Dana Slatkin

Fresh Pumpkin Purée and Butter

Homemade Pumpkin Butter

One of my proudest farmgirl moments came a few weeks ago when I harvested sixteen robust, flaming-orange pumpkins from my front yard. Every Halloween, I would save a handful of pumpkin seeds from one of my children’s jack-o-lanterns, store them in a box, and plant them in the spring with high hopes. But I never managed to grow more than one lonely pumpkin until this year (thank you, global warming). Once my little trick-or-treaters have hung up their costumes this weekend, my pumpkins will beckon for another purpose. But this time, I am emotionally attached. I simply cannot just toss them into the bin of yard waste. So, in the days to come, I will be making fresh purée, destined for a spiced-up slather on toast, or Heidi Swanson’s … [Read more...]

Farmers Market Vegetable Soup

Vegetable Soup

Ever since I learned how to make soup while cooking in France, this straightforward, fail-proof soupe au pistou has been a mainstay on my Friday night menus. And just about every time I serve it, someone asks me for the recipe. But when it comes to soup, I rarely follow a recipe. Instead, I go by a few guidelines, courtesy of two of my mentors, Michelin 3-star chefs Georges Blanc and Michel Guèrard. Building up layers of flavor is essential for a heady and complex brew. This starts at the bottom of your pot with a mire poix of onions, carrots and celery (the ratio is usually 2 parts onion to 1 part carrots and celery). For a rustic outdoor lunch, I will chop the vegetables roughly; for an elegant dinner party, only small dice will do. … [Read more...]

Stuffed Eggplant-Mushroom Parmesan

stuffed-eggplant-mushroom-parmesan

With fall in full swing, I’m in an aubergine mood. It’s not only my favorite color (after all, I am an Aquarius) but also one of the most versatile vegetables on the stands right now. The other day, I fell madly in love with some darling baby eggplants at the Santa Monica Farmers Market. There were tiny purple ones the size of your index finger and striped green ones that looked like Christmas ornaments. I stuffed my bags with dozens of them, planning to use them to decorate the table for a dinner party I was giving. They ended up being the talk of the evening. You can see I added some pomegranates and artichokes as well… The next morning, I pulled all the eggplants out of their vases and turned them into a stuffing for some … [Read more...]

Stir-Fried Soba Noodles with Crispy Chicken and Greens

Stir-Fried Soba Noodles with Crispy Chicken

What is the key to pulling off a weeknight dinner from scratch? It is the question I hear the most in my cooking classes. And it’s the one I grapple with five times a week. There are days when I come home completely whipped, after all the rushing, dropping off, picking up, cajoling, encouraging, and often not-so-gentle rearing that has filled most of my waking hours. But at 6 o’clock on a recent such day, after rooting through my pantry, tossing this dish together in twenty minutes, and watching my family gobble it up, I miraculously recharged. The secret to getting dinner on the table fast is to make sure your cupboards are stocked at all times. Keep on hand an array of noodles (rice, soba, spelt and vermicelli are my go-to’s) … [Read more...]

French Apple or Blueberry Pie

French Apple Pie or Blueberry Pie

One of my favorite memories from childhood involves pies. Though my mother cooked from scratch almost every night, we were always on our own for dessert. This usually meant grabbing a piece of fruit or a Popsicle from the freezer. But occasionally, we would make a special trip to the Marie Callendar’s down the street. We would order four different slices of pie, because each of us refused to share. And whenever we traveled, we would search out the local pie shop to compare versions of our favorite pies. Mine was always French Apple, served warm and á la mode, of course. But when I discovered a flat of blueberries from last week’s trip to the farmers market just beginning to wrinkle in the fridge, I decided on this variation. Below … [Read more...]