Sweet potatoes and yams poked with a fork and baked naked at 425 for a while with oil, salt, and sage.

Sweet potatoes and yams poked with a fork and baked naked at 425 for a while with oil, salt, and sage.

French Farmhouse Eggs

Fry a few fresh eggs in a generous splash of walnut oil. Just as the whites firm up, dash in a half teaspoon or so of vinegar.  I like red wine vinegar for this or maybe some infused white balsamic. The juice of a lemon or a lime is a nice substitution.  

The vinegar will steam off.  You can cover all this with a lid for a minute to steam the yokes firm or just let it steam away for looser yokes (my preference). 

Pour all this over a pile of arugula and crusty bread.  Do it.

Stafford Blend

I stumbled on this spice blend while making ratatouille. It's essentially all the spices from that dish removed and blended. I call this Stafford Blend after the Stafford Basin where I live, which is named after the great Oregon poet William Stafford. Here is a poem of his that is etched into a basalt obelisk near my home:

The Well Rising
The well rising without sound, 
the spring on a hillside, 
the plowshare brimming through deep ground
everywhere in the field— 

The sharp swallows in their swerve
flaring and hesitating
hunting for the final curve
coming closer and closer— 

The swallow heart from wingbeat to wingbeat
counseling decision, decision: 
thunderous examples. I place my feet
with care in such a world.

And this is what that poem tastes like:

Stafford Blend
3 tablespoons Herbes de Provence (hopefully with lots of lavender)
2 tablespoons freshly crushed fennel seeds
1/2 or 1 teaspoon Piment d'Espelette

I put this on everything. Some favorites are eggs, grilled chicken, or roasted cauliflower. Try dabbing avocado slices in this and big salt. I place my feet with care in such a world...

FSL Spinach

This right here is good for any meal, any time, any where.  

Heat a glug of good olive oil in a pan over medium heat.  Add to this one or two peeled and crushed garlic cloves.  Once the cloves brown a bit, shove in a few generous handfuls of fresh spinach.  If the stems are real thick and 'woody', trim these.  

Stir frequently as the spinach magically reduces to a beautiful emerald slump.  Sprinkle with salt and bit of (white) pepper (and maybe some Stafford Blend). Try some red pepper flakes too if you're feeling frisky. Squeeze in a half lemon.  Remove from the heat and get this in your mouth.

Grilled zucchini and hazelnut salad 

Brown a large handful of hazelnuts in a 300° oven. Gather 7 small zucchini and slice on the bias. Smother in olive oil, salt and pepper and grill until charred on direct heat. Pull the zucchini from the grill and splash with balsamic vinegar. Once they’ve cooled, combine with a mess of basil, the hazelnuts, a drizzle of olive oil, and a drizzle of hazelnut oil.  Maybe throw in some ragged ripped mozzarella. Season to taste.

Lentils with dried tomatoes and gorgonzola

1 small red onion
1 tbs red wine vinegar
1 1/3 cup cleaned and sorted lentils
3 tbs olive oil
1 garlic clove
3 tbs chervil (or tarragon or flat leaf parsley)
3 tbs chopped chives
4 tbs dill
3 oz. (or more!) gorgonzola
a few tbs of sun dried tomatoes

Slice that red onion thin and mix with the vinegar and some salt so that it mellows a bit. Place the lentils in boiling water an inch or so above the lentils. Cook for ~30 minutes, until tender. Drain and stir in the onions, olive oil, garlic, and some black pepper. Let this cool and add the herbs and cheese, and tomatoes.  Maybe drizzle on some good olive oil. Season to taste.

Nectarines, Tomatoes, Feta, Coriander, Dill

Wedge a few big tomatoes - the best you can get. Do the same with an equal amount of eat-over-the-sink nectarines. Cube about a cup (or more!) of feta cheese and marinate in generous olive oil, dill, and at least a tablespoon of (freshly crushed) coriander seed for at least 20 minutes. Combine the marinated feta and it's marinade with the tomatoes and nectarines. A splash of vinegar adds a nice top to the flavor chord - try red wine vinegar, balsamic, or white wine vinegar.

Making this at a friends house recently, I discovered the nectarines were not ripe.  Happily, my pals had a very ripe mango. This substitution was quite tasty. I bet peaches or kiwi would be fun too.

Vadouvan Curry


One of my favorite flavors of all time. I add this to my oatmeal with honey. It’s great on roasted Brussels sprouts with some maple syrup and red pepper flakes. Sprinkle this on cauliflower before roasting. Or you can have this as I first discovered it on a fateful and bitter cold day in Greenwich Village at Knickerbocker restaurant: perfuming a pile of perfect lentils cooked in thick coconut milk. OMG. 

I make a huge 5x batch twice a year or so. It makes a great gift, btw…

2 tsp onion powder
1 tsp garlic powder
1 teaspoon fenugreek seeds
1 tablespoon crushed fresh curry leaves - these are hard to find but add an essential and beautiful dimension. I get them at Srider's on the edge of town. Ground in the coffee grinder and left to dry out a bit, one $2 bag from Srider's is enough for a 5x recipe. 
1 tablespoon ground cumin (I prefer a bit less)
1 teaspoon ground cardamom (Get a bottle of this and you’ll find yourself adding to to all kinds of things!)
1 teaspoon brown mustard seeds ground up
3/4 teaspoon turmeric - (I prefer a bit more)
1/2 teaspoon grated nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon hot red-pepper flakes (optional - I prefer to add the heat per dish and leave the curry neutral. I don’t like spicy oatmeal!)
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves

Chocolate Pavlova

6 large egg whites
1½ cups superfine sugar
3 tbs unsweetened cocoa (sieved)
1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar (or red wine vinegar)
2 ounces bittersweet chocolate (finely chopped)

Preheat the oven to 350º and line a baking tray with baking parchment. Beat the egg whites until satiny peaks form, and then beat in the sugar a spoonful at a time until the meringue is stiff and shiny.  Sprinkle on the cocoa and vinegar, and the chopped chocolate. Then gently fold everything until the cocoa is thoroughly mixed in. Mound on to a baking sheet in a circle approximately 9 inches in diameter, smoothing the sides and top. Place in the oven, then immediately turn the temperature down to 300º and cook for about one to one and a quarter hours.

When it's ready it should look crisp around the edges and on the sides and be dry on top, but when you prod the center it will feel soft beneath your fingers. Turn off the oven and open the door slightly, and let the chocolate meringue disc cool completely.

When you're ready to serve, move this on the parchment to a tray. Top with whipped cream and seasonal fruits or berries. 



Grind: Have the butcher grind the meat for you or buy/rent yourself a meat grinder.  The grinder attachment on your mixer is good for small batches but may prove frustrating for anything more than a few pounds. In any event - cut up the meat and get it real cold before grinding.

Taste: After mixing the batch, cook off some patties and taste it.  Keep in mind the flavors will likely be more intense after you stuff and/or store the sausage for a while.  This step offers a prime opportunity to enjoy a little salad and wine as well.  

Stuff: If you own or have rented a stuffer then stuff these recipes in fresh hog or sheep casings.  If you are without a means to stuff, then simply form a 'meat log' or two, tightly wrap these in plastic wrap and store in the fridge.  The sausage will make great patties or loose sausage for sauces.

Cook: Sausage links benefit from a good combination of direct and indirect heat.  My favorite method is charcoal grill.  I start the links over the cool side of the grill until they are taught and cooked looking.  Then I move them over the coals until they are nice and crispy.  If cooking indoors, try placing links in a pan and fill partway with liquid (water, broth, wine, or beer).  Simmer the liquid away - this should cook the links through.  Then finish the sausage popping in its own fat, the casings crisping and browning with delight.


Sweet Italian

This recipe for a classic sausage benefits from anise, which is sweeter and less aggressive than the fennel often used here.  I love grilling this one.

5 pounds fatty pork butt ground medium
2 tablespoons kosher or coarse salt
1 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper (medium grind) 
1 teaspoon anise seed (toasted?)
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon garlic powder
2 cloves garlic, minced

Chicken, Apple, Chardonnay

The ginger really sings in this delicate sausage.  

4 pounds chicken thighs
4 teaspoons kosher or coarse salt
2 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper (medium grind)
1 Granny Smith apple, peeled and chopped
4 tablespoons minced onion
1-2 cloves garlic chopped
1/4 cup Chardonnay

Garlic Sausage

This is great cooked ahead and consumed cold at picnics or on road trips.  This basic sausage is also fine for sauces and stuffings.  Garlic sausage is an essential element of any mixed grill.

5 pounds fatty pork shoulder
12 cloves garlic, smashed
1 large bunch fresh sage chopped real fine
1/4 cup salt (maybe start with less and taste to your liking)
2 tablespoons crushed red pepper
3/4 cup cold water (white wine?)
1 cup grated Parmesan