Tag Archives: Recipes

Salad Recipes To Chase Away the Winter Blahs

By Laura B. Weiss

Just because fresh greens and veggies aren’t’ readily available in the winter months is no reason to stop eating salad. Try some of these easy winter salad recipes from my latest NPR post, including this one for an updated version of that classic, the Waldorf Salad.

Not Your Aunt Zelda’s Waldorf Salad

I updated this classic recipe for “Apple, Celery and Nut Salad (Waldorf)” from The Settlement Cookbook, compiled by Mrs. Simon Kander (25th Edition, 1943). You may certainly opt for making the traditional dish, but I prefer the lighter, half-yogurt dressing and the additional adornments of beans and cumin.

Laura B. Weiss for NPR


Makes 4 servings

1 cup celery or two large stalks, cut lengthwise into pieces.

2 apples, cored and sliced (peeled or unpeeled)

1/2 cup canned garbanzo beans, drained

1 cup walnut meats, broken into pieces

1/4 cup mayonnaise

1/4 cup Greek yogurt

1 teaspoon lemon juice

3/4 teaspoons cumin

1/4 teaspoon salt

Pinch cayenne

Fresh ground pepper


Mix together the celery, apple, garbanzo beans and walnuts. In a separate bowl, combine the mayonnaise and yogurt, then add the lemon juice, cumin, salt, cayenne and black pepper and mix well. Gently fold the dressing into the celery mixture. Spoon onto a bed of arugula. Serve chilled.

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Cooking with Corn on NPR’s Kitchen Window

by Laura B. Weiss

I’ve just started writing food and recipe posts for NPR’s Kitchen Window blog. You’ll find lots of great recipes there, plus some terrific food writing. For my first post, I decided to write about corn. No, not that perennial all-American favorite, corn on the cob, but cooking with corn off the cob. In fact, as you’ll see when you read the post, I’m not exactly a corn on the cob hater, but I do think there are much better ways to consume what’s arguably America’s favorite grain. Click here to read: Making the Case for Corn Off the Cob.

Photo: Laura B. Weiss

extra corn chowder2

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Cookbook Review and Recipe: Tomatoes by Miriam Rubin

tomato cover big

Laura B. Weiss

It’s almost tomato season and I’m already planning to make some of my favorite recipes with the luscious summer fruit. Frankly, the one I love best is no recipe at all. Take one just-picked exquisitely ripe tomato from the local farmstand. Bring home. Rinse off. Lean over sink. Chomp into it. Accompany with plenty of napkins. Now you have one of the great eating treats of any season!

But there are times when I want to take the tomato one step further. And now I have the perfect cookbook for those endeavors—Tomatoes (UNC Press 2013) by author and food writer Miriam Rubin. One of the great pleasures of this compact cookbook is that Rubin, who’s from rural Southwestern, PA, is a lively and inventive writer. She starts out by taking you on a journey through the history of tomatoes. It turns out that the fruit hasn’t always been beloved. Though in the Bible tomatoes were dubbed “love apples,” the Greeks labeled them “mala insana,” or unhealthy fruit.

In Tomatoes, there are recipes for every conceivable use for fresh, store-bought and canned tomatoes. There are preparations for Bloody Marys, for a savory tomato pie, and even for a spiced tomato crumb cake. The other night, I prepared Baked-Garlic Cheese Grits with Tomato Crunch Topping and my family swooned. Among the  other recipes in Tomatoes that I can’t wait to try are Very Classy Cream of Tomato Soup and Crispy-Crumbed Baked Tomatoes with Pecans and Parmesan (See recipe below).


Courtesy of University of North Carolina Press.

Photo: Miriam Rubin

Because Tomatoes is part of the UNC Press Savor the South® Series—other titles include Biscuits, Peaches and Pecans—Rubin examines tomatoes through the lens of southern culinary traditions.

So what makes a tomato southern?

“A tomato absolutely becomes southern when it’s sliced thick, salted well, given a righteous slathering of Duke’s [mayonnaise], slapped between two slices of floppy white bread, and eaten over the kitchen sink,” she explains in the book’s Introduction. Tomatoes are also southern when they’re stewed, fried or made into a conserve.

Rubin points out that tomatoes aren’t just for summertime. The sorry cardboard supermarket tomato of yore has been replaced by several varieties of tasty tomatoes (some organic) that are now available at local supermarkets year-round. Plus, canned tomatoes work just fine in many recipes, she says.


Crispy-Crumbed Baked Tomatoes with Pecans and Parmesan

From TOMATOES: a Savor the South® cookbook by Miriam Rubin. Copyright © 2013 by Miriam Rubin.  Used by permission of the University of North Carolina Press. www.uncpress.unc.edu

These are gorgeous nestled alongside a grilled or baked fish or a juicy steak or as the star of a vegetable plate. Medium- sized round tomatoes or large Romas work best, but cut Romas lengthwise in half instead of crosswise. Good- quality supermarket tomatoes work nicely because baking intensifies their flavor. Don’t be tempted to use store- bought dry bread crumbs here. Making fresh ones is so simple: Tear the bread into rough 2- inch pieces and buzz it in the food processor.

Makes 8 side dish servings

  • 8 medium, firm- but- ripe tomatoes, such as Arkansas Traveler or Rutgers, or large Roma tomatoes (about 2 1⁄2 pounds), halved crosswise
  • 3⁄4 teaspoon kosher salt, divided
  • 1⁄4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1⁄2 cup chopped scallions
  • 1 large garlic clove, minced
  • 1 1⁄2 cups fresh bread crumbs (from about 3 slices crusty country-style bread)
  • 1⁄2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1⁄3 cup finely chopped pecans

Preheat the oven to 425°.

Arrange the tomatoes cut- side up in a baking dish just large enough to hold them. Mix 1⁄2 teaspoon of the salt and the pepper in a cup; sprinkle over the tomatoes.

Melt the butter in a medium skillet over medium heat. Brush a little butter over the cut side of each tomato, leaving some in the skillet. Bake the tomatoes, uncovered, until they are hot, begin to soften, and look juicy on top, 20–25 minutes.

Meanwhile, add the scallions and garlic to the butter remaining in the skillet. Cook over medium heat, stirring often, until the scallions are tender, about 2 minutes. Add the bread crumbs and cook, stirring, until lightly golden and crisp, 3–5 minutes.

Scrape into a medium bowl. Mix in the Parmesan, pecans, and remaining 1⁄4 teaspoon salt.

Spoon some of the crumb mixture atop each tomato half. Bake until the crumbs are browned and heated, 10–12 more minutes. Serve hot.


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App Review: CookShelf Rates Cookbooks


Cookshelf title page

By Laura B. Weiss

You’re trying to find a gift for a food-obsessed friend. Or you’re an experienced baker and you’d like to know which cookbook will take you to the next level.

T. Susan Chang, a regular cookbook reviewer for NPR.org and The Boston Globe, has come out with a cookbook ratings app, dubbed Cookshelf.

The app is easy to use and sorts cookbooks (on a scale of 1-5) by skill level, by the level of recipe innovation, by its gift-giving potential, and by whether it’s a “keeper,” with recipes that you’ll return to as favorites again and again.

For example, Chang gives All About Braising by Molly Stevens a 5 in the “keeper’ category, calling it a “forever” cookbook. Meanwhile, The Unofficial Downton Abbey Cookbook—you can try your hand at Lady Mary’s Crab Canapés—rates only a 1. “Here and gone (trendy and ephemeral”), sniffs Chang.


You can use CookShelf to sort cookbooks numerous ways, from Mother’s Day to Gluten-free. Each entry contains sample recipes, a note on how long the recipe will take, and a description of how readily ingredients can be located at your local supermarket.

Each cookbook rating is preceded by a summary of it’s pros and cons. Chang is a lively and knowledgeable writer and her intros are informative and engaging. If you want more, you can click on Chang’s full reviews in The Boston Globe.

A couple of quibbles with this otherwise outstanding app for both casual cooks and collectors. The design is a bit clunky and it would be useful when you sort through a category to have both the name of author as well as the title listed.

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