Kale, Beet and Black Rice Salad with Ginger Vinaigrettte

IMG_4359 (1)

August already. So much has been eaten…maybe it’s time for something uber healthy. I’m still working up at  The Market Restaurant three days a week. When I get home, the guys have gotten pretty good at throwing something on the grill. Vegetables seem a little harder. It probably doesn’t help that I feel more protective of the vegetables than I do toward some of my family members. Well meaning attempts at cooking a vegetable can result in a barrage of unwanted commentary ….”snap off the ends of the asparagus, don’t cut!”, “you know that brussel sprouts aren’t in season, right?”, “you should peel that first”, “don’t peel that!”. No wonder, there are no vegetables on the table.

Here is a recipe for a salad that will sit in the refridgerator for 4 days and get better every day.

Kale, Black Rice and Beet Salad

1 bunch of Curly Kale (other types will work as well)

1 lb beets (about 4)

3/4 cup of pecans or walnuts, toasted and roughly chopped

1 cup black rice

For the vinaigrette

1 inch of ginger peeled and grated

1/3 cup of olive oil

3 tablespoons white wine vinegar

1 teaspoon Dijon mustard

1 or 2 garlic cloves minced or pounded in a mortar and pestal

1 teaspoon honey

6-8 large servings

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and toast the nuts for about 7 minutes or until slightly browned and fragrant. Increase the temperature of the oven to 400 degrees and put the beets in a small baking dish with a splash of water, a splash of olive oil and a pinch of salt. Cover the dish with aluminum foil and roast for an hour to an hour and a half or until the beets are easily pierced with a fork.

2. Put the rice in a saucepan with 1 3/4 cups of water. Bring to a boil, cover and simmer for about 20 minutes. Fluff with a fork and allow to cool.

3. Make the vinaigrette: put all the ingredients into a small bowl and whisk.

4. Stem the kale and chop into 1 inch pieces. Place the kale in a large bowl of cool water and allow to sit for about 10 minutes. Spin the Kale in a salad spinner and place in a large bowl. Pour the vinaigrette over the kale and massage the kale with your hands to soften a bit.

5. When the beets have cooled a little, peel them and cut into a large dice or wedges depending on the size of the beets. Marinate the beets for a few minutes in a splash of olive oil and a splash of vinegar and a big pinch of salt. Add the beets to the kale along with the rice; toss, cover and put in the refrigerator for at least 3 hours or overnight.

6. Add the chopped nuts and serve. This salad will last in the fridge for 3 to 4 days.





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The Kitchen at Camont, France

Robin CamontI have wanted for some time to go to France on some sort of cooking adventure. I wanted an insider’s view, but I don’t speak French. So when I heard about an American woman who has lived in Southwestern France for thirty years and is teaching charcuterie classes, I was very excited. I had  a bit of a pit in my stomach imaging getting around France with nothing but , “oui”, “no” and “merci” up my sleeve. But with snow still piled high in our driveway, I headed off to France.

The name of the school is “The Kitchen at Camont” which is in the beautiful French country home of Kate Hill. It was wonderful. Nothing like the army-like conditions at cooking school or the kitchen slavery of an unpaid internship. This is a five-day, laid back conversation about ancient French cooking techniques, traditions, history, local produce and the ins and outs of pig and duck farming. We cooked, grilled, smoked, ground sausage, made pate, rillettes, shopped for pork and duck at the local butcheries, and spent a day on  a pig farm. The people that I met were extremely gracious and we ate a lot of meat.

IMG_0101     smoking ribs, bacon and sausage

apples and sausagechorizo and apples

Side of porkremoving the rind from the belly

pate en croutepate en croute

Domonique working in the cold room with Dominique

I think what I love most about this part of the world is the tapestry that makes up the scenery, This  is true of the sweeping views from the roadside or of Kate’s beautiful  backyard with its flowers, chickens and gardening equipment. It was a feast for the eyes.

lee and chickens the view from the The Kitchen at Camont

canolaFields of rapeseed from which canola oil is made

As far as the pitfalls of travelling in a country where you do not speak the language, most  of the time, I was able to find someone who could help me to get where I needed to be, but not always. I will give you one of a handful of stories from the folder titled  “Lost and confused in France”. But I can’t decide if I should tell the story about putting “Serignac” (my destination) into the GPS and only realizing that something was wrong when I started seeing signs for Barcelona (turns out there are as many Serignacs in France as there are Manchesters in New England). That mistake turned a 15 minute drive into a four hour drive. Or, should I tell the one about when I was locked in the hotel (an old monestary)  because I didn’t know that they shut the doors and go away at 5:00 pm on Sundays and oops,  they forgot to give me the code to the door. Oh well, all part of the adventure.

I’ll be back with a little bit more on what a learned.

Bon Appetit,






It is full on Spring in Paris and Southern France complete with flowering trees, spring flowers and other things that don’t happen in New England until early summer.

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Ottolenghi, America’s Test Kitchen and private chef services…

Miso Vegetables and Rice with Black Sesame Dressingottogengi

Last night I made this really healthy, beautiful and comforting rice bowl from Yotam Ottenleghi’s most recent cookbook, Plenty More. Are you familiar with his cookbooks? They are truly wonderful. They reflect his middle eastern heritage as well as his incredible talent for making vegetables sing. Yoton Ottelenghi wrote a vegetarian column for The Guardian for many years and now has four restaurants in London. His food is complex in its flavor profile and visually spectacular. Some of his ingredients are a bit illusive, but Whole Foods is a good place to start. Over the last few years, his cookbooks have pretty much rocked the food world.

Plenty More is divided into sections, one for each of twelve different cooking methods. This recipe comes from the steam section. What could be healthier? The rice is a short grain white rice and the vegetables are steamed one at a time in a miso broth. It is very simple. The dressing is peanuts, rice vinegar, chile flakes, maple syrup, peanut oil and black sesame seeds and is really delicious.

Dakos   tomato ollengheti

Dakos are Greek Husks or bread. I was not able to find them and had to substitute – think bruscetta. You can find this recipe in it’s entirety on the Ottelenghi website. Diced tomatoes, red onion, feta, black olives and capers – very pretty and simple to make.

My very exiting news is that, I was lucky enough to worm my way into the kitchen at Nopi (Ottelenghi’s more formal restaurant) for a week in February. I am terrified! It will be an incredible experience! I asked, they said “yes”; I don’t know what to tell you.

There’s great news on the America’s Test Kitchen outcome. Last Spring I worked at America’s Test Kitchen for three months while they filmed the 15th season of their television show. During the time that they were filming, my job was to be in the background cooking, chopping and generally looking busy. I was pretty worried about how it would turn out, but it looks like I am far enough in the background that, lets just say, you can’t see a lot of details. Phew! Here’s a link if you want to check it out. America’s Test Kitchen also airs on Saturdays at 3:00 pm. in case you are bored silly.


Last, but not least, I have been working with a couple of  clients doing some private cheffing. I am open to working with people with special diets and would love to find one or two more clients. If you know of anyone who might need this type of service, please let me know!

Bon Appetit,


PS I have added two links on the upper right of the page to my list of links. They are David Lebovitz’s blog “My Sweet Life in Paris” – recipes from an ex Chez Panisse pastry chef now living the life in Paris! And the New York Times “Eat Well” recipe blog. I love this one for everyday delicious, nutritious recipes written by

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Apple Fritters and Gooseberries

Dear Friends,

It’s been a while. Frankly, I thought you needed a break, but like lots of other annoying things in life, I’m back. I won’t recap the last six months because it’s early in the day and I don’t want you to nod off. In short, I’m still cooking away. I had another wonderful summer up at The Market Restaurant cooking with that lovely bunch of people in beautiful Annisquam.  For the last few weeks, I’ve been cooking a lot for the family including my Mom who seems to be in need of a good bowl of soup. Speaking of soup, I made this delicious butternut squash soup with a goat cheese souffle on my last night at The Market…

Acorn Squash soup

I’ve had a lot of fun with Mario Batali’s new cookbook America Farm To Table. As you know, some fat is required in your diet to absorb the nutrients in fruits and vegetables. Mario has solved the problem of what to do with those pesky fat-free apples that seem to be hanging around at this time of year. This morning I made these delicious apple fritters with cinnamon whipped cream – so delicious and quite simple.

Apple fritters

For my friends at Ballymaloe Cooking School, I want to post these photos of the gooseberries that I brought back in my suitcase from Shanagarry in March. They were clippings from Ballymaloe’s gooseberry bushes and were nothing more than five twigs. Head gardener, Susan, instructed me to stick them in the ground when I got home and two months later I had berries. Only a few, but come on, really? Mother Nature, you are incredible!

Gooseberries 2

My son Charlie constructed this raised bed for me and we espaliered the gooseberries. I am expecting great things from them in 2015!

Goseberries:raised bedRaised bedPlease write to me with your cooking ideas. I would love any opportunities to cook with or for anyone who is interested through the holiday season.

Bon Appetit,



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Robin’s test kitchen


IMG_1255 So, America’s Test Kitchen has been a lot of fun. We are more than half way through the three-month internship and we were just assigned a “muffin project”. This project involves developing a muffin recipe. The first step is to  make 5 different variations of any one type of muffin and then ask tasters to give feedback. I chose blueberry bran muffins.

My tasters were very thorough and gave me a lot of great feedback. Many thanks to Nicky, John, Leslie, Gary and Ellen.

And the muffins….


IMG_1238So many muffins, so little time.

Bon appetit,




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From Ireland to Boston

fishing boats DingleFishing Boats in Dingle

Written earlier this week

My great Irish adventure comes to a close at the end of this week. What an experience it has been! I’ve had a lot of fun, met a of very warm and welcoming folks. The students and teachers that I lived with and cooked with every day for the last two and a half months will stay with me forever. That is not to say that this adventure has not had its ups and downs. The weather has been epic and not in a good way. I think it is fair to say that Irish weather stinks. During the three months that I have been here, we saw rainfall amounts that have not been matched in the last 50 years. I know that my friends back in Boston are not going to have much patience with my complaints about rain, but “you kinda had to be here”. The Irish people have lots of really unattractive expressions that describe the velocity with which the rain is falling out of the sky (see me later).

Ballymaloe, however is  a magical place. The vision that the school founded on and that Darina Allen and her family have been able, with immeasurable energy, to carry out over the past 30 years is quite amazing. It takes incredibly hard work to manage a farm and cooking school of this size and reputation. There are the farmers who care for the cows and dairy, the chickens, pigs, the incredibly beautiful herb gardens, soft fruit gardens, the huge and extensive glass houses. There are the chef instructors and kitchen staff, the folks who work in the school shop, the staff that run Saturday pizzas in the cafe, the long list of guest speakers, the office staff and of course the Allen family who give the daily cooking demonstrations, entertain guests, organize the local farmers markets and an endless list of other jobs.

At the end of the day, the most memorable thing about my Ireland adventure was the wonderful people who I met along the way and I met some really good ones. To the five people I share a house with, to some of the extremely lively chef/ instructors, to the Allen family, to my wonderful student friends and to all the people who made me feel at home in Ireland – Thank You!

So, here are some photos from my last few weeks in Ireland. It was a grand adventure, but I am really looking forward to going home and seeing my family.

 Pana BallymaoleBallymaloe fieldThe grounds at Balleymaloe Cookery School

KitchenThe kitchen where I cooked with Julia 3 days a week

(we made baked goods, sauces, stews, pickles and marmalade for the farmer’s market)

Florrie, Annette and JuliaFlorrie, Nettie and Julia

landscape IrelandThe Beautiful Irish Countryside

red audi 2My cute and zippy car rental with which to explore the beautiful Irish countryside

Milla and StephTwo of my housemates: Milla and Steph

CowsSweet Jersey Cows

more canapesCanape Demonstration

Rachel AllenRachel Allen

ItaAnother housemate: Ita

Gardens at Ballymaloe HouseWalled gardens at Ballymaloe House

Canape demoSalmon Canape

Milo and SteveTwo more housemates: Miles and Niamh (rhymes with Steve)

Charcuterie demoCharcuterie Demonstration

Dingle pennThe beautiful coastline of the Dingle Peninsula

So the last of this post, I am writing from Boston. Home safe and sound and so happy to be here and to see my family. Wishing that I had a little more time to spend with them, but starting a second internship tomorrow morning at America’s Test Kitchen in Brookline. More about that later, but for now, I am going to feed my sourdough starter and go to bed.

Bon Appetite,


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Monday Cooking Demonstration at Ballymaloe and some warm thoughts for Boston….

DarinaDarina Allen- Balllymaloe Cookery School

There was a little hint of Spring today in Shanagarry. In the planters outside the front door at Ballymaloe, there are dafodiles bloomming and other spring bulbs about to bloom. God bless them because as an active observer of Irish weather, I would not want to peek my head out just yet!

I worked in the kitchen behind the demonstration kitchen this morning preparing ingredients for salads and measuring up this and that. It was a good morning and after lunch, I went to the student’s cooking demonstration. Darina Allen gave the demonstration assisted by two of her talented chef/instructors.

The demonstration featured some delicious goat cheese salads and a wonderful and simple haddock recipe, but the star of the day was the choux pastry. Choux pastry is reasonable easy to make and has so many variations.


There were eclairs, lemon curd puffs, a cheese gallette, cheese choux puffs with and without chirizo, and beignets with rhubarb sauce!

What really caught my attention, though, because I have been thinking a lot about my wonderful friends and family in Boston, was the hot chocolate with homemade marshmellos. If you find yourself snowed in yet again, this might be the antidote.

hot chocolateToby’s Hot Chocolate

Recipe from Ballymaloe/Darina Allen

Serves 4

3 1/2 – 4 ozs (100-110g) best quality dark chocolate

2 1/2 fl ozs (62ml/1/4cup) water

1 pint (600ml/ 2 1/2 cups) milk

1-2 teaspoons sugar

4 large teaspoons whipped cream

grated chocolate

Put the chocolate and the water into a heavy saucepan and melt on very low heat. Meanwhile, bring the milk almost to the boil (what we call the shivery stage) in a separate saucepan). When the chocolate has melted, pour on the milk, whisking all the time: it should be smoooth and frothy. Taste and add some sugar. Pour it into warmed cups, spoon a blob of whipped cream on top and some homemade marshmallows and sprinkle with a little grated chocolate.


This recipe is also from Darina Allen’s collection of cookery school recipes

“Real homemade marshmallows are a forgotten flavour but are east and great fun to make. Toast them over an open fire or drop one into hot chocolate and watch it slowly melt.”

Makes about 64

vegetable oil

2 teaspoons confectionary sugar

2 teaspoons cornflour (sieved)

25g (1 oz) powdered gelatine

2 organic egg whites

500g (18oz/ 2 1/4 cups) granulated sugar

1- 8 inch square tin

Line the tin with bakewell paper (parchment paper), brush lightly with sunflower oil and coat with icing sugar (confectionary sugar) and cornflour (cornstarch). Sprinkle the gelatine to cover 125ml (4 1/2 fl oz/1/2 cup) water into a small bowl. Allow to sponge for to 3-4 minutes. Put the bowl in a saucepan of simmering water and stir until dissolved. Remove from the heat.

Whisk the egg whites until they hold stiff peaks, preferable in the bowl of mixer- this makes adding the sugar syrup to the egg whites much easier.

Put the sugar into a saucepan with the 25ml (9fl oz/generous 1 cup) water. Stir over a low heat until all the sugar has dissolved. Increase the heat and continue to boil fiercely until it reaches 122 degrees C/252 degrees F (thread stage) on a sugar thermometer. Turn off the heat

Pour the dissolved gelatine into the syrup and stir. Watch out – the syrup will bubble up a little.

Switch the food mixer on the lowest setting so that the egg whites can carry on whisking, then pour the syrup down the side of the bowl in a gentle trickle, whisking all the time. The mixture will change texture and become creamy. Continue to whisk until the mixture becomes really thick, but still pourable. Pour into the prepared tin and leave to set in a cool place – but not the fridge- for an hour or two.

Dust a clean chopping board with the rest of the corn starch and icing sugar mixture and coat a sharp knife with vegetable oil. Gently ease the marshmallow out of the tin. Make sure that it is dusted all over with icing sugar, then cut into squares. Oil and dust the knife again as often as necessary. Thread the marshmallows onto skewers or spear them with forks. They are delicious toasted over  an open fire.

Warm thoughts to you,


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Ballymaloe Cookery School – week three


Rory Occonnell demoToday’s demonstration at Ballymaloe was centered around roast beef, and beef and lamb braises. Above is Rory O’Connell who is one of the three celebrity chefs that do the daily cooking demonstrations. As an intern, I am occasionally in the audience, but more often helping to prepare the demonstration in the kitchen behind the demonstration room. Other days I am working with the chef that makes the prepared food (bread, soups, stews, marmalade, cookies) for the Middleton Farmers Market and the Ballymaloe Store. Today, I sat in on the demonstration which was mostly things one would make for a holiday or a dinner party. I always love seeing how they do their presentations.

DemoThis is the reflection from the large rustic mirror that hangs above the demonstration kitchen. In case it is confusing, you are seing the reflection of the first row of students and Rory and Darina doing the demonstration. The demonstration included a mind boggling assortment of braises and side dishes, but I am giving you a snap shot of one or two plates.

Roast BeefHere is a beautiful roast beef which came with loads of tips on how to select a butcher and a piece of meat as well as how to trim and carve. You can see the little Yorkshire puddings around the beef and then below, a popover…

popoverPopover filled with whipped cream and raspberry jam

I loved the plate of crudities. Darina explained that the primary reason to have such a plate would be to highlight vegetables that were right out of the garden, so these are all vegetables that come directly out of the glasshouses at Ballymaloe.

crudityThe crudities were served with an olive oil and spice mix.

From there, I took a walk down to the glass houses to see what was growing…

curly KaleCurly Kale


SproutsBrussel sprouts  and much, much more…

the gardens at Ballymaloe winter      then a walk back though the gardens…

  roosters hens chairand a check on the chickens

All and all a really great day,

Bon Appetit,


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Cheese Making at Ballymaloe Cookery School

Last night, I went to cheese making seminar in the dairy. The dairy is in the same building where we milked the cows. There is a cheese making room and a cheese storage room. Everything is immaculately clean and precise.  As a cheese lover, I was amazed to see how it all comes about.

making cheese oneAbove is a vat of fresh milk, straight from the Jersey Cows at Ballymaloe. An enzyme and rennet were added to to the milk in the hours before we arrived to accelerate the process of curdling the milk.

Cheese makingTo check if the milk is sufficiently, set, a knife is used to slit the cheese. If the milk is set, then it is cut.

Cheese maling JamieCutting the cheese (I know) ….once the curdling is completed, the milk mass is cut which allows the whey to discharge. After cutting, the whey is drained and warm water is added.

Cottage ChesseTwo of my new friends stirring up the curds.

breaking up the chesseOnce the cheese curds are sufficiently firm, they are transferred to molds. The molds are aerated cylinders with weights on top to compress the curds into solid blocks. Since last night, we have turned our cheese five times and at the last turning, we rubbed them with salt to help discharge more liquid. Here is my cheese as of 6:00 pm Shanagarry time.

My Cheese I know – it’s beautiful, sort of makes me tear up.

Hope you are well!







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Ballymaloe Cooking School: The Middleton Farmer’s Market


My first week at Ballymaloe Cooking School has flown by. There is lots to do and lots to learn. The staff here has been incredibly welcoming; I feel very lucky to be here. So far I have not taken any photos at school – it’s difficult to take photos when you are running around like a one-armed paper hanger who doesn’t know where the paper is yet.

This morning I went to the Middleton Farmer’s Market which is about 15 miles from Ballymaloe on skinny little roads. I have a car the size of a large toaster and am feeling slightly better about driving a stick with my left hand on the left side of the road than I did on day one.  In other words, I have stopped pulling over every time someone approaches on the other side of the road.

Today was a beautiful day, the second since I have been here (that’s two out of eight), but I am not complaining. Every once in a while we look out the windows at the school and see a beautiful rainbow…and then it rains some more.

PennyworthI stopped on the way and took a couple of photos. This is a foraged green called Pennywort. We have put it with lots of other beautiful delicate greens in salads all week. I just double checked to make sure that I had the name right and I’m glad I did because all week I have thought it was Pennyworth. At least I was close, which is more than I can say about the other 98% of conversations that have gone on around me. I  hear that this should get better with time. As of now, I am doing a lot of “what was that?”

CheesesCheese and Chorizo

SpudsSpuds, no really just spuds, no vegetables…

Smoked MackeralSmoked Mackerel

Middleton Farmer's……more cheese

Spring bulbs Farmer's MarketSpring bulbs

Later in the day, I took a walk on the beach……

Life preserverbeautiful and very safe!

Shanagarry BeachMore soon,


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