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

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.

Red Snapper with Feta, Artichokes and Dill




  • (4) 6 oz  red snapper fillets (skin on)
  • 1 tbs extra virgin olive oil
  • Juice of 2 lemons
  • ¼ cup hellmans mayonnaise
  • 1 small clove peeled garlic, minced finely or pressed
  • 2 tbs greek feta cheese
  • 1 tbs reggiano parmigiano cheese, grated
  • 14 oz can artichoke hearts in water, drained well and roughly chopped
  • 1 plum tomato chopped in small dice
  • 1tbs fresh mint, chopped finely
  • 2 tbs fresh dill, chopped finely
  • Kosher salt, to taste
  • Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Preheat oven to 475 degrees (really)

For the artichoke topping

  1. Mix, mayonnaise, 1 tbs lemon juice, garlic, feta, parmigiano, artichoke hearts, tomato, mint and 1 tbs of dill in a small bowl, combining thoroughly.  Season to taste w/ black pepper and salt, being careful with the salt as the feta is very salty.

For the Fish

  1. Oil the bottom of a roasting pan with olive oil and place snapper fillets, skin side down in pan.  Season fillets liberally with salt, pepper and 1 tablespoon of lemon juice rubbing into fish well.
  2. Top each fillet with a generous amount of topping, spreading evenly to coat the top of fish.  Roast fish in preheated oven for approximately  15 minutes, until fish is just cooked.  Allow fish to rest, loosely covered for 5 minutes.
  3. Sprinkle remaining 1 tbs of dill onto fillets and serve immediately.


Serves 4



Braised Moroccan Style Chicken

Fragrant With Heady Spices And Exotic Flavor, This Dish Combines The Spicy, Sweet And Salty Flavors That Are Synonymous With Northern Africa. These Types Of Braises Are Often Served On Large Platters, Family Style With Couscous


  • 3 Tablespoons Olive Oil
  • 8 Skinless Chicken Thighs
  • Salt & Fresh Pepper To Taste
  • ¼ Teaspoons Ground Cinnamon
  • ¼ Teaspoons Ground Cumin
  • 2 Cloves Garlic, Peeled And Minced
  • 1 Onion, Peeled And Sliced
  • 6 Ripe Plum Tomatoes, Chopped (Use Drained Italian Canned If Not In Season)
  • 1 Cup Pitted Green Olives
  • 1 Tablespoon Tomato Paste
  • Juice Of 1 Orange
  • 1 Cup Chicken Broth Or Stock
  • ½ Cup Pitted Prunes
  • ½ Cup Dried Pitted Apricots
  • 1 Bay Leaf
  • 3 Tablespoons Chopped Parsley
  1. Heat 2 tablespoons oil over medium high heat in a deep, heavy skillet.  Saute the chicken, seasoning with salt, pepper, cinnamon & cumin on both sides for approximately 3 – 5 minutes per side, until browned.  Remove chicken from pan and set aside.
  2. Add additional tablespoon of oil to pan, as needed and saute garlic and onion for 2 minutes, until translucent.
  3. Add tomatoes, olives, tomato paste, orange juice, chicken stock, prunes, apricots and bay leaf to pan and cook, stirring for 2 – 3 minutes bringing to a simmer.
  4. Add reserved chicken and any accumulated juices to the pan, spooning sauce over chicken.
  5. Cover and braise on a low simmer for 30 minutes, until chicken is tender and cooked through.
  6.  Garnish with parsley and serve.

Serves 4

photo by Kristi Senat


Saffron Rice with Toasted Almonds

  • 4 cups well seasoned chicken broth
  • Pinch of toasted saffron
  • 2 cups long grain white rice
  • 1 TBS extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 small onion, peeled and chopped finely
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 2 TBS raw almonds, toasted in a pan, cooled and chopped coarsely
  • Chopped parsley for garnish


  1. Heat the chicken broth and the saffron in a small pot on medium low heat while starting the rice.
  2. Rinse the rice in a strainer under cold running water until the water coming out of the strainer runs clear.  Drain the rice while the onion sautés.
  3. Heat the oil in a medium sized pan over medium heat and sauté the onion, seasoned with salt and pepper for several minutes until it is wilted and starting to look translucent.
  4. Add the rice to the onions and cook stirring for 3 minutes until the grains are coated with the oil and the rice is toasted.
  5. Add the chicken broth to the rice all at once, Stir the rice well, cover and cook at a low simmer for 18 minutes.
  6. Remove from the heat for 5 minutes and then stir and taste rice for seasoning.
  7. Serve Rice garnished with the almonds and parsley.
Serves 4





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



Grilled Red Snapper with Mango Salsa

Red Snapper is a delicious, mild, sweet and moist fish – perfect for grilling and topping with the fresh and spicy mango  salsa

For the mango salsa
  • 2 cups peeled, diced, ripe mango
  • 3 plum tomatoes, cored and diced
  • 1 yellow or orange pepper, seeded and diced
  • 1 small clove garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons chopped red onion (rinsed in a strainer in cold water 2x and drained)
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • Minced jalapeno or serrano pepper to taste
  • 2 tbs chopped fresh cilantro (optional)
  • Kosher salt & freshly ground black pepper to taste

  1. Combine all ingredients in a bowl and mix well.
  2. Taste for seasoning.

Can be made 1 day ahead and refrigerated, bring to room temperature before serving

For the snapper

  • 4 – 6 oz red snpper filets
  • Salt and fresh black pepper to taste
  1.  Preheat a gas grill to medium high.  Oil the racks very well.
  2. Season the fish on both sides with salt and pepper, liberally.
  3. Grill the fish without turning for approximately 5-6 minutes until fish is just opaque in the center.
  4. Remove fish carefully from grill and place on a serving platter.
  5. Top fish with salsa and serve immediately.
Serves 4

Seared Romaine Hearts with Lemon and Parmigiano Cheese

Craving a salad in mid Winter, I dreamed up this warm sort of version of a Caesar”ish” salad. It is missing anchovies and garlic, but is strong on the lemon Parmigiano component. Pan searing the romaine gives it a sweet, nutty flavor that I adore

Craving a salad in mid Winter, I dreamed up this warm sort of version of a Caesar”ish” salad. It is missing anchovies and garlic, but is strong on the lemon Parmigiano component. Pan searing the romaine gives it a sweet, nutty flavor that I adore

  • 1 large head of romaine lettuce, washed, dried and trimmed slightly, leaving core in tact and sliced in half horizontally through the core
  • 2 tbs extra virgin olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • juice of ½ lemon
  • 1/8 cup freshly grated Reggiano Parmigiano cheese (use a microplane)


  1. Heat the oil in a heavy cast iron pan on medium heat until hot, but not smoking.
  2. Season the Romaine with salt and pepper and place it cut side down in the hot pan.  Allow lettuce to cook for several minutes until it is starting to brown well on the cut side.
  3. Flip the Romaine halves onto the opposite side and allow to cook until it begins to get a nice nutty brown color.  Continue cooking and flipping, until the lettuce starts to wilt, turn golden brown and become tender.  You can check doneness by color and also by piercing the core with the tip of a sharp knife.  It is done when the knife slips in easily without resistance.
  4. Transfer Romaine to a serving platter, pour the lemon juice over the cut side evenly and sprinkle the cheese directly onto the hot Romaine, which will start to melt on contact.
  5. Serve immediately.
Serve 2

Scallop Ceviche with Orange, Mango and Mint


Delicate and flavorful, this preparation is the perfect treatment for ultra fresh, diver scallops

Delicate and flavorful, this preparation is the perfect treatment for ultra fresh, diver scallops

  • 6 Large sushi quality sea scallops (specify diver, dry if available)
  • 2 Limes, juiced
  • 1 Juice orange, juiced
  • ½ Ripe mango, peeled and diced in very small dice
  • 1 TBS finely minced scallion
  • ½ Jalapeno, finely minced to taste
  • 3 Fresh mint leaves, sliced in julienne
  • Sea salt to taste
  • Salmon Caviar for garnish (optional)


  1. Using a large chefs knife, slice scallops horizontally into 4 even slices.
  2. Transfer scallop slices to a large shallow platter with sides or a flat, shallow plastic Tupperware tub. Cover scallops and refrigerate while preparing marinating ingredients.
  3. In a medium sized bowl, combine lime juice, orange juice, mango, scallion, jalapeno and salt to taste.
  4. Pour marinating sauce mixture over scallops, almost covering them and refrigerate for 1 – 3 hours.
  5. Remove scallops from marinating liquid, reserving liquid. Arrange scallops on a serving platter and garnish with some of the marinating liquid and mango to moisten, salt to taste, and julienned mint.  Garnish platter with optional salmon caviar.  Serve immediately.
Serves 4

Grilled Greek Island Style Chicken Breasts

Grilled boneless chicken breasts served warm with a cool, Greek style chopped salad on top is the perfect summer dish for a breezy, al fresco dinner

Grilled boneless chicken breasts served warm with a cool, Greek style chopped salad on top is the perfect summer dish for a breezy, al fresco dinner

  •  4 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves, pounded 3/4” thin

For the marinade

  • ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 2tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 2 garlic cloves, smashed
  • 2 tblespoons chopped mint
  • Salt & pepper

For the garnish

  • 1 tablespoons fresh oregano, chopped
  • 2 red ripe tomatoes, chopped
  • ¼ cup cucumber, peeled, seeded & chopped finely
  • 2 tablespoons sweet vidalia type onion, chopped finely
  • 3 tablespoons small capers in brine, drained
  • 1 clove garlic, peeled and minced
  • 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
  • ½ cup greek feta cheese, crumbled
  • Salt & pepper to taste
  • 1 tablespoons each, flat leaf parsley and mint chopped for garnish



  1.  Marinate chicken breasts for one hour in marinade.
  2. Prepare garnish by combining all ingredients and set aside at room temperature until ready to serve.  Garnish may be made up to 6 hours ahead, but do not add feta cheese until ready to serve.
  3. Preheat grill to high heat.  Grill chicken for 2-3 minutes per side, remove chicken from the grill and place on serving platter, spooning garnish directly over chicken.
  4. Serve immediately, or at room temperature as part of a buffet.
Serves 4