"Many top chefs have discovered some surprisingly tasty ways to keep the pounds at bay. [Their] tantalizing suggestions [are] put forth in Smart Chefs Stay Slim, a new book detailing the eating strategies of today’s culinary superstars." -- OPRAH.COM

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What I'm hoping to cook this week

MONDAY: Made extra shrimp paella on Sunday night, so we'll be having that on Monday -- the busiest day of the week, and the one in which I am least able to pull a meal together. I modified the recipe that Marc Murphy gave me for the book.

TUESDAY: If it continues acting like fall, split pea soup with carrots; rye bread, cheese, cucumbers, radishes. Might do another round of this insanely easy mostly-apple Apple pie, from my former People magazine colleague-turned-lifestyle blogger, Ulrica Wihlborg. Just one crust, no rolling pin, and loads of apples.

WEDNESDAY: The no-chicken rule still reigning at our house. How long can we hold out? Tonight: Gingery tofu stir-fry with broccoli, napa cabbage and rice. from Cooking LightIf your house is not on meat-strike, feel free to substitute a different protein. Here's a good, adaptable starter recipe from Cooking Light.

THURSDAY: Taco night. Grilled fish, pickled red onions, romaine lettuce, avocados, corn tortillas (no, I don't make them myself) and hot sauce for those who go that route.

FRIDAY: Movie night. Sauteed squid with loads of garlic, lemon, breadcrumbs over lemony spaghetti.


A busy week, lots of fast meals

Have just come back from friends' wedding on Cape Cod. Beautiful ceremony, and beautiful menu by their pal Adam Shepard, the chef at Lunetta in Brooklyn. Am trying to shake some of the recipes (gorgeous white gazpacho, for one) out of the grooms or the chef and if I am successful, will update here.

MONDAY: Mercury has dipped below 70 degrees -- time for soup. Minestrone.

TUESDAY: Picking up fresh dough from grocery, making some quick pizzas: Caramelized leeks, mozzarella, basil. Antipasti di what's-in-fridge (some marinated artichokes, red peppers, eggplant spread, I think).

WEDNESDAY: Roasted fish: Dorade this time, stuffed with lemon, olives, oregano. Cous cous (the tiny kind that cooks in minutes, not the pearly variety), sauteed spinach.

THURSDAY: My son is on a no-chicken strike. This doesn't present too much trouble for me, as I was a vegetarian for decades before I was a roast-chicken addict. Holding the chicken stock in this stir-fry recipe, and adding Me, learning wok technique in Yangshuo, Chinatofu.Have everything chopped and prepared before you start to stir-fry.

FRIDAY: Movie night. White beans with Swiss chard and tomatoes, via Joe Bastianich. This is very easy, filling and delicious. Full recipe in Smart Chefs Stay Slim.Works perfectly well with canned cannellinis, which is how I'll make it. If you are one of the people who can remember to soak your beans, well congratuations. Do so the night before and enjoy.


Last week of peaches, first week of apples

At the farmer's market this weekend: summer fruit making a final wave, with fall fruits and vegetables debuting. Not ready for actual pumpkins yet, I walked past them. I did pick up a couple spaghetti squash, however, and at the grocery some pumpkin ravioli.

MONDAY: Roasted chicken and root vegetables with rosemary and shallots. (See page 110 in the book for several chefs' roast chicken variations).  Strawberries and dark chocolate.

TUESDAY: Having gone a little overboard at the green market, I'm planning to roast everything before it turns: Peppers, carrots, broccoli and whatever is left in the bin, at 400º with olive oil, salt, pepper. Serving with rice (if I get started in time) or quinoa (if I don't) and leftover chicken.

WEDNESDAY: Spaghetti squash -- I once improvised a delicious non-recipe of roasted spaghetti squash (takes about 45 min to an hour) topped with chick peas simmered in a paprika-y broth and some jamon Iberico crisped on top. Here's a more traditional treatment, with tomato sauce, just like real spaghetti. 

THURSDAY: Still lots of herbs exploding in the windowbox this week. Thyme-crusted Halibut with parsley sauce.  Roasted peaches with cinnamon, star anise, pepper, olive oil, lime and salt, via Gregory Gourdet. 

FRIDAY: Movie night. Big salad, pumpkin ravioli (store bought) with mushrooms, sage.



Not really fall dinners

It was HOT yesterday in NYC -- and there were two tornadoes! Still summer, though we are back to school. Herbs going crazy in the window box. What to make?

MONDAY: A recipe from the book: Michael Symon's Chicken thighs with Kale. This is a recipe that Symon adapted from a guest to his Cleveland home. It's so simple (one pot, finished in the oven), fragrant (with  chilies, garlic, lemon and parsley) and satisfying.

TUESDAY: Using up bunches of oregano from the windowbox and end-of-season tomatoes in a basic sauce infused with herbs at the end (making this on Sunday) for use during the week. Will serve on spaghetti, with big salad.

WEDNESDAY: Do-it-yourself fish tacos. (I won't follow those recipes exactly, but some store-bought tortillas, grilled fish, lettuce, pico de gallo, avocado, with a cilantro-lime dressing.) photo from Bon Appetit

THURSDAY: Naomi Pomeroy's Quinoa with summer vegetables. The full recipe is in the book, but here's the gist: Follow directions on package for quinoa, load it with chopped vegetables (pre-cook broccoli; leave things like tomatoes, cucumbers raw) and herbs (cilantro, basil are great; I'm going with mint because it is taking over the window) and canned beans. Dress with sesame oil, rice wine vinegar, fresh lime juice (save some limes from taco night) and a pinch of sugar, salt + pepper.

FRIDAY: Movie night. Falafel, babaganoush and salad from Taïm. Dark chocolate and fruit.




Recipes that don't need a recipe: Tomato + lentil salad

Okay, this one barely needs a recipe if you start with some leftover lentils, as we did tonight.  The lentils were prepared a day earlier with only a clove of garlic thrown in while cooking to season them. Remove the spent garlic before composing the salad.  Serves 4

Hello, yellow.


2 cups cooked lentils, chilled or at room temperature

handful (about a cup once they are cut into 1" pieces) wax beans or green beans, ends snipped off

1 very large or two to three small seriously ripe tomatoes, preferably heirloom varieties

a small bunch (10-12 leaves) fresh basil, chopped

a smaller bunch of fresh oregano (optional), chopped

big handful of mixed lettuces

1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil

juice of 1/2 a lime

salt and pepper to taste

1.Put a small pot of salted water on high heat; when it boils add the beans and cook until just tender (a few minutes -- check them with a fork), drain, cool, and cut into 1" pieces

2. Roughly chop the tomato and place in a bowl over the lentils.

3. Add the beans, herbs, and lettuce and dress with olive oil and lime juice.

4. Season with salt and pepper to taste, toss gently and serve.