Sunday, November 28, 2010


Thanksgiving is my most favorite food holiday. I love to create new and adventures recipes, but I also love my childhood favorites.
Soaked in family tradition and memories it is hard to think of breaking our parents and grandparents tradition. The only thing is many of us don’t eat like our parents and grandparents. Now I’m certainly a healthy eater, but I think holidays are the time to loose all rules, indulge a little and celebrate. I have for many years incorporated plenty of vegetarian dishes in my Thanksgiving. This is a guideline for a full vegetarian Thanks giving, but you can always mix and match. I have made notes on the recipes as to what can be made ahead of time to ease the day so those of us that do the cooking can enjoy our families and ourselves.
Working with Chef Brian Houd at The Nowhere Café in West Hollywood, I learned a tremendous amount about Vegetarian cooking. Flavors need to pop and be bold. Otherwise, well, it’s just plain boring. I do recall a couple of Thanksgivings where for some crazy reason the Turkey was missing. Like when Uncle Pat cooked the turkey with the plastic wrap on it. Or when Auntie Jo didn’t know that you were actually supposed to defrost a Turkey before cooking it! Or what about my friends that bought a turkey too big to fit in their oven! We still all managed to leave full and happy. So whether or not you choose some of this menu, the soups and sides can go with anything! The best part of Thanksgiving is reflecting all the blessings we have to be grateful for and surrounding ourselves with those we love.
Mini Caramelized Onion and Goat Cheese Tarts

1 1/2 cups flour
1/2-teaspoon salt
1/2-cup butter (Grated and left frozen for 1/2 hour)
Up to 6 Tablespoons ice water
1 Large loaf goat’s cheese
Caramelized Onion Mixture

In a medium mixing bowl, stir together the flour and salt. Using a pastry blender cut the butter into the flour until the pieces are the size of rice. Sprinkle 2 tablespoons water over part of the flour mixture and stir very gently with a fork, Push moistened dough to the side of the bowl. Repeat using 2 tablespoons of water (up to6) until all the dough is moistened. Divide dough in half. Form each into a ball and press into a disk. Wrap in plastic and let stand in the refrigerator for one hour. Roll out on a floured cutting board about 1/4 inch thick. Using a small circular cookie cutter cut the dough and place in sprayed mini muffin tins pushing them up the side. Bake in a pre heated 350-degree oven for about 10 minutes until golden. Let cool. When ready to serve line mini tarts on a cookie sheet. Add about 1-teaspoon onion mixture and 1-teaspoon goats cheese to each tart and bake in a preheated 350 oven until cheese is melted. About 10 minutes.

Caramelized Onion Mixture
1 stick butter
2 tablespoons Sugar
2 Large Onions, thinly sliced

In a large skillet melt the butter. Add the onions and sauté until incorporated with the butter. Sprinkle sugar over them and continue caramelizing until brown and tender about 15 minutes.

Carrot Ginger Soup
1-tablespoon olive oil
2 medium red onions, sliced
1 (4 inch) piece fresh ginger
8 cups vegetable stock
2 pounds carrots cut into 2-inch pieces
Pinch of kosher salt
1/2-teaspoon white pepper.

Heat the olive oil in a large stockpot over low heat and sauté onions until they are translucent. Roughly chop the peeled ginger and add to the onions and sauté’ together for about 3 minutes. Increase heat and add the stock and carrots. Simmer over medium heat until the carrots are tender. Season with salt and pepper. Puree.
Pumpkin and Gruyere Soup
One 5-6 pound pumpkin
1/4-cup butter
1 onion, finely chopped
6 cups chicken or vegetable
2 cups heavy cream
Zest of one orange
Juice of one orange
Juice of one lemon
1 inch fresh ginger, finely chopped
1-pound Gruyere cheese, shredded
Cut pumpkin in half, Scoop out and strings and seeds.
Cut away the hard peel and coarsely chop the flesh. In a large soup pan melt the butter over medium heat. Add the onion and sauté 5 minutes. Add the stock and pumpkin and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover and simmer until pumpkin is tender. About 45 minutes. Blend or process the soup. Return the puree to pot and stir in the cream, orange, lemon, ginger. Reserve a little cheese for garnish (perhaps with some fresh sage) Sprinkle into the soup. Stir over low heat until cheese melts. Serve immediately.
Tomato and Red Pepper Soup with Chili Cream
3 Red peppers
2 Tablespoon olive oil
1 red onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic
3/4 cup Sherry or sherry Vinaigrette
8 tomatoes peeled and seeded
4 cups vegetable stock
1 bay leaf
4 sprigs thyme, chopped
1 bunch basil. Chopped
1-tablespoon fresh black pepper
1-cup heavy cream
Juice of one lemon
Salt and pepper to taste

Cut red pepper and roast on 350 oven for 45 minutes. (You can also place directly on a gas flame.) In a large soup pan sauté olive oil, garlic and onion
Add the sherry and stir until it evaporates.
Stir in the tomatoes and stock. Add the herbs and cook for 10 minutes. Stir in the cream and red peppers. Simmer 15 minutes. In small batches blend or process the soup until smooth serve with a dollop of chili cream.
Chili Cream
1 green chili
2 cloves garlic
1 cup spinach leaves, blanched in hot water
1/2-cup heavy cream
Juice of one lime
Salt and pepper
In a small food processor place the chili, garlic, spinach and process until smooth. Add the lime and salt. Dollop over the soup

Beet Soup with Horseradish Cream
1 large red onion, chopped
4garlic cloves, minced
1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
5 medium beets (2 lb without greens), peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces
1 red apple such as Gala, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces
6 cups vegetable stock
2 tablespoons cider vinegar
1 tablespoon packed light brown sugar

In a large soup pot sauté. Onion and garlic in olive oil until tender. Add beets and apple and cook, stirring occasionally, 5 minutes.
Add stock then simmer, uncovered, until beets are tender, about 40 minutes. Stir in vinegar and brown sugar. Purée soup until very smooth. Return soup to pan, then season with salt and pepper and reheat. If soup is too thick, add enough water to thin to desired consistency. Serve at once with a dollop of horseradish cream.
Horseradish Cream
1 16-ounce tub sour cream
6 tablespoon prepared horseradish (or to taste)
3 cloves garlic
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
Whisk together in a small bowl. Add pepper to taste.

*All soups can be made the night before. Cover tightly and refridgerated. Re-warn on stove.

Mix Greens with pears, Gorgonzola and a maple syrup vinaigrette
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 tablespoon Dijon Mustard
1 tablespoon Maple Syrup
6-tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1 cup Olive Oil
Fresh Ground pepper
Whisk all ingredients together and set aside.
1 bag spinach
1 bag arugala
1 bag mache
(Or any mixture of harvest Greens)

Toss all lettuces together. Lightly toss with dressing.
3 ripe Asian pears, cored and sliced
6 ounces Gorgonzola
Arrange lettuces on platter. Place pears prettily on top and sprinkle with Gorgonzola and fresh ground pepper.
*The dressing can be made the day before. Store in a bottle, covered. It can stay room tempruture.

Baked Lentil Loaf with country gravy
1 cup dry lentils
1 bay leaf
3 cups water
1 small red onion, finely chopped
4 cloves garlic
1-tablespoon olive oil
3 carrots, finely chopped
3 celery stalks finely chopped
1 red bell pepper, finely chopped
1/2-cup ketchup
1 cup rolled oats
1 cup raw cashews, chopped
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1-teaspoon thyme
1-teaspoon rosemary
1/2-teaspoon cayenne pepper

In a medium saucepan cook the lentils and the bay leaf until soft about 45 minutes. Set aside. Sauté the onions and garlic in the olive oil until the onion is translucent about 5 minutes. Add the carrots, celery red peppers, cashews and the spices and sauté about 15 minutes more. Let cool.
Add veggie mixture to lentil mixture mix well and then add the eggs, rolled oats and ketchup. Mix well and pour into a greased loaf pan. Bake in a pre-heated oven at 350 for about 45 minutes until firm. Serve warm with gravy.
*A great leftover sandwich is n a toasted roll with roasted red peppers, Russian dressing and Cole slaw.
*Can be made the day before up until the baking part. Wrap tightly in plastic, refrigerate. Take out of fridge and bring to room temperature (about one hour) then bake as indicated.
Country Gravy
3 tablespoons olive oil
4 portabella mushrooms, slice 1/4 inch thick, then each slice in 4ths
1 small onion, thinly sliced
2 cloves garlic
2 cups veggie stock
1/2-teaspoon thyme
1/2-teaspoon rosemary
Pinch salt and pepper
3 tablespoons flour
Fresh thyme and rosemary to float on the top
In a skillet heat 1 1/2-tablespoon olive oil. Add mushroom, garlic and onion and sauté for about 7 minutes until the mushrooms are cooked and the onions are translucent. Remove from skillet and set aside. Heat up remaining oil and add flour and whisk until smooth and cook 30 seconds. Add stock in a steady stream while continuing to whisk cook 5 minutes. Stir in reserve mushrooms, thyme and rosemary and cook 5 minutes more season with salt and pepper. Pour into gravy boat and serve with mashed potatoes and the baked lentil loaf.
*Best if made that day.

Cornbread Stuffing with Dried Cranberries and Pine Nuts

3 tablespoons olive oil
1 red onion, coarsely chopped
3 carrots, coarsely chopped
3 celery ribs, coarsely chopped
3 cloves garlic
4 cups Corn bread (either homemade, day old and cut into quarter inch pieces or boxed unseasoned cornbread for stuffing)
1 1/2 cup dried cranberries
2 cups pine nuts, roasted
1/2 cup chopped parsley
1/4 cup chopped sage
4 cups Vegetable stock

In a large skillet heat olive oil over medium heat. Sauté garlic, onions, carrots and celery for about 7 minutes until tender. Add stock and bring to a boil. In a large bowls mix cornbread, cranberries, pine nuts, parsley and sage. Toss with stock mixture to coat evenly and place in a shallow baking dis. Bake at 350 covered with foil for 1/2 hour and uncover and cook for 15 minutes more until golden brown on top.
*Can be made the day before up until the baking part. Wrap tightly in plastic, refrigerate. Take out of fridge and bring to room temperature (about one hour) then bake as indicated.

Gingered Snow Peas
I make this recipe with snow peas, but also have made it with green beans, carrots and even Brussels sprouts. It is so yummy.

1-pound snow peas, destemed
2 tablespoons each, butter and olive oil
1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger
3-tablespoon soy sauce
In a skillet or en electric wok (high heat) heat oil, add snow peas and ginger and sauté for about 3 minutes, until tender. Place in a bowl and toss with soy sauce. Serve at once.
* Best if made that day

Butternut squash in coconut milk
3 tablespoons butter
1 small onion, finely chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 inch fresh ginger, peeled and minced
2 cups unsweetened coconut milk
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/2-teaspoon red pepper flakes
2 butternut squash, peeled, seeded and cut into 2 inch pieces
1 cup, toasted coconut
Fresh cilantro

Heat butter in saucepan over medium heat. Add onions, garlic and ginger and sauté until tender. Add coconut milk, sugar and pepper flakes and cook until sugar is dissolved. Bring mixture to a boil; add squash. Simmer until fork tender about 30 minutes stirring occasionally. Remove squash from the pan and place in a serving bowl. Boil remaining liquid until thick, stirring constantly. Toss with the squash and garnish with toasted coconut and fresh cilantro!

Roasted Beets With Horseradish and Goat Cheese
1 pound beets, washed, steams trimmed 1/2 inch above beetroot
1-tablespoon horse radish (or to taste)
1/4-teaspoon thyme
Pinch salt and pepper
8 ozs goat cheese
Place beet in a tightly covered casserole dish. Pour enough water to cover 1/2 inch at the bottom. Roast at 350 for 2 1/2 hours. It is cooked when the skin is slightly wrinkled and removes easily with your fingers. Remove from oven and as soon as they are cool enough to touch, remove skin and cut into about 8 1/4 inch pieces. While still warm mix well with horseradish, thyme, salt and pepper. Chill for at least 2 hours. (Can be made 2 days ahead, just add cheese right before serving.) Mix well again. Add the crumbled goat cheese. Mix and serve.
*Can make ahead up to the adding of goat cheese. Store covered in the fridge.
Cranberry-Chipolte Compote
(Makes about 1 quart)
1-tablespoon olive oil
3 med. Fuji apples
3 med Asian pears
(Both peeled and cut into 1/4 inch pieces
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1/4 cup Grand Marnier
1-pound fresh cranberries
4-oz chipolte peppers (canned in adobo) chopped fine
3-tablespoon ground cinnamon
1/2-cup sugar
1/2-cup dark brown sugar
Zest from one orange
1/2-cup fresh orange juice
1-teaspoon nutmeg
1/4-cup Grand Mariner

Heat oil in med. skillet over medium-high heat. Sauté pears, apples & dried cranberries until soft. (3-5 minuets)
Add Grand Mariner and sauté until the grand mariner is reduced in half. Add fresh cranberries, chipoltes, cimmamon, sugars, zest and O.J. Stir and simmer for 40-45 min (until it begins to thicken.
Add nutmeg and Grand mariner; mix well
Refrigerate for 24 hours.
*Needs to be made at least a day ahead. Up to three.

24-Karat Cake
2 cups sifted flour
1 tsp. Salt
2 tsp. Baking powder
1 1/2 tsp. Baking soda
2 cups sugar
2 tsp. Cinnamon
2 tsp. Pumpkin pie spice
4 eggs
1 1/2 cups cooking oil
2 cups grated carrot
8 1/2-oz. Crushed pineapple, drained
1 1/2 cup chopped nuts
To flour, add salt, baking soda, sugar and cinnamon. Mix. Add eggs and cooking oil and mix well. Add carrot, pineapple and nuts. Put in 9x13 greased and floured pan. Bake at 350 for 25 minutes.
Beat the following ingredients until smooth.
1/2 cup butter
8oz cream cheese
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 pound powder sugar

*all cakes taste better the second day. You can make the cake part up to three days in advance wrap tightly. Once the frosting is on it must be stored in the fridge.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Weekend Cocktail

I have a very dear friend, Steve Love who has been co-creating recipes with me for many years! Emma and I enjoyed brunch at his house this summer and he made the most amazing and refreshing cocktail! Thank you Steve for being a constant source of culinary and cocktail inspiration!

The Leland Palmer was created by Damon Boelte, bar manager at Prime Meats in Brooklyn. "I was in Los Angeles visiting my girlfriend, enjoying my favorite hangover drink, the Arnold Palmer, and watching an episode of Twin Peaks, where Leland Palmer almost whacks Agent Cooper with a golf club. Sometimes things just make sense," says Boelte. For his adult version of the popular drink that's half lemonade and half iced tea, Boelte combines gin, jasmine tea, Limón cello, lemon juice, and grapefruit juice in a pitcher. It's summer's essential back-porch sipper, and, Boelte adds, "It's definitely much better than a golf club to the head." Makes 6

Sometimes for gifts I make homemade Limóncello! It is super easy and ever so tasty and with all of the Southern California lemons I get it is a real no brainier! I have included the recipe. If you are planning on making it for the holidays you need to start mid October so it is ready for gifts in December. Cheers!


· 1/2 cup honey

· 1/2 cup hot water

· 3 cups freshly brewed jasmine tea, cooled

· 3/4 cup gin

· 3/4 cup Limóncello

· 3/4 cup fresh lemon juice

· 1/2 cup fresh grapefruit juice

· 1 cup chilled club soda

· Ice cubes

· 6 lemon slices (for garnish)


· Stir honey and 1/2 cup hot water in small bowl until honey dissolves. Cool completely.

· Combine honey water, jasmine tea, gin, Limóncello, lemon juice, and grapefruit juice in large pitcher. Add club soda and stir to blend.

· Fill six 1-pint mason jars or 6 tall glasses with ice cubes. Divide tea mixture among jars; top each with lemon slice.


17 large lemons, preferably Meyers when in season- If not always organic

Two 750-milliliter bottles grain alcohol or 100 proof vodka

5 cups water

6 cups sugar

Wash and dry the lemons. With a paring knife, remove the ends. With a vegetable peeler, remove only the yellow rind, leaving the pith intact. (Squeeze juice from the lemons and reserve for another use.) Place the lemon peel in a 4-quart Mason jar with a rubber-seal lid. Add the grain alcohol, making sure the lemon peel is completely covered. Store in a cool, dark place, shaking the jar once each day to agitate the lemon peel.

On the 14th day, bring the water to a boil in a large saucepan. Add the sugar and remove from the heat, stirring until it is dissolved. Cover and let cool to room temperature. Place a colander on top of the saucepan and strain in the contents of the Mason jar. Discard the lemon peel. Stir to combine the liquids, about 1 minute. Transfer back to the Mason jar. Store for 1 month in a cool, dark place, shaking to agitate the liquid twice a day. After 1 month, transfer the Limóncello to smaller bottles that can be sealed with rubber stoppers.

This time of year is rich, full and more than just a bit busy! Since our Los Angeles weather has barley changed since last spring some hardly notice anything, but many of us are going through huge milestones! My daughter started high school in a new part of the city with all new friends. Some send their babies off to pre-school or kinder while others are simply adjusting to new grades and more structured days and that thing called homework!

While I am still busy it certainly feels like I have more time for me. I don’t say that lightly as I can fill up my days quite easily, but I say it with determination that I spend more time on myself! It goes back a few weeks when I looked in the mirror and really paid attention to what I saw. I love food, I am after all a chef, but I was really not happy. Now usually I prefer to go under the radar with these things and just have people wonder if I changed my hair or did something and not announce to the world that I am actually trying to loose weight! There I said it! OK so here goes. Exercise daily for at least 30+ minutes- Non-negotiable. I love to hike, dance, do yoga, play tennis and ride a bicycle. I think thirty minutes is a fair gift to myself! I went to my collections of DVDs and dusted off some of my favorites! I have everything from yoga to Pilates to “Dancing with the Stars.” My all time best is a series called Yoga Bootie Ballet. You can zip over the hill to Serve Studios and take a class or if you are short on time put one of the many different workouts on and have a party in your living room!

The last thing is what I call mindful eating. I get to play with wonderful recipes that are just a little bit lighter. I would never be the one to not eat or give up a certain food group, but we all know how to make better choices and being mindful allows for that.

So find some time to get your groove on and enjoy these mindfully delicious recopies and your friends and family may never know exactly what you are doing, but you will look and feel fantastic!

Asian Marinade for Vegetables
This simple marinade works well with chicken or fish. Eggplant, summer squashes, asparagus, inions, beets, corn. Just to name a few.
Be creative and look for fun veggies to grill!

6 Garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 inches Ginger, finely chopped
1 bunch Mint leaves, chopped
1 bunch Cilantro, chopped
1bunch Basil, chopped
3 Green onions, sliced
2 Serrano chilies, finely chopped
1/2 cup Olive oil
1/2 cup Rice wine vinegar
Juice of 4 Limes and zest
1/4-cup Soy sauce
1/4 cup Honey
1-tablespoon Chili sauce

Remove and grate zest of limes and juice limes. Prepare 12 cups of vegetables for the grill. Combine ingredients and marinate for 2 hours rotating occasionally. Grill vegetables, brushing with marinade.

Cajun Grilled Salmon

6-6 ounce salmon fillets

2 tablespoons Paprika

2 tablespoons cayenne pepper

1-tablespoon pepper

6 cloves of Garlic, minced

3 tablespoons onion flakes

2 tablespoons dried oregano


Mix all the ingredients together with a mortar and pestle until powdery. Rub all over the salmon fillets on both sides and leave for 1 - 2 hours. Heat BBQ until hot. Spread some oil over the salmon fillets and place on the grill flesh side down. Cook for 5 minutes. Turn over and cook until done.

Wasabi Salmon Packet

1 salmon fillet, about 1 1/2 pounds

1/2 stick butter, melted

1 red bell pepper, julienne

1 small white onion, chopped

3 tablespoons teriyaki sauce

1/2-teaspoon wasabi paste

Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat grill for medium-high heat. Place salmon fillet, skin side down, on a large piece of aluminum foil. Combine butter, teriyaki sauce, and wasabi in a small bowl. Spoon over salmon and top with julienne red bell pepper and chopped onion.

Seal fish with foil to form a packet. Place on grill and cook for 12-15 minutes, or until fish has a flaky center Cut into 4 pieces. Place the salmon fillets on top of the Gingered Slaw.

Shrimp on rosemary skewers
A very simple and amazing way to prepare shrimp. I have the biggest rosemary tree in my yard so I am always looking for ways to use it. Cutting 2 inch pieces of rosemary strip stem starting about 1" from top of stem. Using a very sharp knife cut points at the end of the stem. You will need about 25 for this recipe.

1/4 cup finely chopped garlic, mashed to a paste with 1 teaspoon coarse
3 tablespoons minced fresh rosemary leaves plus sprigs for garnish
4 tablespoons olive oil plus oil for brushing shrimp
2 pounds jumbo shrimp, cleaned with tails on

In a large bowl stir together garlic, minced rosemary, and 3 tablespoons oil and add shrimp. Marinate shrimp, covered and chilled, at least 4 hours or overnight. Thread the shrimp with the rosemary skewer.
On an oiled grill or a stovetop grill arrange shrimp so that the rosemary skewers are away from the flame.
Grill 3 to 4 minutes on each side, or until just cooked through. Serve with lemon wedges

Swordfish and Veggie skewer
1 large lemon
1 Tablespoons olive oil
1/2 cup of Dijon Mustard
1/2-cup pinot gringo (or any light) vinegar
4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1-2 inches of fresh ginger, peeled and finely chopped
1/2 a teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
1-pound swordfish
1 large red onion
16 mushrooms
2 yellow or green bell pepper
8 cherry tomatoes

In a small bowl juice the lemon and add 2 teaspoons add two teaspoons zest. Combine the oil, mustard, vinegar, garlic, ginger, and black and red pepper. Cut the swordfish into 24 equal pieces.
Cut onion in half and each half into quarters. Cut the bell pepper in half and de seeds it and cut into 16 pieces. Clean the mushrooms. Dividing equally and then alternating them, thread the swordfish with all the veggies ending with the cherry tomatoes on 8- 12-inch skewers. (Don’t forget if using wood they need to be soaked in water for about one hour. Brush with half the marinating mixture and let sit in the refrigerator for one hour. Prepare your grill. When it is ready, Brush the skewers with half the remaining marinade. Grill the skewers about 5 inches from the heat for five minutes. Turn over and grill about 5 more minutes until fish is lightly colored, firm to the touch, and cooked through, about 5 minutes. Serve at once.

Grilled swordfish in a Black bean Sauce
2- 15 oz cans of black beans
1-tablespoon peanut oil
1 red onion chopped
2 red peppers, chopped
3 garlic cloves chopped
1 jalapeno pepper, minced
1-cup chicken or vegetable stock
Fresh cilantro, coarsely chopped
6- 8 oz swordfish steaks
Peanut oil for brushing fish
In saucepan heat peanut oil and sauté onions and garlic for 5 minutes. Add peppers and cook until softened stirring constantly. Add the black beans and stock stir over medium heat until thicken and sauce reduces about half. Puree with an emulsion blender. I like to leave it a little chunky. Cover while preparing the fish. Prepare grill. (These can be done on the stovetop grill o broiler as well.) Brush fish well with oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Grill or broil until cooked through about five minutes per side.) If you made the sauce a head reheat. Place fish on a plate and spoon over sauce and garnish with fresh cilantro.

Grilled Tuna Steaks with Pineapple Salsa
! /4 cup of olive oil
Juice of one lime
Juice of one lemon
4 tuna Steaks, 1/2 to 3/4 inches thick.
Prepare the grill. Mix the oil and lemons and lime in a small bowl and brush over the tuna generously. Grill the tuna steaks 5 inches over the heat for about 6 minutes per side until they are firm to the touch. (Many people like there tuna rare…that would be about 3 minutes per side. I personally, like all of my fish cook through. Not over cooked, but cooked through. Believe me I have taken much flack about this from chefs over the years, just another lesson for being true to your own tastes no matter what the “experts” say. Remove from grill and serve immediately with a generous amount of salsa.
Pineapple Salsa
1 medium sized pineapple
Juice of 2-3 limes
Juice of 1 lemon
Salt, to taste
1/4 cup very finely slivered fresh ginger
1 white onion, cut into thin slivers
1 to 2 small red chilies, dried or fresh stemmed, seeded and cut into
Very thin slivers
1/2 cup coarsely cut cilantro

Peel pineapple, remove the "eyes,' then core. Slice and cut into
Thin, matchstick slivers. Add lime and lemon juices, sugar, salt
Ginger and onion. Taste for intensity of flavor; add additional
sugar and/or salt if needed. Add chili slivers very sparingly,
tasting until you reach the degree you prefer. (Caution: The heat
will intensify as the salsa stands.) Just before serving, stir in
cilantro. Best served within an hour or two of mixing.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Friends are handing me fruits and veggies by the bag full and we have not even hit the heat of summer! I am constantly figure out fun and inviting ways to prepare so I don’t get that “What Mommy! Green Beans again! Whenever I get fruit and vegetables I always was and cut and put in zip locks so we can just grab and go! I think that we will have a great selection of great produce way into the fall! So don’t forget to eat your fruits and veggies!

Strawberry Muffins

2 1/2 cup flour

1/2-cup sugar

2 teaspoons baking powder

1-teaspoon baking soda

1/2-teaspoon salt

1 1/2 cup buttermilk

1/3 cup melted butter

2 eggs, slightly beaten

1-teaspoon vanilla

1 pint fresh strawberries, hulled and chopped

Sugar mixed with cinnamon for topping

Pre heat oven to 400. Spray muffin tin with bakers joy spray or line muffin cups with paper cupcake liners. In a large bowl combine flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt, stir well until all ingredient are well blended. In another bowl, whisk together the buttermilk, butter, eggs and vanilla. Make a well in the middle of the dry ingredients and pour liquid mixture in and the strawberries. Gently fold ingredients just until moist .Do not over mix. Spoon the batter evenly into 12 muffin cups. Sprinkle each muffin with about 1/2-teaspoon sugar and cinnamon mixture. Bake 20 to 25 minutes.

Snap Peas, Green Beans and Snow Peas

2 pounds green beans

2 pounds sugar snap peas, trimmed

2 pounds snow peas, destemed

4 tablespoons rice vinegar

2-tablespoon soy sauce

1-tablespoon sesame oil

1-tablespoon brown sugar

2 cloves garlic, minced

1-inch ginger, minced

Crushed red pepper (to taste)

Salt and pepper (to taste)

In a large pot of boiling water blanch green beans, snap peas and snow peas for 2 minutes. Drain; rinse under cold water and drain again. Transfer to large bowl.

Whisk vinegar, soy sauce, sesame oil, sugar, garlic and ginger in small bowl to blend. Pour dressing over snap peas and beans. Season salad to taste with salt, pepper and red pepper flakes. Serve at once or refrigerate for several hours.

Curried Lobster And Mango Salad

2 mangos, cubed

3 tablespoons fresh limejuice

1-inch ginger, minced

2 teaspoons curry powder

3 tablespoons chopped fresh chives

2 tablespoons shallots, minced

1 red bell pepper, thinly sliced

3 celery stalks, chopped

2 Mangos, cubed

1/2-cup fresh cilantro leaves

White pepper

2 pounds cooked lobster tail meat, chopped

Place first 4 ingredients in blender. Blend until smooth. Stir in chives and shallots. Season to taste with salt and white pepper.

In a large bowl toss together bell pepper, celery, mangos and cilantro. Add lobster. Drizzle some dressing over and toss lightly. Season with salt and white pepper to taste.

Orzo Salad With Heirloom Tomatoes And Feta

8 ounces orzo

2 tablespoons white wine vinegar

½ cup fresh lemon juice

1 teaspoon lemon zest

1/2-cup olive oil

1-¼ pounds assorted heirloom tomatoes, cut into 1/2-inch pieces

1 bunch green onions, sliced

1/2 cup sliced pitted oil-cured olives

1/4 cup thinly sliced fresh basil

2 tablespoons chopped fresh Italian parsley

1 cup feta cheese, crumbled

Sautee 1/2 of the orzo in a little olive oil until golden brown. Cook all of the orzo in large pot of boiling salted water until tender but still firm to bite, stirring occasionally. Drain. Rinse under cold water; drain well. Transfer to medium bowl; cool.

Whisk vinegar and lemon juice in small bowl; gradually whisk in oil. Pour dressing over orzo. Mix in remaining ingredients. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Potato and Green bean salad

3 pounds new or red bliss potatoes

4 cups green beans, trimmed

1 cup walnuts, coarsely chopped

1-teaspoon red pepper flakes

Salt and fresh ground pepper to taste

3/4-cup balsamic vinegar

1 1/2 cups olive + to coat potatoes for roasting

2 shallots finely chopped

4 garlic cloves, finely chopped

Pre-heat oven to 350.

Prick the potatoes with the tines of a fork and arrange them on a baking sheet. Coat with olive oil and salt and pepper. Bake for 1 1/2 hours. When cool enough to touch. Cut into quarters. Sautee Green beans, walnuts and red pepper flakes in 2 tablespoons of olive oil. In a small bowl whisk together oil and balsamic with garlic and shallots in a serving bowl toss the potatoes with the green bean mixture. Pour dressing and gently toss thoroughly. Let stand a t room temp for one hour and toss again before serving.

Mix Summer Greens and Maple Syrup Vinaigrette

2 cloves garlic, finely chopped

2 tablespoon Dijon Mustard

1 tablespoon Maple Syrup

6-tablespoons balsamic vinegar

1 cup Olive Oil

Whisk all ingredients together and set aside.

6 cups summer greens

Toss all lettuces together. Lightly toss with dressing.

20 grapes, halved

6 ounces Gorgonzola

Arrange lettuces on platter. Place grapes prettily on top and sprinkle with Gorgonzola and fresh ground pepper.

Crunchy Green Salad with Creamy Guacamole Dressing

2 Heads Romaine Lettuce, chopped

1 bunch watercress, leaves picked

1-cup pipitos

1 large ripe avocado

1 tablespoon Dijon Mustard

Juice of one lemon

1 teaspoon lemon zest

1-4 dashes of Tabasco sauce

1/4-cup canola oil

Halve the avocado and remove pit. Scoop out flesh into a food processor. Add mustard, lemon juice, zest Tabasco. Salt and pepper to taste and blend until smooth. With the motor running pour in the oil in a steady stream. Allow it to become rich and creamy about one minute. In a large bowl add the lettuce, watercress and pipitos. Toss with the dressing and serve.

Shrimp and Berry Salad with Citrus Vinaigrette

1 basket black berries

1-basket raspberries

1/4-cup pine nuts

2 firm-ripe avocados

1-teaspoon fresh limejuice

1 lb large shrimp, shelled and deveined

2 cups each baby spinach and arugula (or your favorite mix of greens)

Quarter avocados lengthwise, then pit and peel. Cut length wise into 1/4-inch-thick slices. Drizzle with limejuice and season with salt and pepper.

Prepare barbeque or stovetop grill (medium-high heat). Pour 1/4 cup dressing into small bowl. Reserve remainder for salad. Brush shrimp with dressing from small bowl and grill until opaque in center, turning occasionally, about 5 minutes.

In a large serving toss together spinach, arugula, berries and pine nuts and dress lightly. Arrange avocados and shrimp on top of salad and serve.

Citrus Vinaigrette

1/4-cup fresh orange juice

Juice of one lime

1/4 teaspoon ginger, finely chopped

6 tablespoons cilantro, finely chopped

1/2 tablespoon jalapeno pepper, finely chopped

3/4-cup canola oil

Whisk together vinaigrette ingredients with salt and pepper to taste.

Grilled Chilean Sea bass with Watermelon Salsa

2 cucumbers, finely chopped

2 cups finely chopped red watermelon

1 red onion, finely chopped

1 Seeded jalapeno chili, minced

2 Cloves garlic, minced

1-inch ginger, minced

1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro

1-teaspoon fresh limejuice

3/4-teaspoon salt

6 (6-oz) pieces Chilean Sea Bass

1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil

Prepare gas or charcoal grill for cooking. If using charcoal, open vents on bottom of grill, then light charcoal. Charcoal fire is medium-hot when you can hold your hand 5 inches above rack for 3 to 4 seconds. If using a gas grill, preheat burners on high, covered, 10 minutes, then reduce heat to moderately high.

Toss together cucumber, watermelon, onion, chili, cilantro, limejuice, garlic, ginger and salt. (Do not make salsa more than 1 hour ahead or it will become watery.)

Pat fish dry, then brush with oil and season with salt. Grill fish, on lightly oiled grill rack, turning over once, until just cooked through, 8 to 9 minutes total.

Serve fish topped with salsa.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Spa Cocktail

The last few weeks of summer and would I love a girl’s day at the spa! I don’t see that happening, but this spa inspired cocktail can make you feel like you are getting pampered! The clean flavor of Vodka dances well with the crisp, fresh cucumber in this cocktail. A whisper of aquavit and the fragrance of mint enhance its complexity.

My girls are so amazing! How blessed I am to have so many wonderful ladies in my life! We laugh, cry, dream, vision and even share the real messy and ugly things that we fear if anyone found out we would be mortified. All of this knowing we are safe and loved! Today I celebrate my gals and invite you to share this cocktail with some special friends! Cheers!

4 ounces Vodka

1/4 ounce wash of aquavit

6 slices cucumber

Small sprig of dill for garnish

Add the aquavit to a cocktail shaker glass and roll around. Shake out any excess. Drop in the cucumber slices and press with a muddler to release the juices. Measure in the vodka and fill with ice. Cap and shake vigorously. Strain into two martini glasses and garnish with a small sprig of mint.


August not only hosts National Marshmallow Day, but also National S’mores day! Come On! Could we find anything better to celebrate? Do you remember your first S’more? I think I have over glamorized my experience of this traditional campfire treat over the years! In fact I don’t think it was that great at all. Sitting on the beach sun burnt and freezing, covered with mosquito bites and then when I was finished strategically placing my chocolate onto the gram cracker I waited patiently for my marshmallow to get toasted. It was black and seemed solid when I placed it on the chocolate it squished all over me and the gooey hot liquid burnt my hand causing me to drop it in the sand! I have since had more successful outdoor culinary adventures, but I think this cocktail makes up for any unpleasant memories! Cheers!

S’more Martini

2 Ounces Chocolate Vodka

2 Ounces Bailey's Irish Cream

2 Ounces Cream de Cacao

2 Ounces Vanilla Vodka

2 Ounces Heavy Cream

Graham Crackers, Crushed

Chocolate Syrup

12 toasted mini marshmallows

Dip the rim of 4 martini glasses in the chocolate syrup and then into the crushed graham crackers. Chill glasses in the freezer. Pour all the remaining ingredients except the marshmallows into a martini shaker filled with ice and shake until well blended. Skewer your marshmellows on a cocktail stick and place in the chilled glasses. Strain the drinks into the 4 glasses. Enjoy!


Figs are a sensuous fruit that that represents abundance and fertility! Some people get annoyed that the bids and squirrels enjoy their harvest, but most people I know with fig trees are thrilled to share with feather, furry and human friends as the tree bears so much fruit! What I love is the excitement that fig season creates. They have a short late summer season and unlike getting a very expensive not so sweet berry in the winter, you just can’t find fresh figs all year. We just gobble them up one after another. I like to stuff them with goat’s cheese and drizzle with honey. You can wrap them in prochuttio, stuff them with Maytag blue cheese and toss in your favorite salad! The dried ones work well in some recipes, but go quickly and create some fabulous fresh fig dishes. They are all over the markets, but don’t forget about our friends at

Fig and Hazelnut Jam with Apples and Parmesan

This is my take on a traditional Southern Italian appetizer. The fig jam keeps well so it is nice to have on hand for drop in guests. You can use 12 dried figs when not in season! You can use any apples, but I like the more tart varieties. I also use cognac because someone gave me a bottle of Hennessey and it just adds a subtle depth of flavor. If you prefer no alcohol you can use a good balsamic instead. The better the Parmesan the more richness and diverse flavor combinations.

8 figs, halved

1-cup simple syrup (1 cup water + 2 cups sugar)

1 cup toasted hazelnuts, coarsely chopped

3-tablespoon cognac or brandy

3 apples, sliced1/4 inch

Wedge of Parmesan cheese, thinly shaved about the size of an apple slice

In a small saucepan bring the water and the sugar to a boil. When the sugar is completely dissolved turn off the heat and add the figs. When cool place the fig mixture and the rest of the ingredients in a food processor and pulse so it is mixed, but you can still see little chunks of hazelnut. Place in the refrigerator until ready to use. Place your apple slices on a platter and spread generously with jam and then place a piece of cheese on top.

Fresh Fig Salsa

2 cups (about 1 pound) fresh firm-ripe figs, stemmed, diced

2 mangos, diced

Juice of 2-3 limes

Juice of 1 lemon

Salt to taste

1/4 cup very finely slivered fresh ginger

1 red onion, cut into thin slivers

1 to 2 small jalapeños, very thinly sliced

1/2 cup coarsely cut cilantro

Combine all ingredients and chill several hours to blend flavors. Serve with broiled or grilled fish, chicken, pork, beef or lamb or simply eat with chips for dipping.

Homemade Tortilla Chips

12 count package of corn tortillas

Peanut oil for frying (Peanut oil is the best for holding heat. If you have a nut allergy try coconut oil or a vegetable oil is the next best thing.)

Kosher salt

Preheat oil in deep skillet. On a cutting board stack 4 tortillas and cut into 8 wedges. Repeat with remaining tortillas. Add a handful of wedges to the hot oil. Separate any that stick together. Fry until golden brown. Remove and drain on a cookie sheet lined with a brown paper bag or paper towels. Sprinkle with salt and continue with the remaining tortillas.

Cranberry Fig Chutney

2 cups cranberries

2 cups Calimyrna figs, sliced

1 red onion, chopped

2 inches ginger minced,

1 cup packed brown sugar

1-cup water

1/3-cup balsamic vinegar

Juice of one lemon

1/2-teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper

Combine all ingredients. Heat to boiling over high heat. Reduce heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, 30 minutes. Chill in the refrigerator about 4 hours or up to 2 weeks. Great over chicken, fish or tossed with steamed veggies!

Fig and Orange Chicken

This is one of my most popular chicken dishes! It is so simple and is really a one-meal dish.

1 red onion, coarsely chopped

1/2-cup currants

10 Black Mission figs or 8 of the larger, amber-colored Calimyrna figs, cut into halves

1 1/2 cups orange juice

4 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce,

1-tablespoon curry powder

1-tablespoon soy sauce

4 cloves garlic, finely chopped

3 pounds chicken pieces or 6 boneless breasts

10 New potatoes, quartered

4 carrots, sliced

Salt and pepper to taste

Place washed chicken, carrots and potatoes in Pyrex or roasting pan. In a medium bowl mix the rest of the ingredients. Pour over chicken and bake at 400 for 35-40 minutes basting at least twice during cooking.

Fettuccine with Figs and Pancetta

I love the sweet savory flavors in this pasta. The rosemary gives it a beautiful finish.

1 cup pancetta, finely chopped

1 small red onion, finely chopped

4 garlic cloves, finely chopped

1 sprig rosemary, finely chopped

2 tablespoons olive oil

1/2 cup dry white wine

1-cup chicken stock

3/4 lb firm-ripe fresh figs, trimmed and quartered lengthwise

2 tablespoons parsley, finely chopped

Juice of one lemon

1-pound fettuccine

In a large sauté pan heat oil. Add pancetta and sauté for 2 minutes. Add the onion, garlic and rosemary and sauté for 5 minutes longer. Stir in wine and bring to a boil, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat and stir in stock, figs, parsley, half of pancetta, and lemon juice.

Cook fettuccine in a large pot of boiling salted water until al dente. Reserve 1/2-cup cooking water, and then drain pasta in a colander.

Add fettuccine to fig mixture with 1/4 cup reserved cooking water and salt and pepper to taste. Heat over low heat, tossing gently and adding more cooking water if mixture becomes dry, until just heated through.

Serve pasta with the remaining pancetta and freshly shaved Parmesan on top.

Oatmeal Cookies with Figs and Cranberries

These are a traditional, rich, buttery cookie. The figs and cranberries give it a classy twist. The recipe calls for dries fogs because I make them all year long, but fresh figs are a welcome replacement!

1 3/4 cup flour

3/4-teaspoon baking soda

3/4-teaspoon baking powder

1/2-teaspoon salt

1-teaspoon cinnamon

1/2-teaspoon nutmeg

2 sticks butter

1/4-cup sugar

1 1/2 cup brown sugar

2 eggs

3 teaspoons vanilla

3 1/2 cups old-fashioned oats

1cup-dried cranberries, chopped

1 cup dried figs, chopped

Pre-heat the oven to 350. In a large mixing bowl beat the butter, sugars, eggs and vanilla on medium speed until light and fluffy. In another bowl whisk together flour, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, salt, and nutmeg. Add to the butter mixture until blended and smooth. Add oats and fruit. Spray cookie sheets with bakers joy and drop a tablespoon of dough spacing about 3 inches apart. Bake until lightly brown and firm about 10 minutes. Cool on racks.

Fig Ice Cream

I got a beautiful Ice cream maker as a gift and have been playing with recipes! This one is getting better and better as fig season progresses!

2 tablespoons butter

4 cups coarsely chopped fresh figs

½ cup brown sugar

1-teaspoon cinnamon

½ teaspoon ginger

1 cup plus 2 tablespoons granulated sugar

3 tablespoons flour

¼ teaspoon salt

4-½ cups half-and-half

2 eggs beaten

2 tablespoons vanilla

Heat butter in a non-stick skillet. Add fresh figs and brown sugar and cook for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from stove and stir in cinnamon and ginger. In a saucepan combine sugar and salt. Slowly whisk in 2-½ cups half-and-half. Cook over medium heat for 15 minutes until mixture starts to thicken, stirring constantly. Gradually stir one cup of hot half-and-half mixture into beaten eggs. Then stir egg-half-and-half mixture into the sugar, salt and half and half mixture, stirring constantly. Cook over medium heat for one minute. Stir in cooked figs and cook for an additional minute. Refrigerate mixture for two hours or overnight. Stir in remaining two cups of half-and-half and vanilla. Freeze mixture in an ice cream maker according to manufacturers' directions.