mardi 31 décembre 2013

Lambage Rolls! Lamb & Rice Stuffed Cabbage Leaves with Almonds and Currants

My love of cabbage rolls is deep and unconditional. I almost always make the same version, based on my Aunt Angela’s famous recipe, but once in a while, just for the hell of it, I’ll use lamb instead of beef. 

I love lamb burgers and lamb meatballs, so it’s no surprise that I love lamb-stuffed cabbage rolls, and I’m happy to report that these particular “lambage” rolls were the best non-beef version yet!

I remembered a middle-eastern restaurant Michele and I used to frequent, which served a lamb meatball stewed with tomatoes and spices, and served over a rice pilaf studded with almonds and currants. I really loved that dish and tried to incorporate those elements into these cabbage rolls.

I loved the results. Big, bold flavors, yet not too heavy, and like all cabbage rolls, these were very, very comforting. I used a pretty lean grind for the lamb, but ideally the butcher will give you something close to a 80/20 lean-to-fat ratio.

As far as the rest of the stuff, you’re on your own, and as usual I’ll ignore most of the “can I leave out the [insert delicious, totally necessary ingredient here]” questions. You are the boss of your cabbage rolls, so act like it. Anyway, I hope you share my love of cabbage rolls, and if you do, I really hope you give this version a try. Enjoy!

Makes 8 Lambage Rolls
1 lb ground lamb
1 cup rice
1/4 cup butter
2 tbsp olive oil
1/2 onion, diced
4 cloves garlic, crushed
2 tsp salt
1 tsp black pepper
1 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp cayenne
pinch dried oregano
1/4 cup packed Italian parsley
1 tbsp dried currants
2 tbsp sliced almonds
1 cup tomato puree
3 1/2 cups chicken broth
1/2 onion sliced
1 head cabbage
salt and pepper to taste
feta and parsley to garnish, optional

View the complete recipe

Peach Melba – Let's Toast to a Great Summer Fruit Dessert

You know you have mad opera skills when they name not one, but two recipes after you. This spectacularly colored Peach Melba was created for Victorian era opera star Nellie Melba, by the greatest chef of the time, Auguste Escoffier, who also named some thin, crispy toasts in her honor years later.

This was kind of a big deal, as Escoffier was known at the time as "the king of chefs, and chef of kings." He was arguably the world’s first celebrity chef. His masterwork, Le Guide Culinaire, has over 5,000 recipes in it, and is a fascinating browse the next time you’re in a real bookstore (do we still have those?).

Anyway, Peach Melba is a delicious and simple, summer fruit dessert, which is kind of ironic, since Auguste Escoffier was famous for his elaborate culinary creations. In fairness, his original plating did feature the ice cream and peaches being carried in on swans carved from ice, so things have been streamlined a bit over the years.

Here we have creamy vanilla ice cream, a perfectly poached peach, topped off with fresh raspberry sauce and toasted almonds. This tastes like I’m sure Nellie Melba’s voice sounded. I do hope you give this historic dish a try soon. Enjoy!

Ingredients for 6 servings:
3 peaches, halved
2 cups water
2 cups sugar
1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
2 tablespoons lemon juice
For the raspberry sauce:
3 cups fresh raspberries (yes frozen will work)
1/3 cup white sugar
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 tbsp water
1/8 tsp balsamic vinegar

View the complete recipe

Chicken Cordon Bleu-wich – An Old Classic Gets Open Faced

If you love chicken cordon bleu because it’s “fancy,” and you serve it primarily to impress dinner guests with your culinary skills, then this video is really not for you. However, if you love chicken cordon bleu because of its winning flavor combination of chicken, ham, and Gruyere cheese, then stick around.

Don’t get me wrong, I love the classic preparation, and will do my version one of these days, but for all that pounding, stuffing, rolling, pinning, breading, frying, and baking…I can deliver the same basic flavor and texture profile with significantly less time and effort.

By the way, while most consider this a French recipe, the word on the street is that this actually originated in Switzerland. That doesn’t really have any bearing on the recipe, but since I can’t remember ever giving the Swiss a hard time here, I thought I’d take this opportunity to ask, what’s up with those pocketknives? You really need one tool that can both kill a squirrel and puck nose hairs? Seems a little much.

Anyway, it’s been a while since I posted a sandwich video, and this, as the name would indicate, was certainly a blue ribbon winner. It made for a perfect lunch, but throw a poached egg on top, and you’ve got a stellar brunch item; or cut these up into quarters, and serve as finger food for the next big game. I hope you give these a try soon. Enjoy!

Ingredients for 4 portions:
*Note: topping can be made days ahead and baked whenever.
2 tbsp butter
1/2 cup diced smoked ham
1/2 cup diced onion
1/4 tsp dried thyme
2 tbsp flour
1/2 cup plus 1 tbsp milk
3 oz shredded gruyere cheese, divided (save a little for the top)
1 rounded tsp Dijon mustard
pinch of nutmeg
1 cup diced cooked chicken
1/4 cup diced dill pickle
cayenne, salt and pepper to taste
2 tbsp bread crumbs mixed with 1 tsp melted butter for the top

View the complete recipe

Lemon Curd “Lite” Not Light

I’m calling this lemon curd “lite” because it does have less fat than most traditional recipes, but that doesn’t mean it’s a “light” recipe. Calling this recipe “lite” is kind of like calling thin-crust pizza, “low-carb.” It’s all relative. 

Speaking of relative, as I mention in the video, this would make a great holiday gift, so even if you’re not a big fan of lemon, pay attention nonetheless. 

Above and beyond the nominally fewer calories, I really like the appearance and texture of this style lemon curd better anyway. Recipes that contain all yolks instead of whole eggs, and up to twice as much butter, are just too rich and heavy for my taste.

Since this is typically served as a sauce for things like gingerbread and scones, or as a filling for cakes, I don’t see the advantages of an overly heavy concoction. The one exception for me would be pies and tarts, where you probably do want the more hardcore variations.

I know a lot of you get nervous when whisking eggs over heat is involved, but as you’ll see, this is really simple to do. Besides, if tragedy does strike, and you get a few pieces of overcooked eggs in the mixture, simply put it through a strainer before adding the zest and butter. No one will ever know! With the holidays right around the corner, I hope you give this easy, old-fashioned lemon curd I try. Enjoy!

Ingredients for about 1 1/2 cups Lemon Curd:
3 whole large eggs
3/4 cup white sugar
2/3 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 1/2 tbsp freshly grated lemon zest
5 tbsp unsalted butter, room temp, cut in 3 or 4 pieces

Patatas Bravas – Fierce Up Your Fries

I always thought Patatas Bravas meant “brave potatoes,” which seemed a little strange since what was supposed to be so brave about them? Amazingly delicious, yes, but valiant, fearless or courageous? I don’t think so. Well, apparently my translation skills were lacking, and come to find out it actually means “fierce.” Now that makes sense.

As advertised, these are fiercely textured, fiercely flavored, fiercely presented, and fiercely enjoyed. How fierce is really up to you and your inner Spaniard. There are as many patatas bravas recipes as homes in Spain, and this is nothing more than my latest rendition. 

As long as you boil them first, fry crisp, and season earnestly, the rest is open to wild experimentation. I’ve used all sort of blanching liquids, spice blends, and sauces, and never been disappointed.

My control around food is generally decent, but I am no match for a plate of these. Once you start with the toothpick, you’ll be impaling and eating potatoes until they’re gone. If you are making these for a group, just do in batches and keep warm in the oven until you have enough. Just don’t salt until the last second, or they can get soggy. I hope you give these a try soon. Enjoy!

Ingredients for 4 portions:
2 pounds russet potatoes
For the boiling liquid:
2 quarts cold water
1 tbsp salt
1 tsp smoked paprika
1 tsp cumin
2 bay leaves

For the sauce:
1 cup mayonnaise
garlic to taste
pinch of salt
1 tsp tomato paste
1-2 tbsp sherry vinegar
1/2 tsp smoked paprika
1/4 tsp chipotle powder
cayenne to taste

For the spice blend (makes lots extra):
2 tbsp salt
1 tsp black pepper
1 tsp smoked paprika
1 tsp chipotle powder
chopped parsley

View the complete recipe

White Bean & Chicken Breast Chili – A Change of Pace, Change of Pace

I love a hearty beef chili as much as the next guy, but once in a while there’s nothing wrong with going over to the light side, and enjoying an equally comforting bowl of white bean and chicken chili. I’ve always used thighs for my chicken chili, which of course have more fat and flavor, but after a bunch of requests for a chicken breast version, I decided give it a go, and I was very happy with the results.

The key is to not overcook the chicken when you sear it. You want it slightly undercooked, maybe about 150 degrees F. internal temp, since it will cook all the way when we add it back in. You’ll notice when I slice mine, there’s a little bit of opaqueness to the flesh, which is what you want.

This is intended to be a relatively quick and simple weeknight meal, so I didn’t add much in the way of extras, but things like peppers, squash, and mushrooms are always welcomed additions. 

I know you’re probably missing those long, warm summer days right about now, but one of the great things about this season’s cold, wet weather is that it begs for recipes like this. I hope you pour yourself a beer, grab a chunk of bread, and dig into a bowl of this soon. Enjoy!

Ingredients for 4 portions:
2 tsp vegetable oil
2 or 3 boneless skinless chicken breasts, about 1 1/4 lbs
salt and pepper to taste
1 large onion
4 cloves garlic
1 tbsp ancho chili powder
1 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp chipotle chili powder
1/4 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp flour
about 3 cups chicken broth or stock, divided
1 tsp fine cornmeal
2 cans (15oz) white beans
cayenne to taste
1/4 tsp sugar or to taste
1/3 cup chopped green onions
sour cream and cilantro to garnish

View the complete recipe

Warming Up with Beef Merlot

The weather just turned cold and wet here in San Francisco, and when that happens I always crave something hot and comforting, ladled from a steaming pot. I do have a brand new video to post for Friday that fits the bill nicely, but due to circumstances beyond my control, it will not be up until late in the day. 

In the meantime, I hope you enjoy this video recipe for beef merlot that I posted a few years ago. It’s an easy take-off on beef bourguignon, and one of my all-time, cold-weather favorites. Be sure to read the original post here, to find out why the heck I used merlot. Enjoy!

Tabbouleh Sogomonian

Tabbouleh is another one of those popular recipes for which I’ve received hundreds of food wishes for, and yet inexplicably I’ve still not posted one. Why not? I have no idea. I’m as mystified as anyone. In the meantime, I wanted to share this fine version from friend of the blog Robert Sogomonian (aka @psyrixx). You can check out his original post here. Enjoy!

Twice Baked Potatoes - They Take Longer, But At Least They’re More Complicated

I don’t do a lot of things in the kitchen purely for esthetic reasons, but these twice baked potatoes are one of my more beautiful exceptions to that rule. You can get almost the exact same flavors by just adding stuff to a regular baked potato, but what you won’t get in that scenario is the impressive, over-stuffed height, and gorgeous, golden-browned crust seen here.

Is it worth it? Only you can answer that. For me, once in a while, for those extra fancy dinners, the answer is a resounding yes. Taste is, and always will be, the most important aspect of cooking, but when entertaining guests on special occasions, don’t forget that you’re putting on a show with the food. And when it comes to starchy side dishes, this is a great way to express that flair for the dramatic.

Like I said in the video, this is a demonstration of technique, and not necessarily a recipe I want you to follow verbatim. I will list what I used below, since I’m required to by food blogger common law, but if there was ever a recipe that you’d want to experiment with, this is the one.

By the way, since there's a certain amount of prep involved here, you can make these ahead of time, up to the point of the second baking, and then just finish when it gets closer to service. I hope you give this show stopping side dish a try soon. Enjoy!

Ingredients for 4 Twice Baked Potatoes:
4 large russet potatoes
3 tbsp butter
1 or 2 tbsp minced green onion
salt, pepper, cayenne to taste
1/2 cup shredded white cheddar cheese
1/2 cup cream or milk
1 egg yolk
Bake at 400 degrees F. for an hour to cook potatoes, and then 20-30 to brown after stuffing.

View the complete recipe

Rosemary Honey “Pull Apart” Dinner Rolls - Because You Love Them...Right?

Entertaining during the holidays usually means plenty of costly, complicated, and time-consuming recipes, so absolutely no one would blame you if you simply tossed a tube of store-bought dinner rolls into the oven to save a little time and effort.

Of course the problem with that, at least for loyal followers of this blog, is that some or all of your family members will have seen this video by then, and you may get a few looks. Not that they would never question your undying love and devotion to their happiness, but hey, why take a chance?

Assuming that you have an electric mixer, besides a few minutes of cutting and balling the dough, these really aren’t that much work to make. If you don’t, and would have to knead this by hand, then let your conscience be your guide. I think I speak for your entire family when I say, we know you’ll do the right thing.

Anyway, as far as holiday dinner rolls go, these are pretty lean. You can certainly up the melted butter amount, and toss in a egg or two, but since these are generally going to be eaten with fairly rich food, I prefer a lighter approach.

Please feel free to embellish with anything else you’d like to toss in. I’ll toss out garlic, herbs, cheese, seeds, and nuts just to start the brainstorming session. I hope you come up with something amazing, and give these a try soon. Enjoy!

Ingredients for about 32-36 small dinner rolls:
1 packet (2 1/4 teaspoon) dry active yeast
1/4 cup warm water (100-110 degrees F.)
1 cup milk
4 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 or 2 tablespoon honey
1 teaspoon salt
2 tsp minced fresh rosemary leaves
about 3 cups unbleached all-purpose white flour, plus more if needed (NOTE: add about 2 1/2 cups of flour at the beginning of the mixing, and then add more in smaller increments until the dough just starts to pull away from the bowl. Remember, you can always add more, but can’t remove too much! Better a little too sticky than too stiff and dry.)
2 tbsp olive oil (to oil the dough)
egg wash (one egg beaten with a teaspoon of milk)

Potato Pancakes – Delicious, But They Go Right to My Thighs

There are few foods I enjoy eating more than a plate of crispy-edged potato pancakes. Unfortunately, I've been trying to limit my carbs lately (I just can't let go of my dream to become a famous underwear model), so seeing all these amazing Latkes recipes that pop up during Hanukkah is really hard.

Anyway, just because I'm not partaking doesn't mean you have to deny yourself this exquisite pleasure. Below you'll see my version, which has always received rave reviews. These are garnished with smoked salmon, but my favorite way is to simply enjoy them topped with applesauce and sour cream. This is an older post, so use the link below the video for more info and the ingredients. A happy Hanukkah to all those celebrating, and as always, enjoy!

Click here for the original post and ingredient amounts.

And the Winner Isn’t….Pumpkin Roll!

I’m going to be posting a seasonal pumpkin recipe on Friday, and let me tell you, it wasn’t easy deciding on which food wish to do. I get tons of pumpkin requests this time of year, and while I’m not going to spoil the surprise, I can tell you that the venerable pumpkin roll didn’t make the cut. Maybe next year I’ll do my take, but in the meantime, here’s a video from my friends at, featuring one of their highest-rated versions. Enjoy!

Click here to get the ingredients and to read the written recipe!

Time to Vote! (and you thought the campaigning was over)

We are thrilled to announce that Food Wishes is a Taste Awards finalist in two categories this year! As you may know, we've won an award two years in a row, and would love to keep the streak going. There's no cash prize involved, but something way more valuable...bragging rights!

If you’d like to help us out, please follow this link to vote in the “Best Food Program: Web,” and “Best Home Chef in a Series” categories. Voting ends on November 27, 2012. Thank you for the love and support!

Old-Fashioned Cracker Dressing & Stuffing – Do You Dare?

Here we go again, delving into the treacherous topic of changing up your traditional Thanksgiving side dishes. This time, it’s an old-fashioned cracker dressing vying to be that surprise, uninvited guest.

Sure some you alternative lifestylists may go for the cornbread, but generally, bread-based variations rule the day. There’s a great reason for this; they’re easy, delicious, and most importantly, very familiar. Therein lies the problem.

Why mess with past success? Your loved ones wait all year for your Thanksgiving feast, so why take the chance of disappointing them on the big day? You have the entire rest of the year to do that.

Anyway, I’m not going to try and convince you that this is a superior dressing, or that you should change your regular routine, but if you’re someone who's looking for a change of pace dressing, that’s still very familiar and comforting, this could be the one.

Of course, you can use whatever ingredients you normally add to your bread dressing, and it should work just the same. By the way, I never stuff my turkey, so if you choose to use this as a stuffing, please refer to the roughly one million Thanksgiving turkey cooking guides linked online. Enjoy!

Ingredients for 16 portions:
1 pound saltine crackers (4 sleeves)
1/2 cup butter
1 large or 2 small yellow onions, diced
3 or 4 ribs of celery, diced
1 tsp salt, or to taste
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
cayenne to taste
1/2 tsp dried sage
1/2 tsp dried thyme
1/2 tsp dried rosemary
2 3/4 cups chicken or turkey broth
1/2 cup cream or milk
1 or 2 eggs
*Tip: you can cook a small nugget in a pan and taste for seasoning
Bake at 375 degrees F. for bout 45 minutes

View the complete recipe

Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls – The Least Scary Halloween Treat, Ever!

When I was asked to join some of my fellow foodies on YouTube, to produce a video for a special seasonal playlist called “Halloween Sweet Treats,” I sat down and considered all the scary sweets recipes in my repertoire. After several minutes of deep thought, I realized I had nothing.

Not to sound like a curmudgeon, but sticking broken pretzels into a marshmallow and calling it a “scary spider,” just isn’t my thing. So, instead of trying to figure out how to make a chocolate truffle look like a bleeding eyeball, I made a batch of pumpkin cinnamon rolls. They may not be scary (what’s the opposite of scary?), but they are seasonal, and incredibly delicious.

I used to joke that when Halloween/Thanksgiving time rolls around, the only thing a chef has to do to make a recipe seasonal is to add some pumpkin to it. Chili with a spoon of pumpkin stirred in? Halloween chili! Dinner rolls with a spoon of pumpkin kneaded into the dough? Thanksgiving dinner rolls!

Well, that’s exactly what I did here, and while it may be formulaic, it also produced the best cinnamon rolls I’ve ever tasted. One key is a nice soft, sticky dough. Be sure to only add enough flour so that the dough just barely pulls away from the side of the bowl as it kneads.

You can certainly embellish by adding some chopped walnuts or pecans to the cinnamon-sugar layer, but since I decided to garnish with pumpkin seeds, I went sans nuts. Anyway, despite not being very horrifying, these really would make a special treat at any Halloween party. I hope you give these a try soon. Enjoy!

Ingredients for 16 Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls:
(I used a deep 13 x 9 baking dish)
Bake at 350 degrees F. for 30 minutes

For the dough:
1 package of dry yeast
1/4 cup very warm water (about 100-105 degrees F.)
1/2 tsp white sugar
1/2 cup pure pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie filling)
1/4 cup heavy cream (can sub milk, but cream is better)
1 tsp fine salt
1/4 cup melted butter
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
3/4 tsp pumpkin pie spice (or 1/2 tsp ground ginger and 1/4 tsp allspice)
1 large egg
1/4 cup granulated sugar
3 to 4 cups all purpose flour (divided), as needed 
 (add enough flour to mixer so that dough just barely pulls away from sides, and a very soft, slightly sticky dough is formed)
*knead for at least 6-7 minutes

For the filling:
5 tbsp melted butter, brushed on rolled dough
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 cup of granulated sugar
2 tbsp ground cinnamon

*For the glaze:
1/4 cup room temperature cream cheese
1 cup powdered sugar
1/4 cup milk, or as needed
1/4 tsp vanilla extract, optional
*adjust glaze by adding more powdered sugar or milk to achieve desired consistency
1/4 cup toasted pumpkin seeds to garnish

We Won! Food Wishes Takes Down Two Taste Awards

Thanks to you, we're happy to announce that Food Wishes has won two Taste Awards! We were a finalist in two categories, “Best Food Program: Web,” and “Best Home Chef in a Series,” and took home both prizes.

A sincere thank you to everyone who took the time to vote. I’ve said it before, but no food blogger anywhere enjoys such overwhelming support from their audience. You're the best!

Sweet Corn & Wild Mushroom Spoonbread – Best Cornbread Dressing I’ve Ever Accidentally Made!

It’s always nice when you start out making one thing, and it unexpectedly turns into something else, which ends up being far better than you expected. Such was the case with this quite homely, yet amazingly delicious sweet corn and wild mushroom spoonbread.

I was trying to do a simple, wild mushroom-studded, sweet corn casserole to reinforce our holiday side dish repertoire, and before I knew it, I was eating the best, most flavorful cornbread dressing I’d ever tasted. Not only that, but we completely eliminated the step of having to make corn bread first!

Of course, I wish I could do stuff like this on purpose, but like my golf buddies used to say, “better lucky, than good.” The only drawback, as I obsessed over in the video, was the less that stellar appearance when it came out of the oven. 

I may try some type of gratin topping next time, but honestly, this was so wonderful tasting that I can’t even pretend to be upset over such superficial concerns.  I hope you give it a try soon. Enjoy!

Ingredients for 12 portions:
1/2 cup dried porcini mushroom pieces, softened in 1 cup hot tap water, squeezed dry
1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 cup yellow cornmeal
1/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon fine salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
cayenne to taste
2 large eggs
1 cup buttermilk
1/4 cup milk
1 pound sweet corn, drained well
1/4 cup chopped green onions
oil to grease baking dish
Bake at 350 degrees F. for 30-35 min

View the complete recipe

Giving Back to NYC

Since New York City and surrounding areas are still in such desperate need of help, I thought I’d post links to some of our favorite NYC-inspired recipes, in the hopes you’ll think to yourself, “After all the delicious food the Big Apple has given to us, the least I can do is give a few bucks to the Red Cross to help them out.” After enjoying some pizza, cheesecake, blintzes, and pastrami, please follow this link and give what you can. Thanks and enjoy!

Make Your Own Pastrami
New York-Style Cheesecake

Easy Cheese Blintzes
No-Knead Thin Crust Pizza

Duck Leg Adobo – A Real Family Meal

If you’ve worked in restaurants before, you know that every night before service the staff sits down to what’s called the “family meal.” One of the younger cooks is usually charged with scraping together something filling and, more importantly, not expensive. It was during one of these meals that I first had adobo.

When I worked at the Carnelian Room in the late 80’s, much of the kitchen crew was Filipino, so chicken and pork adobo was a very common dinner. One of the dishwashers made a particularly great version, and I fell in love with the bold, simple flavors. I also remember being pretty annoyed that the dishwashers there were better cooks than I was at the time, but that’s another story.

Anyway, I happened to have some duck legs around last week, and all it took was a well-timed email wishing for adobo to inspire this video. I understand that most of you will not use duck for this, but if you do, be sure to save the fat.

Duck fat is prized by chefs, and more heart-healthy than people realize. It can be used for just about anything you’d normally fry in butter or vegetable oil. I roasted some Brussels spouts with mine, but it also will make just about the best homefries you’ve ever tasted.

Like I said in the video, no duck, no problem. If you can simmer it in a sauce, it will work in this recipe. Because of the high soy sauce content, be careful about over reducing, but other than that, not much can go wrong. This is cheap, easy, and very flavorful, which is why it makes for such a great “family meal.” Enjoy!

Ingredients for 6 duck legs:
6 duck legs (or about same amount of chicken or pork)
salt and pepper to taste
1 tbsp vegetable oil
1 tbsp reserved duck fat
1 large onion, sliced
8 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup seasoned rice vinegar (if not seasoned, use a little sugar to taste)
1/2 cup soy sauce, or to taste (this is a fairly salty dish, so if you're not into that kind of thing, add less and adjust later)
1 1/2 cups chicken broth
2 tsp sambal chili sauce, or other hot pepper sauce to taste

Look What I Found

My friends at have put together a great recipe hub for Thanksgiving, and as I glanced down the page, I saw this gorgeous pumpkin flan in their gluten-free section. I quickly realized it was a recipe I'd posted a few years ago, and pretty much forgotten about. It only took one glance to remind me of this sweet, satisfying, and yet still relatively light holiday dessert.

Anyway, I wanted to share this delicious blast from the past, and also provide you with a link to the extensive Thanksgiving recipe index over at Allrecipes for all your last minute needs. Enjoy!

Click here to read the original post, and get the ingredient list.

Lemon Berry Tartlets – Puff and Stuff

About 30 years ago, I made puff pastry from scratch in culinary school. It came out really, really well, and I haven’t made it since. Why? Because frozen puff pastry is so readily available, so consistently perfect, and so easy to work with, that the thought of going through all the time and trouble to make my own seems kind of crazy.

Of course, that’s a poor attitude for a cook, and one I’ve been fighting against all these years as I convince people that making your own bread, dressings, cheese, crème fraiche, etc. is a worthwhile pursuit. So, eventually I will show you how to make puff pastry, and hopefully somehow reconcile this obvious hypocrisy, but for now, we defrost.

By the way, I realize that berry season is probably over where you live, but fresh California blackberries were still around a few weeks ago when I filmed this video, and so I’m posting it anyway, seasonality be damned. This is really about the technique for making little puff pastry tart shells anyway, and I’m very confident you’ll figure out how to fill them.

Speaking of which, don’t limit your brainstorming to sweet treats. These lovely little cups make for a stellar base for all kinds of savory bites. I’ve filled these with sautéed mushrooms, chicken salads, and smoked salmon, just to name a few. Regardless of what you fill them with, they will be very well received. I hope you give these a try soon. Enjoy!

Ingredients for 12 tartlets:
1 sheet frozen puff pastry, partially thawed (you should get 12 tartlets if you use a 2-inch cutter like I did)
1 beaten egg
1/3 cup lemon curd, vanilla custard, chocolate mousse, whipped cream, or other appropriate filling
12 fresh blackberries
powdered sugar, as needed
*Bake puff pastry at 400 degrees F. for 13-15 minutes, allow to fully cool before filling.

View the complete recipe

Holiday Granola – Only 8 Edible Gift Making Days Until Christmas!

When I was asked to take part in a special holiday YouTube playlist called, Christmas Morning Breakfast,” I started thinking about seasonal variation on things like eggs benedict, quiche, and French toast. But then I realized…you can’t wrap those things up and give them as an edible gift, so I decided to do this granola instead.

We’ve covered the edible gift topic before, and discussed the fine line between, “Wow, what a creative and thoughtful gift!” and “Wow, what a cheapskate!” Happily, when it comes to this delicious, crunchy treat, one taste and the lucky recipient will forget about any ulterior economic motivations.

Since this was a Christmas-themed recipe, I went with lots of festively colored dried fruit, but the beauty of the granola technique is that it pretty much works with anything. I love the looks of the green pumpkin seeds, but things like hazelnuts and pecans would also work wonderfully.

As I mentioned in the video, it’s really up to you to determine the cooking time. I tend to like mine just golden-brown, but many enjoy the deeper, nuttier flavor of a longer roasting. Since you are pulling and tossing every 10 minutes, this is pretty easy to monitor, but just be careful towards the end, as it can get bitter if you go too far.

Anyway, whether this is for a quick and easy holiday breakfast, with milk or over Greek yogurt; or you are going to package some up as a stocking stuffer for the foodies in your life, I hope you give this a try soon. Enjoy!

Ingredients for about 6 cups of Granola
3 cups rolled oats
1 cup sliced almonds
1/2 cup raw pumpkin seeds
1/2 cup shredded coconut (pure coconut, not candied)
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup maple syrup
3 tbsp vegetable oil
1 tsp salt
1/2 cup chopped candy covered chocolate pieces (like M&M’s)
1/2 cup golden raisins, chopped
1 cup mixed dried fruit (any combo of cranberries, cherries, strawberries, blueberries, etc.)
*Bake at 325 degrees F. for 30-40 minutes or until browned.