Yogurt Scones with Roasted Pears and Chocolate Chunks


Dave and Lorie, Steve’s brother and sister-in-law were in New York city last weekend. The flew up from Raleigh, NC to celebrate their 25th wedding anniversary. We met up with them for brunch on Sunday at the Bryant Park Grill, a restaurant right behind the New York Public Library on the edge of Bryant Park. We had just been seated at our table and placed our drink orders when Lorie turned to me and half-whispered: Is that who I think it is, sitting behind you? I turned around and saw a handsome, older man, with perfect hair, wearing a black dress shirt and a dark, orange tan, sitting right next to me. I recognized him immediately. It’s Mitt Romney, I half-whispered back to Lorie. We both smiled and the four of us went back to catching up.

That’s one of the things I love about living in New York city. Not the celebrity sightings per se, but the fact that when you do see someone famous, they are often doing exactly what you are doing: walking the streets (I walked next to Ted Donovan the very next day after the Romney sighting), taking the subway, eating at a restaurant right next to you. The walking-centered life of the city and the sheer density of it means that no matter how famous you are, it’s hard to hide behind a limo’s darkened windows or in private rooms in restaurants. It also means that New Yorkers will see you and go on with their lives (most of the time). You won’t be hassled or stopped for autographs and selfies.

So, the next time you are in New York, or if you live here, and you are standing in line at a coffee shop ordering your half-caf latte and a roasted pear and chocolate chunk scone, look around you. That woman with the long, curly hair standing behind you might just be Sarah Jessica Parker. And if she is, don’t freak out and yell Carrie! in a high-pitched girlie voice. Be cool and act like nothing happened.

Oh who am I kidding! If you do see SJP, you have my permission to go fanboy/fangirl-crazy. But just this once. You’re back to your cool and aloof New Yorker self after that.


Yogurt Scones with Roasted Pears and Chocolate Chunks – Adapted from Smitten Kitchen


2 large (or 3 small) firm pears
1 1/2 cups (190 grams) all-purpose flour
1/4 cup (50 grams) brown sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons (8 grams) baking powder
1/2 teaspoon table salt
3/4 cup (7 oz) Greek yogurt (full fat)
1/4 cup (60 ml) heavy cream
1 large egg
1/4 cup (3 ounces or 85 grams) semisweet or bittersweet chocolate, chopped in chunks
1 large egg and 1 tablespoon water, whisked together
1 tablespoon turbinado sugar


Heat oven to 375°F. Peel and core the pears and cut them into 1/2-inch cubes. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper. Arrange pear pieces on parchment and roast until they feel dry to the touch and start to brown underneath, about 25-30 minutes. Remove from oven but leave oven on. Allow pear pieces to cool while preparing the rest of the recipe.

In a large bowl, whisk flour, baking powder, sugar and salt together. In a separate medium bowl, whisk together yogurt, cream, and 1 egg until combined. Pour yogurt mixture over flour mixture and gently fold it with a spatula until it just comes together. Add cooled pear pieces and chocolate chunks and fold a few more times. Don’t overtax.

Dump dough on a lightly floured surface and pat it into a 6-inch round. Cut into 6 wedges and transfer to baking sheet lined with parchment paper, at least two inches apart. Brush with egg and water mixture and sprinkle with 1 tablespoon of turbinado sugar.

Bake scones until firm and golden, about 30 minutes. Transfer to a cooling rack to cool.

Roasted Tomatillo Salsa

Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays. I love that it’s a holiday that celebrates something really positive and universal: being thankful for all the good things in your life. How wonderful is that? Coming from a culture where every holiday is either religious or celebrating a bloody war of some kind, I immediately embraced Thanksgiving when I came to the U.S.


When I was a young college student in the U.S., my new American friends invited me back to their homes to celebrate Thanksgiving with their families. This was such a generous gesture, it made me love this country and want to be a part of it even more. I realized what actual hospitality is, when parents, who hadn’t seen their kids in months, went out of their way to make me feel comfortable and welcome in their homes during a holiday that is so family-centered.


And then there’s the food. Thanksgiving introduced me to many new and amazing delights, like cranberry sauce and pecan pie. It also introduced me to some food traditions I never quite learned to like, like pumpkin pie and sweet potato pie, both of which I find strange (who wants dessert made from a side dish?).


Over the years, I’ve cooked many Thanksgiving meals and have invited friends and strangers to share them with me. For the last several years, Steve and I have had our own tradition. We have our Thanksgiving in Paris, where we cook a traditional meal for all of our friends there. We get the turkey from a neighborhood butcher who cooks it for us on the rotisserie. We make everything else, including a traditional dish from Steve’s family called under-the-sea salad, a concoction of cream cheese, lime jello, and canned pears that only an American could come up with.

I don’t have that recipe for you today, but I do have a recipe that Steve makes for roasted tomatillo salsa. It’s perfect for snacking on while everyone is waiting for the turkey to finish, or while they are playing video games or watching football in the living room. The photos and preparation of this recipe post were all done by Steve.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!


Roasted Tomatillo Salsa – Adapted from Epicurious.com


1 1/2 pounds fresh tomatillos or 3 (11-ounce) cans tomatillos
3-5 fresh serrano chiles
3 garlic cloves, unpeeled
1/2 cup fresh cilantro
1 large onion, coarsely chopped
1 teaspoon kosher salt
Juice of half a lime


Preheat broiler.

If using fresh tomatillos, remove husks and rinse under warm water to remove stickiness. If using canned tomatillos, drain and measure out 2 cups. Broil onion, chiles, garlic, and fresh tomatillos (do not broil canned ones) on the top rack of the oven, turning occasionally, until tomatillos are softened and slightly charred, about 10 minutes. (Smaller items, like the garlic might need to be removed early.)

Peel garlic and pull off tops of chiles. Put all ingredients in a blender, including cilantro, salt, and lime juice and purée. Chill in refrigerator and serve with tortilla chips.

Roasted Vegetables

Why do people insist on boiling vegetables? Is it because they think it’s easier than cooking them any other way? Or is it because they can’t use their oven due to the shoes they keep in there (you’d be amazed the things people store in their unused ovens in New York apartments)? Why do we accept bland, boiled vegetables when there is a simple and easy way to make them delicious?


Nothings makes a vegetable better than roasting it at high temperature. Whatever it is, cauliflower, brussel sprouts, butternut squash, asparagus, you name it. It will soften but its edges with crisp up and caramelize. It will become something you and your kids want to have more of, not something they have to negotiate over not eating it.


It couldn’t be simpler. There’s no recipe here. Just high heat and a little olive oil.

Take the vegetable. Cut in roughly equally sized pieces and put in a large bowl. Add  a good amount of olive oil, some salt, some pepper. Toss with your hands until every piece is coated with oil. Spread on a baking sheet (don’t crowd the veggies because they’ll steam; use two sheets if you have too much) and cook in 425° F oven, tossing once or twice, until brown in spots and nicely roasted. Serve alone or with your favorite dressing (like thai chili vinaigrette or lime garlic vinaigrette). Alternatively, mash the vegetable (like roasted butternut squash) or blend it with some vegetable stock if you want soup (like roasted asparagus).

See? Super simple.

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