Category Archives: soups

From Stranger Things to High on the Hog: Is it Life or Netflix?

THE TWO HUMANS AND ONE CANINE in my household have been in the Upside Down this week. (Not all three at once, but seemingly two at all times.) You know the Upside Down, that flipped-over underworld home of seething demons that plagued the characters in the most excellent Netflix series Stranger Things?

We’ve taken to saying we’re in the Upside Down whenever we feel not quite right, like an alien alter ego has invaded our equilibrium and left it teetering. Of course the canine did not verbally check in with his symptoms, but anyone who’s ever hung around a dog who’s a bit punk knows the signs – the lethargy, the clinging, the forlorn look in those big eyes.

But hey, if a bunch of 12-year-olds on banana bikes can conquer the creepy demogorgons and silence the Mind Flayer, then I think we should be able to toss off a little August weirdness.

Though if you are a Vineyarder, you might agree that the whole Island seems to be in the Upside Down this August.

Here’s an example: On each of the three days I left my house early last week (Sunday, Monday and Wednesday – I stayed safely at home on Tuesday), I found myself behind major car accidents (twice) or pulling over for emergency vehicles (twice). And this was all on the same road — the road we use to get everywhere, a two-lane road that runs from east to west (and west to east), down-Island to up-Island and back down-Island. There are no stoplights on the Vineyard; max speed limit is 45 mph. In other words, we’re not well set up for an onslaught of city drivers who race to get everywhere in humongous vehicles twice the size of an average Vineyard pickup truck.

I’m starting to feel like when I get to the end of my dirt road I should have a special force field to raise around my car as I turn out into the parade of whizzing cars.

The record number of cars and people on the Island this summer is a bit jarring, to say the least.

Also, it was grey and rainy most of the week – lovely for the plants but surreptitiously mood-reducing. Add to the mix a report on mounting Covid cases on the Island again, complete with Delta variant and a high percentage of “breakthrough” cases of vaccinated folks. And Whoopee! Way to put a damper on getting out and enjoying the 4000 events that go on out here in the second and third week of August.

It’s hard to know whether to hide under a rock or throw caution to the wind.

Of course, as you know, I’m mostly the hide-under-the-rock kind. (All alcoholics are excellent isolators – they excel in it, I’m afraid. It is not something they willingly give up, even years into recovery. That’s why we have sponsors to check in with.) But that is not going to work for me this week. Of the bigger events coming up, one of them is ours (meaning the company I work for, the Vineyard Gazette Media Group, and specifically, and I must be, er, present for that.

Actually, not just present, but on point: I’m moderating the panel discussion between Sam Sifton (NYT Cooking), Dawn Davis (Bon Appétit), and Dr. Jessica B. Harris (author and historian). Our topic is The Changing Story of American Home Cooking, and we’re taking a look at how the food media is opening up to a broader spectrum of voices. (We’ll be under a tent at the Martha’s Vineyard Museum; if you’d like to join us, you can get tickets online.)

Honestly, this will be exciting (though my stomach will betray me as it always does before I go in front of large groups of people), and it’s not like any one of these three people is a shrinking violet – they could talk amongst themselves quite easily without me even being there. (Indeed, ideally that will be mostly the case!) But since I am so goal-oriented, I want to be sure the audience will walk away with a clear story in their heads, to know about the changes the food media is undertaking to tell a wider range of stories.   

One of the things I’m doing to prepare is watching High on the Hog, another excellent Netflix production, though this one a documentary series. Maybe you’ve seen it by now; I’ve been meaning to get to it all summer.

Inspired by Dr. Harris’ work tracing the journey of African ingredients and cuisine to this continent in her 2012 book, High on the Hog, the documentary is a fascinating and emotional look at how much of what we think of as American food has its roots in African ingredients and African American cooking. Macaroni and cheese, for one. (Here’s a link to Dr. Harris’ recipe for Spicy Three-Cheese Marcaroni and Cheese.)

The host of the series is personable food writer Stephen Satterfield, who travels with Dr. Harris in the first episode to the West African nation of Benin, where almost one million Africans departed for a life in slavery. The four-part series travels back to America – first to the Low Country of South Carolina where enslaved people built the nation’s first big business – rice farming – and from there to Philadelphia, Virginia, Texas and California.

If you are a lover of food and history and interested in expanding your understanding of the African contribution to American cuisine, I highly recommend watching this beautiful documentary.

Once again I’m reminded that to enrich my life (and come back from the Upside Down), I just have to stick my nose out from under the rock. And maybe watch a little more Netflix!

I wish you could all join me on Wednesday, but I’m comforted in knowing some of you will be there and that the universal topic of home cooking will be center stage. No matter what you cook or where your food traditions come from, the act of gathering at the table for a meal cooked with love is a universal connection we all share.


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Favorite Soups and A Recipe for Zesty Tomato-Ginger Bisque

Apparently I jumped the gun a bit on posting about the weather last week, but it’s just as well. You really don’t want to hear about (or see) the nasty slush, mud, snow drifts, ice floes, and dangerous flying detritus (icicles, tree branches, etc.) we are dealing with here as we lug food and water to the chickens and cart their eggs back.

Fortunately, on a much more pleasant note, an artist friend of ours who has smartly vacated the Island for Santa Fe, New Mexico, is painting by day and cooking from Fast, Fresh & Green and The Fresh and Green Table by night. Don McKillop has been posting on my Facebook timeline about his favorite dishes, and the other day he mentioned the Zesty Tomato-Ginger Bisque. It seemed to provoke a lot of yums and mmmms from other Facebook friends, which just reminded me how much everybody (including me) loves soup. And that of course, tomato soup is a quintessential chill-chaser. (I’ve shared the bisque recipe below.)

Over the years I’ve developed a lot of soup recipes, and it’s kind of fun to look back and see the variety. At (where several of my soup recipes reside!) you can take advantage of a cool “Create your own recipe” format and make one of my creamy soups with your favorite vegetable and favorite pantry ingredients. (Or you can go straight to Carrot-Ginger Soup, Butternut Squash Soup with Garam Masala, Yogurt & Lime, or Broccoli Soup with Bacon.)

If you’re in the mood for a hearty chowder but are cooking for a vegetarian crowd, visit for a story I did last year. Recipes include Roasted Butternut, Squash, Apple, and Farro Chowder; Many Mushroom Chowder with Yukon Gold Potatoes and Rosemary; Caramelized Onion and Savoy Cabbage Chowder with Thyme; and Root Veggie Chowder with Collard Ribbons. And right here on, I’ve posted a few of my favorites from The Fresh & Green Table, including Asparagus & Leek Bisque, Spicy Noodle Hot Pot with Bok Choy, and a variation on my Farmers’ Market Minestrone. I’ve been working on more soups over the winter, too, and I have to say, they’re as satisfying to make as they are to eat.

A tasty soup builds layers of flavors by starting with lots of aromatic vegetables (onions, carrots, leeks, garlic, ginger, celery, fennel—sautéed until golden, of course) and finishing with a few bright herbs and a splash of acid (vinegar or citrus). In between, broths get savory flavor from bits of meat, earthy green veggies and roots, bright tomatoes, hearty beans and noodles, and even the occasional rogue ingredient like a Parmigiano rind or a whole star anise. Understand where the flavor comes from, and you’re more than halfway to making a brilliant soup. And to forgetting about the damp and cold outside!

Zesty Tomato-Ginger Bisque

Recipe copyright Susie Middleton from The Fresh & Green Table (Chronicle Books, 2012)

I have made tomato soups every-which-way, and honestly, they’re all pretty comforting. But this one has a special zing and warmth to it that I love. I start with leeks and fennel, add lots of ginger and a bit of garlic, and then season with a combination of orange, coriander, honey, and balsamic (just a small amount) to give those bright tomatoes a sturdy backbone. The magic of the blender produces a smooth, comforting puree, and just a little half-n-half gives the soup a silky finish. Garnish with crunchy rustic croutons or a dollop of crème frâiche.

Serves 4, Yields 8 cups 


2 tablespoons orange juice

1 tablespoon honey

1 tablespoon tomato or sundried tomato paste

1/2 teaspoon balsamic vinegar

2 28-ounce cans whole, peeled tomatoes (I like Muir Glen)

1 cup water

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

1 1/2 cups (5 1/2 ounces) thinly sliced leeks (about 3 medium or 4 small leeks), well-washed

1 1/2 cups (5 1/2 ounces) thinly sliced quartered and cored fennel bulb (about 1 small fennel bulb)

Kosher salt

1/2 teaspoon ground coriander

2 teaspoons minced fresh garlic

2 tablespoons minced fresh ginger

Freshly ground pepper

1/2 cup half ‘n half


In a small bowl, combine the orange juice, honey, tomato paste, and balsamic vinegar. Set aside.

Empty the contents of both tomato cans into a mixing bowl. Gently break up the tomatoes into smaller pieces with your hands (effective but messy!) or a pair of scissors. Add 1 cup water to the tomato mixture and set aside.

In a 4- to 5-quart Dutch oven or other wide saucepan, heat the olive oil and butter over medium-low heat. Add the leeks, fennel, and 1 tsp. salt. Cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 8 to 10 minutes. Uncover, raise the heat to medium, and continue cooking, stirring frequently and scraping browned bits off bottom of pan, until the vegetables are all browned in spots and the bottom of the pan is browning a lot, another 8 to 10 minutes.

Add the ground coriander and stir well. Add the garlic and the ginger, and cook, stirring, until softened and fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the orange juice/tomato paste mixture and the tomatoes and stir well to incorporate. Bring the soup to a boil and immediately reduce to a gentle simmer. Cook, uncovered, stirring occasionally, for 17 to 18 minutes. (You will notice on the inside of the pot that the soup has reduced a bit.)

Take the pan off the heat and let the soup cool for 15 to 20 minutes.

Puree the soup in three batches (fill the jar only about half way or just a little more) and cover the blender lid partially with a folded dishtowel (leave a vent opening uncovered to let steam out) to prevent hot soup from splashing on you. Combine the three batches in a mixing bowl, then return to the (rinsed) soup pot. Whisk in the half ‘n half. Taste the soup for seasoning and add more salt or pepper if needed.

Reheat the soup very gently. Serve hot garnished with the Rustic Croutons.


All photos by Susie Middleton except asparagus soup, Annabelle Breakey; tomato soup, Jessica Bard

Stormy Minestrone, A Recipe for Comfort

All I can think about today is soup. This may be because I have too many vegetables crowding up the fridge. After another round of recipe development and a pre-hurricane sweep of the garden, I am left with the clear makings of minestrone—everything from a five-pound bag of carrots to three awkwardly space-hogging baby fennel bulbs. I have a big basket of winter squash I keep stumbling over in the pantry, and I have a little handful of green beans I just plucked off the dying vines this morning. I even have a few cranberry beans that are finally ready to harvest, from plants that miraculously show very little storm damage.

Our storm damage, in fact, was minimal. Had circumstances been different—if Sandy hadn’t taken a left turn when she did—we would likely be facing a very different winter here on the farm. Instead the hoop house is still standing, the animals are all fine, and in fact, we have another flock of laying hens due to arrive here this week (more on that soon). So thankfully, Roy is building—rather than rebuilding. Now, of course, I hear that a big Nor ‘Easter is coming up the coast this week. So maybe we are not out of the woods yet. But still. I can’t stop thinking about Staten Island and the Rockaways and Seaside Heights. All those folks still without power and nights getting really chilly. And lots of friends on the coast of Connecticut with serious flood damage. We did have plenty of coastal erosion up here on the Island and flooding in the lowest harbor areas in the towns, but most homes were safe and dry (and warm).

Everyone knows it could have been different, though. One Island friend posted an idea on Facebook a couple days ago for a coats-and-warm-blankets drive, and seemingly overnight, boxes outside of Island businesses filled up with donations, and volunteers have come forward to drive the items down to a particularly hard-hit neighborhood in Queens.

I will be here, making hot and comforting soup, sort of a crazy response to feeling for other people who are cold. It’s like I have a sympathetic and not entirely imaginary chill that must be chased away. We human beings have strange responses to things—I know I can’t share my soup with those folks, but I’m hoping someone else will share their hot food with someone cold and hungry, and in the meantime I’m sending comfort-soup-karma out as best I can.

Here’s my Fall Farmers’ Market Minestrone recipe from The Fresh & Green Table. Deeply flavored without any meat at all, it’s a good starting point for comfort soup, but feel free to vary the veggies as you please.

Fall Farmers’ Market Minestrone  

Recipe copyright Susie Middleton, from The Fresh & Green Table (Chronicle Books, 2012).

The secrets to this meatless minestrone include lots of aromatic veggies and a Parmigiano rind. I usually finish the soup with grated Parmigiano and/or a bit of gremolata (a mix of freshly chopped parsley, lemon zest, and garlic). But if you don’t want to bother with the gremolata , it’s perfectly delicious without it.


1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

2 cups medium-diced onions (about 1 large or 2 medium)

2 cups thinly sliced Savoy cabbage (about 1/4 small head)

1 cup thinly sliced fennel bulb (quartered and cored first, about 1/2 small bulb)

1 cup thinly sliced carrots (about 2 carrots)

Kosher salt

1 cup peeled, medium-diced butternut squash (about 4 to 5 oz.)

1 cup large-diced stemmed Swiss chard leaves (thinly slice stems separately and include them, too)

1 Tbsp. minced fresh garlic (plus 1/2 tsp. if making gremolata)

1 Tbsp. chopped fresh thyme

2 tsp. chopped fresh rosemary

1 tsp. ground coriander

1 Tbsp. tomato paste

1 14 1/2-oz. can diced tomatoes (I like Muir Glen), well drained

1 2-inch Parmigiano-Reggiano rind

½ cup ditalini pasta or other very small pasta

1 cup thinly sliced green beans (about 4 oz.)

½ to 1 cup fresh corn kernels (optional)

1 to 2 tsp. lemon juice

½ tsp. lemon zest (if making gremolata)

2 Tbs. chopped fresh parsley

1/3 cup coarsely grated Parmigiano Regianno


a 5- to 6-quart Dutch oven or other large soup pot, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion, fennel, cabbage, carrots and 1 tsp. salt. Cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions are softened and mostly translucent and the cabbage is limp, about 6 to 8 minutes. Uncover and continue cooking, stirring occasionally, until much of the cabbage is browning and the bottom of the pan is browning as well, about another 8 to 9 minutes.

Add the 1 Tbsp. garlic, the thyme, the rosemary, the coriander, and the tomato paste. Stir until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the butternut squash, the chard, the diced tomatoes, and 1 ½ tsp. salt and stir well until incorporated. Add the Parmigiano rind and 8 cups water.

Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer, and cook, stirring occasionally, for 10 minutes. Add the ditalini and cook another 8 minutes. Add the green beans and the fresh corn (if using) and cook for 4 to 5 more minutes. Remove the pot from the heat, remove the Parmigiano rind, and stir in 1 tsp. of the lemon juice. Let cool for a few minutes; taste and adjust for salt, pepper, and lemon juice.

For the gremolata (optional), combine the 1 tsp. garlic, the lemon zest, and the fresh parsley in a small bowl.

Garnish each portion of hot soup with some of the gremolata or chopped parsely and some of the Parmigiano.

Yields 8 cups, Serves 6



Asparagus-Leek Bisque for Mom; the Gift of a Child for Me

If my mom were here on Martha’s Vineyard with us this Sunday, this is what I would cook for her: Asparagus & Leek Bisque with Crème Fraiche & Tarragon and Classic Maryland Crab Cakes.

The silky soup (photo at right, recipe below and coming in The Fresh & Green Table) is delicious, easy to make, and would take advantage of the fabulous asparagus we’re now getting at Morning Glory Farm.

The crab cakes, well, they’re a family thing. When I developed that recipe for Fine Cooking magazine several years ago, I had to consult each of my family members to make sure I did not adulterate any nostalgic memories. The recipe really should be called Evans Family Classic Delaware Crab Cakes, because we spent a lot of time crabbing, picking crabs, making crab cakes, and eating crab every summer in Lewes Beach, Delaware. And for us, a crab cake is all about the crab (the blue crab!).

But my mom’s not visiting this weekend (she’s in Delaware), and since I picked on her last mother’s day by writing about her, I’m letting her off the hook this year. (Besides, she just got a brand new teeny tiny poodle puppy named Shortie to play with.)

Instead, I have to share this strange feeling I now get on Mother’s Day. I’m not a mother—well, at least, not an actual, bona fide legal full-time one. I always wanted to have kids, but it wasn’t to be. After I safely navigated my midlife crisis, I did briefly think about how I might still pull it off, but I never pursued any of the options. But God was looking out for me, I know now. Because into my life skipped Libby. She was seven, almost eight when I met her for the first time (all maybe 40 pounds of her—hence her father’s nicknames for her – “Noodle” and “Peanut”). I spent just a few hours with her, but the next time she came out from Falmouth to visit her father, she said, “Daddy, can we go over to Susie’s house?” That was the start of a very good thing. For both of us (actually, all three of us), I do believe.

Libby is blessed with an awesome family life in Falmouth—her mom Kelly totally understands her daughter’s personality and I admire how she nurtures it and encourages Libby’s unique strengths. (And I am especially grateful to Kelly for her generosity in welcoming me into Libby’s life.) Libby has two loving grandparents who live right next door to her—and a protective older brother to watch out for her, too. And when she comes out to the Island, she gets special time with the Dad who not only looks so much like her, but shares her love of nature and animals and everything outdoorsy. (And, oh, just happens to adore her, too.) And then there is Susie Time—in the kitchen cooking, over a board game, out for a walk with the dog, futzing around in the garden, or shopping at the farmers’ market. (That’s our feet in our farm boots, below.)

Last year, Roy bought me a plant (a beautiful lupine) on Mother’s Day and Libby brought me a necklace she’d made. I was so surprised and blown away, really. Kelly told me this week that Libby had something for me this Mother’s Day, but since Libby’s got an “away” soccer game, we won’t see her until next week. Honestly, it is hard to describe how I feel about the fact that Roy and Libby honor me as the Mom in our little family unit, even though we are only all together for part of every month. We do make the most of our time together, though, and I guess that’s what counts. But having the gift of Libby in my life is not something I will ever fully grasp in a tangible way. It’s not to be analyzed, just appreciated. Nothing short of a miracle—and a real privilege to watch this amazing girl grow up.

I will miss Libby this weekend. If she were here, we just might make that Asparagus Bisque and the Crab Cakes (she loves both). And I have something to give her, too—her very own copy of The Fresh & Green Table (I just got my early author copies). After all, it is dedicated to her and her Dad. And that’s pretty cool—how many nine-year-olds can walk into just about any bookstore and see their name in print? Well, this may be the first time for Libby, but I’m guessing it won’t be the last.

Photographs in this post: soup, Annabelle Breakey, from The Fresh and Green Table; crab cakes, Scott Phillips from Boots by Roy Riley.

Asparagus & Leek Bisque with Crème Fraiche & Tarragon

This is a lovely, satisfying soup with the light flavors of spring, but the hearty back-up of earthy sautéed leeks. I love how well the crème fraiche, tarragon, and lemon work with the asparagus at the end. When you’re shopping for asparagus, you’ll probably want to go ahead and buy 4 bunches (of medium-thin stalks; bunches are about 1 lb. each) to be on the safe side (unless you find much bigger bunches!). You’ll be trimming all the tough ends to wind up with 1 1/2 pounds for the soup; plus you’ll be cutting up a few stalks to blanch and use as garnish. This soup would be lovely with a few crostini on the side, topped with warm goat cheese and maybe a little smoked salmon. This recipe is from The Fresh and Green Table (Chronicle Books, June 2012, Susie Middleton).


2 tablespoons unsalted butter

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

1 1/2 cups thinly sliced leeks (about 5 ounces, from about 2 large leeks)

1/2 cup thinly sliced celery

kosher salt

2 teaspoons minced fresh ginger

1/4 cup dry white wine (such as a Sauvignon Blanc)

1 1/2  pound trimmed asparagus (from about 3 bunches of medium-thin asparagus) cut into 1/2-inch pieces; plus 3 trimmed stalks, sliced on the diagonal, about 1-inch long

1/4 cup crème fraiche

1/2 teaspoon freshly grated lemon zest

1 1/2 to 2 teaspoons chopped fresh tarragon


In a 4- to 5-quart Dutch oven or other large sauce pot, heat the butter and the olive oil over medium heat. Add the leeks, the celery, and 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt. Stir, cover, and cook, stirring once or twice, until the vegetables are mostly softened, about 5 minutes. Uncover and continue to cook, stirring frequently, until the vegetables are shrunken and the leeks have taken on some golden color, about 7 to 8 minutes more.

Add the ginger and stir until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the white wine and cook until mostly reduced (this will happen quickly). Add the (1 1/2 lb.) asparagus, 1 teaspoon kosher salt, and 5 1/2 cups water. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer and cook, uncovered, until the asparagus are just tender, about 7 minutes.

Take the pan off the heat and let the soup cool for 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, bring a small saucepan of water to a boil with 1/4 teaspoon salt. Drop in the extra asparagus pieces and cook until firm-tender but still bright green, 2 to 3 minutes. Drain and reserve.

Puree the soup in three batches (fill the jar only about half way or just a little more) and cover the blender lid partially with a folded dishtowel (leave a vent opening uncovered to let steam out) to prevent hot soup from splashing on you. Combine the batches in a mixing bowl, then return to the (rinsed) soup pot. Whisk in the crème fraiche, 1 1/2 teaspoons of the tarragon, and the lemon zest. Taste the soup for seasoning and add more salt or the remaining 1/2 teaspoon tarragon. (If you plan to eat the soup right away, you will most likely want to add the last 1/2 teaspoon tarragon. If you plan to eat it later, hold back, as the tarragon intensifies just slightly over time.)

Reheat the soup very gently. Serve hot garnished with the reserved asparagus pieces.

Serves 4, Yields 8 cups

New Greens to Grow and One Fabulous Bok Choy Recipe from The Fresh & Green Table

Spicy Noodle Hot Pot with Bok Choy 1Promises, promises. A few weeks ago, I said I would give you a peek at some of the recipes in The Fresh & Green Table (coming in June—preorder now!). Last week I said I’d let you know what new greens we’re growing this year. Time for me to keep my promises, don’t you think? Especially since the green factor is blowing me away right now. The seedlings we started three weeks ago are so fresh looking that it’s hard not to think about eating them right out of the flats! (The new light system has worked beautifully.) But some of those little guys—like the Rainbow Lacinato Kale and the Bright Lights Swiss chard—hold the uh, promise, of growing all summer and fall, with many many harvests along the way, so it wouldn’t be too smart to cut their little lives short just now.

In honor of all these greens—especially the dozens of little baby bok choys we’ve started—I thought I’d include a delicious and easy recipe from the soup chapter of The Fresh & Green Table that features bok choy. (Recipe at end of blog.) I call it “Spicy Noodle Hot Pot with Bok Choy, Shiitakes, Ginger, Lime & Peanuts,” but it’s really just a quick and tasty noodle soup that you could make tonight (with regular or baby bok choy). (I’m sorry I don’t have access right now to the beautiful picture of this dish that appears in the book.) As it happens, this week three more recipes from The Fresh & Green Table were posted on the Internet, thanks to an article in the Spring issue of Martha’s Vineyard Magazine, Home and Garden (by yours truly). The three over there are for main-dish salads—most appropriate for grilling season. But one of them happens to feature asparagus and another Asian green, Napa cabbage, and would be perfect to make right now if you live in an area of the country that is already seeing local asparagus.

On the subject of Asian greens, here are three new ones we are trying in the market garden this year, in addition to tat soi, mizuna, and bok choy. (Most of our greens seeds come from High Mowing Seeds and Fedco.)

Komatsuna: This winter, I read about this intriguing Japanese green (also called spinach mustard) in The Seasons on Henry’s Farm. Then I began seeing references to it in all kinds of places so decided I’d love to give it a try. Supposedly the leaves are glossy and do not really wilt when cooked. A turnip relative, the greens are best picked young and tender to be at their sweetest.

Te Yu Flowering Broccoli: Years ago, Chinese broccoli was on my radar when I lived in New York. But I never grew it. I’m excited to give it a try this spring before the hot weather comes. It is fairly stemmy with little florets, but should be very tasty.

Mibuna: This delicate and very early green is quite similar to Mizuna except that the tips of the leaves are rounded rather than serrated. I’ll plan to use this in salads as soon as I can.

I also got all excited about the new frilly varieties of mustard I saw last year, so I wound up starting seeds for three of those—Ruby Streaks, Golden Frill, and Pink Lettucy. I know, I know, what was I thinking? One would have been enough.

In the lettuce department, here are three new ones I’m excited about:

Pirat Butterhead: A beautiful heading lettuce with pale green inner leaves, lime green outer leaves, and red tips. Sometimes called Pirate lettuce (I don’t know why, matey), this German heirloom is supposed to be very flavorful, so I can’t wait to try it.


Revolution: I’m hoping this red frilly Lollo-Rosso style lettuce will grow a bit more vigorously than others I’ve tried in the past. It should be a stunning addition to our farm stand mix.

Kinemontpas Butterhead: This French heirloom supposedly grows into giant deep-green buttery heads if you can resist picking it before then. Yes, I have a knack for choosing the hard-to-pronounce varieties.

Antares Oakleaf: The Fedco catalogue calls this, “A shimmery pink and bronze oakleaf growing vigorously to magnificent size. The extra-frilled finely cut bright leaves are colorful and tender, not bitter even in early July.”  Another one to look forward to!


I hate to tell you how many more greens we are growing other than those I’ve mentioned here. Despite doubling the size of the market garden, we are still going to be tight on space. Hmmm… maybe it would help if I promised not to take up too many beds with the greens. Promises, promises. We’ll see!

(Enjoy the soup recipe and don’t forget to pre-order The Fresh & Green Table. Your independent bookstore can order it from IndieBound so please patronize them if you can.)


Spicy Noodle Hot Pot with Bok Choy, Shiitakes, Ginger, Lime & Peanuts

For such a quick soup, this one is darn satisfying. Thanks to the bold flavors of ginger, lime, soy sauce, and cilantro—and the intriguing flavor of one of my favorite greens (bok choy)—the soup packs a punch without much fuss. I do take one extra little step of sautéing the shiitakes separately in a nonstick pan; otherwise they can stick before browning or cooking through. I also take a clue from Asian cooks and boil the soup noodles separately. (They can soak up a lot of liquid if added raw to the soup. This works out nicely, as it means you can distribute the noodles evenly among four soup bowls and then add the tasty broth, the greens, and the fun condiments. Heads of bok choy vary tremendously. You can use any size; just cut off a bit of the bottom, quarter lengthwise, and slice crosswise. Use plenty of the leafy tops, where there is lots of flavor. If you can’t find fresh Chinese egg noodles (in the produce section of the grocery), substitute with another fresh egg pasta (such as Italian linguine or fettucine).


kosher salt

6 oz. fresh Chinese egg noodles, torn into slightly shorter pieces

1/2 tsp. toasted sesame oil

1 Tbsp. soy sauce

1 Tbsp. freshly squeezed lime juice

1 tsp. packed brown sugar

2 Tbsp. plus 2 tsp. peanut or vegetable oil

3 1/2 oz. (1 package) shiitakes, stemmed and thinly sliced

2/3 cup thinly sliced shallots (about 3 oz. or 3 small shallots)

1 lb. bok choy (use both leaves and stalks), cored, quartered lengthwise, washed thoroughly, and sliced crosswise

1 Tbs. chopped fresh ginger

1 Tbs. chopped fresh garlic

1/2 tsp. Asian chili-garlic sauce (more to taste)

2 cups low-sodium chicken broth

3 to 4 Tbsp. chopped fresh cilantro

3 to 4 Tbsp. chopped roasted peanuts

2 Tbsp. finely sliced scallions


Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the egg noodles and cook until tender, about 2 to 3 minutes. Drain in a colander, rinse briefly, and let dry a bit. Transfer to a bowl and toss with a big pinch of salt and the sesame oil.

In a small bowl, stir together the soy sauce, lime juice, and brown sugar. Set aside.

In a medium (10-inch) nonstick skillet, heat 2 tsp. of the oil over medium-low heat. Add the shiitakes and a pinch of salt and cook, stirring, until tender and just starting to brown, about 6 to 7 minutes. Remove from the heat and reserve.

In a 4- to 5-quart Dutch oven or other soup pot, heat the remaining 2 Tbsp. oil over medium-low heat. Add the shallots and a pinch of salt, and cook, stirring, just until the shallots are softened and many are browning, about 3 to 4 minutes. Add the bok choy and 1/2 tsp. salt, and stir until all the leaves are wilted, about 2 minutes. Add the garlic, ginger, and chili-garlic sauce and stir until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the cooked shiitakes, the chicken broth, and two cups of water to the pan. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer and cook for 5 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and let sit for 5 minutes. Stir in the soy-lime mixture and 2 Tbsp. of the cilantro.

Distribute the noodles evenly among 4 deep soup bowls. Use tongs to arrange most of the greens over the noodles in each bowl, and then ladle the remaining broth and soup contents into each bowl, distributing evenly.Garnish each bowl of soup with more cilantro, the scallions, and the peanuts. Serve right away with both a fork and spoon.

Serves 4

Best Roasted Brussels Sprouts + 10 Fave Thanksgiving Sides

This time last year I was preparing to be on television the day before Thanksgiving. (The Martha Stewart Show—I cooked quick veggie sides from Fast, Fresh & Green.) A few years back I did a satellite media tour around this time to promote Fine Cooking’s book How To Cook A Turkey. The year before that, I did a radio blitz for most of November and December to promote all the holiday tips and recipes on Fine Cooking’s website (which, if you haven’t looked lately, is by far the best place to go to plan your Thanksgiving menu. Check out the cool interactive Create Your Own Menu Maker. But I’m not biased or anything.) Well, you can imagine how relieved I am not to be PR-ing this holiday season. I did in fact just record some radio spots for Fine Cooking that will soon air on WGBH (I’ll keep you posted); but they were a whole lot of fun to do—and they didn’t require a new wardrobe or an anxiety attack.

So we are free and clear to have a simple and quiet Thanksgiving at the farmette (yippee!). I still have squash, rutabagas, onions, kale, arugula, herbs, and salad greens from the garden, plus green beans, corn, and roasted tomatoes that I froze, so we will be able to make most of the meal über-local. I will wander across the street to the West Tisbury Winter Farmers’ Market on Saturday to see if I can get the rest of what I need.

Regardless of where you plan to get your goodies, most of you, I know, have this one thing on your mind: What kinds of dishes can I cook that are easy and delicious, that everyone likes, and that will serve a decent-sized crowd? To that end, I’ve gathered a list of ten of my own favorite side dish recipes that serve at least six people (below). Some of these recipes reside on, but several are ones I developed a few years back for an “updated classics” story on Thanksgiving sides for (you guessed it) Fine Cooking magazine. And I also threw in a “create your own” creamy veggie soup from another FC article I did years ago, in case yours is the kind of family that likes to start the meal with an elegant soup (or needs options for vegetarians).

But for the tenth recipe on the list, I couldn’t resist posting my Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Orange Butter Sauce. This is a recipe I originally created for Fast, Fresh & Green but that I tweaked last year for the TV gig so that it would feed more people. I just remade it this morning and am happy to confirm that it is not only delicious, but possibly one of the fastest and easiest Thanksgiving side dishes ever to make.

Here’s my list:

1. Green Beans with Crispy Pancetta, Mushrooms, and Shallots

2. Roasted Turnips with Maple and Cardamom

3. Pomegranate-Balsamic-Glazed Carrots

4. Bourbon Sweet Potato and Apple Casserole with a Pecan Crust

5. Creamy Baked Leeks with Garlic, Thyme, and Parmigiano

6. Mashed Yukon Gold Potatoes with Roasted Garlic

7. Thanksgiving Gratin of Butternut Squash, Corn & Leeks

8. Potato Galette with Fresh Rosemary & Two Cheeses

9. Creamy Vegetable Soup (Pick Your Own Veggie!)

10. Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Orange Butter Sauce (see below)

Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Orange Butter Sauce

I’ve roasted Brussels sprouts a few different ways, but you can’t beat this method for volume (large rimmed sheet pans hold a lot), quickness (16 to 18 minutes in a 475° oven), and great results (by halving the sprouts and roasting them cut-side down, the tops and bottoms brown but the interiors steam). The flavorful butter sauce gives the nutty roasted sprouts just the right touch of tangy-sweet richness to make this completely holiday-worthy.


2 lb. small Brussels sprouts, trimmed and halved lengthwise

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

1 tsp. kosher salt

1 Tbsp. plus 1 tsp. balsamic vinegar

2 Tbsp. pure maple syrup

2 Tbsp. fresh orange juice

1 tsp. finely grated orange zest or lemon zest

4 Tbsp. cold unsalted butter, cut into 16 pieces and kept chilled


Preheat the oven to 475˚F. Line two large heavy-duty rimmed sheet pans with parchment paper. In a mixing bowl, toss the Brussels sprouts with the 1/4 cup olive oil and 1 tsp. of the salt. Divide the sprouts between the two sheet pans and arrange them, cut-side down. Roast until brown and tender, 16 to 18 minutes. (The tops will be dark brown and crispy and the sprouts should feel tender when pierced with a paring knife.) Transfer the sprouts to a mixing bowl.

Combine the balsamic vinegar, maple syrup, orange juice, and orange zest in a small saucepan. Heat the mixture over medium heat just until it’s hot (you will see a bit of steam), but not simmering. Remove the pan from the heat and add the cold butter, several pieces at a time, whisking constantly until the mixture is smooth and creamy. (Don’t reheat the mixture or the butter will break and the sauce won’t be creamy.) Pour the sauce over the sprouts and stir thoroughly but gently until most of the sauce has been absorbed. Transfer the sprouts and any remaining sauce to a serving platter and serve right away.

Serves  8

Ten (Yes, 10) Things to Do with Celery Root

Count your blessings. So you’re stuck with six celery roots the size of footballs? At least they’re edible. Seriously, I know it’s hard to figure out what to do with these things; I’ve had quite a few on my hands recently thanks to my winter CSA share from Whippoorwill Farm. So last week I posted my favorite recipe for a creamy celery root and potato gratin, but I thought you might like a few more ideas, too. So here goes. (Be sure to try the oven roasted “chips.”)

1. Slice celery root into thin matchsticks (or grate it coarsely) and toss it (raw) into a winter salad of endive, sliced pears, toasted walnuts, and blue cheese.

2. Make roasted celery root “chips.” Slice the root in half and then into quarters; then slice each quarter as thinly as possible. (A santoku knife is great for this). Toss the pieces in enough olive oil to coat, sprinkle with salt, spread on a heavy-duty sheet pan; and roast at 350°F until they are mostly a deep golden brown, with some white left. (I think the darker ones are crispier, but too dark and they’ll taste bitter.) Let them cool on the sheet pan to finish crisping up. Sprinkle with more salt and snack on the couch with your favorite DVD.

3.  Since celery root and potatoes are such a great match, use them together in a hearty winter soup. Sauté lots of sliced leeks in butter, add cubed celery root, potatoes, and chicken or vegetable broth, simmer until tender, puree, and enhance with a touch of cream, a little lemon zest, lots of chopped fresh parsley and crispy croutons.

4. Apples and celery root are also happy partners. Use them raw together in a salad, or try roasting them first and adding them to a warm escarole salad with crispy strips of ham and a warm Dijon vinaigrette.

5.  Make a celery root “galette” by lining a tart pan with a couple layers of thinly sliced circles of celery root and gruyere cheese. Bake at 400°F until browned and tender. (Cover for the first half of cooking.) Let cool and slice into wedges.

6. Try a “quick braise” of celery root. Brown diced celery root in a combination of butter and olive oil in a sauté pan, then add just enough liquid (a little broth spiked with apple cider), cover and reduce the liquid to finish cooking the vegetables. Uncover, toss with a little spiced butter, and serve warm.

7. Instead of chips, you can also dice celery root for roasting. Make a quick weeknight side dish of roasted celery root and Yukon Gold potatoes with honey and rosemary. Cut the vegetables into ½-inch dice, toss in olive oil and salt, and roast on a sheet pan at 425°F until browned and tender. Dress lightly with a combination of melted butter, honey, and chopped fresh rosemary.

8. Celery root  is also a good flavor match with seafood.  A bed of celery root puree for a sear-roasted fish filet is delicious. Cut the root (and a few small potatoes) into pieces and simmer them with a few small garlic cloves until tender. Puree the vegetables with a little of the cooking liquid, a bit of cream, and salt and pepper.

9. Instead of a puree, make a celery root “mash” by hand-mashing cooked celery root and potatoes together with butter and milk and a little sautéed garlic. Serve with pot roast.

10. For an elegant holiday side dish—or even a hearty weeknight main dish with a salad—make my recipe for a celery root and potato gratin I use a combination of heavy cream and chicken broth so it is rich but not too heavy; this is a good dish to introduce celery root to folks.

More Delicious Ways to Cook Fingerling Potatoes

A while back I posted my favorite way to cook fingerling potatoes–the stovetop braise–and a yummy sample recipe, Braised Fingerlings with Crispy Sage and Tender Garlic. But the reality is, thanks to my CSA at Whippoorwill Farm here on Martha’s Vineyard, I was swamped with fingerling potatoes last summer and fall, so happily, I have a few other suggestions for using them. I figured I’d pass them on to you here, as many are good options for winter cooking, too.

  • Boiled fingerlings hold their shape really well, so use them (cut in half or other pieces) in warm salads (like with frisee, bacon, and a poached egg or a garlic crostini) or other composed salads like a grilled tuna or salmon Niçoise.
  • Cut into a few chunks and boiled, fingerlings are then perfect for “crushing” or smashing with roasted garlic and a bit of cream (or sour cream), butter, and chives.  These smashed potatoes make a perfect bed for beef stew.
  • Make a quick and delicious fish chowder by starting with sautéed leeks, simmering chopped fingerlings in the same pot, adding corn kernels and pieces of cod or haddock, and finishing with chopped fresh dill, a dash of cream, a squeeze of lemon, and lots of fresh pepper.
  • If you like the hands-off cooking of oven-roasting, don’t despair. You can oven-braise fingerlings by laying them flat, cut-side down, in an oiled Pyrex baking dish. Season with salt, dot with a few dabs of butter, and pour enough chicken broth in the pan to cover the potatoes. Cover with aluminum foil and cook (at about 375°F) until the potatoes are almost tender. Remove the foil and cook until the broth has reduced almost completely and the potatoes are browned. There’ll be some nice glazy stuff on the bottom of the pan.
  • Dice fingerlings and sauté slowly in lots of oil in a cast iron skillet until browned all around and tender through. Season with lots of salt. Voila, crispy “fried” fingerlings. Add sautéed onions and crush a bit for a more hash-like dish.
  • Most fingerlings have such outstanding “potato” flavor (nutty, earthy, and rich), that they’re perfect in cold potato salads, too. Try one with fresh peas, mint, and a light lemony-mayonnaise and yogurt mix in springtime.
  • The firm texture of cooked fingerlings makes them perfect for simple Indian curries, too. Add shrimp, peas, and chopped fresh cilantro to make dinner.