Articles By Pascale Beale


Written and photographed by Pascale Beale for Edible Santa Barbara

‘The essence of a good salad is simplicity. Clean, bright flavors that, when brought together, bring out the best in one another’ —Chuck Williams

It’s funny how the snippet of a song, an aroma, or an object can elicit a distinct memory. That memory in turn triggers a series of images and suddenly, you’re plunged down the rabbit hole of reminiscences. Seeing my mum’s salad bowl in her kitchen recently did just that. It’s a large, well-used, well-loved olive wood bowl, it’s patina rich and deep in color that has developed since my parents received it as a wedding present in 1961. I thought about all the houses that bowl has lived in, all the meals it’s been present at. If bowls could talk, that bowl could tell you a story or two!

It stood pride of place in the middle of her extravagant multi-course dinner parties and was always present on our Sunday lunch table filled with bright green, carefully washed and prepared greens. I’d spy it sitting on the counter, vinaigrette made, the salad waiting to be tossed. It was rarely used for anything other than a green salad, but that’s where my love affair with all things salad began. All these thoughts flashed through my mind as I watched her make a salad for us in the very same bowl.

I realized that we didn’t really make mixed salads, other than a salade niçoise or perhaps an endives-Roquefort-walnut salad when I was growing up. Salads were invariably green, perhaps with a few herbs (mostly parsley) and chives, and always served after the main course as a light, refreshing, cleansing interlude, before cheese, and/or dessert. It wasn’t until I moved to California that I discovered a different type of salad altogether, and the idea that one could be served as a main course. When I arrived in Los Angeles, I ate the (now famous) grilled vegetable salad at The Ivy. It was a deliciously succulent revelation, filled with warm grilled zucchini, corn, butter lettuce, little tomatoes, and a lime vinaigrette. It was abundant and satisfying. I discovered chopped salads, chef’s salads, Caesar salads with grilled chicken or salmon, kale and avocado salads, Waldorf salad, and green goddess and thousand island dressing. This was a whole new world of salad, and I was smitten.

I started experimenting with different vegetables, then added assorted fruit (something the French side of my family still finds weird) to my salads. The abundance of extraordinary stone fruit, herbs and mixed greens at the farmers markets are not just a feast for the eyes, but also for the palette. Combine ripe juicy heirloom tomatoes with sliced white peaches, some fresh mint and basil and a drizzle of lemon vinaigrette for example, and you have the taste of summer in every mouthful. The possibilities I realized were endless, particularly in summer when the last thing anyone wants to do is spend hours in a hot kitchen cooking.

British food writer Elizabeth David once wrote ‘Summer cooking implies a sense of immediacy, a capacity to capture the essence of a fleeting moment.’ I am reminded of this comment every time I eat a perfectly ripe Tuscan melon, its sweet perfume lingering in the air, or bite into rich juicy tomato, or a lusciously soft fig. Little plump cherries and cherry tomatoes are, I discovered, a perfect complement to each other but they only coexist for a few short weeks each year when they are both at the acme. This is the essence of the season, and how better to capture this than to serve it up, in all its freshness, in one’s favorite receptacle. This is uncomplicated food that celebrates the season.

My summer cooking strategy now consists of grabbing a few of my favorite bowls and platters and filling them with an assortment of salads. This is the perfect recipe for impromptu lunches and dinners. I try and include one dish that has a warm element in it such as grilled vegetables, use a variety of textures (crunchy crisp salads as well softer green salads) and perhaps add a protein to one of them, such as a smoked fish, eggs quinoa, chickpeas, or lentils. There are few meals I like more than a table covered with an assortment of gorgeous dishes, including (as I cannot stray too far away from my roots) a green salad, served in a big wooden bowl, with lots of herbs too!


Summer Peach Salad

During a podcast conversation with Todd Shulkin for In Julia’s Kitchen during the Taste of Santa Barbara last year, we discussed amongst other things how walking through a farmer’s market can be so inspirational. This salad was created that same day after finding all these delicious summer treats at the Farmer’s Market including heavenly peaches dripping with juicy sweetness, purple amaranth, the color adds a vibrant pop to any dish, Provencal styled goat cheese, blistered almonds, and masses of fragrant herbs. My basket was overflowing with the abundance of the summer! This was the result.

Serves 4 people

2 white peaches — pitted and sliced
2 yellow peaches — pitted and sliced
1/3 cup toasted or blistered almonds
Small handful of fresh basil leaves — purple, lemon or Thai or a mix
Small handful of fresh mint leaves
1 oz fresh amaranth
1 small round goat cheese (2 oz) sliced

For the vinaigrette:
¼ cup basil olive oil, or a good fruity olive oil
1 tablespoon champagne vinegar
Pinch of sea salt
Black pepper

  1. Arrange the sliced peaches in a shallow bowl or platter. Scatter the almonds, basil and mint leaves over the peaches. Insert small bunches of the amaranth around the peach slices and dot the salad with goat cheese.
  2. Whisk all the vinaigrette ingredients together in a small bowl to form an emulsion. When ready to serve drizzle the vinaigrette over the salad.


Grilled Corn Salad with Pine Nut Pesto

I grew up in London, where, for the majority of the year, the weather could best be described as dismal and damp. Not weather conducive to barbecues. In fact, we didn’t own one, so anything grilled took on a slightly exotic feel, and was something to look forward to.

The first time I ate grilled corn was at a picnic-cum-barbecue in my grandparent’s garden in France. These were elaborate affairs. The women in the family prepared prodigious amounts of food. The men in the family all gave their opinions about the proper techniques to achieve the perfect braise (the moment when the charcoal is at its optimum) and how long each item should be cooked for. A playful banter ping-ponged back and forth between them, until finally everything was ready, shouts of a table echoed in the garden, and all the kids came scampering to devour their hard work. The corn would be served with salted butter melting down its charred golden sides.  This has always been the taste of summer for me, and this salad is a little tribute to those magical, carefree days.

Serves 8 people

For the salad:
3 ears fresh corn — shucked
Olive oil

Coarse salt

8 oz mixed salad greens

8 oz yellow carrots — peeled and thinly sliced

8 radishes — ends trimmed, then thinly sliced

¼ cup cilantro leaves

For the pesto:
¼ cup pine nuts

3 tablespoons finely chopped chives

¼ cup olive oil

2 tablespoons lemon juice

1 teaspoon white wine vinegar

Large pinch of salt

8-10 grinds of black pepper

  1. Pre-heat a grill pan over medium high heat.
  2. Place the corn on a plate and drizzle with a little olive oil, a good pinch of salt and 6-8 grinds of black pepper. Turn to coat well. Grill the corn cobs for approximately 1-2 minutes per side, turning them two or three times just until they start to color. Place the grilled corn on a cutting board, and when cool enough to handle, slice off the kernels.
  3. Place the salad greens in a shallow salad bowl or large serving platter. Scatter the carrots, radishes, grilled corn kernels and cilantro leaves over the greens.
  4. Place the pine nuts and chives in a food processor fitted with a metal blade. Pulse until they form a rough paste. Add the remaining pesto ingredients and process until well blended, but still a little coarse. Spoon the pesto over the salad and serve.


Green Tomato and Toasted Pepitas Salad

I have tried, in vain, to grow these beautiful green tomatoes. I adore their color, texture, and flavor, particularly the Green Zebra and Aunt Ruby varieties. Every year I plant some, convinced that I have finally mastered their cultivation, but alas, once again, they have eluded me. Fortunately, very talented, local farmers grow them with enviable ease, and I snap them up when I see them at the market. This salad shows these tomatoes off in all their glory with the sautéed pepitas adding a lovely delicate, nutty flavor to the dish.

Be sure to use green tomato varieties in this salad, not tomatoes which are green because they are not ripe.

Serves 8 people

6-8 green heirloom tomatoes — thinly sliced horizontally
1 tablespoon olive oil

1/3 cup raw pepitas (raw sunflower seeds)

1 tablespoon finely chopped chives

¼ cup assorted microgreens

Pinch of sea salt

5-6 grinds black pepper

1 tablespoon basil olive oil

1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar (fig balsamic if possible)

  1. Cover the center of a large shallow platter with the sliced tomatoes, slightly overlapping the slices. Insert little bunches of microgreens around and in between the tomatoes.
  2. Heat the olive oil in a small skillet placed over medium heat. Add the pepitas and sauté for 1-2 minutes until they just turn brown. Add the chives, salt and pepper, stir, and then cook for 30 seconds more. Remove from the heat and immediately spoon the hot pepitas mixture on top of the tomatoes.
  3. In a small bowl, whisk together the basil olive oil and vinegar. Pour the vinaigrette over the tomatoes and serve.

Roasted White Peaches with Lavender and Crème Fraîche

This is an unbelievably easy dessert to make. Perfect for summer days when you don’t want to spend too much time in the kitchen, or you have some unexpected guests for dinner. You can substitute any stone fruit here, nectarines are terrific, or try a mix. In the recipe the fruit are topped with crème fraiche, but you can use a spoonful of Greek yogurt or ice cream if you prefer. The sliced almonds add a crunchy counterpoint to the soft texture of the fruit and cream.

Serves 4 people

4 peaches — pitted and cut into eighths
1 tablespoon floral honey
1 tablespoon sugar
3 sprigs lavender — flowers removed and finely chopped
1/3 cup crème fraiche

  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Place the peaches in a shallow baking dish. Drizzle the honey over the fruit. Sprinkle the sugar and lavender over the top. Bake until just tender for 20-25 minutes. Serve with a dollop of crème fraiche.


“The beautiful spring came; and when Nature resumes her loveliness, the human soul is apt to revive also.” — Harriet Ann Jacobs

This past winter, as root vegetables grew safely encased in their earthy robes, cozy and nourished by the soil that surrounded them, we too were bundled up in sweaters and coats, sloshing around in gumboots dealing with the endless rain. After months of potatoes, celery root, carrots, parsnips, soups, stews, apples, pears and all things rib-sticking, I long for something fresh, crisp, green, and invigorating, and, almost as though Mother Nature senses this longing, the famers fields have finally exploded with an edible profusion of all things crunchy, bright, and revitalizing. It’s a sign, along with daffodils, the first tulips, gurgling streams and grass covered mountains the color of a granny smith apple that Spring is here.

Spying mounds of just picked asparagus at the market is a true harbinger of the new season. With it come large bunches of freshly picked herbs, spring peas delicate enough to eat raw, English peas, plump fava bean pods with their bright green gems tucked inside their velvety cases, and the sweet seductive scent of ripe strawberries. I often get carried away during these first visits to the spring markets and come home with baskets laden with a profusion of greenery, making salads galore, and trying new pesto recipes that have been dancing in the corners of my imagination. Inhaling the aroma of freshly blitzed greens and munching on raw asparagus stalks is a rejuvenating tonic for the senses.

Asparagus were always seen as a luxury item during my childhood. I have no memory of ever eating them in England when I was small, but rather discovered them in France at my grandmother’s table, and even then, they were a rare treat. She would steam them and serve them warm with a light, mustardy vinaigrette with a sprinkling of freshly chopped chives from her garden. This is still one of my favorite ways to eat them. In my later teens, travelling around Europe in Italy and Austria I discovered the pleasures of white asparagus, fat, juicy, slightly bitter, and herbaceous. Served with hollandaise or simple melted butter they were the crème de la crème. There are few farmers that grow the white variety locally as they are so labor intensive, and therefore expensive to produce, so when I do find some, I’ll rush to make a green and white asparagus tart, or multicolored shaved asparagus salad.

When abundant spring rains produce a fresh sprouting of wild mushrooms (as they did this year) local foragers harvest chanterelles to bring to the markets. When I find them both I’ll jump at the chance to make a sauteed mushroom and asparagus salad, a spring risotto with glistening golden mushroom slices and al dente asparagus tips mixed into the creamy cheesy rice or served with poached chicken in a light mustard and crème fraiche sauce, a dish inspired by late grandmother. These dishes are just the overture of the season, with the full symphony of spring produce yet to come. All this greenery gets my cooking juices flowing. I keep returning to the market to see what the new season brings, when will apricots and cherries arrive, or fava beans?

I’m very fortunate to have several friends with very green thumbs, and who like to share their abundant bounty. Last year, when I happened to mention that I loved fava beans, I came home one day to find an enormous box, and it really was enormous, by my front door. It was overflowing with pounds and pounds of favas. I was a little dazed by the quantity and set about shucking them out of their pods as I thought about what to make with them. Adding them to the aforementioned risotto came to mind, as did a spring tart with peas, favas and goat cheese, but I had a sudden craving for an avocado toast type dish, so made a fava bean smash—a truly luscious chunky mash of favas with lots of herbs, olive oil and lemon juice, inspired by the Egyptian dish Ful Medames. It’s so versatile you could (and I did) eat this for breakfast, lunch and dinner, serving it on toast, in a salad or as a side dish.

Spring is also a time for juicy fruit, think of plump cherries and all the multihued nectarines, apricots, pluots and plums. It’s also strawberry season. They are among the first of the season’s fruit to ripen after the cool winter months. According to the Seneca Indians (and other Iroquois nations) the rising of the Strawberry Moon [on June 3rd this year] heralds a sacred time.

The strawberry is the fruit that represents rebirth and hope. Long associated symbolically and in mythology with love, birth and fertility, the Seneca hold an annual strawberry festival, the highlight of which is the sharing of a specially prepared strawberry juice, traditionally made with wild berries picked on the day of the strawberry moon mixed with maple syrup and water. As each person drinks the juice—thought to have restorative and invigorating properties because of its heart shape—they give thanks to the Great Spirit for all the blessings they received and for surviving the winter.

In Jane Eyre, Charlotte Brontë wrote, “Spring drew on...and a greenness grew over those brown beds, which, freshening daily, suggested the thought that Hope traversed them at night, and left each morning brighter traces of her steps.”

I like to think that as the earth warms through the early spring days, its first gift is the blossoming of gorgeous berries. Good strawberries, red to their core, are sweet, juicy, and ambrosial. Wild strawberries have a particularly special floral aroma and taste. Biting into a perfect strawberry is joyous sensation with a hint of tang and deeply satisfying lasting fruity notes that linger on the tongue. Anyone who has tasted a bland berry with lackluster taste and pale flesh knows how disappointing this can be. Our patience is rewarded as the fruit ripen, they release their tantalizing scent, this is the time to delve into a plethora of strawberry inspired dishes, and to be invigorated by the fecundity of the all the season’s treats.

Fava Smash Crostini with Buffalo Mozzarella

Makes 8 appetizer servings

2 pounds fava beans

Olive oil



2 tablespoons finely chopped basil

1 tablespoon finely chopped mint
1 tablespoon finely chopped chives

8 slices olive bread, toasted

Lemon olive oil

1 buffalo mozzarella, sliced

4 slices prosciutto

2 ripe avocadoes, halved, peeled and sliced

2 lemons, quartered

  1. Shell the fava beans. Slit open the pods and remove the beans. Boil the beans in heavily salted water for 1 minute. Drain and immediately plunge the beans into a bowl of ice water to stop the cooking and set the bright color. Tear the tough skin at the rounded end and squeeze out the bean.
  2. Heat a little olive oil in a medium pan. Add the shelled fava beans, a pinch of salt and 4–5 grinds pepper and cook for 3–4 minutes. The beans should be fork tender but not mushy. Place the fava beans in a mixing bowl and drizzle with a little more olive oil. Roughly mash the beans with a fork. Add the basil, mint and chives and mix well.
  3. Drizzle a little lemon olive oil over each toast.
  4. Cover 4 of the toasts with a slice of mozzarella, a slice of prosciutto and some sliced avocado. Cover the remaining toasts with a slice of mozzarella and some sliced avocado.
  5. Spoon the fava beans over each toast. Sprinkle with a little salt and pepper. Serve with lemon wedges to squeeze over the toasts.

Asparagus with Poached Lemon Tarragon Chicken

This dish is a play on the classic French dish poulet a l’estragon, a roast chicken scented with the floral and anise tasting tarragon. This is a lighter, more delicate version that uses that same flavor profile. It is a quick dish to prepare so it’s easy to make any night of the week, yet also elegant enough for a special dinner party.

Makes 8 servings

1 pound white asparagus, ends trimmed, cut on a bias into 2-inch pieces, leaving the tips whole

1 pound green asparagus, ends trimmed, cut on a bias into 2-inch pieces, leaving the tips whole

Olive oil

3 shallots, peeled and thinly sliced



5–6 sprigs tarragon leaves
3 cups vegetable stock
½ pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into thin pieces
3 tablespoons crème fraîche
2 tablespoons Dijon or tarragon mustard
2 tablespoons finely chopped chives

  1. Steam the asparagus until just tender, 5 minutes or so. Remove from the steamer.
  2. Pour a little olive oil into a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the shallots, a good pinch of salt and 7–8 grinds of pepper. Sauté until just golden, about 3–5 minutes. Stir in the tarragon leaves. Add the vegetable stock and cook for 2 minutes.
  3. Poach the chicken in the stock for 6–8 minutes, turning the pieces frequently. Stir in the crème fraîche and mustard and simmer for 1–2 minutes. Add the asparagus and chives, and warm through. Serve in deep plates or shallow bowls with plenty of the cooking liquid. A chunk of crusty bread is delicious alongside to mop up all those aromatic juices.

Standup Strawberry Tart

This is the tart to make when you want a knock-out dessert that everyone will ooh and ahh over. It’s beautiful and packed with strawberry succulence.

Makes 8 servings

For the tart shell:
9 ounces (1¾ cups) unbleached all-purpose flour
5½ ounces (11 tablespoons) butter, cut in small pieces
Zest of 1 lemon
1 tablespoon powdered sugar
1 large egg
Pinch of salt

For the simple jam:
2 pints strawberries, hulled and halved
5 ounces (2/3 cup) sugar
1 tablespoon honey
1 Meyer lemon, halved and juiced, reserve the rinds

For the tart:
32–36 large strawberries, hulled and halved

To prepare the tart shell

  1. Preheat oven to 400°. Butter a 12 inch round fluted tart pan. Set aside.
  2. Place all the ingredients in the bowl of the food processor fitted with the metal blade. Pulse until the mixture resembles coarse breadcrumbs. Use longer pulses until the dough forms a ball.
  3. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 20 minutes. (You can make the dough ahead of time and remove it from the fridge 20 minutes before using.)
  4. On a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough to a 14-inch round, ¼-inch thick. Then line the tart pan with the dough. Trim the edges with a sharp knife and prick the dough with a fork.
  5. Line the dough with a piece of parchment paper and fill the tart shell with pie weights or dried beans. Bake for 20 minutes until the edges are just golden. Remove the parchment paper and the pie weights. Bake the tart for 3–4 more minutes. The shell should be golden brown in color. Remove from the oven and let cool on a wire rack.

To make the simple jam

  1. Place all the ingredients, including lemon rinds, into a large saucepan over medium heat. As the strawberries begin to render some juice, mash them using a large fork or a potato masher.
  2. Cook for 10–13 minutes, skimming off any foam. The jam is ready when it thickens enough to coat the back of a wooden spoon.

To assemble the tart

  1. Brush the tart shell with half of the jam. Around the edge of the tart, place the strawberry halves upright and slightly overlapping each other. Use the remaining strawberries to form concentric circles toward the center.
  2. Lightly brush the strawberries with some of the jam.

A vibrant approach to seasonal cooking

When I grew up in London we had a little greengrocer around the corner from our house, who in winter, sold mainly leeks, potatoes, cabbages and carrots, and some apples and pears. He would wrap each vegetable up in a small paper bag. My mother, brother and I would stand in the drizzle, it was always drizzling or raining, and as this was an open-air affair, the grocer and all the customers were bundled up in layers to try and keep out the pervasive damp that crept up our bones. Every few days we would walk the two blocks to look at his produce, in the hope we’d be inspired by something new, and every week we would walk home with the same ingredients, the paper bags getting soggy in the rain. We’d make soup, mum made spiced dahl and lentils, and terrific apple crumbles, foods designed to keep us warm.

I recently read these lines by poet Edith Sitwell, "Winter is the time for comfort, for good food and warmth, for the touch of a friendly hand and for a talk beside the fire: it is the time for home." which reminded me of those wet London days, and invoke images of hearty roasts, rich sauce mopped up with chunks of freshly baked bread, rib-sticking stews or a dish with a heart stopping amount of melted cheese. Hugely satisfying every now and then, but as the short damp days drag on some of us get the winter blues and get stuck in a rut cooking the same three dishes and a general throw-it-all-in-the-pot vegetable soup. At first these big warming bowls of hearty stews, bean chili’s, gratins and soups are just what we need when the weather turns chilly and wet, and don’t get me wrong, I do love a bowl of creamy vegetable soup, but it can get tedious, and tastebuds get tired. I long for food that offers a little pick-me-up, something with a little zest and piquancy. Enter winter greens, citrus, lots of herbs, and meals that don’t require a spoon to eat them. It wasn’t until I moved to California that I found (and still find) winter markets more inspiring, the obvious bonus being that the temperature isn’t hovering just above freezing, and ‘winter’ as it is, is thankfully short.

Here the markets are filled with vibrant colors from dazzling chards, radicchio and purple chidori kale, to watermelon radishes, multihued beets and cauliflowers, and such a huge variety of citrus fruit, in particular fragrant Cara Cara oranges, stunning blood oranges and sweetly tangy Meyer lemons. This colorful bounty is stimulating to the senses, and as the old adage, attributed to the Roman epicurean Apicius, goes “we eat first with our eyes.” Drawn in by these colorful winter vegetables, I walk through the market creating an array of dishes in my mind. I may well see a beautifully whorled creamy cauliflower and think of a curried cauliflower soup or of a gratin but will balance that rich dish with a crisp winter greens salad with thinly shaved candy cane colored radish slices or will see a mound of carrots piled high on a farmers table and think of a carrot puree to serve alongside a roast chicken and balance the hearty meal with a dessert salad of sliced winter citrus fruit. 

So much of winter cooking is about creating food that is warming and sustaining, making comforting dishes, dishes that take time to simmer and develop flavor, to slowly percolate on the stove while you, hopefully, curl up on the sofa with a good book until it’s time to eat. Sometimes these dishes can be monotone, a mac and cheese say, or a mushroom soup. This is when I like to think about texture. A change in texture enhances a dish. Crispy Brussel sprouts in the bowl of mushroom soup will give it a pop in much the same way crispy bacon will to the mac and cheese or adding al dente vegetable to bowl of lentil curry. The lentils are soft and tender, yet the vegetables add an uplifting note keeping each mouthful interesting.

Creating and cooking a lively winter menu is about balance between comfort food and dishes that open the appetite and keeps satisfying all one’s senses; from the aroma of a roast filling the kitchen as it cooks, to the fresh taste of citrus zest shaved across a salad, from the texture and sensation of a sensually soft yet crunchy mushroom crostini, to the sight of a lemon souffle rising.  As each of our senses is stimulated, our taste buds start salivating in anticipation; imagine a crunchy crisp pear and arugula salad followed by a luscious stew, a hearty vegetable soup with a zesty herb pesto followed by a mouth puckering lemon tart, or a radicchio and shaved parmesan salad, followed by a lentil curry with a tangy yogurt sauce. Adding that little extra touch—the crisp pears to the salad, the pesto to the soup, the yogurt to the curry—livens up each dish. Adding these extra touches to winter dishes has kept my tastebuds happy, is this something you do too?

Baby Arugula, Wild Mushroom, Mung Bean and Goat Cheese Salad

Robert Dautch, or BD, as he is known to everyone, has been farming for more than four decades in the Ojai Valley. I have heard him described as an ‘organic alchemist’ and having cooked with his exquisite array of herbs, greens, edible flowers, and vegetables for many of those years, I can attest that he and his hard-working crew, are masters of their craft. He is also a fountain of knowledge, and it was he, when he saw that I held a bunch of his Japanese globe turnips in my hand one market day, who said ‘you know those are great eaten raw Pascale.’ I had not, up to that point, tried raw turnips, but dutifully went home, and tried one. The texture and flavor were a revelation: sweet, delicate, with a hint of a mild radish on the palate, and the crunch of as Asian pear. They are terrific in salads. In this recipe they add a delicate yet crunchy contrast to the warmth of the sautéed mushrooms, the creaminess of the goat cheese and the pepperiness of the arugula.

Serves 8 people
For the vinaigrette:

1 tablespoon walnut mustard

¼ cup extra virgin olive oil

1 tablespoon Champagne or white wine vinegar

For the salad:
8 oz baby arugula

2 oz sprouted mung beans

4-5 baby Japanese globe turnips — washed (and peeled, if necessary,) then thinly sliced

2 tablespoons finely chopped chives

3 oz goat cheese
2 tablespoons olive oil

2 tablespoons butter
1 ½ lbs assorted mushrooms, including cremini, trumpet, shitake — sliced

Sea salt

Black pepper

  1. In a large salad bowl whisk together the vinaigrette ingredients to form a thick emulsion. Place salad utensils over the vinaigrette.
  2. Place the arugula, mung beans, sliced turnips, chives and goat cheese on top of the utensils.
  3. Pour the olive oil into a large skillet over medium heat. When the oil is just sizzling, add the butter and melt until foaming. Add the mushrooms, a good pinch of salt and 8-10 grinds of pepper. Sauté, stirring frequently, until golden brown, about 5-6 minutes. Add the mushrooms to the salad. Toss to combine well. Serve while the mushrooms are still warm.

Lentils du Puy and Carrot Salad

I must admit I am a little obsessed with these lentils from Auvergne, France. Lentils du Puy are sometimes called the caviar of lentils, and for good reason. They are absolutely worth the premium one pays for them. There are other small French lentils out there, but please trust me when I tell you that these are absolutely the best. They have a slightly nutty, mineral-like quality to them. They can be prepared quickly and because of their unique characteristics, they retain their shape when cooked, unlike other varieties. Lentils served with a mustardy vinaigrette are classic bistro fare in France and are often served with crispy bacon (lardons)added or as an accompaniment to duck confit or roast chicken. I love to make variations of this dish by adding assorted vegetables and herbs to the mix. In this version, multi-colored carrots with green onions, parsley and chives are tossed with the lentils and vinaigrette.

Serves 8 people
2 cups Lentils du Puy

2 small red onions — peeled and quartered
1 bay leaf

4 cups vegetable stock

Coarse sea salt

3 large red carrots — halved lengthwise and cut on a bias into ½-inch slices

3 large orange carrots — halved lengthwise and cut on a bias into ½-inch slices

Olive oil

4 green onions — thinly sliced

3 tablespoons parsley — finely chopped

3 tablespoons chives — finely chopped

Juice of 1 lemon



1 tablespoon Dijon or walnut mustard

1/4 cup olive oil

1 tablespoon red wine vinegar

  1. Place the lentils, red onions, bay leaf and vegetable stock in a large saucepan. Add a good pinch of salt. Cook, covered over medium-low heat for 20-25 minutes or until the lentils are just al dente. Drain and remove the bay leaf. Place the lentils and onions in a medium salad bowl.
  2. While the lentils are cooking, steam the carrots until they are just tender, 6-7 minutes. Remove from the steamer and let cool to room temperature.
  3. Pour a little olive oil into a large skillet over medium heat. Sauté the green onions, parsley, chives and the cooked carrots. Add a pinch of salt and 4-5 grinds black pepper and cook for 4-5 minutes. Stir in the lemon juice and mix well. Add the carrot mixture to the lentils.
  4. In a small bowl whisk together the mustard, ¼ cup olive oil and vinegar to form an emulsion. Add the vinaigrette to the lentils and carrots. Mix well. Let sit at least 30 minutes before serving.

Roasted Beets, Butternut Squash and Red Onions with Zesty Parsley Pesto

This is one of my favorite beet dishes. The vibrant pesto is terrific with the rich, roasted butternut squash, the meltingly soft onions, and the tender beets. I like to serve this dish with green salad filled with herbs, and for a hearty meal with a lentil dish alongside, as the earthiness of the legume’s pairs wondrously with the voluptuousness of the roasted beets and butternut squash.

Serves 8 people
For the vegetables:
4 red beets — unpeeled
Olive oil
Black pepper
1 medium butternut squash — halved, seeded, peeled, cut into 1/3-inch slices

1 large red onion — peeled, thinly sliced

For the pesto:
1 cup of parsley leaves
1 tablespoon capers
4-5 cornichons
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
Zest and juice of 1 small Meyer lemon

  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Place the beets in a small baking dish. Drizzle with olive oil, add a good pinch of salt and some pepper, and roast for 50-60 minutes, or until tender when pierced with a knife. When cool enough to handle, peel the beets and slice into 1/3-inch rounds.
  3. Pour a little olive oil onto a rimmed sheet pan. Place the butternut squash and onion slices in the pan and turn to evenly coat with oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast in the same oven as the beets for 40 minutes.
  4. While the vegetables are roasting, make the pesto. Place all the pesto ingredients in a food processor or blender, and puree to a semi-smooth consistency.
  5. Arrange the beets, squash, and onions on a large serving platter.  Spoon the pesto over the vegetables. Serve warm. 

Crêpes à l’Orange

You know how you can taste a dessert that instantly transports you back to your childhood? Well, this is that dessert for me. My mother comes from the French Alps. We would escape the bitterly damp London winters to the fresh air of her alpine hometown whenever we could.  This is what we ate when we came in from cold, snowy days in the mountains. We would thaw out by the fireplace in the local café at the bottom of the ski slopes and eat crêpes — sometimes sprinkled with sugar, sometimes with sugar and orange juice. They were hot, somewhat lacey, slightly buttery and faintly crispy on the outside. It was blissful.

Serves 8 – 10 people

1 cup unbleached flour

¼ teaspoon salt

1 cup milk

¼ cup water

3 tablespoons butter melted

Zest of 1 orange

3 eggs beaten in a small bowl

Vegetable oil

Juice of 2 oranges


  1. Put the flour and salt in the bowl of a standing mixer (or in a large bowl if you are whisking this by hand). With the mixer running, pour in the milk, water, melted butter, orange zest and eggs. Whisk until the batter is smooth.
  2. Heat a 7-inch frying pan or crepe pan until it is very hot. Using a paper towel, wipe the surface of the pan with a little oil. Pour just enough batter to coat the bottom of the pan, just under 1/3 of a cup. Tilt the pan to coat evenly. Cook the crêpe until the bottom is golden brown and then flip it over cooking a minute more. (You may lose the first one or two as they might stick or not form properly. Don’t worry; this is normal.)
  3. Keep the cooked crêpes in a stack on a warm plate.
  4. When ready to serve, place a crêpe on a plate, drizzle with orange juice and a little sugar. Fold in half and half again. Serve warm.


As many of you know I am passionate about cookbooks. I have been collecting them for more than forty years, and yes, lugged many of them across the pond when I moved to California. I would like to share some of these tasty tomes with you.

The Cookbook Review is now part of every newsletter which features one or two newly released books and delves into some of the favorites on my shelves. These are books reviewed in 2023. 

April 2023

Mother Tongue: Flavours of a Second Generation by Gurdeep Loyal 

Cook As You Are: Recipes for Real Life, Hungry Cooks and Messy Kitchens by Ruby Tandoh 

March 2023
Falling Cloudberries: A world of family recipes by Tessa Kiros

Mediterranean: Treasured Recipes from a Lifetime of Travel by Claudia Roden 

Falastin by Sami Tamimi and Sara Wigley

February 2023

This month's books have a nostalgic vein and are full of the comforts of home.
When French Women Cook by Madeleine Kamman

A La Mere de Famille by Julien Merceron 

One Tin Bakes by Edd Kimber

January 2023

Gateau: The Surprising Simplicity of French Cakes by Alexsandra Crapanzano
Honey Cake & Latkes: Recipes from the Old World by The Auschwitz-Birkenau Survivors
Serendipity: A History of Accidental Culinary Discoveries by Oscar Farinetti


April 2023

Mother Tongue: Flavours of a Second Generation by Gurdeep Loyal 
Published in 2023 by First Estate

Gurdeep Loyal is a terrific writer. His stories are simultaneously enchanting and seductive and I haven't even got to the recipes yet. In his introduction he writes, "The irony of writing a book called Mother Tongue in a language that my own mother won't be able to fully read is not lost on me. Yet what's missing in her understanding of these words say is countered by her fluency in the flavours, something that words can barely begin to convey." 

Born to Indian parents in 1980s Britain, he conveys the challenges and the clash of expectations of both his cultures. But through his passion for food, his respect for his Punjabi roots, and his 'second-generation' cooking

Cook As You Are: Recipes for Real Life, Hungry Cooks and Messy Kitchens by Ruby Tandoh 
Published in 2021 by Serpent's Tail

For those of you who are fans of The Great British Bake Off you may remember Ruby Tandoh who was a finalist in season 4. She went on to become a food writer, columnist and cook book author.  As she writes on her own website, 'Cook as You Are celebrates the messy, unglamorous, delicious realities of home cooking today. Across 100 original recipes, I explore how real home cooks – no matter their age, budget, ability or background – can find joy in the ordinary rhythms of cooking, from cobbling together weeknight ‘cupboard dinners’ from store cupboard staples and leftovers to rejoicing in the glory of carbs.'

March 2023

Falling Cloudberries: A world of family recipes 
by Tessa Kiros
Published in 2004 by Murdoch Books
Tessa Kiros, author of nine cookbooks, was born in London to a Finnish mother and Greek Cypriot father, and is now married to an Italian and lives in Tuscany. She grew up in South Africa and then travelled the world living, cooking and eating through different cultures. This book is a compendium of her favorite recipes from the countries she holds dear to her heart, each section delving into the dishes that for her encapsulate the cuisines of Finland, Greece, Cyprus, South Africa and Italy. Filled with beautiful photographs, personal stories, and succulent recipes, Kiros manages to capture the fragrance and essence of each country in her gorgeous and personal narrative.

Mediterranean: Treasured Recipes from a Lifetime of Travel by Claudia Roden 
First published by Ebury Press in 2021, published in the US by Ten Speed Press

I'm a long time fan of Claudia Roden's work. Her books on Middle Eastern cooking reflect her encyclopedic knowledge of the region's cuisines. This book is much more personal. These are very much the recipes she cooks at homes for family and friends, and the most delightful aspect of the book is that you feel you have been invited to pull a chair up to her dinner table and tuck in to all this delicious food. Imagine drawing a rough outline of the stretched out elongated S that is the Mediterranean Sea, delving into the coves, bays, villages, towns and cities that dot it's shores, sampling dishes along the way from a Grand Aioli in Marseille, a Bullinada in Malaga, to a chicken with Freekeh from Cairo. Every dish she shares with us tells a story and with it the warmth of the Mediterranean fills the pages and is resplendent in the food she writes about. The recipes are uncomplicated and flavorful, each a delight on the plate and the palate.

Falastin by Sami Tamimi and Sara Wigley
First published by Ebury Press in 2020, published in the US by Ten Speed Press
The introduction to Falastin reads, "This is a book about Palestine-its food, its produce, its history, its future, its people and their voices. It is a book about the common themes that all these elements share, and how Palestine weaves narrative and cooking into the fabric of its identity."  It is a book that delivers all of that and much, much more. Authors Tamimi and Wigley delve into all that is complicated and enticing about Palestinian food, not shying away from delicate subject matters, but rather looking at how the geo-political situation on the West Bank has shaped the food culture that exists there today, at the same time celebrating millennia of cooking traditions. This book manages the delicate balancing act of opening its pages to a culture without preaching a political agenda. 

It's not often I come across a book where I want to cook almost every single recipe. This is one of them. I have so many bits of paper and notes stuffed into the pages marking which one to try next, it's sometimes hard to know where to open the book. It is not just the photos that are so appetizing, the stories behind the food are captivating as well. Meet the yogurt making ladies of Bethlehem and Noura Shaalan, a 'force of nature' who does everything from milking to marketing, or Vivian Sansour who started the Palestinian Seed Library, of fishing in Gaza, of olive oil, of cooking in refugee camps and the acts of peaceful resistance. The food is glorious, with tantalizing photos that make you want to lick the page, well, not literally of course, but close! I feel honored to make this food, carrying on a tradition of sharing with those around you. In a world that is too often torn by strife and violence, how comforting it is to create food that can give solace and put a smile on everyone's faces.

February 2023

This month's books have a nostalgic vein and are full of the comforts of home.

When French Women Cook by Madeleine Kamman
Originally Published in 1976 by Atheneum, Subsequently Published in 2002 by Ten Speed Press

When French Women Cook begins with these words, "This book, in its own way a feminist manifesto, is dedicated to the millions of women who have spent millennia in kitchens creating unrecognized masterpieces.."

The book is an homage to France, the masterpieces of it's classic regional cuisine, and to a time gone by. Each chapter in this moving memoir is titled after the women who shaped Madeleine Kamman's life and spans roughly 40 years from pre WWII Paris to Provence in the 1970s. Here are classic dishes of La France Profonde, from Poireaux Vinaigrette she made with her grandmother Marie Charlotte in Poitou to Mimi's (a friend since childhood) Trout with Hazelnuts or Quails with Juniper from Savoie, to Escalope de Veau she made with Magaly in Provence. There are pates, terrines and wild mushrooms a plenty, stories of milky cows in hay filled barns, and picking wild herbs in alpine fields. There's butter, crème fraiche and lots of vegetables, rabbit, lamb and fresh water fish too. I felt as though I was looking at a flickering black and white movie of France as it used to be, and from a very personal standpoint, I felt as though I had stepped back in to my grandmother's kitchen when I was a child. These are all her dishes too. I could taste her food while reading these recipes. The poignant stories struck a visceral chord and I realize how much I miss cooking with her.

A La Mere de Famille by Julien Merceron 
Published by Chronical Books in 2014, originally published by Hachette in 2002

This book is sweet. It's akin to stepping into a Wes Andersons Grand Budapest Hotel in book form. The illustrations are charming, the photos mouth watering and the story captivating. It is filled with sweets, in all sorts of guises, from chocolate delicacies (palet d'or), to light pastries (financiers), to whimsical candies (berlingots), interspersed with the chronological narrative of this Parisian Confectioner in business since 1761, and portraits of some of their customers. There are jewel-like  pate de fruits, nutty nougats, and calissons. There are so many recipes I want to try that I don't know where to begin. Like many of the customers who were interviewed for the book, when asked what A La Mere de Famille represents to them, they ALL say, their childhood. I feel the same just salivating over the pages in this book. The shop is on my MUST visit list when I get back to France, in the mean time I get to revel in all this deliciousness. 

One Tin Bakes by Edd Kimber
by Kyle Books in 2020

For those of you who are fans of The Great British Bake Off, Edd Kimber's name might ring a bell. He was the winner of the first series and he will be the first to tell you that Bake Off changed his life. He is now the author of six baking books and columnist for many newspapers and magazines. One Tin Bakes delves into simple traybakes, cakes, cookies, pies, bars and buns with every recipe designed to fit into a 9" x 13" tin.  How could I resist a book that fits everything into a dimension that resembles my 9' x 12' kitchen! His recipes are tasty, with classic flavor combinations, and the instructions clear with photos of every single dish. There's a terrific blueberry and stone fruit galette with a pecan pastry, add a sweet-nuttiness to the dough, and a flourless chocolate meringue cake that's just heavenly. Edd Kimber also has a great Instagram feed packed with videos of his bakes. 


January 2023
Gateau: The Surprising Simplicity of French Cakes by Alexsandra Crapanzano
Honey Cake & Latkes: Recipes from the Old World by The Auschwitz-Birkenau Survivors
Serendipity: A History of Accidental Culinary Discoveries by Oscar Farinetti

This month's books are inspired in part by two novels I recently read, and the desire to have a little sweetness in my kitchen as we start the new year. I know that many New Years Resolutions state that all things naughty, nice and any sugar should be banished (some say) until at least February, well, after last year I think we all need a little treat whenever we need it! 

Gateau: The Surprising Simplicity of French Cakes by Alexsandra Crapanzano
Published in 2022 by Scribner


Ah the delights of a little gateau. When I first set eyes on this book I was immediately reminded of my first cookbook, La cuisine est un jeu d'enfant by Oliver Michel which is also filled with whimsical illustrations and clear directions. I thought of my copy's chocolate stained pages and the curiosity it had stirred in me at the time. That same curiosity and desire to pull out cake tins bloomed like a rising sponge cake as I flipped through the pages of Gateau. I was suddenly transported to my Grandmother Genevieve's kitchen watching her make Oeufs à la neige (floating islands) and itching to pull out a whisk. Then I came upon the recipe for Aleksandra's Gateau de Miel (Honey Cake) with a headnote describing the delights of the shops on Rue Cler that is delicious enough to make you swoon and book a ticket to Paris tout de suite, to say nothing of the succulent recipe. When I first read a new cookbook I mark each of the recipes I'd like to make with a little post-it or torn bit of newspaper. This book is now festooned with so many paper scraps all poking out of the pages that the book looks like its sprouted pompoms. I'm having a hard time choosing where to begin, in part drawn by the charming watercolor illustrations, tempted by the stories she weaves through the books and by the approachability of all the recipes. Should it be the Lemon Verbena Peach Yogurt Cake, the Breton Butter Almond Cake, a Calvados Apple Cake or Le Grand Gateau a l'Orange?  and these are just in the first two chapters. On the back cover Dorie Greenspan, doyenne of the baking world, wrote: If Aleksandra had set herself the task of making the world a little more chic, charming and delectable, she could not have done a better job that to give us this book. Everything about it, the recipes for cakes simple and seductive, conspires to bring joy' I agree. It is entirely delicious. 

Honey Cake & Latkes: Recipes from the Old World
by The Auschwitz-Birkenau Survivors

Published in 2022 by Auschwitz-Birkenau Memorial Foundation

I had just finished reading two harrowing books of historical fiction, both based on true stories, both set in WWII, The Tattooist of Auschwitz and Three Sisters written by Heather Morris when I came upon Honey Cakes and Latkes. In a moment of poignant serendipity I turned the pages, reading the survivors stories and the memory of the recipes that had kept them alive. This is a testament to the power of food. One story in particular stood out to me. Rachel's Fantastical Chicken Soup. In the headnote, the author describes surviving the hours long roll call in freezing conditions by describing Shabbat dinner and making this soup. The image is searing. Shaking, trembling, doing anything to survive another day, it was the strength of their collective imagination, seated around the dinner table that helped to pull them through.  

Many of the recipes are written by men, now in their nineties who survived the camps as small children, who remembered their mothers cooking, one a simple Cheesecake Milkshake, another a simple and delicious Jewish Butter Cake. The recipes are uncomplicated, fragrant, comforting and satisfying. These are dishes I would like to make when I need a hug. The food will provide that solace. I am struck once again how the memory of a simple dish can transform someone's life.

Serendipity: A History of Accidental Culinary Discoveries by Oscar Farinetti
Published ‏by Apollo Publishers in 2022

Our family tradition on Christmas morning is to open presents while having Panettone for breakfast.  Knowing my penchant for cookbooks, well books in general, my son had carefully wrapped this book (and Gateau above) and placed them under the tree. I was delighted and as I cracked open its red cover and flipped to a random chapter, and in a moment of perfect serendipity the pages fell open to the history of Panettone! 

Long enamored by the history of food, I found this compendium of 50 stories fascinating and enchanting. Written by Eataly founder Oscar Farinetti, each chapter reveals how serendipitous discoveries produced some of the world's most well-known gastronomic delights, from Marsala to Grissini, Gorgonzola to Corn Flakes, and Sauternes to Popcorn to name a few. 

Did you know a forgotten ingredient is behind the invention of the beloved brownie? Or that you could thank a herd of energetic goats for your morning coffee? Farenetti's perceptive interviews with leading chefs, artisan food inventors and producers enhance the history of each discovery, reminding us that our mistakes are often the necessary ingredient in finding success.

As a PS in his introduction he wrote: " you're reading, I recommend sampling the product that's the subject of the chapter. Our enjoyment is doubled when we know more about what we're tasting. I've done this experiment with friends, and trust me, it works!" I can attest that after reading about and eating the Panettone simultaneously, this is absolutely true. 

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