My initial attraction to persimmons is always immediate, as I love their rich coral orange color. Although several varieties are widely available in most markets in the U.S from October through February, they are not used in baking nearly as much as many other winter fruits. They have a delightfully sweet and slightly astringent taste. We’ve added dates for some added sweetness and texture, along with fresh ginger and allspice to add a little complexity to the flavor. These bars are addictive, with a unique flavor that always leaves you wanting more….
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….
Foccacia is one of our main go-to breads – in part, because it’s so easy to prepare and is incredibly versatile and adaptable. Most important of all, is that it’s simply delicious and appeals to almost everyone. The roasted grapes and fresh thyme give it a savory sweetness that make it the perfect partner for roasted poultry and pork dishes.
If you’re new to or a little intimidated by yeasted bread, this is the perfect initiation bread – a chance to get your feet wet before taking the plunge into more complicated doughs with a more dramatic rise….
This dish works in so many ways during the fall holiday season. It is deliciously tender, uber easy to prepare and cook, and is lighter and leaner than many of the foods we consume during this season of elevated indulgence. Although my family loves the traditional holiday turkeys and hams that so many of us have eaten annually since childhood, we usually want a lighter meat dish to complement the traditional dishes. Pork loin roast is the perfect solution, as its delicate flavor provides a superb canvas for seasoning and pairs perfectly with a turkey, ham or beef roast.
Inspired by Chicken Veronique, a classic French dish combining poultry with green grapes and white wine, I had originally roasted a whole chicken with red grapes and red onions. So as soon as I eyed these seasonal organic black grapes at my local market, I knew the deal was sealed….
I spent much of my childhood in Southern California, where the Mexican border was only a short drive away, making the coast of Baja a frequent family destination for exploring and indulging in some amazing regional foods. While living in the Yucatan a few years later, I began to realize how incredibly diverse the cuisine of Mexico actually is and that the food I loved in the Yucatan had similarities but was also very different from the foods I had loved in Baja as a child. One thing is certain, its influence is deeply rooted in the foods and flavors I enjoy and prepare today, especially my love of chiles. This is my adaptation of Chicken Tinga (tinga de pollo), a shredded chicken dish bathed in a mildly spicy, smoky sauce, served on homemade corn tortillas and dressed with avocado slices, a hint of sour cream and a sprinkling of cotija cheese….
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….
I honestly feel pesto is as close to perfection as it gets. This simple green sauce that borders on divine can be used as a sauce or marinade for pasta, meats, vegetables and salads and its proportion of ingredients are fully customizable. That being said, this is my family’s favorite version, served traditionally, with pasta.
Each summer, we grow 3-4 huge pots of basil, which makes enough pesto to feed my family through the winter months. Freezing individual 1-2 ounce scoops of sauce, before vacuum sealing, keeps it fresh tasting and worthy of serving. Using the best quality ingredients will make the sauce that much better.
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….