Monday, July 24, 2017

Corn, Avocado and Radish Salad

If your weather has been anywhere near as hot as what we've had in New Jersey this past week, turning on the oven to prepare dinner is about as appealing as donning a ski parka in a sauna.
Naturally, cold dishes like salads come to the rescue when the temperatures are too hot to cook, but not just any old "lettuce-and-tomato" cold salads.
I was inspired to make this after seeing something similar online from Helena, who goes by the handle @brat_h_ on Instagram.
Helena used grilled corn, and I heartily endorse that approach, although I had a leftover ear of boiled, but delicious, Jersey corn needing a home.
I added and deleted a few things from her dish, based on what I had on hand. One thing I didn't have was the chipotle powder she used, so I mixed a little paprika and cayenne together. I also subbed fresh oregano for the cilantro, since my husband isn't a cilantro fan, and we've got plenty of oregano flourishing in the garden. As you can tell, you can make the salad your own depending on what's available to you.
Scatter all the ingredients across a bed of mixed lettuces that have been seasoned with your favorite vinaigrette.
Then drizzle on some of the dressing and decorate with the red currants, if you can find them.
If not, try to find some tiny red cherry or grape tomatoes to give the dish a really festive look.

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Corn, Avocado and Radish Salad 

Ingredients for salad:
1 ear of corn, boiled or roasted, removed from the cob
 1 ripe avocado, sliced
2 red radishes, sliced thinly
1/2 green pepper, sliced thinly
red onion, sliced thinly
fresh red currants (if you can find them) 

mixed lettuces, dressed lightly with your favorite salad dressing (I like to use extra virgin olive oil, white balsamic vinegar, a little honey, a little Dijon mustard, plus salt and pepper.)

Creamy Dressing:
1/3 cup mayonaaise
1/2 cup sour cream
grated zest from 1 lime
juice from 1/2 lime
a sprig or two of fresh oregano leaves, minced
1/4 tsp. paprika
dash of cayenne pepper
salt, pepper
Mix all the ingredients for the dressing together in a jar.

Toss the lettuces with a light amount of the oil and vinegar dressing (the creamy dressing will add another layer, so you don't want to overdo it on the oil and vinegar dressing). Arrange the lettuces on a platter, then place the rest of the ingredients on top of the lettuce, in an "artful" way.
Drizzle dabs of the creamy dressing on top.
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Friday, July 14, 2017

Summer Melon Salad with Prosciutto and Mint Vinaigrette

With temperatures hovering in the 90s here in the Northeast, who wants to turn on the oven or slave over a hot burner? 
Not I, and probably not you.
When I saw this beautiful salad in Coastal Living magazine, I knew this would be perfect for one of those steamy days as we've had this week. Picking a ripe melon is difficult, but I let both the cantaloupe and the honeydew sit on the counter for a few days to be sure they were at their peak. 
The combo of sweet melon in season, with fragrant salty prosciutto isn't a new one, but the mint vinaigrette takes it to a new level.
Got a partner with a he-man appetite who requires a heftier meal? Then just add a couple of hard-boiled eggs on the side, a hunk of good cheese, or both.
Breadsticks are always a good idea too, especially when they're covered in lots of seeds.
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Summer Melon Salad with Ham and Mint Vinaigrette
recipe from Coastal Living

2 Tbsp. sherry vinegar (I used white balsamic)
1 Tbsp. minced shallot
1/2 Tbsp. honey
1/4 tsp. kosher salt
3 Tbsp. olive oil
2Tbsp. chopped fresh mint, divided
1 small cantaloupe (about 3 lb.) halved lengthwise
1 small honeydew melon (about 3 lb.) halved lengthwise
2 oz. (I used 1/4 lb.) thinly sliced prosciutto
1/4 tsp. black pepper

1. Whisk together vinegar, shallot, honey and salt in a small bowl. Add oil in a slow, steady stream, whisking until incorporated. Stir in 1 tablespoon chopped mint. Set aside.
2. Remove and discard seeds from 1 half of each melon; cut each into 2-inch-wide radial spokes, about 6 slices each. Reserve remaining melon halves for another use.
3. Using a sharp knife, follow the natural curve of the melon to remove the rind. 
4. Arrange melon pieces and prosciutto slices on a platter. Drizzle vinaigrette over the top; sprinkle with black pepper and remaining 1 tablespoon mint.

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Friday, July 7, 2017

Pasta with Basil Pesto and Zucchini

 Is the basil in your garden reaching its peak, but the tomatoes nowhere near being ripe? 
Just when you'd like the basil to cozy up to those tomatoes in a salad bowl, these crops never mature at the same time.
If you prune your basil now however, it will re-sprout a second crop in time to use with those tomatoes that will ripen in a few weeks. Don't cut off all the basil leaves however - just trim back to a juncture above a pair of leaves.
If you don't prune your basil (or at least pinch the tips when they start to flower), the basil will go to seed and you'll lose the opportunity for that second crop.
But what to do with the armful of basil you pick now when they're aren't fresh tomatoes for a salad? 
That's easy. Make pesto!
I've written posts on pesto before, including pesto with shrimp (click here), and a basic pesto primer (click here) that shows you how to make a real pesto alla Genovese, and how to keep your pesto a bright green color.  
Since I recently had some zucchini from the farmer's market looking for a home, I combined it with the pesto and served it over fusilli pasta.
If you're a traditionalist (or a glutton for punishment), try making pesto with a mortar and pestle - the way I had it the first time I ate it in Italy at the home of one of my cousins.
 Not up for so much elbow grease? No problem. It's a snap to make in a food processor. 
You can whir everything together, then start the pasta cooking while you sauté the zucchini.
In the time it takes to boil the pasta, dinner can be on the table.
Buon Appetito!
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Pesto with Zucchini
(enough for one pound of pasta)
2 medium zucchini, sliced into rounds about 1/4 inch thick
2 tablespoons olive oil

These amounts aren't exact. A lot depends on how firmly you pack the basil into the measuring cup, how large the garlic cloves are, and of course, your taste buds.
4 cups basil, loosely packed
2 large cloves garlic
1/4 cut pistachios (or pine nuts)
extra virgin olive oil (as much as two cups, as needed to obtain a loose pesto)
1/4 cup - 1/2 cup parmesan cheese 
1 pound pasta - trofie, linguini or trenette are common in Italy with this sauce, but farfalle (bowties) or fusilli (pictured above) are nice too.

Sauté the zucchini rounds in the olive oil, adding salt and pepper to season. Cook until softened, but not mushy.

Start the water boiling for the pasta while you prepare the pesto sauce.

If using a food processor: Tear leaves from stem, wash, dry and place in a food processor, along with the garlic, nuts and a small amount of the olive oil. Start with 1/2 cup and keep adding more until it flows smoothly when you dip a spoon into it, but not so thin that it falls off in a stream. Use your judgment.
 Add parmesan cheese if serving immediately. If you're planning to freeze it, don't add the parmesan cheese until after you defrost it and are ready to serve.
If using a mortar and pestle, start with the washed and dried basil leaves, garlic and nuts and add a small amount of coarse salt to help break down the leaves. Pound with the pestle and slowly add a little bit of olive oil. Keep working the mixture with the pestle and add the rest of the oil as needed. The process takes a lot of patience and time.
After the pesto is made and the pasta is cooked, drain the pasta, holding onto a half cup or so of the water. You can use this to thin out the sauce when you're mixing the pesto into the pasta.
Mix the pesto with the pasta, then add the sautéed zucchini. Toss everything together, adding more pasta water if you need to thin out the sauce. Serve with additional parmesan cheese, if desired.
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Monday, June 26, 2017

Strawberry Tomato Gazpacho

This soup would never have been on my radar until last week, when I ate dinner at a restaurant called Larimar, in Spring Lake, New Jersey. Intrigued by the waiter's description of the dish, I ordered something similar to this as an appetizer and after one sip, I knew I had to try to recreate it in my kitchen.
If it's not exactly the same, it's quite close, I think. The big difference is that the restaurant served its version topped with chunks of crabmeat, something you could easily do if you live near a good fish market. 
If not, it tastes great all by itself, decorated with a strawberry and some edible flowers.
 I'd been looking for a way to use the pretty blue borage flowers (and the pansies are still going strong) that are blooming in my garden right now.
The soup makes a terrific first course - we ate it for dinner last night ahead of some leftover chicken and veggies. But I will make this again this summer (maybe even this week) because it's delicious, it's healthy, it doesn't heat up the kitchen and it's quick to prepare. 
I hope you try it sometime soon too.

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Strawberry Tomato Gazpacho
printable recipe here
makes 2-4 servings, depending on size of bowl (and appetites)

1 1/2- 2 cups strawberries (about 1/2 pound), cut in chunks 
1 large tomato (about 1/2 pound), roughly chopped
1/2 cup yellow, orange or green bell pepper, roughly chopped
1/4 cup cucumber (peeled and seeded), roughly chopped
1/4 cup red onion, roughly chopped
1/2 of a jalapeno pepper, (take out seeds and ribs unless you like more heat)
juice and zest of 1/2 lime
1 tablespoon white balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup sliced almonds
1/4 tsp. salt

Place all ingredients in blender. It may be difficult to get going until the strawberries start to become liquid, unless your blender is powerful. To avoid this, you could puree the strawberries first, then add tomatoes and the rest of the ingredients. My blender did not pulverize the almonds totally, so I strained the mixture to get a smoother soup. This is best served a few hours, or even a day or two after making, when all the flavors have had more time to blend.

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Friday, June 16, 2017

Strawberry Shortcake

I'm seven years old and my sister and I are dressed in our Sunday finest. Mom has also donned her best dress and wide-brimmed hat. She's taking us out for strawberry shortcakes, one of the regular rituals I remember from my childhood. It was a day just for the "girls" -- no boys allowed.
She sat behind the wheel of our 1956 black and white Chevy station wagon and drove us to that institution with the orange-colored roof and the 28 flavors of ice cream. Yes, that one -- Howard Johnson's restaurant, the chain whose glory days are long gone.
 But those shortcakes were wonderful, evoking such lovely memories of my mother and sister and our special afternoons at Howard Johnson's.
They weren't the traditional shortcakes, but more like a sponge cake, topped with strawberry ice cream, strawberries and whipped cream. 
I've seen strawberry shortcakes made using sponge cake, using pound cake and even angel food cake as the base - not exactly textbook shortcakes, but all acceptable and delicious nonetheless. What's really heretical, however, are those small, yellow industrially made baked disks sold in cellophane packages that pawn themselves off as a base for shortcake.
Real shortcakes are made using biscuits - something any self-respecting Southerner knows. 
Not that I'm a Southerner. But recent trips to the South - New Orleans in April and North and South Carolina this month - found me eating more biscuits than even Paula Deen could count. 
(OK, I exaggerate a bit, but I had to leave room for some grits too.)
Feel free to make your strawberry shortcakes any way you love, but if you want an authentic version, then try this recipe.
After you've mixed the dough, knead it a bit (but not too much or the biscuits will be tough).
Then use a biscuit cutter, or the rim of a glass to cut the dough into rounds.
Place on a buttered cookie sheet and brush with melted butter.
Take them out of the oven before they get too tan (these were a tad too dark, but delicious nonetheless).
You'll find it hard to resist taking a bite of these rich, buttery biscuits when they come out of the oven, but if you want to use them for shortcakes, wait until they're cooled to cut them in half. (Conversely, eat them warm with a pat of butter and a slather of fresh jam and you can't go wrong!)
They should look like this - dense, with a flaky tender crumb.
Pour a little of the strawberry liquid on the bottom half of the biscuit, then load on the berries.
Top with freshly whipped cream and position the other half of the biscuit atop.
Go ahead and dig in and make your own memories while strawberry season is still here.

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Strawberry Shortcakes
(makes 6 shortcakes)
For the strawberries:
1 quart strawberries
1/4 cup sugar
juice from 1/2 lemon
For the shortcakes:
 2 cups flour
pinch of salt
3 Tablespoons sugar
3 teaspoons baking power
1 stick butter (8 tablespoons) at room temperature
3/4 cup heavy cream
For the whipped cream:
1 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup confectioner's sugar
juice of half a lemon  
Wash the berries and cut in half, or quarters, depending on their size. Mix with the sugar and lemon and let them sit at room temperature for at least a half hour, or longer.
For the shortcakes: whisk together the flour, salt, sugar and baking powder. Using your hands, blend in all but one tablespoon of the butter with the flour mixture. (save the last tablespoon for melting and spreading on the biscuits). Mix the cream into the flour mixture and blend by hand until it sticks together. You may need to add a bit more cream if it seems too dry. Knead the dough for a couple of minutes until it's completely blended and soft, but don't knead any longer than necessary or the biscuits will be tough.
Roll out to about 1/2"-3/4" thick and cut with either a biscuit cutter or the floured rim of a glass.  I was able to get four with the glass, then hand shaped the remaining dough into two more rounds.
Melt the remaining tablespoon of butter and spread over the biscuits, then bake in a preheated 450 degree oven and check after 10 minutes. They may be ready to come out but if you like them a little more colored, leave in for a couple more minutes. Keep a close eye on them so that the bottoms don't burn.
Remove from the oven and cool before splitting. After splitting, drizzle a little strawberry juice on top of the bottom half, then pile on the strawberries and whipped cream. Position the top half a little askew over the strawberries and decorate with a mint leaf, if available.
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Friday, June 2, 2017

Asparagus Mimosa

 We're nearing the end of asparagus season here in New Jersey - and fresh, local asparagus is one of the best things about springtime. Of course you can find asparagus nearly all year long, but when it's locally grown and picked the same day you eat it, there's a huge flavor difference.
Still, this recipe can be enjoyed at any time. And as good as asparagus is, this dressing, with capers, red onions, and parmesan cheese, competing for your attention.
The dish is so named because the chopped hard boiled eggs are meant to resemble the blossoms on mimosa trees. Unlike the pink blossoms on mimosa trees here in the Northeast U.S., in Italy, they're yellow, and are traditionally given to women on International Women's Day in early March.
Make sure you peel the asparagus, in order to avoid biting into a fibrous stalk. It also reduces the cooking time. Cut off the bottom 1/3 of the asparagus too. 
Boil the stalks until they're just barely fork tender, then remove them from the water and put them in ice water to stop the cooking.
 Wipe them with paper towels to dry them, then toss with the dressing, and top with the hard boiled egg that's been finely chopped.
Serve with some crusty toasted Italian bread that's been slathered with good olive oil and salt, and you've got yourself a delicious, well-rounded meal that contains all the nutrients you need.

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Asparagus Mimosa
Printable Recipe Here

1 lb. asparagus
2 hard boiled eggs, finely diced

1/2 cup olive oil
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1 Tblsp. capers, minced
1 Tblsp. finely minced red onion
1 Tblsp. finely minced parsley
1 Tblsp. grated parmesan cheese
salt, pepper to taste

Peel the asparagus, then submerge them in a shallow pan of boiling water. Cook for about four or five minutes, until you can easily pierce a stalk with a fork. Drain the boiling water, then put the asparagus into ice water to stop the cooking (or run a lot of cold water over them).
Dry the asparagus well with paper towels.
Mince the hard boiled eggs finely with a knife, or pass through a sieve using a spoon.
Mix all the ingredients for the dressing together, then toss the asparagus with the dressing. (You may have some leftover dressing.) Arrange the asparagus spears on a serving platter, then scatter the minced hard boiled egg on top. Serve with good Italian bread that's been toasted, smeared with olive oil and kosher salt.

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Thursday, May 25, 2017

Applesauce Cake with Caramel Glaze

It's been a while since I wrote a blog post, and that's partly due to travel I've been on, and all the catch up that's necessary upon return. 
I wish I had something more seasonal to show you, which I plan to do after I've gotten back to my routine (if there is one!). 
For now, I'm giving you a cake recipe I made a few months ago, but that tastes good any time of year.
It's from Ruth Reichl's book, "My Kitchen Year" - a cookbook really - with some narrative before each recipe, outlining how she felt after Gourmet magazine folded, and what she decided to do with her time after she was no longer editor of the magazine.
There are quite a few good recipes in the book, including this one. Please don't leave off the caramel glaze. The cake would be good without it, but with it, it's transformative.

Speaking of transformative, how would you like to spend a week at this villa in late September? 
Well, you still have a chance. 
We have only one spot left, so don't delay. 
Join us for our memoir writing retreat on Lake Como in the beautiful village of Varenna. You don't have to be a professional writer - just have interest in learning- whether you're male or female!! 
Find out more by going to But hurry before it's too late.
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Gingered Applesauce Cake
From Ruth Reichl's "My Kitchen Year - 136 Recipes That Saved My Life"
For the cake
  • 1 1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1 knob fresh ginger
  • 2/3 cup neutral vegetable oil
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • Pepper
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • For glaze
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1 tablespoon light corn syrup
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter and flour a 12-cup Bundt pan.
Break eggs into a large bowl. Whisk in sugars and brown sugar. Add ½ tablespoon (or more) of freshly grated ginger and the applesauce. Whisk in the oil and vanilla and mix until smooth.
Put flour in small bowl. Whisk baking soda, salt, a few grinds of pepper, cinnamon and ground cloves into the flour and stir gently into the applesauce mixture.
Pour batter into prepared Bundt pan and bake for about 45 minutes until cake bounces back when you press your finger into it.
Cook cake for 15 minutes on a rack before turning it out and allowing it to cool.
Make glaze: Put cream in a heavy-bottomed pot. Whisk in brown sugar, corn syrup and a pinch of salt, and bring it to a boil. Turn heat down to medium and continue to boil for about 15 minutes, whisking every few minutes.
When glaze has come together into a smooth, thick caramel, remove from heat and stir in vanilla.
Put the cake, still on the rack, over a sheet of waxed paper. Carefully pour the glaze over the cake. If you don’t mind a bit of a mess, you can simply pour the glaze less carefully over the cake and let it drop onto the plate.
Serves 8 to 10.

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Monday, May 8, 2017


 What you're looking at is one of my favorite vegetables - broccoli raab -- topped with lots of toasted garlic cloves.  It's also got anchovies in the recipe, but honestly if you're squeamish about them, you'd never know they're in there. They kind of dissolve into the oil when you're smashing them with a wooden spoon. But they do add a certain "umami" flavor that kicks up the taste a lot, and leaves you wondering "mmm" what's that taste in there?
This recipe is similar to the way I've been making broccoli raab for decades, and it's found in a book called "Garlic" by Robin Cherry. It's an edible biography of the history, politics and mythology behind the world's most pungent food.
My book group read it recently and gathered to talk about it, as well as prepare food from the 100 recipes included in the book.
Each of us brought a recipe from the book that featured garlic. One of the appetizers couldn't be more garlic themed if you tried - roasted garlic. After the heads of garlic, drizzled with olive oil, roasted in the oven for 45 minutes, we smeared it on crackers and gobbled it down.
 Next we feasted on gambas al ajillo - the classic Spanish tapas dish featuring shrimp, lots of garlic and a generous splash of brandy.
We had a garlic soup course too, a remarkably mild and sweet soup served with strands of vermicelli.

The main course was a perfectly cooked beef tenderloin, slathered with a mustard-garlic-herb crust before roasting, and served with a garlic horseradish sauce (not pictured here).
We couldn't forget vegetables, and a few people brought those, including this roasted garlic and quinoa salad that included arugula, olives, cherry tomatoes and feta cheese.
The roasted eggplant with garlic and LOTS of olive oil was so delectable, I had to refrain from eating the whole plate.
The broccoli raab with toasted garlic and anchovies rounded out the vegetables and you can find the recipe below.
If you are a garlic lover, you will love this book, not only for the recipes, which are terrific, but for all the garlic legends and lore you'll learn about, and how it's viewed by different cultures around the world.
The book even includes a few dessert recipes featuring garlic, but we decided we'd prefer a little sorbet to cleanse the palate after a night of eating garlic in each course. It didn't stanch my love of garlic in any way, in fact, eating all that garlic in different courses gave me appreciation of the different flavors garlic can have, from very mild to very pungent, depending on how long you cook it and how much you use.
The book also gives instructions on how to plant garlic, something I did last fall, after a friend of my son's, who owns McCollum Orchards in upstate New York, gave me some produce from his farm, including several beautiful, big heads of garlic. Most of them we cooked in various recipes, but I saved a couple of bulbs to plant, separating the cloves and putting them in the ground last fall.
They're coming up beautifully and should be ready to harvest in late June or early July. You can plant them now too, but the bulbs will undoubtedly be smaller than if you had planted them in the fall.
Even if you can't grow your own garlic, try to find garlic grown locally for the freshest taste and highest quality.
I'm including the recipe for the broccoli raab, but you'll have to buy the book for the other recipes pictured above. It's well worth the read.
News Flash: We're almost sold out for our memoir writing workshop on beautiful Lake Como. Hurry if you'd like the chance to learn how to improve your writing, eat memorable meals and have this view from your bedroom at Villa Monastero in Varenna each morning. For more information, contact me by email or go to

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Broccoli raab with toasted garlic and anchovies
from "Garlic" by Robin Cherry

makes 4 servings
1 1/2 lb. broccoli raab, stems peeled
3 tbsp olive oil
8 garlic cloves, peeled and thinly sliced
3 anchovy fillets, drained and chopped
1/4 tsp. red pepper flakes, or more to taste
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Bring a large pot of salted water to a rolling boil over high heat. Add the broccoli raab and cook it until it is bright green and barely tender, about 3 minutes. Immediately transfer it to a colander and rinse it with cold water to stop the cooking. Let the broccoli raab drain well.

Combine the oil and garlic in a sauté pan and heat it gently over medium heat until the garlic is golden brown and crisp. Lift the toasted garlic from the oil and set aside.

Add the anchovy fillets and red pepper flakes and sauté, smashing the anchovy with the back of a spoon until it dissolves. Add the drained broccoli raab and continue to sauté, tossing or stirring until it is evenly coated and very hot, 2 to 3 minutes. Season the dish with salt and pepper.

Serve the broccoli raab at once, topped with the toasted garlic.
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Thursday, April 27, 2017

N7's Seared Scallops with Chive Oil

A trip to New Orleans is always difficult for a food lover. Difficult in a good way, because there are so many talented chefs in the Big Easy, offering wonderful options ranging from Creole dishes to traditional Southern favorites to nouvelle fusion. 
N7, labeled the country's tenth best restaurant in 2016 by Bon Appétit magazine, fits the last description.
The food speaks with a definite French accent, and the restaurant's name, N7, is a reference to the mythic road that ran from Paris to the border of Italy (now upgraded or replaced by the A77 autoroute).
Finding your way along a French road that was the equivalent of America's Route 66 might be slightly easier than finding the restaurant N7, tucked away on Montegut Street, off of St. Claude Avenue in the city's funky, hip Bywater neighborhood.
You might easily pass the entrance if you're not looking for the red stenciled sign on a wooden doorway leading to N7's courtyard.

Once inside, you can't miss the red Citroen taking a prime spot along the gravel driveway.
 Much of the seating is outdoors, in a courtyard outfitted with casual style tables and chairs, surrounded by potted plants and vines.

But there is some seating indoors in a structure that at one time housed a tire shop, and long before that, a stable. Sitting at the bar now though, you might be convinced that you were in a bistro in Paris' Marais neighborhood.
 The food whispers with other culinary accents too, like the oysters from Washington State, served with a sauce redolent of soy sauce -- not unusual since the restaurant is owned by Japanese born Yuki Yamaguchi, and her husband, filmmaker Aaron Walker.
 Nearly half the menu is "can to table" seafood - which could be off putting to many. But in some European countries, particularly Spain, canned fish is a delicacy sought after as eagerly as fresh seafood. 
We dug in with gusto to the sardines, swishing our bread through the can to glob on to every last bit of the sundried tomato sauce.
And after a squirt of lemon, the octopus in olive oil was gone in a flash too, accompanied by herb butter and a piquant red pepper paste. 

The menu, although limited, does contain a few cooked items, such as the seared scallops with chive oil, pictured in the first photo. It was our favorite dish of the night (recipe below).
Another winner was the pork katsu with beet purée. The pork is dredged in flour, egg and finally panko (Japanese bread crumbs), then fried in hot oil and sliced. It rests on a luscious purée made with beets, apples, chicken broth and a little cream and yogurt.
 We also tried the duck breast a l'orange, again prepared with a hint of soy sauce in addition to the more traditional ingredients such as orange zest and orange juice.
 Desserts are very limited but seemed just right. Choose either French macaron cookies (not pictured) or the cheese plate, which contained three cheeses - a sweet gorgonzola, a sheep's milk cheese and a creamy cow's milk cheese. A few dried figs, cherries and nuts rounded out the platter.
 As night descended and the tables filled, lights twinkled around the perimeter of the courtyard. 
Is it really the most romantic French restaurant in the world, as Bon Appétit claims? 
I'm not so sure I buy that moniker, but it sure won over our hearts and I know we'll be visiting N7 again the next time we're in New Orleans.
 And if you'd like to take a real trip to Europe and a dreamy part of Italy, join me for a memoir writing retreat at Villa Monastero, in Varenna overlooking Lake Como. Only a couple of spots remain. You don't have to be a professional writer to participate. Life is short, so don't delay your dream. For more information, go to or email me.

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You can also connect with Ciao Chow Linda here on Facebook, here for Pinterest or  here for Twitter.

Seared Scallops with Chive Oil
From N7 Restaurant, New Orleans via Bon Appetit magazine


4 Servings

Chive Oil

  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled
  • 2 tablespoons chopped chives, plus more for serving
  • 1 teaspoon flaky sea salt or kosher salt
  • ½ cup olive oil


  • 2 pounds Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled, cut into 2-inch pieces
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt, plus more
  • ½ cup heavy cream, warmed
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
  • Freshly ground black pepper

Scallops and Assembly

  • 16 large sea scallops, side muscle removed
  • Kosher salt
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • Finely grated Gruyère (for serving)

Chive Oil

Purée garlic, chives, salt, and oil in a blender until smooth.
Do Ahead: Chive oil can be made 1 day ahead. Cover and chill. Bring to room temperature before serving.


Place potatoes in a medium pot and pour in cold water to cover by 1". Add 2 tsp. salt and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer until potatoes are very tender but still hold their shape, 15–20 minutes (boiling will cause potatoes to become waterlogged). Drain and pass hot potatoes through a ricer (or use a masher) into a large bowl (do this right away; cold potatoes will become gummy when mashed). Add cream and butter to potatoes and stir vigorously with a wooden spoon until combined and mixture is smooth; season with salt and pepper.

Scallops and assembly

Pat scallops dry with paper towels; season both sides with kosher salt. Heat 1 Tbsp. vegetable oil in a large nonstick skillet over high. Cook half of scallops, undisturbed, until deep golden and caramelized, about 3 minutes. Turn and cook until barely golden on second side and just cooked through, about 2 minutes. Repeat process with remaining 1 Tbsp. oil and remaining scallops.
Top mashed potatoes with Gruyère and drizzle scallops with chive oil.

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