ALOHA!

Aloooooha! I am back from my happy place. It really doesn’t matter all the wonderful places that I am able to travel to, Maui, the Valley Isle, will always be my favorite. As you fly in you can see the lush green valleys and black lava peaks, formed from years of volcanic activity. I imagine that I can smell the sweet and salty water filled air and a smile spreads across my face. When I return to Maui, there are specific food rituals that I must do or I feel incomplete.

I usually start with an obligatory shave ice. Each time I am in Maui, I search for the perfect shave ice.  I try to find just the right  incarnation. Shave Ice is exactly what it says it is; a huge block of ice is put in a machine and finely shaved flakes of ice, fall into a cup ready to be adorned with sweet syrup. That is how most mainlanders enjoy it. Hawaiians add vanilla ice cream on the bottom and a drizzle of sweetened condensed cream, on top. This trip I found Tobi’s Shave Ice in Pa’ia. Like other shave ice shacks there is a myriad of syrup flavors and the ice is shaved to perfection. What I love is how they burrow the ice cream in the middle of the shave ice. This is assures that you get a little bite of creaminess with every bit of shave ice. And you can still get the drizzle of condensed cream. I have to say that Tobi’s rocked!

There is also the ritual of Hawaiian Breakfast. I love Hawaiian French Toast. I like it with bananas, macadamia nuts and coconut syrup. I’ve had the pancake version of this but they always seem heavy. There are so many great Hawaiian breakfast items. Things like Portuguese sausage, Spam and Pork Fried Rice with Eggs are traditional. I love macadamia nut sticky buns!

This trip I tried Kihei Caffe’s french toast. They use Portuguese bread; think Kings Hawaiian bread in a loaf. The bread is made with milk, sugar, eggs, honey and lemon zest. It has a sweet flavor and is really light in texture. You can use brioche if you can’t find Portuguese or Hawaiian Bread. The bread is soaked in an egg mixture, like traditional French toast but it is cooked in a sauté pan and then baked. This locks in the creamy texture in the center and a caramelized crunch on top. Once it’s baked slice some fresh or caramelized bananas and some chopped macadamia nuts over the top. I drizzle the toast with a little maple syrup and some coconut syrup. The combination of sweet and salty with just a little bit of crunch is phenomenal! I can smell the coconut syrup and ocean breeze and am ready for breakfast.

I have been going to Maui since 1974. I have witnessed so many changes. While I still long for the quiet uninhabited island that it once was, I love the new food and beverage scene that the growth has brought. Here is a recipe for Hawaiian French Toast that comes close to the one I had at Kihei Caffe. Enjoy!

Hawaiian French Toast
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Servings
4
Servings
4
Hawaiian French Toast
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Servings
4
Servings
4
Ingredients
Servings:
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350°
  2. In a large bowl whisk together eggs, milk vanilla, honey and salt. Soak bread slices in egg mixture for 2 minutes each side.
  3. Melt 1 Tbsp. of butter in a large skillet and add half of the soaked bread. Cook for 2-3 minutes on each side until it is just golden brown. Repeat with remaining bread and butter.
  4. Place cooked bread on a baking sheet and cook in preheated oven for 5 minutes.
  5. Serve hot with whatever toppings you like. I like butter, and a mixture of bananas and chopped macadamia nuts with a drizzle of maple and coconut syrups.
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Paella!

Paella! I never thought I’d have an opinion about Paella. After 10 days in Spain I do. I don’t like it. By definition Paella is: A Spanish dish of rice, saffron, chicken, seafood etc., cooked and served in a large shallow pan.

When we first got married my husband told me of his love for Paella – magical Spanish rice and seafood dish, perfumed with saffron. He spent the summer in Barcelona, for the 1992 Summer Olympics. As a young bride, 19 years ago, I decided to make him my paella. So I made a version that I had found, in some cookbook. It had the obligatory saffron and was a seafood and meat mix. It was good, but I could never capture the exact flavor he was looking for. I added more seafood, less stock, more meat, more stock and any variation I could trying to take him back to those happy days in Barcelona (please pronounce bar th lona).

As we were planning our trip, I came across a tour through the famed Bouqueria Market, in Barcelona, followed by a cooking class with a local chef. One of the menu items was paella. I quickly booked the tour and told my husband of our plans. He was excited to have that joy of paella back again.

The class was great! The wine was flowing and each dish we made tasted better than the last. It was amazing! When it came time for the paella we were invited to sit down and serve family style. More wine was poured, crusty tomato bread was on the table and the big pan of paella was presented. We had all taken our turn adding what the chef instructed us to and cooking the paella and that added to our anticipation.

The big first bite came and I made that face you make when you try something that just doesn’t feel or taste right to you. Was it just me? Apparently, yes it was. I don’t think anybody LOVED it but nobody had quite the aversion to it that I did. Even my husband, who was so looking forward to it, said it was “OK”. Where was my crunchy rice on the bottom? Why was it so fishy? We decided we would try Paella again as we moved through Spain. This wasn’t very hard to do. It is served on every street corner. Seriously, it is the cheeseburger of Spain!

In Pamplona, we had cones of paella, from questionable street vendors and with lots of Sangria. In San Sebastian, we had paella pintxos, as we walked through the very laid-back seaside village. Finally we ate a whole paella meal in Madrid, at a restaurant owned by the same family for 45 years. We even met the 93-year-old grandmother. We had the seafood paella, the chicken and chorizo paella and, of course, the seafood paella. We were even invited into the kitchen where the cooks took pictures with us and offered to sell us their paella pans for $300! All of them were “good” and my husband loved the meal in Madrid. However, I need to keep in mind that if you set your expectations too high, they may never be met. I came back undeterred. It became my mission to make paella that fits the classic definition and that my husband and I can love together.

I couldn’t believe that this recipe from, the actor, Stanley Tucci, is the one. In this recipe he takes the time to pull out the sofrito in the preparation and cooking. This is such an integral part of Spanish cooking, and I love that he seems to honor that. The proteins are all seafood, although you can easily add some chicken or chorizo, but he still uses a mix of fish and chicken stocks. I think that was one of the problems of the paella we made in class. It was too fishy. Finally, he specifically talks about the socarrat, the crunchy rice on the bottom. That is one of the best parts of paella.

Paella - adapted from Stanley Tucci's recipe
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Servings
4
Servings
4
Paella - adapted from Stanley Tucci's recipe
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Servings
4
Servings
4
Ingredients
Sofrito
The Paella
Servings:
Instructions
  1. Peel half the shrimps and put aside. In a paella pan or shallow saute pan, heat 1 T. olive oil over a medium heat. Add the un-peeled shrimp and cook for just a couple of minutes, until they are just starting to turning translucent. Set aside.
  2. To make the sofrito, in the same pan heat 2 T. olive oil over a low heat. Add the onions and shallot and cook gently to soften them, but not browning them. Add the garlic and peppers and cook over a low heat until they are also softened. Stir in the saffron and paprika. Add the tomatoes and bay leaf, then season generously with salt. Cook until the whole mixture has softened, about 7-10 minutes.
  3. Now you are starting to build your paella. Raise the heat medium high and add the rice and white wine. Stir everything together until the alcohol has burned off. Add both stocks and bring to a boil.
  4. Lower the heat to a simmer and spread the ingredients, in the pan, evenly about the pan. You kind of want it to sit like a pancake, across the whole pan. Cook for 15 minutes, or until the rice has absorbed all the liquid.
  5. Arrange the clams, mussels and all of the shrimp on top, do not stir and continue to cook until the clams and mussels have opened. The shrimp should be cooked through. This should take 5-10 minutes.
  6. If at this point, the rice still looks "wet", raise the heat for a few minutes to evaporate the liquid. Ideally, the rice will now have a golden crust on the bottoms, which the Spanish call the socarrat. You can lift a piece of the rice to check.
  7. Remove from heat and serve directly from the pan, with lots of crusty tomato bread. Enjoy!
Recipe Notes

To toast the saffron, place a generous pinch in a small dry saute pan and gently toast over a low flame until it becomes fragrant, Do not burn.

You can used canned crushed tomatoes, if you must.  Please make sure they are a great quality. Be generous with the white wine and don't forget a little for the pan and a little for the chef.

You can create your own paellas by adding whatever proteins you like. Try chorizo or other sausages, Rabbit is very popular in Spain. You can add different seafood too, like scallops. Really whatever suits you. Enjoy!

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Off to College and Dorm Cooking

In 5 days, my oldest daughter will leave for college, for her freshman year. Cue the tears. Well, kinda. While I’m sad and will miss her, she is truly ready to launch and I am beyond proud of her drive to succeed.

Recently, I had a group of her friends to the house to teach them a dorm cooking class. This was basically, anything that you can cook in mug, in a microwave. I know there will be times that they don’t want to go out, but don’t really want to eat dorm food or pizza again. They loved it and so I am sharing the recipes and some tips here.

First thing I advise you to do is to buy one of those shoebox sized plastic bins. Fill this with an inexpensive set of measuring spoons, measuring cups, a can opener and either a small whisk or sturdy fork. You can even get a mini grater or microplane. There will be lots of extra room, but it will get used too.

Once your kids have moved in and made some friends on their floor or in the whole dorm, have them share these recipes and then they can co-purchase ingredients that they don’t need lot of and share. Things like a bag of flour or bottles of the spices can be split into Ziploc bags and expenses shared. I’m not sure about sharing the expense of candy bars or chocolate chips. Somehow I think they will all want their own. They can also “borrow” ingredients from the cafeteria. After all you’re paying for it.

My daughter is renting a microwave/refrigerator so we are going to create a little kitchen area with her shoebox of utensils and ingredients.

None of these recipes are low calorie and the question of freshman weight gain came up during this class. If you child is eating each of these as a single portion and not every recipe at the same time, they will not get fat. Remember its portion control.

I hope your college kid gets some use our of this post and that you don’t shed too many tears when they leave.

Muggy French Toast
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Servings
1
Servings
1
Muggy French Toast
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Servings
1
Servings
1
Ingredients
Servings:
Instructions
  1. Grease a coffee mug.
  2. Whisk together milk, egg, cinnamon and vanilla in the mug. You can use a fork.
  3. Tear your bread in cubes and push it down into the mug. Let it soak and completely saturate.
  4. Microwave for 2 minutes. Watch your microwave. Your french toast will puff then deflate.
  5. Top it with maple syrup and/or powdered sugar. LET IT SIT FOR 1 MINUTE. THIS IS IMPORTANT! YOU WILL GET BURNED.
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Oatmeal in a Mug
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Servings
1
Servings
1
Oatmeal in a Mug
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Servings
1
Servings
1
Ingredients
Servings:
Instructions
  1. Stir the oats and 1 cup of the liquid you are using.
  2. Microwave for 1 minute and 45 seconds. Remember to watch the microwave. Your oatmeal will boil over if you don't watch. If you see it start to boil over stop the microwave and give it a stir then start again.
  3. Stir in remaining liquid and microwave for another minute, watching.
  4. Let oatmeal sit for a full minute before you stir in whatever toppings you prefer. Try fresh or dried fruit, nuts and brown sugar or maple syrup.
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Eggs in a Mug
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Servings
1
Servings
1
Eggs in a Mug
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Servings
1
Servings
1
Ingredients
Servings:
Instructions
  1. Whisk (with a fork) the eggs together.
  2. Pour eggs in a greased mug. If you are using veggies, chop and add before cooking.
  3. Microwave for 1 1/2 to 2 minutes. Remember to watch it. They will puff up then deflate.
  4. If you are adding cheese put back in microwave for 10 more seconds.
  5. Let it stand for a full minute before enjoying.
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Burrito Bowl in a Mug
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Servings
1
Servings
1
Burrito Bowl in a Mug
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Servings
1
Servings
1
Ingredients
Servings:
Instructions
  1. I listed several add-ins above, Think of this as Chipotle at home. Add whatever you want (or can get in the cafeteria).
  2. Combine rice and water in a mug. Cook for 1 - 1 1/2 minutes until it starts to boil. Watch it. You don't want it to boil over. Once it has boiled let it sit, in microwave for 1 minute.
  3. Cook for 5 minutes on half power.
  4. Once the rice is done, let it sit for another 5 minutes to get tender. Fluff with a fork. Then add your favorite add-ins.
  5. Microwave for 1 more minute to warm your add-ins. Enjoy!
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Egg Fried Rice in a Mug
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Servings
1
Servings
1
Egg Fried Rice in a Mug
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Servings
1
Servings
1
Ingredients
Servings:
Instructions
  1. Use non-stick spray and spray a mug.
  2. Place the rice in the mug and layer it with the peas, scallions, sprouts, cabbage, carrots and another veggies you are using.
  3. Cover with plastic wrap and pierce a hole in top (to let steam release). Microwave for 1 minute 15 seconds.
  4. While that is happening, beat the egg with soy sauce, oil and onion powder. When rice mixture is done, stir in egg mixture.
  5. Cover again with plastic wrap and microwave for another minute to 1 minute 30 seconds.
  6. Remove from microwave. Remove plastic wrap and fluff with a fork. Let stand for a full minute before enjoying!
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Mac & Cheese in a Mug
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Servings
1
Servings
1
Mac & Cheese in a Mug
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Servings
1
Servings
1
Ingredients
Servings:
Instructions
  1. Spray mug with non-stick spray.
  2. Put the macaroni and water in mug and microwave for a 2 minutes. Watch it. The water will boil over and you want to catch it before you lose all the water.
  3. Stir and microwave another minute. Stir again. Check it. You want all but a little water evaporated. You can cook for incremental 30 seconds until you get what you want.
  4. Stir in the milk and cheese. Cook for another 30-60 seconds. Stir well.
  5. Let sit for a full minute before enjoying.
Recipe Notes

You can add a little salt and pepper if you like. Remember cheese is naturally  salty.

You can also jazz it up by adding some cayenne pepper for spice or say sauce for an asian flare. Get creative.

If you'd like to dress it up a bit mix some seasoned bread crumbs with butter and sprinkle on top. Microwave for an additional 30 seconds.

For  a lower fat version you can substitute 2 Tbsp. low fat cottage cheese and 3 T. sharp cheddar for the all the cheese above.

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Basic Vinaigrette
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Servings
8ish
Servings
8ish
Basic Vinaigrette
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Servings
8ish
Servings
8ish
Ingredients
Servings:
Instructions
  1. Place all ingredients in a mason jar (or whatever closed container you have available) and shake like crazy.
  2. This will keep in your refrigerator for about a month.
Recipe Notes

You can use vegetable oil or olive oil. Just remember that olive oil changes the flavor profile.

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Ranch Powder
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Servings
8ish
Servings
8ish
Ranch Powder
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Servings
8ish
Servings
8ish
Ingredients
Servings:
Instructions
  1. Put everything in an airtight container and shake it up! This will last you as you want (think school year, if you don't use it all up).
Recipe Notes

This is a great seasoning to take to the cafeteria. you can add it to meats and salads or anything that could use a flavor boost.

You can stir this into a cup of plain Greek yogurt for a dip. Then you can thin it out with some milk, mayo and sour cream to make a great dressing. The mixed dressing will keep for about 1 week in the refrigerator.

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Chocolate Brownie Cake in a Mug
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Servings
1
Servings
1
Chocolate Brownie Cake in a Mug
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Servings
1
Servings
1
Ingredients
Servings:
Instructions
  1. Spray or butter a mug.
  2. Mix together the flour, sugar, cocoa and salt.
  3. Add the oil and liquid (milk etc.) and chocolate chips.
  4. Microwave for 1 1/2 minutes for a gooey cake and 2 1/2 for a cakey version.
  5. Let stand for a full minute before enjoying. By the way, adding some ice cream of whipped cream is a great idea!
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Chocolate Brownie Cake in a Mug
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Servings
1
Servings
1
Chocolate Brownie Cake in a Mug
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Servings
1
Servings
1
Ingredients
Servings:
Instructions
  1. Spray or butter a mug.
  2. Mix together the flour, sugar, cocoa and salt.
  3. Add the oil and liquid (milk etc.) and chocolate chips.
  4. Microwave for 1 1/2 minutes for a gooey cake and 2 1/2 for a cakey version.
  5. Let stand for a full minute before enjoying. By the way, adding some ice cream of whipped cream is a great idea!
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Cake for Breakfast!

Cake for breakfast! Yes it’s a thing and it is all over the Internet. It’s actually not a new thing. It started popping up in my feed in every blog I get, recently. So, I decided to do a little research of my own. Before I get to a really good chocolate cake recipe, that you will probably over indulge in, let me give you some of the Kisses and Nibs of it all.

The original study came out in 2011 and was conducted in the UK. It did say that eating cake for breakfast was a good thing and that you might lose some weight. However, it turns out the study was more about eating a big hearty breakfast than it was about eating cake. It also pointed out that if you’re going to eat sugary unrefined carbs, maybe you want to do it earlier in the day, rather than later. Finally, the UK study was a closed study, meaning that the participants were living and eating in a dorm facility. So the facilitators noted that perhaps the social nature of eating together might have had the participants eating less. Be more social when you eat breakfast, if you can. Talk more, eat less.

The second study was done at Tel Aviv University in 2013. This study suggested that the brain works better when it is stimulated immediately in the morning and that chocolate cake was a great conduit for that. The long and short of this is that chocolate has flavonoids and caffeine; both can act as a stimulant. Flavonoids are also a great antioxidant. Both supply energy to the brain and in my honest opinion are a great way to start your day.

I did the MOST official study of all in 2017. It shows that if you make a chocolate cake, somebody will eat it for breakfast!

Okay, enough with the science! Here is a great chocolate cake recipe. I put it together from several different recipes. Make a double batch of the frosting; one is just not quite enough to frost the whole cake.


Really Good Chocolate Cake
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This is three full layers of cake, not one cake cut into three layers! With lots of rich milk chocolate frosting between and all around. Oh yeah!
Really Good Chocolate Cake
Print Recipe
This is three full layers of cake, not one cake cut into three layers! With lots of rich milk chocolate frosting between and all around. Oh yeah!
Ingredients
Chocolate Cake
Milk Chocolate Frosting
Servings:
Instructions
Cake
  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease and Flour three 9" round cake pans.
  2. In a medium bowl whisk the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt together.
  3. In a large heatproof bowl, combine the unsweetened chocolate and cocoa powder. Heat the water and butter in a pot over medium heat until butter is melted but water is simmering not boiling.
  4. Pour hot liquid over chocolate and cocoa mixture and stir to combine and melted and smooth.
  5. Add the sugar and mix to combine. Make sure chocolate mixture has cooled then add the eggs, one at a time and use a hand mixer to just combine. Add vanilla extract.
  6. Add the flour mixture to the chocolate mixture alternating with the buttermilk, finish with the flour, being sure to scrape down the sides. Don’t over mix.
  7. Divide batter evenly between the prepared pans. Bake 20-30 minutes until a toothpick comes out clean.
  8. Cool in pan 15 minutes, then invert and cool on rack. Cool completely before frosting.
Frosting
  1. In the bowl of a stand up mixer, fitted with a paddle attachment, cream the butter and slowly add the sugar. Be sure to scrape down the sides. Drizzle in melted, cooled chocolate until evenly combined
  2. Frost each layer with about ¾ cup frosting and between each layer. Use remaining frosting to frost whole outer cake.
  3. Melt additional chocolate candy bars and drizzle over the top of frosted cake for decoration.
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Challenge- Passover is Coming!

For Passover, I am always looking for your input. This year especially I wanted to hear from you.  I just finished working on a Jewish Holiday Cookbook and I could have easily pulled amazing recipes from there for you and been done with it.  Let me tell you, this cookbook is going to be great! However, I asked some friends what were they looking for this year to add to their menus. Of course I heard the plea for desserts. The twist I heard was “Please give me something with no matzah meal!”

If you keep kosher for Passover, you know matzah meal can leave you feeling a little weighted down by the end of the week. So I accepted the CHALLENGE. Obviously, you will still eat matzah and there has to be matzah meal in matzah balls, for the soup. But here are recipes that are great and matzah meal free. You can use these as one menu for your dinner or you can use just a recipe or two. As always feel free to send me your questions and comments. You know I love hearing from you!.  Have an easy Passover!

Mustard Onion Marinade Brisket
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Mustard Onion Marinade Brisket
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Ingredients
Servings:
Instructions
  1. Make a paste the first five ingredients and rub all over the brisket. Wrap brisket in parchment then foil. Place in refrigerator for at least 3 hours, preferably overnight.
  2. Remove parchment and foil. Place in a roasting pan, with beef broth and cover TIGHTLY with foil, again.
  3. Bake at 500°F for 1/2 hour then reduce heat to 325°F and bake another 2 hours or longer.
  4. Let meat rest for at least a 1/2 hour before slicing. Better yet let it cool completely. Refrigerate and reheat or serve cold.
Recipe Notes

All I can say is YUM!!!!

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Passover Potato Souffle
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Passover Potato Souffle
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Ingredients
Servings:
Instructions
  1. Peel the potatoes and cook in a medium saucepan until tender. Drain. Transfer to a large mixing bowl and mash.
  2. Grate half the cheese and mix with hot potatoes. Add salt, pepper and paprika.
  3. Beat the potatoes until cheese melts. Add the milk and egg yolks. Mix well.
  4. In a small bowl, beat the egg whites until stiff; fold them into the potato mixture.
  5. Turn into a, very lightly greased, 1 1/2 quart casserole. Sprinkle with remaining grated cheese.
  6. Bake in a preheated 425°F oven for 20 minutes
Recipe Notes

This recipe serves 4. It doubles easily.

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Zoodles with Garlic Parsley Sauce
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Use a Spiralizer to make whatever veggie noodles you like. I like a mixture of zucchini and carrots. Cook in boiling water until al dente. You don't want them too soft. Reserve the water.
Zoodles with Garlic Parsley Sauce
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Use a Spiralizer to make whatever veggie noodles you like. I like a mixture of zucchini and carrots. Cook in boiling water until al dente. You don't want them too soft. Reserve the water.
Ingredients
Servings:
Instructions
  1. In a large saute pan, melt the margarine. Add the garlic and sauce until soft. Watch it, so it doesn't burn. Add the parsley and continue to saute until soft.
  2. Add the zoodles and toss until well coated in sauce. If you want the sauce a little thinner add some of your reserved pasta water.
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Chocolate Pavlova with Raspberries and Marscapone Cream
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Chocolate Pavlova with Raspberries and Marscapone Cream
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Ingredients
Pavlova
Mascarpone Cream
Servings:
Instructions
Pavlova
  1. Preheat oven to 300°F. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper. Trace a 9" circle on parchment using a cake pan or plate. Flip paper over so meringue won't touch pen.
  2. In the bowl of a standing mixer, fitted with a whisk, beat the egg whites and salt on medium speed until foamy soft peaks form, about a minute or two. Increase speed to medium-high and gradually add the sugar; continue beating until stiff peaks form. This should take about 8 or 9 minutes. The meringue will be white and glossy.
  3. Sift the cocoa powder through a fine sieve or sifter and add to meringue. Add the vinegar and the chopped chocolate.
  4. Using a large rubber or silicone spatula, fold the mixture until well combined. It should be light mocha colored and no streaks.
  5. Secure the parchment with a dab of meringue in each corner, then mound the meringue in the center of the circle. Even out the sides, slightly with the spatula or a knife. You don't want it to be perfect or overworked.
  6. Place in oven and cook for 1 hour and 15 minutes , or until the meringue is puffed and crisp all over. It should still be a bit wobbly underneath, if you touch the center.
  7. Turn the oven off and prop the door open. Leave the meringue in the oven to cool to room temperature, at least 30 minutes. It is best to let it cool gradually.
Mascarpone Cream
  1. In a medium bowl , beat the mascarpone, heavy cream and vanilla until just combined. Gradually add sugar and continue beating. Increase speed and beat until soft peaks form. You soft clouds of cream.
  2. Mound cream in the center of the meringue and spread to just cover top. Top with fresh raspberries and serve. You can shave some more bittersweet chocolate over the top for more decoration.
  3. The Pavlova can be made a day or two ahead of time and assembled up to 12 hours ahead. Just be sure to keep all components refrigerated.
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Panisse – My idea of a healthyish snack!

I don’t think there is a perfect snack that teenagers, foodie husbands and moms trying to cook healthy for their families would agree on. I do think I tried one in France that might suffice; Panisse!

You can find many snacks made with chickpea flour, such as Socca chips and Panisse, in Nice and Southern Italy. They are delicious and are most often served with a healthy sprinkle of fresh ground pepper. They have a crispy exterior and a creamy interior almost like a polenta French fry. I tried these when I was in France and have been searching for a way to serve them ever since.

So now my worlds have finally collided. I’ve been spending all my time working on a fundraising cookbook for an organization I am involved in personally. It is a Jewish Holiday Cookbook and honestly the recipes are knockouts! I will let you know as soon as it is available.

The other piece is my wonderful family. I have a 17 year old that is a senior in high school and having so much fun with her senior activities, a sophomore in high school that is starting her second season of club water polo and a sports fanatic husband that is in the throws of March Madness. “Calgon take me away!” remember that commercial of a frantic mom looking for some relaxation? In all the craziness I was feeding everyone snacks that were quick, easy and quite frankly, not very good, or healthy. So I thought I ‘d give you all the chance to benefit from my haste.

These batons (fancy name for steak fries) are fried, yes I said fried, but the fact they are made with chickpea (garbanzo) flour offsets the fry, in my book. Chickpea flour really packs a punch. It is naturally loaded with protein, high in fiber and gluten free. If you or any family members are vegan or vegetarian this is a nearly perfect food. I fry in a cast iron skillet in about ½” of olive oil so you are not deep-frying. Another justification for “its not so bad” and you get the benefits of cast iron, too. When you taste these you have a nice crispy exterior and creamy interior, almost like a polenta french fry. As I said above, a good sprinkle of pepper is good; you can also try Parmesan or some Marinara sauce, for dipping.

Panisse - My idea of a healthyish snack!
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Servings
40 pieces
Servings
40 pieces
Panisse - My idea of a healthyish snack!
Print Recipe
Servings
40 pieces
Servings
40 pieces
Ingredients
Servings: pieces
Instructions
  1. Lightly oil a square pan.
  2. Heat the broth with oil, garlic and salt in a heavy saucepan. You can use water, I like to use chicken or vegetable broth for building your flavor.
  3. Once the liquid is hot, but not boiling, slowly whisk in the chickpea flour. Whisk over a medium heat until it thickens, about 3 minutes.
  4. Switch to a wooden spoon and continue to cook, stirring constantly, for 10 minutes until batter becomes very thick and it holds its shape.
  5. Scrape dough/batter into oiled pan and let cool.
  6. To fry panisses, unmold solid mix onto cutting board and slice into batons/fries.
  7. In a heavy or cast iron skillet heat 1/4' to 1/2" of olive oil. When the oil is shiny hot, but NOT smoking, fry the panisses, in batches. Do not overcrowd. once the bottoms are nicely browned and crisp turn, carefully, with tongs, cook until you have a deep golden brown color on both sides.
  8. Remove from pan and drain on paper towels or brown paper bag. Sprinkle with a lot of coarse salt and fresh cracked pepper. Dust with grated Parmesan cheese, too. You can serve with marinara sauce for dipping too.
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Try Something New -Homemade Pasta Edition!

In case you haven’t heard it’s been raining here in California, A LOT! So it was a great weekend to stay home and make all sorts of comfort food. It doesn’t get more comfortable than homemade pasta.

I love that you and I both probably have everything we need to make pasta, already, in our kitchens. Are you ready for the long list; Flour, salt, eggs, water and olive oil. I have a hand cranked pasta roller, but you really don’t need it. Pasta has been made for centuries, certainly long before standing electric mixers were adding attachments and even before my hand-cranked roller. If you have a wooden roller pin and a knife you can make your own pasta.

Keep in mind you can search for basic pasta recipes and find dozens of variations. Start with mine but if it s not a good fit, you can play around. Add more water; use just all-purpose flour, more oil (not too much). I did make mine in a standing mixer, with a dough hook; you can do everything by hand in a large bowl.

I want to say that, even not so great, homemade pasta will taste better than any pasta you will ever buy in a store. Once you get this pasta made, go over to March 1, 2015 and make the Marinara Sauce!

Homemade Pasta Dough
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Homemade Pasta Dough
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Ingredients
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Instructions
  1. In a large bowl combine flours and salt. Make a well (indentation) and add eggs. If you are doing this by hand, start to fold your flour over the eggs and mix, adding water and oil, until you have a stiff dough. I used a standing electric mixer with the dough hook attachment. I used a spatula to scrape down the sides.
  2. As you are mixing and adding water & oil, keep pinching the dough. When it starts to stick together easily, its ready. You do not want it too sticky.
  3. I used Durum Semolina, which is traditionally Italian. It has a coarser texture, almost like corn meal, it will need more water and olive oil. The texture smooths out in rolling and cooking. All-purpose flour will NOT need nearly as much liquid.
  4. Once the dough is all mixed. Knead for 3 - 4 minutes on a lightly floured board. Then form a disk and wrap in plastic and let rest, in refrigerator, for 30 minutes.
  5. When ready to roll, cut disk into quarters and flatten. If you are using a pasta machine or roller, start on a zero setting and run the dough through once or twice and fold in half and lightly flour each side and run through again. Repeat this process gradually increasing setting to higher numbers and ultimately increasing to desired thinness and length. Or follow the directions provided, with your machine.
  6. If you are hand rolling, lightly flour a board and use a rolling pin to roll dough out to desired thinness and length. I like to roll between two pieces of parchment or wax paper. Too much flour can make the pasta too chewy.
  7. At this point you would switch to the cutting shape, you want on the machine. If you are cutting by hand use a knife or pizza cute to cut your dough.
  8. Once your dough is cut, it is IMPORTANT to let it dry/set for a while before storing or cooking. If you don't it might be gummy. If you have something to hang your pasta over, even a towel rack will do, that's ideal. if not just let it lay straight on board or parchment lined pan. Don't let it sit bunched up, like in the picture.
  9. Once it is a little dry you can store it, folded, in an airtight container, with a little semolina or cornmeal, to keep it separated.
  10. To cook, bring a pot of water to a boil and salt it, liberally. Add you pasta and cook 5 - 7 minutes. Do not over cook. Serve with your favorite sauce or none at all. It's that good,
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Gateau au Chocolat

Here is the recipe for the greatest mistake I ever made!

Gateau au Chocolat
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Gateau au Chocolat
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Ingredients
Servings:
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 425° F. Grease and line with wax paper a 9x5x3 loaf pan.
  2. Melt chocolate and beat in butter with a spoon or spatula.
  3. Beat egg whites with a hand mixer to stiff peaks; set aside. With same beaters beat egg yolks until thick and light in color.
  4. Slowly add the sugar, beating constantly. Add the flour and beat until just combined. Stir egg yolk mixture into chocolate mixture, then fold egg whites into this mixture. You will have some egg whites still showing.
  5. Pour batter into prepared pan. Reduce oven heat to 350°F and bake 25 minutes.
  6. Let cool completely in pan. Cake will settle like a cheesecake. Turn out. Refrigerate for 4 hours until well chilled. Decorate with abandon!
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Charred Cauliflower with Picada Sauce

Picada is like a pesto. Made with chocolate and almonds it is lovely on the palate!

Charred Cauliflower with Picada Sauce
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Charred Cauliflower with Picada Sauce
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Ingredients
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Instructions
  1. Heat oven broiler to high
  2. Toss florets with 2 T. olive oil, salt and pepper in a bowl Arrange in a single layer on a baking sheet. Broil, turning once, half way through, until charred and tender, about 15 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, heat garlic and remaining oil in skillet an cook, over medium heat until golden, about 5 minutes. Be sure to watch and stir, so garlic doesn't burn. Transfer oil and garlic to a a medium bowl an let cool.
  4. Stir almonds, parsley, chocolate, sherry, salt and pepper into garlic oil. Toss with cauliflower while it is still hot. Garnish and serve immediately.
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Cacao Nib & Fennel Encrusted Pork Tenderloin

This is absolutely scrumptious. If you don’t eat pork, beef works really well here, too.

Cacao Nib & Fennel Encrusted Pork Tenderloin
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Cacao Nib & Fennel Encrusted Pork Tenderloin
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Ingredients
Servings:
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 425° F.
  2. Using a mortar and pestle or coffee grinder (depending on hoe fine you want the rub) grind the cacao nibs and fennel seeds, together. Add the brown sugar, cocoa powder, salt cinnamon and cayenne powder. Combine thoroughly. The mortar and pestle will give you a coarser rub and a more pungent flavor. A coffee grinder or food processor will give you a finer rub and a more subtle flavor.
  3. Massage the tenderloin with 1 T. of oil and then rub with the cacao mixture until well coated.
  4. In a large skillet, over a medium-high flame, heat the remaining oil. Brown the tenderloin on all sides, turning often.
  5. Transfer to a roasting pan and cook until a meat thermometer reads 145, about 15 minutes. Pork can cook very quickly so check at 10 -12 minutes. Adjust time for beef.
  6. Once at proper temperature, take out, tent with foil and rest for 5 minutes. Slice and serve.
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