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Tarragon Chicken Salad

June 13, 2015



This salad…..amazing and amazingly simple, is a must for your busy summer schedule. Picnics, concerts, ballgames….and “I just don’t feel like cooking dinner tonight” dinners. A light and refreshing salad that has sweetness from the grapes, crunch from the celery, and a slight hint of anise from the tarragon. Cooking the chicken and adding a little pan juice will enhance the flavor. When you are really pressed for time, pick up a rotisserie chicken

Tarragon Chicken Salad 

Serves 4

4 split chicken breasts, bone-in, skin-on

Olive oil

Kosher salt

Freshly ground black pepper

4-5 ribs celery, sliced into 1/4-inch slices

30-40 green seedless grapes, sliced in half

4-5 tablespoons chopped fresh tarragon

Juice of 1 lemon

1/3 cup good mayonnaise (Greek yogurt works for those who don’t use mayo)

Toasted slivered almonds to garnish

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Place chicken breasts, skin side up, on a rimmed baking sheet. Rub chicken with a few tablespoons olive oil and season with generous amounts of salt and pepper. Roast for 35-40 minutes or until chicken is cooked through. Set aside until cool.

Remove skin and bones, and discard. Reserve a couple of tablespoons of pan drippings. Chop chicken into bite-sized pieces and place in medium bowl. Add reserved pan juices, celery, grapes, tarragon, lemon juice and mayo and stir to combine. Add salt and lots of freshly ground black pepper to taste.

Adapted from: Ed Droste/ Lottie and Doof





Cedar Planked Salmon With Maple Glaze and Mustard Mashed Potaotes

June 6, 2015




Well, there is a first for everything ….and this was that!! Success. Cooking salmon on cedar planks creates a fragrant, smokey flavor that helps lock in the moisture AND prevents the fish from sticking to the grill. A glaze of maple syrup with ginger, garlic, soy and lemon juice adds a hint of sweetness and a nice kick. For best presentation keep the salmon on the plank when serving. I like the idea of individual planks. You can buy a set from Costco however, my sister, Lisa, who enjoys this salmon once a week, has planks cut at Home Depot and $aves! Oh, and the mustard mashers…to die for! It’s the perfect combination with the salmon.

Cedar Planked Salmon With Maple Glaze and Mustard Potatoes

 Makes 6 servings

Untreated cedar planks, soaked in water for 1 to 2 hours

3 tablespoons water

1/4 cup PURE maple syrup

2 tablespoons finely grated peeled fresh ginger root

4 tablespoons fresh lemon juice/ divided

3 tablespoons soy sauce

1 1/2 teaspoons minced garlic

2 1/2-pound center-cut salmon fillet with skin

1 bunch scallions

In a small heavy saucepan simmer maple syrup, ginger root, 3 tablespoons lemon juice, soy sauce, garlic, and salt and pepper until reduced by about half, and let cool. (Maple glaze may be made 2 days ahead and chilled, covered. Bring maple glaze to room temperature before proceeding.)

Put salmon, skin side down, on scallion greens and brush with half the glaze. Season salmon with salt and pepper.

Add the remaining 1 tablespoon of lemon juice to the remaining sauce and warm up and use as a finishing sauce. Keep warm.

Heat grill to (about 400 degrees).  Place your plank with the seasoned salmon on the grill. Cook with the lid closed (to keep in all that flavorful smoke) until the fish is done to your liking. If your salmon fillet is an inch thick, this process should take about 20-25 minutes. Adjust for thickness of the fish.

Cut salmon into pieces. On each plank arrange salmon and scallion greens on a bed of mashed potatoes. Drizzle salmon with warm sauce.

Mustard Mashed Potatoes

Serves 6

2  3/4 pounds medium-size Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled, quartered

6 tablespoons butter, room temperature (I used 3 T)

2/3 cup whole milk (I used skim)

3 tablespoons Grainy Dijon mustard

Cook potatoes in large pot of boiling salted water until very tender, about 25 minutes. Drain well. Return potatoes to pot. Add butter and mash potatoes until almost smooth. Mix in 2/3 cup milk (adjust for desired consistency) and Dijon mustard. Season to taste with salt and pepper.





Field Trip To Paso

May 30, 2015









IMG_1296                                                                                               IMG_1764                 IMG_1733



Do I let the best kept secret out of the bag?  Well here it is….a stunning B&B sitting on top of the Denner vineyard in Paso Robles. The region was once known for Cabs and Zins, but in the past decade Rhone varietals have been taking over the area. Located right in the middle of Cali between San Francisco and Los Angeles, this wine country has become our favorite destination for a three day escape. With over 250 vineyards, we have 16 down and so many to go!! Our new home away home is the Comus House in the middle of the Denner Vineyard. Listing this home as a bed and breakfast takes the category to a new level. Ron Denner designed and built this house 15 years ago for himself and 3 years ago decided to open his home to guests. His long time employee Felisa and her husband Ron have the ideal job as the innkeepers. This dream team is the perfect couple to welcome guests and serve (cook) amazing multi-course breakfasts and evening appetizers. And of course they serve Denner wines. I wanted to highlight a few of Ron and Felisa’s dishes…. as this is NOT your mothers B&B!

Blueberry Galette with Lemon Curd

Pastry Dough

4 cups all-purpose flour

1 tsp. salt

24 Tbs. (3 sticks) plus 3 Tbs. unsalted butter, cut into cubes

3/4 cup ice water 

Combine flour, sugar, zest, and salt in a large bowl, whisk to combine.  Add the cold butter cubes, and using your fingers, rub the butter into the flour mixture making pea sized chunks.  Add the cold water, and very gently mix until a mixture is formed.

Place the mixture on a lightly floured counter.  Bring together gently, fold over a few times to incorporate all of the butter and flour.  Shape into a ball, place in a large bowl, cover, and place in fridge for 15 minutes.  While the dough is resting, work on the filling.

1/2 cup sugar
2 tablespoons cornstarch
3 cups fresh blueberries
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 egg, lightly beaten
coarse sugar, for sprinkling

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Line a large, rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.
In a small bowl, stir together the sugar and cornstarch to get rid of any lumps. In a large bowl, toss the berries, sugar and cornstarch mixture, lemon juice, cinnamon, and salt. Roll out the dough.
Mound the blueberries into the middle of the dough, leaving an inch or two around the edges. Fold the edges over the filling, just enough to keep the berries from sliding out, overlapping and pinching where needed.
Brush the pastry with egg and sprinkle with the course sugar. Bake until golden, about 20-25 minutes. If the dough is browning too quickly, cover loosely with foil. Cool for a few minutes and serve with lemon curd.

Lemon Curd

3/4 cup sugar
1 tablespoon grated lemon rind
2 large eggs
2/3 cup fresh lemon juice (about 3 large lemons)
2 tablespoons butter

Combine the first 3 ingredients in a saucepan over medium heat, stirring with a whisk. Cook until sugar dissolves and mixture is light in color (about 3 minutes). Stir in lemon juice and butter; cook for 5 minutes or until mixture thinly coats the back of a spoon, stirring constantly with a whisk. Cool. Cover and chill (the mixture will thicken as it cools).

Note: Lemon Curd can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 1 week. You can easily double the recipe and freeze half of it in a heavy-duty zip-top plastic bag. Thaw in the refrigerator, and use within 1 week of thawing.

IMG_1743Felisa’s additional breakfast dishes included A Dutch baby served with cinnamon syrup (to be made and blogged in a future post). And a lovely first course of watermelon, tomato, buffalo mozzarella stacks topped with balsamic glaze and mint.



Felisa’s Asparagus Blue Cheese Souffle’s

Serves 8

5 tablespoons flour

1 cup whole milk

4 ounces creamy blue cheese, cut in small pieces

2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened and cubed, plus extra for buttering the souffle dishes

1/2 teaspoon salt, plus more for egg whites

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

3 egg yolks

4 egg whites

1 1/2 pounds thin asparagus spears, with tough ends cut off and discarded

kosher salt

Arrange a rack in center of oven and preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Butter generously the insides of eight 1/2 -cup oven-proof souffle dishes, ramekins or custard cups. Cut circles of parchment paper to fit the bottoms, and place circles in the bottoms of the dishes. Butter the parchment papers.

Put flour in medium saucepan and very gradually whisk in the milk, a little at a time, until you have a smooth paste. When all the milk has been added, set the saucepan over medium heat and stir continuously for a minute or longer until the mixture is smooth and quite thick.

Remove the saucepan from heat and whisk in the cheese, butter, salt and pepper. Mix well. Whisk in egg yolks.

In a large bowl, using an electric mixer on medium speed, beat egg whites with a pinch of salt until frothy. Raise speed to high and beat until whites hold stiff peaks but are not dry. Fold egg whites into cheese mixture in three equal additions.

Divide mixture evenly among prepared souffle dishes and place them in a large baking pan. Carefully pour in enough boiling water to reach halfway up the sides of the souffle dishes.

Bake souffles at 375 degrees oven in water bath until puffed and golden, 15 to 20 minutes. Remove from oven and cool in the pan 5 minutes. Run a knife around inside edges of each souffle dish and then, carefully unmold (if desired) a souffle and place it, right side up, in a buttered baking dish. Repeat with remaining souffles. (Souffles can be prepared a day ahead. Cool, cover and refrigerate. Bring to room temperature before reheating.)

To reheat: Arrange rack at center position of oven and preheat oven to 375 degrees. Bake souffles, uncovered, until heated through, 8 to 10 minutes or longer. They will rise again slightly. While souffles are heating, cook asparagus in a large pot of boiling water to cover, until tender, 3 to 4 minutes for very thin asparagus spears; a minute or two longer for larger ones. Drain well, salt to taste, then cover with foil to keep warm until souffles are done.


Not only were the dishes delish, Ron had an impromptu arts and crafts session!!




Grilled Veggies With Quinoa

May 27, 2015


After busy summer weekends, we like a fresh start on our Monday’s with healthy veggie packets. When you heat the vegetables in foil packets they release their natural juices and the heat also helps to caramelize them. This is hardly a recipe, really just a starting point for you to create a delicious dish of your own. Slice up your favorite veggies, top with goat cheese (or feta), a few garden herbs and drizzle with olive oil. Wrap up in foil, place on a hot grill and cook for 15-20 minutes. A perfect accompaniment to grilled faire. We serve the veggies on quinoa and for additional flavor we sometimes top with cooked, crumbled, mild Italian sausage.

Veggies in Foil Packets

Combination of vegetables. Red peppers. yellow peppers, orange peppers, onions, sliced portabellas, sliced garlic, drizzle of olive oil, crumbled goat cheese, rosemary and or thyme, salt and pepper.

On a large sheet of foil (sprayed with cooking oil) place all of the above and tightly close. On a medium grill heat for 15-20 minutes until desired doneness.

Be careful for steam when you open the packets. Serve on quinoa or brown rice.





May 17, 2015



A spicy twist on the classic dirty martini. I came across this jar of specialty pickled french beans and thought this could be a clever use of these summer veggies. The ingredients of the brine are apple cider vinegar, cane sugar, sweet onions, serrano peppers, red peppers, salt and spices all that make for a distinctive salty and spicy flavored tuni! Cheers!


2 1/2 ounces for Vodka

Dash of dry vermouth, optional

1/4 to 1/2 ounce of brine, to taste

Place ice and ingredients into a shaker and mix well. Pour into a martini glass and garnish with beans.



Stuffed Poblano Peppers

May 12, 2015



If you are a food prepper or have a fridge with lots of leftovers, this recipe pulls together quickly for a tasty weeknight dinner. Poblano chiles are rich and flavorful with a mild to medium heat. Mix the remaining ingredients to create a fiesta of flavor that can be adjusted to your liking.  Serve with a simple side salad.

Poblano Peppers Stuffed with Chicken and Brown Rice

Makes 8

4 large poblano chiles

2 medium tomatoes, chopped

1/2 medium white onion, chopped

large clove garlic, chopped

1 teaspoon dried oregano, crumbled

1 teaspoon ground cumin

Generous pinch ground cinnamon

Kosher salt

1 Tablespoon olive oil

2 cups shredded cooked chicken (or black beans)

1-1/2 cups cooked brown or white rice

2 cups grated sharp or extra-sharp white Cheddar (about 7 oz.)

1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro

1 Tablespoon lime juice

Position an oven rack about 4 inches from the broiler and heat the broiler on high. Line a large rimmed baking sheet with foil.

Slit the chiles from stem to tip and set on the baking sheet. Broil, turning every few minutes, until blackened all over, 5 to 8 minutes. Let cool slightly, peel off the skins, and cut out the seed cores, leaving the stems on. Turn the chiles inside out, flick out any remaining seeds, and turn right side out. Return the poblanos to the baking sheet.

Purée the tomatoes, onion, garlic, oregano, cumin, cinnamon, and 1/2 tsp. salt in a food processor. Heat the oil in a 12-inch skillet over medium heat. Add the purée and cook, stirring frequently, until the liquid has evaporated and the mixture looks thick and pulpy, 8 to 11 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat. Stir in the chicken and rice, and then 1 cup of the cheese, the cilantro, and the lime juice. Season to taste with salt. Divide the filling among the peppers, wrapping the sides of the peppers up and around the filling, some of which will still be exposed.

Broil the peppers until the cheese is melting and the top is beginning to brown, about 4 minutes. Top with the remaining 1 cup cheese and broil until the cheese is completely melted, about 2 minutes.

Garnish with cilantro, avocado (optional), sour cream (optional)

Adapted from: Fine Cooking





Celery Salad With Dates, Almonds, And Parmesan

May 2, 2015


A refreshing, simple salad that has huge flavor and big nutrition! Cool and crisp from the celery, sweet from dates, sour from the lemon, salty from Parmesan, crunch from the almonds…pretty much says it all! We love this satisfying side paired with salmon and a crisp white wine.
Celery Salad With Dates, Almonds, and Parmesan 
Serves 6
½ cup raw almonds
8 celery stalks, thinly sliced on a diagonal, leaves separated (buy fresh celery hearts)
6 dates, pitted, coarsely chopped
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 ounces Parmesan, shaved
¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil

Grilled Chicken Apple Cheddar Burgers

April 25, 2015



One of the most popular posts on ShreddedSprout is the Chipolte Apple Turkey Burger. Well, move over… have some serious competition!! This chicken burger with apples, cheddar cheese, red onion, bacon and Dijon has just won over my love of the “white burger.” Start with lean ground chicken breast and end with toppings you love.  Serve with homemade Sweet potato chips! Thanks Courtney from A-Life-From-Scratch for the inspiration!!

Grilled Chicken Burgers

Makes 6

1.5 lbs ground chicken (have your butcher grind up fresh chicken breasts)

1 small granny smith apple, diced small

5 ounces sharp cheddar cheese, grated

2 strips bacon, partially cooked and chopped (optional)

1/2 red onion, diced small

Dollop of Dijon mustard

Salt and pepper

Toppings: Avocado, tomato

Mix the above together with your hands and form into 6 burgers. Grill over medium heat for 5-8 minutes per side, until cooked through (center of patties reach 165 degrees). Serve on whole wheat bun and any extras you like. We enjoyed an avocado, tomatoes and a bit of avocado garlic aoili.

Adapted from: A-Life-From-Scratch





Lamb Meatballs

April 19, 2015


If you’re a lamb lover you will appreciate these simple yet delicious meatballs. Thomas Keller’s Ad Hoc At Home Cookbook celebrates his genius and “dumbs down” his often complex recipes for the home cook. The recipe calls for preserved lemons, which are a not difficult  to make, but they need to pickle for at least two weeks in the fridge before you can use them. They can be purchased at Trader Joe’s or substitute with the grated zest of one lemon. Adding lemon and mint are a perfect pairing with the lamb. Serve with a tasty Greek salad as a main course or with Tzatziki sauce for appetizers.

Lamb Meatballs

2 teaspoons olive oil

1 tablespoon onion, finely chopped

1 garlic clove, finely chopped

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons zucchini, finely diced

1 tablespoon cured lemons or preserved whole, finely chopped (or zest of 1 lemon)

8 ounces ground lamb

1 teaspoon dried bread crumbs (or 1 teaspoon flour)

1 egg yolk

1 tablespoon fresh mint

1. Mince the onion and garlic. Heat the olive oil in a small saute pan over medium heat. When hot, add the garlic, onion, salt and pepper, and cook until everything is soft, about 4 – 5 minutes.
2. Finely dice the zucchini and add to the pan. Cook until the zucchini is tender, about 3 – 4 minutes.
3. Remove the pan from the heat. Add the pickled lemons (or lemon zest). Scrape everything into a bowl and allow to cool to room temperature.
4. Once cool, add the lamb, egg yolk, bread crumbs and mint to the zucchini mixture. Season to taste with salt and pepper, and mix well with your hands.
5. Preheat the oven to 450°. Using damp hands, shape the mixture into 1-inch balls and place on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Bake for 12 – 15 minutes, until the meatballs are slightly browned on the outside. Serve hot or at room temperature with hummus or Tzatziki (recipe below)as a garnish.

As shown, for an appetizer….mini pitas with Tzatziki sauce, a cucumber slice, a few diced tomatoes, some chopped mint and the meatball.

Adapted from Thomas Keller, Ad Hoc At Home





IMG_1377Tzatziki (Greek Yogurt and Cucumber Sauce)

(Makes about 3 1/2 cups. You can cut the recipe in half, but it’s so good, you really shouldn’t.)
3 cups Greek Yogurt (or regular plain yogurt)
Juice of one lemon (about 3 T)
1 garlic clove, chopped
2 medium cucumbers, seeded and diced
 1 T kosher salt for salting cucumbers
1 T finely chopped fresh mint
Kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste
Peel cucumbers, then cut in half lengthwise and take a small spoon and scrape out seeds. Discard seeds. (If you use the small seedless or European cucumbers with few seeds, you can skip this step.) Slice cucumbers, then put in a colander, sprinkle on 1 T salt, and let stand for 30 minutes to draw out water. Drain well and wipe dry with paper towel.In food processor with steel blade, add cucumbers, garlic, lemon juice, mint, and a few grinds of black pepper. Process until well blended, then stir this mixture into the yogurt. Taste before adding any extra salt, then salt if needed. Place in refrigerator for at least two hours before serving so flavors can blend. (This resting time is very important.) This will keep for a few days or more in the refrigerator, but you will need to drain off any water and stir each time you use it.


Watermelon Radish And Burrata Salad

April 11, 2015



The Watermelon radish is an edible globular root that has the most vivid color you will find in this category.  As with many roots, watermelon radishes should feel heavy for their size, and their skin should feel firm. Avoid watermelon radishes that feel spongy when gently squeezed. The exterior is creamy white with a tinge of pale green at the shoulders. The interior is a deep, fuchsia and magenta color radiating out from the center to white and finishing with lime green. Its flesh is tender crisp with a mild, slightly sweet and peppery flavor. Watermelon radishes range in size from golf ball to soft ball. I added mild creamy burrata to compliment the seasonal root and finished with a light lemon and olive oil drizzle for a beautiful spring salad.

Watermelon Radish and Burrata Salad

Serves 4

8 oz. burrata 

2 Watermelon radishes, thinly sliced (best when sliced with a mandolin)

2 Tablespoons olive oil

2 Teaspoons fresh lemon juice

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Garnish: Chopped fresh chives, finely grated lemon zest and a green of your choice.

Wash radishes gently to remove any dirt. (do not peel)

Tear burrata into pieces and place on a platter. Toss thinly sliced radishes with oil and lemon juice; season with salt and pepper. Arrange radish mixture over cheese and drizzle with any remaining dressing. Top with chives and lemon zest.

Recipe Adapted from: Bon Appetit/ Alison Roman



Jalapeno Popper Deviled Eggs

April 4, 2015


Who’s bringing the deviled eggs? You just might want to volunteer! This clever twist on a traditional deviled egg combines ingredients that mirror jalapeno poppers. The creamy yolks are combined with a bit of cream cheese, jalapeno and green onions. The eggs are then topped with cheddar cheese crisps and a slice of pancetta making for a stunning presentation. This is an eggscellent way to brighten up any Easter buffet.

Jalapeno Popper Deviled Eggs 
Makes 8 deviled eggs

2 Slices of pancetta

1/4 Cup shredded cheddar

4 Hard boiled eggs  (How to make PERFECT hard-boiled eggs)

1 Tablespoon mayo, or to taste

1 Tablespoon cream cheese, or to taste

1/2 Jalapeno, diced (for more spice, leave some of the vein and a few seeds)

1 Tablespoon sliced green onions

Salt, to taste (careful, the cheese and pancetta also add salt)


Crisp up the pancetta in a non-stick pan over medium heat until edges curl and pancetta is crispy. Set aside. Wipe out the pan and heat over medium heat. Spray your pan with non stick spray and sprinkle shredded cheddar in tiny disks and cook until crispy and golden brown (they will continue to brown a bit while cooling, so don’t cook til dark). Remove from the heat and cool in the pan.

Cut the hard-boiled eggs in half and remove the yolks from the egg halves into a small bowl. Mash the yolks with a fork until fine and crumbly. Mix with the mayo, cream cheese, jalapeño, green onions and salt and pepper to taste. Fill the egg halves with the yolk mixture and top each egg half with a bit of crispy cheese and pancetta.

Adapted from: Iamafoodblog











Pasta with Yogurt, Peas, and Chile

March 28, 2015


DO NOT read this recipe and go….ewww!! These big flavors and ingredients are magical together. Jerusalem, the highly touted cookbook created by Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi, always seems to get it right. The recipe calls for Greek yogurt to create a cream based sauce. Toss in garlic, olive oil, feta, fresh basil, and pine nuts to make one of the best pasta dishes you will ever eat! This is utter perfection in a bowl. For a quick weeknight dinner, give this tasty, fresh and healthy pasta a try. Past favorite recipes from Jerusalem (and Plenty) are Marinated Mozzerella and Spinach Salad with Dates.

Pasta with Yogurt, Peas and Chile

Serves 6

2 ½ cups whole-milk Greek yogurt
2/3 cup olive oil, divided
2 medium cloves garlic, crushed or pressed
1 pound fresh or thawed frozen peas (I used 1/2 pound) If you LOVE peas use the whole pound.
Kosher salt
1 pound shell pasta (They fill up with lots of goodies)

½ cup pine nuts
2 teaspoons Turkish or Syrian chile flakes, or red pepper flakes
1  2/3 cups basil leaves, coarsely torn
8 ounces feta cheese, coarsely crumbled   (I used 6 ounces)

In the bowl of a food processor, combine the yogurt, 6 tablespoons of the olive oil, the garlic, and 2/3 cup of the peas. Process to a uniform pale green sauce, and transfer to a large mixing bowl. (Makes lots of sauce….I only used enough to make it to my desired consistency….had about 1 cup left.)

Bring a large pot of water to a boil, add salt. Add the pasta, and cook until it is al dente. While the pasta cooks, warm the remaining olive oil in a small frying pan over medium heat. Add the pine nuts and chile flakes, and cook for 4 minutes, or until the pine nuts are golden and the oil is deep red. Also, warm the remaining peas in some boiling water (I put a small strainer in the pasta as it was cooking, about 1 minute), then drain.

Drain the cooked pasta well into a colander. Add the pasta gradually to the yogurt sauce (in your serving bowl); adding it all at once may cause the yogurt to separate. Add the warm peas, the basil, feta, and 1 teaspoon kosher salt. Toss gently. Serve immediately, with pine nuts and chile oil spooned over each serving.

Plan for leftovers as this is delicious the next day served cold. Think picnic.

Next time I make this I will lighten the recipe using low-fat yogurt and whole wheat pasta,

Adapted slightly from: Jeruselem, by Yotem Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi










Sweet Pea Pancakes

March 21, 2015















Spring has sprung. Time to close the chapter on cozy comfort food and turn the page to fresh green spring veggies. Fresh peas are a sure sign of Spring and the health benefits are impressive. Green peas contain adequate amounts of anti-oxidants, flavonoids, as well as vitamin A. They’re also rich in phyto-nutrients and minerals.

These tasty little pancakes will certainly turn sweet peas into a savory side for grilled lamb chops or a light lunch paired with a green salad. I like the idea of topping the pancakes with a piece of smoked salmon, a touch of creme fraiche and chives as a Spring appetizer.

I’ve been holding on to this recipe for a couple of years since being introduced to these savory delicacies at a cooking class with Kathy Harrison. Thanks for the inspiration, Kathy!

Sweet Pea Pancakes

2 cups fresh or frozen shelled peas (I used a good quality frozen peas and they were perfect))

1½ tablespoon butter, browned (or melted)

1 egg

1 egg yolk

½ cup heavy cream

1/3 cup all-purpose white flour


Freshly ground pepper

Optional: 2 tablespoons finely chopped chives

Butter for the griddle

Topping ideas: Crème fraiche or sour cream mixed with chopped chives and maybe a little Meyer lemon zest, smoked salmon, and maybe some pickled capers.

In a small pan over medium heat, cook the butter until brown (but not burnt) and pour it into a small cup to cool. This method adds a rich, nutty flavor. (Or you can just use melted butter.)

If using fresh peas, blanch them in boiling water for a couple of minutes, drain and cool them. If using frozen peas, thaw them at room temperature for 20-30 minutes until they are soft but not mushy. Place the peas in the bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade. Pulse until combined. Add the egg, egg yolk and heavy cream. Blend.

Transfer to a mixing bowl. Whisk in flour and melted butter. Season with salt and pepper. If adding chives, stir in at this time.

Heat a griddle over high heat. Reduce the heat to medium, and add enough butter or oil to coat the bottom. Drop the batter by spoonfuls and cook for about four minutes, until golden brown at the edges, then flip and cook for another three minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature.
Do Ahead: The batter can be made 1 day ahead. Cover and refrigerate.

Makes approximately 20 pancakes depending on the size.

Adapted from: Suzanne Goin, The A.O.C. Cookbook





St. Paddy’s Day Stuffed Potaotes

March 13, 2015


Colcannon: mashed potatoes studded with tender cabbage or kale, onions, salt, pepper, butter and cream. This traditional Irish potato dish is typically served on Halloween. Well, I’m turning this savory side into a hearty main for St. Paddy’s Day by adding corned beef and horseradish sauce! Stuffing these spuds with the earthy and creamy flavors makes for a delicious and satisfying meal before you head out to celebrate and pretend you’re Irish. Add a kale salad (see below), some Guinness, this dessert …and you have yourself a fun, affordable menu. A few other party ideas…flatbread, SPD rolls, and SPD grilled cheese.

St. Paddy’s Day Stuffed Potatoes

Serves 4

4 large russet potatoes, scrubbed, pierced a few times with a fork

4-5 slices thick-cut first cut deli corned beef cubed OR shredded leftovers

4 stems (stemmed) and chopped curly kale OR about 1-1/2 cups green cabbage

4 tablespoons chicken stock

4 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

1- 1/2 cups (4 oz) coarsely grated Cheddar Cheese OR Irish Cheddar

1/4 cup sour cream

2 tablespoons (or more to taste) horseradish cream (big yum!)

1 tablespoons canola oil

1 tablespoons thinly sliced fresh chives or scallions

*Can be made 1 day ahead and refrigerated.

Position a rack in the center of the oven and heat the oven to 425 degrees. Place the potatoes directly on the oven rack and bake until tender when pierced with a fork, about approximately 1 hour or until fork comes out easily. Transfer the potatoes to a cutting board and let sit until cool enough to handle, about 10 minutes.

In a skillet over medium heat, add chicken stock and kale, stirring until kale is wilted, 4 minutes. Set aside.

Cut a 1/2-inch-thick slice lengthwise off the top of each potato; scrape the flesh from the slices into a large bowl and discard the skins. Spoon the flesh from the potatoes into the bowl, leaving a 1/4-inch shell. Add the butter, 3/4 tsp. salt, and 1/2 tsp. pepper and mix with a potato masher until blended; do not overwork (lumps are OK). Gently fold in the corned beef, kale mixture, sour cream, horseradish sauce and half of the cheese with a spatula. Season to taste with more salt and pepper. Adjust consistency by adding more sour cream or horseradish sauce if desired.

Rub the outsides of the potato shells with the oil. Distribute the filling among the shells, and place on a rimmed baking sheet.

Bake the potatoes, uncovered, until heated through, 25 to 30 minutes, until hot in the center. Sprinkle the potatoes with the remaining cheese and bake until the cheese melts and browns lightly in some places, 2 to 3 minutes more. Garnish the potatoes with the scallions, and serve.

Add a side salad to get a complete meal. You may want to eliminate the kale from the potato mixture and make this Kale Salad (below).

Kale Salad

Kale bunch, stem removed, thinly sliced

Radishes bunch, thinly sliced

2 carrots, julienned

Salt and Pepper


Keeping it… St. Paddy’s Style

2-3 tablespoons horseradish (to taste) or sauce from above recipe
1/2 cup creme fraiche, add more if needed
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil (or less, depending on desired consistency)
Salt and pepper to taste






Corned Beef Grilled Cheese Sandwich with Guinness Caramelized Onions

March 7, 2015


It’s savory, sweet, gooey and all around perfect to add to your grilled cheese repertoire. AND just in time for St. Patrick’s Day! Plan for a casual dinner or a tasty leftover creation. Caramelizing the onions in Guinness softens their flavor and adds a note of sweet chocolate. The Dijon and Worcestershire bring a smokey bite while the grated cheddar cheese softens all the flavors to make an over-the-top delicious grilled cheese sandwich!!

Corned Beef Grilled Cheese Sandwich with Guinness Caramelized Onions

Makes 1 sandwich

1 tablespoon oil

1 medium onion, sliced

1/2 cup Guinness,  in a can (milder flavor)

1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce

2 teaspoons grainy mustard

1 tablespoon butter, room temperature

2 slices rye or dark rye, lightly toasted

1/2 cup cheddar, shredded, room temperature

2 ounces cooked corned beef, warm (use leftovers or a very lean deli brand like Boars Head)

Heat the oil in a pan over medium heat. Add the onions and saute until tender, about 5-7 minutes.

Add 1/4 cup Guinness , cover and simmer until the liquid has mostly evaporated, about 15 minutes and repeat 2 times.

Remove from heat and mix in the Worcestershire sauce and grainy mustard.

Heat a non-stick pan over medium heat.

Butter the outside of each slice of bread, sprinkle half of the cheese on the inside of one slice of bread, top with half of the onions, the corned beef, the remaining onions, cheese and finally the other slice of bread.

Add the sandwich to the pan and grill until golden brown and the cheese has melted, about 2-4 minutes per side.

Adapted from: Closetcooking





Braised Short Ribs

February 28, 2015


What’s the perfectly elegant yet casual dinner party meal, you ask? Braised short ribs. This dish has a deep, rich flavor benefiting from a long, slow cooking process.

Short ribs, when done to perfection, literally fall off their bones. Starting with browning the meat and adding the holy trinity of vegetables, (onions, celery and carrots) you are well on your way to creating this mouth-watering dish. The herbs that are natural companions (thyme, oregano and rosemary) along with the braising liquid of wine and broth, create a beautiful sauce. Ideally, cook the day before and refrigerate.

The short ribs are the star of the show, so keep the side simple. Mashed potatoes, polenta or a plain wide noodle are the perfect side to soak up all that yummy sauce. This entree pairs well with a hearty Cabernet Sauvignon.

Braised Short Ribs

Serves 6

5 pounds bone-in beef short ribs, cut crosswise into 2″ pieces
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
3 medium onions, chopped
3 medium carrots, peeled, chopped
2 celery stalks, chopped
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 750-ml bottle dry red wine (preferably Cabernet Sauvignon)
10 sprigs flat-leaf parsley
8 sprigs thyme
4 sprigs oregano
2 sprigs rosemary
2 fresh or dried bay leaves
1 head of garlic, halved crosswise
4 cups low-salt beef stock
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Season short ribs with salt and pepper. Heat oil in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Working in 2 batches, brown short ribs on all sides, about 8 minutes per batch. Transfer short ribs to a plate. Pour off all but 3 tablespoon drippings from pot.
Add onions, carrots, and celery to pot and cook over medium-high heat, stirring often, until onions are browned, about 5 minutes. Add flour and tomato paste; cook, stirring constantly, until well combined and deep red, 2-3 minutes. Stir in wine, then add short ribs with any accumulated juices. Bring to a boil; lower heat to medium and simmer until wine is reduced by half, about 25 minutes. Add all herbs to pot along with garlic. Stir in stock. Bring to a boil, cover, and transfer to oven.
Cook until short ribs are tender, 2–2 1/2 hours. Transfer short ribs to a platter. Strain the sauce from pot into a bowl. Spoon fat from the surface of sauce and discard.  (This dish is better if made the day before and the sauce is easier to de-fat after being refrigerated.) Season sauce to taste with salt and pepper. Serve in shallow bowls over mashed potatoes, polenta or noodles with sauce spooned over.
Adapted from: Bon Appetit

Kung Pao Brussels Sprouts

February 21, 2015




Who doesn’t like (love) Kung Pao Chicken? How about a twist on your favorite Chinese take-out? Just add Brussels Sprouts to your Asian pantry staples…I hope by now you all have the ingredients on hand. Roast these seasonal beauties until they are firm but crisp and then toss into the sweet and spicy sauce for a dish that is layered with flavor. For a vegetarian option, I serve this dish with brown rice topped with roasted peanuts. If you want to add a protein, chicken or salmon is a nice complement.

Kung Pao Brussels Sprouts

Serves 6

2 pounds Brussels sprouts, halved
5 tablespoons vegetable oil, divided
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon cornstarch
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 tablespoons finely chopped peeled ginger
2 tablespoons hot chili paste (sambal oelek)
6 dried chiles de árbol, lightly crushed ( I omitted these)
½ cup soy sauce
1 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons rice vinegar, unseasoned
⅓ cup unsalted, roasted peanuts, chopped

Preheat oven to 425°. Toss Brussels sprouts and 4 Tbsp. oil on a rimmed baking sheet; season with salt and pepper. Roast, tossing once, until softened (but not soft) and browned, 20–25 minutes. Set aside.

Mix cornstarch and 1 Tbsp. water in a small bowl until smooth.

Heat remaining 1 Tbsp. oil in a medium saucepan over medium-high. Add garlic and ginger and cook, stirring often, until garlic is golden brown, about 2 minutes. Add chili paste and cook, stirring, until darkened, about 2 minutes. Add chiles, soy sauce, sugar, vinegar, and ½ cup water and bring to a boil; stir in cornstarch slurry. Simmer, stirring, until sauce coats spoon, about 2 minutes. Let cool slightly.

Toss Brussels sprouts with sauce and serve topped with peanuts.
Adapted from: Bon Appetit



Scallops With Brussels Sprouts And Pancetta

February 14, 2015



It’s Valentines Day and you are NOT paying 2x for dinner “out.” This entree, along with a nice bottle of champagne and strawberries, will make for a very special evening at home. With only a handful of ingredients, this meal takes about 20 minutes…all in!! Brussels Sprouts are well accented by crisp pancetta, shallots, and garlic…a perfect accompaniment to the sweet, tender scallops. Drizzle with a light, lemony sauce for a perfect finish. All you procrastinators….you’re welcome!! For a quick and impressive sweet ending I suggest Balsamic Strawberries with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. See recipe below.

Scallops With Brussels Sprouts

Serves 2     OR  1 scallop each for an appetizer course

1/4 cup crème fraîche

1/4 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest

1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice

1 tablespoon snipped chives

3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

Salt and freshly ground pepper

6 jumbo scallops (about 3/4 pound)

6 thin slices pancetta (about 2 ounces)

1/2 pound Brussels sprouts, thinly sliced

1 shallot, thinly sliced

1 tablespoon unsalted butter

1 garlic clove, minced

In a small bowl, whisk the crème fraîche with the finely grated lemon zest, fresh lemon juice, snipped chives and 1 tablespoon of the olive oil. Season the lemon-chive crème fraîche with salt and pepper.

In a medium skillet, heat the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil until shimmering. Generously season the scallops with salt and pepper and add them to the skillet. Cook the scallops over moderately high heat, turning once, until they are golden and just cooked through, about 5 minutes. Transfer the scallops to a plate; tent with aluminum foil to keep warm.

Or cook the scallops until caramelized, the Thomas Keller way!

Meanwhile, in another medium skillet, cook the pancetta over moderately high heat, turning once, until browned and crisp, about 4 minutes. Add the Brussels sprouts and shallot and cook, stirring, until the Brussels sprouts are softened but still bright green, about 2 minutes. Off the heat, stir in the butter and garlic and season with salt and pepper; transfer to plates and top with the scallops. Serve with the lemon-chive crème fraîche.

This dish would also work well for a first course appetizer.

Inspiration from: Maureen

Recipe Adapted from: Food And Wine

Balsamic Strawberries

Serves 2

1 pint (about 2 cups) fresh strawberries, sliced thick, note the heart shape!
1 1/2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1/2 tablespoon sugar
Pinch freshly ground black pepper
Vanilla ice cream, for serving
Freshly grated lemon zest, for serving

Thirty minutes to an hour before serving, combine the strawberries, balsamic vinegar, sugar, and pepper in a bowl. Set aside at room temperature.

Place a serving of the strawberries in a bowl with a scoop of ice cream on top and dust lightly with lemon zest.

Recipe adapted from: Ina Garten







Momofuku Crack Pie

February 8, 2015


I needed a gesture of thanks…and a BIG one for our awesome neighbors, the Koz family!! We were stranded in Dallas while Chicago was getting pummeled by another storm of the century. They shoveled our driveway that had drifts up to three feet. I knew a sweet treat would be appreciated. And sweet it is!!! This pie is the creation of Christina Tosi, pastry chef at the acclaimed Momofuku Milk Bar (NYC). This infamous pie has a cult following and is as addictive as the name suggests. Although the recipe has lots of steps, it does not require much skill. The result…rich, gooey, chewy, salty, butter-scotchy…………ridiculousness!!!

Momofuku Milk Bar Crack Pie

Two (10-inch) pies      (and that’s a GOOD thing)


For the Oat Cookie:
½ cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
⅓ cup light brown sugar
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 egg yolk
½ cup bread flour
1½ cups old-fashioned rolled oats
½ teaspoon kosher salt
⅛ teaspoon baking powder
Pinch of baking soda

1 recipe Oat Cookie (above)
1 tablespoon light brown sugar
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ cup unsalted butter, melted

Pie Filling
1½ cups granulated sugar
¾ cup light brown sugar
¼ cup dry milk powder
¼ cup cornstarch
1½ teaspoons kosher salt
1 cup unsalted butter, melted
¾ cup heavy cream
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
8 egg yolks


1. Make the Oat Cookie: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.

2. Combine the butter and sugars in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and cream together on medium-high speed for 2 to 3 minutes, until fluffy and pale yellow. Scrape the sides of the bowl and, on low-speed, at the egg yolk and increase the speed to medium-high and beat for 1 to 2 minutes, until the mixture is pale white.

3. Again, scrape down the sides of the bowl and, on low-speed, add the flour, oats, salt, baking powder and baking soda. Mix until the dough comes together and there are no remnants of dry ingredients, about 1 minute.

4. Turn the dough out onto the prepared baking sheet and, using an offset spatula, spread to a ¼-inch thickness (it won’t take up the entire sheet). Bake for 15 minutes, or until the middle of the cookie is puffed, but the edges are firmly set. (This will ensure it crumbles like sand.) Cool completely before using.

5. Make the Crust: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl, break up the oat cookie into small crumbs resembling wet sand. Add the brown sugar and salt and stir to combine. Add the butter and use a rubber spatula to stir and press the mixture against the sides of the bowl until a cohesive mass forms. If the crust is not moist enough to form a cohesive mass, melt an additional 1 to 1½ tablespoons of butter and mix in as before.

6. Divide the oat cookie crust between two pie plates and press firmly into the pie plates, making sure that the bottom and sides are evenly covered. (If not using immediately, the pie shells can be wrapped in plastic wrap and refrigerated for up to 2 weeks.)

7. Make the Pie Filling: Combine the sugar, brown sugar, milk powder, cornstarch and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment and mix on low-speed until evenly blended. Add the melted butter and mix for 2 to 3 minutes, until all of the dry ingredients are moist. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and add the heavy cream and vanilla, then continue to mix on low-speed for 2 to 3 minutes, until no white streaks remain. Add the egg yolks and mix on low-speed just long enough to combine, until the mixture is glossy, but do not over mix! (If not using immediately, the filling can be stored in an airtight container and refrigerated for up to 1 week.)

8. Bake the Pie: Place the prepared pie plates on a sheet pan. Divide the filling evenly between the pie crusts; the filling should only fill the plates about ¾ of the way full. Bake for 15 minutes, until the pies are golden brown on top but still very jiggly.

9. Open the oven door and reduce the oven temperature to 325 degrees. Leave the pies in the oven and the oven door open until the temperature reaches 325 degrees. Once it does, close the oven door and bake for 5 to 10 minutes longer, until the pies are jiggly in the very center, but set around the outer edges.

10. Remove the pies from the oven and place on a wire rack to cool to room temperature. Freeze the pies for at least 3 hours or overnight (this step condenses the filling and is a required step). Transfer the pies from the freezer to the refrigerator for at least 1 hour before serving. (If not using immediately, the pies can be wrapped in plastic wrap and kept in the refrigerator for up to 5 days or in the freezer for up to 1 month.)

11. Just prior to serving, dust the pie with powdered sugar. Serve with a dollop of whipped cream or vanilla ice cream. I suggest serving with whip cream…without any added sugar.

Recipe from: Momofuku Milk Bar

For another Momofuku recipe try….Banana Creme Pie Shooters









January 29, 2015
Homemade potstickers may seem intimidating but they are actually easy and fun to make. These dumplings fry and steam at the same time, leaving them soft and crispy. The deliciousness of the ingredients…ginger, garlic, sesame oil, water chestnuts and soy are suited for a meat or meatless option. Customize your dumpling to your liking. You can make ahead and freeze…just perfect for those game day get-togethers!! More game day  ideas…Asian Meatballs, Lettuce Wraps, or Reuben Sliders.


Makes 30

2 cups Napa Cabbage, chopped (I omitted this)

3/4 teaspoon kosher salt, plus 1/8 teaspoon for seasoning

1/3 pound ground pork OR ground chicken

1 tablespoon fresh ginger, minced (from 1/2-inch knob)

1 small carrot, coarsely shredded (about 2 tablespoons)

1 tablespoon minced cilantro

2 scallions, thinly sliced (about 1/4 cup)

2 cloves garlic, minced (about 2 teaspoons)

1 tablespoon soy sauce

2 teaspoons Asian  sesame oil

1/2 egg, lightly beaten (Note: 1/2 egg!)

1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

30 gyoza (pot sticker) wrappers

1/4 cup canola oil

Dipping Sauce

2 tablespoons sambal

1/2 cup rice wine vinegar

1/2 cup soy sauce

1 teaspoon sesame oil

I omitted this step…..In large bowl, (toss together cabbage, I omitted) and 3/4 teaspoon salt and set aside for 30 minutes. Transfer to clean dish towel or cheesecloth, gather ends together, and twist to squeeze out as much water as possible. Wipe bowl clean, then return cabbage to it.

Add pork, ginger, carrots, scallions, and garlic and stir to combine.

In small bowl, whisk together soy sauce, sesame oil, and 1/2 egg, then stir into cabbage-pork mixture. Stir in pepper and remaining 1/8 teaspoon salt.

On dry surface, lay out 1 gyoza wrapper, keeping remaining wrappers covered with dampened cloth or paper towel. Spoon 1 1/2 teaspoons filling into center, then moisten halfway around edge with wet finger. Fold moisture-free half of wrapper over moistened half to form open half-moon shape. To seal, using thumb and forefinger of one hand, form 4-6 tiny pleats along unmoistened edge of wrapper, pressing pleats against moistened border to enclose filling. Moistened border will stay smooth and will automatically curve in semicircle. Stand dumpling, seam-side up, on baking sheet and gently press to flatten bottom. Cover loosely with dampened cloth or paper towel. Form remaining dumplings in same manner. This video will help you with pleating the dumplings.

In 10-inch, lidded, non-stick skillet over moderately high heat, heat oil until hot but not smoking, then remove from heat and arrange pot stickers in tight circular pattern standing up in oil (they should touch one another). Cook, uncovered, until bottoms are pale golden, 2 to 3 minutes. Be careful with this next step!! (Have top covering pan and quickly pour water…the oil will splatter!) Add 1/2 cup water, tilting skillet to distribute, then cover tightly with lid and cook until liquid has evaporated and bottoms of dumplings are crisp and golden, 7 to 10 minutes. Add 2 tablespoons more water if skillet looks dry before bottoms are browned. Remove lid and cook, shaking skillet to loosen pot stickers, until steam dissipates, 1 to 2 minutes. Seve pot stickers warm.

For dipping sauce, combine all ingredients in a small bowl and serve.

To freeze, place potstickers on a baking sheet and freeze. Once frozen you can place them all together in a freezer bag or container. To reheat add frozen potstickers to hot oil and continue with the steps above.

Adapted from: Ming Tsai








Cauliflower and Caramelized Onion Tart

January 24, 2015


Cauliflower seems to be getting a bit more love lately….as it should. This cruciferous vegetable boosts antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, cardiovascular and digestive support. Roasting cauliflower turns the slightly bitter flavor to sweet and nutty. Healthy and yummy. NOW add sweet caramelized onions, a cheesy custard, a bit of dijon and you have a rich, decadent, stand-alone dinner entree, a perfect brunch item or an addition to a holiday buffet. A bit of a splurge I know but there are occasions people!

Cauliflower and Caramelized Onion Tart

Serves 8

1 small head of cauliflower (about 1 pound)
3 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon truffle oil or a few pinches of truffle salt (optional, I did not add)
1 refrigerated pie crust or a homemade tart shell (recipe below)
1 large onion, halved lengthwise and thinly sliced
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
2 large eggs
1  8- ounce container mascarpone cheese (see Note below for suggested substitutions)
1/2 cup whipping cream (I used whole milk)
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
Pinch of ground nutmeg
1 cup grated Gruyère cheese (you could sub: Swiss or Comté)
1/3 cup Parmesan cheese

Position rack in center of oven and preheat oven to 425°F. Toss cauliflower with 2 tablespoons olive oil in large bowl. Spread on rimmed baking sheet, sprinkle with salt and pepper and roast 15 minutes before turning florets over and roasting until brown and tender, another 15 minutes. Cool cauliflower then thinly slice and drizzle with truffle oil or sprinkle with truffle salt, if using.  Reduce oven temperature to 350°F.

If using store-bought pie crust, press it onto the bottom and up the sides of a 9-inch diameter tart pan with removable bottom. Line crust with foil, fill with pie weights and bake 20 minutes. Remove foil and weights then bake until crust is golden, about 5 additionally minutes. Press crust back with the back of a fork if bubbles form. Cool crust and maintain oven temperature.

Heat remaining 1 1/2 tablespoon olive oil in a heavy large skillet over medium-low heat. Add onion, sprinkle with salt and pepper and cook until onion is a deep golden brown, stirring occasionally. Approximately 30 minutes. Cool slightly.

Using a knife or brush spread the bottom and sides of crust with mustard. Spread onion over crust. Arrange cauliflower over the onion. Set the tart on a rimmed baking sheet. Whisk eggs, mascarpone, cream (or milk) and pepper in a medium bowl. Stir in Gruyère. Pour mixture over filling in tart pan, sprinkle with Parmesan. Bake until tart is golden and center is set, about 40 minutes. Transfer to rack and cool 15 minutes before serving.

Do ahead: Onions can be caramelized, dough can be par-baked (or rolled and pressed into pan, if homemade) and cauliflower can be roasted a day ahead. Store a par-baked crust at room temperature, a rolled-out unbaked crust and cauliflower and onion in the fridge. Keep cauliflower and onion should in separate containers. The whole tart can be made and baked a day in advance, reheated in a low oven before serving.

Adapted from Bon Appetit/ Smitten Kitchen

A Savory Tart Shell

Adapted from Le Pain Quotidien

1 1/4 cups flour
1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons cornstarch
1/4 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons butter, diced
1 egg

In a large bowl, combine the flour, cornstarch and one-fourth teaspoon salt. Cut the butter in with a pastry blender, fork or two knives until it is in very tiny bits. Add one egg and mix with a fork until a dough forms. If this does not happen easily, toss it out onto a counter and knead it together. This dough is rather tough but with a little elbow grease, it does come together nicely. (I made this dough TWICE!! In a food processor the dough was too hard to handle and roll out…I recommend by hand with a fork).

On a lightly floured surface, roll the dough out to a 12-inch circle. Place the dough in a 9-inch pie plate or tart pan and press to remove any air bubbles. Crimp the edges, and refrigerate for 30 minutes. Proceed with your filling, no par-baking required.












Salad Nicoise with Seared Tuna

January 18, 2015


January. A fresh start. This healthy, protein packed salad from Provence, a staple in bistros all over France, may just be the entree to add to your weekday repertoire. In the traditional recipe according to Jacques Medecin, an authority on Provencal cuisine, “Never include boiled potato or any other boiled vegetable in your Nicoise. The only cooked ingredient should be eggs to be a authentic Nicoise”. My version goes like this. While high quality canned tuna is standard in French Bistros….I choose fresh (not a fan of the can!). Baked salmon is a smart alternative to tuna. I also include lettuce, tomatoes, potatoes, green beans, anchovies, olives and eggs. This is really just a starting point….be creative with your veggies. This French vinaigrette ties these components together beautifully. You typically find this salad on summer menus, however, the ingredients can be found fresh year round (O.K. maybe not tomatoes) so you can enjoy this satisfying meal all seasons!!

Salad Nicoise

Serves 8          (pictured, serves 2-3)

2 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1/2 lemon, juiced
2 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
2 tablespoons minced fresh tarragon
Sea salt and ground black pepper
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 pound small red new potatoes, scrubbed and halved
8 large eggs
1/2 pound haricots verts or French green beans, stems trimmed
2 pounds fresh sushi-quality tuna
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
1 cup nicoise olives
16 anchovy fillets
16 caper berries with stems or 2 tablespoons capers
1/2 bunch fresh chives, snipped in 1/2

Dressing: Combine all ingredients in a jar or processor. Shake the vinaigrette to emulsify or blend together in your processor. Set the dressing aside while preparing the salad.

Place the potatoes in a large saucepan, add water to cover and a pinch of salt; bring to a boil over medium heat. Simmer the potatoes for approximately 20 minutes or until fork tender. Place a steamer basket or colander on top of simmering water. Put the green beans in the steamer and cover with a lid. Steam the beans for 5 minutes until crisp-tender. Rinse the beans under cold water to stop the cooking. Make hard-boiled eggs. Peel the shells off the hard-boiled eggs and cut them in 1/2 lengthwise.

Place a large skillet over medium-high heat. Rub the tuna on all sides with olive oil, and a bit of the dressing; season salt and pepper. Lay the tuna in the hot pan and sear for approximately 1-2 minutes on each side; as the tuna cooks, the red meat will become whiter. Transfer the tuna to a cutting board and slice.

To assemble the salad: combine the potatoes, green beans, tomatoes, olives, anchovies, capers, and chives in a large mixing bowl. Take the vinaigrette and give it another good shake to recombine. Drizzle the salad with dressing and toss gently to coat; season with salt and pepper. Toss carefully. Put the tossed salad down the center of a serving platter and lay the seared tuna attractively across the top and the eggs around the rim. Drizzle with the remaining vinaigrette and serve.

Adapted from   Tyler Florence





Pear And Fennel Salad

January 13, 2015
Fennel and pear are wonderful partners and combine beautifully to create this winter-time salad. The paper-thin fennel with a subtle, slightly sweet anise flavor, the bright peppery arugula and the crisp pear make this a perfect side for your comfy entree (braised beef shank?). The immune boosting fennel is a great source of vitamin A, potassium, iron and aids in digestion. Pears are an excellent source of fiber and plenty of vitamin C. Add the nutritional power house, baby spinach, and you have a healthy and delicious salad!
Pear And Fennel Salad
Serves 4-6
2 ripe pears, sliced about ⅛ inch thick
1 small fennel bulb, if you are prepping with a knife try your best to slice very thin (I used a mandolin)
Lemon, a squeeze
Arugula or baby spinach (I used both)
¼ cup toasted walnuts
¼ cup crumbled blue cheese
Mint leaves, a few to garnish
¼ cup olive oil
2 tablespoons sherry vinegar
 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
¼ teaspoon honey
Pinch of red pepper flakes
Salt & pepper
Thinly slice fennel into a small bowl. Drizzle a tiny bit of olive oil, a small squeeze of lemon, and some salt. Toss and set aside. (this process tenderizes the fennel a bit).
Whisk together the dressing ingredients, taste and adjust seasoning. Set aside.
In a larger bowl, toss together the pears, arugula, fennel, most of the blue cheese, and most of the walnuts. Dress the salad, be careful not to overdress! Taste and adjust seasonings again. Assemble on a platter and top with the remaining cheese, walnuts, and mint leaves. Serve.
Adapted from: Love And Lemons


French Onion Grilled Cheese Sandwich

January 4, 2015


Grilled cheese is perfect anytime, but with our first measurable snowfall and a lazy Sunday, grilled cheese seems like a perfect meal. There are so many creative combinations for this ultimate comfort food. With grilled cheese being soup’s best friend …let’s combine the two with this French Onion Grilled Cheese Sandwich. The nutty, sweet Gruyere pairs perfectly with the caramelized onion. I promise this gooey, savory sandwich will be one of your favorites. Other clever ideas….brie, pear and prosciuttobacon jam, tomato and cheddar…goat cheese and roasted red pepper.

French Onion Soup Grilled Cheese Sandwich
Makes 2
1 large yellow onion- thinly sliced
1 tablespoon oil
Salt and pepper
1/4 cup sherry or beef stock
4 slices hearty Bread ( I used French)
2 tablespoons butter ( or 1 tablespoon butter 1 tablespoon oil)
1 cup grated Gruyere cheese
1 teaspoon fresh thyme

In a large skillet,  heat oil on medium heat. Add onion and saute for 5 minutes, stirring to coat. Turn heat down to medium low. Stir occasionally and continue sauteing for about 30 minutes, until the onions caramelize and turn golden brown. Add a pinch of salt, sherry or stock and let the liquid cook off. Remove from pan onions from the pan. 
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Spread outer  slices of  bread with softened butter. On two slices, divide and layer shredded Gruyere, top with caramelized onions, sprinkle with fresh thyme leaves, then add the rest of the cheese. Top with the other slice of bread, press together.
Heat 2 butter (or a combination of butter and oil) in the same skillet over medium heat. Place sandwiches in the pan and toast, carefully flipping when golden brown and cheese begins to melt. Place in oven to fully melt the cheese.

Spaghetti Squash and Italian Sausage

December 29, 2014















It’s hard for me to believe this was the first time I’ve made spaghetti squash. I’m a lover of the butternut and I’m a lover of the acorn and now you can add spaghetti to the list. It’s one of the easiest vegetables to create a tasty, simple weeknight meal. This little recipe has a sweet Italian flavor with a bit of a kick. Add your favorite chicken, turkey or Italian sausage. For another healthy alternative, toss with shredded kale, olive oil, garlic, parmesan cheese and a splash of lemon juice.

Spaghetti Squash and Italian Sausage

Serves 4
1 small spaghetti squash (about 2 pounds)
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
4 hot Italian sausage (pork, chicken or turkey)
1 red bell pepper, thinly sliced
1 medium onion, halved and thinly sliced
1 clove garlic, chopped
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
Freshly grated parmesan cheese

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.

Split the squashes in half and scrape out seeds. Line an oven tray with aluminum foil. Season the spaghetti squash with olive oil, salt, and pepper. Place flesh side down and roast for 30 to 40 minutes until fully cooked. Remove from the oven and let rest until cool enough to handle.

When squash is cool enough to handle, using a large kitchen spoon scrape the strands of squash from the inside of the skin.

Meanwhile, heat a grill pan over medium heat. Grill the sausages, turning, until cooked through, about 20 minutes.

Heat the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Add the bell pepper, onion and 1 teaspoon salt and cook until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook until the vegetables begin to brown, about 4 more minutes. Toss in the squash and parsley and season with salt and pepper. Serve with the sausages and sprinkle with parmesan.

Adapted from:  Food Network



Salted Butter Caramel-Chocolate Mousse

December 21, 2014














I’m in planning mode for Christmas Eve dinner. I love the idea of a rich chocolate dessert to put that exclamation point on the evening. On past Eve’s we’ve closed with Creme Brulee, Strawberry Panna Cotta, Chocolate Almond Torte, Chocolate Lava Cake…BUT this finale will take the cake. Salted Butter Caramel-Chocolate Mousse. Very few ingredients, so make sure all steps are ready to go…. and smooth sailing. Watch carefully as the sugar melts and transforms itself into a smokey, amber caramel (it can go from slightly smokey to burnt quickly). Then just add butter, chocolate, let cool and finish the recipe. The result…a rich, fluffy, decadent dessert. The remainder of the menu is shaping up like this: shrimp cocktail, marinated, seared tuna bites as appetizers (thank you Diamond Seafood), Shredded Sprout and Kale Salad and Lobster Risotto. After reading this to Randy….he fainted!

Salted Butter Caramel-Chocolate Mousse

Serves 4 (large) -6

1/2 cup granulated sugar

3 tablespoons unsalted butter, cubed

3/4 cup heavy cream

6 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, chopped

4 large eggs, separated

1/2 teaspoon flaky sea salt, preferably fleur de sel

Garnish: shaved chocolate or crumbled toffee.

Evenly place the sugar in a wide saucepan. Heat over medium heat. As it begins to liquefy at the edges, use a heatproof spatula to gently drag the liquefied sugar toward the center. Careful here….sugar will caramelize quickly….don’t let it burn.  Continue cooking, stirring gently, until the sugar is melted and caramelized. Continue cooking until the caramel is a deep amber color and has a slight burnt smell.

Remove the caramel from the heat and quickly whisk in the butter pieces, stirring until melted. Gradually whisk in the cream, stirring until caramel and creme are blended.

Once smooth, stir in the chocolate until it is melted and the mixture is smooth. Scrape the mixture into a large bowl and allow to cool to room temperature.

Once the mixture is cooled, whisk in the egg yolks. In a separate bowl, whip the egg whites to stiff peaks.

Fold 1/3 of the whipped egg whites into the chocolate, adding in the flaky salt. Fold in the remaining whipped egg whites until no white streaks remain. Divide the mousse into serving glasses or a decorative serving bowl, and chill for at least 8 hours. Serve chilled with a dollop of unsweetened whipped creme. The creme cuts the richness of the mousse beautifully.

Garnish with shaved chocolate or crumbled toffee (as shown).

Adapted from: WhiteonRiceCouple   Originally from David Lebovitz ” My Paris Kitchen”




Breakfast Pizza With Gruyere, Baked Eggs, Spinach and Bacon

December 13, 2014



I’m sooo over “the putting a fried egg” on everything!!!  However, eggs on a breakfast pizza makes sense. The original recipe did not include spinach…I like the idea of adding this veggie with Gruyere. Although a successful dish, with my next attempt I will roll the dough free form on a baking sheet with edges slightly turned up to capture all the yummy toppings. The eggs seem to become somewhat free form as they settle into the crevices. Ohhhh…. and the doughy crust is the perfect way to sop up all the delicious cheese and egg.

Breakfast Pizza With Gruyere Cheese, Baked Eggs, Spinach, And Bacon

Serves 4

Crust  (or store-bought)

2 cups flour

¼ teaspoon salt

1 egg

2 tablespoons melted butter

1 tablespoon cold water

1 tablespoon chopped chives


¼ cup Crème fraîche, or Greek yogurt

1/2 cup shredded Gruyère cheese

1/4 cup spinach, (chopped, frozen) thaw and squeeze out all liquid

7 bacon slices, cooked until almost crisp (they will continue to cook in the oven)

4 eggs

fresh chives

salt and pepper

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.

Mix the dough ingredients in a stand mixer until the a soft dough comes together in a ball. Press the dough into a tart pan, then bake the crust for 10 minutes. Or buy pre-made pizza dough. (and bake for 10 minutes)

Mix the Crème fraîche, Gruyère and spinach in a bowl and add a dash of salt and pepper.

Spread the cheese mixture in the bottom of the baked tart shell and then layer the bacon on top.

Increase the oven temperature to 425 degrees.

Bake the tart for 5-7 minutes to melt the cheese, then remove it and carefully crack the eggs on top.

Return it to the oven and bake it for another 7-10 minutes, until the egg whites are set and the yolks are still soft. If you prefer more well-done yolks, leave the tart in the oven for 2-3 minutes more. The whites will look slightly underdone due to the oils from the cheese, but they will be set.

Garnish with chives and serve immediately.

Adapted from: Against All Grain






Chicken and Wild Rice Soup

December 8, 2014
MAKE AHEAD The chicken soup can be refrigerated for up to 2 days. Reheat gently before serving.
Adapted from: Food and Wine/Amanda Johnson



“ShreddedSprout” and Kale Salad

December 3, 2014



This salad may become your go-to during the winter months. It is mine. Hearty, healthy greens in their natural state are the base for this delicious simple meal or side dish. The raw, thinly sliced Brussels sprouts add a nice crunch and stand up well to the bright, citrusy dressing. Add pomegranates to dress it up for the holidays. You can prepare this salad about 30 minutes prior to serving as the kale will soften a bit. DO NOT skip the sauteed almonds…they make the salad!!

 ShreddedSprout and Kale Salad
Serves 6-8
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon minced shallot
1 small garlic clove, finely grated
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt plus more for seasoning
Freshly ground black pepper
2 large bunches of Tuscan kale (about 1 1/2 pounds total), center stem discarded, leaves thinly sliced
12 ounces Brussels sprouts, trimmed, finely shredded with a knife or mandolin
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil, divided
1/3 cup almonds with skins, coarsely chopped (I used slivered with skins on)
1 cup finely grated Pecorino cheese
Pomegranate seeds
Combine lemon juice, Dijon mustard, shallot, garlic, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and a pinch of pepper in a small bowl. Stir to blend; set aside to let flavors meld. Mix thinly sliced kale and shredded Brussels sprouts in a large bowl.

Measure 1/2 cup oil into a cup. Spoon 1 tablespoon oil from cup into a small skillet; heat oil over medium-high heat. Add almonds to skillet and stir frequently until golden brown in spots, about 2 minutes. Transfer nuts to a paper towel–lined plate. Sprinkle almonds lightly with salt.

Slowly whisk remaining olive oil in cup into lemon-juice mixture. Season dressing to taste with salt and pepper. DO AHEAD: Dressing, kale mixture, and toasted almonds can be prepared 8 hours ahead. Cover dressing and kale mixture separately and chill. Cover almonds and let stand at room temperature.

Add dressing and cheese to kale mixture; toss to coat. Season lightly with salt and pepper. Garnish with almonds and pomegranates.

Adapted from Epicurious








Creamy Parsnip Soup

November 21, 2014



It’s the season of tubers and root vegetables. Parsnips, with their unique rustic flavor, tend to be an under appreciated vegetable. Combining this ivory-colored root veggie with celery, onion, and garlic creates a savory, creamy and slightly sweet soup. Packed with vitamins, minerals, fiber and phyto-nutrients, this soup delivers added health benefits as we head into the chilly months ahead.

Creamy Parsnip Soup 

Serves 8-10

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

1 large onion, chopped

2 celery stalks, chopped

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

2 garlic cloves, smashed

2 tablespoons thyme, minced

2 1/2 pounds of parsnips, peeled and cut into 2 chunks

4 cups  low-sodium chicken broth

4 cups water

1/2 cup heavy cream

1/2 cup milk (if needed)

2 ounces thinly sliced prosciutto, cut into 1/4-inch-wide strips

Thyme sprigs, for garnish

Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste

In a large pot, melt the butter in 1 tablespoon of the olive oil. Add the onion and celery cook over low heat, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 5 minutes. Add butter, garlic and parsnips cook for about 4 minutes. Add salt, pepper and thyme. Add the broth and water and bring to a boil over high heat. Cover and simmer over low heat until the parsnips are tender, about 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a small skillet, heat the remaining 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Add the prosciutto and cook over moderately high heat, tossing, until crisp, about 30 seconds. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the prosciutto to a paper towel–lined plate to drain. Or alternatively, place on a baking sheet and broil for approximately 2 minute until slightly crisp, about 2 minutes.

Working in batches, puree the soup in a blender until very smooth. Transfer the soup to a  saucepan. Stir in the cream (and milk, if needed), bring to a simmer over moderate heat, stirring a few times. Season the soup with salt and pepper. Serve. Garnish with the prosciutto and thyme leaves.

Adapted from: Food and Wine