Mushroom Bread Pudding

I have been baking up a storm here this past week, breaking in my new oven and all.  There has been an abundance of sweet treats, like apple and pear pie, pumpkin gooey butter cake, and plum- topped coffee cake.  And now I am in the mood for savory autumn flavors.  Is stuffing as popular a savory side dish in your family as it is in ours?  If so, then this version, a savory bread pudding, is simply stuffing, kicked up a notch (or two). read more


The high heat of Northern California and a finicky oven have put me in a state of “baking withdrawal”.  So when the heat abated at the beginning of this week, I got busy in the kitchen.  What a great feeling to get my hands on some yeast dough again!  I love the process of mixing, kneading, and proofing dough. read more

Fig Muffins

Do you love to collect cookbooks as much as I do?  Are you the kind of person who waits patiently for that special book, the one from a popular restaurant with a menu you would desperately love to recreate in your own home?  One day Amazon sends you a kindly reminder:  that book on your wishlist is available.  You hastily place the order, without carefully scrutinizing the reviews (after all, a prominent Food Network star gushed about this book).  And then, you get in the kitchen to try a recipe… read more

Grand Aioli

In the heat of summer there is still a need for delicious and substantial food.  The simplest of ingredients can be elevated to gourmet status with the addition of a knock-out sauce.  Herein is the magic of the Grand Aioli, a classic dish of Provence.  In the tradition of French cuisine, fresh vegetables, at their peak of flavor, are simply poached, and served with similarly prepared white fish and shellfish.  What makes these ingredients rise to culinary celebrity status is an amazing garlic sauce.

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Melon with Daiquiri Syrup

This weekend’s Farmer’s Market trip yielded an abundance of melon, all at the peak of ripeness and flavor.  Ordinarily the melon-lover of the family devours this favorite fruit of his simply; he scoops out the seeds and fills the space with the best vanilla ice cream.  But I was looking for a different take on fresh melon, a simple but attractive dessert with both taste and eye appeal. read more

Balsamic Chicken Salad

Hot weather requires a certain kind of cooking.  You need to provide maximum flavor with minimum expenditure of heat and effort.  This salad is the perfect example of summertime eating:  fresh and flavorful, but quick and easy to make.  The ingredients are simple, you may have everything you need in your refrigerator and pantry right now.  You can grill or saute the chicken, and, in fact, this salad is the perfect use for leftover chicken.  The dressing is bright and sharp-flavored; a light coating of balsamic vinegar and olive oil complements the crunchy celery, juicy grapes, and rich pecans.  read more

Peach Semifreddo

I am slowly becoming familiar with the rhythms of our new home.  I no longer wake in the night, wide-eyed in the dark, with a tinge of panic, wondering “where am I”?  This is home now, this beautiful place in Northern California.  How lucky am I to be living here?  The yard is green and full of trees; there are coastal redwoods, oak, maple, birch, and fruit trees.  The fragrance of roses, gardenia, and jasmine fills the air.  There is something special in every little corner of this yard.  It is my own sanctuary, and I am grateful for the beauty of it all.  And then there are the markets; the best Farmer’s Markets are just a short drive away. Every weekend we make a visit to one or another of them and marvel at the array of produce, flowers, organic meat, dairy and baked goods.

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A Purist's Guacamole

Since I moved to California I’ve noticed that the avocados here are mostly perfect.  All the time!  I’ve not had a bad one yet, and that makes me very happy.  Heading into the weekend I thought it was time to make a batch of guacamole.  I have very strong opinions about what should go into my guacamole. read more

Blackberry-Almond Cake

It has been a very long two months since I last posted here.  Where do I begin to tell the story of these past few weeks?  We moved from Wisconsin to California at the end of March.  The day after our house was packed up, we got in the car and started a four day trip across the country to our new home.  It is a temporary home; a furnished rental apartment, in a lovely community, convenient to everything.  But I wasn’t prepared for how homesick I would be, and how unsettling such a huge change is to everyday life.  read more