"It's so beautifully arranged on the the plate – you know someone's fingers have been all over it." – Julia Child

Posts tagged easy recipes

Sweet, salty, crunchy, gooey, toasty, buttery, sticky, porky, beefy, cheesy: you can have all of these flavors and textures at once if you like when you have breakfast.  And what’s not to like?  Forget a rushed bowl of cereal and come to the diner with us.

A toasted bagel with lox is one of the most impeccably balanced food combinations. Make sure you start with a good bagel and lox or smoked salmon, and have the appropriate condiments when assembling one: fresh dill, cream cheese, capers, red onions, and lemon wedges.

Steak and eggs, if you’re feeling like extra-ravenous! Pick a quick-cooking steak like strip, flat iron, hanger, or skirt. Allow to meat to come to room temperature (pull it out of the fridge 30 minutes before cooking). Pat the meat dry with paper towels, season it generously with salt and freshly ground pepper on both sides.  Head 2 teaspoons vegetable in a large skillet over high heat and add the steak to the pan when it starts to smoke. Add the steak and cook it for 1 to 2 minutes, then turn it and let it cook on the opposite side for about 30 seconds. Continue flipping the steak for 4 to 6 minutes total for medium-rare, longer if you prefer it more done.

For the seasoned potatoes seen alongside, get ready to raid your pantry. To serve 2, scrub 2 russet potatoes and cut them into 1-inch chunks. Place them in a medium saucepan, add 1 tablespoon salt, and add enough cold water to cover by about 2 inches. Bring the water to a boil over high heat, then reduce the heat to medium and boil the potatoes until they’re fork tender, 10 to 12 minutes. Drain the potatoes and let them stand to dry out for 5 minutes.

In a small bowl, combine 1 tablespoon paprika, 1 tablespoon garlic powder, 1 tablespoon onion powder, 2 teaspoons ground black pepper, and 1 teaspoon dry thyme leaves. Melt 4 tablespoons unsalted butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the potatoes and season them generously with the spice mixture. Cook, shaking the pan and tossing the potatoes occasionally until they’re golden and crisp. Season with salt to taste.

Pancakes. From the box to greatgrandma’s recipe, I’ve griddled it all, but this recipe adapted from The Gourmet Cookbook is the one that I keep coming back to. They’re buttery and light and so delicious you might even pass on the syrup.


Makes about 8 pancakes

1 cup whole milk
2 large eggs
3 tablespoons plus ½ teaspoon vegetable oil
1 stick (4 ounces / 8 tablespoons) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
1 cup all-purpose flour
4 teaspoons baking soda
4 teaspoons sugar
1 teaspoon salt

– Whisk together milk, eggs, and 2 tablespoons vegetable oil in a medium bowl, then whisk in the butter. Stir together the flour, baking powder, sugar, and salt in another medium bowl. Whisk in egg mixture until just combined. Heat ½ teaspoon oil in a large nonstick skillet* over medium heat until hot but not smoking. Working in batches, pour 1/3 cup measures of batter into the skillet and cook until bubbles have formed on the top and broken, 2 to 3 minutes. Flip pancakes with a spatula and cook until undersides are golden, 1 to 2 minutes more.

-Serve with maple syrup. Keep pancakes warm in a preheated 200°F oven on a baking sheet if you want to make all of them and serve at once. I much prefer using an electric griddle to make pancakes. It makes for more even ones, and also, if you’re the cook, you get to eat with your crowd and not alone at the very end of the meal!

Diner DeluxeThese waffles have a bit of crunch with the addition of cornmeal. I call for 1 stick of butter, but you can add up to 2 of them: the more butter in the batter, the crispier the waffle. Keep the waffles warm in a preheated 200°F oven directly on the racks while you make the rest. Freeze the leftovers for a weekday breakfast.


Makes 4

 Whisk together in a large bowl:
1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
¼ cup medium grind yellow cornmeal
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 tablespoon granulated sugar

Whisk together in another bowl:
3 large eggs
1 stick of butter, melted and cooled
1 ½ cups milk

– Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and pour in the wet ones. Gently whisk them together with a few swift strokes. Cook waffles according to your griddle’s instructions and serve with butter and syrup or fruit syrup.

Fried eggs seem to be a mystery to many, but they’re really very easy to make. Heat a tablespoon of butter in a medium nonstick skillet. Once melted, crack in an egg or 2 and season them with salt and pepper. Cook the eggs until the egg whites are opaque and set and the yolk — well, if you like a runny egg, serve it when the whites are done, but if you prefer a firm one, let them cook a while longer, until you start to see the yolks firm up.

Have you ever been to the supermarket and not found a tomato? Probably not. We live in a seasonless era where produce exists year-round. You can buy peaches in the dead of winter and strawberries in the fall, but they never taste good. The same goes for tomatoes. These sci-fi versions with their lipstick red hue and taut skins are more decor than food.

I’ve become used to perennial produce, just like many, and I buy those out of season fruits (mostly tomatoes, because, I just really, really want one in my sandwich) only to eat them and feel deep disappointment.

It’s now late summer and the proper time to eat tomatoes, finally. There are so many beautiful, sun-ripened, juicy ones available you might have a hard time selecting among them, but they’re only around for a short while so eat as many as you can and store the memory of their proper flavor in your mind and belly until next season.

A favorite way we have of eating them is the most simple: salt and pepper, maybe some olive oil, good bread, and whatever cheese you may have, like mozzarella or goat cheese or sharp cheddar (try a cheddar, tomato, and mayonnaise sandiwich!).

We also love this take on a BLT with pork belly and herbs, and a vegetarian ensemble with green and yellow tomatoes, fresh mozzarella, cucumbers, and basil.


1 1/4 pounds pork belly
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon dry mustard
1/2 cup ketchup
3 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
3 tablespoons molasses
3 tablespoons malt vinegar
1 tablespoon sharp mustard
1 cup water

– Adjust an oven rack to the middle position and preheat the oven to 350°F.

– With a sharp knife, score (gently cut) the top of the pork belly in a cross-hatch pattern. Season with salt, pepper, and the dry mustard.

– Whisk the remaining ingredients together in small saucepan and bring to a boil. Place the pork belly in a small baking dish and pour the sauce over it (it should come up at least halfway up the sides of the belly, otherwise, transfer to a smaller container). Cover with foil and transfer to the oven. Bake 1 hour until tender.

– Cool the belly completely (preferably refrigerated overnight) and slice into 1/2-inch thick slices. Cook the slices in a large skillet over medium heat until crisp. If you like, you can simmer the cooking sauce and use it to glaze the pork.

– For the sandwich, spread toast with mayonnaise or mustard, then top with the pork belly and ripe, salted tomatoes. Add herbs like lemon thyme and basil and serve.

Finally, eggplant and tomatoes in a version of caponata. Caponata is a Sicilian classic, with myriad interpretations, but mostly it starts with eggplant cooked until tender. Other ingredients include the aforementioned tomatoes, onions, and celery, plus carrots, capers, olives, pine nuts, and herbs. The flavor is agrodolce (sweet-sour) and all of these ingredients combine to hit your palate in multiple locations at once.

This edition is a bit loose, having been made quickly from what was on hand. The dish, as you can see in the photo, is meant to look like a thick, fruit-heavy compote. Our caponata starts with eggplant and includes bits and pieces of fresh tomatoes. It’s actually a great way to rescue leftover bits of tomatoes you might have from having made a sandwich or a salad. You can use anchovies, or sardines as this recipe does—don’t worry, they won’t be “fishy” but will impart a heady dose of umami.


Olive oil
2 black-skinned eggplant (2 to 2 1/2 pounds), cut into 1 1/2-inch cubes
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 large yellow onion, chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
Aleppo pepper or red pepper flakes
6 ripe tomatoes, cored and coarsely chopped
1/2 cup pimento-stuffed olives (chopping optional)
1/3 cup capers, rinsed and drained
2 sardines packed in oil
1/3 cup raisins (optional)
2 rosemary sprigs
Lemon juice
Red wine vinegar
– Heat 1/4 cup olive oil over medium-high heat in a large skillet. Add the eggplant and onion and season generously with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the eggplant begins to soften and the onion is translucent, about 20 minutes. It’s ok if the eggplant turns a bit brown, but do lower the heat if any excess charring begins to happen.

– Add the garlic and a pinch of Aleppo pepper and cook 2 minutes. Stir in the tomatoes and any juices and continue cooking, stirring, until the mixture is becoming homogenous and thick. Stir in the olives, capers, sardines, raisins, and rosemary and cook for 10 minutes longer.

– Stir in 1 tablespoon lemon juice and 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar. Taste and adjust seasoning with salt, pepper, and vinegar.

– Cool to room temperature and serve as an appetizer with garlic toast or alongside grilled fish or chicken.

Cheeses for Bruschetta


“Bigger is better!” is a creed that in our modern American food lexicon translates into super-sized meals and foods that have morphed into concoctions worthy of sci-fi. Ever curious about culinary innovation  hungry eyes and minds and mouths sometimes mislead us and feed us disastrous concoctions.

We are guilty of eating out a lot: sometimes it’s convenient, other times it’s because we’re running around for work, and most often because restaurants are where we meet with friends, celebrate, and relax. Don’t get us wrong, we love it! We’re so lucky to live in New York where restaurant choices are unlimited, but, after stuffing ourselves to the point of waistband button explosion, we return to our kitchens and scale back to the basics: meals made with local and seasonal items, cooked without much fuss and fanfare.

Ripe tomatoes, plump strawberries, slender asparagus, and herbs from the garden are a good place to start. Douse thick slices of  good bread with peppery olive oil and grill until charred: the exterior will crunch between your teeth, and the sturdy crumb will soak up the berry and tomato juices.

You can top your bruschetta with whatever you like, just remember to mind the basics: Start with the freshest and ripest produce, bread that has a thick crust and a dense crumb, quality extra-virgin olive oil, flaky sea salt, and just-ground black pepper. If adding cheeses, go for full fat and have a variety on hand, like mozzarella, spreadable mascarpone, and crumbly Parmigiano.

Tell us what you top your bruschetta with!


Father's DayFather's DayThis Father’s Day focus on spending time with your dad rather than slaving away in the kitchen.  It’s summer — time to get the grill out.  These beef skewers are easy to make, casual to serve, and completely satisfying, especially when paired with our chimichurri and homemade mayo.

It’s really a nonrecipe: start with good steak, like NY strip or ribeye. Upgrade with dry-aged steaks— a bit more expensive but extra-flavorful, just like a steakhouse. Cut the steak into 1 1/2-inch cubes and skewer them (if you’re using wooden skewers, remember to soak them for at least 15 minutes prior to using so they don’t burn on the grill), alternating with assorted mini-peppers and cipollini or pearl onions still in their skins. Season the skewers on all sides with salt and freshly ground black pepper and brush them with vegetable oil. Grill until nicely charred.

Serve them with grilled crusty rolls and a generous dose of chimichurri.

To make Homemade Mayo (it’s super-duper easy!) all you need do is whisk together 1 large egg yolk, 1 tablespoon lemon juice, 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard, and a pinch of salt and pepper. Very slowly, start whisking in 1 cup vegetable oil. Whisk, whisk, whisk, and voilá! MAYONNAISE! It really is superb, but, of course, we are very partial to Hellman’s :)


Home Made Doughnuts

The dog ate our homework. And our set food.

Actually, we have a very good excuse for having left C&S to gather dust, mold, and hairballs: we were working on a BOOK! Our very first, and we are oh-so-thrilled and in that pinch-us-till-we-bruise-because-we-can’t-believe-it phase.

Due out this fall, our first collaboration in print will feature original recipes perfect for the chilly months, so get ready to cozy up with us because we will make it very much worth your while. Guaranteed, or your money back.

For the past few months we’ve been meeting and talking and researching (the research is still classified, but the nature of it will be vodka-clear come fall) and plotting and stressing and sprouting more grays etc. etc. etc. But, finally, in recent weeks, everything came together: I handed in a manuscript with recipes I’m sure will make you giddy, and we got to shooting.

Our shoots began in a Brooklyn brownstone that prop stylist and all-around fabulous girl Emily Rickard has outfitted with her incredible taste and unique style. You must visit her site and blog AppleKetchup for inspiration on how to live.  In the brownstone we shot several of our chapter openers: light, airy, and inviting, Emily’s hand helped us add a touch of welcome and celebration to our images.

Next, we packed, unpacked, packed again, and shot our tabletop images at Good Light Studio in Midtown. We’ve both shot at numerous studios around town, but this is one of our favorites: generous daylight, a too-comfortable kitchen (I was in the depths of despair when I got home to my Lilliputian-sized one), and incredible studio managers. An average of 14 shots a day—in photo speak, that is almost twice as many as are normally accomplished on a normal shoot day—made possible by having two sets going at the same time, as well as the invaluable help of digitech Geraldine Pierson and friend and chef Dean Sheremet—if you haven’t already, do check out his site for recipes and food tips that you shouldn’t be carrying on without.

We realize that this post has turned into an acknowledgments page of sorts, but we really couldn’t have made the shoots and book happen without our crew. Speaking of which, Penelope Bouklas, prop styling goddess, brought us countless surfaces, linens, glasses, plates, and an array of dreamy utensils (one of which I pocketed) that made our lovely book that much lovelier.

Phew. OK, here are some outtakes from the shoot. I’m a ham, so I’m the nerd with the glasses behind the quince branches willing to be photographed. The shot with the grape tomatoes is a peek at one of our juicy double-page spreads, and the doughnuts… Well, you’ve suffered through our Oscar-winner-ish thank you’s so you get a sneak peek recipe. You’ll love it and it will make you the most popular gal or dude at the party. Srsly.

Behind the Scenes

Bloody Mary


Toss the doughnuts in simple cinnamon sugar, or add some extra zing with citrus or vanilla bean sugar, dip them in warm maple syrup (give your guests a small bowl), make them savory with sugar, pinch of salt, pinch of cayenne pepper, fried sage crumbled

1 tin store-bough biscuits
8 cups vegetable oil

Heat oil in a Dutch oven or large skillet with high sides over medium-high heat until temperature registers 350°F. (Oil should be 1- to 1 1/2 inches deep). Add half of the doughnuts and half of the doughnut holes and fry until the bottoms turn golden brown, 1 to 1 1/2 minutes small doughnuts and 2 to 2 1/2 minutes for large doughnuts. Using chopsticks or the handles of 2 wooden cooking spoons, turn the doughnuts and holes and fry for until golden brown, 1 to 2 minutes longer.

Transfer doughnuts to a paper towel-lined plate and allow to cool slightly, 1 to 2 minutes before dipping in glaze or coating in sugar. Serve warm.

3 tablespoons unsalted butter
3/4 cup sage leaves
1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon Aleppo pepper or red pepper flakes

Melt butter over medium heat in small skillet. Add sage leaves and cook, stirring occasionally, until crisp, 2 to 3 minutes. Transfer to paper towel-lined plate.

Crumble sage with fingertips and combine with sugar, salt, and Aleppo pepper in large plate. Toss warm doughnuts in sugar and serve immediately.

2 cups confectioners’ sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
8 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1/4 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Place confectioners’ sugar and salt in medium bowl. Whisk in melted butter, milk, and vanilla extract and whisk until smooth. Dip doughnuts and serve immediately.

1 cup confectioners’ sugar
1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
¾ cup milk

Place confectioners’ sugar, cocoa powder, and salt in medium bowl. Whisk in milk and whisk until smooth. Dip doughnuts and serve immediately.

8 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 8 pieces
2 cups confectioners’ sugar
1/4  teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 cup milk

Melt the butter over medium-high heat in a small stainless steel saucepan. Cook the butter until browned, 5 to 8 minutes, swirling the pan occasionally. The butter will begin to foam; the subsiding foam is an indicator that the butter is almost done.   Once the solids are caramel brown the remove the pan from the heat and immediately pour it into a medium bowl, scraping in all the solids. Add the confectioners’ sugar, salt, vanilla extract and whisk until smooth. Dip doughnuts and serve immediately.

Makes 8 to 10 doughnuts, depending on biscuit tin contents

Time to make the doughnuts: I use Pillsbury® biscuits for this recipe. One roll of “Buttermilk” biscuits yields ten small (about 2 1/2-inch inches in diameter) doughnuts and ten tiny doughnut holes. You’ll need a 1/2-inch round cutter to punch out the holes. One roll of “Grands Homestyle Buttermilk” biscuits yields 8 large (about 3 1/2 inches in diameter) doughnuts and eight doughnut holes. You’ll need a 1-inch round cutter to punch out the holes.

I woke up early and headed to the 68th and Lex to wait for the Jitney to the North Fork. Within two hours, concrete buildings and city sidewalks melted into quaint peak-roofed steeples and clumsily hand-painted signs that said “Fresh Pie” and “CORN.”

I sat on a bench after the bus had deposited me and Tara zoomed up in her car. I hopped in, getaway-car-style, and we took a whirlwind tour of the farm stands and markets in town, ignoring the picturesque scenes and focusing instead on the violent rolling of the clouds, bellies about to burst with rain. In a matter of minutes we’d picked up hot and sweet Italian sausages at Love Lane Market in Mattituck, duck eggs at Wells Homestead Market on the main road in Aquebogue, vegetables at Schmitt’s Farmstand on Sound Avenue in Riverhead, and cider doughnuts and a loaf of shiny-skinned brioche at Junta’s Pastry in Jamesport.

The storm still threatening, we started up the grill and threw everything on— sausages, bread, Brussels sprouts, whole heads of garlic, zucchini—without fussing over much. We were on warp speed because of the weather, but it was very apropos: the whole point of our shoot and cookout had been to shop locally and pile food on the grill; easy prep that required nothing but olive oil, salt, pepper, and fresh herb-flecked butter,  so we could enjoy the last official weekend of summer—and all the wine from Croteoaux Vineyard in Southold.

The recipes below are more of a guideline than a strict how-to; keeping it simple so you have time to kick back and relax is the most important thing.


Olive oil
Salt and pepper
Assorted sausages, poked all over with a fork
Crusty bread, sliced about 1-inch thick
Assorted vegetables, sliced about ¾-inch thick
Whole heads of garlic

Heat grill according to manufacturer’s instructions. Brush all ingredients with olive oil and season with salt and pepper.

Arrange all ingredients in single layer on grill and cook until sausages are plump, charred, and cooked through, 10 to 12 minutes, and vegetables are tender, 5 to 10 minutes. Serve.


Grilled garlic (see recipe above)
Heirloom tomatoes, sliced ¼-inch thick
Fresh mozzarella, pulled into bite-size pieces
Olive oil
Salt and pepper
Fresh basil leaves

Once cooled, peel garlic and squeeze out with fingertips. Arrange tomatoes, mozzarella, and garlic on plate or cutting board and drizzle with olive oil. Season with salt and pepper. Scatter basil leaves over; serve.


1 stick (4 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup mixed fresh herbs (such as thyme, oregano, and marjoram), finely chopped
Salt and pepper

Combine butter and herbs in small bowl. Season with salt and pepper. Serve alongside grilled proteins, vegetables, and bread; spread lavishly.


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