I love the idea of eating seasonally and actually do it most of the time, but it’s not always practical.

Sometimes if we can’t do something perfectly or within our internal timetable, a piece of us gives up. Didn’t lose one pound this week? Perfect, let’s have some Ben and Jerry’s! Don’t have time to make dinner for your family? Fine, the teenager in us all throws packaged dinners into the shopping cart. Don’t have the energy to seek out farmers markets or plant a garden to have even a few seasonal and local meals a week? That’s it, not even going there a little bit.

The guilt and stress we create for ourselves around food are, to my mind, a complete waste of energy.

It’s the striving that is important: planning to cook dinner at least a couple of nights a week and thinking about how to balance family nutrition, sustainable buying and the 24 hours allotted to us per day.

Soon, the asparagus will begin to poke their spear-like heads through the earth, and the farmers markets will be open. Until then, I’m thankful we have such abundant access to healthy food.

Oh, and if you have access to local mushrooms for these recipes, lucky you. They will only better your meal.




2 cups all-purpose flour

2 tablespoons sugar

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt


1 stick cold, unsalted butter

2 large eggs

3 tablespoons cold water

In a medium-sized bowl, combine all of the dry ingredients. Cut the butter into 1/2-inch chunks and add to the dry ingredients. Cut in with a pastry knife until the pieces are the size of peas or smaller. Add the eggs and water, and mix until the dough forms a ball. Add more water if necessary, one tablespoon at a time. The dough should not be either dry or sticky. Divide into two balls, one slightly larger than the other, and set aside.


1 tablespoon olive oil


1 cup leeks, diced and washed

12 ounces Italian sausages, casing removed and cut into 1/2-inch pieces, about 4 sausages

6 ounces mushrooms, sliced, about 2 cups

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

2 ounces freshly grated Romano cheese, about 11/2 cups, lightly packed


7 ounces whole milk ricotta cheese, about 21/2 cups

1/2 pound mozzarella cheese, grated

3 eggs

3 tablespoons minced chives

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Heat a medium skillet over medium-high heat. Add the olive oil and then saute the leeks and sausage until the leeks are translucent. Add the mushrooms and salt, and saute until they are tender — another 3 to 4 minutes.

Combine all of the cheeses and eggs in a large mixing bowl. When the skillet mixture is done, add a small amount to the cheese and eggs, and mix. Repeat, and once the temperature of the eggs and cheese has increased some, add the rest of the skillet mixture and chives.


On a floured surface, roll out the larger of the two balls of dough and place it in a 9- or 10-inch pie pan. Spoon the filling into the pie pan.

Roll out the second ball of dough and place over the filling, pinching the edges and trimming neatly. Bake until the top is golden brown and the internal temperature reads 190 degrees, about 40 to 50 minutes.

Serves 8.


This recipe is written for the stove top, but can easily be transferred to the grill with the help of a cast-iron skillet. Simply grill the steak for the same amount of time over the coals, and pan-sear the shallots and mushrooms.

1 flank steak, about 2 pounds


Salt, pepper, paprika and olive oil (details below)

1/2 pound shallots, about 2 cups, peeled and quartered

1/2 pound Portobello mushrooms, about 2 large or 3 small, sliced

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 cup dry sherry

2 tablespoons unsalted butter


1/2 cup beef or chicken stock

Place the flank steak on a platter and drizzle enough olive oil to coat. Sprinkle with salt, pepper and paprika until it is evenly and lightly coated on both sides. Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the flank steak and shallots, and cook for 5 minutes.

Turn the steak with tongs and cook for another 4 to 5 minutes for medium-rare. Remove the steak from the pan and let rest on a cutting board with a drip edge.

Continue cooking the shallots until they are tender and brown on the edges. Add the mushrooms and cook for another 5 minutes. Sprinkle with salt, deglaze with the sherry and broth, and reduce for another minute or so.

Remove the pan from the heat and add the butter, swirling it in with a wooden spoon or by moving the pan. Slice the flank steak very thinly on the bias. Add any juice on the cutting board to the pan, swirl, and serve immediately with the steak.

Serves 4 to 6.

Anne Mahle of Rockland is the author of “At Home, At Sea,” a recipe book about her experiences cooking aboard the family’s windjammer. She can be reached at:

[email protected]


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