Suzi’s Blog

Sunday in Olive




Are you fooded out? Take a break. Maybe just chill on the last of leftoves. You can make a turkey sandwich, adorned with some cranberry relish. One last bite of stuffing on the side.

Oh, that sandwich needs some bread, so perhaps on this long weekend you might do a little baking.

Each week Suzi has 100 to 200 people in her kitchen as she leads them in culinary teambuilding events. It's a lot of people and a lot of cooking. So how does she, and how do I, spend our weekend? We go to our weekend retreat upstate. And we cook.

Our dining room table is spewed with cookbooks and recipes and ideas for the coming week. We are always exploring books. And Suzi? How many people do you know who buy flour by the 50 pound bag. For her, bread making is Zen. Pure Zen. She bakes bread and rolls and croissants that are Paris-class. It's all rather amazing.

Her customers for the cooking classes at Cooking by the Book are always greated with appetizers and Suzi's bread is served in abundance. If you give someone great bread, they notice. They always and immediately notice. 

Suzen is delighted at pleasing people, she appreciates the comments, offers to help them begin bread bakig, and then she retreasts to her office to order another 50 pound bag. Or two

Butternut Squash Pasta with Bacon and Sage Brown Butter from The Homemade Kitchen


On a winter night what could be more homey, more comforting than a bowl of pasta accented with roasted vegetables, some bacon, and some browned butter. This dish typifies the recipes in The Homemade Kitchen by Alana Chernila. Alana’s philosophy of doing it yourself, in your kitchen, surround by your family is one dear to my heart. Here she does prefer homemade pasta but, as we all must do at times, she concedes that store-bought is fine on a busy night.

This dish is an excellent main course. Just add a side salad, a glass of white wine, and you have a meal of substance. Or, this would be an outstanding side dish to roast lamb or pork.

By roasting all the vegetables at once, this dish is easy and quick to prepare. It can be a mid-week treat that offers some squash surprise.

As a post Thanksgiving meal, this dish offers some needed contrast and relief. It offers substance without being overwhelming.

Butternut Squash Pasta with Bacon and Sage Brown Butter

Yield: serves 4


  • 1 small butternut squash, [1 to 1 ½ pounds] seeded, peeled, and cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 1 medium onion, cut into ½-inch wedges
  • 1 ½ tablespoons olive oil
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt, plus more for the pasta water
  • 4 ounces sliced bacon
  • 1 ¼ pounds homemade bowtie pasta or 1 pound store-bought
  • 4 tablespoons [½ stick] unsalted butter, cut into chunks
  • 10 fresh sage leaves
  • ½ cup finely grated Parmesan cheese
  • Freshly ground pepper


Preheat the oven to 425°F. In a large bowl, toss the squash and onion with the olive oil and salt. Spread on a parchment-lined baking sheet and roast in the upper half of the oven until the squash is tender and the onions are golden, 30 to 35 minutes.

Meanwhile, lay the bacon on another baking sheet. Bake until crispy, about 18 minutes. Transfer to a paper-towel-lined plate.

While the bacon and vegetables cook, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and cook the pasta until tender, 7 to 10 minutes for dried, or 2 minutes for fresh. Reserve 1 cup of the pasta water, drain and rinse the pasta, and transfer it to a large serving bowl.

Melt the butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. Stir constantly, keeping a close eye on the color of the butter. When the foam subsides and the butter turns slightly brown, add the sage leaves. Remove from heat and as soon as the sage leaves start to curl, transfer them to the plate with the bacon.

Add the squash and onions to the pasta, then pour the butter over the bowl, tossing to coat the pasta and vegetables. Crumble the bacon over the pasta and top with the crispy sage leaves and the cheese. Pour enough pasta water over the cheese to create a light sauce. Finish with a bit more salt and lots of freshly ground pepper.

Source: The Homemade Kitchen by Alana Chernila [Clarkson Potter, 2015]


A Sort-Of Turkey Cassoulet



It’s Friday. Yesterday was Thanksgiving. What’s for dinner? Here's an idea first posted last year and still delicious.

Too often we suffer post-Thanksgiving relapse and letdown. We just reheat the stuff from last night. Well, the stuffing and turkey and the gravy and those mashed potatoes can rest for still another night. Here’s an idea: use the leftover turkey meat but do it cleverly. Let Friday’s meal be distinctive and distinguished.

In her Thanksgiving Cookbook, Holly Garrison devotes a whole chapter to leftovers. Here is a French way to have a main dish that will be dramatically tasty.

Holly calls this a sort-of turkey cassoulet. Not there is any question about the meat: it’s turkey. But the sort-of refers to how true to French cassoulet this American idea actually is. Cassoulet is French originating in the South in the region once known as Laguedoc.

Today, throughout France, you can buy prepared cassoulets in cans and jars in every supermarket, little grocery store, and neighborhood charcuteries. Some French versions require you to add pre-cooked meats — which is just what Holly does suggest here. Classically, to make cassoulet, meat and beans are cooked separately, then combined and covered with an herbed bread crumb topping, and finally given a last hour in the oven to blend and meld.

From yesterday, you have the meat already to go: lots of leftover turkey meat, the darker the better. Cassoulet is rich in flavor, texture and aroma. This meal will be triumph that rivals Thanksgiving, not a post-Thanksgiving minimalist memory. 

A Sort-Of Turkey Cassoulet

Yield: serves 8-12


  • 1 pound dried Great Northern beans
  • ½ pound bacon slices, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1 large onion, chopped (1 cup)
  • 1 or 2 celery ribs, chopped ½ cup)
  • 1 small carrot, scraped and chopped
  • 8 cloves garlic, minced (about 3 tablespoons)
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme leaves, crumbled
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 4 cups chicken broth
  • 1 can (about 15 ounces) whole peeled tomatoes, drained
  • 1 pound garlic sausage or kielbasa, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
  • ⅓ cup dry vermouth or white wine
  • 2 to 3 cups bite-size pieces dark cooked turkey, duck, or goose meat
  • ½ cup dried French-bread crumbs
  • 1 tablespoon butter, cut into small pieces


In a large bowl, soak the beans overnight in enough water to cover them by about 3 inches. Discard any beans that have floated to the surface. Drain and sort out any debris.

Preheat the oven to 375°F. In a 4-quart Dutch oven or other large heavy ovenproof saucepan with a tight-fitting lid, cook the bacon over medium-high heat until almost crisp. Remove the bacon with a slotted spoon to drain on paper towels and set aside. Pour off all but about 3 tablespoons of the bacon drippings from the pan. Heat the remaining drippings over medium-high heat. Add the onion, celery, and carrot and cook, stirring frequently, until softened.

Stir in the garlic and cook, stirring, for about 2 minutes longer.

Add the thyme, salt, pepper, bay leaf, and the drained beans. Cook, stirring, for about 4 minutes longer.

Stir in the chicken broth and cover the pan tightly. Place the pan in the oven and bake for 1 hour and 20 minutes, or until the beans are tender.

Stir in the tomatoes, garlic sausage, and vermouth and continue to bake, uncovered, for 30 minutes.

Stir in the bacon and turkey, sprinkle the bread crumbs evenly over the top of the casserole, and dot with the butter. Return to the oven and continue to bake, uncovered, for 30 to 45 minutes, or until the crumbs are lightly browned and the mixture is bubbly.

Source: Thanksgiving Cookbook by Holly Garrison

Photo Information: Canon T2i, EFS 60mm Macro Lens, F/4.5 for1/560th second at ISO‑1000