Lentil Soup Warm My Heart


I love soup.  Especially in winter, when the icy cold winds seem to penetrate my body & soul.  Enter the lentil, specifically the Lentil du Puy or the French green lentil.  I adore the earthy flavor of these legumes and how they hold their shape even after cooking for an extended period.  Combined with a few aromatic ingredients, this tiny bean makes a pot full of soup that provides lots of fiber and protein, together with fantastic flavor and texture.  I promise it will warm your heart too.


The process is simple, wash the lentils in a strainer and pay attention to be sure there is no foreign matter mixed in (I’ve found tiny, tiny stones on occasion).  Sauté aromatic vegetables and herbs of your choice in either oil or butter, I like to add lots of ground pepper but wait to add salt later as it can impede the cooking of the legume.  If you have it handy, splash a few tablespoons of sherry, red or white wine or white vermouth onto the sautéed vegetables.  Add the lentils, add stock or water to cover the contents of the solids in the pot by a couple of inches, a tablespoon of tomato paste and simmer uncovered for a couple of hours, stirring every so often.  Add more water if the soup seems way too thick.

This time, I used 2 ribs of celery, 3 carrots, 1/2 red onion, 1 plum tomato chopped, 1 shallot, 2 cloves of garlic and lots of fresh thyme.  After sautéing the vegetables and herbs, I splashed a few tablespoons of dry sherry into the pot (You can skip this step, but I like to build the flavor and I had it.  Red or white wine or vermouth would work too).  I used water as I was gifting soup to a friend who is vegetarian but I have also used chicken or beef broth in the past.  When the soup had cooked for a couple of hours, I added a box of chopped fresh white button mushrooms and a handful of chopped, soft, sun dried tomatoes that I had sautéed together first for about 10 minutes.

Sauté of aromatic vegetables and herbs

After simmering, taste for seasoning and serve.  If you like a more pureed texture, you can use a handheld blender to puree some or all of the soup.  Sometimes I will puree a bit of the soup but always like to leave a portion of the lentils whole, as I like the texture. If you like, you can add some water if the soup is too thick for your liking.

The soup is so much better when made the day before, if you can wait.  Try toasting a piece of good bread, rubbing it with a clove of garlic which has been peeled, and then drizzling extra virgin olive oil over it, then place the toast in the bottom of the bowl and ladle the hot soup on top.

Warm my heart, lentil soup.

Lentil Soup

Cranberry Blaahg

raw materials

raw materials

I’ve never been the type of person to suffer from any holiday blues, but this does not mean that I don’t appreciate that others do.
So of course, my answer to holiday depression is….(wait for it) food!
Cranberries, ruby red on the plate with their combination of sweet, tart, and bitter flavors can be transformed in so many ways.
I love the various consistencies ranging from gelatinous (hello, my daughter’s favorite canned variety which keeps it’s shape for life, with the ridges still visible even after removed from the can) to the smooth and silky yet still textural conserve version, which is my favorite.
I’ve been making this raspberry version of cranberry sauce for years – because I love raspberries and California raspberries, while not local, are pretty good in November combined and cooked with cranberries.  I’d be telling a lie if I didn’t say that I am hesitant to even share how simple this recipe is, because I’m pretty sure people think it’s a big deal to make. (Shhh).  Get over your holiday blues with my Cranberry Blaahg and recipe for fast, fresh, simple + delicious conserves.

Cranberry Raspberry Conserves 

  •  2 pints of fresh raspberries
  • 16 oz fresh cranberries (rinsed, picked, stems removed)
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1/2 cup dark brown sugar
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 TBS Chambord black raspberry liquor (optionally delish)

One of the beautiful things about this recipe is that there are only 5 ingredients + water.

 Combine everything together except the Chambord, in a large pot.  Be sure the pot is ample enough, as this mixture will bubble and foam up. Notice my smaller sized pot which bubbled over into a very sticky mess…don’t do this!
Cook on a medium high heat until everything starts to bubble and foam.
Bubbling cranberries and raspberries

Bubbling cranberries and raspberries

Reduce your heat to medium and stir.
When you start to hear the cranberries pop and everything starts to break down and looks saucy, you are done.  Add the Chambord now, if you choose to use it.
cooked and reduced berries, sugar and water

cooked and reduced berries, sugar and water

Because cranberries are naturally high in pectin, the conserves will be naturally jelled upon cooling.  Additionally, you will be happy to know that cranberries are an antioxidant and a super food.
Cool and refrigerate, conserves will keep for up to a week (if it lasts that long).  Excellent on cold meat sandwiches (turkey, pork, roast beef, chicken or ham – you choose) and as a condiment with cheeses.
Cranberry Raspberry Conserves

Cranberry Raspberry Conserves

Roasted Tomato and Fennel Soup


I like to make this dairy free, vegetarian soup when tomatoes are at their peak ripeness, end of summer. Look for large, meaty plum tomatoes, ideally. Caramelizing the tomato, fennel and shallot amplifies their sweetness, creating many layers of fantastic flavor. I like to serve this garnished with a slice of toasted baguette spread with creamy goat cheese

  • 2TBS + 1 Tsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 large shallots, peeled, trimmed and halved
  • 8 Large plum tomatoes, trimmed and halved
  • 1 Fennel Bulb, trimmed and cut into quarters, reserving the dark green leafy fronds, finely chopped
  • 1 large carrot, peeled, trimmed and chopped
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  1. Pre heat oven to 400°F
  2. Toss tomatoes, fennel and shallot with 2 TBS of oil and spread onto a non-stick sheet pan.  Place tomatoes cut side up.  Season liberally with salt and black pepper.
  3. Place pan in hot oven and cook for about 30 minutes, until vegetables start to sizzle and caramelize, looking browned.  Remove pan from oven.
  4.  While vegetables are cooking in the oven, heat remaining oil in a stock pot on medium heat. Sauté carrots sprinkled with 2 TBS of the reserved fennel fronds, stirring often for about 5 minutes until wilted and softened.
  5. Add the contents of the sheet pan, including all of the accumulated juices to the pot with the carrots. Add 4 cups of water, salt and pepper to taste to the pot.
  6. Simmer the pot on medium for 10 minutes, stirring often and taste for seasoning.
  7. Transfer contents of pot to a blender, carefully.   You may have to do this in 2 or 3 batches; blend all ingredients very well and transfer mixture to a clean pot. 
  8. Re-heat and serve immediately or allow to cool, refrigerating and serving the next day reheated.
Serves 6
Note:   Be extra careful when blending hot ingredients in a blender to allow some hot air to escape while blending ingredients, by slightly moving lid to a side position or removing the center plastic part of the lid and covering with a towel so the ingredients don’t splatter.  Neglecting this step can cause a hot explosion.

Maple Glazed Acorn Squash

This simple vegetable dish is Autumn on a plate with its striking colors of deep green skin and golden orange flesh. The sugars in the squash caramelize beautifully creating a full, rich flavor in the mouth, and the maple syrup creates a candy like coating. For the non-squash lovers, this is like a combination of sweet potato and carrot, delicious directly out of the oven but equally as divine cold the next day!

This simple vegetable dish is Autumn on a plate with its striking colors of deep green skin and golden orange flesh. The sugars in the squash caramelize beautifully creating a full, rich flavor in the mouth, and the maple syrup creates a candy like coating. For the non-squash lovers, this is like a combination of sweet potato and carrot, delicious directly out of the oven but equally as divine cold the next day!

  • 1 acorn squash, washed, cut in eighths, seeds removed
  • 2 TBS extra virgin olive oil
  • Salt & fresh black pepper to taste
  • ½ cup pure maple syrup


  1. Preheat oven to 375°f
  2. Place squash on a foil lined sheet pan with sides and drizzle with olive oil.  Using your hands, toss squash with oil until well coated on all sides.
  3. Sprinkle with liberal amounts of salt and freshly ground pepper.
  4. Roast in for 20 minutes skin side down, or until tender and starting to brown.
  5. Pour maple syrup over squash slices, brushing to coat well and continue to roast for another 5 – 10 minutes, until everything is glazed and bronze.
  6. Transfer to serving dish and serve immediately.

Serves 4

Sautéed Zucchini and Summer Squash with Herbs

Quickly sautéed mixed colors of summer squash cooked with fresh thyme is simplicity at its finest.  I love the sweetness of the caramelized squash combined with the earthy, herbal flavor of thyme


  • 4 medium zucchini and yellow squash, trimmed, washed and dried
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • ½ tsp fresh thyme leaves, chopped
  • 1TBS extra Virgin Olive Oil
  1. Heat the oil in a medium sized sauté pan on medium heat until hot but not smoking.
  2. Add squash to the pan, season liberally with salt and freshly ground pepper, add thyme and toss squash in pan for 4-5 minutes until it is nicely browned and cooked through.
  3. Serve immediately.

Serves 6

Warm Goat Cheese Salad with Sherry Vinaigrette


Crispy and creamy at the same time, this warm goat cheese disc served with fresh greens and the nutty flavored sherry vinaigrette is a perfect combination of textures and flavors

  • ½ Cup unseasoned fresh bread crumbs
  • 2 small logs chevre type mild goat cheese
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 6 small handfuls of baby salad greens
  • 1 bunch fresh chives, chopped
  • 6 teaspoons sherry mustard vinaigrette


  1. Place bread crumbs on a large dinner plate.
  2. Slice cheese into cylinders ¾” each with a knife which has been warmed in hot water and thoroughly dried (this will aid in slicing the soft cheese).
  3. Dip each slice of cheese into the beaten egg and then roll gently in the bread crumbs .  Place crumbed cheese slices onto a cookie sheet lined with foil and chill for 1 hour.  (can be prepared up to 4 hours ahead). (Make as many cheese discs as servings you are preparing)
  4. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  5. Bake cheese slices in preheated oven for 10 – 15 minutes or until lightly browned.  While cheese is baking, toss salad greens well with vinaigrette and divide evenly onto 4 plates.  Top each salad with a slice of warm cheese, sprinkle with chives and serve.
Sherry Mustard Vinaigrette
  • 1 clove fresh garlic peeled & mashed to a paste or pressed
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 1 teaspoon smooth french dijon mustard
  • 3 tablespoons sherry wine vinegar
  • ¾ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • Freshly chopped herbs (parsley, chives, mint)
  1. In a mixing bowl, mix garlic & salt w/ a small whisk until well combined.
  2. Add mustard and vinegar combining well.
  3. Slowly whisk in olive oil to emulsify dressing.
  4. Taste for seasoning and add herbs.


Serves 6

Arugula Salad with Shaved Parmigiano Cheese and Lemon Vinaigrette

  • I love the simplicity of this earthy salad, the combination of peppery arugula, nutty Parmigiano cheese and bright lemon citrus are perfect together

    I love the simplicity of this earthy salad, the combination of peppery arugula, nutty Parmigiano cheese and bright lemon citrus are perfect together


  1. Make the vinaigrette by combining the lemon juice with the salt and pepper in the bottom of your salad bowl.
  2. Add the oil mixing well with a fork or a whisk to combine.
  3. Add the arugula to the bowl with the vinaigrette, toss well to dress the greens and then add the shaved strips of cheese to the greens and toss gently.
  4. Serve immediately.

Serves 4



Spinach with Garlic, Raisins and Pine Nuts

Traditionally Sicilian, this dish is earthy with greens and a perfect balance of sweet and savory, I love it warm or at room temperature as part of an Italian style buffet

Traditionally Sicilian, this dish is earthy with greens and a perfect balance of sweet and savory, I love it warm or at room temperature as part of an Italian style buffet


  • 2- 10 oz packages fresh spinach or 4 bunches fresh leaf spinach
  • 2 tbs extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped
  • ½ cup raisins, plumped in hot water for 10 minutes
  • ½ cup pine nuts, toasted
  • Salt & fresh pepper to taste


    1. Wash spinach thoroughly in several changes of water, drain well
    2. Heat olive oil over medium heat in a large saute pan.  Add garlic and saute for several minutes, until slightly golden.  Do not brown garlic as it will be bitter!
    3. Add spinach, raisins, salt & pepper and saute until spinach is wilted.  Add pine nuts, toss and taste for seasoning adding additional salt and pepper if necessary.
    4. Serve immediately or may be served at room temperature.


Serves 4

Apple Crisp


This is a classic, simple dessert that fills the house with the aromatic and fruity scent of apples, cinnamon & butter.  I like to serve the crisp warm with a large dollop of crème fraiche.


  • 6 – 8 baking apples peeled, cored and sliced   (I use Granny Smith or Golden Delicious)
  • 1 tablespoons ground cinnamon
  • ¼ cup white sugar
  • 1 ½ cups firmly packed brown sugar
  • ½ cup + 2 tablespoons all purpose flour
  • 1 cup rolled oats
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1 stick cold unsalted butter, cut into small chunks


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter a 13 x 9 x 2 inch baking dish or pan.
  2. Combine apples, cinnamon, white sugar, ½ cup of brown sugar and 2 tablespoons flour.  Toss well and pour mixture into baking dish.
  3. Combine remaining flour, remaining brown sugar, oats, salt and ¾ of butter in a medium sized bowl.  Using 2 knives, a pastry blender or your fingers, blend ingredients until they look like coarse crumbs, working quickly to keep butter cold.  Pour mixture over apples.  Dot remaining butter on top of crisp.
  4. Bake crisp for approximately 50 minutes, or until bubbly and brown and apples are tender inside when pierced by a knife.  Allow to stand for at least 15 minutes before serving.  May be served warm or at room temperature.
Serves 6

Black Bean Dip


Black beans make a dramatic, dark colored dip that pops with flavor from lime, jalapeno and cilantro.  Make this a day or two ahead of your party and bring to room temperature prior to serving

  • 2-15 oz. cans black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 2 TBS extra virgin olive oil, plus additional for drizzling
  • 1 clove garlic, smashed, peeled & chopped
  • 1 small red onion, peeled and diced finely
  • 1 small red pepper, seeded and diced finely
  • Minced, seeded Jalapeno pepper, to taste (optional)
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • Juice of 2 limes
  • 1 TBS sherry vinegar
  • 2 tsp Kosher salt to taste
  • 2 TBS chopped fresh cilantro (optional)
  • 2-3 TBS cold water


  1. Heat olive oil in a non-stick pan on medium high heat.  Sauté garlic, onion and pepper(s) with cumin, until translucent.
  2. Transfer sautéed vegetables to a food processor fitted with the steel blade along with black beans, lime juice, sherry vinegar and salt.  Process until smooth, tasting for seasoning.
  3. For a Summer, no cook version, add vegetables raw to beans before processing.
  4. Add water to thin and additional salt, if necessary.
  5. Transfer to a bowl, drizzle w/ oil and garnish with cilantro.
  6. Serve warm or at room temperature, with tortilla chips and/or crudités as a dip.