Wednesday, November 28, 2007


12 Holiday Gift Ideas for Chefs, Cooks, Foodies & the Like


Why hello my peaches, and Happy Holidays to you all!

What with super shopping day, Black Friday (heavens, what a foreboding title!) behind us, and the holidays (Hanukkah! Christmas! Kwanzaa! New Years!) looming large, I thought I would break out my top twelve off-the-beaten-path holiday present suggestions for all of the foodies, chefs, cooks and more in your life...all road tested and Fresh Approach approved!



1. The exceedingly fabulous Mary and Chris of Maryink in Tennessee, have conjured up what can only be described as the must have item of the year. The Fruit Basket Waist Apron.

Sweet, but not cloying, these beauties are too good to be true.

They are hand screen-printed on natural cotton duck and cost $12 each. Really kids, at that price, how can you go wrong?

Available online from super-site Etsy.

Based in the Alps, Sarah Finn is an wood-working artist extraordinare. Her incredibly stunning laser cut (that are sturdy and wipe-able!) place mats...well, sigh, right?

They measure 14"w x 17" and are just so darned stylish, I can't get over it. She also makes napkin rings and all sorts of other kitchen-centric fantasticness.

These beauties run about $25 each.

3. How sweet is this hand-crafted Pea Pod necklace? I love it so much!

Created by the brilliant Aimee Addison of Wear Me Jewels, in Eugene, OR, it is sterling silver and Russian Serpentine on a leather cord.

Pick yours up for $35

She also offers jewelry making classes if you are in the area!

4. Looking for something with an old school vibe? Want a way to bring that extra something special to your next cocktail soiree?

Look no further than the taste-titillating bitters brought to you by the Fee Brothers. ("Don't Squeeze, Use Fee's!) I personally have been using the limited edition Whiskey Barrel Bitters for months now and cannot imagine my mixology without it on hand. They also offer Grapefruit, Lemon and much more.

If you haven't experienced old fashioned, (since 1835!) hand-made bitters, I suggest you get your hands on a bottle, stat.

5. Why not get all those recipes you have been collecting organized into your very own personal cookbook from TasteBook? For me, this was a dream come true. Stunning results and easy as can be follow along directions. Get over there and be on your way to becoming the (self) published author you know you should be! 100 recipes for $35

6. Willow Pond Farm in Fairfield, PA offers the most incredibly delectable Rosemary Jelly. This truly artisan product is made one batch at a time with certified organic herbs from their own garden. Use it to make their famous thumb-print cookies, or go wild (as I did) and keep a jar on hand until next summer, so you can glaze fig tarts in the most unexpected way. One 4 oz. jar is $3.75 and they are available online, unless you want to go visit the farm! (I certainly would if I were anywhere nearby!)

7. Now, under normal circumstances I always advocate buying the absolutely highest quality (forged!) knife you can afford...but if you're picking up a gift for someone more focused on style, well, Los Angeles based CulinHome Decor knives are just too whimsical to pass up.

Available in three patterns, Hibiscus, Jax and Splash, they are just the coolest darned things goin'. Prices vary...check their site for where to buy in your area.

In LA they can be picked up at Illiterature on La Brea starting at $35.00

8. Wanna get your ham-on? (Jamon?)

If you are serious about the pork, and trust (me, and) the ultimate food lover, Jeffery Steingarten's taste (and who doesn't, really) - the man who declared this is the tops - then get thee over to La Quercia Rossa for their ethereal Heirloom Breed Culaccia Prosciutto. "The only single-breed, dry cured ham in the USA."

Hand crafted in Iowa. Prices vary. Also available from Williams-Sonoma.

9. And since we talked ham, I figure the next logical step, is cheese!

In this case, a sublime Gouda Boere Kaas, made right here in Southern California by the Dutch craftsmen of Winchester Cheese.

Their cheese is award winning and rightly so.

Available online or at The Cheese Store of Beverly Hills. And they offer a Cheese Club option. Could anything be more wonderful?

10. The Crystal Dragon low ball, heck, the whole bar set, makes me dizzy with desire.

Could anything be more swank? Glamour, glamour, glamour.

The imperial design is sand-etched onto mouth blown clear lead crystal from Hungary and ready to make all your Eastern dreams come true.

Starting at $95 these beauties are available exclusively from Gumps of San Francisco.

11. Tell the truth, how excited would you be to receive an upside down tomato garden this holiday season? Seriously. Local tomatoes! As in, from your own kitchen! Too amazing!

"Hanging vines need almost no attention as tomatoes ripen in the air (not on the ground) where they wont rot. Complementary plants like basil, parsley, rosemary, and peppers can be planted on top, which holds up to 80 lbs. of topsoil. The compact planter can fit in any space with ample sunlight, even condominium balconies."

All this for $75 plus shipping!

12. Choco LA LA Fair Trade Chocolates. Those cheeky chocolatiers. Sassy and ethical, not to mention, makers of glorious, fresh, hand-made chocolates!

Try the dark chocolate truffles - "a rich dark center with a hint of chili and coconut, all enclosed in a dark chocolate shell."

For me, a trip to England is never complete without getting my hands on a box these (which also includes their chocolate covered mango...sigh.), and now, they are available online!

Prices vary.

Well there you go my dears, I hope you found something you like!

All of the photos in this post come from their respective websites. Credit where credit is due.

Wanna see my suggestions from years gone by? Check it out here and here.

One last gift suggestion...make a donation...there are a few worthy causes listed on the left...


Tuesday, November 27, 2007


Penne with Five-Spiced Pumpkin

Ever since The Ombudsman took me out for a rousing day of G-rated activities at the California Science Center, (actually, not entirely, that place has some racy stuff! And a lot of super duper icky stuff! So, you know. It was fun!) I have been thinking about the delicate balance of my body's culinary needs.

All that and I've been thinking I need a warm drink. Mmm. Yes, a warm drink.

Wait, no, what I really need is warm, hearty food. Yes. That's what I learned at the museum! Our bodies need a balance of nutrient rich foods as the weather turns colder. Who knew!

So in my science inspired mood, I contemplated dinner.

It would have to be something toothsome (oh for the love of/in the name of all that/for pities sake...did I just use that word? Gack. Sorry. Loathsome.), something with heft and stout resolution. Something carb-tastic (now, isn't that a much better word than toothsome? Yes, I think so too.) Something that positively reeks of late autumn, with the clever addition of Chinese five-spice powder. That all-balancing spice combo of note that incorporates all that is good in spirit and food balancing. It was what the doctor (had one practicing Eastern medicine been one involved) ordered for my scien-tiffic (oh wow do I think that's clever! Grin.) dinner bonanza.

Newly up-to-date on the human body and all its wonders, I cozied up to the Ombudsman with a steamy bowl of this all-nourishing, beta-carotene rich fantastic-ness. Balanced perfection. And it was warm and robust and filling and I'm sure your body will agree, super yummy.

So try it my dears, and taste the joy.

1 pound (whole wheat) penne pasta
1 teaspoon vegetable oil
1 cup fresh or canned pumpkin puree
1 T five spice powder
1/2 cup vegetable stock
1 teaspoon Sriracha hot sauce
1 teaspoon chile flakes
1/2 cup green onion
2 carrots cut into matchsticks (julienne)
1 cup green cabbage, finely shredded

In a large pot of boiling, salted, water cook the penne until al dente.

In a saute pan, heat the vegetable oil, then add the pumpkin and five spice and saute for one minute, stirring. Add the stock, hot sauce and chile flakes. Warm through. Taste and adjust seasoning as needed.

Toss with the pasta, add carrots, green onion and cabbage. Toss, taste, and serve.

Makes four servings.


Emeril Lagasse will throw down his last "Bam!" on Dec. 11, when he tapes his last "Emeril Live!" for the Food Network. The show is being canceled after 10 years, though the network says his studio show will remain on the air. -

Five spice incorporates the five basic flavors of Chinese cooking — sweet, sour, bitter, savory and salty. It consists of cassia (cinnamon), star anise, ginger, fennel seeds and Szechuan pepper

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Monday, November 26, 2007


Cranberry-Orange Cream Scones

Wow, I love scones.


And delicious.

And with the addition of very North American too!

I wonder if that makes these "fusion.'

Any-which-way, they are creamy (which seems like a particularly strange way to describe a baked good - and yet, its just so darned accurate!) and flaky and sweet and tangy and full-o-happiness.

Try some today, and taste the joy!

1 3/4 cup flour (plus extra for shaping)
2 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 cup sugar (plus extra for sanding)
pinch of salt
zest of one small orange
1/4 cup (that's half of one short stick) butter, cut up
1 cup heavy cream
2 eggs, beaten
1/4 cup sweet cranberry jelly/sauce/relish/jam*

In your food processor, pulse to combine the flour, baking soda, sugar, salt and orange zest. Add the butter and pulse to combine that too.

Add the cream and eggs and pulse (meaning, short bursts, so you don't create heat) until it all comes together. It should be quite wet. Let rest.

Spray a baking sheet with baking spray. (I really love that stuff. If you don't use it, just use butter or a Silpat)

Drop the batter out from the bowl of the food processor onto a slightly floured surface. Using flour coated hands, pat the batter into a 1/2 inch high circle. Poke some holes into it and fill the holes with cranberry sauce. Try to work it so the cranberries get buried. Cut into wedges and carefully transfer to the baking sheet. They spread and rise, so do not crowd.

Sprinkle with additional sugar (this is sanding) and bake for 15 minutes. Remove from oven, let cool a few minutes then transfer to a rack to cool, or devour.

*This recipe would also be great with currants, lingonberries or cloudberries, if you live somewhere those are accessible.


The cranberry was first called the "crane berry" by Dutch and German settlers because cranberry blossoms resemble the head and bill of a crane.

Sanding. A term applied to the process of sprinkling or spreading crystalline sugar onto the surface of such bakery products as cookies, pastries, etc - Baking

Scones originated in Scotland between 1505-1515 and are said to have taken its name from the Stone of Destiny (or Scone), the place where Scottish kings were once crowned. - Epicurious

A unique and charming man, Mr. Norman Mercer passed away last week. He was 91 years old. His kindness, humor and appreciation for life's beauty contributed greatly to my childhood; and my family and I will miss him dearly.


Saturday, November 17, 2007


Rolled Turkey Breasts with Apple-Herb Stuffing


UPDATE May, 2013: Hi to everyone who came here from the horror show that is Amy's Bakery Page. We have asked them to remove the picture from Facebook, but so far, nothing has happened. At first we thought it was funny, but it's kinda gotten out of control. We don't know them and are not fans. ANYWAY...please enjoy this old post and take care!

Happy Thanksgiving.

I am here to remind you that a rolled-stuffed-sliced turkey breast is simple to make and takes so much less space in your refrigerator than a whole fowl. Brilliant. And when you see how easy (and by "easy" I mean, not particularly helpful unless you already know how to use butchers twine. I thought about trying to explain how...I just, am too hung over to try to string too many words together right now, and in a bit of a pinch for time. Oh and by the way? If you are going to see Beowulf in IMAX 3D? Don't have a few margaritas first, and for sure, don't get seats too close to the screen. Trust me.) the recipe below is, you will wonder what you have been thinking all these years with that ginourmous bird. And all that delicious dark meat.

Or, you can think of this as a revelation. You can make it in advance and offer it in addition to the whole roast. More meat for the pickin'. Clever, right? (And to my international readers...sorry this post is so US-centric. And to my vegan readers...well, just sorry.)
See my dears? Simple, elegant. Easy. Try it and taste the joy.
4 large turkey breasts, boned, skin retained. I think your butcher can do this. If you have that type of butcher. Or you can just slice the meat along the ribs, remove the thick, white tendon and the "tenders" which is the bit that just isn't attached to anything else. Freeze those and cook later. They are fab.
Apple-Herb Dressing (This is made by sauteeing one small dice onion and 2 ribs of celery, a teaspoon each of minced fresh sage, thyme and rosemary in 2 tablespoons of melted butter. Mix that with 3 cups of dried bread cubes, a cup of coarsly chopped dried apple, and enough turkey stock to moisten, then taste and add a gang of salt. Make sure this is cooled completely before you add it to the turkey.)
Stuff with the dressing, roll it up lengthwise, truss with some butchers twine, season liberally, and roast until cooked through, in a pan on top of four celery ribs, 1 cup small mushrooms, onions rings from three onions and additional sliced apples (fresh) plus a bit of turkey stock. Don't forget to baste. (Should take about 45 minutes to one hour.)
Remove from the oven and let rest while you (if you choose too) make gravy from the pan drippings. It's easier to slice when its cooler.
Cut off the butcher-twine, then go on and slice and serve.
Or, hire someone to do this, (a caterer perhaps.) and spend your day drinking yourself silly, enjoy your family's company and raise a glass to our Pilgrim/Pioneer forefathers.


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Don't like Brussels sprouts? There is a snippet of DNA that gives some people the ability to taste a compound that makes many vegetables taste bitter. And they are different than those who are blind to bitter taste — who actually like brussels sprouts — by a single spelling change in our four-letter genetic alphabet: somewhere on human chromosome 7, the former have a G where the later have have a C. - NY

Here is a recipe that actually explains how to do all this.

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Thursday, November 15, 2007


Haricot Vert with Filberts (Or, Green Beans with Hazelnuts)

Hello my dears!

I'm starting this post with a bit of info I am certain you don't need...but following it up at the bottom with a recipe that I am certain you do need...because the taste sensation is just too divine to pass up.

The somewhat (or, you know, entirely) irrelevant info, that I am compelled to share first, is that I have got a stupendously random song (sorry for the lame link, there doesn't seem to be a proper video) stuck in my head in my head on auto-loop.


I have only the slightest notion how it got there, (Okay, I confess, I know perfectly well how it got there, but I cannot fathom how it became so deeply lodged) and in all honesty, it's driving me to the lalalalla la la. The brink I say!

For DAYS, (going on weeks frankly) all the blessed souls around me have been pleading (at first with their eyes, then quite vocally) that I stop tra-la-la-ing the refrain every time there is even a hint of a lull in conversation... it really is that...well, catchy actually, but ultimately, bothersome.

So tell me my sweets, is there a cure? Is there anything to be done?

Whoa is me.

And much like that song, this recipe* is driving me to distraction as well. I must have some sort of compulsive disorder.

(I am hoping just writing about it here will have the desired therapeutic sanity depends on it!)

Happily, the dish (unlike the lovely song) is easy to ingest, and that makes a happy girl indeedeeeee.

The combination of flavors and textures, the way it smells as it bubbles and sputters in the pan, it has a grip on me. I crave it.

And - bonus - it's perfect for a Thanksgiving side dish.

So my peaches, try it, and taste the joy.

2 Tablespoons butter
1 pound/4 cups French green beans, trimmed
1/4 cup filberts
Salt, pepper and lemon zest to season

In a large saute pan, melt the butter then add the beans and nuts. Let that cook until the butter is slightly browned, when that happens, remove from the pan, toss with salt, pepper and zest and serve.


The Hazelnut Growers of Oregon accounted for 1/3 of the nation’s 27,000-ton production last year. Virtually all U.S. hazelnuts are grown in Oregon.

*The original version of this recipe was given to me by She-Who-Inspires-Me, AKA, Taji, at Simple Gourmet

Fresh beans are classified into two basic categories: edible pod beans and shell beans. Green beans, otherwise known as snap or string beans, are the most popular edible pod bean in the United States. The lima bean is the most common shell bean sold in the United States.

Jamie Oliver will be returning to The Food Network with a new show called Jamie at Home. The show will feature him preparing meals with produce from his country garden. Each episode will feature a different ingredient and show a variety of recipes that focus on that ingredient. The show premiers on Saturday, January 12, 2008

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Tuesday, November 13, 2007


Sweet, Sweet Potato Salad with Orange & Cranberries

I feel so lame!

I made this the other day as a way to kick off the holiday season...and I gotta say. It was not to my taste. (Too, too sweet.)

But I was, decidedly, in the minority. Everyone else present at it's mid-day unveiling devoured it, all while making happy-mouth sounds.

Just goes to show.

I am not the arbiter of taste. (Darn!)


It did take a purdy picture though! And who doesn't respond to a purdy plate of food, right? ...Right.

One of the people who did find it delectable (I am SO not that person.), said "it tastes like Thanksgiving in a bowl! Yum!" which was, technically, what I was going for, so that made me all warm and gooey inside.(But also a bit hungry, since I didn't eat much of it.)

What can I say, it's all about pleasing the peeps!

So, I am posting it here. Because, um, I said I would, and you are my peeps too, (awww) and I wanna share!

So try this my peaches, and (if you like the combo as it is...) taste the joy!

1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 tablespoon maple syrup
Zest and juice of one large orange
2 tablespoons Sherry wine vinegar
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
5 lbs sweet potatoes , peeled, cut into cubes
1 cup chopped green onions
1 cup pecan bits and pieces
1/2 cup golden raisins (Sultanas)
1/4 cup dried cranberries

1/4 cup dried cherries

In a blender, combine the first seven ingredients. Whip-um-up. Set aside.

Boil your sweet potatoes until they are just tender. Drain and transfer to large bowl. Allow to cool then add green onions, parsley, pecans, and the sultanas and cranberries.

Toss gently with the dressing, trying not to squarsh (no, that is not really a word.) the taters. Taste and season with salt and pepper.

Serves a gang of people.


Nutmeg has been cultivated for more than 1,000 years

Biodynamics, an agricultural movement, is based on a series of lectures given in the 1920s by Austrian philo­so­pher Rudolf Steiner. The movement views the vineyard (or farm) as an ecological whole—not just the vines, but also the soil, insects and other local flora and fauna. Or, "The microcosm reflects the macrocosm." - Food and

Nearly four dozen people were arrested at a weekend party east of Peoria, IL. The gathering was advertised as a "triple-kegger" featuring pudding wrestling.

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Monday, November 12, 2007


Chocolate, Fig & Black Pepper Biscotti

Oh my goodness! Yet another post on baked goods! What is with me these days? Hmmm.

Well, on with the show...

Somewhere far back in the mists of time, I did some (*ahem*) work for a woman who had a thriving business selling "Famous Biscotti." Not sure how famous they really were in actuality, but they sure were tasty. Obsess-tastic, in fact. No doubt about. The woman had managed perfection.

What made her twice-baked bonne bouche so magically different from the norm, was that (they were just good!) she sliced them extra thin. One small change, that changed my entire view of the biscotti world.

I mean, how often have you taken a bite into one of these coffee-house favorites, and thought might you might just crack a molar? With a slender cookie, that problem evaporates like a martini left out in the hot sun (oh, what a sad thought!)...I mean, well, I mean the problem is solved.

My version, (which is not her recipe at all, mind you -- I say that because I would not be surprised to get a stern phone call if I posted anything even close to her recipe. She is a delightful person, but quite proprietary about her cookies and most assuredly not the type it's prudent to cross. That said, this version is all mine...promise) does utilize her fantastic technique none-the-less.

I mean hey, a good idea is a good idea, right?


This combo includes dense, chewy figs; rich, dark chocolate and a small hint of ground pepper, as a background note that gives it that extra something special. It just so happened that I used all organic ingredients, and super high fat European style butter too...if you have the option of doing so too, I encourage you to.

After having made the same version of biscotti for years, this was a welcome addition to my repertoire, and will - for sure - make an appearance in my own lil' flight-o-fancy life again's just my idea of wintery perfection.

So try this my peaches, and taste the joy. (That's my new "tag line." Do you love it? Hee.)

3 cups all purpose flour
1/4 cup unsweetened (alkalized) cocoa powder
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted
3 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup dried figs
Black pepper
1/2 cup mini chocolate chips
White chocolate for garnish

Preheat your oven to 325F.

Line a baking sheet with foil or coat with baking spray.

Sprinkle the figs with a tiny bit of flour. Chop fine. The flour prevents (somewhat) the figs from sticking to your knife. When diced, grind a few turns worth of black pepper over the figs. No more than three turns. Set this all aside.

In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, cocoa, baking powder and salt.

Combine the sugar, melted butter, eggs and vanilla in another bowl. Using a wooden spoon, combine the flour mixture into the egg mixture and stir until well blended, then gently mix in the peppered figs and chocolate chips.

Pop that into the freezer for 10 minutes. No need to cover it, your pulling it out soon enough.

Divide the dough in half. Using floured hands, shape each piece into 2 1/2-inch-wide, 9 1/2-inch-long, 1-inch-high parallelogram. Transfer both logs to prepared baking sheet, spacing evenly.

Bake the biscotti for about 35 minutes, keeping watch they don't burn. Remove from the oven (leave the oven on though) and let them cool completely on the sheet on a cooling rack.

Transfer the logs to work surface. Using a serrated bread knife, cut on the diagonal (now do you see why I suggested the parallelogram?) into 1/4-inch-wide slices.

Arrange the slices, back onto that same sheet. Bake 8 minutes; then flip them over and continue to bake until just beginning to color, about 5 minutes. Remove from the oven and transfer your biscotti to a cooling rack.

I drizzled the finished biscotti with melted white chocolate, but the photos were ghastly, so, while I think it looked fab, its not what I showed here...I do think its worth doing though. Melt some white chocolate in the top of a double boiler, then put it into a squeeze bottle, and do a nice zig-zag down each cookie. Let that cool completely, before serving.


Progressive Baker is an excellent resource if you ever want to fiddle with your baking formulas!

Biscotti was first created in the fourteenth century in the Tuscany region of Italy.

Columbus introduced cacao beans to Spain in 1504. They were not really popular anywhere else until almost twenty years later when Cortez, a Spanish conquistador, planted them in Trinidad, Haiti, Fernando Po on his way back to Spain from Mexico. -


Saturday, November 10, 2007


Matcha Tea Cakes with Sultanas & Pinenuts

Take it from me, a joyous life is simple. It's all about injecting a bit of merry mischief into your days. Whimsical deviations from the norm, if you will.

For instance, yesterday, after checking out a few houses we could never dream of having the funds for, (my goodness, the housing market! Sigh.) the Ombudsman and I balanced our day by heading to the MacArthur Park Tamale Festival (lovely tamales, underwhelming event.) and ending up at the ever charming Lucques many hours later for a glass of wine and a sample of their cheese plate. (Superb.)

In between we stopped in to a museum; and then accidentally (or, you know, on purpose) headed up to the rooftop of a building to amuse ourselves, despite the fact it was most likely not open to the public at that hour. Or ever for that matter.

After admiring the views (yes! that is exactly what we were doing! Admiring the views.) we wiggled our way into a star drenched private screening of a very odd flick and just as abruptly, left. Crashing parties, always good for a sly giggle.

See? Innocent (not at all criminal) mischief. Makes me a giddy girl.

Which is my silly way of introducing this cake. It's a classic (American style) tea cake...but it's also, a cake made with tea. A clever little double delight, eh? But it is a bit playful with the introduction of a fat handful of sultanas (so much more suave a word than golden raisin, me thinks.) some earthy green matcha and toasty pinenuts. Unexpected. Irreverent. A regular mash up, I'd say. Decidedly different. Almost sweet, but with a hint of something naughty. What more could a person ask for. Mischievous matcha. The key to happiness.

Do try it my peaches, and taste the joy.

Corn meal
1 1/2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon each ground white pepper, nutmeg, mace and allspice
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup sugar
2 large eggs, room temperature
1 T plus 1 tsp matcha powder
1 drop green food coloring (optional. ONLY use this if your batter is a bit drab)
2/3 cup creme fraiche
1/2 cup golden raisins (Sultanas)
1/4 cup toasted pine nuts
1 bag frozen raspberries
1/4 cup sugar
Berries and mint sprigs for garnish

Preheat your oven to 350F.

Lightly butter and then dust with corn-meal, (adds a lovely crunch. If you haven't got any, just use white flour) four 4-inch mini springform pans. (You can also just do this in one large pan, a 10-inch springform should do it)

Sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and spices. Reserve 2 tablespoons of the dry ingredients in a seperate bowl.

Using electric mixer, beat the butter and sugar until well blended. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition.

On low speed, beat half the dry ingredients into butter mixture, then mix in the matcha, food coloring (if using) and creme fraiche. Beat in the remaining half of the dry ingredients. Toss the golden raisins and pinenuts into the reserved 2 tablespoons dry ingredients then fold that into the wet batter.

Spoon batter into prepared pan making sure to smooth the top. Bake for 15 minutes on the center rack. When a cake tester (or knife), inserted into the centers comes out clean, remove and transfer the cakes to rack and cool.

Meanwhile, combine the defrosted raspberries and sugar in a pan. Simmer until the berries break down (about 10 minutes) then strain and set aside until ready to use.

When the cakes are cool, cut around the pan sides to loosen cake; remove pan sides.

Pour some of the raspberry sauce onto a plate. Top with the cakes. Garnish with mint and raspberries if desired. (I do.)


Matcha is green powdered tea. It is uniquely Japanese and is the highest quality tea available in Japan

In the UK a teacake is a light, sweet, yeasted bun containing dried fruits such as currants, sultanas or peel. In the US, a teacake is a quickbread, also containing dried fruit.

Matcha is also the primary flavoring of Suntory's Zen liqueur, introduced to the U.S. market in 2005

Seattle-based Jones Soda Co., is selling holiday-themed limited-edition packs of flavored sodas.
The Christmas pack will feature such flavors as Sugar Plum, Christmas Tree, Egg Nog and Christmas Ham. The Hanukkah pack will have Jelly Doughnut, Apple Sauce, Chocolate Coins and Latkes sodas. Both packs are kosher and contain zero caffeine. - Boston Globe


Wednesday, November 07, 2007


Quinoa with Mint and Radishes


I super-duper hope the current writers strike gets settled soon!*

The economic ramifications get me all anxious. First they walk out, then shows shut down, then...sooner or later, we all feel the crunch.

I just have to clear my mind I suppose. No sense in fretting over something that I have no power over, right? Right.

Still. I'm a just a tad frazzled and it's only been a few days. I cannot even begin to fathom this debacle going on for (the predicted) months.

So, thinking about what can a girl do to settle a whizzing brain and a dizzy stomach, I figured a salad heavy on the mint was just what I needed. Somehow the idea of all that gentle goodness filling my tum seemed like the call.

The result was really light and refreshing. Personally, I think mint, parsley and basil all work perfectly well as salad greens and should be used accordingly...such as in this dish. Enjoy!

2 cups salted, boiling water
1 cup quinoa
1 small bunch radishes, cut into quarters (top to bottom)
1/2 cup kalamata olives, cut into quarters (top to bottom)
2 cups whole mint leaves, divided
1 cup parsley, rough chopped
Juice and zest of one small lemon
1 teaspoon red wine vinegar
Olive oil as needed
Salt to taste

So when working with quinoa, it's always a really good idea to rinse it a few times in cold water. Supposedly this takes away any bitterness. I have never skipped this step, trusting it is really needed. That part is your call.

Add the quinoa to the boiling water and reduce the flame to medium. Allow to simmer, uncovered for about 15 mintues, or until the quinoa opens and you can see the white rings (it will be obvious, even if my description isn't.) Remove from the heat and drain.

While it is simmering away, rough chop 1/4 of the mint and finely mince 1/4 of it. Leave the rest of the leaves (1/2 cup) whole.

Rough chop the parsley.

Toss the rest of the ingredients together and then add a tiny bit of olive oil. (I found if you add more than a tablespoon the whole dish gets insanely heavy...) Taste and adjust as needed.

Serve room temp or cold.

Should serve about 4.


* The Writers Guild of America is currently on strike. These are the people who write all of the TV shows, films and plays in the US.

I certainly am not the first person to think of this dish...check out this version.

Quinoa is available at Trader Joes. Assuming you have one nearby.

Ten small radishes equal 8 calories

On December 23rd in Oaxaca, Mexico, there is a Radish Festival that involves ornate radish carvings!

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Monday, November 05, 2007


Apple Spice Bundt Cake

When I meet a new person that I instantly feel I could pick a flawless gift for, I know I have found someone I can really call a friend.

It's a formula that has always worked for me. Especially since I heart giving presents...

Honestly! I could buy gifts in my (beauty) sleep for Ms McGee and the (former) Queen of the Valley. Simple. (If we still hung out. Which we don't. Pout.) And The Ombudsman? Heck, I have a list 20 items long and growing. Ms. Va-Voom? I send her random packages on a regularly scheduled basis. Can't help myself really. And if you happen to love The Original Peach too, I believe she has a wish list somewhere on her blog...but I never have to refer to it...

What makes my nearest and dearest so easy to gift, is simple. They all have taste, style and interests that are well-rounded, fascinating and/or fab. All the makings of a genius of a person and a delight of a friend. Nothing beige about my peeps.

Which brings me to The Hostess (and her one true love, The Host). I knew she was a sparkling-bright soul before I went to their house, but when I laid eyes on that setting, lemme tell ya...I could not help but sigh with delight. That girl, she has style for days. The best style imaginable. And The Host? Builds furniture! Simply inspiring. Clever, crafty, musical, cool, spirited people. And easy as pie to give gifts to. Don't you just want to, too?

It would be a bit random of me (though not entirely out of character, I assure you) to start shopping for people I just got to know so, she is such a fab hostess, I figured I could start with a fab hostess gift. I whipped up this autumnal decadence without a second thought, and knew she would love it. And she did. And it was good and it was spectacular.

Dark, spicy, moist and delicious, what more could you ask for on a brisk fall day?

So try it, and enjoy!

2 cups white flour
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 1/2 teaspoons nutmeg
1 teaspoon ground cloves
Pinch of salt
1/2 pound of softened butter (that is 2 sticks)
1 1/2 (1.5) cups white sugar
1/2 (.5) cup packed dark brown sugar
4 large eggs
1/4 cup brandy
1 teaspoon baking soda mixed with 1 tablespoon warm water
4 apples (I used 2 Granny Smith and 2 Fuji), chopped into large chunks*
1 cup rough chopped pecans

* I peeled two of the apples, and left skins on the other two

Preheat your oven to 350F.

Prepare a 10-inch fluted tube pan by either buttering or using cooking spray, then dust the pan with white sugar.

Stir together the flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and salt.

In a stand mixer, beat the butter until creamy. Then go on and beat in the sugar. Add the eggs, 1 at a time, beating after each addition. Add the Brandy, baking soda and water. Stir in the flour and then the apples and pecans just until incorporated.

Get all that tasty batter into the prepared pan and bake for 1 hour, or until a cake tester/thin knife comes out clean when inserted.

Let the cake cool completely before devouring. Serve with cinnamon whipped cream.


Burger King said Monday its first-quarter earnings rose 23 %, but shares of the world's second largest hamburger chain fell almost 4 % as three big shareholders disclosed plans to sell about a third of their holdings. Profits narrowly beat Wall Street expectations as movie-related marketing promotions and sales of chicken sandwiches and value breakfast items helped offset higher food costs.The fast-food company earned $49 million, for the three months ended Sept. 30, compared with $40 million, a year earlier. Burger King's growth strategy includes new product development, aggressive marketing, and a worldwide expansion that includes opening new restaurants and closing underperforming ones in the U.K. and elsewhere. - Fort Worth Star Telegram

Fresh apples float on water since 25% of their volume is air

This recipe was adapted from Food and Wine magazine (Credit where credit is due!) I may be clever, but I sure as heck can't think up cake recipes! (That work anyway! LOL)

North Americans eat an average of 18lbs of apples a year

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