Irish Fish Soup for an Autumn Day

‘Twas a cold and drizzly Southern California autumn day. As the mercury plunged into the mid-60s and I watched the fog crawling around in the canyon, my mind turned to soup.


I descended into the even more frigid depths of my freezer, looking for inspiration. Then, like an ice fisherman lifting a catch from a hole in a frozen lake, I pulled up a rock-hard filet of Atlantic cod. And the soup was on! More

Sopa of My Dreams

I like to think of myself as an honorary Mexican. After all, where I was born was once part of Mexico, and we in California now have a population that is more Mexican than non-Mexican.

An edible summer bouquet

My two oldest brothers — twins, 20 years my elders — both married Mexican women. My earliest childhood memories are filled with large, spirited fiestas. Our live-in housekeeper, Angelita, and the brick mason Sisco who worked at our house were both like family. By the time I was six, I could eat the hottest salsa you could throw at me. More

Soupe de Poisson


While browsing the fish aisle at my favorite Japanese market the other day, I spotted a package of fish bones. Always one to be attracted to the stranger items in the refrigerated section, I added it to my basket.

There really aren’t that many things you can do with a package of fish bones. The most obvious is a French-style fish soup. And since my father was coming for lunch a couple days later to celebrate his 87th birthday and French fish soup is one of his favorite things, that’s what I decided to do! More

Soup for My Father

My dad’s teeth are falling out. Even the ones they put in to replace the ones that had already fallen out. He’s a few months shy of 87 — they’ve lasted a long time. (A friend was telling us recently that the one thing that annoyed his octogenarian mother more than anything was when people said things like, “Well, he lived a good long life,” or “Can’t be disappointed with that many years!”)

Salmon chowder, pumpkin soup and French onion soup (l to r)

This is not a cautionary tale about taking care of your teeth. I spend enough time on that with my children. Rather, it is a reflection on the one thing I could do for my father to help ease his burden: make soup. More

The Subtle Art of Finishing

A lot of the difference between what I (the average chef) do when serving a meal and what you (the average home cook) do can be summed up, at least in terms of presentation, as the subtle art of finishing.

It takes practically nothing but a little imagination to turn a dish from ordinary to inspired. Here’s a picture of some tortilla soup:

Looks reasonably good, right? And it tasted great! But now, here’s a picture of that same soup — finished with a couple tortilla chips, some sour cream, a handful of spicy pepitas and a sprinkling of ancho chili powder. More

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