Family Favorite Artichokes with Dipping Sauce

What is the food that you have the most fun eating?  Watermelon comes to mind, so does cotton candy, but at our house, our favorite is artichokes.  They are wonderfully messy and a good excuse to dip into warm butter with lemon or perhaps this recipe.

We don’t need much of a nudge to do this.  We love their fresh, clean taste. Something about plucking the leaves off, dipping them into sauce and getting their meaty goodness by scraping them between your teeth appeals to us.  It’s tasty, fun, easy and casual.  We don’t need much of a nudge to do this, just their appearance in the spring.

If you haven’t tried them because they seem like too much work…..think again.  At our house, we don’t do anything but trim the ends and outer leaves and simmer covered till the leaves easily pull away from the core.  No special trimming, no coring….we just stop when we get to the choke….not as beautiful, but very easy.

Hope your tempted to try them as an appetizer for your Sunday supper this week.


Family Favorite Dipping Sauce

Yield: 4 servings

Prep Time: 5 minutes

Cook Time: 30 minutes

Total Time: 35 minutes


1 large artichoke or 4 small ones
1/4 cup olive oil
2 medium cloves garlic
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons grated parmesan cheese
Salt and pepper to taste


Pour olive oil into a small bowl. Using a garlic press, press the garlic into the bowl and let it sit for 10 minutes. Using a strainer, strain the garlic from the olive oil.

Into olive oil, whisk fresh lemon juice, grated parmesan cheese, salt and pepper. Serve with warm artichokes.


Best, Easy, Asparagus Recipe!

This week I want to introduce you to one of the top food stylists in the country, William Smith.  William originally is from the West Coast, but he has worked extensively in New York and everywhere in between….sometimes he even finds himself in the Windy City working his magic.

This recipe is an all time favorite at his house when guests come over to share a home cooked Sunday supper.  He serves these lovely green spears as an appetizer or as a side dish.  Just look at how beautiful they are right out of the oven!  AND it’s so easy to make!

When I prepared this recipe, I was not only impressed by how easy it was to make but equally  impressed with the rave reviews when I served it.  I think that you’ll enjoy this preparation for the tender, fresh asparagus that are in season right now.Wouldn’t this Sunday be a good time for you to invite a few friends/family over to enjoy great conversation and good food?

I’m so very grateful to William because he not only gave me this great recipe to share but also helped make some of my spring posts a bit more beautiful by styling the food.  Thank you, William!

If you would like to take a peek at more of William’s beautiful food styling, please check out


Best, Easy, Asparagus

Yield: 4 servings

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 10 minutes

Total Time: 20 minutes


3/4 pound asparagus
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons lemon zest
2 tablespoons grated parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons panko or bread crumbs
Salt and pepper to taste


Turn oven to Broil. Wash and trim asparagus.

Place asparagus in oven safe cooking pan. Sprinkle olive oil over asparagus making sure that the asparagus are evenly coated. Then sprinkle asparagus evenly with lemon zest, grated parmesan cheese, panko or bread crumbs, salt and pepper.Place under broiler for 5- 10 minutes depending on thickness of asparagus and distance from broiler till golden brown. (I used the middle oven rack for 10 minutes).

Can be served hot or room temperature.


Strawberry Shortcake with a Lemon Twist Recipe – A Mother’s Day Treat!

What my blog is really about is connecting with family and friends around a wonderful meal.  Is there a better time to do that than Mother’s Day?

How do you celebrate the day?  Do you take Mom out to breakfast or brunch?  Or, perhaps you make a special dinner for her at home, which is what my family does for me.  This year I am especially honored because my family drove 300 miles to be with me just for 24 hours!

This is one my my favorite Mother’s Day desserts, actually it’s one of my favorite any day desserts.   I love the warm, buttery, crisp shortcake and the ripe, lush strawberries and of course, it has to be topped with a bit of fresh, slightly sweetened whipped cream.  I really like the addition of lemon to this recipe.  I think that lemon compliments strawberries by adding a citrus note, see if you agree. Tempted to make this for your mother today?  Hope so.

Sadly, my mother has been gone a very long time (I lost her when I was 18).  I hope that you can take the time to honor your mother in whatever way you can today (even if it’s just a phone call).

Mother’s Day Poem

Author Unknown

She’s the whisper of the leaves as you walk down the street.
She’s the smell of bleach in your freshly laundered socks.
She’s the cool hand on your brow when you’re not well.
Your mother lives inside your laughter.
She’s crystallized in every tear drop.
She’s the place you came from, your first home.
She’s the map you follow with every step that you take.
She’s your first love and your first heart break.
Nothing on earth can separate you.
Not time, not space, not even death…
will ever separate you from your mother…
You carry her inside you heart!


Strawberry Shortcake with a Lemon Twist

Yield: 8 servings

Prep Time: 30 minutes

Cook Time: 30 minutes

Total Time: 60 minutes


2 cups flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoons salt
4 tablespoons sugar
6 tablespoons butter (let chill in freezer 30 minutes and cut into small pieces)
3 eggs (1 egg is for egg wash)
6 tablespoons heavy cream
2 tablespoons lemon zest
2 tablespoons coarse sugar (I used turbinado)

1 qt. fresh strawberries (washed, hulled and cut in half)
1 1/2 tablespoons lemon juice
4 tablespoons sugar

Whipped Cream:
1 cup heavy cream
1 tablespoon sugar
1/8 teaspoon vanilla


Place butter in the freezer for about 30 minutes along with the bowl that you will be using to prepare the whipped cream.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Grease baking sheet with butter or use parchment paper and line the sheet.

In a food processor using a pastry blade add flour, baking power, salt and sugar. Pulse 4 times.

Then add chilled butter cut into small pieces and process until mixture resembles corn meal.

Add 2 eggs, cream and lemon zest and process until mixture forms a ball.

Remove the ball from the food processor, wrap in plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator at least 20 minutes or overnight.

Remove from refrigerator and place on floured board.

Roll out with a rolling pin until it is approximately 3/4 inch thick and cut out rounds with a pastry cutter or even a glass.

Beat the 3rd egg with 1 tablespoon water and brush on shortcake.

Sprinkle with coarse sugar.

Bake for approximately 30 minutes or until golden brown. Let cool on a cooling rack.

I prepare the berries right after I have put the shortcake mixture in the refrigerator to chill.

Place strawberries that have been washed, hulled and cut in half lengthwise in a bowl. Add lemon juice and sprinkle with sugar. In about 30 minutes they will macerate, becoming softer and giving up their juice.

Whipped Cream:
When almost ready to serve pour heavy cream into a chilled bowl add sugar and vanilla then beat with a mixer or by hand with a whisk till it forms frothy peaks.

Assemble the shortcake:
Cut shortcake in half. Spoon strawberries over bottom half. Top with other half and add a dollop of whipped cream.

Garnish with mint if you like.


Sunday Supper with Patricia Wells and a Cookbook Giveaway! Chicken Salad with Green Beans, Tahini-Lemon-Yogurt Dressing and Cilantro Recipe

This week I’ll be giving away a copy of Salad as a Meal by Patricia Wells to the first person to send their Sunday Supper story and recipe to me.  I realize that some of you can’t read or access the contact form on the right hand side of my page if you are using certain computer platforms, but I don’t want to leave you out of the giveaway.  Please contact me at with your story and recipe!

Sometimes we like to share our Sunday supper with family AND friends and this is what we did on April 17th when we hosted a very special Sunday supper in honor of culinary legend, Patricia Wells.

After months of intricate planning and coordinating with Walter Wells, Patricia’s husband, we surprised Patricia with a dinner party welcoming her to Chicago.  Friends of Patricia came to help us celebrate her latest book, Salad as a Meal. The menu was a selection of our favorite recipes from the book paired with Clos Chanteduc, a fabulous Cote Du Rhone from Patricia and Walter’s vineyard.  Patricia later told us it was the first surprise party of her life!!  We’re so happy it was such a success.

Every one that was involved was sworn to secrecy and it paid off!  No one gave it away and as you can see by the pictures below, she was quite surprised.

She was given a big Chicago welcome by her close friends and colleagues.

This biggest surprise was that her husband, Walter flew in from Paris for the event!

What do you serve Patricia Wells?  Her own recipes, of course!  In case you missed this delicious recipe that Patricia shared when she was on the Today Show, here it is again.  This has been one of our Sunday supper favorites since the day we tasted it on her terrace in Provence.  You will find more fabulous recipes in Salad as a Meal and maybe you will be the lucky winner of her cookbook for the Giveaway!  Wouldn’t it make the perfect Mother’s Day gift?


Chicken Salad with Green Beans, Tahini-Lemon-Yogurt Dressing and Cilantro

Yield: 4 servings

Prep Time: 20 Minutes

Cook Time: 20 minutes

Total Time: 40 minutes


3 tablespoons coarse sea salt
8 ounces green beans, trimmed at both ends and cut into 1-inch pieces
3 1/2 cups (about 1 pound) cubed cooked chicken
1 1/2 cups sliced celery (1/4-inch slices)
1/2 cup finely minced fresh cilantro or parsley leaves
Coarse, freshly ground black pepper

2 plump, moist garlic cloves, peeled, halved, and green germ removed
1/4 cup tahini (sesame paste)
1/2 cup plain low-fat yogurt
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt


Prepare a large bowl of ice water.

Fill the pasta pot with 3 quarts of water and bring it to a rolling boil over high heat.

Add the salt and the beans and blanch until crisp-tender, about 5 minutes. (Cooking time will vary according to the size and tenderness of the beans.) Immediately remove the colander from the water, letting the water drain from the beans. Plunge the beans into the ice water so they cool down as quickly as possible. (The beans will cool in 1 to 2 minutes. If you leave them longer, they will become soggy and begin to lose flavor.) Drain the beans and wrap them in a thick kitchen towel to dry. (Store the beans in the towel in the refrigerator for up to 4 hours.)

In a large bowl, combine the beans, chicken, and celery. Toss to blend. Add just enough dressing to coat the ingredients lightly and evenly. Add the cilantro and toss again. Taste for seasoning. At serving time, season with pepper.

For Dressing, In the food processor or blender, mince the garlic. Add the tahini, yogurt, lemon juice, and salt and puree to blend. Taste for seasoning. The dressing can be used immediately. (Store the dressing in the refrigerator for up to 1 week. Shake to blend again before using).

Happy Easter Eggs! – Deviled Eggs with Tarragon and Celery Recipe

I was awakened by the birds today.  Their morning song rose to greet me as the soft sunshine came through my window bathing the day with its golden warmth.  Ah…it’s Easter.  Today the grass is a bit greener and the flowers are a bit brighter.  No matter what your religion we can all celebrate this time of rebirth.

For some of us, it is a day to celebrate and end the long Lenten season.  In past centuries it was mandatory that everyone fast from eggs during Lent.  On Easter, eggs could again be enjoyed.  We continue to honor this tradition with the Easter egg.

Easter morning Dana would dress in her finery and set out to fill her basket.  She would then bring her basket of treasures to the house for us to admire.  Nestled in it were all of the brightly colored eggs that we had so much fun coloring the day before.

After church, we always had our fill of the pastel beauties, but there were SO many left.  What to do?  Make deviled eggs!

I hope that you enjoy these with your family today….these never last long at our house on Easter Sunday, and I bet they won’t at yours!


Deviled Eggs with Tarragon and Celery

Yield: 12 Servings

Total Time: 10 minutes


6 hard boiled eggs
3 tablespoons mayonnaise
1 teaspoon mustard
1 rib of celery (taken from the tender "heart" of the celery) finely minced
1 teaspoon fresh tarragon, finely minced (you may substitute dried tarragon)
Salt and pepper to taste


Peel the hard boiled eggs and cut them in half. Scoop out the yolks and place yokes in a metal mesh stainer. Using the back of a spoon mash the egg yolks through the mesh stainer into a bowl. (My mother taught me this method which gives an even consistency) or you can just mash them with a fork if you choose.

Add mayonnaise, mustard, celery, tarragon, salt, and pepper and mix well.

Spoon or pipe (using a pastry bag) mixture into the egg white halves.