The change of seasons brings with it a change in the types of cooking that we do. With spring just around the corner lighter meals help to brighten our cooking experiences and desires. Here are some tasty recipes that could even be used for the holiday dinner table.

The change of seasons brings with it a change in the types of cooking that we do. With spring just around the corner lighter meals help to brighten our cooking experiences and desires. Here are some tasty recipes that could even be used for the holiday dinner table.


Salmon with Scallion Mayonnaise

Serves 4

4        6-ounce fresh or frozen (thawed) skinless salmon fillets, about

1-inch                        thick

1        tablespoon olive oil

Pinch of salt and fresh ground black pepper, to taste

2        scallions or green onions, thinly sliced

½ (one half) cup mayonnaise

2        teaspoons fresh parsley, finely chopped

2        teaspoons balsamic vinegar

lemon wedges, for garnish


Rinse salmon fillets then pat dry with paper towels. Brush both sides of fish fillets with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper, to taste. Place fillets on a wire rack in a broiler pan.

Broil salmon for 10-12 minutes until fish begins to flake easily when tested with a fork. Turn salmon once halfway through broiling.

In a small bowl stir together mayonnaise, balsamic vinegar, parsley, and scallions. Divide evenly and spoon on top of salmon fillets.


Lemon Broccoli

1        tablespoon EVOO, olive oil

1        medium sweet onion, cut into 1-inch wedges

2        cloves garlic, minced

1        bunch broccoli, cut into florets

6-8     thin strips of lemon rind

lemon wedges, for garnish

salt and fresh ground black pepper, to taste


In a large skillet, with a cover, heat oil over medium-high heat.

Saute onion until golden, about 6-7 minutes. Add garlic and cook for

3-4 minutes. Add broccoli and lemon strips and 2 cups of water. Bring to a boil and lower heat and cover. Cook until fork-tender about 6-8 minutes. Add salt and pepper, to taste. Serve with lemon wedges.


Spinach and Onion Pie

1        9-inch prepared, unbaked piecrust

1        medium sweet or Vidalia onion, chopped

1        10-ounce package frozen chopped spinach, thawed and drained

1        cup sliced button mushrooms

4        eggs

2        cups half-and-half

Salt and fresh ground black pepper, to taste

1        cup mozzarella cheese, shredded

½ (one half) cup Swiss cheese, shredded     


Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

Fit uncooked piecrust into a 9-inch pie pate. Bake for 8-10 minutes until golden. If crust bubbles, with the back of a spoon gently press down bubbles.

In a skillet sauté onions for 4-5 minutes or until soft. Add mushrooms and cook 3-4 minutes. Add spinach and cook for another 3 minutes. Set aside.

In a large bowl, whisk together eggs, half-and-half, salt and pepper.

Pour spinach mixture into piecrust. Sprinkle with mozzarella and Swiss cheeses. Pour egg mixture over cheeses. Place filled pie plate on a cookie sheet and place in center of oven.

Lower oven temperature to 325 degrees and bake pie for 50-55 minutes or until a knife inserted in center comes out clean.


Creamy Cheese Ravioli and Peas

2        9-ounce packages fresh cheese ravioli

4        tablespoons butter

1        clove garlic, minced then smashed

¾ (three fourths) cup heavy cream

1        cup frozen green peas, thawed

2/3 (two thirds) cup grated Parmesan cheese

Salt and fresh ground black pepper, to taste

2        tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped


In a large pot of salted boiling water cook ravioli according to package instructions. Reserve ½ (one half) cup cooking water, then drain ravioli. Place ravioli in 4 bowls and set aside.

In a large skillet combine butter, garlic, cream, and peas and bring to a simmer over medium heat, simmer 1-2 minutes. Add ravioli, Parmesan cheese, and a small bit of reserved cooking water to the skillet and toss. Add more cooking water to thin the sauce, if desired. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Serve in bowls and top with chopped parsley.


Chocolate Stout Cake

This is a very impressive cake with a very rich chocolate flavor from the stout.

2 cups stout (such as Guinness)

2 cups (4 sticks) unsalted butter

1 1/2 cups unsweetened cocoa powder (preferably


4 cups all purpose flour ( I use King Arthur unbleached all-purpose flour for this.)

4 cups granulated sugar

1 tablespoon baking powder

½ (one half) teaspoon salt

4 large eggs, room temperature

1 cup sour cream

*** Please note that if you are using Guinness in cans, because it is

14.9 ounces, make up the rest of the difference in volume by adding water.


2 cups whipping cream

1 pound bittersweet (not unsweetened) or semisweet chocolate, chopped

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 teaspoon grated orange rind or orange zest For cake:

Preheat oven to 350°. Butter two 9-ich round cake pans with 2-inch-high sides or three 8-inch round cake pans. Cake will rise high.

Line with parchment paper and vegetable spray paper. Butter paper.

Bring 2 cups stout and 2 cups butter to simmer in heavy large saucepan over medium heat. Add cocoa powder and whisk until mixture is smooth.

Cool slightly.

Whisk flour, sugar, baking soda, and 1 1/2 teaspoons salt in large bowl to blend. Using electric mixer, beat eggs and sour cream in another large bowl to blend. Add stout-chocolate mixture to egg mixture and beat just to combine. Add flour mixture and beat briefly on slow speed. Using rubber spatula, fold batter until completely

combined.       Divide batter equally among prepared pans. Bake

cakes until toothpick inserted into center of cakes comes out clean, about 35 minutes. Transfer cakes to rack; cool 10 minutes. Turn cakes out onto rack and cool completely. Then freeze cake layers of 35-40 minutes before frosting for easier application.

For frosting:

Bring cream to a simmer in heavy medium saucepan. Remove from heat. Add chopped chocolate and whisk until melted and smooth, stirring frequently. Refrigerate until icing is spreadable, about 2 hours.

Place 1-cake layer on plate. Spread 2/3 (two thirds) cup frosting over it. Top with second cake layer. Spread 2/3 (two thirds) cup icing over it. Top with third cake layer. Spread remaining icing over top and sides of cake.


Another Chocolate Frosting:

1 3/4 (one and three fourths) cups unsweetened baking cocoa

2            cups confectioners’ sugar

1            cup heavy cream

1            cup unsalted butter, or 2-sticks, softened

Pinch of salt

2            cups confectioners’ sugar

2      teaspoons vanilla extract

1      tablespoon Kahula (Optional)

In a bowl with an electric mixer beat all ingredients together.


Apple Custard Pie

2      pounds cooking apples, about 5-6 apples, peeled, cored and

sliced into thin slices

2/3 (two thirds) cup granulated sugar


8      tablespoons butter, or one stick

2      tablespoons confectioners’ sugar

1      large egg, room temperature

1 1/3 (one and one third) cups all-purpose flour

1      egg, beaten for glaze


2      large eggs, room temperature

2-3      tablespoon granulated sugar

1 1/3 (one and one third) cups heavy cream

1      teaspoon vanilla extract


Preheat oven to 350 degrees.


Cream butter and sugar together with an electric mixer. Add the eggs and beat for several minutes. Lower speed and add flour. Chill the pastry in the refrigerator for about an hour.


Apple Filling:

Peel and core apples and cut into thin slices. Put into a deep 9-inch pie dish or a 2-quart casserole dish. Sprinkle with some sugar and cinnamon and gently toss to coat.



Roll chilled pastry into a sheet 1/8 (one eight) inch thick and cut several strips to fit on the lip of the dish. Fit rolled pastry onto pie dish. Brush the lip of the pastry with water. Brush the pastry strips with water. Fit the pastry strips around the top of the lip and press dough together, then flute the top edge of the crust and press with the back of a spoon or knife to form a scalloped edge design. Brush the pie crust with beaten egg. Cut a 1 to 2-inch hole in the center of the pie crust and brush crust with egg again.

Bake in a 350 degree oven for 25-30 minutes until the apples are almost cooked, test with a skewer through the hole.



Beat or whisk the egg and sugar together, then mix in the cream and vanilla extract. Through the whole in the center of the pie pour in the custard from a spouted glass measuring cup. Put the pie back into the oven for another 25 to 30 minutes or until the custard is set.


Hope Cusick has won awards at the North Carolina Strawberry Festival in 2012; The North Carolina Blueberry Festival, winning first place for her Blueberry Cheese Danish Pastry in 2012, and placing on her blueberry spinach salad and dressing; and has won various other contest awards for her blueberry cheesecake, breads, cookies, brownies and jams. She resides in Hampstead.