If You are Not Headed to Puglia—Part Deux

  • 14th March 2014

Last year we posted a delicious recipe which celebrated the ease of a one-pot pasta (sauce and pasta boiled together)!  This year’s similar recipe in Martha Stewart is equally delicious promising a silky sauce that clings perfectly to the orecchiette.  If you are not on your way to Italy, and even if you are, it really is a must-try!



Pan Orecchiette with Chickpeas and Olives.

Pan Orecchiette with Chickpeas and Olives. Photo Courtesy of: Martha Stewart Living









Pan Orecchiette with Chickpeas and Olives


12 ounces orecchiette

1 can (15.5 ounces) chickpeas, drained and rinsed

1/2 cup Kalamata olives, pitted

2 tablespoons tomato paste

3 cloves garlic, thinly sliced

1 6-inch sprig rosemary

3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for serving

1/4 teaspoon red-pepper flakes, plus more for serving

Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper

1/2 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano (about 1 1/2 ounces), plus more for serving

2 cups baby arugula (about 2 ounces)




Use the best quality Oricchiette

Use the best quality Orecchiette.



1.) Combine pasta, chickpeas, olives, tomato paste, garlic, rosemary, oil, pepper flakes, and 5 cups water in a large straight-sided skillet.  (We found 5 cups to be way too much when we tried this dish.  In fact, 3 cups would probably work better.  If you use five cups, and the water has not completely reduced, ladle some out slowly and save it.  It is tasty in soups and added to other sauces. See below picture).  Season generously with salt and pepper.  Bring to a boil, then cook over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until pasta is al dente and liquid is reduced to a sauce that coats pasta, 12 to 15 minutes.




The beginning stage is absolutely gorgeous!

The beginning stage is absolutely gorgeous!





Starting to bubble.

Starting to bubble.





Keep stirring it frequently or the pasta will stick.

Keep stirring it frequently or the pasta will stick.




The water will start reducing down.

The water will start reducing down.



This water was ladled out to reduce the sauce.  It was approximately 2 cups.  It's super tasty with the olives, garlic and rosemary and can be used later in soups and sauces.

This water was ladled out to reduce the sauce. It was approximately 2 cups. It’s super tasty cooked with the olives, garlic and rosemary and can be used later in soups and sauces.



2.) Remove skillet from heat, discard rosemary, and stir in cheese.  Add more water, a few tablespoons at a time, to thin sauce if necessary.  (We did not need to do this step as we actually removed water).  Divide pasta and arugula among bowls and serve immediately, drizzled with oil and sprinkled with cheese and pepper flakes.



Serve the pasta immediately!  We did not discard the rosemary.  Fresh arugula can be added.

Serve the pasta immediately! We did not discard the rosemary. Fresh arugula can be added.



Pan Orecchiette with Chickpeas and Olives.  Photo Courtesy of:  Martha Stewart

Pan Orecchiette with Chickpeas and Olives. Photo Courtesy of: Martha Stewart




Easy, Fresh Eat from Donna Hay

  • 26th February 2014

This pasta appeared in Red Magazine from the UK as an ‘easy summer eat,’ courtesy of renowned chef, Donna Hay.  But, this speedy, healthy pasta is really absolutely perfect any time of the year.  The addition of a few chopped anchovy fillets ensures that you add protein, iron and calcium without adding many calories.




Donna Hay Tenderstem Broccoli Pasta with Lemon and Anchovy



Tenderstem Broccoli, Lemon and Anchovy Pasta


400 grams of linguine pasta

2 tbsp olive oil

350 grams Tenderstem broccoli, chopped (about 2/3 lb)

2 tbsp shredded lemon zest

6 anchovy fillets, chopped

4 garlic cloves, crushed

Sea salt and cracked black pepper

A large handful of mint leaves

Finely grated Parmesan or Pecorino to serve







Cook the pasta in a large saucepan of salted boiling water for 10 to 12 minutes, or until al dente.  Drain and return to the pan.


While the pasta is cooking, heat the oil in a large frying pan over a medium heat.  Add the Tenderstem broccoli, lemon zest, anchovy, garlic, salt and pepper and cook for four to five minutes, stirring occasionally, or until the broccoli is tender.  Add the broccoli to the pasta with the mint and toss to coat.  Top with the Pecorino or Parmesan cheese.  So easy, so yummy!!!



Pork & Tomatillo Stew with Chipotle Mashed Zebra and Purple Potatoes

  • 22nd February 2014

A Mexican-style stew with a real kick that is loaded with vegetables, served alongside creamy, spicy, comforting mashed potatoes.  What could be better?



Pork and Tomatillo Stew with Chipotle White Cheddar Mashed Potatoes



Pork and Tomatillo Stew (Recipe from Food & Wine Magazine)


2 tablespoons vegetable oil

1 1/2 lbs boneless pork loin, cut into 3-inch chunks

salt and pepper

2 large celery ribs, finely diced

1 small onion finely diced

1 Anaheim chile, seeded and finely diced

2 garlic cloves, minced

2 teaspoons mild chile powder

1 tablespoon ground cumin

Pinch of dried oregano

2 cups chicken stock

1 cup 1/2-inch diced carrots

Two 6-ounce russet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch dice

One 28-ounce can diced tomatoes

1 pound tomatillos—husked, rinsed and cut into 1-inch dice

Hot sauce

Chopped cilantro for garnish

Corn tortilla chips, for serving (optional)




Pork and Tomatillo Stew.  Photo Courtesy of:  Food & Wine

Pork and Tomatillo Stew. Photo Courtesy of: Food & Wine




1.) In a medium casserole or Dutch oven, heat the oil.  Season the pork with salt and pepper and cook over high heat until browned on 2 sides, about 2 minutes per side.  Add the celery and onion and cook over moderate heat, stirring occasionally until softened, about 7 minutes.  Add the diced chile, garlic, chile powder, cumin and oregano and cook, stirring frequently, until fragrant, about 3 minutes.  Add the chicken stock and bring to a boil.  Add the carrots, potatoes, tomatoes and tomatillos, cover and simmer over low heat until the pork is cooked through, about 25 minutes.


2.) Transfer the pork to a plate and shred with two forks.  Meanwhile simmer the stew over moderate heat until thickened, about 10 minutes.  Stir the shredded pork into the stew and season with salt, pepper and hot sauce.  Ladle the stew into bowls, garnish with chopped cilantro and serve with a few tortilla chips.


The stew can definitely be made-ahead and refrigerated and reheated gently!  


The stew can also be served atop corn tortilla chips as an appetizer, fancy nacho or amuse-bouche at a dinner party!  It’s a great way to kick-off a Mexican-style dinner.  Then use any left-overs for your own dinner the next night.  



A perfect amuse bouche that mimics a nacho!

A perfect amuse bouche that mimics a nacho!



Chipotle and White Cheddar Zebra & Purple Mashed Potatoes 


For the mashed potatoes we used a combination of Zebra potatoes (notice their thin barely-there striped pink and yellow skin) and Peruvian purple potatoes.



Zebra and Purple Peruvian Potatoes

Zebra and Purple Peruvian Potatoes



Both of these varieties are available at the Farmer’s Market.  They are soft, cook quickly and have a nutty flavor.  We cooked them first and then peeled them lightly, leaving traces of skin on.




Potatoes boiling

Potatoes boiling



Everyone has their favorite way of preparing mashed potatoes.  We only suggest that as an accompaniment to the stew you mash in 1 cup grated white cheddar cheese and 2 teaspoons of pureed chipotle chiles in adobo.  (Courtesy of: Bon Appétit)  *You can vary the above based on how many potatoes you are preparing and how spicy you wish them to be.  We used 8 potatoes for the amounts represented above. 



Chipotle-White Cheddar Mashed Potatoes.  Photo Courtesy of:  Bon Appétit

Chipotle-White Cheddar Mashed Potatoes. Photo Courtesy of: Bon Appétit





Hazelnut Butter Cake with Sea Salt Caramel

  • 17th February 2014

The hazelnut is a favorite amongst European chefs due to its true depth of flavor.  We already know that nothing complements chocolate better.  But, this recipe allows the nut to move out of the supporting role and really truly shine.




Slice of Hazelnut, Butter Cake with Caramel Salt



Because both elements of the cake can be easily made ahead, it is a favored dessert for entertaining.


The recipe was printed in Bon Appétit.



Photo Courtesy of: Bon Appétit.  Our caramel sauce turned out a bit lighter, but was still silky and delicious.

Photo Courtesy of: Bon Appétit. Our caramel sauce turned out a bit lighter, but was still silky and delicious.




1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature, plus more

1 cup all-purpose flour, plus more

1/2 cup blanched hazelnuts

1 cup granulated sugar, divided

1 tsp. baking powder

1/2 tsp. kosher salt

3 large eggs

1 Tbsp. raw or granulated sugar


Sauce and Assembly

3/4 cup granulated sugar

1 Tbsp. light corn syrup

3/4 cup heavy cream

1 Tbsp. unsalted butter

1/2 Tbsp. flaky sea salt (such as Madon)


Cake:  Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Butter an 8-inch diameter cake pan.  Line it with parchment round; butter parchment.  Dust pan lightly with flour.





Pulse hazelnuts and 1 Tbsp. granulated sugar in a food processor until finely ground; set aside 2 Tbsp.  nut mixture.  Whisk baking powder, salt, 1 cup flour, and remaining nut mixture in a medium bowl.


Using an electric mixer on high speed, beat 1/2 cup butter and remaining granulated sugar in a large bowl until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes.  Add eggs one at a time, beating to blend between additions.  Reduce speed to low and mix in dry ingredients.  Scape batter into prepared pan, and sprinkle with reserved nut mixture and raw sugar.


Bake until cake is golden brown and tester inserted into the center of cake comes out clean, 40-45 minutes.  Transfer pan to a wire rack; let cake cool in pan before turning out.







*Cake can be baked 1 day ahead.  Keep wrapped tightly at room temperature.


Sauce and Assembly:  Bring granulated sugar, corn syrup, and 2 Tbsp. water to a boil in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat, stirring to dissolve the sugar.  Boil, swirling pan occasionally, until mixture turns a deep amber color, 8-10 minutes.  Remove from heat and gradually add cream (mixture will bubble vigorously).  Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally until smooth, about 2 minutes.  Remove from heat and mix in butter and salt.  Let cool slightly before serving with or on the cake.



Starting the glaze.

Starting the glaze.



*Caramel sauce can be made 5 days ahead.  Cover and chill.  Bring it to room temperature before serving.




Hazelnut Butter Cake with Salted Caramel











The Queen of Tortes Gets Reinvented for Valentine’s Day

  • 12th February 2014

According to varying sources, The Queen of Sheba Torte is the first French cake that Julia Child ever ate and one that she continued to cherish and write about throughout her culinary journey.  It is a beautifully elegant, adult cake,  that with almonds and brandy speaks to a refined palate.


It’s a perfect capstone to a romantic meal and we have given it a new whimsical look fit for the amorous day ahead!



The Queen of Sheba Torte gets a new look for Valentine's Day with a white chocolate heart center.

The Queen of Sheba Torte gets a new look for Valentine’s Day with a white chocolate heart center.




The Queen of Sheba Torte gets a new look for Valentine's Day with a white chocolate heart center.

Keep the central heart pure white, put a loved-ones initial or your own design. It’s very easy to personalize…



This recipe comes to us by way of ‘Bittersweet Chocolate Queen’ herself, Alice Medrich.  The chocolate torte and bittersweet glaze are delivered unadulterated.  However, the addition of white chocolate is our own.  While Medrich might not approve, it does look visually striking and we enjoyed the contrast it brought in texture and taste.



Queen of Sheba Torte 

Serves 10-12


6 ounces semisweet or bittersweet chocolate, cut into pieces

6 ounces sweet butter, cut into pieces

3 tablespoons brandy

1/8 teaspoon almond extract

4 large eggs, separated

1/4 cup sugar

3/4 cup sugar

1/2 cup (2 ounces) ground blanched almonds

1/4 cup (1 ounce) flour

1/8 teaspoon cream of tartar

1/2 cup (about 2 ounces) sliced toasted almonds



1.) Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.  Line the bottom of an 8X3-inch springform pan with parchment or waxed paper.


2.) Combine chocolate and butter in a small bowl placed in a barely simmering water bath over low heat, stirring occasionally until melted and smooth.  Remove from heat.  Or, microwave on medium (50%) for about 2 minutes.  Stir until completely melted and smooth.  Stir in brandy and almond extract.  Set aside.


3.) In a bowl, whisk egg yolks with 1/2 cup sugar until pale and thick.  Stir in the warm chocolate mixture, almonds, and flour.  Set aside.


4.) Beat the egg whites and cream of tartar at medium speed until soft peaks form.  Gradually sprinkle in remaining 1/4 cup sugar, beating at high speed until stiff but not dry.  Fold about one-quarter of the egg whites completely into the chocolate batter to lighten it.  Quickly fold in remaining whites.  Turn mixture into the prepared pan and smooth top if necessary.  Bake for 40-45 minutes, until a toothpick or wooden skewer plunged into the center of the cake shows moist crumbs (the center of the cake should be neither completely dry or runny).


5.) Cool torte completely in a pan on a rack.  It will have risen and then fallen in the center leaving a higher rim of cake around the sides and possibly some cracking.  The torte can be easily removed from the parchment paper and flipped over.  You might need to round out the edges, cutting it ever so gently with a knife.  (The torte may be prepared to this point up to three days ahead.  It can be wrapped well and stored at room temperature or popped into the freezer for up to three months).



Let the torte cool completely.

Let the torte cool completely.

You might need to tidy it up a bit to smoothen the circle.

You might need to tidy it up a bit to smoothen the circle.



Decorating the Torte


Bittersweet Chocolate Glaze

Makes enough for an 8-inch to 10-inch torte

This is the simplest and most classic chocolate glaze that can be used on tortes that are stored at room temperature.

6 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, cut into pieces

4 ounces (1 stick) sweet butter, cut into pieces

1 tablespoon light corn syrup


1.) Place chocolate, butter, and corn syrup in a small bowl.  Melt gently in a water bath over low heat, stirring frequently until almost completely melted.  Do not overheat the glaze.  Remove glaze from water bath and set aside to finish melting, stirring once or twice until the glaze is perfectly smooth.  Or, melt in the microwave on medium for about 2 minutes.  Stir mixture gently with a spatula or wooden spoon until completely smooth; do not whisk or beat.


White Chocolate for the Heart

8 ounces high quality white chocolate

1 tablespoon light corn syrup


Follow the same instructions as above minus the butter.  


2.) Place a heart shaped cookie cutter in the center of the torte and begin glazing the top with the Bittersweet Chocolate Glaze.  Do not worry if glaze drips down the sides of the cake as you will be marbling the sides anyway.  A knife can be used for the chocolate glaze.  For the white chocolate, which is a denser texture, use a spoon and gently smooth the white chocolate into the mold with your fingers.  Fill the mold generously as you want the white chocolate to pop up above the bittersweet chocolate glaze, thereby creating a raised effect for the heart.


Starting to glaze....

Starting to glaze….

It's really very easy and fast.

It’s really very easy and fast.




Add the white chocolate and keep it plain or push further.

Add the white chocolate and keep it plain or push further.



3.) At this point you can either keep the heart plain and it will still look very attractive.  Or, you can choose to write an initial, or another word using bright red sprinkles of your choice.


4.) Glazing the sides of the cake are the trickiest part of this endeavor, but since it is marbled there’s really no stress.  Ice the sides of the cake with the white chocolate without worrying too much about how it looks.  Once finished, use a clean brush to gently swirl the bittersweet glaze along the sides.



Start marbling....

Start marbling….




Again, not that difficult...blend away.

Again, not that difficult…blend away.



5.) If at this point your cake plate is messy, a wet paper towel and steady hands does the trick.  Pop the cake into the refrigerator for just about 30 minutes to set the chocolate and then very gently remove the heart cookie cutter.  Voila!


Cooks note: This type of glaze looses it shine when refrigerated.  If you are decorating the torte….no problem.  If however, you are serving it without any added pizzaz, let the glaze shine and keep it out of the fridge.  




Serve it up and enjoy!

Serve it up and enjoy!



Spicy, Perfect Cocktail Kabobs

  • 7th February 2014

Amended from one of our favorite cookbooks of all time, Savoring India, the cocktail kabobs are little bites of spicy, savory goodness.  They are Indian meatballs at their finest!


In lieu of serving them with chutney, we added the fresh mint right into the recipe.



Savory and spicy cocktail kabobs

Photo Courtesy of: Savoring India, Williams Sonoma Cookbook


They are delicious and appreciated as an appetizer at any party.  However, we find we make them more frequently as an after-school snack.

Packed with protein they are just the pick-me-up kids need as they head from one activity to the other before dinner.

They are just as delicious cold and right out of the fridge, so we often find them ridiculously convenient for a hungry mom on the go.



Cocktail Kabobs


2 tablespoons vegetable oil

1 cup finely chopped yellow onion

1 lb ground beef or lamb

1 1/2 teaspoons garam masala

1 teaspoon ground cumin (we added)

1 teaspoon salt, or to taste

1/4 teaspoon ground cloves (we amended)

1/4 cup finely chopped cilantro

1/8 cup finely chopped mint (we added)

4 fresh mild green chiles such as Anaheim, finely minced

1/2 teaspoon ground red chili pepper (we added)

1 egg

1 slice of white bread, crusts removed

2 tablespoons milk

1 tablespoon Adu Lassan (ginger garlic paste…recipe available here)


In a large non-stick frying pan over medium-high heat, warm the oil.  When hot, add the onion and cook, stirring often until it turns caramel brown, about 9 minutes.  Transfer to a bowl and add the meat, garam masala, cumin, Adu Lassan, mint, salt, cloves, cilantro, red pepper, chiles and egg.


In a small bowl, soak the bread in the milk for 1 minute, mash it to a pulp, and add it to the meat mixture.  Mix thoroughly, preferably with your hands, kneading the mixture until it is uniformly smooth and silky.  Divide the mixture into 4 equal portions, then make 8 balls with each portion.  (If necessary, dip your fingers in water to prevent the meat from sticking to them while you make the kabobs.)


Heat 2 large nonstick frying pans over high heat until hot.  Place 16 kabobs in each pan.  Reduce the heat to medium-high and fry, shaking and turning, until they are cooked through and browned all over, about 8 minutes.  If necessary, reduce the heat to medium during the last few minutes of cooking.



Cocktail Kababs Nestled in a Gravy Boat and Ready to Serve.

Cocktail Kababs Nestled in a Gravy Boat and Ready to Serve.



Make a double-batch, keep them in the fridge and they disappear by week’s end.   You can warm them and press them between a fresh baguette…chop up some tomatoes, boil some pasta, add the kabobs and dinner is done!



Guacamole Two Ways

  • 29th January 2014

There is nothing more comforting and inviting at a party than a big bowl of freshly made guacamole.  Whether you are pairing it with traditional corn chips or one of the newer trends like wafer sliced jicama, beets or heirloom radishes, either of these recipes will more than delight.



Celery-Spiked Guacamole with Chiles from Bon Appétit

Celery-Spiked Guacamole with Chiles from Bon Appetit



One version celebrates the earthy crispness of celery while the other lets a tangy, juicy, ripe mango shine.



Celery-Spiked Guacamole with Chiles (Recipe from Bon Appétit)

4 avocados, chopped

1 celery stalk, very finely chopped

2 serrano chiles, seeds removed if desired and finely chopped

2 garlic cloves minced

3 Tbsp fresh lime juice

1/4 small red onion, chopped and divided

1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro plus more leaves for garnish



Onion and celery chopped







Mash avocados, celery, chiles, garlic, lime juice, 1/2 onion and 1/2-cup chopped cilantro in a medium bowl to desired consistency; season with salt.  Top guacamole with remaining onion and fresh cilantro leaves.




Serve it up!

Serve it up! The crunchy celery compliments the feel of the chips….




Chunky Guacamole with Fresh Mango

5 avocados chopped

1 small tomato diced

1 very ripe mango diced (try to preserve any juice while cutting, as well as squeeze the juice from the flesh hanging onto the pit)

1/8 red onion, chopped and divided

1 garlic clove finely minced

2 stalks green onion chopped

1/3 cup cilantro chopped (plus more leaves for garnish)

1/4  cup fresh lime juice



Mango, green onion and red onion chopped


Chop fresh mango first, preserving any juice and squeezing any juice from the fleshy pit.  Place the juice in a large bowl with the lime juice and mash the avocados in the fresh juice.  Once the desired consistency is reached add the garlic, onion, cilantro, mango, tomato and green onion.  Salt (and pepper) to taste.








Just delicious!





Moroccan Madness!

  • 28th January 2014

The allure of Morocco has never seemed stronger.  It’s a magnet for European vacationers and corporate retreat planners.  It anchors travel spreads and cooking shows and inspires both fashion and interior designers.



Seven Vegetable Couscous from the 'Around the World' Cookbook

Seven Vegetable Couscous from the ‘Around the World’ Cookbook



Today we showcase one of our favorite recipes from the region which is literally impossible to ruin and celebrate Marrakech-inspired looks for your littlest ones.



Tea Collection visits Morocco and returns with treasures

Tea Collection visits Morocco and returns with treasures



Seven is a magical number in Morocco and there are many recipes for this glorious celebration couscous.  The vegetables here are carrots, parsnips, turnips, onions, zucchini, tomatoes and green beans.  You can substitute different vegetables if you desire,”  The Around the World Cookbook.


Seven Vegetable Couscous  (Adapted from the Around the World Cookbook):



• 2 tablespoons sunflower or olive oil

• 1 pound lean lamb, cut into bite-sized pieces

• 2 chicken breasts halved

• 2 onions, chopped

• 6 carrots (12 ounces), cut into chunks

• 2 parsnips (8 ounces), cut into chunks

• 1 turnip

• 6 tomatoes

• 4 cups chicken stock

• Generous pinch of fresh ginger

• 1 cinnamon stick (we used two)

• 1 can chickpeas, drained

• 2 cups couscous

• 2 small zucchini, cut into julienne strips

• 4 ounces green beans, trimmed and halved

• 1/3 cup raisins

• A little Harissa or tabasco sauce  (We used a combination of: 1 tsp Cayenne Pepper, 1 tsp ground red pepper and 1 tsp Paprika)

We added 4 whole cloves

• We added 3 whole cardamom

• We added a dash of freshly ground nutmeg

• Salt and pepper to taste



Diced vegetables ready to sautée

Diced vegetables sautéing



Heat half of the oil in a large saucepan or flameproof casserole and fry the lamb, in batches if necessary, until evenly browned, stirring frequently.  Transfer to a plate with a slotted spoon.  Add the chicken pieces and cook until evenly browned.  Transfer to a plate/dish with the lamb.



Browned chicken and lamb.

Browned chicken and lamb.


Heat the remaining oil and add the onions.  Fry over a low heat for 2-3 minutes, stirring occasionally, then add the carrots, parsnips, and turnip.  Stir well, cover with a lid and “sweat” over low heat for 5-6 minutes, stirring once or twice.


Add the tomatoes, lamb, chicken and stock.  Season with salt and black pepper and add the ginger, cloves, cardamon, nutmeg and cinnamon.  Here we also added the paprika, cayenne pepper and ground red pepper in lieu of Harissa at the end.  Bring to a boil and simmer gently for 35-45 minutes, until the meat is nearly tender.






Skin the chickpeas by placing them in a bowl of cold water and rubbing them between your fingers.  The skins will rise to the surface.  Discard the skins and drain.  Prepare the couscous according to the instructions on the package.


Add the skinned chick-peas, zucchini, beans and raisins to the meat mixture, stir gently and continue cooking for 10-15 minutes, until the vegetables and meat are tender.  Pile the couscous on a large serving platter, making a slight well in the center.


Ready to enjoy!

Ready to enjoy!



Other ways to bring Moroccan flavor home, come via the new collection from Tea….



The new Mosaic Tile Graphic Dress and Peppercorn Loveable Necklace from Tea Collection

The new Mosaic Tile Graphic Dress and Peppercorn Loveable Necklace from Tea Collection



Mosaic Tile Graphic Dress, tea, $29.50

Peppercorn Loveable Necklace,, $12.00


Tea Collection Confetti Tile Tunic and  Peppercorn Bandana

Tea Collection Confetti Tile Tunic Top in Rosweater and Peppercorn Bandana

Tea Collection Moroccan Rose Twirl Top and Peppercorn Loveable Necklace

Tea Collection Moroccan Rose Twirl Top and Peppercorn Loveable Necklace




Confetti Tile Tunic Top,, $29.50

Peppercorn Bandana,, $14.00

Moroccan Rose Twirl Top,, $24.50



Tea Collection Mosaic Rose Flutter Wrap Dress

Tea Collection Mosaic Rose Flutter Wrap Dress





Spring forward to Summer with Three Simple Salads

  • 18th January 2014

Simple to prepare yet robust in flavor these are three perfect salads that beckon to the seasons ahead.


Quinoa Tabbouleh.  Photo Courtesy of: Bon Appetit

Quinoa Tabbouleh. Photo Courtesy of: Bon Appetit




Potato Salad with Bacon and Tomato.  Photo Courtesy of: Food and Wine

Potato Salad with Bacon and Tomato. Photo Courtesy of: Food and Wine



Light, flavorful and zesty Asia Slaw

Light, flavorful and zesty Asia Slaw



Martha Stewart refers to slaws as a fresh and crunchy combo and this Asia Slaw is no exception.  To make this favorite of our salads we combined two separate slaw recipes from the above publication and the result is tangy, crisp, gingery perfection.  It lasts in the refrigerator for up to 3 days and tastes better with each passing day.  Serve it cold alongside a hot, spicy pot roast or pulled pork for maximum effect.


Zesty Asian Slaw                   (recipes modified from Martha Stewart)


3 cups shredded cabbage

2 Granny Smith apples cut into matchsticks

3 sliced scallions

1/2 cup chopped cilantro

(prepare the above and combine in a large bowl)



Whisk together the below

1 1/2 tablespoons minced fresh ginger

1/3 cup olive oil

3 tablespoons red wine vinegar

2 tablespoons orange juice

2 teaspoons orange zest

1 teaspoon coarse sea salt

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper



Cabbage mixture before dressing is added.

Cabbage mixture before dressing is added.



“The classic Middle-Eastern salad gets an of-the-moment upgrade with the “it” grain quinoa.  The tiny nutritional powerhouse is loaded with protein, making this dish a delicious vegetarian main course.”  Bon Appetit.


Quinoa Tabbouleh                                      (from Bon Appetit 2012)

1 cup quinoa, rinsed well

1/2 tsp. salt, plus more

2 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice

1 garlic clove, minced

1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil

Fresh ground pepper

1 large English hothouse cucumber cut into 1/4″ pieces

1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved

2/3 cup chopped flat leaf parsley

1/2 cup chopped fresh mint

2 scallions, thinly sliced


Bring quinoa, 1/2 tsp., salt, and 1 1/4 cups water to a boil in a medium saucepan over high heat.  Reduce heat to medium-low, cover and simmer until quinoa is tender, about 10 minutes.  Remove from heat and let stand, covered for 5 minutes.  Fluff with a fork.

Meanwhile, whisk lemon juice and garlic in a small bowl.  Gradually whisk in olive oil.  Season dressing to taste with salt and pepper.

Spread out quinoa on a large rimmed baking sheet and let cool.  Transfer to a large bowl and mix in dressing, tomatoes, herbs, scallions and cucumber. Toss to coat.



Quinoa Tabbouleh

Quinoa Tabbouleh



A perfect antidote to a mayo soaked potato salad, this has a mustardy kick and when you use rich Yukon gold potatoes they add their own earthy creaminess.


Potato Salad with Bacon and Tomatoes     (from Food & Wine 2004)


3/4 pound sliced bacon

1 1/2 pounds Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and cut into 3/4-inch cubes

1/4 cup cider vinegar

2 teaspoons Dijon mustard

1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil

salt and freshly ground pepper

1 pint cherry tomatoes halved

1 heart of romaine lettuce, thickly sliced and equalling 4 cups (we used wild arugula instead)

2 scallions, thinly sliced


Preheat oven to 425 degrees.  Spread the bacon in a single layer on a large rimmed baking sheet.  Top with another baking sheet and bake for 10 minutes, or until just barely cooked.  Remove the top sheet and bake the bacon until browned about 8 minutes longer. Transfer to a paper towel to drain, then cut into 1-inch pieces.


Meanwhile, in a large saucepan of boiling salted water, cook the potatoes until just tender, about 12 minutes. Yukon golds cook more quickly than other varieties.  Drain and transfer to a bowl.  Let them cool slightly.


In a small bowl, whisk the vinegar with mustard.  Whisk in the olive oil and season with salt and pepper.  Add half of the dressing to the potatoes along with the bacon and half of the tomatoes.  Season it with salt and pepper.  In another bowl, toss the lettuce, scallions and remaining tomatoes with the remaining dressing and season with salt and pepper.  Transfer the greens to 4 plates, top with potato salad and serve.



Or combine the potatoes with the greens and serve together in one bowl.

Or combine the potatoes with the greens and serve together in one bowl.




Little Kisses

  • 9th January 2014

Cronuts, Dossants, Cupcakes, Macarons and Cake Pops have met a rival trend across the Pond by way of the light, airy and perfectly petite Meringue.




Bite-sized decadence offered by the Meringue Girls in London

Bite-sized decadence. Photo courtesy of:




Enter the Meringue Girls and their kaleidoscope of mouthwatering colors!!



A kaleidoscope of flavors offered by the Meringue Girls in the UK

A kaleidoscope of flavors offered by the Meringue Girls in the UK




The tiny meringue is sweet, complex and rich—while being concurrently ethereal in texture and experience.



The inside of a rosewater and pistachio meringue
Mallowy inside of a meringue by Meringue Girls UK



The central texture of their meringue, made solely of free-range egg whites and British grown sugar (as the base meringue) is reminiscent of a melt-in-the-mouth marshmallow.  But, the flavors span the globe in sophistication:  Manuka honey; Lemongrass and Ginger; Matcha green tea; Mojito; Strawberry and Black pepper; Pistachio and Rosewater; Sugared almond; Mince pie…..the list goes on and on and on!



Piping the Meringues.  Photo courtesy of:

Piping the Meringues. Photo courtesy of:



How could you have a gathering and not want this on display?  It’s their best seller and one look will reveal why.  A vintage apple crate filled with 170 intoxicatingly beautiful kisses.



A vintage apple crate filled with a rainbow selection of meringues offered by the Meringue GIrls in the UK



The girls behind the brand, Alex Hoffler and Stacey O’Gorman also offer master classes.




Jars of meringues offered by The Meringue Girls of the UK



The cute-as-a-button kisses are currently available upon delivery and stocked at:


Harvey Nichols

Fortnum & Mason London


*All photos courtesy of:









De Bon Goût—Eggplant Moju

  • 26th December 2013

Sri Lanka is really a vegetarian’s paradise.  From beetroot curry to our favorite thus far—Eggplant Moju, the meatless mains are plentiful and deliciously satisfying.



The vegetable market in Galle has a huge selection of new delights like wild jungle bitter gourd.

The vegetable market in Galle has a huge selection of ‘new-to-us’ delights like wild jungle bitter gourd.


This recipe come to us by way of a cooking class at the Amangalla and it combines the flavors of fried shallots, fried cashew nuts, coconut vinegar and treacle.


It is a Sri Lankan favorite in homes and restaurants alike—one taste and you will know why!


Fried cashews and baby shallots

Fried cashews, green chiles and baby shallots add delicious flavor to the dish.




Eggplant Moju

250 Grams  eggplant cut into 6 cm by 1 cm pieces

30 Grams green chiles sliced and cut in half

100 Grams shallots peeled

150 Grams cashew nuts

1 Tsp mustard powder or paste (mustard paste is made with equal parts ground mustard seeds and butter)

1/4 Cup coconut vinegar

1 1/2  Tbsp.  treacle (similar to honey only sweeter), jaggery or brown sugar

1/2 Tsp black pepper

1/2 Tsp red chili powder

Salt to taste

1/2 + 1/2 Tsp turmeric powder

3-5 Cardamom pods, crushed

10 Grams ginger in a coarse paste

10 Grams garlic in a coarse paste

Cooking oil for frying


Cutting the matchsticks

Cutting the matchsticks



 Step by Step Preparation:

• Toss the eggplant matchsticks with salt and 1/2 teaspoon of turmeric and keep aside for a few minutes

• Deep fry each of the following separately until golden in color; eggplant; green chiles; shallots;

cashew nuts

• In a sauce pan add the coconut vinegar, cardamom, ginger, garlic, 1/2 tsp of turmeric, pepper,

red chili powder, salt and sugar.

• Add the deep fried eggplant, green chili, shallots, and cashew nuts and mix thoroughly on warm heat

• Serve hot or warm with cooked rice and curry



Colman's  Coconut Toddy Vinegar

Colman’s Coconut Toddy Vinegar




Serve hot and enjoy!

Serve hot and enjoy!



Revisiting a Los Angeles Favorite—Campanile’s Spaghetti & Meatballs

  • 13th December 2013

The renowned restaurant may have sadly closed its doors, but the holidays are the perfect time to revisit this classic Italian Christmas season dish…given special hidden touches by chef Mark Peel.  The meatballs are especially soft thanks to chunks of bread, and popping with flavor courtesy of cracked fennel, dry white wine and diced mushrooms.



Campanile's Spaghetti and Meatballs in Red Sauce

Photo Courtesy of: and



If you are looking for a crowd-pleasing holiday meal that can be made ahead, this is one to flag!

This delicious recipe comes to us by way of and




Sauce and meatballs in the pot simmering.

Red sauce & meatballs simmering in the pot.




Cracked Fennel in Mortar and Pestle

Crack the fennel in a mortar and pestle.





  • 6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 6 large garlic cloves, halved and thinly sliced
  • 3 cans (28 oz. each) diced tomatoes (we prefer crushed tomatoes from San Marzano)
  • About 1 1/2 tsp. kosher salt
  • About 3/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 large fresh basil sprigs, plus 1/2 cup leaves
  • WE ADD—one box of baby spinach leaves and this dish easily becomes a complete meal.  The spinach cooks down and just blends right in with the basil…..even your littlest and fussiest eaters will never know.  



  • About 1/4 cup olive oil, divided
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 4 ounces white or cremini mushrooms, chopped  (we prefer these diced small)
  • 2 teaspoons cracked fennel seeds (you can use a mortar and pestle or a coffee grinder)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • About 2/3 cup cold dry white wine, divided
  • 4 ounces country bread such as pain au levain, crusts removed, cut into 1-in. cubes
  • 3 tablespoons minced flat-leaf parsley
  • 3/4 pound cold ground pork
  • 3/4 pound cold ground turkey (dark meat is more flavorful, but you can substitute breast, or ground chicken)
  • 3/4 pound cold ground beef chuck
  • 2 tablespoons flour  (this is optional…the meatballs are delicious even without this step)



  • 1 1/2 pounds spaghetti
  • About 1 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese  (optional)




1. Make sauce: In a 5- to 6-qt. pan, cook oil and garlic over medium-low heat until garlic softens, 5 to 6 minutes. Add tomatoes, salt, and pepper. Cover, bring to a boil over high heat, then reduce heat and simmer, stirring often, until thick, 45 minutes to 1 hour. If needed, crush tomatoes with a spoon to break up. Stir in basil sprigs. Turn off heat; keep warm.



Mushrooms and garlic getting diced and crushed.



2. Meanwhile, make meatballs: Heat 1 tbsp. oil in a large frying pan over medium heat. Add onion and cook until tender, 5 to 8 minutes. Stir in garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute more. Add mushrooms, fennel, salt, and pepper. Cook until mushrooms are tender, 5 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in 1/4 cup wine and the bread until liquid is absorbed.


3. Transfer mixture to a food processor and pulse to finely chop. Scrape into bowl of a stand mixer and let cool. Add parsley, meats, and 1/3 cup wine and beat on low speed until well blended, 1 to 2 minutes.


The meatball mixture ready to shape.

The meatball mixture ready to shape.



4. Using wet hands, shape meat into 1 1/2-in. balls. Heat 2 large frying pans over medium heat with 1 tbsp. oil each. Brown about a third of meatballs in each pan, turning once and adding oil if needed, 6 to 8 minutes per batch. With a slotted spatula, transfer meatballs to a platter. Repeat with remaining meatballs and oil.


Campanile meatballs frying.

Meatballs frying.



5. Scrape all the drippings into 1 pan. Whisk in flour, then cook over medium heat until bubbling, 1 to 2 minutes. Whisk in 2 cups sauce to loosen browned bits. Scrape into pan with rest of sauce and stir.



6. Return sauce to a simmer. Gently stir in meatballs; simmer, covered, until flavors are blended, about 20 minutes. Discard basil sprigs. Cut remaining basil leaves into fine slivers and stir into sauce. Meanwhile, cook spaghetti as package directs.


7. Drain pasta and transfer to a large shallow bowl. Ladle all the meatballs and about half the sauce on top, and toss to coat. Serve with cheese and extra sauce.



Campanile Spaghetti and meatballs ready to eat .

Ready to eat!!





Gingerbread Cake with Lemony Whipped Cream Frosting

  • 27th November 2013

This holiday season why not try an adult version of the traditional gingerbread cookie—a super moist spice cake with a dash of fresh ginger and lemon?  The secret is, actually, the kids will love it too!!



Gingerbread Cake Bon Appetit

Gingerbread Cake. Photo Courtesy of: Bon Appetit



This recipe was created and perfected in the Bon Appetit test kitchen and came to us by way of the namesake magazine.



  • Nonstick vegetable oil spray
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into 1/2′ pieces
  • 1/2 cup (packed) light brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup mild-flavored (light) molasses
  • 1 large egg, beaten to blend
  • 2 teaspoons grated peeled ginger
  • 1 cup chilled heavy cream
  • 1 tablespoon powdered sugar
  • 1/4 cup store-bought lemon curd
  • Finely grated lemon zest


Lemon zest for the icing

Lemon zest for the icing

Gingerbread cake cooling

Gingerbread cake cooling






  • Preheat oven to 350°.  Coat pan with nonstick spray. Line bottom with parchment paper; spray paper. Whisk flour and next 5 ingredients in a medium bowl. Place butter in a large bowl. Pour 1/2 cup boiling water over; whisk until melted. Whisk in sugar and next 3 ingredients. Add dry ingredients; whisk to blend. Transfer to prepared pan.
  • Bake until a tester inserted into center of cake comes out clean, about 25 minutes. Let cool in pan for 10 minutes. Invert onto a wire rack and let cool. Remove parchment.


  • Beat cream and sugar in a medium bowl until firm peaks form. Fold in curd, leaving swirls. Spread over cake. Garnish with zest.




Gingerbread cake up close

Gingerbread cake up close




Super delicious and ready to eat!

Super delicious and ready to eat!





Chocolate Sparkle Cookies Shine for the Holidays

  • 23rd November 2013

This flourless cookie is prepared with ground almonds, rich dark chocolate and butter, making it more like a truffle.  The recipe originated in Vancouver with Haas a fourth-generation pastry chef from Germany’s Black Forest region.  It is one of the most popular holiday cookies in the bakery.



Chocolate Sparkle Cookies

Chocolate Sparkle Cookies, decadent and divine




“The cookie is just so soft and rich inside,” says Haas speaking of its appeal.




The chocolate sparkle cookies ready to bake.

The chocolate sparkle cookies ready to bake.




The recipe appeared in the LA Times in 2002 and was immediately seized upon by renowned LA epicure Shirley Cha.  As soon as you taste Cha’s baking or cooking in general you instantly trust that Cha can recognize a good recipe when she sees one.  She handed us the recipe and we have been baking these cookies at holiday time for years!  Every season, like the author of the article Jennifer Lowe says, people beg and beg for the recipe.  Well, here it is….courtesy of Shirley Cha, the LA Times, Ms. Lowe and the German pastry chef, Haas.



Chocolate Sparkle Cookies:


Makes about 36 cookies (we found it made about 20-24)

Note:  Use chocolate that is 70% cocoa.  (We used Ghiradelli semi sweet chocolate combined with Organic Green & Black 85% dark)


*The dough for these cookies needs to be chilled overnight




• 1/2 lb semi sweet chocolate

• 3 tablespoons butter, room temperature

• 2 eggs

• 1/3 cup sugar, plus more for rolling

• 3/4 cup ground almonds (if you don’t want to grind them yourselves, you can purchase ground almonds at Trader Joes ready to go!)

• Powdered sugar for garnish



Ground Almonds

Ground Almonds





1.) Melt the chocolate in the top of a double-broiler set over, but not touching simmering water.  Remove from the heat.  Cut the butter into a few pieces and mix into the chocolate until melted.




Melted chocolate with butter pieces




2.) Beat the eggs with an electric mixer gradually adding the sugar until ribbons form.  Fold in the chocolate-butter mixture.  Gently add the ground almonds.  Cover and refrigerate overnight.


3.) Heat the oven to 325 degrees.  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.



Chocolate mixture with ground almonds




4.) Use a cookie scoop (or 1 tbsp measuring spoon) to form the dough into 1-inch balls.  Roll the balls in granulated sugar, place on the baking sheet about 2 inches apart and immediately place in the oven.



Baked cookies




5.) Bake until the center of the cookie is no longer wet, 9 to 12 minutes.  When slightly cool, lightly dust the cookie with powdered sugar.










Oatmeal Cookies with Cherries, White Chocolate & Pistachios

  • 16th November 2013
White chocolate chunks, cherries, pistachios and buttermilk add a new twist to the oatmeal cookie.

White chocolate chunks, cherries, pistachios and buttermilk add a new twist to the oatmeal cookie.

The recipe from Martha Stewart featuring white chocolate & apricots that we used as a springboard.

Picture of the Martha Stewart white chocolate and apricot cookie we used as a springboard.


Instead of old-fashioned oatmeal raisin, swap in apricots and white chocolate. The white chocolate’s sweetness tempers the tang of the fruit, creating a balanced batch that will appeal to kids and adults alike,” Martha Stewart Living.


The words above tempted us to try this cookie.  And it is delicious.  However, the cookie has a more robust flavor when you swap cherries in for apricots.  Adding just 1/8 cup of ground pistachios adds an earthiness and sophistication to the oatmeal.  A dash of buttermilk provides richness and ensures the cookies stay moist for a few days.


Oatmeal Cookies with White Chocolate, Cherries & Pistachios


• 1 1/2 cup all-purpose flour

• 1 1/2 cup old-fashioned oatmeal

• 1/2 teaspoon baking soda

• 8 ounces (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened

• 1/4 cup granulated sugar

• 1 cup packed light-brown sugar

• 1 teaspoon salt

• 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

• 2 large eggs

• 8 ounces white chocolate chopped

• 6 ounces dried cherries chopped (about 1 1/4 cups)

• 1/8 cup salted pistachios, shelled and chopped

• 1 1/2 tbs buttermilk


Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Mix flour, oatmeal, and baking soda in a medium bowl.  Cream butter and sugars with a mixer until light and fluffy.  Reduce speed to low.  Add salt, vanilla and eggs and beat until well combined, about 1 minute.  Add flour mixture gradually, beating until just combined.  Gently stir in white chocolate, cherries, pistachios and buttermilk.  Cover, and refrigerate until cold, approximately 30 minutes.



Oatmeal, white chocolate, pistachios, cherries and buttermilk ready to be gently mixed.

Oatmeal, white chocolate, pistachios, cherries and buttermilk ready to be gently mixed.

Mixture ready to refrigerate.

Dough ready to refrigerate.



Drop heaping tablespoons of dough onto parchment paper-lined baking sheets, spacing about 2 inches apart.  Bake until cookies are golden brown around the edges but still soft in the center, 14 to 16 minutes.  Let cookies cool on baking sheets for about 2 minutes.  Transfer cookies to a wire rack; let cool.  Cookies will keep, covered, for up to 1 week.


Use dried apricots instead of cherries for a milder taste.

Use dried apricots instead of cherries for a milder taste. Photo Courtesy of: Martha Stewart Living

The addition of buttermilk helps the cookies stay very moist.

The addition of buttermilk helps the cookies stay very moist.



The green flecks are pistachios that add an earthy flavor and texture.

The green flecks are pistachios that add an earthy flavor and texture.




Perfect Holiday Meal

  • 11th November 2013

Hearty, rich flavors, vibrant colors, and comforting textures make a holiday meal unforgettable.  As festivities begin in full swing, anchor any of your evenings with these three delicious favorites.  All three are easy to prepare and can be made even a few days ahead with no problem.  Two of the recipes come from the classic Gourmet Cookbook.


Slow Roasted Pork with Sour Cherry Sauce

Buttermilk Mashed Potatoes with Caramelized Shallots


Roasted Vegetables with Apple Cider and Cumin



Pork with Sour Cherry Sauce, Buttermilk Mashed Potatoes with Caramelized Shallots and Roasted Vegetables with Apple Cider and Cumin.

Slow Roasted Pork with Sour Cherry Sauce, Buttermilk Mashed Potatoes with Caramelized Shallots and Roasted Vegetables with Apple Cider and Cumin.



Buttermilk Mashed Potatoes with Caramelized Shallots




Buttermilk Mashed Potatoes with Caramelized Shallots

Super yummy!




Recipe from the Gourmet Cookbook

This recipe calls for only a smidgen of butter, relying instead on the tangy buttermilk and browned shallots, which add a whole new dimension, to the rich yellow flesh of mashed Yukon Golds.


• 3/4 pound Yukon Gold potatoes

• 1/2 tablespoon unsalted butter

• 2 medium shallots

• 1/2 cup well-shaken buttermilk

• Salt and fresh pepper to taste


Peel and quarter potatoes.  Combine with cold well-salted water to cover by 1 inch in a 4-quart saucepan, bring to a simmer, and simmer until tender about 20 minutes.  Meanwhile, melt butter in a small nonstick skillet over moderately high heat.  Add shallots and cook, stirring frequently, until softened and deep golden brown about 8 minutes.  Drain potatoes in a colander, return to pan, and coarsely mash with a potato masher.  Stir in shallots, buttermilk and salt and pepper to taste.



Buttermilk Mashed Potatoes with Caramelized Shallots




Slow Roasted Pork in Sour Cherry Sauce


Recipe from the Gourmet Cookbook

“Sour cherries are plump, meaty and bracingly tart.  Unfortunately, this fruit is almost impossible for most of us to get our hands on, even during its short mid-summer season.  Frozen sour cherries are available in some stores, but we prefer the dried version.  With these in your pantry, you can enjoy sour cherries any time of year.”


*This recipe we have slightly modified.  In lieu of chops we have used loins, which we find more tender and much easier to cook.  We brown the loins first on the stove and then cook the pork in the cherry sauce on a low slow heat in the oven.  The wine and cherries are perfect tenderizers and the meat just melts in your mouth.



Pork Loin Slow Roasted in Sour Cherry Sauce


For Sauce:

• 3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

• 3 tablespoons sugar

• 3/4 cup dry red wine (the higher quality the better)

• 1/4 cup minced shallots

• 1 (3-inch) cinnamon stick

• 1 cup chicken stock or store bought broth

• 3/4 cup (4 ounces) dried sour cherries

2 teaspoons fresh lime juice

1/4 teaspoon salt



Sour Cherry Sauce with a Hint of Lime



For the Pork

2 pork loins

1 teaspoon salt

2 tablespoons olive oil

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper


Make the sauce:  Combine vinegar and sugar in a 1-to-2 quart heavy saucepan, bring to a boil over moderate heat, stirring, and boil, stirring until reduced a glaze, about 4 minutes (be careful not to burn the glaze).  Add wine, shallots and cinnamon stick, bring to a boil, and boil until reduced to about 1/4 cup, about 10 minutes.    Add stock and cherries, bring to a simmer, and simmer, uncovered, until cherries plump, about 5 minutes.  Stir in lime juice, salt and pepper.  Remove from heat and let sauce cool.  Remove cinnamon stick and put to the side.



Browned Pork Loin

Browned Pork Loins

Browned pork in red wine and sour cherries

Browned pork in red wine and sour cherries


Heat the oven to 275 degrees.  Brown loins with olive oil, salt and pepper on high heat on the stove.  Once browned placed them in a baking casserole dish with the cinnamon.  Salt and pepper one more time.  Add the red wine and cherries with a ladle, being careful not to wash the seasoning off of the meat.  (See above photo).  Cover with foil and cook for 3 hours, turning once approximately half way into the time.



Roasted Vegetables with Apple Cider & Cumin



Butternut squash, sweet potato, red onion, carrots and beets ready for the oven.

Butternut squash, sweet potato, red onion, carrots and beets ready for the oven.


It is easy to substitute any winter vegetable in here, varying different types of squash, opting for turnips in lieu of beets or either brussels sprouts or baby potatoes.  We enjoy the mix of vibrant colors and the contrasting textures of a crisp red onion and a soft sweet potato.


• 3-4 beets

• 1 small red onion

• 1 small butternut squash

• 4 carrots

• 1 large sweet potato

• 3 tablespoons best quality apple cider

• 3 tablespoons good quality tangerine juice

• 3 tablespoons olive oil

• 3 cloves minced garlic

• 1 teaspoons salt

• 1/2 teaspoon red pepper or cayenne pepper

• 1/2 teaspoon cumin powder



Heat your oven to 375 degrees.  Peel and cut the onion and all of the root vegetables.  (Take care not to cut them too small, but into generously sized cubes).  Arrange all of the vegetables in a baking dish, minus the beets.  Mix vegetables well with the garlic, onion, juices, olive oil, and seasoning.  Make gentle holes in the mixture and carefully place the beets.  You will have to stir them once before broiling, but try not to stir them too often or they will discolor the other vegetables.  Cover the vegetables with foil and place in the oven for approximately 45 minutes to 1 hour.


Vegetables are sprinkled with French Sea Salt and returned to the oven to broil.

Vegetables are sprinkled with French Sea Salt and returned to the oven to broil.



Remove the vegetables and stir gently.  Turn your oven to broil.  If you have Fleur de Sel in the house, sprinkle one tablespoon on the mixture.  Place them in the oven to broil for 15 minutes, to desired crispness.


Next day salad is refreshing and tangy.

Next day salad is refreshing and tangy.

We used any roasted vegetables left and mixed them regular salad mainstays.

We used any roasted vegetables left-over and mixed them with regular salad mainstays.


Definitely do not throw away any sour cherry sauce that remains in the pan.  It makes an amazingly tangy salad dressing the next day.  We mixed wild arugula, strawberries, halved cherry tomatoes, cucumber, pink lady apples, green onion and avocado with left over roasted veggies and dressed it lightly with sour cherry sauce—delicious, easy and beautiful!




Kale Salad with Bacon Molasses Dressing and Bourbon Soaked Cranberries

  • 5th November 2013


Kale Salad with Bacon Molasses Dressing

Photo Courtesy of: St. Louis Homes Magazine



A decadent salad worthy of a holiday gathering and catered to adult tastes, it’s an easy crowd pleaser.  It comes to us by way of St. Louis Homes Magazine!


The bourbon soaked cranberries are a fun spin on a holiday classic.  They cut the sweetness of the molasses perfectly.  If you are serving children as well, keep aside some plain cranberries to substitute in.  A julienned apple can also add texture and tang.



Kale Salad with Bourbon Soaked Cranberries and Bacon Molasses Dressing

Served and ready to eat!



Kale Salad with Bacon-Molasses Dressing and Bourbon Soaked Cranberries


Serves 8

2 cups bourbon
1 cup dried cranberries
¼ cup champagne vinegar
2 tablespoons dark molasses
¾ cup extra virgin olive oil
1 pound maple or apple smoked bacon, cooked and chopped
2 pounds fresh kale, julienned



Kale Salad ingredients
Bacon, always delicious!

Bacon, always delicious!



In a small sauce pot, heat the bourbon over high heat and reduce by half. Add the dried cranberries and set aside to soak. In a mixing bowl, whisk together the vinegar and molasses until well combined. While whisking, slowly add the olive oil in a steady stream to emulsify. Add the bacon and toss dressing as needed with the fresh kale. Season to taste with salt and pepper and garnish with soaked cranberries.



The Kale Salad with Bourbon Soaked Cranberries and Bacon Molasses

It also tastes great with crisp apple.

Asian Inspired Angel Hair

  • 4th November 2013
Asian Inspired Angel Hair Pasta

Served with a side of lime it is delicious.



A healthy and delicious alternative to the regular Spaghettini alla Checca, this is also a great way to stuff the kids with fresh, raw veggies and get them used to flavorful herbs.


• It’s the perfect dish to utilize extra herbs, green onion, cucumber, carrots or tomatoes, OR shred some left-over turkey from Thanksgiving

• It packs well for lunches, and we especially love it for airplane trips as an easy, filling and nutritious one container meal

• It’s the right make-ahead dish for parties and weekday meals


Asian Inspired Angel Hair Pasta

Tomatoes, Cucmbers, and Herbs chopped and ready to go.





First, there are a few ways to go with this dish.

The most flavorful way is marinate the chicken one day in advance.  Then, cook the chicken and pasta, chop the veggies and combine them all on the next day.  On the third day the dish will taste its best, once all of the flavors have melded.


If you are using up some turkey or rotisserie chicken:  Shred the meat, and combine in a bowl with soy sauce, red pepper (or cayenne pepper) a dash of salt, black pepper and rice wine vinegar.  Let it sit for 2-3 hours and substitute it in for the chicken below.



• 3 chicken breasts

• 2 tablespoons minced garlic

• 1 tablespoon minced ginger

• 3/4 tablespoon salt

• 1/2 teaspoon red pepper (or cayenne pepper)

• 1/2 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce

• 1/2 tablespoon rice wine vinegar

• 2 tablespoons best quality soy sauce

• 1/4  teaspoon black pepper or dash of red pepper flakes


Cut the chicken into thin strips and let it marinate with the above ingredients overnight.


Asian Chicken Marinating

Chicken ready to marinate




The following day cook the chicken in a dollop/capful of oil browning it first on a high heat.  Add 1/4 cup of water and let it cook through on low heat, covered for about 20 minutes.  Transfer to a bowl scraping all of the juices out of the pot with the chicken (you will want them).



Cooked Asian Spicy Chicken

Cooked chicken is cooling



While the chicken cools, cook one standard box of angel hair pasta and commence chopping the veggies and herbs.


Coarsely chop the following:

• One bunch green onion

• Handful of mint

• Handful of basil

• 2 Handfuls of cilantro



• 4 carrots


Dice or Julienne:

• One English cucumber



• 2 cups of cherry tomatoes


Mix the chicken, pasta, veggies and herbs together.  Add a splash of soy sauce and rice wine vinegar at the end.  Season to taste with extra salt and pepper if necessary.  Optional:  Serve with squeezed fresh lime and crushed salted peanuts.



Asian Inspired Angel Hair Pasta Ready to Eat

A delicious accompaniment is serving the dish with fresh squeezed lime and crushed peanuts.





Autumn’s Best Cupcake

  • 23rd October 2013

We made this cupcake twice already this month.  The first time was purely decadent with its rich buttery frosting and cheesecake like filling.  Relishing them for the second time, we substituted in wheat flour that perfectly complemented the moist cream cheese and pumpkin purée.


Cheesecake-Filled Pumpkin Cupcakes with Brown Sugar Frosting


Cheese-cake Filled Pumpkin Cupcakes

Photo Courtesy of: Rachael Ray Magazine


Cheese-cake Filled Pumpkin Cupcakes

A dollop of cheesecake in the center makes all of the difference.



If you love pumpkin, this is a dessert you cannot miss!  If you love cheesecake too, even better!  It comes to us via Rachael Ray Magazine.



Halloween Pumpkin Cupcakes

Dressed up for Halloween, but they work throughout the Fall.



You already have your vegetable within, but for a healthier twist and graininess that offsets the cream cheese and purée, substitute in wheat flour.



  • 1 8 ounce package  cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar
  • 2 large eggs, plus 5 large egg whites
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup canned pumpkin puree
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 cup light brown sugar
  • Simmering water
  • 3 sticks (12 ounces) unsalted butter, cut into tablespoon-size pieces and chilled




Pumpkin Cupcakes

Fresh out of the oven, pre-frosting


Place a rack in the lower third of the oven and preheat to 350 degrees . Line a 12-cup muffin pan with baking liners. Using an electric mixer, beat the cream cheese and confectioners’ sugar for 3 minutes. Beat in 1 egg white and 1/2 teaspoon vanilla.




Cream cheese filled cupcakes




In a bowl, whisk the flour, pumpkin pie spice, baking powder and 1/2 teaspoon salt. In another bowl, mix the pumpkin puree, 2 eggs, granulated sugar, oil and 1 teaspoon vanilla. Whisk in the flour mixture.




Brown Sugar Frosted Cupcakes




Layer each muffin cup with some of the pumpkin batter, then the cream cheese mixture, then more of the batter. Bake until springy to the touch, 25 minutes.  Let cool.



Pumpkin Cheesecake Cupcakes

Vanilla bean paste was substituted for extract.




Using the electric mixer, beat the brown sugar, remaining 4 egg whites and remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt. Fill a medium saucepan with enough simmering water to reach a depth of 1 inch; place the mixing bowl on top. Whisk the mixture until it registers 160 degrees on an instant-read thermometer.


Transfer the bowl back to the mixer and beat at high speed until fluffy; lower the speed and beat to roomtemperature, about 5 minutes. Add the butter, 1 tablespoon at a time, then beat at high speed for 5 minutes. Beat in the remaining 1/2 teaspoon vanilla.



Brown Sugar Butter Frosting

The frosting is buttery magic



Transfer the frosting to a pastry bag; pipe large rosettes on top of the cupcakes.

(You can also spread the frosting with a knife and decorate the cupcakes in any other manner).

Serve and enjoy!!!


Halloween Pumpkin Cupcakes

Decorated for Halloween




Apple & Pecan Pie Take a Back Seat…

  • 29th September 2013

This week we’ve tried a few different desserts and most of them did not make the cut.  This moist bundt cake from Martha Stewart Living, however is an ideal recipe for the upcoming season combining all the goodness of pecan and apple pie in one shot.


Apple Walnut Bundt Cake

Ready to eat


Similar to your favorite pecan pie recipe, it deftly combines nuts and brown sugar all the while mirroring the tartness of the best apple pies.  Nutmeg and ground cinnamon add depth.


Using the best quality apple cider you can find, will make the cake a real showstopper.



Apple Walnut Bundt Cake

Cake glazed and ready to serve.




An apple-cider glaze and caramelized apples in the batter, set this cake apart,”  Martha Stewart Living




For the caramelized apples:

1/3 cup granulated sugar

1 tablespoon water

3 tart green apples, such as Granny Smith, cored, peeled, and cut into 1-inch chunks


For the cake:


2 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature, plus more for pan

3 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for pan

2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

3/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

3/4 teaspoon ground ginger

Coarse salt

1 3/4 cups packed light-brown sugar

3 large eggs

1/2 cup whole milk

3/4 cup chopped toasted walnuts



For the glaze:


1 1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted

3 tablespoons best-quality, apple cider



Apples and brown sugar

Apples and brown sugar

Apples caramelizing

Apples caramelizing





Make the caramelized apples: Cook granulated sugar and water in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat, without stirring, until sugar caramelizes, about 4 minutes. Reduce heat to low. Stir in apples. Cook, covered, until softened, about 6 minutes. Slightly mash apples with a fork until broken down but still chunky. Continue to cook, uncovered, stirring, until liquid evaporates, about 5 minutes. Let cool completely.


Preheat oven to 350 degrees.


Make the cake: Butter a 10-inch Bundt pan. Dust with flour, tapping out excess. Sift flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, and 1 teaspoon salt into a medium bowl.  Beat butter and brown sugar with a mixer on high speed until pale and fluffy, about 4 minutes. Add eggs, 1 at a time. Reduce speed to low, and add flour mixture in 3 additions, alternating with milk, beginning and ending with flour. Mix in caramelized apples and the walnuts.



Batter ready for the walnuts and apples.

Batter ready for the walnuts and apples.




Once you've added the apples and walnuts it gets messy.  Don't worry if the batter does not look smooth.

Once you’ve added the apples and walnuts it gets messy. Don’t worry if the batter does not look smooth.



Transfer batter to pan. Bake until cake is deep golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, about 50 minutes. Let cake cool in pan set on a wire rack for 10 minutes (We recommend longer, maybe 30-40 minutes for cooling). Turn out cake onto rack, and let cool completely.



Cake is ready for glaze.

Cake is ready for glaze.




Cut nice hearty slices for serving.  Similar to apple pie, this cake tastes especially delicious served alongside vanilla, caramel or praline ice-cream.




You can serve the slices re-heated slightly in microwave, then add ice-cream.

You can serve the slices re-heated slightly in microwave, then add ice-cream.




Gulai Terung Dengan Daging (Beef & Eggplant Curry)

  • 20th September 2013

This Indonesian curry comes to us by way of the Around the World Cookbook and is aromatic with a lovely lemon grass flavor.

Like most curries it tastes even better the next day as the flavors sit and meld together.  The long, slow cooking time ensures the softest pieces of meat and the coconut milk brings true depth and offsets any heat.


Beef and Eggplant Curry

Beef and Eggplant Curry. Photo Courtesy of: The Around the World Cookbook





1/2 cup sunflower, vegetable or canola oil

2 onions thinly sliced

1 inch fresh ginger root, sliced, and cut in matchsticks

1 garlic clove, crushed

2 fresh red chilies, seeded and finely sliced

1 inch fresh turmeric peeled and crushed, or 1 teaspoon ground turmeric powder

1 lemon grass stem, lower part finely sliced (top part reserved)

1 1/2 pounds good quality steak, cut in even slices

14 ounces of coconut milk

1 1/4 cup water

1 eggplant, sliced and patted dry (when picking up eggplant look for shiny skin, no bruises, and light weight)

1 teaspoon tamarind pulp, soaked in 4 tablespoons warm water

Deep-fried onion garnish

Ground salt and pepper



Brown the meat with the lemongrass, garlic, onions and turmeric

Brown the meat with the lemongrass, garlic, onions and turmeric.



Heat half of the oil and sautée the onions, ginger and garlic until they give off a rich aroma.  Add the chilies, turmeric, and the lower part of the lemon grass.  Push to one side and then turn up the heat and add the steak, stirring until the meat is browned.


Add the coconut milk, water, lemon grass top and salt and pepper to taste.  Cover and simmer gently for 1 1/2 hours, or until the meat is very tender.



Add the rich coconut milk, and remaining lemongrass stalk and cook until the meat is super tender.

Add the rich coconut milk, and remaining lemon grass stalk and cook until the meat is super tender.



Towards the end of the cooking time heat the remaining oil in a frying pan and fry the eggplant slices until they are brown on both sides.




Fry the thinly sliced eggplant.

Fry the thinly sliced eggplant.



Add the browned eggplant slices to the beef curry and cook for another 15 minutes.  Stir gently from time to time.  Strain the tamarind and stir the juice into the curry.  Taste and adjust the seasoning.  Serve with basmati rice and garnish (if desired) with deep-fried onions.




Delicious, rich, tender and ready to serve with rice.

Delicious, rich, tender and ready to serve with rice.

Orzo Salad with Chickpeas, Cumin and Roasted Red Peppers

  • 23rd August 2013

This is not your every-day pasta salad.  It’s a surprising, unique combination of flavors that translates beautifully for many differing tastebuds across families and peer circles.



Orzo salad with cumin, cucumber, and chickpeas



Serve it slightly chilled and:

—It’s perfect to pack up for a picnic, the beach, a plane-trip, your lunch at work

—It looks pretty, colorful and healthy served at a party

—It can be made ahead and in fact tastes better the next day….and the day after that!









2 cups orzo pasta

1 can chickpeas (make sure they are pre-shelled) drained

2 small, 1/2-pint containers of cherry tomatoes cut length-wise  (mix red and yellow here for added color)

1 English hothouse cucumber left unpeeled and diced

1/2-cup roasted red peppers from a jar chopped coarsely

2/3-cup finely chopped dill

1/4-cup finely chopped parsley

1/2-cup olive oil

1 tsp. cumin

1/2-tsp white balsamic vinegar

1/2-tsp red wine vinegar

1/8-tsp rice wine vinegar

salt & pepper to taste

(The higher quality vinegars and olive oil you use, the better it will taste)


Getting things prepped

Getting things prepped





Cook orzo until tender.  When done please rinse the orzo with cold water and drain it well.  Mix with chickpeas, tomatoes, cucumbers, roasted red peppers, dill and parsley.


Prepare the dressing separately, whisking the olive oil, cumin, and three vinegars together.  Add the dressing to the salad.  Salt and pepper to taste.



Oil, vinegars and cumin

Oil, vinegars and cumin


Chill slightly, 1/2 hr-45 mins before serving.


*Note:  For a little extra heat you can throw in chopped radish or a sprinkle of red pepper flakes, for extra tang you can add the whites of a green onion diced.  



Serve it and enjoy!!

Serve it and enjoy!!







Brown Sugar Strawberry Tart

  • 19th August 2013

A perfect make-ahead dessert, to serve chilled on a hot summer evening.



Summer tart that shows off gorgeous ripe strawberries

Summer tart that shows off gorgeous ripe strawberries.



This recipe, which comes by way of Sunset Magazine in 2010, must be made at least once every summer with a fresh bounty of strawberries from the farmer’s market.  We especially love it because:



• It is super easy to make

• It’s gorgeous and vibrant red

• It does not require any specialty  ingredients or tools

• It will impress family, friends and yourself!



Dough ready to mold into the crust.

Dough ready to shape into the crust.

Crust ready to bake.

Crust ready to bake.




1 cup flour

1/4 cup packed dark brown sugar, divided

1 tablespoon cornstarch

1/8 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces

1 teaspoon vanilla extract, divided

1/2 cup crème fraîche

1/2 cup whipping cream

12 ounces strawberries, hulled and sliced



Crust baking

Crust baking





Preheat oven to 350°. In a food processor, whirl flour, 2 tbsp. sugar, the cornstarch, and salt until combined. Add butter and 1/2 tsp. vanilla and pulse until fine crumbs form and dough just begins to come together. Press evenly into bottom and up sides of a 9-in. round tart pan with a removable rim.  (If you do not have one of these don’t fret!  If you have a pretty one like ours, just serve it in the pan…it slices very easily!)


Bake until edges are golden, 20 to 22 minutes. Let cool on a rack, then gently push tart crust from pan rim; set on a plate.


In a bowl with a mixer on high speed, beat crème fraîche, cream, remaining 2 tbsp. sugar, and remaining 1/2 tsp. vanilla until thick. Spread in cooled crust.



We used vanilla bean paste in lieu of extract.

We used vanilla bean paste in lieu of extract.

Whipping the filling.

Whipping the filling.



Arrange strawberries in circles on top, alternating cut sides down and up.



Mouth-Watering Tart.  Photo Courtesy of: Sunset Magazine.

Mouth-Watering Tart. Photo Courtesy of: Sunset Magazine.



Make ahead: Chill, loosely covered, up to 4 hours.


*Please do not cut the tart until you have chilled it for at least 1-2 hours.  It slices easily when it is firm.  



Sliced and ready to enjoy!

Sliced and ready to enjoy!





Tagliatelle with Baby Vegetables and Lemon-Parmesan Sauce

  • 15th August 2013

This recipe from Bon Appetit, 4 years back is a summer classic.  It is the perfect back-drop for amazingly fresh summer vegetables.  We’ve made a few slight alterations and you might too.  Additions and/or substitutions like mushrooms, golden beets, artichokes, squash blossoms would all be delicious and welcome.



Tagliatelle with baby veggies and lemon-parsley sauce

Photo Courtesy of: Bon Appetit



“The pasta cooking liquid helps turn the cheese, cream, and sautéed vegetables into an incredible sauce,”  Bon Appétit



Our ingredients ready to go.

Our ingredients ready to go.



—1 8.8-ounce package egg and spinach tagliatelle blend or egg fettuccine (linguine works fine as well)
—2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
—1 medium white onion, halved, thinly sliced
—8 ounces baby zucchini, trimmed, halved lengthwise (cutting them thinly with a mandoline slicer works really well)
—8 ounces frozen tiny green beans (3 cups), thawed  (fresh green beans work beautifully)
—(We added fresh summer squash also cut thinly lengthwise and golden baby beets (red ones would turn the dish bright pink))
—2 teaspoons finely grated lemon peel
—1 1/4 cups finely grated Parmesan cheese plus more for passing
—1/3 cup heavy whipping cream
—2 1/2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
—Generous salt and pepper when serving




Cook pasta in large pot of boiling salted water until just tender. Drain, reserving 2 cups cooking liquid. Return pasta to pot.

Meanwhile, heat oil in large skillet over medium heat. Add onion and zucchini; sprinkle with salt and pepper. Sauté until zucchini is almost tender, about 8 minutes. Add beans and lemon peel. Toss 1 minute.


Pasta cooking

Pasta cooking, super simple and delicious.


Scrape contents of skillet over pasta in pot. Add 1 1/4 cups Parmesan cheese, cream, lemon juice, and 1 cup reserved cooking liquid. Place over medium-high heat and toss until heated through and sauce coats pasta, adding more reserved pasta liquid by 1/4 cupfuls to moisten as needed. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve, passing additional cheese separately. (We opted to serve the pasta garnished with extra lemon peel in lieu of cheese—made it extra tangy, not heavy.)




The pasta looks beautiful served.  You can add any fresh summer veggies you want from asparagus to English peas.

The pasta looks beautiful served. You can add any fresh summer veggies you want from asparagus to English peas.





‘Tis the Season for Okra

  • 10th August 2013

Every summer there is a gloriously big and beautiful display of okra at the Farmer’s Market and it remains virtually un-touched, as far as I can see.  Almost without fail as soon as I begin heaping it into a bag, someone sidles up asking wonderously how to prepare it.



Okra ready to serve

Okra is a great addition to any summer dinner party.



Luckily for me I grew up eating this delicious vegetable prepared to perfection by both my mother and grandmother.  No matter how hard I try I cannot exactly duplicate their magic.  But, I do get enough rave reviews from people my age to warrant sharing my own recipe.



Okra at the farmer's market.

Okra at the farmer’s market.


It’s perfect for a summer dinner party because it is in season (please do not buy it frozen and try this recipe!).  Similar to how beets were about 5 years ago, barely anyone makes okra.  And, okra is just loaded with nutritional benefits.


The thing you don’t want to end up with is a gloopy, slimy dish.  To help prevent that, wash your okra one day before you cook and let them dry completely on a towel.


Okra drying out.

Okra drying out.



After they are completely dry, cut them (discarding the tops and tips) and let them dry out more overnight in the refrigerator.



Okra, onion and tomato

Okra, onion and tomato, cut and ready to use.



The key to this recipe is the sweet and sour taste afforded by the malt vinegar and brown sugar and enhanced by the lemon at the end.




80-90 fingers of okra (chopped like above)

4 medium sized tomatoes diced

1 medium sized yellow onion diced

1 1/2 tablespoons canola oil

2 tablespoons malt vinegar

3 tablespoons brown sugar

1/2 tablespoon turmeric

1/2 tablespoon cumin powder

1/2 tablespoon red pepper (available at Indian groceries)

Salt to taste

1/4 cup hand-torn cilantro for garnish

1-2 lemons wedged.  Juice squeezed over just before serving





Onion is friend golden brown.

Onion is sautéed golden brown.





Sautée onion on medium heat until golden brown like above.  Add the tomatoes, turmeric, cumin and red pepper and sautée all together until a thick paste forms.


Tomatoes and spices.

Tomatoes and spices.

Thick base is almost done.

Thick base is almost done.



Press the tomatoes down with a slotted spoon to release their juices while cooking.  Once a sauce is formed, remove it from the pan and place it alongside the stove in a separate bowl.



Remove sauce.

Remove sauce.



Place the okra in the pan with brown sugar and malt vinegar and cook on medium heat for five minutes.  Add the sauce to the okra and cook through for about 10 more minutes on medium heat.  As soon as the okra is slightly tender it is done.  It is best to sample it.  Do not overcook the okra or it will not be separated nicely.


Cooking and almost done.

Cooking and almost done.



Salt the okra to taste. We used about 3/4 tablespoon.  Serve with hand-torn cilantro and squeezed lemon.



Garnish the okra with cilantro and lemon wedges.

Garnish the okra with cilantro and lemon wedges.



Pocketed, Perfect Fish Laotian Style

  • 2nd August 2013

This recipe for steamed fish comes to us by way of the Amantaka in Luang Prabang, Laos.


Steamed fish recipe from the Amantaka

Beautiful and delicious!




There are several reasons we love it:


—It’s delicious and mildly spiced

—It’s amazingly fun to prepare making it a perfect way to engage your kids to eat fish

(We prepared it with our 7 year old daughter and she loved the process)

—It affords a gorgeous presentation for a party

—It’s a healthy recipe that you can easily add your creative touches to



Organic Farm Luang Prabang

Organic Farm Luang Prabang

Mixture ready to steam

Mixture ready to steam




Mok Pa—Fish Steamed in Banana Leaf



200 grams fish fillet, cubed (about 7 ounces or .44 lbs, a fish like Tilapia works best)

1 tbs coriander leaf

4 pcs kefir lime leaf

1 tbs spring onion, sliced thinly

2 tbs fish sauce

2 pcs chopped shallot

1 tbs dill leaf finely sliced

Pinch salt

2 stalk lemongrass sliced

½ cup Thai basil

1 pcs egg yolk

1 tbs pounded dry rice (best to use a mortar and pestle)

1 tbs oyster sauce


For the Wrapping

4 pcs toothpick

4 pcs  circular cut banana leaf, approximately 6 inches in diameter



Fish mixture up close

Fish mixture up close

Center the fish mixture

Center the fish mixture





Mix all ingredients in a bowl.  Divide into 4 parts.  Wrap individually with banana leaf then stick with a tooth pick and steam for 15 minutes.





Pinch like wrapping a gift.

Pinch like wrapping a gift.

Fold sides over.

Fold sides over.



Wrap up!

Wrap up!



Secure with toothpick

Secure with toothpick




Place them in a steamer.

Place them in a steamer.



Serve fish with steamed rice.

Serve fish with steamed rice.




Make leaves pliable for wrapping by heating them ever so slightly over the stove (almost like a tortilla)


Making banana leaf pliable

Making banana leaf pliable




Banks of the Mekong River.

Banks of the Mekong River.






Fried Chicken Kebabs (Ganderi Kebab)

  • 23rd July 2013

Looking for the perfect appetizer that is hearty, comes with a kick and is easy to eat? It came our way via Food & Wine in 2010.  Depending upon your guests you can serve it with a spicy dipping sauce to turn up the heat, or a sweet tamarind, mango or apricot dipping sauce to tone it down.


Ganderi Chicken Kebabs

Ganderi Chicken Kebabs—Photo Courtesy of: Food & Wine



Ganderi Chicken Kebabs

Our kebabs ready to serve.



“Hemant Oberoi makes kebabs with ground chicken, herbs, spices and cheese (cheddar stands in here for the Amul cheese he uses). He fries the round kebabs until crisp and golden brown and serves them on sugarcane skewers to add a little sweetness, although any kind of skewer will work”—Food & Wine Magazine


Spices ready in a bowl.

Spices ready in a bowl.




1 teaspoon finely grated fresh ginger

2 large eggs, beaten

1 cup shredded mild cheddar (4 ounces)

1 teaspoon paprika

1 small jalapeño, seeded and minced

Vegetable oil, for frying

2 garlic cloves, finely grated

1 1/2 cups fine dry bread crumbs

1 tablespoon coarsely chopped mint

1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom

2 tablespoons coarsely chopped onion

1 teaspoon garam masala

3/4 teaspoon turmeric powder (our addition)

1 tablespoon coarsely chopped cilantro

1 1/2 teaspoons salt

1 1/2 pounds ground chicken

1 teaspoon cumin seeds, preferably black (we often sub in ground cumin here)

Maggi Hot & Spicy sauce, mango chutney, apricot chutney, or tamarind chutney for serving



Ready to be mixed and rolled.

Ready to be mixed and rolled.

Rolled ready to be breaded.

Rolled ready to be breaded.


Breaded and ready to be fried.

Breaded and ready to be fried.

All of the balls lined up to fry.

All of the balls lined up to fry.



The Steps:


In a large bowl, knead the chicken with the cheddar, onion, cilantro, mint, ginger, garlic, jalapeño, cumin seeds, paprika, garam masala, salt and cardamom. Using lightly moistened hands (we rub a penny sized dollop of oil between our palms to keep the ground chicken from sticking all over us), roll the mixture into 1 1/2-inch balls.


Put the beaten eggs and bread crumbs in 2 separate pie plates. Roll the balls in the egg and then dredge in the bread crumbs, pressing to adhere.


In a large, deep skillet, heat 1/2 inch of vegetable oil to 350°. Working in batches, fry the chicken balls over moderately high heat, turning once, until golden and cooked through, about 5 minutes. Drain on a paper towel–lined baking sheet. Pierce each kebab with a short skewer and transfer to a platter. Serve with chutney or hot & spicy sauce.


Frying the kebabs.

Frying the kebabs.

Cooked and ready to serve.

Cooked and ready to serve.



MAKE AHEAD: The crumb-coated balls can be refrigerated overnight before frying.
They are a great snack or lunch for the kids the day-after.
Sliced kebab

Sliced kebab

Served with Spicy Sauce.

Served with Spicy Sauce.

De Bon Goût—Craving the Halekulani’s Coconut Cake!

  • 19th July 2013

If you are headed to Oahu anytime soon a pop-in to the Halekulani for their signature coconut cake is a must!  If you are lucky it will be served up along with a full rainbow over the ocean.


If Oahu is not on the horizon, no worries, you can still have your cake and eat it too!  The recipe follows below…



Coconut Cream Cake with Raspberry Coulis.

The signature coconut cake with raspberry coulis.



Coconut Cake Halekulani

As soon as it is done you will cut right in!

View of Diamond Head from the Halekulani Hotel

View of Diamond Head from the Halekulani Hotel


Halekulani Coconut Cream Cake

Plated and pretty

Plumeria at the Halekulani

Plumeria scent the air at the Halekulani.


Since the cake is really a signature of the hotel, we are going to pepper the recipe post with pictures on and around Oahu’s Halekulani hotel.  (Then you can dream of ocean sprays and slack key guitar while you are savoring the decadent cream)


This recipe comes by way of one of our favorite books:  The Gourmet Cook Book edited by Ruth Reichl


Coconut Cake with Raspberry Coulis


For the cake:

1 1/4 cups sifted cake flour (not self-rising, sift before measuring)

1/3 cup plus 7 tablespoons sugar

1 1/4 teaspoons baking powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 cup vegetable oil

1/4 cup water

1 large egg

4 large egg whites

Pinch of cream of tartar



Coconut cake baking

Cake baking

The Halekulani Pool

The Halekulani Pool




For the Pastry Cream

1 1/2 cup whole milk

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 vanilla bean, halved lengthwise

1/3 cup plus 5 tablespoons sugar

1/4 cup all-purpose flour

4 large egg yolks

1 cup sweetened flaked coconut

1 1/4 cups very cold heavy cream



One cup coconut

One cup coconut



For Raspberry Coulis

2 cups raspberries

1 cup sugar


For Topping

1 1/2 cups sweetened flaked coconut

Approx. 30 raspberries for decoration

A few sprigs of mint for decoration

(Alternatively, you can thinly slice some strawberries and arrange them decoratively atop the cake)



Special Equipment

A 9-to-9 1/2 inch springform pan



Cake all done and ready to slice.

Cake all done and ready to slice into layers.

Assembled, iced and ready to slice and eat.

Assembled, iced and ready to slice and eat.




Make the Cake:

Put in a rack in the middle of oven and preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Stir together cake flour, 1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon sugar, baking powder, and salt in a bowl.  Whisk together oil, water and egg in another bowl, then add to flour mixture and whisk until smooth.

Beat egg whites with cream of tartar in a large bowl with an electric mixer at medium-high speed until they barely hold soft peaks.  Beat in remaining 6 tablespoons of sugar 1 tablespoon at a time and continue beating until meringue holds stiff peaks.

Fold one third of meringue into batter to lighten it, then gently but thoroughly fold in remaining meringue.

Pour batter into ungreased  springform pan.  Bake until a wooden pick or skewer inserted in center of cake comes out clean, 20 to 25 minutes.  Run a thin knife around edge of pan, then cool cake for 5 minutes.  Remove side of pan and invert cake onto a rack.  Gently remove bottom of pan and let cake cool completely.


Meanwhile make the pastry cream.



Pastry cream before mixing

Pastry cream before mixing.


Bring milk and salt just to a simmer in a 2-quart saucepan over moderately high heat.  Remove from heat and scrape seeds from vanilla bean into milk and discard pod.

Whisk together 1/3 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar, flour, and yolks in a medium bowl (mixture will be very stiff).  Whisk in one third of hot milk and whisk until smooth.  Whisk yolk mixture into hot milk and saucepan, bring to a boil over moderate heat, and boil, whisking, for 1 minute.  Transfer to a bowl and stir in coconut.  Cover surface with wax paper and cool completely, then refrigerate for at least 3 hours.

Beat heavy cream with remaining 3 tablespoons sugar with cleaned beaters until it holds stiff peaks.  Fold 1 1/2 cups whipped cream into pastry cream; cover and refrigerate.  Cover remaining whipped cream and refrigerate.



Pastry cream mixed with whipped cream.

Pastry cream mixed with whipped cream.

Rainbow from the Halekulani restaurant.

Rainbow from the Halekulani restaurant.




Make the Coulis:

Combine raspberries and sugar in a blender and purée until smooth.  Force through a fine-mesh sieve into a bowl, pressing hard on solids.  Discard solids.



View from hotel room window.

View from hotel room window.



Assemble the Cake:

Cut cake horizontally into 3 layers with a serrated knife.  Place bottom layer cut side up on a cake stand or platter.  Spread with half of pastry cream and top with middle layer of the cake.  Spread with remaining pastry cream and top with the third cake layer, cut side down.  Spread reserved whipped cream on top and sides of cake.  Gently press coconut onto the tops and sides.


Cake cut into three layers.

Cake cut into three layers.

First layer with pastry cream.

First layer with pastry cream.


Cake iced.

Cake iced.

Sprinkle cake with coconut add fresh raspberries.

Sprinkle cake with coconut add fresh raspberries.



Add a flourish of fresh mint in the center of the cake.  Serve cake with coulis.


Plated and pretty again.

Ready to eat.



Cook’s Notes:

—The cake layers can be made up to 1 day ahead and kept, well wrapped in plastic wrap at room temperature.  They can also be frozen, wrapped in plastic and foil, for up to 1 week.  (Thaw, still wrapped in refrigerator for 1 day)

—The pastry cream, without whipped cream, can be refrigerated for up to 2 days

—The raspberry coulis can be made up to 2 days ahead and refrigerated covered

—The cake can be assembled up to 6 hours before serving and refrigerated.



Rainbow over the Halekulani beach.

Rainbow over the Halekulani beach.



Hibiscus on property.

Hibiscus on property.

Summer’s Sunday Comfort Food

  • 14th July 2013

Lemon, Parsley and Parmesan Plus Chicken and Potatoes 


The Sunday cooking stretch is over!!  But, this gives you plenty of time to plan for next weekend.


The perfect meal for a Sunday-night family dinner.  Sunday is typically frenetic (in a good way) with everyone home!  So, keep it simple, but yummy enough to bring everyone to the table.  The aroma with the chicken in the oven will be the only call for dinner you will need.

Prepare the sauce on Friday and keep it in the fridge.  Prep the parsley for the chicken and store it in the fridge.  That leaves little to do but halve a few baby potatoes and zest the lemon on Sunday.


Lemon, Parsley and Parmesan Chicken and Potatoes

Photo Courtesy of: Martha Stewart


What makes this Martha Stewart recipe perfect for Sunday evening is that left-overs can be used for children’s sandwiches throughout the week.

You can also use them in a chicken-soup.  (Don’t discard the chicken bones and make your own robust broth!)

Toss the roasted chicken over pasta with any left over parsley/parmesan sauce for an added weeknight meal.



• 1 whole organic chicken (about 3 1/2 pounds)

• 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

• Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper

• 1/2 cup finely chopped flat-leaf parsley

• 1 lemon, halved

• 1 pound fingerling potatoes, halved or cut into thirds if larger


  • The Sauce for the Chicken

    The Sauce for the Chicken


“Your roast chicken will reach new heights with this simple sauce.”—Martha Stewart Living
The Sauce
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 lemon, zested (2 teaspoons) and juiced (1 1/2 tablespoons)
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
  • Pinch of red-pepper flakes


Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Place chicken, breast side up, on a baking sheet. Rub with 2 tablespoons oil; season generously with salt and pepper. Place parsley and 1 lemon half in cavity. Tie legs together with kitchen twine.


Raw chicken going into the oven

Chicken heading into the oven



Toss potatoes and 2 tablespoons oil. Drizzle with juice from remaining lemon half. Season with salt and pepper. Scatter potatoes along chicken.


The lemon and parsley were tucked inside

The lemon and parsley were tucked inside


Roast for 15 minutes. Reduce temperature to 375 degrees; cook for 25 minutes. Rotate pan, toss potatoes, and cook until potatoes and chicken are golden brown and a thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the chicken’s thigh reaches 165 degrees, about 25 minutes more. Let chicken and potatoes stand for 10 minutes.


Cooked and ready for he sauce

Cooked and ready for the sauce



Meanwhile, make the sauce: Combine ingredients. After 10 minutes, brush sauce on chicken and drizzle on potatoes.



Breakfast, Only Sweeter!

  • 6th July 2013

These Apple and Oat Scones with Cinnamon and Nutmeg from Martha Stewart make the perfect breakfast.

• They are gorgeous to serve to guests (add fresh homemade whipped cream and strawberries!)

• They keep well for days staying moist and flavorful

• They are reasonably healthy

• They are easy to eat in the car (perfect for kids, or you, having breakfast on the go!)

Apple and Oat scones with Cinnamon and Nutmeg

Photo Courtesy of: Martha Stewart

Scones with strawberries and cream

Our breakfast plate with strawberries and cream!

Scone ready to pop in the oven.

Scone ready to pop in the oven.



“These scones are light yet hearty and the most healthful of the bunch. Fresh apple keeps them moist, buttermilk contributes tenderness, and oats add a pleasantly toothsome texture.” —Martha Stewart Living




• 1 & 2/3 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for rolling

• 1 & 1/3 cups old-fashioned rolled oats, plus more for topping

• 1/4 cup plus two tablespoons light brown sugar

• 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

• 1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

• 2 teaspoons baking powder

• 3/4 teaspoon baking soda

• 1/2 teaspoon salt

• 1 & 1/2 sticks cold unsalted butter cut into pieces

• 1 & 1/2 cups diced Granny Smith Apple (2 apples cut into generous 1/4 inch cubes)



Chopped Granny Smith

Chopped Granny Smith


• 2/3 cup cold buttermilk plus more for brushing

• Raw turbinado sugar for sprinkling



Choose your work surface:

Get your work surface prepped.

Choose counter or…

Dough on board

Or choose board




Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Whisk together flour, oats, brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Cut in butter with a pastry blender or rub in with your fingers. (The largest pieces should be the size of small peas.) With your fingertips, flatten butter pieces into small disks. Add apples and buttermilk, stirring until dough just comes together.


Starting Mixture

Starting Mixture




Turn out dough onto a lightly floured work surface. Pat dough into a 6-by-8-inch rectangle, and cut into twelve 2-by-2-inch squares with a floured knife. Place about 2 inches apart on parchment-lined baking sheets.




You can place them in any pan.

You can place them in any pan.



How to cut them.

How to cut them.



Brush tops with buttermilk, and sprinkle with raw turbinado sugar and oats. Bake until golden brown, 20 to 22 minutes, rotating sheets halfway through. Let cool on sheets for 15 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature.


Brushing Scones.

Brushing Scones.

Sprinkle with Oats.

Sprinkle with Oats.




Baked to Perfection

Baked to Perfection



It’s always fun to serve them with fresh whipped cream.


Here we have used just three simple ingredients:

• Whipping cream

• Vanilla bean paste

• Maple syrup



Three Whipped Cream Ingredients

Three whipped cream ingredients




Super easy cream to serve alongside.

Super easy cream to serve alongside.







If You are Not Headed to Puglia

  • 27th June 2013

Then, you need to make this pasta for yourself!


There’s the beautiful picture, the flavors it conjures up in our mind (and mouth) and the intimation that it’s a little-known Puglian secret to perfect pasta.  Sold!  We had to try the ‘One-Pan’ Pasta heralded in Martha Stewart.


One Pan Pasta Martha Stewart Puglia

The tantalizing picture of their starting pot. Photo Courtesy of: Martha Stewart Living

One Pot Pasta Martha Stewart

Our starting pot also looked gorgeous (we think!).







The secret here, as is apparent from the pictures above, is that the chef placed dried pasta in the pot with water and all the ingredients for the sauce.  They all boil together and claim to deliver perfectly cooked pasta with a decadent sauce that “coats every strand.”

It was just as good as it looks and sounds!


Perfect One Pan Pasta

Perfectly cooked, coated and delicious.



We used:

1 box of linguine dried pasta

1/2 white onion thinly sliced

1 generous bunch of basil

2 boxes of cherry tomatoes halved

6 cloves of garlic cut in thirds length-wise

Generous pour of good quality olive oil

3 heaping quarter-size mounds of sea salt

Lots of freshly ground pepper

(We skipped the crushed red-pepper since we were serving children, but recommend using it for adults)

5 1/2 cups of water (However, this is 1 cup too much.  If you do not want to ladle out water (see below, it can be useful) then only use 4 1/2 cups)



The trick here is figuring out how much water to use.  However, if you are in the kitchen while it’s cooking you can always ladle out any excess water as everything cooks.  Our step-by-step pictures walk you through it:


One Pan Pasta Starting

The start before the stove is ignited.




One Pot Pasta

Starting to boil.




One pot pasta




One Pot Pasta

We ladled out some water.



We ladled out about a bowlful of water.  Don’t count this as a mistake.  If you taste this broth it has an amazing robust flavor.

Freeze it to use in soups to add flavor or thickness from the starch

Use it in mashed potatoes, quinoa, risotto anything you would use broth in

Save it to add moisture to left over pasta the next day



One Pot Pasta

Almost done….



At this point you have to make sure you are stirring it occasionally with a large fork.  It will start to stick now and the starch makes it extra sticky.  



One Pot Pasta




You can add cheese, but the textures are so silky and rich you don’t need it.  Another sprinkle of fresh pepper and a few herbs are always welcome, but also not necessary.  The pasta tasted delicious the next day as well.




Summer Specialty—Authentic Minestrone

  • 17th June 2013

Not all minestrone’s are created equal.  Typically we throw our summer’s best into the pot and often find an insipid, watery result.  Not with this standout recipe.  The three key ingredients that add robust flavor are simple and essential:  the parmesan rind; the pureed cannellini beans; the dry white wine.



Minestrone cooking with resplendent aromas.

Minestrone cooking with resplendent aromas.


They provide the perfect back-drop that does justice to the crisp, bright vegetables.


Recipe from Sunset magazine, October 2007



  • 1 bunch Swiss chard, rinsed thoroughly
  • 4 medium tomatoes
  • 2 cans (14 1/2 oz. each) cannellini beans, rinsed and drained, divided
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 medium carrots, peeled and cut into 1/4-in. dice
  • 2 medium zucchini, quartered lengthwise and cut into 1/4-in. pieces
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 2 cups shredded savoy or green cabbage
  • 1 can (14 1/2 oz.) chickpeas (garbanzos), rinsed and drained
  • 3- to 4-in. parmesan cheese rind
  • 4 cups reduced-sodium chicken broth
  • About 1/2 cup freshly shredded parmesan

We added:

  • 2 stalks celery
  • 1 onion
  • 2 leeks, white part chopped


Ingredients for the soup.

Ingredients for the soup.



  1.  Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Meanwhile, cut stems from Swiss chard leaves by making a V-shaped cut into each leaf around the stem. Finely chop stems, cut leaves into ribbons, and set both aside separately.
  2. Boil tomatoes for 30 seconds. Lift out with a slotted spoon and rinse under very cold water. Remove the skin with a paring knife or vegetable peeler. Cut tomatoes into quarters, remove seeds, and chop. Set tomatoes aside.
  3. Whirl half of cannellini beans with 1/2 cup water in a blender until smooth. Set bean purée aside.
  4. Cook olive oil and garlic in a large pot over medium-high heat until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Add onion, leeks, carrots, zucchini, reserved chopped chard stems, and salt. Cook, stirring, until stems are tender, about 5 minutes. Add white wine and cabbage. Cook, stirring, until cabbage wilts, 2 to 3 minutes.
  5. Add reserved chard leaves, remaining cannellini beans, the chopped tomatoes, bean purée, chickpeas, parmesan rind, and broth. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to maintain a steady simmer. Cook until all vegetables are tender and flavors blend, about 15 minutes. Remove parmesan rind. Serve soup hot, topped with shredded parmesan.




Minestrone soup ready to enjoy.

Minestrone soup ready to enjoy.

Clearly Delicious…Part Un

  • 15th June 2013

Ditch the traditional white ceramic cookie jar!!  (Well, maybe just put it in the cupboard for a while).  These cookies deserve a more fancified presentation.  


Coconut Thumbprint Cookies with Salted Caramel

Coconut Thumbprint Cookies with Salted Caramel. Photo Courtesy of Martha Stewart Living


We’ll get to the recipe, and some tips on baking them in Saturday’s post (and YOU WANT IT, believe us!)


But, first let’s look at the newest ways people are serving up sweet treats.


Mini Glass Cake Domes by Myriam B. Maguire

Mini Glass Cake Domes by Myriam B. Maguire. Photo Courtesy of: Departures Magazine



The Mini Glass Dome cakes created by Myriam B. Maguire are pure whimsical fun! Only 90 pieces of each style are being created in a limited and numbered collection. Starting from $375.00, for more information please contact Bergdorf Goodman or




Cupcake domes by Myriam B. Maguire




How much fun is this?  “Our La Bonbonniere cloche gives any dessert tableau a sense of sweet Parisian panache. This unique glass globe-shaped lidded vessel sits atop a super tall footed stem.” —Olive & Cocoa


La Bonbonniere Olive and Cocoa



labonbonniere,, $228.00


Why can’t your most fabulous wine decanter grace the table-top with bite-sized cookies and candies cozied up inside?


Bubbles decanter by Saint-Louis
Saint Louis Bubbles Decanter


Bubbles wine decanter by Saint-Louis,, $750.00



Grassland Roads Just Desserts Candy and Cupcake Pedestals


Grasslands Roads Just Desserts Cupcake Pedestal Candy Jars Three Styles,



Indian Flavors to Make Your Meatloaf Sing

  • 14th June 2013

Meatloaf is true comfort food at its best.  But, come summer, you can liven it up with herbs and spices and lighten it up with freshly diced veggies.  Suddenly, it becomes quite the exotic, dressed-up version of itself!



Spices for the meatloaf

Cumin, garam masala, turmeric, red pepper, fried onions and ginger-garlic paste ready to add.



This recipe, passed-down by truly one of the best Indian cooks we know, is fabulous.


As a rule, we love make-ahead dishes and this one fits the bill perfectly.  If you’re serving it as a main for a party, marinate the meat 2 days ahead and the spices will be richly complex.



Meatloaf mixture before baking

Meatloaf mixture before adding mashed potatoes for binding and Thai chiles for kick.



The morning of, add the eggs, fresh cilantro, green onion, green pepper, tomatoes, mashed potato and garlic (all of which can be diced/mashed the day before).  Cue up the oven about 1 1/2 hrs prior to your serving time and allow guests to enjoy the decadent aromas.




1.5-2.0 lbs of either ground chicken, ground beef or ground turkey

(You can mix any two meats as well)

1/4 tsp salt

1/4 tsp red pepper (you can substitute cayenne pepper but, red pepper found at an Indian store is preferable)

1 tsp ground coriander

1 tsp ground cumin

1 tsp garam masala  (available at Indian, Asian and gourmet food stores)

1/3 tsp turmeric

1 1/2 tsp ginger/garlic paste (see quick tip below)

1 tbs friend onion (see quick tip below)

1 handful chopped fresh cilantro

2 medium sized potatoes mashed thoroughly

1 egg

1/2 tomato diced

2 cloves fresh garlic diced finely

3 green onions diced finely

1/3 of a green pepper diced

1/3 thai green chili de-seeded finely diced



Marinate meat for at least 5-6 hours (can be left for up to 48 hours well refrigerated) with salt,  ginger/garlic paste, red pepper, turmeric, garam masala, cumin and coriander.  Before baking add one egg, mashed potato, green onion, green pepper, tomatoes, garlic, cilantro and chiles.  Mix very well (preferably with your hands).


Bake for 45 minutes—1 hour at 350 degrees

Serve up and enjoy!


Indian spiced meatloaf with garlic, spinach pasta

Garlic infused spinach pasta complements the Indian spiced meatloaf perfectly.



Quick Tip—Ginger-Garlic Paste:

Adu Lasan, (ginger-garlic paste) is an incredible tool in the kitchen, easy to make and stores well.  Simply blend equal parts of chopped fresh ginger and chopped fresh garlic with just enough water to get a smooth consistency (see the picture below). Adu lasan is used for marinating any fresh meats.  It’s super healthy, flavorful and can even be frozen in glass bottles for weeks.


Adu Lasan for Marinating

The consistency for preparing Adu Lasan.



Quick Tip—Fried Onions:

Fried onions are a base in cuisines the world over.  For Indian cooking they are essential.  We often make a big batch of friend onions every few months.  Take the time to properly drain them.  Lay them on paper towels to soak-up excess oil and when cooled completely, freeze them in small batches in mini ziplock bags.  They are easy to defrost and pop into any dish.

The New Iced Tea

  • 6th June 2013

Move over traditional iced-tea and make way for tamarind…


Tamarind Juice

Iced Tamarind Juice at the Amantaka, delicious and refreshing alongside freshly made plantain chips


This sophisticated sweet & sour drink is perfection iced on the hottest days.  Thus, its popularity in tropical climates.

Try this replacement for the standard iced-tea, either in your fridge in the heart of summer, or for your next home-based gathering.

Tamarind is a leguminous tree indigenous to tropical Africa that likely reached South Asia by way of humans thousands of years ago.

It is here in South Asia, Laos to be precise, that we fell in love with the iced-drink.  It is high in acid and sugar, thus providing an unmistakable sweet and sour taste, as well as Vitamin B and Calcium.


Tamarind Juice Amantaka


The Amantaka was very hospitable in sharing their signature recipe for this tropical classic.


Tamarind Juice:


500 grams Tamarind

300 grams honey

200 grams sugar

3 liters of drinking water




1.)   Cover the tamarind with the water and boil for 40 minutes

2.)   While the tamarind is still hot add the sugar and stir until dissolved

3.)   Strain liquid and add the honey.  Adjust the taste with more or less honey to obtain the perfect sweet and sour taste.

4.)   Chill.  Serve with ice




The primary health benefits of tamarind appear to be related to ease of digestion.  It can serve as a very very mild laxative.  Tamarind is also a great anti-oxidant and assists with inflammation.



Lemony & Lime Basil Infused Cookie

  • 4th June 2013

This delicious buttery cookie blends the tart flavor of lemon and lime with the zest of basil and the richness of shortbread.   How can you resist?


Basil Lemon Lime Cookie



The below recipe comes from Bon Appétit Magazine.  It only makes 16 cookies, so you might consider doubling the recipe to make more!


Lemon Lime & Basil Cookie

Recipe from Bon Appetit



Two tips:

1.) Sprinkle with sugar and serve them for dessert with something rich like ice-cream.  Or, leave off the sugar and the cookies add a more savory twist to tea-time

2.) Freeze some of the batch to bake at a later date.  Shortbread freezes perfectly.  Roll extra batter into a log and freeze.  Slightly defrost, cut into rounds and bake.


ingredients before mixing, lemony,lime, basil cookies

Ingredients before mixing



1 cup all-purpose flour

1/2 cup powdered sugar plus more for pressing cookies

1/2 cup (1 stick) chilled unsalted butter, cut into 1/2″ cubes

2 Tbsp. sliced fresh basil leaves

1 tsp. finely grated lemon zest plus 1 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice

1/2 tsp. finely grated lime zest

1/4 tsp. kosher salt

Sanding sugar (optional)


Dough before baking Lemony Lime Basil Cookies

Dough before baking

  • Preheat oven to 375°. Place flour, 1/2 cup powdered sugar, butter, basil, both zests, lemon juice, and salt in a food processor. Pulse until large, moist clumps form. Measure level tablespoonfuls of dough; roll between your palms to form balls. Place on a large baking sheet, spacing 2″ apart. Lightly dust the bottom of a flat measuring cup with powdered sugar and press cookies into 2″ rounds, dusting cup bottom with powdered sugar as needed to prevent sticking. Sprinkle tops of cookies with sanding sugar, if using.
  • Bake until edges are brown, about 14-15 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack; let cool.



Lemon, Lime, Basil Cookies

The cookies all ready to eat!



(We only baked them for 10 minutes so baking time may vary)


Lemon Lime Basil Cookies

The buttery rich inside


De Bon Goût—In Good Taste

  • 1st June 2013

In the spirit of delicious Cacio e Pepe, just a few months back, Bon Appetit came out with a fabulous recipe for this simple, gratifying dish.  Enjoy!!


Cacio Pepe Bon Appetit

Photo Courtesy of:


  • Kosher salt
  • 6 oz. pasta (such as egg tagliolini, bucatini, or spaghetti)
  • 3 Tbsp. unsalted butter, cubed, divided
  • 1 tsp. freshly cracked black pepper
  • 3/4 cup finely grated Grana Padano or Parmesan
  • 1/3 cup finely grated Pecorino


  • Bring 3 quarts water to a boil in a 5-qt. pot. Season with salt; add pasta and cook, stirring occasionally, until about 2 minutes before tender. Drain, reserving 3/4 cup pasta cooking water.
  • Meanwhile, melt 2 Tbsp. butter in a large heavy skillet over medium heat. Add pepper and cook, swirling pan, until toasted, about 1 minute.
  • Add 1/2 cup reserved pasta water to skillet and bring to a simmer. Add pasta and remaining butter. Reduce heat to low and add Grana Padano, stirring and tossing with tongs until melted. Remove pan from heat; add Pecorino, stirring and tossing until cheese melts, sauce coats the pasta, and pasta is al dente. (Add more pasta water if sauce seems dry.) Transfer pasta to warm bowls and serve.

Recipe Courtesy of:  Bon Appetit

The below link includes a video to watch preparation of this dish.



Allure d’Asie Part Two

  • 30th May 2013

One of our favorite weeknight recipes takes the ease and comfort of a corn tortilla and loads it with simple, fresh Asian flavors.


Asian Pork Taco





Recipe adapted from William Sonoma Five-Spice Pork Wraps.



4 tsp. Chinese five spice

1 Tbs. kosher salt

3/4 tsp. freshly ground pepper

6 lb. boneless pork shoulder, cut into 10 large pieces

3 Tbs. vegetable oil

2 yellow onions, diced

1 1/2 tsp. finely grated fresh ginger

1 1/2 Tbs. minced garlic

1/3 cup soy sauce

1/3 cup rice wine vinegar

1/3 tsp.  red pepper or cayenne pepper

1 1/2 cups chicken broth


For Serving:

2 cups chopped fresh basil

1 pack fresh corn tortillas

2 cups chopped fresh cilantro

2 limes

3 carrots thinly sliced with a vegetable peeler



Thinly Sliced Carrots



Preheat an oven to 350°F.

In a small bowl, combine the Chinese five spice, red pepper, salt and pepper. Rub the mixture evenly on the pork.

In a pot, over medium-high heat, warm 2 Tbs. of the oil. Working in batches, brown the pork on all sides, 6 to 8 minutes per batch. Transfer to a large bowl.



Cooking the Pork Wraps



Reduce the heat to medium and warm the remaining 1 Tbs. oil. Add the yellow onions and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the ginger and garlic and cook, stirring frequently, for 1 minute. Add the soy sauce, the 1/3 cup rice vinegar, and the broth and bring to a simmer. Return the pork to the pot. Cover the pot, transfer to the oven and bake, turning the pork occasionally, until it is fork-tender, about 2 3/4 hours.
Using tongs and a fork, pull the pork apart into large chunks and gently shred.



Shredded Pork



On warm, blistered tortillas (we heat on the stove directly)  serve pork topped with basil, cilantro and carrots.  Squeeze fresh lime onto the top before rolling and eating!


Asian Taco Fixings


Clearly Delicious…Part Deux

  • 17th May 2013

If you don’t believe us, read the reviews online…these cookies are heavenly. Make them today and bite through oozing caramel goodness surrounded by decadent cakey coconut richness topped off with a salty kick!




Coconut Thumbprint Cookie with Salted Caramel

Finished to perfection…this was soon gobbled up!



They’re also pretty gorgeous and give the appearance of bakery bought.


Coconut Thumbprint Cookies with Salted Caramel


Recipe from


  • 3 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • Table salt
  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 12 ounces sweetened flaked coconut
  • 44 small soft caramel candies (12 ounces), such as Kraft
  • 6 tablespoons heavy cream
  • Large, flaky sea salt, such as Maldon
The Caramel Sauce

The Caramel Sauce




Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Beat together butter and sugar with a mixer on medium speed until pale and fluffy, then beat in vanilla. With mixer on low, gradually add flour and 1/2 teaspoon table salt, and beat to combine. Press dough together in plastic wrap, then roll into 1 1/4-inch balls. Dip each ball in beaten egg, and roll in coconut. Place balls on parchment-lined baking sheets, and press an indentation into each with your thumb. Bake for 10 minutes, then remove sheets from oven, and re-press indentations. Bake cookies until golden, 9 to 10 minutes more. Let cool on wire racks. Repeat with remaining dough.



Ready to pull out of the oven

Ready to pull out of the oven




Place caramels and heavy cream in a small saucepan over low heat. Cook, stirring constantly, until the caramels are melted and mixture is smooth, 4 to 6 minutes. Spoon into indentations in cookies, and sprinkle with sea salt. Rewarm caramel if it hardens before all cookies are filled.



Ready for a drizzle of salt

Ready for a drizzle of salt


Store in airtight containers for up to 2 days.


We had about 1/2 of the caramel sauce left-over.  You can store it in the fridge to use on yogurt, drizzle over morning coffee, serve with ice-cream….or, make more cookies!!


Last Look!

This is truly how we feel about these cookies!!! (Also, we love these pillows—-perfect to throw anywhere!)


Garnet Hill French Word Style Felt Pillow Cover


Garnet Hill Word Style Felt Pillow Cover,, $88.00


De Bon Goût—In Good Taste

  • 9th May 2013

Tam Mak HoongThe Best Green Papaya Salad


Finished Green Papaya Salad

The finished Green Papaya salad ready to devour

Green Papaya Salad Ingredients

Green Papaya Salad Ingredients



This salad, which we made in a cooking class in Luang Prabang Laos is fresh, savory, healthy and super easy.  It’s one you will definitely turn to again and again. It has very few ingredients so the key is making sure they are of superior quality.


Shopping for ingredients in the morning market Luang Prabang

Shopping for ingredients at the morning market in Luang Prabang





2 cups green papaya, julienne

4 pcs, cherry tomatoes halved

4 pcs, Thai eggplant quartered

1 tsp sugar

1 tbs fish sauce

1 tbs lime juice

2 cloves garlic

3 pcs chili (optional)

2 tbs roasted peanuts



Peel the papaya.


Fresh Green Papaya for Salad

Fresh Green Papaya for Salad

Peeled with a traditional Lao shell peeler

Peeled with a traditional Lao shell peeler

Traditional Lao shell peelers

Traditional Lao shell peelers




Finely slice the papaya.


Papaya being sliced in a traditional style

Papaya being sliced in a traditional style. (Feel free to use your favorite mandoline slicer)

Julienned papaya for the salad

Julienned papaya for the salad







Using mortar stone, pound (chili-optional), garlic, sugar, until smooth.  Add raw eggplant and tomato, crushed not pounded.


Smashing the eggplant for the dressing

Smashing the eggplant for the dressing


Add papaya, season with fish sauce,lime juice and a pinch of salt.  Pound while mixing them.  Serve with roasted peanuts on top.


Smashing and mixing all of the ingredients

Smashing and mixing all of the ingredients







Frites Fantastique

  • 26th April 2013

If you made a New Year’s resolution involving healthy eating and you are still sticking with it, this is not the post for you!  If you have designs on a particular swim suit for the summer which involves steadfast will-power, look away!




Herbed French Fries


For everyone else, these French fries, or herbed chips as Nigelissima would call them are absolutely fabulous!!


I watched her make them, courtesy of Thai Airways inflight entertainment, as we had just begun to make our way across the Pacific ocean.  Then, I thought about them for the next 14+ hours.


Her secret is putting the potatoes into cold oil.  As she puts it, you would think the fries would emerge soggy, but in fact the insides are light and fluffy and the outsides perfectly crispy.


Cut your potatoes into generously sized wedges, leaving the skin on, and lightly dry them on a paper towel.


Potato Wedges for Frying



Lightly salt them.  Place them in your preferred oil on the stove and then fire up the heat to high.  When the oil is bubbling add about 6-7 cloves of garlic to the pan, again skin on.  The garlic caramelizes within the thin skin exuding a delicious subtle flavor to the fries.


While lightly turning the fries add a thin coating of coarse sea salt.


Just before removing the fries from the pan, add a palm full of hand-torn fresh sage and let it fry for 1 minute.


Fresh Sage



Remove fries from the oil and let them stand on a paper towel to absorb any excess grease.  Arrange fries on a platter and season generously with coarse sea salt and the fried sage.  Remove skins from garlic and sprinkle slightly crushed cloves throughout.   Serve immediately.



De Bon Goût—In Good Taste

  • 20th April 2013

Pistachio Madeleines

These pistachio madeleines are the perfect Sunday afternoon snack.  They have a delicate nutty flavor and the clarified butter lends a light, fluffy texture. The recipe is from the LA Times and was adapted from Keswick Hall in Virginia.



Pistachio Madeleines



Total time: 45 minutes

Servings: Makes 3 1/2 dozen cookies



Pistachio Madeleines
Pistachio Madeleines



1 1/4 cups clarified butter (the butter should be firm but not hard), plus more for greasing

To make the clarified butter, heat 1 1/2 cups (3 sticks) butter in a small saucepan over low heat; allow the butter to melt and separate, then spoon off any foam on the top and remove the pan from the heat. Gently ladle out the clear (clarified) butter, leaving the milky residue in the bottom of the pan. Refrigerate the butter until it is firm but not hard, about 2 hours.

1 1/3 cups sugar

4 eggs

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/8 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup chopped pistachios

2 cups flour


1. Heat the oven to 350 degrees. In the bowl of a stand mixer using a paddle attachment, or in a medium bowl with a hand mixer, beat the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. With the mixer running, add the eggs, one at a time. Mix in the vanilla and salt, then fold in the pistachios and flour just until fully incorporated.

2. Pipe or spoon the batter into greased madeleine molds. Bake until set and light brown, about 10 minutes. Cool the cookies in the trays 10 minutes before removing from the molds.


De Bon Goût—In Good Taste

  • 17th April 2013

How many ways can you use bananas and the bounty of the banana tree?


Banana Tree

Banana tree in Ban Xieng Men, Laos

Banana Tree

Banana tree off of the lane in Ban Xieng Men, Laos






In Laos the banana flower is cut up and used in traditional salads, the leaves are used to steam food like fish, often as decorative plates for meals and in traditional floral décor and offerings.


Banana Flower

Banana Flowers for sale in the morning market in Luang Prabang

Banana Leaf Plate

Banana Leaf Plate

Banana Leaf Floral Offerings

Floral Offerings


Experiencing all the unexpected ways they use bananas in Laos inspired us to dig-up this surprising and delicious beloved banana cake recipe.  Similar to the above, it is an unexpected role for bananas in that they are center-stage in an upside down cake—nudging pineapple right out of the spotlight!




Caramel-Walnut Banana Upside Down Cake

Caramel-Walnut Banana Upside Down Cake. Photo Courtesy of: Bon Appetit



Caramel-Walnut Upside-Down Banana Cake 

(Recipe from Bon Appetit, March, 2008)




  • Nonstick vegetable oil spray
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
  • 1 cup (packed) golden brown sugar
  • 3 tablespoons dark corn syrup
  • 3/4 cup walnut halves or pieces


  • 1 3/4 cups cake flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup (packed) golden brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 cup mashed very ripe bananas (2 to 3 large)
  • 3 tablespoons sour cream
  • 1 tablespoon dark rum
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Whipped cream or vanilla ice cream



  • Spray 8-inch round cake pan with 2-inch-high sides with nonstick spray. (We substitute a 9″ cake pan here) Bring butter, sugar, and corn syrup to boil in medium saucepan, stirring constantly until butter melts. Boil syrup 1 minute. Stir in nuts. Spread topping in prepared pan. Let topping cool completely.


  • Preheat oven to 350°F. Sift first 4 ingredients into medium bowl. Using electric mixer, beat butter and both sugars in large bowl until blended. Beat in eggs 1 at a time, then mashed bananas, sour cream, rum, and vanilla. Beat in dry ingredients in 2 additions just until combined. Spoon batter into pan.
  • Bake cake until tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 55 minutes. Cool 15 minutes. Cut around cake. Place platter over pan. Holding pan and platter together, turn over. Let stand 5 minutes, then gently lift off pan. Cool at least 15 minutes for topping to set. Serve warm or at room temperature with whipped cream or vanilla ice cream.

De Bon Goût—In Good Taste

  • 10th April 2013

The Queen of Fruits

Why is it called the ‘Queen of Fruits?’  Some believe because of the legend that Queen Victoria offered a reward of 100 pounds sterling to anyone who could deliver her fresh Mangosteen.  Even a few years ago, Mangosteen sold for up to $45 per pound in some specialty stores in New York.






In our humble opinion it tastes like a strawberry coated in sugar, it’s so good!


The tropical evergreen tree is believed to have originated in the Sunda Islands and the Molaccas of Indonesia.  The rind of the fruit, which is not edible, is a deep, beautiful, reddish purple when ripe. Mangosteens are best when harvested from May-August.  To eat or use the Mangosteen, cut the shell around the circumference of the fruit.  Rotate it gently and remove the shell.


Mangosteens have become more readily available in the United States recently.  They can be found at high-end specialty grocers, or Asian markets


Mangosteen and Lime Sorbet

2 Mangosteens delicately halved with stones discarded.  (Keep outer shell of fruit to serve in)

1 lime juiced

1/2 cup icing sugar

1 egg white

4 ice cubes


Combine all ingredients in a blender and blend until completely smooth

Empty the mixture into a shallow container and let it set, for approximately 15-20 minutes in the freezer

Scoop the mixture into the preserved mangosteen shells

Serve immediately, garnished with fresh mint or a pinch of freshly grated lime zest


Recipe courtesy of:  Ready Steady Cook



Cadeaux Parfait—Prix Parfait (Deux)

  • 5th April 2013

You’ve asked for it again and we’ve obliged!  Our second part in the ongoing series….Cadeaux Parfait!  Perfect gifts for under $50.00 (for you, a hostess, your best girlfriend, your great aunt!)




Sweet Creations


Beautiful, unique and delicious, ‘the Cinderella shoe,’ by Sweet Creations is completely edible and made from finely sourced chocolate.  Comes elegantly packaged

Cinderella, $40.00



Antique Silver Condiment Set Pottery Barn



Antique Silver Condiment Set,, $49.50


Tylt Y-Charge Dual USB Car Charger compatible with any device that takes a USB charger


tylt y-charge
tylt y-charge
tylt y-charge




Ballard Designs Beverage Tags


Set of 6 Beverage Tags, Ballard, $15.00

Pure Tangerine Extract,, $12.99*


*Tangerine Extract is delicious in numerous cold drinks from lemonade to punch to iced-tea



Romano Tumblers


The perfect housewarming gift for the new couple:  two gorgeous tumblers and fancy cold-drinks for the fridge!


Romano Tumblers,, $17.00 a piece

Riemes French Limonades Blood Orange,, $3.99



4" Bottle Vase with Wood Holder



4″ Bottle Vase with Wood Holder, set of 4,, $9.99


1 bunch of multi-colored gerber daisies


Crossed Spoons Plate Stand



Crossed Spoons Plate Stand,, $20.00

La Woof Plate,, $24.00


Cave Coasters Zara Home


Cave Coasters,, $16.00

Fred Cool Jewels Ice Cube Tray,, $7.64



Williams Sonoma Food Made Fast Asian Cookbook



Williams Sonoma Food Made Fast Asian Cookbook,, $17.95

Norpro Deluxe 3-piece Bamboo Steamer,, $16.84




Madeleine mold



Melamine Faience a la Corne plate,, $9.50

Norpro Non-Stick Mini-Madeleine Pan,, $14.90

Gourmet Bourbon Vanilla Beans,, $9.99



De Bon Goût—In Good Taste

  • 3rd April 2013

These adorable spoons deserve a delicious accompaniment and this they find in Hazelnut Gâteau Breton.    If you like Gianduja or Nutella, trust us, you will LOVE this cake.  It’s dense and buttery and is traditionally served with coffee in the late afternoon.  It is unmistakably French in that it is amazingly simple in ingredients, yet complex in flavor and texture.


Gateau Breton

Photo Courtesy of: Bon Appetit


Hazelnut Gâteau Breton

Recipe from Bon Appetit, May 2007


  • 1 1/4 cups Vanilla Sugar , divided  (SEE Recipe below for Vanilla Sugar—It’s worth making as you can use it all other baking recipes sprinkle it on yogurt or enjoy it in your morning tea or coffee.  A real treat!)
  • 1/2 cup hazelnuts, lightly toasted, husked
  • 6 large egg yolks (preferably organic)
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) salted butter, melted
  • 2 cups unbleached all purpose flour
  • 1 large egg yolk beaten with 2 teaspoons water (for glaze)
  • Whole strawberries with stems attached or warm strawberry jam (optional)


Position rack in center of oven and preheat to 325°F. Butter and flour 9-inch-diameter springform pan. Combine 2 tablespoons vanilla sugar and hazelnuts in processor; blend until nuts are finely ground but not pasty. Combine 6 egg yolks and remaining 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons vanilla sugar in large bowl; whisk until well blended and slightly thicker, about 2 minutes (do not use electric mixer). Whisk in hazelnut mixture. Gradually whisk in melted butter. Sift flour over batter; stir just until blended (batter will be thick; do not over-mix or cake may be tough).

Transfer batter to prepared pan; smooth top with offset spatula (layer will be thin). Brush top generously with egg glaze. Using back of tines of fork, deeply mark crisscross pattern atop cake, marking 3 times across in 1 direction and 3 times in opposite direction. Bake cake until deep golden on top and tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 1 hour. Cool in pan on rack 15 minutes, then remove pan sides and cool cake completely. DO AHEAD Can be made 1 day ahead. Wrap in foil and store at room temperature.

Cut cake into wedges and serve with whole strawberries or with warm strawberry jam.

Vanilla Sugar:

  • 2 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1 coarsely chopped vanilla bean

Blend sugar and vanilla bean in processor until bean is finely ground. Store in covered container at room temperature at least 2 days, then strain through fine strainer before using.





De Bon Goût—In Good Taste

  • 1st April 2013

Persephone n’est pas seule!


She is not alone.  Throughout time the pomegranate has been revered and for good reason.


persephone & Pomegranate

Photo Courtesy of: Google Images

pomegranate seeds





According to Greek mythology Persephone could not resist the temptation of a juicy pomegranate seed and thus she was bound to the underworld (at least for part of the year) with Hades.   But, even before the Greeks, the Zoroastrians were using pomegranates in many sacred ceremonies, in fact in Persian mythology, Isfandiyar eats a pomegranate and becomes invincible. In Judiasm pomegranates symbolize sanctity, fertility, and abundance and in Buddhism the pomegranate is one of the three blessed fruits.



Avocado Hummus Pomegranate Seeds

Pomegranate seeds look and taste lovely sprinkled on Avocado Hummus



There are a few reasons pomegranate seeds should always be in your refrigerator.  They make any dish look beautiful, add a touch of tang and texture to everything and bring abundant health benefits.  If you rinse them, dry them on a paper towel and then pop them in the fridge they last for about 2 weeks. (You can either scoop the seeds out yourself, or many fine grocery stores carry fresh pomegranate seeds in their produce department)


We sprinkle them on hummus and instantly your appetizers look truly Mediterranean and authentic.


Quinoa Salad with Pomegranate Seeds

Quinoa salad with pomegranate seeds




We throw a dash onto quinoa and use them to brighten a spring salad.




Spring Salad

Spring Salad with shaved beets, parmesan, strawberries and pomegranate seeds



 Quinoa Salad with Pomegranate Seeds


A must try!  It’s easy, looks beautiful, is super healthy and lasts well in the fridge, can be made a day ahead (just add the goat cheese on the day of serving) if necessary.  Recipe below serves 4 people.  Trust us, this recipe is always requested by friends after serving!



1 1/2 cups of quinoa

1 bag sundried tomatoes (cut in quarters)

1 box cherry tomatoes (cut in half, optional)

1 bunch of green onions (white part only finely sliced in rounds)

1 quarter red onion very finely sliced

1 English hothouse cucumber skin left on sliced and quartered

1 bunch of asparagus steamed and cut in 1 1/2 inch pieces

3/4 cup of pomegranate seeds


Cook quinoa as directed on package.  We often substitute chicken broth for water in the boiling instructions for a richer taste.  Stir in above ingredients.  Add coarse sea salt or Himalayan sea salt, ground pepper and generous amounts of good quality olive oil (this is key!).   On day of serving add quarter inch pieces (dollops) of goat cheese sprinkled on top (if desired).


Whole Pomegranate

Photo Courtesy of: Google Images

 Pomegranate Seeds

Photo Courtesy of: Google Images


Medicinal Properties:

—High source of Vitamin C

—High source of antioxidants

—Enhanced immunity benefits


De Bon Goût—In Good Taste

  • 21st March 2013

Easter Lemon Cookies (Vintage Recipe You Must Try!)


Lemon Drop Cookies



My mother-in-law uses this vintage cookbook by Mary Meade, former ‘Home Economics Editor of the Chicago Tribune.’  100 Favorite Cooky* Recipes by Mary Meade could be purchased for 18 cents by mail, and 14 cents at the Public Service Office, 33 West Madison!  A true steal any way you look at it!  While the book is no longer in print, you can still enjoy the lemon cookie recipe!


*This appears to be how they spelled cookie


Lemon Drop (Cookies)


2 cups sifted flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup shortening
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 lemon juice ( juice of one lemon)
1 tablespoon grated lemon rind

Lemon glaze (Powdered sugar and lemon juice.  Add lemon juice to powdered sugar until the desired consistency—thick, milky)

Sift together flour, baking soda and salt. Cream together shortening and sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs and vanilla. Beat well. Add flour mixture to cream mixture alternately with lemon juice and rind. Mix well. Must chill cookie dough at least 4 hrs, over night is good.  Drop by teaspoon full on parchment lined baking sheets.  We press them down gently before baking them. Bake at 375 degrees for 8 to 10 minutes until edges are lightly browned.

Once completely cool, glaze with lemon glaze.




Interested in purchasing the book? We found a few copies on

100 Favorite Cooky Recipes by Mary Meade,, $19.50


Some fun trivia!  

Edit below comes directly from the Chicago Tribune Web site:


“Mary Meade was the pen name used by five food editors of the Chicago Tribune from 1930 to 1974. Ruth Ellen Church was the longest tenured food editor, from 1936 to 1974. She published recipes, books and booklets under her own name as well as the Mary Meade pen name. When Church, so did Mary Meade.

Church published many pamphlets, but was best known as the author of the 1964 cookbook, “Mary Meade’s Country Cookbook.” In this cookbook, there is a recipe for a sunshine cake, a spongecake. The recipe is printed in the chapter for old-fashioned cakes, where she also includes suggestions on how to make flavor variations to cakes.

We tested the recipe, with her suggestion for orange and lemon flavoring, and found it just as delicious 37 years later.”

What I Love Today…

  • 1st March 2013

There’s nothing like a new twist on an old classic.  I am a die-hard believer in pancakes, syrup and a dollop of rich beurre.  But, upon discovering Lilikoi syrup, a Maui specialty, I was sold.  Fruity, but delicately aromatic and not over-powering, it adds a sophisticated island spin to a morning standby.


Homemade Lilikoi Syrup

Homemade Lilikoi Syrup—Photo Courtesy of: Thanh’s Kitchen


In the event that you are like I was and have no idea what Lilikoi is, it’s just another exotic name for an already exoticly dubbed fruit, the Passion Fruit.


If you are reticent to shake up your morning routine or your standard brunch/entertaining fare, then you can add Lilikoi Syrup  into the mix at dessert time.  For an intensely tropical experience serve it over or alongside coconut sorbet or lychée ice-cream (available at most Indian and Chinese grocery stores).


Passion Fruit

Passion Fruit

Passion Fruit Flower

Passion Fruit Flower


Lilikoi syrup can be made at home.  But, it’s advisable to have access to some pretty fresh and delicious Passion Fruit.  (There are many recipes for home-made syrup on the internet and I cannot espouse one over the other since I have not tried any.)


However, after consulting with locals I can confidently say that the preferred syrup available for purchase comes by way of Maui Jelly Factory.  (This brand was also our breakfast time treat!)


Passion Fruit Syrup Maui Jelly Factory


Passion Fruit Syrup,, $30.00 for three 10 ounce bottles


Any post mentioning syrup should include a shout-out to great pancakes.  Our favorite recipe is provided by the tried and true:  The New York Times Cook Book.


Basic Pancakes  (Makes about 1 dozen, 5-inch pancakes)

1 cup flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

2 tablespoons sugar

1/2 teaspoons salt

1 egg

3/4 cup milk (Here we sub in organic whole goats milk.  It gives a much richer flavor and actually fluffier consistency)

2 tablespoons butter, melted and slightly cooled

We add one tablespoon of vanilla bean paste ( we use Madagascar Bourbon Pure Vanilla Bean Paste—see post 1/28 for more information)


1.) Sift together flour, baking powder, sugar and salt.

2.) Beat the egg, milk and butter until blended

3.) Pour milk mixture into dry ingredients and stir only enough to moisten the dry ingredients.  Do no beat or the pancakes will be tough.

4.) Heat a griddle and lightly grease it.  Drop the batter from the tip of a large spoon or a 1/4 cup measure and bake until the entire surface of the pancake is dotted with holes.  Turn and bake the other side just until light brown.  Keep warm in a 200 degree oven until all the pancakes are cooked.

These pancakes are superb re-heated as well.  We often make a double batch on the weekend.  Wrap them securely in foil and saran wrap and refrigerate.  Heat them in the microwave for 45 seconds for an easy breakfast on school mornings.


The New York Times Cookbook by Craig Claiborne,, $24.75


The New York Times Cook Book


De Bon Goût—In Good Taste

  • 2nd February 2013

On Robertson Blvd., in an area not even slightly reminiscent of Capri is the enchanting bakery for the Ivy, Dolce Isola.

The ambiance is classic shabby chic café/bistro, perfect for a lazy Saturday morning and the treats are far from ordinary.  While their gelato is suitably creamy and their croissants flaky and buttery what truly is worth the trip is the baguette and cheese crackers.

Serve the baguette at a dinner party and it will steal the show (trust us).  The inside is light as air, like cotton-candy and the outside crunchy, crisp and salty.  With the right cheese (Surfas is just minutes away), it’s heaven.  Tangy, sharp, a bit spicy and salty, their cheese biscuits are divinity.  They must be pre-ordered one day in advance so plan ahead suitably.

If you do not reside here in sunny Southern California, don’t fret.  We have a similar cheese biscuit recipe clipped from Bon Appetit (tried, tested, delicious and easy) and a tip on how to recreate the café ambiance at home.


Dolce Isola Los Angeles



Savory Parmesan Shortbread Rounds 

(recipe courtesy of Bon Appetit)—Serve with pre-dinner drinks and salumi platter—Makes 24


1 3/4 cups all purpose flour

3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese (about 2 1/2 ounces)

1 teaspoon coarse kosher salt

1/2 small garlic clove, properly minced

Pinch of cayenne pepper

1 cup (2 sticks) chilled unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes


Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Line baking sheet with parchment paper.  Mix flour, 3/4 cup Parmesan cheese, salt, garlic, and cayenne pepper in processor.  Add butter and, using on/off turns, process until dough begins to come together.  Gather dough into ball.  Divide dough in half.  Roll each half into 12-inch log, and cut each log into 1-inch pieces.  Roll each piece into a ball.  Arrange dough balls on prepared baking sheet, spacing about 1 1/2 inches apart.  Press each ball into 2-inch diameter round.  Sprinkle remaining 2 tablespoons Parmesan cheese over.

Bake shortbread rounds until tops are dry and bottoms are golden brown, about 20 minutes.  Transfer shortbread rounds to rack and cool completely.

Shortbread rounds can be made 1 week ahead.  Store rounds in airtight container at room temperature, or freeze up to 1 month.


Cheese crackers, Dolce Isola Los Angeles



Dolce Isola, 2869 S. Robertson Blvd., Los Angeles, 90034


8am – 4pm, Monday through Friday
8am – 3pm, Saturday
Closed Sunday


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