Leek tart with cured olives and aged Gruyère
Making savory tarts requires a bit of patience and an unhurried stint in the kitchen, but they are well worth the effort. To me tarts are a sophisticated comfort food that’s totally irresistible and one that I love spending time crafting.

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Food and Style - Quinoa with piquillo peppers and cured olivesThe first time I tasted quinoa was in the mid-1980′s. I’d just moved to Vermont and was discovering all kinds of new foods. It was a thrill.

I remember eagerly looking for recipes for it, but in those pre-Google times, the only thing I had to go on were the directions on the package.

So I started experimenting on my own. Before long, quinoa was a favorite in our household; it was on the menu at least once a week, in one form or another.

For me, the most seductive thing about quinoa is its texture — it is so refined! And although I often serve it in place of rice, I also love creating more sophisticated recipes for it.

That’s how I came up with today’s dish. I wanted to make an elegant appetizer, something I could serve at dinner parties — something that would highlight this little seed’s delicate shape and subtle flavor.

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Maccheroni alla Chitarra with Herbes de Provence and cured olivesWhen it comes to cooking, my focus is always on seasonal produce. But now and then, I like to make a dish that is truly seasonless. I always have a box of pasta, olive oil and fresh garlic in my pantry… And I certainly always have cured olives in my refrigerator.

Ever since my first trip to Provence, when I discovered olives de Nyons,* cured olives have become a staple in my kitchen. I simply couldn’t live without them.

Authentic olives de Nyons are so exceptional that they boast their own AOC (Appellation d’Origine Contrôlée). Harvested late in the season, their skins become a bit shriveled and their flesh packed with concentrated flavors. Then they are salted and dry-cured, a process that removes any bitterness and intensifies their inherent sweetness. They’re just sublime!

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