Thursday, September 27, 2012

It's Finally Here!

I was told it would be delivered by UPS sometime today. So I waited. And waited. And waited. All day long.

It started getting dark. No truck came. My husband and I had dinner. Still no truck. Maybe it'll come tomorrow, I thought to myself.

So my husband and I settled down to watch our favorite TV series, when all of a sudden...

...the doorbell rang. It was the UPS guy. With my book.

I took a minute to savor the moment.

This was MY book! Four years' worth of long, hard work. Finally. In my hands.

I slowly began to open the box. I let out a gasp.

It. Truly. Was. Beautiful.

I hope you'll all agree.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Soup's On!

The weather is changing. Fans are put away. Fuzzy blankets are brought back out. And it's time for comfort food to make its way back into our meals.

Enter, soup. Warm...soothing...delicious soup.

At this point I have a confession to make. I love soup. I love everything about it. The way it warms your body and soul. The way it makes you feel happily nourished. The way it brings people together.

Which is why my youngest daughter made this very special soup. Just. For. Me.

I saw the recipe in a Williams-Sonoma catalogue. (They are very smart people for including mouthwatering recipes alongside their cooking products.) It looked wonderfully delicious. And after my kind and thoughtful daughter made it for me and I tried it, I can vouch that it truly is beyond delicious!

Try it yourself sometime. You won't regret it. I guarantee.

Adapted from Williams-Sonoma and This is a Cookbook by Max Sussman and Eli Sussman (Olive Press, 2012)
Serves 4

This recipe was created by the Sussman brothers, Max and Eli. The chefs started testing the recipe early one morning but Max had to go into work before it was done cooking. He texted Eli a few hours later—“How did the soup turn out?”—and Eli texted him back, “I now know what it feels like to open presents on Christmas morning.”


  • 2 ripe but firm tomatoes
  • Kernels from 6 ears of fresh corn (about 3 cups)
  • 2 red bell peppers
  • 1 yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 red onion, chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • About 2 1/2 cups low-sodium chicken broth, plus more as needed
  • 1 tsp. chipotle chili powder
  • 1 tsp. salt, plus more, to taste
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • Sliced avocado for garnish
  • Extra-virgin olive oil for drizzling
  • Paprika for garnish


Preheat an oven to 375°F.

Put the tomatoes in a lightly greased glass baking dish. Roast until the skins darken and the tomatoes are caramelized, about 30 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool. Keep the oven on.

Spread the corn in a single layer on a baking sheet. Roast until the edges begin to turn golden brown, 10 to 15 minutes. Meanwhile, when the tomatoes are cool enough to handle, peel off the skins and discard. Set the flesh, with the juices, aside in the baking dish. Remove the corn from the oven and let cool.

Place 1 bell pepper on each of 2 gas burners. Turn the burners on high and sear the peppers directly over the flame, using tongs to turn as needed, until the skins are blackened all over, 10 to 15 minutes total. (Or place the peppers under the broiler and broil, turning as needed, until charred and blistered on all sides, about 15 minutes.) Transfer the peppers to a brown paper bag and close tightly. Let stand for 15 minutes, then remove the peppers from the bag. Remove and discard the skins, core and seeds.

In a soup pot, combine the tomatoes, bell peppers, yellow and red onions, garlic and corn, reserving a handful of the roasted corn for garnish. Add just enough broth to cover the vegetables and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to medium-high and cook until the vegetables are very tender, about 10 minutes. Stir in the chili powder and the 1 tsp. salt.

Using an immersion blender, blend the soup until smooth. While blending, slowly drizzle in the cream. Taste and adjust the seasoning with salt. Ladle the soup into individual bowls. Garnish each portion with a couple of avocado slices, a few drops of olive oil, a scattering of the reserved roasted corn and a sprinkle of paprika. Serve hot.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Get Ready to Party!

Her son was one of my son's best friends in high school. In fact, her son and mine rowed together, roomed together in college, and still get together to this day in New York City, where they both live.

(Left to right) Her son, my son, and their mutual good friend

She and I attended many regattas together, visited each other's homes, and traded smiles at each other's children's weddings.

This same lovely lady now works at Barnes & Noble. When she heard about my upcoming book last year (while it was still in its infancy and nowhere near completion), she graciously offered to host my book's launch party at her store. I graciously accepted.

Fast-forward one year. I went to see her. My book's finally done. Are you still interested in hosting my launch party? I asked. She nodded enthusiastically. I smiled broadly. Thus, my party was born. And now it's officially official.

My sign in the Barnes & Noble window in Crocker Park

So, in a nutshell, I just wanted you to know it's coming up. Please mark your calendars and plan to make it if you can. It will be truly festive, I assure you.

Here are the nitty gritties:

WHO: I (the humble author) will be there to give a short talk and sign books. I will also be accompanied by one of my favorite chefs (see next).

GUEST CHEF: Karen Small, the popular and talented chef/owner of Flying Fig, will be there with samples of her signature fig scones (the recipe is in my book!).

WHAT: Short talk and book signing, plus dessert and coffee.

BONUS: Free gift with every book signed!

WHERE: Barnes & Noble Bookstore (Crocker Park), 198 Crocker Park Blvd., Westlake, OH 44145

WHEN: Thursday, October 11, from 7-10pm

WHY:  Because I want to personally celebrate the release of my first book with you and to thank you for all your support!

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Come See Me Cook!

It all started out innocently enough. About 10 years ago, my sister-in-law invited me to go to a cooking class with her. It was at a quaint cooking school out in Vermilion -- quite a ways for us. But it sounded like fun, and it ended up we truly had a blast that night.

Laurel Run Cooking School in Vermilion, Ohio

As luck would have it, the owner, a very lovely and talented woman named Marcia, mentioned at the end of the class that she welcomed volunteers to help with future classes. My ears perked up. You see, at that time in our lives, my husband and I had no kids living at home. (Four were away at college, and our oldest was just starting out her new career in New York City.) Wouldn't this be something fun for us to do together? I thought to myself.

FYI, Joe and I had already tried other things. Fencing was fun, but I was such a wimp. (Just for the record, the woman they paired me up with was brutal. Brutal, I tell you!) Attending symphony concerts was nice, but Joe would inevitably fall asleep, which wouldn't be so bad if he didn't snore so loud. And he refused to take Samba dance lessons with me.Why? I have no clue.

That's me, happy to have survived the latest bout.

So I asked Joe if he'd like to volunteer at this cooking school with me. Being the great cook -- and fairly good sport -- that he is, he agreed.

Flash forward to today. Joe and I are still volunteering about once a month at Laurel Run Cooking School and are having as much fun today as we did at our first class all those years ago. Marcia is still as gracious as ever. Her husband is just as gracious. The other volunteers are so warm and inclusive. And all the interesting  people who attend the classes are clearly enthusiastic to learn. It's a great time for everyone. It truly is.

Which is why I'm super excited to invite you to attend a cooking class/book signing that little ol' me will be conducting at Laurel Run on Thursday, October 4, from 6:30-9pm. (Be forewarned: There are only so many seats available, so when they're gone, they're gone.)

The food will be fantastic, let me assure you. (And you could bring your own wine!) In fact, I'll be demonstrating a menu that was developed from various chefs' recipes from my book. Here's the line-up:
  • Shrimp Santos from the late chef Sergio Abramof of Sergio's in University Circle
  • Bacon, Brie, & Peach Toasts from chef Nolan Konkoski of SOHO Kitchen & Bar
  • Cream of Butternut Squash & Roasted Red Pepper Soup from chef John D'Amico of Chez Francois
  • Apple, Walnut, & Endive Salad from chef Ellis Cooley, formerly of AMP 150
  • Roasted Rock Cornish Hens with Brown Butter & 30-year-old Balsamic Vinegar from chef Zach Ladner of Giovanni's Ristorante
  • Brown Rice & Almond Pilaf from chef Regan Reik of Pier W
  • Port Honey-Glazed Pears with Vanilla Ice Cream from chef Dante Boccuzzi of DANTE
I'm salivating already. How about you?