One of the most challenging parts of my life is being a mother. While it has so many great rewards and I love my daughter with all of my heart and soul – but wow, it can make me crazy. I know that she is on her journey and has her lessons to learn so it is a constant balancing act of when to speak and when not to. The phone ringing in the middle of the night can just send fear like nothing else.

Now times that by 5. My mom was married in August and nine month and seven days later she gave birth to my sister in May! (Her father gave her a dozen roses when she hit the 9-month mark!) Then the following March baby #2 arrived. Eleven months later it was me! Then she took a rest. Two years later her second set of Irish twins we born all before her 29th birthday! Now that is really a WOW! Not just that she had so many in diapers at once, with no more help than her mom, mother in law and an occasional babysitter. She also had 5 teens at one time, taught 5 of us to drive, was the peace keeper of all our crazy hormones and all -plus she worked a full time most of the years.


Ok…she was not imagesperfect, but mostly she mothered with love, grace and an amazing sense of humor. This is exactly what kind of a grandmother she is to her 8 grandchildren. Anytime my heart breaks a little for my daughter as she struggles with life’s bumps and bruises I need only think of my mother and I know that everything will be ok. Today I celebrate and honor my mother because everything I am and everything I have is because of her. Love you mom!







“A mother is a person who seeing there are only four pieces of pie for five people, promptly announces she never did care for pie.” – Tenneva Jordan


“We women of one country will be too tender of those of another country to allow our sons to be trained to injure theirs.”  – Julia Ward Howe, Mother’s Day, 1819


I know that celebrating Mother’s Day is often a restaurant outing, but as occurs on many holidays, restaurants are often too crowded and overpriced. Personally, I love to be at home with my family on Mother’s Day— especially if someone else is cooking. My amazing mother has five children and eight grandchildren, so a relaxed brunch at home is a welcome gift to all of us.

Following are some delicious and simple brunch recipes that are sure to please most everyone.    Bloody Mary’s and lemoncello teas are lovely additions to a brunch (see  The Weekend Cocktail column for the recipes below), and of course,  orange juice mimosas (3/4 glass champagne to ¼ glass juice) are always popular.  There are also some delicious variations, so switch it up and try substituting pomegranate juice, cranberry juice or blueberry-mango juice.

These recipes are easy because preparation can be done ahead of time, allowing the host and guests to relax and enjoy each other’s company.  Have a lovely Sunday celebrating incredible mothers and everyone else who is like a mother to you.

Mother’s Day Fruit Salad

2 cups chopped pineapple

2 blood oranges, peeled/diced

2 clementines or mandarins

1 Asian pear, chopped

2 large Fuji apples

Juice and zest of 2 Meyer lemons

1-inch ginger, grated

2-tablespoon agave

2 tablespoons chopped mint

1 star fruit, sliced

Toss all ingredients and chill for at least an hour before serving. Garnish with fresh mint and star fruit slices. Serves 6.

Blueberry and Mango Salad

Juice of 4 limes

Zest of one lime

2 large mangos, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces

3 cups blueberries

10 mint leaves, sliced

1/4 cup finely chopped crystallized ginger

Gently toss together let stand for an hour or overnight and serve.

Serves 6

Cured Salmon

Get a side of salmon, pack it in chopped dill, wrap it in rock salt, sprinkle a bit of aquavit – just to make it moist – wrap it in plastic or big zip lock – but all the air has to be out – weigh it down with bottles or bricks – 24 hours later (no more or it gets hard) thoroughly wash the salt off – display with skin side at bottom – with your best knife, shave the salmon into paper thin slices and serve with the following dressing.

Whisk together:

1-cup olive oil

1/4-cup honey

¼ cup Dijon mustard

3-tablespoon fresh dill

Serves 10-12

Asparagus and Goat Cheese Frittata

1-pound asparagus

1 dozen eggs

1-cup milk

1/2 cup chopped onion

1 chopped red bell pepper

2 tablespoons butter

1-teaspoon thyme

1-teaspoon salt

1-teaspoon pepper

2 cups goat cheese

Butter a 9-12 inch Pyrex rectangular pan. Set aside. In a large sauté pan, melt butter and sauté asparagus, onion, and bell pepper. Meanwhile, whisk together eggs, milk and seasonings. Add the asparagus mixture and mix well. Crumble and add the goat cheese. Pour into baking dish. Bake, uncovered, in a 350 oven about 35 minutes or until a knife inserted near center comes out clean. Serves 8-10

Spinach and Cheese Frittata

1 package frozen chopped spinach, thawed and thoroughly squeezed

1 large onion, chopped

3 Tablespoons butter

1-teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon black pepper

¼ teaspoon nutmeg

8 cups cubed French bread (about ½ pound)

2 cups grated Gruyere cheese

1-cup Parmesan cheese

2-¾ cup milk

9 large eggs

2 tablespoons Dijon mustard

Sauté onion in butter until soft, 4-5 minutes. Add half of the salt and pepper and nutmeg, cook another minute. Stir in spinach and remove from heat. Spread 1/3 of bread cubes and top with the spinach mixture. Repeat twice. Whisk together eggs, milk and mustard with the rest of the salt and pepper and pour over the top. Refrigerate for 8 hours. When ready to bake let the strata stand at room temp for at least 30 minutes. Preheat oven to 350 and bake for 45 to 55 minutes, until golden brown and cooked through. Serves 8-10

Chocolate Waffles with Raspberry Sauce

8 ounces unsweetened chocolate, chopped

6 tablespoons butter

1-cup sugar

1 1/2 cup all purpose flour

1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2-teaspoon baking soda

1/4-teaspoon salt

1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla

3 eggs, separated

1 1/2 cups buttermilk

Stir chocolate and butter in heavy medium saucepan over low heat until melted and smooth. Remove from heat and whisk in vanilla. Cool to lukewarm. In large bowl whisk together flour, sugar baking powder, baking soda. In a small bowl whisk together egg yolks and buttermilk. Meanwhile in the small bowl of an electric mixer beat egg whites until stiff. Mix the yolks and buttermilk with the flour mixture. Fold in the whites. Spray the waffle iron with bakers joy and place 1/2 cup to 3/4 cup in the center of the iron. Close the lid and cook about 5 minutes until waffle is cooked through and dark golden. Repeat with the remaining batter. Serve at once with powder sugar and raspberry sauce. Serves 6.

Raspberry Sauce

3 cups fresh raspberries

2-tablespoon fresh lemon juice

1-cup sugar

Puree the raspberries and lemon juice in a blender or food processor. Transfer the berry mixture into a medium saucepan over medium heat. Stir in sugar and whisk together until sugar dissolves and mixture thickens. Cover and keep warm until ready to serve.

Crème Brule French Toast

1 stick unsalted butter

1 cup packed brown sugar

2 tablespoons corn syrup

1 large baguette

3/4 cup half and half

3/4-cup heavy cream

5 eggs

1-teaspoon vanilla

1/4-teaspoon salt

In a small heavy saucepan melt butter with brown sugar and corn syrup over moderate heat, until smooth and pour into a 13 by 9 by 2-inch baking dish. Cut one-inch slices of the baguette and arrange baking dish, squeezing them slightly to fit. In a bowl, whisk together eggs, half-and-half, heavy cream, vanilla, and salt until well combined and pour evenly over bread. Chill bread mixture, covered, over night. Preheat oven to 350 and bring bread to room temperature. Bakes uncovered until puffed and edges are pale golden about 35 minutes. Serves 8-10

Zucchini Nut Bread

1-cup vegetable oil

1-cup brown sugar

3 eggs

1-tablespoon pure vanilla extract

2 cups grated zucchini

3 cups flour

1-teaspoon cinnamon

1teaspoon salt

1-teaspoon baking powder

1/2-teaspoon baking soda

1 cup coarsely chopped walnuts

1-cup raisins

Preheat the oven to 325. Oil 2 5 x 9 loaf pans. In a large bowl, combine the oil and brown sugar. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating after every addition. Stir in the vanilla and zucchini. In a smaller bowl, sift together flour, cinnamon, salt, baking powder and soda. Stir the dry ingredients into the oil and the egg mixture until just moistened. Fold in the raisins and walnuts. Spoon batter into the prepared loaf pans. Bake for about one hour, until a knife in the center comes out clean. Serves 8.



Here is a trio of Mother’s Day Cocktail Pitcher recipes to round out your brunch party. (These recipes serve 6-8)   The tea recipe can be made without the limoncello and gin for a tasty and refreshing non-alcoholic beverage. I have included a recipe for Berry Ice Cubes to make for pretty pitcher presentations.  I also like to use sliced citrus and edible flowers, as well as  fun vintage pitchers and mason jars for glasses. Look for special napkins and straws to add a touch of elegance to your beverage station.

Enjoy your friends and family while you  celebrate all of the amazing mothers in your life. Cheers!

Limóncello Tea

½ cup honey

½ cup hot water

3 cups freshly brewed green tea, cooled

¾ cup gin

¾ cup Limóncello

¾ cup fresh lemon juice

1-cup fresh grapefruit juice

1 cup chilled club soda

Ice cubes

6 lemon slices (for garnish)

Mint (if desired)

Stir honey and 1/2 cup hot water in small bowl until honey dissolves. Cool completely. Combine honey water, green tea, gin, Limóncello, lemon juice, and grapefruit juice in large pitcher. Add club soda and stir to blend. Pour in a pitcher full with ice cubes.


17 large lemons, preferably Meyers when in season

Two 750-milliliter bottles grain alcohol or 100 proof vodka

5 cups water

6 cups sugar

Wash and dry the lemons. With a paring knife, remove the ends. With a vegetable peeler, remove only the yellow rind, leaving the pith intact. (Squeeze juice from the lemons and reserve for another use.) Place the lemon peel in a 4-quart Mason jar with a rubber-seal lid. Add the grain alcohol, making sure the lemon peel is completely covered. Store in a cool, dark place, shaking the jar once each day to agitate the lemon peel.

On the 14th day, bring the water to a boil in a large saucepan. Add the sugar and remove from the heat, stirring until it is dissolved. Cover and let cool to room temperature. Place a colander on top of the saucepan and strain in the contents of the Mason jar. Discard the lemon peel. Stir to combine the liquids, about 1 minute. Transfer back to the Mason jar. Store for 1 month in a cool, dark place, shaking to agitate the liquid twice a day. After 1 month, transfer the Limóncello to smaller bottles that can be sealed with rubber stoppers.

Bloody Mary

3 large stalks celery from the heart, including leaves, plus extra for serving

36 ounces tomato juice

2 teaspoons prepared horseradish

Juice and zest of 1 lemon

1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce

1/2 teaspoon celery salt

1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

12 dashes Tabasco, to taste

2 cups vodka

Cut the celery in large dice, including the leaves, and puree in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the steel blade. Process until finely minced. In a large pitcher, combine the rest of the ingredients except the vodka. With the food processor running, pour 1/4 of the tomato juice mixture into the food processor through the feed tube. Then pour the contents of the food processor into the pitcher with the remaining tomato juice mixture. Add the vodka and chill. Serve in tall glasses over ice with a stick of celery.

A Pitcher Of Mimosas

1 bottle of Champagne, Cava, Prosecco or sparkling wine

1/2-gallon freshly squeezed orange juice

1 orange

Cut the orange in half crosswise, and then cut the halves into ¼ thick slices. Pour the entire bottle of Champagne into the pitcher. Pour the chilled orange juice into the pitcher. Stir the mixture thoroughly. Add all the orange slices to the mixture in the pitcher.

Berry Cubes

1-pint strawberries

1-pint raspberries

1-pint blueberries


3 ice cube trays

Cut up the strawberries into pieces. Put them in to one of the ice cube trays. Fill it with water. Carefully carry it and put it in the freezer. Put one or two blueberries into each of the boxes on the second ice cube tray. Fill it with water. Carefully carry it and put it in the freezer. Put the raspberries into the third ice cube tray. Fill it with water and again carefully carry it and put it in the freezer. Freeze overnight.


The Lotus Kitchen Presents Living Food



 Last week I had the great privilege of presenting for The Living Food Ministry at The Agape International Spiritual Center here in Los Angeles. This ministry was the vision of the awe- inspiring Rev. Arlene Hylton who opens a conversation to discuss and share insights on the benefits of eating Raw and Living Foods.

We had a blast preparing foods and sharing information on everything from the dangers of GMO’s (especially how removal of seeds in fruit is effecting woman’s health.) To what the heck is Nutritional Yeast? We laughed, we got inspired and best of all we ate some amazing food that not only nourishes your body, but your soul.

Even if you are not contemplating a vegan lifestyle you can enjoy these recipes because they just taste good! And if you are in Southern California on the second Sunday of the month at 2:30 p.m.I invite you to check out Rev. Arlene and the Living Foods Ministry! I promise you will be inspired to eat more foods that taste great and make your body feel alive. In the words of Rev. Arlene “Life tastes good!’

Heirloom Tomato Gazpacho

6 large heirloom tomatoes, all varieties and colors, seeded and diced into 1/4-inch cubes

1 medium red onion, cut into 1/4-inch cubes

4 Parisian cucumbers or 1 hothouse cucumber, seeded and diced into1/4 inch cubes

2 purple bell peppers, seeded and cut into 1/4-inch cubes

2 yellow bell peppers, seeded and cut into 1/4-inch cubes

1/4 cup fresh cilantro, roughly chopped

2 tbsp red wine vinegar

1 lemon, juiced

1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and finely chopped

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

8 tbsp aged balsamic vinegar

In a blender or food processor combine tomatoes, onion, cucumber, and peppers. Add cilantro, red wine vinegar, lemon juice and jalapeno. Add a few pinches of salt and black pepper. Process vegetables into a juicy soup, leaving it nice and chunky. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour before serving. Ladle soup into bowls and drizzle with balsamic vinegar.

Maple Balsamic Vinaigrette

2 cloves garlic, finely chopped

2-tablespoon Dijon Mustard

1-tablespoon maple syrup

6-tablespoon balsamic vinegar

1-cup olive oil

Fresh ground pepper

Whisk all ingredients together and let stand for one hour.

From THE LOTUS KITCHEN 2015 Huqua Press



Hydrating Cucumber Mint Salad

4 cup  Cucumber Chopped

2 cups  fresh Mint

1 Cup Cilantro

1 cup basil

1 Cup of Lime Juice

1/3 of Grape seed oil

1 Cup  Yellow Cherry Tomatoes

2 teaspoons fresh ginger

Combine all ingredients in a large bowl and Serve. Serves 2 to 4.

From THE LOTUS KITCHEN 2015 Huqua Press



These brownies are chock full of chocolaty goodness, but they also have a few health benefits for you! The three biggest health-boosting ingredients are Xylitol, coconut oil and dark chocolate. Xylitol tastes sweet but, unlike sugar, it is not converted in the mouth to acids that cause tooth decay. It reduces levels of decay-causing bacteria in saliva and also acts against some bacteria that cause ear infections. It is said to be friendly to some diabetics because it releases smaller amounts of insulin slower! Dark chocolate is high in antioxidants and can help reduce bad cholesterol and lower blood pressure. It is true that coconut oil can be classified as a “super food.” Its unique combination of fatty acids can have profound positive effects on health. This includes fat loss, better brain function, helps fight infections, reduce bad cholesterol and promote healthy hair, skin and be used as a sunscreen! But mostly they are simple to make and are super tasty!



½ cup coconut oil
2 cups 60% cacao bittersweet chocolate baking chips
1 tablespoon vanilla
1 cup water
1 cup zilatol
1 cup pastry flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 cup Dutch process cocoa (60% Cacao or higher)
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons ground flax seeds

1-tablespoon cornstarch
½ cup hot water

Preheat oven to 350°F and spray a 9×13 san with bakers joy.
In a double boiler or a bowl set atop a pot of gently simmering water, melt the coconut oil, ½ of the chocolate chips and vanilla together. When melted add the xylitol and remove from heat.
In another bowl, whisk together the flours, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
In another bowl, whisk together the flax seeds, cornstarch and ½ cup hot water, allow to sit for 5 minutes.
Combine the chocolate/coconut oil mixture with the flax seed mixture and whisk vigorously. Add to the flour mixture and stir to incorporate. Add the other half of the chocolate chips and mix well. Pour the batter into the greased baking pan and bake for about 50 minutes. Start checking the brownies after the first 30 minutes to ensure it is baking evenly and turn the pan around in the oven. When cooked soft cake like to the touch pull them and let them cool completely before cutting. Makes 20-14 squares
From A VEGAN HOLIDAY Fall 2016 Huqua Press





Ethnic Markets

c-fakepath-zion-market-produceOne of the most amazing things about living in L.A. is all of the culinary diversity. Not only do we have so many restaurants to try, but the little markets tucked in mini malls and tiny corner storefronts are one of our cities treasures. With hundreds of Latino, Asian, Cuban, Russian and Armenian markets in almost every given neighborhood it is a wonderful opportunity to talk to cooks from all over the world. I have learned so much about everyday cooking in other countries. Things that seemed complicated like Thai green curry seem so simple when explained by someone who makes it for her family as often as I roast a chicken. Sometimes I get really board with my own recipes that I just spend an afternoon perusing isle after isle of different foods. O.K…there are a few things that seem unfamiliar and a bit scarry! The other great thing about these mainly family owned shops are that they are so much cheaper than the regular market! I found a beautiful filet mignon for $6.99 a pound at a local Cuban market! I invite you to explore these little cultural centers and expand your cooking repertoire as well.

Green Chicken Curry
This green curry is rich and creamy with just the perfect kick. It is so simple to make so don’t be intimidated if some of the ingredients seem unfamiliar. Most are available at a good super market and all are available at an Asian market. Be sure to remove the lemongrass stalks and lime leaves before serving, as they are really stringy and tough to eat. Keep in mind that you can make it with shrimp, or vegetarian. I like it with the snow peas, but you can use any vegetable you like.

3 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons green curry paste
1 1/2 pound boneless chicken breast, cut bite size
4 kaffir lime leaves
2 lemon grass stalks, bruised and cut
2 cups unsweetened coconut milk
1/2 pound snow peas
15 basil leaves

In a wok or frying pan heat the oil. Add the green curry paste and stir-fry until bubbly and fragrant. Add the chicken, kaffir lime leaves and lemon grass. Cook until the chicken is cooked through. Add the snow peas and cook for another minute. Stir in the coconut milk and bring to a gentle boil. Simmer and stir occasionally for 5 minutes. Stir in the basil and serve over rice.

Filet mignon in a Shallot Cabernet sauce

The filet mignon that comes from the Cuban Market is so reasonable that you can play with sauces and ways of cooking. It is really great grilled and if you have enough people you can get a large cut make small incisions all around and add whole cloves of garlic. Roast on 425 for about 10 minutes a pound.

4 6-ounce 1-inch thick filet mignons
Olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1-cup cabernet wine (can substitute any dry red wine)
1 shallot finely chopped
3 cloves garlic
4 tablespoons butter

Coat steaks lightly with olive oil and season both sides with salt and pepper. In a heavy frying pan over medium-high heat, heat 2 tablespoons olive oil. Sear the steaks, moving them with tongs a little so they don’t stick to the bottom, for 5 to 6 minutes per side. When the steaks are crusty-charred remove from the pan, cover loosely with aluminum foil and let rest 5-10 minutes before serving. Add juices that accumulate from resting steaks to wine sauce. In the same pan sauté garlic and shallot for two minutes. Add the wine to the pan and bring to a boil, scraping any pieces of steak off the bottom of the pan and stirring them into the emerging sauce. Let the liquid boil until reduced to approximately 1 cup. Remove pan from heat. Gently whisk in the butter. Pour the sauce over the steaks just before serving.

At the Armenian market I was turned on to this wonderful dip. They use it to dip veggies as a sandwich spread or with pita bread. You can add a few hot peppers if you like a bit of a kick. The color is so spectacular that I love to serve it in an over sized basil lined Martini glass.

2 eggplants
6 red bell peppers
3 cloves garlic
Juice of one lemon
1/2-cup olive oil,
Parsley for garnish

Preheat oven to 350. Bake eggplants and peppers until tender when pierced with a fork. Peel skin from hot vegetables and place in a food processor.
Season to taste with salt and pepper and add the garlic and lemon juice. And olive oil and pulse. You want it to be pureed, but coarsely. Chill or serve warm sprinkled with parsley!

Dark Chocolate

Oh chocolate!  My true love! How many nights it has been you and I!  The evening ends with me beating myself up after hours at the gym and then the sun goes down and I just can’t resist you!  Who knew we were doing something so terribly right! Dark chocolate has been shown to reduce LDL levels (the bad cholesterol) by up to 10 percent and it contains phenylethylamine which is the chemical the brain produces when we fall in love. It contains neurotransmitters that act like little messengers running around our brain telling the body what to do. Serotonin, one of the main neurotransmitters in the body, acts as an anti-depressant.
Chocolate has antioxidants. Antioxidants neutralize free radicals, which damage cells, clog arteries, and contribute to chronic illness and aging. It contains more calcium than eight ounces of milk and it is full of flavonoids which are pigments found in plants that help reduce damage to the body. They help relax blood pressure through the production of nitric oxide and are good for the heart. It releases endorphins that are natural feel-good chemicals. It just makes you feel good! So grab a slab and enjoy guilt free these recipes! Once again chocolate is our friend!
Chocolate Dipped Strawberries
8 ounces 60% cacao bittersweet chocolate chips
1 pound strawberries with stem, washed and dried completely
3 ounces white chocolate (to garnish half)
Place chocolate in heatproof pan. Fill a medium saucepan with a couple inches of water and bring to a boil over medium heat. Turn off the heat; set the bowl of chocolate over the water to melt. Stir until smooth.
Once the chocolates are melted and smooth, remove from the heat. Line a sheet pan with parchment or waxed paper. Holding the strawberry by the stem, dip the fruit into the dark chocolate, lift and twist slightly, letting any excess chocolate fall back into the bowl. Set strawberries on the parchment paper. Repeat with the rest of the strawberries. Melt the white chocolate the same way and with a fork drizzle over half of the strawberries for a lovely presentation.
Chocolate Risotto
3 tablespoons Butter
1-tablespoon olive oil
Small red onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup Arborio Rice
1-cup mushrooms, sliced
¼ to ½ cup white wine
3 to 5 cups hot chicken or vegetable stock
3 teaspoons Dutch processed cocoa
Dash of smoked paprika
1-cup parsley, chopped
Parmesan Cheese to serve
Mix butter and olive oil in a stockpot over low heat until butter is melted. Add onion and a pinch of salt. Stir until onion is translucent. Add garlic and stir for about a minute. Add rice and stir a few minutes. Add mushrooms and stir for about 5 minutes until they soften.
Add wine and stir until absorbed. Add hot stock about ½ a cup at a time. Keep the heat hot enough so the rice keeps gently simmering and absorbing each addition of stock. When the rice is plump and cooked when tasted you have added enough stock. Stir in 1-tablespoon cocoa and dash of paprika. Taste and check seasoning.  Stir through some parsley and Parmesan.
Chocolate Pancakes with Chocolate Sauce
For pancakes:
1/2 cup Dutch-process unsweetened cocoa powder
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1-cup sugar
1/2-teaspoon baking soda
1/8-teaspoon salt
2 whole large eggs
1 large egg yolk
3/4-cup well-shaken buttermilk
1/4-cup vegetable oil
1-teaspoon vanilla
Unsalted butter for greasing griddle
Sift together cocoa, flour, sugar, baking soda, and salt into a large bowl, then whisk in eggs, yolk, buttermilk, oil, and vanilla until combined well.
Heat a griddle or nonstick skillet over moderately low heat and lightly coat with butter.
Working in batches of 2 or 3, pour 1/4 cup batter per cake onto hot griddle and cook until bubbles appear on surface, 1 to 2 minutes. Flip cakes with a large spatula and cook until tops spring back when pressed gently, about 1 minute more. Transfer to a plate and loosely cover with foil to keep warm. Add 1/2-teaspoon butter to griddle between batches.
Serve cakes in stacks, topped with chocolate sauce.
For the sauce:
1 cup heavy cream
7 ounces 60% Cacao Bittersweet Chocolate Baking Chips
Bring cream to a boil in a 1-quart saucepan, then pour hot cream over chocolate in a bowl, gently whisking until smooth. Keep warm or at room temperature.
Chocolate Truffles
12 ounces semi- sweet chocolate (chips or a bar broken into small pieces)
1 stick butter
1/2-cup ground chocolate
In a double broiler, melt the chocolate over simmering water, stirring constantly. (If you don’t have a double broiler you can use a smaller pan for the chocolate and a larger one to simmer the water. Just be careful especially with the kids, as it is slightly awkward.) Remove from heat. Add butter stirring until melted. Chill until firm enough to form into small round pieces. Roll in ground chocolate. Chill overnight in refrigerator. Makes about 40.
Green Tea and Chocolate Truffles
Around mid-day I usually have a cup of green tea. It was one time when I was eating a piece of chocolate that I thought how amazing the two would be together. The subtle essence and healing power of green tea make these really special.
2/3-cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 4 pieces and softened
2 teaspoons loose Green Tea leaves
8 ounces semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 cup cocoa powder
In a medium saucepan bring cream and butter to a boil and stir in tealeaves. Remove from heat and let steep 5 minutes.
Meanwhile, finely grind chocolate in a food processor and transfer to a bowl. Pour cream through a fine-mesh sieve onto chocolate, pressing on and discarding tealeaves, then whisk until smooth. Chill mixture covered, until firm, overnight. Drop mixture by rounded teaspoons onto prepared baking sheet. . Refrigerate until firm, about three hours.
Place cocoa powder in a bowl. Roll truffles in mixture. Cover with plastic; chill until ready to serve.
Chocolate Fondue
Combine in a medium, heavy saucepan:
1-cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons butter
Stirring constantly bring to a rolling boil. Remove the pan from the heat and immediately add:
12 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
Let stand for one minute, then whisk until smooth. Whisk in:
2 teaspoons vanilla, or a splash of brandy or orange liqueur.
Pour into a fondue pot and serve with shortbread, pound cake and any fruit you like.
Very Chocolate Ice Cream
2-cup heavy cream
6 heaping tablespoons Valhrona cocoa
6 1/2 6 ounces 60%cacao bittersweet chocolate
1-cup milk
5 egg yolks
1/2-cup sugar
1/4-teaspoon salt
1-teaspoon vanilla
In a medium pot heat 1 cup of heavy cream with cocoa; whisk well to ensure the cocoa dissolves properly. When cream is bubbling at the edges, remove from heat and add dark chocolate. Wait 30 seconds then give it a good stir until it’s all incorporated. Add remaining cup of cream to pot, stir to combine, then pour the contents into a medium sized non-metal bowl, scraping out the pot as well as you can, and place a strainer over the bowl. Place the pot back on the stove, and add the cup of milk, 1/2 cup of sugar and the salt. Heat the milk and sugar gently on the stove while you get your egg yolks ready. Whisk the egg yolks together and then grab the pot from the stove. SLOWLY drizzle warm milk into the egg yolks, whisking the entire time until everything’s all combined. Then dump the liquid back into the pot. Stir constantly with a wooden or other heat-safe spoon or spatula over medium heat until the eggs thicken a bit, into custard. You’ll know it’s done when you can hold up the spoon and run your finger through the egg-milk mixture and the line you drew with your finger stays there. Pour custard through the strainer into the bowl. Add vanilla and stir to combine the chocolaty goodness. Place a piece of plastic wrap over the bowl, literally touching the entire surface of the ice cream base. Refrigerate for at least 6 hours then prepare according to your ice cream maker’s instructions. Once you’ve got it into your final container, freeze again for at least 6 hours – Remove from the freezer 10-15 minutes before eating so it has time to soften a bit before serving.
Chocolate Basil Cake with Chocolate Cream Frosting
1-cup sugar
1 cup packed fresh basil leaves (plus addition leaves for garnish)
8 tablespoons butter
1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2 large eggs
1/2-teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/4-teaspoon salt
3/4-cup all-purpose flour
1/2-cup hot water
1 cup 60% Cacao Bittersweet Chocolate Baking Chips
1 recipe chocolate cream, frosting (below)
Preheat oven to 350°F. Spray a 9-inch round cake pan with Bakers Joy. Place the sugar and basil in a food processor. Process until basil is chopped fine and uniformly green in color (it will look slightly wet). In a large bowl whisk the melted butter, cocoa powder and basil sugar until well blended. Whisk in the eggs, 1 at a time, until blended and smooth. Stir in the baking soda, vanilla, and salt.
Gradually add flour to bowl, stirring just until blended (do not over stir). Add hot water to mixture, stirring just until blended. Add chips. Pour batter into prepared pan.
Bake 22-25 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes on a wire rack. Sprinkle with powdered sugar. Cut into squares. Cool completely, Prepare sour cream frosting. Spread over cake and garnish with basil leaves.
Chocolate Cream
1 and 1/2 cups powdered sugar
3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
6 tablespoons butter, softened
½ cup 60% Cacao Bittersweet Chocolate Baking Chips
1-teaspoon vanilla
In a medium bowl whisk the powdered sugar and cocoa powder; set aside. In a separate medium bowl beat the butter and melted chocolate with an electric mixer on low speed until blended. Gradually add sugar mixture to the butter mixture, beating at low speed until well blended. Add vanilla and beat well for 1 minute until very smooth and creamy.

A stroll through the farmers market!




A few weeks ago I was walking through the open-air market just going crazy over the most amazing and abundant vegetables. I started to buy things up and my friend said that he would make more salads if he only had some good recipes. I was a bit stunned. Well, just throw some mix greens, spinach, or lettuce in a bowl. Toss with whatever fresh veggies you like. You can make a simple dressing with lemon juice, olive oil salt and pepper. Or a simple dressing of garlic, Dijon mustard, red vine vinegar and olive oil. He looked at me puzzled. I realized that growing up for most of us we had iceberg lettuce, flavorless tomatoes and Wishbone Italian from a jar. We are living in such a great culinary time! The massive amounts of fresh fruits and vegetables. I can only stress; use your imagination. I am a total veg-head and I am big on mixing anything in a salad. I love mixing colors, textures and flavors. I love adding apples. pears and grapes. I always make dressing, but there are some very fine bottled dressings in the markets now. I have given some of my best dressing recipes as well as some salads. Feel free to mix and match and make them your own. So go out and make an adventure in your produce section and then get out your favorite large bowl and have a salad party!

Honey Mustard Dressing
1-cup plain nonfat yogurt
4 tablespoons Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons honey
2 tablespoons cider vinegar

Combine yogurt, honey, mustard & cider vinegar in a jar. Tighten lid & shake until blended. Chill 30 minutes before serving.

Peanut Wasabi Vinaigrette
1/4cup rice vinegar
1/4-cup canola oil
1/4-cup peanut butter
3 tablespoons soy sauce
3 tablespoons Wasabi Paste
2 tablespoons minced fresh ginger
3 cloves fresh minced garlic

Combine all ingredients, stirring well to combine. Let stand for 45minutes.

Maple Balsamic Vinaigrette
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 tablespoon Dijon Mustard
1 tablespoon Maple Syrup
6-tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1 cup Olive Oil
Fresh Ground pepper
Whisk all ingredients together and let stand for one hour.

Grilled Vegetable Salad with Buttermilk Balsamic

1 bunch asparagus
1 zucchini
2 yellow squash
1 eggplant
1 red pepper, seeded
2 ears corn
1 small jicama, chopped
10 cherry tomatoes, halved
1 bunch arugula
1 head romaine
Salt and pepper

Lightly coat asparagus, zucchini, squash, eggplant, pepper and corn with olive oil.. Heat cast iron grill pan over high heat. Grill vegetables until tender. Toss arugula and romaine leaves with jicama and Tomatoes. With buttermilk balsamic dressing e in a bowl. Arrange on platter and top with grilled vegetables. You can top with ground pepper, shaved Parmesan or crumbled goat cheese.

Buttermilk Balsamic Dressing

3 garlic cloves, minced
4 teaspoons Dijon mustard
1-cup well-shaken low-fat buttermilk
1 1/2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 cup Balsamic
1-cup olive oil

Whisk together all ingredients until well mixed. Let Stand for one hour.

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Gwen’s Caesar
In small bowl whisk together-
1 egg
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
1-tablespoon anchovy paste

Then add,
Juice of one lemon
3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
Up to 3 cloves of garlic to taste
2 teaspoon dried thyme

In a steady stream add
1/2-cup olive oil
2 cups canola oil

If you would like, add a few shakes of pepper or a dash of Tabasco sauce. If you like a stronger flavor or are not keen on the anchovy paste, a few shakes of Worcestershire sauce works wonders.
Fill a large salad bowl with lettuce. The traditional Caesar lettuce is Romaine. I like to add spinach and radicchio for flavor and color. Mix in croutons (see below) shaved or grated Parmesan and then toss in the dressing. Go lightly the worst Caesars are the ones that are over-dressed. Taste as you go. For variation you can add cherry tomatoes or toasted pine nuts, both are tasty and add a little pizzazz.
Truly, you can use any kind of bread, seasoning and oil. I will give you the basic, but again – go for it and make it your own.
1 baguette (long loaf of French or sour dough bread)
Olive oil to coat
Pinch of Kosher salt
Fresh ground pepper
Slice baguettes into quarter inch slices. Place in large bowl. Toss with oil until well coated. Add salt and pepper. Place on a cookie sheet in single layer rows and bake at 350 until golden brown, about 20 minutes.

The Cobb Salad

Another one of the culinary legends is The Cobb salad. It is hard to believe that something so wonderful could have been so carelessly concocted, but I guess that is the gift of creating. It seems that in the 20’s at the super hot, super trendy Hollywood hangout The Brown Derby manager Bill Cobb was board. The menu consisted of mainly heavy grilled meats. He really wanted a “light meal!!!!” so he tossed some things into a bowl!!!! I can’t even imagine a “light salad” consisting of bacon cheese and avocado. While there have been many variations mine stays pretty close to the original. And of coarse you can add or delete any thing you like.

1 large or 2 small heads of romaine, finely chopped
2 heads of Boston lettuce, finely chopped
1 bunch of watercress, finely chopped
1 pound bacon cooked and crumbled
3 ripe avocados, chopped
3 pounds chicken breasts, poached, and chopped
2 tomatoes, chopped
3 hard-boiled eggs, chopped
1-bunch scallions, sliced
2 shallots, minced
1-cup red-wine vinegar
3 tablespoon Dijon mustard
3 cups olive oil
1 cup Blue cheese, finely chopped

In a large salad bowl toss together the romaine, Boston lettuce and watercress. In a small food processor mix shallots, vinegar, mustard, and salt and pepper to taste, add the oil in a slow stream, mixing until the dressing until it is emulsified. Pour into a bowl and stir in blue cheese. Pour it over the lettuce, and toss the salad well.




Growing up my family ate artichokes year round. Most of my family fought for the heart, but I always loved the ritual of pulling the leaves between my teeth. My daughter and I often share a piece of fish and an artichoke for a perfect supper. Fresh are always better (see the soup recipe for instructions on steaming) but they are avaible in cans (non marinated) and jars are usually marinated. As you can see I prefer to marinate my own.

Marinated Artichoke hearts
24 small to medium artichokes, trimmed and steamed
1 cup each red wine vinegar and olive oil
4 -cloves fresh garlic, sliced
3 tablespoons minced fresh Italian parsley
½ teaspoon red pepper flakes
Steam the artichokes and remove leaves. You can eat these with melted butter, mayonnaise or aolie. 
Remove the choke and trim as desired. You can leave the chokes whole or cut them in half vertically through the stem. Mix together wine vinegar, oil, garlic powder and parsley. Add artichokes. Stir, cover and refrigerate. Better on the second day. Will keep several weeks in the refrigerator; stir occasionally.

Cream Of Artichoke Soup
1 Large artichoke
1 lemon

1 onion,diced

1 carrot, diced
3 Cloves garlic, minced
1/2-teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/4-cup butter or (vegan butter)

4 cups vegetable stock

2 cups heavy cream or (coconut cream)

1 lemon, sliced for garnish

Pinch of salt, fresh ground pepper to taste
Cut stem at bottom of artichoke. Cut the top third of the artichoke and snip off remaining sharp tips of leaves with kitchen shears. Gently pull the leaves of the artichoke to spread them out a bit. In a large saucepan place artichokes in with 3 cups water and juice of one lemon. Bring to a boil and reduce heat to medium and cook for about 45 minutes until very tender. Drain the artichokes and cool down with water. When cool enough to handle cut artichokes in half lengthwise. Remove and discard the fuzzy choke part. Place artichokes in a blender or food processor until very smooth. In a large soup pan sauté the onion, garlic, carrot and red pepper flakes in the butter over medium heat. When the garlic is golden add artichoke puree. Whisk in the heavy cream and salt and pepper. When at the desired temperature serve.

Artichoke Frittata
1 cup canned artichoke hearts in water
6 eggs
1/2cup half-and-half
1/4-teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper
1/8-teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
Spread artichokes in 4 well-greased individual au gratin dishes or 1 8-inch soufflé dish. Sprinkle grated cheddar cheese on top. In bowl beat eggs with half-and-half, salt, pepper, and nutmeg. Pour mixture over artichokes & cheddar. Top with Parmesan. 

Bake at 350°F until frittata is puffy and lightly browned and center feels firm (about 20 minutes). Serve at once.

Chilean Sea bass with Lemon Caper Artichoke Sauce
8 tablespoons of butter
½ cup white wine
3 tablespoons capers
1/2 cup of vegetable stock
Juice of 4 lemons
Zest of 1 lemon
2 cups non-marinated artichoke hearts
Salt and Pepper
4 tablespoons canola oil
4 fillets of Chilean sea bass (approx. 2 lb.) with skin, if possible
Preheat your oven to 450°. In a stockpot melt the butter. Whisk together the wine, vegetable stock, capers lemon juice and zest. Add the artichoke hearts and bring to a boil. Let simmer to thicken for a few minutes. In an oven proof sauté (fry) pan and heat the canola oil until its so hot it’s about to smoke. Season the fillets with salt and pepper and add to the hot pan cook them on one side for about 3 minutes and flip them over for another 2 minutes before (9) transferring to the oven for 3-4 minutes. Place on 4 plates and cover with Sauce. Great with roasted vegetables and potatoes.

Oscar Party


This time of year we are inundated with award shows. I am looking forward to Sunday and viewing the Oscars with daughter and other besties!  What an amazing excuse to share an evening withy friends and family and celebrate creativity!

Over the years I have had many kinds of award show parties. When I was pregnant I had a pajama viewing party. For several years I created menus themed to the nominated films and songs. There are so many ways to have fun with the food and activities. I think that a pool is the key. Everyone kicks in an agreed amount. Even a couple of dollars is fun. It just makes the stakes a little more personal. Even doing fun activities like filming the party or burning a CD with each guest’s favorite songs. Mostly I look at it as a chance to dress up and have a high styling really good time. I have a TV in the kitchen and like to tray pass some hors d’oeuvers. If you want a party where everything is ready and you can just watch the show substitute the coconut shrimp with a shrimp cocktail. Play with cheeses, breads and dips. Be bold. I love to mix and match different flavors. Use some of your fun serving pieces that sit around collecting dust! Fill up on the festivities! What ever kind of party you have use your imagination to and allow all of you guests to be creative and celebrate life!

Hot Artichoke Dip
1 8 ounce package cream cheese
1 1/2 cup grated Parmesan
1 1/2 cup sour cream
1/2-cup mayo
1 can non-marinated artichokes (coarsely chopped)
4 Cloves garlic
2 Tablespoon chopped dill
Few dashes Worchester sauce

Throw it all in a bowl mix it up. Put in baking dish and cook uncovered at 350 until it is bubbly and brown (about 35 minutes.) Serve with crackers, crusty bread or crudity. I must admit my favorite way to serve it is using a small round loaf of bread and turn it in to a bread bowl by cutting off the top of the loaf and scooping out the bread (save it for dipping.) Just pour the dip into the bread bowl and again bake until bubbly and golden brown. For larger gatherings (This is such a hit that I would do this for anything over 4!!!!!) double the recipe and use a large round loaf. I also buy a little extra bread and slice it as it goes fast.

Noni’s Olive Tapenade
4 Large Garlic Cloves
2 Cups pitted Kalamata olives or other brine-cured olives
4 anchovy fillets
2 tablespoons drained capers
1teaspoon each fresh chopped rosemary, thyme
3 tablespoons lemon juice
5 tablespoons olive oil
Rinse the olives in cold water. (this makes the tapenade less salty) Finely chop garlic cloves in food processor. Add 1/2 the olives, anchovies, capers, thyme and rosemary. Process until almost smooth. Add the lemon juice. With machine running gradually add olive oil. Blend mixture until smooth. Then coarsely chop the remaining cup of olives and mix in. Season tapenade to taste with pepper. Transfer to small bowl.
Serve with toasted French bread.

Roasted Eggplant and Garlic Dip
4 small heads of garlic
1 large eggplant
1/4-cup olive oil
1-teaspoon balsamic vinegar
Preheat oven to 450
Separate garlic cloves without peeling and tightly wrap together in foil. Prick eggplant with a fork. In a shallow baking dish, roast garlic and eggplant in middle of oven until very tender. About 45 minutes.
Unwrap the garlic and peel, transferring to a food processor. Scrape the flesh from eggplant into the food processor, discarding the skin. Purée mixture until smooth and with motor running, add oil and vinegar until combined. Season dip with salt and pepper and serve with pita bread.

Fresh Mozzarella Balls
16 Tiny Mozzarella balls (baconcini)
1/2-cup flour seasoned with dried thyme
1/2 cup dried breadcrumbs
1 egg
Canola or peanut oil for frying

Heat 2 inches of oil in deep fry pan or electric wok to 375. Dry off Mozzarella balls thoroughly using paper towels. Dip in the flour then the egg and then roll in the breadcrumbs. Deep-fry the balls for 1 minute or until golden brown. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels. Serve immediately with spicy Marinara sauce.

Shrimp with Coconut
3 Pounds Shrimp
3 cups shredded coconut (on a plate)
2 cups pancake mix
1 cup orange juice
1/2-cup coconut milk (more to thin the batter)
2 eggs
1-teaspoon cayenne pepper

Peanut oil for frying
Set deep fryer or wok for 375. In a bowl mix pancake mix, eggs O.J. coconut milk and cayenne pepper. Holding by the tail dip each shrimp into the batter, roll in the coconut and drop into bubbling oil. Do not over crowed the fryer; cooking several batches as necessary. Fry until shrimp are golden brown; about 3 minutes. (Don’t over cook, as the shrimp gets tough). Drain on a brown bag. Serve hot.

Tiny crab cakes with Remoulade Sauce
1 pound lump crabmeat, picked over
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 small red onion, minced
1 red bell pepper, minced
1 green bell pepper, minced
3/4-cup fine breadcrumbs
1/2-teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon dried mustard
1/4-teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon Old Bay seasoning
Mix all above ingredients. Cover and refrigerate for 2 hours. Shape the crab mixture into 24 small cakes. In a heavy skillet, melt 4 tablespoons butter. Sauté the crab cakes for 5 minutes per side until golden brown.

1 egg
2 egg yolks
2 dill pickles, minced
3 cloves garlic, minced
3 tablespoons Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon dried thyme
3 tablespoons balsamic
3-tablespoon fresh lemon juice
2 cups olive oil
1/2 cup minced parsley
Fresh pepper

Place all ingredients in a food processor fitted with a steel blade. Process for 15 seconds. With it still running, pour the oil through the feed tube in a steady stream to make a thick sauce. Dollop over crab cakes.

Veggie moon rolls
This is a great addition to a party. I love the flavor and they are always a big hit. It is a great balance and is enjoyed by vegetarian friends as well as non-vegetarians. These are similar to traditional egg rolls, but so much less fussy. They were created by a major disaster when a tray of uncooked egg rolls dumped in my car on the way to a party in Malibu. We had noticed a Chinese restaurant so I sent someone to buy egg roll wrappers while I scraped the stuffing from the disinagrated and smashed wrappers. The restaurant was only willing to sell us the round pot sticker wrappers. We figured out how to stuff them and the guest just flipped. We have never made them the old way since then and they are always a big hit.
1-tablespoon olive oil
1-teaspoon sesame oil
Pinch of sea salt
1-cup carrots
1 each red and yellow bell peppers,
Halved and sliced
1 1/2 cups snow peas, thinly sliced
1 cup green cabbage, chopped
2 cloves garlic
1-teaspoon fresh ginger
1/4-cup fresh cilantro
2-teaspoon sake
2 teaspoons white wine vinegar
1/4-cup hosin sauce
1-tablespoon chili sauce
1-package pot sticker wrappers
1 egg, beaten

Heat wok over high heat until very hot. Add oil and salt, then garlic and ginger. Cook for a minute and then add the rest of the veggies and cook about 6 minutes, stirring frequently. Transfer to a bowl and add sake, vinega,hosing sauce, chili sauce and cilantro.
To make moon rolls, place 2 to 3 tablespoons of filling in the center of the wrapper. Using your fingers or a pastry brush spread egg all around the edges. Fold in half and pinch the edges tightly. The look like little half moons! Heat 3 cups of canola or peanut oil on high heat. Drop egg rolls in batches of 3 and cook for one minute.
Dipping Sauce
3 cloves garlic, finely minced
1 inch fresh ginger, finely minced
1/2 cup apricot preserves
1/2 cup orange marmalade
4 Tablespoon rice vinegar (and/or sake)
Using enough liquid to make a smooth, but not runny, consistency.
Serve with: Chinese hot mustard
And let everyone make their own dipping sauce by blending the two together.

Chicken Satay with peanut sauce
I created this sauce to go with chicken satay for cocktail parties. I am pretty adventurous when it comes to creating menus for parties. If a client says that they want something or if a certain combination of food sounds good to me, I’m always up for trying it. Most caterers would never sell something that they have never made before, but I so love the process of creating new things. It also keeps me on my toes! This sauce evolved through many parties. The thing was that people loved it, but it wasn’t quite right to me. There was even one party in Malibu (about one hour from my kitchen) Where I realized that I left the sauce in my fridge. On a wing and a prayer and a client’s well-stocked kitchen I whipped up a replacement sauce. It was a huge hit and to my surprise the hostess asked me to make it again for another event! Because I added a little of this and a little of that I knew that I could not replicate it! I was a little nervous considering I had never been completely happy with my sauce. I voiced my concern to my sous chef and she said not to worry that they would say, “I can’t believe that this sauce is even better than the wonderful last one.” It was in that moment that the thought of doing it a saucepan and not in the food processor was born. I realized that it was not the flavor of the sauce that I was not happy with, but the consistency. I thought that warming the peanut butter would open it up enough to meld with the rest of he flavors and be the perfect texture. The guests and the hostess flipped at the party and it has been loved by many ever since.
Makes 48 Skewers
2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts
2-teaspoon curry powder
1/2-teaspoon salt
1-teaspoon cumin
1-teaspoon pepper
1/4-cup olive oil
Soak 48 6-inch bamboo skewers s in cold water for one hour. In a small bowl combine curry, salt cumin, pepper and olive oil. Place each breast in between plastic wrap and pound to 1/2 inch thick. Cut breasts into 48 3×1 inch strips. Thread one skewer into each chicken strip and place in a jellyroll pan. Spoon marinade over each skewer, turning to coat well. Place in the refrigerator for one hour. (You can do this the day ahead and cover with plastic. Using a stovetop grill, arrange skewers along each side of the grill making sure that the bare ends of the skewers do not get burnt by the flame. Grill on Medium-high heat until golden brown about 3 minutes per side.
Peanut sauce
2 cups peanut butter
1/2-cup fresh limejuice
1/2-cup fresh orange juice
1/4-cup soy sauce
1/4-cup rice vinegar
1/2-cup brown sugar
3 tablespoons crushed pepper
2 inches of fresh ginger, peeled and chopped
5 cloves garlic
1 cup coarsely chopped peanuts
1/2cup fresh cilantro

Mince the garlic and ginger. Coarsely chop the peanuts. In a medium sauce pan over low heat add the peanut butter, limejuice, soy sauce, vinegar, brown sugar, garlic, ginger, peanuts and red pepper. (You can add half first if you are shy about the kick.) Taste the sauce and add more soy and peppers to your taste. Remove from heat. Add the fresh cilantro just before serving. You can either serve it warm or at room temperature!

Beef Sate with Horse Radish Sauce
Makes 48 skewers
2 pounds New York or fillet Steak, trimmed
3/4cup olive oil
1 tablespoon dried thyme
1 tablespoon dried rosemary
Salt and pepper to taste

Soak 48 6-inch bamboo skewers in water for one hour. Cut the steak into 48 3inch x 1-inch strips. Stick a skewer into each strip lengthwise and arrange on a baking pan. Whisk together oil, thyme, rosemary, salt and pepper. Drizzle over the meat and refrigerate for at least one hour or overnight. Heat the grill or stovetop grill to medium high. Arrange the skewer of steak on the grill so that the sticks do not touch the flame. Grill until medium rare about one minute per side.

Horse Radish Dipping sauce
1 16-ounce tub sour cream
6 tablespoon prepared horseradish (or to taste)
3 cloves garlic
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
Whisk together in a small bowl. Add pepper to taste.

Compari Orange Spritzer


Last fall I was getting a mani/pedi and I got to talking to another client, Stella Angelova, the multi-talented  gymnast and choreographer who is owns her own couture design company. As we were being pampered we started chatting and eventually started talking food and cocktails. Stella had just returned from 4 months in Bulgaria and she shared with me the biggest summer cocktail in Europe. With all of the beautiful citrus that my friends are giving me I am finding it equally refreshing in these warm winter months!

Campari is an alcoholic liqueur, considered an aperitif. It is the infusion of herbs and fruit in alcohol and water. It is a bitters characterized by its dark red color. It is a perfect mix with citrus and the bubbles of the sparkling water.

Stella stresses the importance of using freshly squeezed orange juice and I love the look of the oranges creeping up the glass. Enjoy this light refreshing cocktail on these scorching summer days! Cheers!

Stella’s Campari Orange Spritzer

For each cocktail you will need:

6 ice cubes

1/2 cup Campari

1/2 cup Freshly squeezed orange juice

1/2 cup of sparkling water

In a large highball glass squeeze the orange juice and muddle or smooch the oranges to the bottom. Add the ice and mix to create the oranges to go up the side of the glass. Add the Compari and finish with the sparkling water!

Savory Pies


Even though the Southern California weather might be calling for BBQ’s, my food clock is calling for savory pies! These pies are amazing and great with a salad and travel well for potlucks. They bring me such comfort and joy and kids love them as well as the adults. The caramelized onion tarts can be made as a show stopping large pie made in a 9-inch tart pan or minis as I have them in the recipe, served as an appetizer. Using the pastry recipe for the tart and doubling it for the Chicken Pot Pie. If you want a nice flaky crust don’t skip freezing the butter, using ice water and chilling the dough before rolling. You can even chill it over night. I don’t believe in violence in the kitchen so no need to whack the dough with a rolling pin. Many chefs say this is how to get a workable consistency, but gently rolling it using your body weight works better.

Mini Caramelized Onion and Goat Cheese Tarts

1 1/2 cups flour
1/2-teaspoon salt
1/2-cup butter (Grated and left frozen for 1/2 hour)
Up to 6 Tablespoons ice water
1 Large loaf goat’s cheese
Caramelized Onion Mixture

In a medium mixing bowl, stir together the flour and salt. Using a pastry blender cut the butter into the flour until the pieces are the size of rice. Sprinkle 2 tablespoons water over part of the flour mixture and stir very gently with a fork, Push moistened dough to the side of the bowl. Repeat using 2 tablespoons of water (up to6) until all the dough is moistened. Divide dough in half. Form each into a ball and press into a disk. Wrap in plastic and let stand in the refrigerator for one hour. Roll out on a floured cutting board about 1/4 inch thick. Using a small circular cookie cutter cut the dough and place in sprayed mini muffin tins pushing them up the side. Bake in a pre heated 350-degree oven for about 10 minutes until golden. Let cool. When ready to serve line mini tarts on a cookie sheet. Add about 1-teaspoon onion mixture and 1-teaspoon goats cheese to each tart and bake in a preheated 350 oven until cheese is melted. About 10 minutes.

Caramelized Onion Mixture
1 stick butter
2 tablespoons Sugar
2 Large Onions, thinly sliced

In a large skillet melt the butter. Add the onions and sauté until incorporated with the butter. Sprinkle sugar over them and continue caramelizing until brown and tender about 15 minutes.

Chicken Pot Pie

1 lb. Chicken breast, coarsely chopped
2 carrots, thinly sliced
1 rib celery, thinly sliced
1-cup peas
1/2-cup butter
1 onion – chopped
1/3-cup flour
2/3-cup milk
2 cups chicken stock
Salt and pepper to taste
Double Recipe of Onion Tart Pie Crust

Place chicken, carrots, and celery in a saucepan. Pour just enough water over to cover all. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, reduce heat to medium, and simmer until meat is cooked through. Add peas to pot and simmer for 1 minute. Drain water from pan set aside meat and vegetables. In a saucepan over medium heat, cook onions in butter until soft; stir in flour; slowly whisk in stock and milk, salt, pepper. Bring to a rolling boil and then reduce to simmer until thick; remove from heat; set aside. Center one pie crust in a lightly greased 9″ pie plate; spread cooked chicken and vegetables evenly into crust; pour prepared sauce into crust. Center second piecrust over pie; fold over edges and pinch with a fork to seal; and prick holes in top of crust. Bake in a 375 degree oven for 30 minutes or until crust is golden brown.

Shepard’s Pie

1 1/4 pound ground beef
1-tablespoon olive oil
3 carrots, diced
1-cup mushrooms, sliced
3 celery stalks, diced
1-cup peas
1 cup frozen corn
1 onion, diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1/4 cup red wine
1/2-teaspoon allspice
1-tablespoon cornstarch
1 1/2 pound potatoes peeled and cubed
1/2-cup sour cream
1-cup cheddar cheese, shredded
Salt and pepper to taste

Add potatoes to boiling water. Cook 15 minutes or until tender. Drain. Mash potatoes with sour cream. Add olive oil to a skillet and heat. Cook beef, onions, mushrooms and garlic until no pink remains in beef and vegetables are softened. Add carrots, peas, celery and corn. Cook until vegetables are softened. Mix cornstarch and wine. Add to beef and vegetables. Add Dijon mustard,salt, pepper and allspice. Mix well and cook until gravy has thickened. Put meat and vegetable mixture in a 2-quart casserole. Cover with mashed potatoes. Bake uncovered at 350 for 30 minutes. Then sprinkle the cheese over the top and cook for 10minutes longer.

Blood Oranges

From a culinary standpoint we know how lucky we are to live in Southern California! I love to eat and shop locally and seasonally and my last trip to the farmer’s market I was thrilled to find the vibrant blood orange! It has an extraordinary deep red color and the sweet, sweet flavor of an orange kissed by a raspberry. It makes a dramatic presentation and can be used in any recipe that calls for an orange. So see where your imagination takes you with this local yet exotic fruit.

Mahi Mahi with Blood Orange Salsa
4 blood oranges
2 avocados, chopped
1 red onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic
1-inch ginger, minced
1 small jalapeno, minced
Juice of 2-3 limes (to coat)
2 teaspoons olive oil
4 6-ounce mahi-mahi fillets
Using small sharp knife, cut peel and white pith from orange. Working over small bowl, cut between membranes to release segments. Add avocado, onion, garlic, ginger jalapeno, and lime juice to oranges in bowl; stir gently to blend. Season salsa to taste with salt. Heat oil in heavy medium skillet over medium-high heat. Sprinkle fish with salt and pepper. Add fish to skillet and sauté until brown and cooked through, about 5 minutes per side.
Place 1 fillet on each of 2 plates. Spoon salsa atop fish and serve.

Blood Barbecued Chicken
1 red onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
3 tbsp. butter
1/3-cup honey
3-tablespoon soy sauce
1 teaspoon Asian Chili garlic sauce (you can substitute Tabasco, to taste)
Juice of one lemon
Juice of 2 blood oranges
2 tablespoons Blood orange zest
1 1⁄2 tbsp. cornstarch
3 pounds boneless chicken breasts
3 pounds drumsticks
Olive oil for brushing

To make the sauce, in a small saucepan, sauté the onion and garlic in the butter until tender. Add the honey, lemon juice, soy sauce, chili sauce and blood orange zest. Gradually blend the orange juice into the cornstarch; add to the onion mixture. Cook over medium heat, stirring, until thickened. Season the chicken with salt and pepper. Lightly brush the chicken drumsticks with oil. Barbecue on a grill 6 inches above the glowing coals for 20 minutes. Turn and cook 20 minutes longer. Brush the chicken breasts with oil and add to the grill cooking 10 minutes on each side. Brush with sauce. Continue cooking until the chicken is tender, turning and brushing occasionally with sauce. Serves 6.

 Peace Kale Salad

1 cup Organic Kale (Fine Chopped)

1 cup Collard Greens (Fine Chopped)

½ Cup Napa Cabbage (Fine Chopped)

½ Cup Red Cabbage (Fine Chopped)

¼ Cup Red Onion, finely chopped

1 Cup Cooked Black eyed Peas, chilled

½ Cup Raw Almonds (Fine Chopped)

2 cups dried Cranberries (fresh when available

Toss together with Orange Vinaigrette

Blood Orange Vinaigrette.

2 Large Blood Oranges (Seasonal any orange that is in season)-Juice and flesh

½ cup Olive Oil

½ cup Balsamic Vinegar

½ cup mint leaves, destemed

Mix in a blender
Pomegranate, beets, fennel and blood oranges
The joy of this salad is that beets are widely available pre cooked. The pomegranates seeds and vinegar are also now in most every market making this salad simple and elegant.

8 medium beets
6 tablespoons olive oil
1-teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/4-cup water

Juice from 2 blood orange
4 tablespoons pomegranate vinegar

1 red onion, thinly sliced
1 fennel bulb, coarsely chopped
4 blood oranges, peeled, cut into1/4-inch-thick slices
1-cup pomegranate seeds

Preheat oven to 400°F. Place beets in roasting pan and toss with 3-tablespoon oil, 1-teaspoon salt, and 1/2-teaspoon pepper. Add 1/4-cup water. Cover pan with foil; roast beets until knife easily pierces center, about 50 minutes. Cool. Peel beets and cut into 1/3-inch-thick wedges.
Whisk orange juice, pomegranate vinegar, and remaining 2 tablespoons oil in large bowl to blend. Season vinaigrette with salt and pepper. Add beets, onion, fennel, orange slices, and pomegranate seeds to vinaigrette in bowl; toss. Season salad with salt and pepper. Servers 4-6.

Harmonious Lentil Salad

1 cup Lentils cooked and chilled

1 cup Brown Rice cooked

1 pint Golden Raspberries

2 Blood Oranges, peeled and roughly chopped

¼ cup Parsley

½ cup Green onions

Blood Orange Vinaigrette (see below)

In a large salad bowl toss together! Chill for at least one hour before serving.

Blood Orange Vinaigrette

Great with the lentil salad, but also awesome with a big salad of mixed greens and any vegetables that you have on hand!

2 tablespoons white wine vinegar

¼ cup blood orange juice

Zest from one blood orange

2/3-cup olive oil

1clove garlic, finely chopped

1 tablespoon finely chopped shallots

2 teaspoons finel2y chopped fresh parsley

2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh chives

Salt and pepper to taste

Whisk together vigorously. Keeps in the refrigerator for 1 month.

Blood Orange Salsa with Homemade Tortilla Chips
A fiery winter salsa and the tortilla chips are easy and so much better than anything you have tasted. You can let the older kids loose on this project with close supervision.

For Salsa:
2 Blood oranges, peeled and diced
1 large tomato, seeded and diced
1 red onion, minced
1-teaspoon blood orange zest
1-teaspoon garlic, minced
1-inch ginger, minced
1⁄2 jalapeno, minced fine
1/4-teaspoon salt
1-tablespoon cilantro

In a bowl combine all ingredients except the cilantro and chill, covered, until ready to serve. Before serving toss in the cilantro.

For the chips:
12 count package of corn tortillas
Canola oil for frying
Kosher salt
Preheat oil in deep skillet. On a cutting board stack 4 tortillas and cut into 8 wedges. Repeat with remaining tortillas. Add a handful of wedges to the hot oil. Separate any that stick together. Fry until golden brown. Remove and drain on a cookie sheet lined with a brown paper bag or paper towels. Sprinkle with salt and continue with the remaining tortillas.

Blood Orange Pound Cake

1-cup butter

6 teaspoons blood orange zest

4 eggs

1-cup sugar

1-teaspoon vanilla

1/4-cup blood orange juice

1-teaspoon baking powder

1/4-teaspoon salt

2 cups flour

Preheat oven to 350. Spray a loaf pan with bakers joy. In the bowl of an electric mixer beat butter, zest, and sugar until light and fluffy. Add in blood orange juice and mix well. Beat in eggs one at a time then add vanilla. On low speed add flour baking powder and salt until just blended. Pour into prepared pan and bake for 40 minutes until a wooden pick comes out clean. Cool on wire rack for 15 minutes then remove from pan and cool completely.
Blood Orange Cheesecake

1 1/4 cups graham cracker crumbs
1/3 cup butter

1 pound cream cheese
3/4 cup sugar
1/3 cup sour cream
zest and juice of one lemon
zest and juice of one blood orange (or regular orange)
5 large eggs, room temperature

1 1/2 cups sour cream
juice and zest of one blood orange
1/4 cup sugar

For the crust: melt butter and add to crumbs. Mix well and press into a ten-inch springform pan. Bake for about 8-10 minutes until slightly golden. Cool.

Beat together cream cheese and sugar until smooth. Add citrus zest and juice. Mix well. Add eggs, one at a time, combining well after each addition, but not too vigorously. Pour over crumb crust and bake for about 40 minutes.

Remove from oven and run a sharp knife around the sides, but do not remove ring. Cool 15 minutes on the counter.

Meanwhile, prepare topping. Combine sour cream, citrus zest, citrus juice and sugar. Pour over slightly cooled cheesecake and let stand for half an hour at room temperature.
Chill completely. Remove ring and serve.