In no particular order

(Poems and Recipes)

  1. Do not go gentle into that good night (Dylan Thomas)

  2. Under Milk Wood (Dylan Thomas)

  3. She walks in beauty (Byron)

  4. Now we are six (A.A. Milne)

  5. Furry bear (A.A. Milne)

  6. Fulbright Scholars (Ted Hughes)

  7. Caryatids (I) (Ted Hughes)

  8. Caryatids (II) (Ted Hughes)

  9. Visit (Ted Hughes)

  10. Sam (Ted Hughes)

  11. Elm (Sylvia Plath)

  12. Mulligatawny Soup

  13. Days (Philip Larkin)

  14. Happiest moment (Lydia Davis)

  15. Samuel Johnson is indignant (Lydia Davis)

  16. A double negative (Lydia Davis)

  17. Her damage (Lydia Davis)

  18. Announcement (Langston Hughes)

  19. Young prostitute (Langston Hughes)

  20. Cianfotta

  21. Cranberry relish

  22. Braised Lamb Shanks in Red Wine with Herbes de Provence

  23. Marcella Hazan’s Bolognese Sauce


Do not go gentle into that good night

Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Though wise men at their end know dark is right,
Because their words had forked no lightning they
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Good men, the last wave by, crying how bright
Their frail deeds might have danced in a green bay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Wild men who caught and sang the sun in flight,
And learn, too late, they grieved it on its way,
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Grave men, near death, who see with blinding sight
Blind eyes could blaze like meteors and be gay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

And you, my father, there on the sad height,
Curse, bless, me now with your fierce tears, I pray.
Do not go gentle into that good night.
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Dylan Thomas, 1952

Under Milk Wood (overture)

It is Spring, moonless night in the small town, starless and bible-black, the cobblestreets silent and the hunched, courter's-and-rabbits' wood limping invisible down to the sloeblack, slow, black, crowblack, fishingboat-bobbing sea. The houses are are blind as moles (though moles see fine tonight in the snouting, velvet dingles) or blind as Captain Cat there in the muffled middle by the pump and the town clock, the shops in mourning, the Welfare Hall in widows' weeds. And all the people of the lulled and dumbfound town are sleeping now.

Hush, the babies are sleeping, the farmers, the fishers, the tradesmen and pensioners, cobbler, schoolteacher, postman and publican, the undertaker and the fancy woman, drunkard, dressmaker, preacher, policeman, the webfoot cocklewomen
and the tidy wives. Young girls lie bedded soft or glide in their dreams, with rings and trousseaux, bridesmaided by glow-worms down the aisles of the organplaying wood. The boys are dreaming wicked of the bucking ranches of the night and the jollyrodgered sea. And the anthracite statues of the horses sleep in the fields, and the cows in the byres, and the dogs in the wet-nosed yard; and the cats nap in the slant corners or lope sly, streaking and needling, on the one cloud of the roofs.

You can hear the dew falling, and the hushed town breathing.

Only your eyes are unclosed to see the black and folded town fast, and slow, asleep.

And you alone can hear the invisible starfall, the darkest-before-dawn minutely dewgrazed stir of the black, dab-filled sea where the Arethusa, the Curlew and the Skylark, Zanzibar, Rhiannon, the Rover, the Cormorant, and the Star of Wales tilt and ride.

Listen. It is night in the chill, squat chapel, hymning in bonnet and brooch and bombazine black, butterfly choker and bootlace bow, coughing like nannygoats, sucking mintoes, fortywinking hallelujah; night in the four-ale, quiet as a domino; in Ocky Milkman's lofts like a mouse with gloves; in Dai Bread's bakery flying like black flour. It is tonight in Donkey Street, trotting silent, with seaweed on its hooves, along the cockled cobbles, past curtained fernpot, text and trinket, harmonium, holy dresser, watercolours done by hand, china dog and rosy tin teacaddy. It is night neddying among the snuggeries of babies.

Look. It is night, dumbly, royally winding through the Coronation cherry trees; going through the graveyard of Bethesda with winds gloved and folded, and dew doffed; tumbling by the Sailors Arms.

Time passes. Listen. Time passes.

Come closer now.

Only you can hear the houses sleeping in the streets in the slow deep salt and silent black, bandaged night. Only you can see, in the blinded bedrooms, the combs and petticoats over the chairs, the jugs and basins, the glasses of teeth, Thou Shalt Not on the wall, and the yellowing dickybird-watching pictures of the dead. Only you can hear and see, behind the eyes of the sleepers, the movements and countries and mazes and colours and dismays and rainbows and tunes and wished and flight and fall and despairs and big seas of their dreams.

From where you are, you can hear their dreams...

Dylan Thomas, from Under Milk Wood

She Walks in Beauty

She walks in beauty, like the night
Of cloudless climes and starry skies,
And all that's best of dark and bright
Meets in her aspect and her eyes;
Thus mellow'd to that tender light
Which Heaven to gaudy day denies.

One shade the more, one ray the less,
Had half impair'd the nameless grace
Which waves in every raven tress
Or softly lightens o'er her face,
Where thoughts serenely sweet express
How pure, how dear their dwelling-place.

And on that cheek and o'er that brow
So soft, so calm, yet eloquent,
The smiles that win, the tints that glow,
But tell of days in goodness spent, —
A mind at peace with all below,
A heart whose love is innocent.

Lord Byron

Now we are six

When I was one, I was just begun.
When I was two, I was nearly new.
When I was three, I was hardly me.
When I was four, I was not much more.
When I was five, I was just alive.
But now that I'm six, I'm as clever as clever.
I think I'll stay six now for ever and ever.

A. A. Milne

Furry bear

If I were a bear,
And a big bear too,
I shouldn't much care
If it froze or snew;
I shouldn't much mind
If it snowed or friz--
I'd be all fur-lined
With a coat like his!

For i'd have fur boots and a brown fur wrap,
And brown fur knickers and a big fur cap.
I'd have a fur muffle-ruff to cover my jaws.
And brown fur mittens on my big brown paws.
With a big brown furry-down up to my head,
I'd sleep all the winter in a big fur bed.

A. A. Milne

Fulbright Scholars

Where was it, in the Strand? A display
Of news items, in photographs.
For some reason I noticed it.
A picture of that year's intake
Of Fulbright Scholars. Just arriving -
Or arrived. Or some of them.
Were you among them? I studied it,
Not too minutely, wondering
Which of them I might meet.
I remember that thought. Not
Your face. No doubt I scanned particularly
The girls. Maybe I noticed you.
Maybe I weighed you up, feeling unlikely.
Noted your long hair, loose waves -
Your Veronica Lake bang. Not what it hid.
It would appear blond. And your grin.
Your exaggerated American
Grin for the cameras, the judges, the strangers, the frighteners.
Then I forgot. Yet I remember
The picture: the Fulbright Scholars.
With their luggage? It seems unlikely.
Could they have come as a team? I was walking
Sore-footed, under hot sun, hot pavements.
Was it then I bough a peach? That's as I remember.
From a stall near Charing Cross Station.
It was the first fresh peach I had ever tasted.
I could hardly believe how delicious.
At twenty-five I was dumbfounded afresh
By my ignorance of the simplest things.

Ted Hughes, from The Birthday Letters

Caryatids (I)

What were those caryatids bearing?
It was the first poem of yours I had seen.
It was the only poem you ever wrote
That I disliked through the eyes of a stranger.
It seemed thin and brittle, the lines cold.
Like the theorem of a trap, a deadfall - set.
I saw that. And the trap unsprung, empty.
I felt no interest. No stirring
Of omen. In those days I coerced
Oracular assurance
In my favour out of every sign.
So missed everything
In the white, blindfolded, rigid faces
Of those women. I felt their frailty, yes:
Friable, burnt aluminium.
Fragile, like the mantle of a gas-lamp.
But made of nothing
Of that massive, starless, mid-fall, falling
Heaven of granite
                           stopped, as if in a snapshot,
By their hair.

Ted Hughes, from The Birthday Letters

Caryatids (II)

Stupid with confidence, in the playclothes
Of still growing, still reclining
In the cushioned palanquin,
The nursery care of nature's leisurely lift
Towards her fullness, we were careless
Of grave life, three of us, four, five, six -
Playing at friendship. Time is plenty
To test every role - for laughs,
For the experiment, lending our hours
To perversities of impulse, charade-like
Improvisations of the insane,
Like prisoners, our real life
Perforce deferred, with the real
World and self. So, playing at students, we filled
And drunkenly drained, filled and again drained
A boredom, a cornucopia
Of airy emptiness, of the brown
And the yellow ale, of makings and unmakings -
Godlike, as frivolous as faithless,
A dramaturgy of whim.
That was our education. The world
Crossed the wet courts, on Sunday, politely,
In tourists' tentative shoes.
All roads lay too open, opened too deeply
Every degree of the compass.
Here at the centre of the web, at the crossroads,
You published your poem
About Caryatids. We had heard
Of the dance of your blond veils, your flaring gestures,
Your misfit self-display. More to reach you
Than to reproach you, more to spark
A contact though the see-saw bustling
Atmospherics of higher learning
And lower socializing, than to correct you
With our arachaic principles, we concocted
An attack, a dismemberment, laughing.
We had our own broadsheet to publish it.
Our Welshman composed it - still deaf
To the white noise of the elegy
That would fill his mouth and his ear
Worlds later, on Cader Idris,
In the wind and snow of your final climb.

Ted Hughes, from The Birthday Letters


Lucas, my friend, one
Among those three or four who stay unchanged
Like a separate self,
A stone in the bed of the river
Under every change, became your friend.
I heard of it, alerted. I was sitting
Youth away in an office near Slough.
Morning and evening between Slough and Holborn,
Hoarding wage to fund a leap to freedom
And the other side of the earth - a free-fall
To strip my chrysalis off me in the slipstream.
Weekends I received
Into Alma Mater. Girl-friend
Shared a supervisor and weekly session
With your American rival and you.
She detested you. She fed snapshots
Of you and she did not know what
Inflammable celluloid into my silent
Insatiable future, my blind-man's-buff
Internal torch of search. With my friend,
After midnight, I stood in a garden
Lobbing soil-clods up at a dark window.

Drunk, he was certain it was yours.
Half as drunk, I did not know he was wrong.
Not did I know I was being auditioned
For the male lead in your drama,
Miming through the first easy movements
As if with eyes closed, feeling for the role.
As if a puppet were being tried on its strings,
Or a dead frog's legs touched by electrodes.
I jigged through those gestures - watched and judged
Only by starry darkness and a shadow.
Unknown to you and not knowing you.
Aiming to find you, and missimg, and again missing.
Flinging earth at a glass that could not protect you
Because you were not there.

Ten years after your death
I meet on a page of your journal, as never before,
The shock of your joy
When you heard of that. Then the shock
Of your prayers. And under those prayers your panic
That prayers might not create the miracle,
Then, under the panic, the nightmare
That came rolling to crush you:
Your alternative - the unthinkable
Old despair and the new agony
Melting into one familiar hell.

Suddenly I read all this -
Your actual words, as they floated
Out through your throat and tongue and onto your page -
Just as when your daughter, years ago now,
Drifting in, gazing up into my face,
Where I worked alone
In the silent house, asked, suddenly:
'Daddy, where's Mummy?' The freezing soil
Of the garden, as I clawed it.
All around me that midnight's
Giant clock of frost. And somewhere
Inside it, wanting to feel nothing,
A pulse of fever. Somewhere
Inside that numbness of the earth
Our future trying to happen.
I look up - as if to meet your voice
With all its urgent future
That has burst in on me. Then look back
At the book of the printed words.
You are ten years dead. It is only a story.
Your story. My story.

Ted Hughes, from The Birthday Letters


It was all of a piece to you
That was your horse, the white calm stallion, Sam,
Decided he'd had enough
And started home at a gallop. I can live
Your incredulity, your certainty
That this was it. You lost your stirrups. He galloped
Straight down the white line of the Barton Road.
You lost your reins, you lost your seat -
It was grab his neck and adore him
Or free-fall. You slewed under his neck,
An upside-down jockey with nothing
Between you and the cataract of macadam,
That horribly hard, swift river,
But the propeller terrors of his front legs
And the claangour of the iron shoes, so far beneath you.

Luck was already there. Did you have a helmet?
How did you cling on? Baby monkey
Using your arms and legs for clinging steel.
What saved you? Maybe your poems
Saved themselves, slung under that plunging neck,
Hammocked in your body over the switchback road.

You saw only blur. And a cyclist's shock-mask,
Fallen, dragging his bicycle over him, protective.
I can feel your bounced and dangling anguish,
Hugging what was left of your steerage.
How did you hang on? You couldn't have done it.
Something in you not you did it for itself.
You clung on, probably near unconscious.
Till he walked into his stable. That gallop
Was practice, but not enough, and quite useless.

When I jumped a fence you strangled me
One giddy moment, then fell off,
Flung yourself off and under my feet to trip me
And tripped me and lay dead. Over in a flash.

Ted Hughes, from The Birthday Letters


for Ruth Fainlight

I know the bottom, she says. I know it with my great tap root;
It is what you fear.
I do not fear it: I have been there.

Is it the sea you hear in me,
Its dissatisfactions?
Or the voice of nothing, that was you madness?

Love is a shadow.
How you lie and cry after it.
Listen: these are its hooves: it has gone off, like a horse.

All night I shall gallup thus, impetuously,
Till your head is a stone, your pillow a little turf,
Echoing, echoing.

Or shall I bring you the sound of poisons?
This is rain now, the big hush.
And this is the fruit of it: tin white, like arsenic.

I have suffered the atrocity of sunsets.
Scorched to the root
My red filaments burn and stand,a hand of wires.

Now I break up in pieces that fly about like clubs.
A wind of such violence
Will tolerate no bystanding: I must shriek.

The moon, also, is merciless: she would drag me
Cruelly, being barren.
Her radiance scathes me. Or perhaps I have caught her.

I let her go. I let her go
Diminished and flat, as after radical surgery.
How your bad dreams possess and endow me.

I am inhabited by a cry.
Nightly it flaps out
Looking, with its hooks, for something to love.

I am terrified by this dark thing
That sleeps in me;
All day I feel its soft, feathery turnings, its malignity.

Clouds pass and disperse.
Are those the faces of love, those pale irretrievables?
Is it for such I agitate my heart?

I am incapable of more knowledge.
What is this, this face
So murderous in its strangle of branches? ----

Its snaky acids kiss.
It petrifies the will. These are the isolate, slow faults
That kill, that kill, that kill.

Sylvia Plath, from Ariel

Mulligatawny Soup

1 cup red lentils, washed and drained
5 cups chicken stock
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
1 medium potato
5 cloves garlic
1 1/4" cube ginger, peeled and chopped
1 1/4 cups water
7 oz boned and skinned chicken breast
1 1/4 teaspoon salt
black pepper to taste
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon coriander
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 tablespoon lemon juice

Combine lentils, stock and turmeric in stock pot and bring to a boil. Cover and simmer 30 minutes. Peel and cube potato; add to soup after half hour. Continue simmering for 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, blend garlic, ginger and 4 1/2 tablespoons water to a smooth paste. Cut chicken into 1/2" cubes. Toss chicken in bowl with 1/4 teaspoon salt and pepper to cover. Puree soup base in blender. Pour into bowl and add remaining salt.

Rinse soup pot and add oil. Heat oil and add paste and remaining spices. Fry, stirring continuously, until the spice mixture is slightly browned and separates from the oil. Put in the chicken pieces and fry 2-3 minutes until chicken is opaque. Add 1 cup water and bring to boil. Cover and simmer 3-5 minutes or until chicken is cooked. Pour in pureed soup and lemon juice. Stir to mix and bring to simmer for 2 minutes. Adjust seasonings and serve.

(from the kitchen of Sanjiv and Sonia Singh)
From Bruce & Jill's Favourite Family Recipes
Serves 6-8 as opening course.

(Julian's note: I substituted 4 cups veg. broth for chicken stock, 1 large portabella mushroom for the chicken, and added 2 leeks at the same time as the potatoes. 1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper rather than 1/4 tsp. Serve with slices of lemon.)


What are days for?
Days are where we live.
They come, they wake us
Time and time over.
They are to be happy in:
Where can we live but days?

Ah, solving that question
Brings the priest and the doctor
In their long coats
Running over the fields.

Philip Larkin, from Whitsun Weddings

Happiest moment

If you ask her what is a favorite story she has written, she will hesitate for a long time and then say is may be this story that she read in a book once: an English language teacher in China has asked his Chinese student to say what was the happiest moment of his life. The student hesitated for a long time. At last he smiled with embarassment and said that his wife had once gone to Beijing and eaten duck there, and she often told him about it, and he would have to say the happiest moment of his life was her trip, and the eating of the duck.

Lydia Davis, from Samuel Johnson is indignant

Samuel Johnson is indignant:

that Scotland has so few trees.

Lydia Davis, from Samuel Johnson is indignant

A double negative

At a certain point in her life, she realizes that it is not so much that she wants to have a child as that she does not want not to have a child, or not to have had a child.

Lydia Davis, from Samuel Johnson is indignant

Her damage

On the counter lay a pile of plastic packets of duck sauce, soy sauce, and mustard from their Chinese dinner. In her anger she was provoked by the smooth, slippery little bodies and slammed her fist down among them. Two or three exploded. She could not see through her tears. Her bathrobe cuff was drenched in mustard, and the next morning he discovered a spatter of soy sauce, or maybe duck sauce, over the ceiling, two windows, and one wall. She cleaned it off the windows, but it wouldn't come off the ceiling, where it had stained through the white paint, and then when she was done trying to get it off she saw that the drops of detergent and water falling on the wood floor had spotted the finish.

A few days later, carrying the baby, she stepped into a hole in the dining room floor in the old house where a plank had been removed because of termites. She bruised her arm badly, though the baby was not hurt. Then she stopped up the coffee maker with coffee grounds so that it overflowed onto the counter and floor when it went on in the morning. She sprayed the side of her face with the spray attachment at the sink. She burned her hand feeding the wood stove. The baby rolled off the side of their bed and fell onto the floor. She took the baby out for a walk late in the afternoon when the temperature was below freezing, its face turned red, and it started screaming with pain. This was the holiday season.

They sat talking peacefully before dinner. He said she probably needed to get more sleep. She was waiting for the oven to heat, but had forgotten to turn it on.

At dinner, he pointed out that the soy sauce had also spotted the apples in the fruit bowl and the lamp over the dinig table. He went on to remind her of the toilet seat she had broken. It was an expensive red Swedish toilet seat. The lid had slipped out of her hand and dropped, cracking the seat. He had immediately taken the whole thing off and replaced it with a green one.

He had also replaced the plastic sheeting over the door to the deck because it had shattered when she left the door open in the cold. Then for the second time she disengaged the connection of a wire over the bedroom door. As he stood on a chair fixing it, she asked him if she could hold the light for him, but he said No, just don't slam the door anymore when you get mad.

The most recent thing was that she took a roll of photographs with no film in the camera, though this did not cost them any money or cause any damage, except for the baby's weariness in its many poses and her regret for the lost pictures, so many of which she remembered clearly, the last being a shot of an oil barge with a tugboat coming up the creek through the first winter ice toward her where she stood at the window, beginning to realize that there was no film in the camera.

Lydia Davis, from Samuel Johnson is indignant


I had a gal,
She was driving alone
Doing eighty
In a twenty-mile zone.

Had to pay her ticket.
It took all I had.
What makes a woman
Treat a man so bad?

Come to find out
(If I'd a-only knew it)
She had another joker
In my Buick!

So from now on,
I want the world to know,
That gal don't drive my
Car no more.

Langston Hughes, from Poems 1941-50

Young prostitute

Her dark brown face
Is like a withered flower
On a broken stem.
Those kind come cheap in Harlem
So they say.

Langston Hughes, from Poems 1921-30


Italian Bean Hot Pot

This warming and colorful stew is synonymous with Tuscany, where the food tends to be of a rich and substantial nature. You can try different combinations of vegetables to create you own hot pot. This is one of my favorites.


  • 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons (9 ounces) drived cannellini beans [or 1 15oz can of cooked cannellini beans, rinsed and drained -- julian]
  • 1 small eggplant, diced [large is better -- julian]
  • sea salt
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 onion, peeled and chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled
  • 2 celery stalks, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh rosemary
  • 2 yellow bell peppers, de-seeded and diced
  • 2 potatoes, peeled and diced
  • 1 pound fresh tomatoes, diced
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried red pepper flakes
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • a handful of fresh flat-leaf parsley, chopped
  • a handful of fresh basil, torn
  1. Soak and cook the cannellini beans as suggested on page 79.
  2. While the beans are cooking, put the eggland cubes inti a colander, sprinkle with salt, cover and weight down, and leave for 15 to 20 minutes. Rinse the salt off and pat the cubes dry.
  3. Heat the olive oil in a medium saucepan, add the onion and saute until translucent, then add the garlic, celery and rosemary. Let these saute for a few minutes as well, then add the remaining vegetables and the red pepper flakes.
  4. Stir well, cover lightly, and cook over low heat for 30 minutes. Add the cooked beans and cook for an additional 10 minutes.
  5. Stir again, remove from heat and add the parsley and basil. Check and adjust the seasoning, and serve warm.
  6. This could be called the Italian version of Ratatouille, but because of the beans and potatoes — double carbohydrate — it's definitely a dish for the bitingly cold Tuscan winters.

[From "Gusto Italiano", by Ursula Ferrigno.]

Cranberry relish

No Thanksgiving dinner would be complete without cranberry relish. It can be made in large batches if you want to make enough for the winter.


  • 2 oranges
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 teaspoons lemon juice
  • 2 teaspoons fresh ginger, cut in fine julienne
  • 1 bag (12 ounces) fresh or frozen cranberries
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground white pepper


  1. Peel 1 orange and cut the zest (orange part only) into a very fine julienne, as thin as possible; set aside. Squeeze both oranges for juice; set aside.
  2. Combine sugar and lemon juice in a small sauté pan. Heat up slowly and continue cooking until the sugar begins to caramelize. If necessary, wash down the sides of the pan by brushing with a little water to keep the sugar from burning.
  3. When the sugar is caramel colored, add the julienned ginger and orange zest. Cook for about 1 minute, then add the cranberries, orange juice and pepper. Continue to cook on medium-high heat, stirring frequently, for about 5 minutes or until the cranberries are slightly broken but not mushy (frozen cranberries will take about 7 minutes). Remove from the heat and let cool.
  4. [From Jasper White's Cooking from New England]

NOCPR's Susan Stamberg has a booming laugh, a probing mind, and, of course, a cranberry relish recipe that's infamous in public radio land. But there's another dish that has graced her holiday table through the years — a dish that's been overshadowed by her mother-in-law's cranberry relish. It's Madhur Jaffrey's cranberry chutney.

Jaffrey is an actress who has become perhaps the world's best-known authority on Indian cooking, authoring more than 15 cookbooks.

Stamberg says Jaffrey came up with the recipe by pulling together the ingredients she had on hand: A can of cranberry sauce with berries, fresh ginger, chopped garlic, cider vinegar, sugar, cayenne pepper, salt and pepper.

"What you get is just this wonderful kind of sweet, sour and spicy thing," Stamberg says. "You know there are some Thanksgivings in which it just runs away. I mean it just takes over the table and I notice that most of it is gone."

The Pepto-Bismol pink cranberry relish that has become a Thanksgiving tradition on NPR's airwaves, Stamberg admits, doesn't always disappear so quickly.

You can find recipes for both Madhur Jaffrey's Cranberry Chutney and Mama Stamberg's Cranberry Relish below.

Madhur Jaffrey's Cranberry Chutney

  • 1-inch piece fresh ginger
  • 3 cloves finely chopped garlic
  • 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 4 tablespoons sugar
  • 1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1-pound can cranberry sauce with berries
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt (or less)
  • ground black pepper

Cut ginger into paper-thin slices, stack them together and cut into really thin slivers.

Combine ginger, garlic, vinegar, sugar and cayenne in a small pot, and simmer on medium flame about 15 minutes or until there are about four tablespoons of liquid left.

Add can of cranberry sauce, salt and pepper. Mix and bring to a simmer. Simmer on a gentle heat for about 10 minutes.

Cool, store and refrigerate.

Makes about 1 1/2 cups.

Mama Stamberg's Cranberry Relish

  • 2 cups whole raw cranberries, washed
  • 1 small onion
  • 3/4 cup sour cream
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 tablespoons horseradish from a jar ("red is a bit milder than white")

Grind the raw berries and onion together. ("I use an old-fashioned meat grinder," says Stamberg. "I'm sure there's a setting on the food processor that will give you a chunky grind — not a puree.")

Add everything else and mix.

Put in a plastic container and freeze.

Early Thanksgiving morning, move it from freezer to refrigerator compartment to thaw. ("It should still have some little icy slivers left.")

The relish will be thick, creamy, and shocking pink. ("OK, Pepto Bismol pink. It has a tangy taste that cuts through and perks up the turkey and gravy. Its also good on next-day turkey sandwiches, and with roast beef.")

Makes 1 1/2 pints.

Braised Lamb Shanks in Red Wine with Herbes de Provence

Serves 6

WHY THIS RECIPE WORKS: One of the great pleasures of cooking is turning a relatively tough cut of meat into a meltingly tender one. Among the most richly flavored of these cuts is the lamb shank, and braising is the ideal cooking method for it; this long, slow, moist cooking method causes the connective tissue to disintegrate and renders the fat without drying out the meat. But lamb shanks have a high fat content, and all too often the result is a greasy sauce. We wanted to find a way to lose the fat without sacrificing flavor.

Trim Well: Even a long, slow braise will not successfully render all the exterior fat on a lamb shank. If your butcher has not already done so, it is essential to take the time to carefully trim the lamb shanks of the excess fat that encases the meat.

Brown the Shanks: We found that browning the shanks served two important functions: It helped render some of the exterior fat, and it also provided a great deal of flavor to the dish. (Be sure to drain the fat from the pan after browning.)

Defat the Liquid: The final step to avoiding a greasy finished product was to defat the braising liquid after the shanks had cooked—either by skimming it from the surface using a ladle, or by refrigerating the braising liquid, then lifting off the solidified fat from the top.

Use Plenty of Liquid: A combination of wine and chicken broth provided a well-balanced braising liquid that complemented the flavor of the lamb. We found that using a generous amount of liquid—more than is called for in most braises—guaranteed that plenty would remain in the pot, resulting in moist, tender meat.

If you’re using smaller shanks than the ones called for in this recipe, reduce the braising time by up to 30 minutes. If you can’t find herbes de Provence, you can make your own by combining 2 teaspoons dried marjoram, 2 teaspoons dried thyme, 1 teaspoon dried basil, 1 teaspoon dried rosemary (crumbled), 1 teaspoon dried sage, and 1/8 teaspoon ground fennel. Serve with polenta or mashed potatoes. Côtes du Rhône works particularly well here.

  • 6 (12- to 16-ounce) lamb shanks, trimmed
  • Salt and pepper
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 3 carrots, peeled and cut into 2-inch pieces
  • 2 onions, sliced thick
  • 2 celery ribs, cut into 2-inch pieces
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tablespoon herbes de Provence
  • 2 cups dry red wine
  • 3 cups chicken broth

1. Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 350 degrees. Pat lamb shanks dry and season with salt. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in Dutch oven over medium-high heat until just smoking. Brown 3 shanks on all sides, 7 to 10 minutes. Transfer shanks to large plate and repeat with remaining 1 tablespoon oil and remaining 3 lamb shanks.

2. Drain all but 2 tablespoons fat from pot. Add carrots, onions, celery, tomato paste, garlic, herbes de Provence, and pinch of salt and cook until vegetables are just starting to soften, 3 to 4 minutes. Stir in wine, then broth, scraping up browned bits on bottom of pan, and bring to simmer. Nestle shanks, along with any accumulated juices, into pot.

3. Return to simmer, cover pot, transfer to oven, and cook for 1 1/2 hours. Uncover and continue to cook until tops of shanks are browned, about 30 minutes. Flip shanks and continue to cook until remaining sides are browned and fork slips easily in and out of shanks, 15 to 30 minutes longer.

4. Remove pot from oven and let rest for 15 minutes. Using tongs, transfer shanks and vegetables to large plate and tent with aluminum foil. Skim fat from braising liquid and season with salt and pepper to taste. Return shanks to braising liquid to warm through before serving.

[From The Cook's Illustrated Meat Book.]

Marcella Hazan’s Bolognese Sauce

YIELD 2 heaping cups, for about 6 servings and 1 1/2 pounds pasta

TIME At least 4 hours

After the death in 2013 of Marcella Hazan, the cookbook author who changed the way Americans cook Italian food, The Times asked readers which of her recipes had become staples in their kitchens. Many people answered with one word: “Bolognese.” Ms. Hazan had a few recipes for the classic sauce, and they are all outstanding. This one appeared in her book “The Essentials of Classic Italian Cuisine,” and one reader called it “the gold standard.” Try it and see for yourself.


  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 3 tablespoons butter plus 1 tablespoon for tossing the pasta
  • ½ cup chopped onion
  • ⅔ cup chopped celery
  • ⅔ cup chopped carrot
  • ¾ pound ground beef chuck (or you can use 1 part pork to 2 parts beef)
  • Salt
  • Black pepper, ground fresh from the mill
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • Whole nutmeg
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • 1 ½ cups canned imported Italian plum tomatoes, cut up, with their juice
  • 1 ¼ to 1 ½ pounds pasta
  • Freshly grated parmigiano-reggiano cheese at the table

(For 2 lb beef and 1 lb pork, use approximately 2 medium onions, 6 stalks celery, 6 medium carrots.)


1. Put the oil, butter and chopped onion in the pot and turn the heat on to medium. Cook and stir the onion until it has become translucent, then add the chopped celery and carrot. Cook for about 2 minutes, stirring vegetables to coat them well.

2. Add ground beef, a large pinch of salt and a few grindings of pepper. Crumble the meat with a fork, stir well and cook until the beef has lost its raw, red color.

3. Add milk and let it simmer gently, stirring frequently, until it has bubbled away completely. Add a tiny grating — about 1/8 teaspoon — of nutmeg, and stir.

4. Add the wine, let it simmer until it has evaporated, then add the tomatoes and stir thoroughly to coat all ingredients well. When the tomatoes begin to bubble, turn the heat down so that the sauce cooks at the laziest of simmers, with just an intermittent bubble breaking through to the surface. Cook, uncovered, for 3 hours or more, stirring from time to time. While the sauce is cooking, you are likely to find that it begins to dry out and the fat separates from the meat. To keep it from sticking, add 1/2 cup of water whenever necessary. At the end, however, no water at all must be left and the fat must separate from the sauce. Taste and correct for salt.

5. Toss with cooked drained pasta, adding the tablespoon of butter, and serve with freshly grated Parmesan on the side.

[Jim Wilson/The New York Times]