recipe that would match both her personality and her gorgeous blog.

Since Jaden and I both adore fresh, bold, colorful salads, I decided to create a summery one, using heirloom tomatoes, ripe avocados and baby arugula from my garden. The whole salad is drizzled with a spunky cilantro vinaigrette that’s almost like a cilantro pesto (the pine nuts give the dressing a lovely creaminess).

Then the salad is garnished with crispy wonton strips that have been lightly sautéed in olive oil until they’re crunchy and golden-brown. Every bite is a delight, offering a marvelous array of flavors and textures.

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