Luscious little, colorful orbs bursting with complex flavor, cherries are a versatile fruit in both sweet and savory dishes. Perfectly capable of shining all on their own, they can also stand up to a myriad of flavors. This easy-to-make, rustic dish is a classical pairing of Kirsch-kissed cherries with an almond topping, baked to crispy perfection….
Winter months bring snow and magic moments in the kitchen. We bake for family and friends to gather together to feast for the holidays. It is my favorite time to bake goodies with the hot oven keeping my kitchen warm and toasty.
For long days spent skiing in the mountains surrounding Lake Tahoe, nothing tastes better than a hot cup of cocoa; they are legendary together. This mix has a double dose of deep, dark chocolate and rich dutch cocoa, making a creamy, full-bodied hot cocoa that is decadent and satisfying (even for a hardcore dark chocolate lover like me). The beauty of this recipe is that you can add coffee, toffee, marshmallows, liqueurs and flavorings to customize the flavor….
Chiles are one of those divine foods that most certainly were a special gift from on high. Necessity being the mother of all invention motivated the ancients to preserve these gifts by smoking them, exalting the humble jalapeno to new heights of flavor and complexity. The smoky nuances of the chipotle peppers are distinctive in this salsa, making it a great dip or condiment, but the real magic happens when paired with meats and vegetables as a marinade or sauce. Whipping up an enticing home cooked meal quickly and easily with this salsa places it at the top of my short list for weekday meals….
Whether you already know you love the spicy, earthly flavors of a good harissa sauce or want to give it a try for the first time, this recipe will not disappoint. I use our Tomato Harissa Sauce recipe that we waterbath-can each year, making this quick and easy to prepare. If you have not pre-made our sauce and want to use your own red harissa paste (homemade or store-bought), I’ve included the substitutions in the recipe notes below. The small amount of honey adds a subtle sweetness to the harissa’s spiciness while the Preserved Lemon brings additional complexity to the sauce….
If you haven’t tried harissa by now, you are missing out – it’s just that good. With as many variations as there are regions in North Africa, this spicy paste is often thought of as the Mediterranean/ Middle East’s version of Asia’s sriracha sauce. It is used as a base to liven up flavor in curries and stews or as a condiment. Harissa’s complex blend of spicy chiles, garlic, spices, salt and olive oil is wickedly addictive, with a brazen red color that is enticing and seductive.
I started making two different variations of harissa sauce a couple years back. I make the more authentic sauce/ paste, made with chilis, spices and olive oil, year round, as it has a limited refrigerator life of about 3 weeks. This harissa sauce for canning has tomatoes added and no oil and has a shelf life of one year, when canned and stored properly. We grow quite a few tomatoes in our garden each year for canning salsas and tomato sauces. Since I make several meat dishes by combining harissa with stewed tomatoes, this canned version was a no-brainer for me. This sauce eliminates most of the prep work, making it perfect for weekday meals, without sacrificing flavor. Getting a home cooked meal on the table on those days when I’m really pressed for time or exhausted from a long day is a definite win-win….
Watermelon season is forever interlaced with my childhood and the excitement I always felt during the lazy days of summer. A couple of months off of school, hours of fun in the water (beach or poolside), cookouts, and the thrill of mischievous exploration and adventure. Many of my summers were spent visiting relatives whose farm house was surrounded by acres of farm land. Elated that one of these was a huge watermelon patch, I would ‘pass by’ daily on my bike, eagerly awaiting for them to ripen. It was in this small farming community that I was introduced to bartering and the art of the deal, as neighbors never seemed to pay cash for anything. Instead, there were always seasonal foods and services to be exchanged in this small community and bartering with neighbors and growers was considered the norm. My friends and I took great delight in wheeling and dealing with the local ‘watermelon man’ for our melons. Keenly aware that thievery was often an issue once the harvest began to ripen, we used a couple of hours of guarding the field each day as our bargaining chip for melons. I proudly shared my earned melons with family and friends, which always seemed to be bigger and taste better than any of the other watermelons we indulged in each summer.
Back in the day (and mine goes way back), there were no seedless, mini or specialty watermelons, only colossal, juicy melons with a myriad of big black seeds. Surprisingly, there are very few traditional recipes using this large and abundant fruit, other than in beverages, frozen treats or salads. This is what first attracted me to this Italian watermelon pudding. The added bonus is that it’s easy to make, refreshing and not too sweet….
It isn’t too often that I use ‘pre-made’ ingredients in the desserts we make, as I like making most everything from scratch. This dessert includes not one, but two ‘pre-made’ ingredients, Nutella and Biscoff cookies, both delightfully delicious on their own. Paired with an espresso mousse, this dessert becomes shamefully sublime and a top contender in the surreptitious world of guilty pleasures….
The beauty of pavlova is that it is a dessert in contrasts – simple, yet dramatic, rustic, yet elegant and polished with a crispy melt in your mouth texture. As unique as this dessert is, so is the romantic tale behind its creation. Said to have been inspired by a costume of Russian prima ballerina, Anna Matveyevna Pavlova (1881-1931), while touring Australia and New Zealand in 1926. The meringue shell is symbolic of her tutu with the cream filling representing the mesh on her costume. I was smitten by the world of ballet as a child and any dish named after my childhood heroine made it an iconic superfood; any meringue resembling a Pavlova a suitable substitution. The fact that it was delectably sweet and creamy was an added bonus. …
The heat is on, as in blistering 90+ °F (32 °C) days, each bead of sweat resonating loud and clear that summer has arrived. We adore our quaint 90 year old house, the only drawback being that my favorite space, the kitchen, is not air-conditioned. During the weeks when the kitchen’s average temperature hovers in the 80’s at night, only to push into the high 90’s during the day, use of the oven transforms this beloved space into a blazing inferno, making it even more unbearable. Going without sweets is not an option in my household, so ice cream, frozen and unbaked desserts reign supreme during the summer months.
A family favorite, this custard base ice cream is deliriously rich from an abundance of egg yolks and has a smooth, creamy texture that is flavored with freshly scraped vanilla bean seeds. Topping it off is a chocolate magic shell coating, stirring up memories of soft serve cones dipped in a chocolate coating, that magically hardens upon contact….
Dolma, dolmeh, sarma or dolmades (plural) are fabulous little stuffed vegetable rolls, the most popular being those wrapped in grape or cabbage leaves. Thought to have originated in the Middle East and adapted by surrounding regions including the Balkans, the Caucasus, Russia, Central Asia, both Turkey and Greece like to lay claim to its origin. Modern day dolmades are readily accepted as one of the shining stars of ‘Mediterranean cuisine’. Dolmades are a classic example of regional and historical adaptation, utilizing whatever vegetables, grains, spices and scraps of meat that were readily available. Although the vegetarian versions are referred to as fake or lean dolma, there is nothing fake about the tangy flavor of these bite-size morsels, made with fresh dill, pine nuts and lemon. The perfect finger food appetizer (mezze) or side dish, dolmades are a favorite party or picnic food, as they can be made a day or two ahead and store well in the refrigerator. The added bonus is that they are gluten-free….