One recipe, two ideas here: First, that you can use ground turkey in a stir fry. Second, that when you have older, thicker green beans, you can transform them by cutting steep diagonal slices that will absorb a fantastic amount of flavor.

My mom has made green beans like this for years, so it always seemed kind of normal to me. But I’ve never seen anyone make them the way she does. They’re amazing. And there’s really nothing to it, just a turn of the knife.

It’s a little longer prep time, but flip side is the cooking time is less. It takes me 15 minutes to cut a pound of green beans, and I’m slow.

You’re probably more used to seeing cut pieces of meat in stir fry. Often you’ll find a little bit of ground pork for flavoring in a dish of whole green beans. And there’s a fantastic eggplant dish that uses ground pork. But ground meat is less common in stir fries at Chinese restaurants here.

Once you try it, I think you will love ground turkey for stir fry. I find the more traditional ground pork generally too fatty. And what I love about ground turkey is that it’s poultry without the slimy job of trimming chicken.

As with most stir fries, this dish is extremely versatile. The green beans on their own are a phenomenal vegetable dish. And the ground turkey adds delicious flavor to any vegetables you want to saute.

If you love my old fan favorite chicken and green bean stir fry, I promise you will love this one too.

I don’t use a lot of bottled sauces – they have too many additives and take up valuable space in my fridge. You only need a few pantry ingredients to mix up a stir fry sauce that’s fresher and better than anything you can buy. read on…

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Daily dinner in my house probably isn’t what you imagine. With four kids in three schools, and an activity or two per kid, every day is a lot of screeching around corners in my loaded minivan hauling people hither and yon. I might use a brief stop at home to rummage around and prep, but when it comes to eating time, we’re throwing food together on the fly. It’s not pretty, but it’s nutritious food at home, and we’re almost always together.

So one of my well-practiced specialties is spontaneous meal production. And one of my favorite last-minute dishes is this pan of eggs, gently poached in a garlic-scented tomato sauce, topped with cheese. It’s gorgeous served in the pan, everyone dishing up an egg or two and, as they eat, enjoying the golden yolk spill into an overload of deep tomato richness.

Variations on this dish exist in a number of cuisines – as sweet-pepper-and-cumin spiced shakshuka in the Middle East, or garlicky, spicy uovo in purgatorio in Italy. But it’s just one of those very flexible basics that can take any variation you want to throw in. read on…

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Coconut macaroons are a humble cookie compared to their French macaron cousins: one pale and bumpy with shredded coconut, the other smooth with finely ground almond, two delicate pastel-tinted rounds sandwiching a creamy center. But there’s a down-home charm to the unassuming coconut macaroon, and a deeply satisfying chew from the rich, dense pile of coconutty sweetness.

I first rediscovered my love for the old-fashioned coconut macaroon, much to my surprise, at Disneyland. At the last corner of nostalgic Main Street USA, with its old-time emporiums, ice cream parlor, candy shop and penny arcade, is the Jolly Holiday bakery, charmingly Victorian in buttercup and white, its large terrace packed with round tables shaded by cheerfully striped umbrellas.

Not a traditional bakery – after all, Disneyland needs to feed 50,000 adults and kids a day – the Jolly Holiday is primarily a quick-service food operation. But it does have glass cases with a few bakery items, mostly standard-issue danishes, croissants and cookies.

But the sweet that gets the raves from Disneyphiles is not the French macaron shaped like a Mickey Mouse head, it’s the Matterhorn macaroon, a tall mountain of coconut, golden brown outside topped with a white chocolate snowcap. The crisp outside gives way to an unexpectedly soft, moist, sweet interior – the stuff coconut dreams are made of – and is easily the best macaroon I’ve ever had. read on…

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I would never trade summers in the midwest with family, but I’m always a little heartbroken when far-flung friends email, “We’re coming to San Francisco this summer!” and I have to write back, “Sorry, but we won’t be there…”

Good friends came to San Francisco for the first time this month, and when they emailed to ask for some recommendations, I wrote back saying, “I’m really not the best source for San Francisco info.” But then I’d think, “Oh, I need to tell her this…” and shoot off an email – “and this…” – another email – and by the time I was done I thought I should dig up some photos and put together a virtual guide for you and my future star-crossed summer visitors, so you can see the San Francisco that I see.

San Francisco is a hilly city, at the tip on a peninsula with water on three sides. Scenic views pop up everywhere, if you can bear to take your eyes off the rollercoaster one-way roads. It’s not the place for nervous drivers on stick shift.

San Francisco is not a nocturnal city – the vibe here is early to bed, early to rise/jog/bike/hike/coffee. There are pockets of nightlife, but it’s definitely not the kind of city that wakes up when the sun goes down. read on…

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Clever growers have extended the seasons for most vegetables, even tomatoes, but truly fresh, sweet corn on the cob is something we still get only in the heart of summer. This time of year I want to eat it as often as I can.

I’m loving this no-wilt corn and black bean salad for Fourth of July. You can make it ahead (yay) without slaving in a hot kitchen (double yay), and it holds up for hours of happy eating (triple yay). It’s also super nutritious and delicious, and if you’re lucky enough to have some left over, it makes a perfect lunch straight out of the fridge.

For my nephew’s graduation party last weekend, I couldn’t get enough of a similar corn and black bean salad made by my friend Flo, which I dressed up with a drizzle with chipotle sauce intended for tacos. So I decided to make a corn salad of my own that would incorporate smoky chipotle directly into the dressing.

Corn salad is easy to make with leftover corn – no awkwardness of trying to cut kernels off a hot cob. But for cooking fresh, I just discovered how surprisingly good and efficient it is to steam the corn in its husk in the microwave. read on…

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One of the best meals to be had in New York City – and very often my first destination off the plane – is a $5 tray of steaming hot dumplings in Chinatown.

Xiao long bao – pronunciation shao (rhymes with now) lohng (long O like tone) bow (as in take a bow) – aren’t your ordinary dumplings. They don’t look different from your ordinary bite-sized dim sum treat, little packets in a bamboo steamer, but the secret is inside.

Also known as Shanghai soup dumplings, xiao long bao don’t swim in soup, like won tons. Instead they do the neat trick of carrying soup inside the wrapper, the hot broth flavoring both the tender nugget of ground pork and the thin casing of dough tucked tight around to hold in every golden drop.

It’s not an easy trick to get right, and few places do. To get the soup effect, broth is added during the dumpling making, or a bit of cooled gelled broth (the gelatin from broth made with bones makes the liquid a solid gel when cooled) that will melt into liquid during cooking.

Then you have to eat it within minutes of steaming, before the broth gets absorbed into the dough. A xiao long bao made right is ready to burst with meaty juice at the first careful nibble.

I’m back in New York City for a couple of days, celebrating a milestone birthday of our family friend Jenny from Ohio. I planned this quick trip (just an 80 minute flight from Ohio), coming off a fantastic first visit with the kids in April. But I think I came back for me as much as for Jenny, because in April I never got my xiao long bao fix.

Since the xiao long bao craze hit New York City in the late ’90s – in 1999, the New York Times had a great cartoon-strip illustration of the proper eating technique to capture the broth in the without squirting hot broth or burning your mouth with steam – Joe’s Shanghai, with locations in Chinatown and midtown Manhattan as well as Flushing, Queens, has become the go-to spot for locals and tourists.

But for my money – and I’ve had xiao long bao in Shanghai too – the best are at Shanghai Cafe, which somewhere along the way got a neon-uplighting upgrade from its Chinatown utilitarian decor and became Shanghai Cafe Deluxe.

Deluxe or not, $4.95 will still get you a round bamboo steamer with eight little doughy pouches of pure meaty, juicy gold ($6.95 if you want the pork-plus-crab version). read on…

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Summer hack: fruit stain removal

1 June 2016
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June is freaking me out. I’m a week away from being the parent of a high schooler. The two minor graduations we have next week – middle school and elementary – are reminders that in four years our household count will start shrinking. My heart hurts just thinking about it. It sounds silly that end […]

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The greatest city

12 May 2016
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I’ve spent more years living in California than New York, but because I was in Manhattan for my first independent decade – the years between leaving my childhood home to having children myself – New York City is where I feel most free and alive. I went to college there, built a career there, met […]

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Rosemary roast pork loin

29 April 2016
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Dining at my house is family food, family style, no matter who is eating. Heaps of food, piles of plates, and everyone grabs what they like and sits where they wish. If I thought of having people over as a Dinner Party I’d probably scare myself out of it, because it would imply things I […]

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Ginger lemon honey mint tea

21 April 2016
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I’m just back from New York City for the kids’ spring break, and it was like gulping at the spring of life for a few glorious days – food food and food, miles of walking, brisk clear springtime and long-missed friends. My soul is refilled. I don’t know if it’s the travel home or just […]

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