Do-Ahead Dinner for Eight — and a Tart Celebrating the Glorious Parsnip

Dinner for Eight

When I host a sit-down dinner, most of my friends expect:  1) to be recruited to the kitchen to help with last-minute preparations or 2) to watch me tossing things to and fro in the kitchen while they eat and drink.  I think it is part of the joy of cooking — to make it a relaxing group experience. Continue reading

дранікі (Draniki), Belarus and My Family

Humble Potatoes - Waiting to become дранікі (Draniki)

Not long after the turn of the 20th century, my Grandfather left Belarus as a young man to come to the United States.  He didn’t like what the Bolsheviks were doing in Belarus and saw escape across the Atlantic.  Unfortunately for him, it meant an arduous journey, a struggle to survive as a new immigrant and not seeing his Belarus family again until he was in his 70s – more than 50 years later.   Fortunately for me, it meant growing up with my kind-hearted grandfather and living under the influence of my Belarusian ancestry, including the glorious  дранікі  (dra-ni-ki) — the Belarus version of the potato pancake. Continue reading

Easy Mini-Tart Appetizers – Chard, Cheese and Smoked Bacon

These appetizer tarts meet my criteria for an ideal dinner-party appetizer:

  • a bite of complex but strong flavors that will stand up to cocktails
  • easy to make
  • colorful
  • edible without plates and utensils;  just pop in your mouth
  • can be made ahead and reheated before serving (can also be served at room temperature)
  • are easy to transport if making for a friend

So, last night, when invited to a friend’s house for dinner, I chose this tart recipe. Continue reading

Moroccan Kefta in Tomato Sauce

Moroccan Kefta in Tomato Sauce

I was a precocious 13-year old, and looked the part. So, I was able to lie about my age, and get a job. The work wasn’t exciting, but It allowed me to save a lot of money (at least it seemed like a lot at the time). These savings became my ticket to see the world when I turned 18. Continue reading

Wine, Crab Muffins and a Sunset


Last year, I was missing my English golfing friends so much that I invited seven of them to visit and golf in Michigan.  Surely, I thought, they wouldn’t all say “yes”.   They had families, jobs, etc.  I would be lucky if one or two agreed to make the transatlantic trip. Right? Continue reading

Bisteeya – Possibly the best savory pie ever invented

It is New Years Eve, so it is time to bring our annual progressive dinner menu to life. As this year’s theme is Northern African food (my favorite), what better way to start than with a sweet, savory, crispy, steamy Bisteeya — or “pigeon pie” to the Berbers of Morocco.

Continue reading