Monday, May 30, 2011



In a blind taste test of six* popular chocolate chip cookies conducted by the Houston Chronicle, the New York Times’ adaptation of Jacques Torres’ chocolate chip cookie won, hands down.  Testers included a class of 18 kindergartners from the Acorn school in San Antonio, 15 chocolate chip cookie lovers and seven food professionals, including three bakers.  No matter the group, the adapted Torres recipe scored highest, garnering such comments as, “Flavors are balanced, cookie looks great, it has a good chip to batter ratio and I like that I can taste the salt and the butter, and the right mix of crisp/soft and good flavor.”  One chef called it the perfect chocolate chip cookie. 

JT choc chip pecan cookies (3)

I decided to try the adapted NYTimes version, in which the batter must be refrigerated at least 24 hours, and up to 72 hours.  I refrigerated my dough for 26 hours.  Although the directions don’t specify if the dough should rest at room temperature after it is taken from the fridge, I found that 1/2 hour at room temperature makes a big difference.  Cookies baked directly from the fridge are fatter and don’t spread nearly as much, but cookies that rest 1/2 hour out of the fridge are more to my liking.  If the dough gets too warm, though, the cookies will spread a little too much.  The photo below shows a cookie baked from cold dough, on the left, and a cookie baked from dough that rested at room temperature for 45 minutes, on the right.

JT choc chip pecan cookies (5)

Regardless of whether the dough is baked straight from the fridge or after it rests at room temperature, these cookies are outstanding.  But I did add 1 cup toasted pecans because  I prefer nuts in my chocolate chip cookies.  I used 1 lb. Ghiradelli 60% cacao bittersweet chips, instead of the 1-1/4 lbs. called for and found that the cookies had plenty of chocolate.  The directions say to sprinkle the cookie dough lightly with sea salt before baking, which I did, using Baleine coarse sea salt.  I must have sprinkled too lightly, because I really couldn’t taste the salt.  Next time, I’ll sprinkle more. 

I was disappointed that the cookies were not as crispy as they’re purported to be, possibly because of reduced sugar content, but it won’t keep me from rating them highly.  Even without the extra crispy edges that I love, these cookies are tops on my list.  They’re very rich and filling, just sweet enough and have a strong and rich chocolate component that dominate the cookie.  The slightly crisp edges give way to a soft interior that’s studded with chocolate and pecans. 

Some more notes:  It’s best to use your kitchen scale when weighing the flours and sugars.  I found that the volume measurements did not equal the weight measurements, so I went with weight.  Set out butter and eggs for about a half hour, depending on the temperature of your room.  If your room is below 72F, you might need more time, if it’s above 72F, you might need less time.  You don’t want your butter to get too warm.

*The other five cookies tested were Original Nestle Toll House Chocolate Chip Cookies, Martha Stewart’s Soft and Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies, Award-Winning Soft Chocolate Chip Cookies from, Chocolate Chip Cookies by Cooks Illustrated, and Mrs. Fields Cookies.

Jacques Torres Chocolate Chip Cookies with Pecans
Adapted from New York Times
Rating:  9.5 out of 10

2 cups minus 2 Tbsp. (8.5 oz.) low-protein flour (I used White Lily all-purpose)
1-2/3 cups (8.5 oz.) bread flour  (I used Gold Medal Better for Bread Flour)
1-1/4 tsp. baking soda
1-1/2 tsp. baking powder
1-1/2 tsp. coarse salt (I used Morton kosher salt)
2-1/2 sticks (1-1/4 cups) unsalted butter
1-1/4 cups (10 oz.) light brown sugar
1 cup plus 2 Tbsp. (8 oz.) granulated sugar (I used 3 Tbsp. Nu Naturals Stevia + 6 Tbsp.sugar)
2 large eggs
2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 lb.  bittersweet or semisweet chocolate chips or chocolate disks
1 cup toasted broken pecans
Coarse sea salt, for sprinkling

Sift flours, baking soda, baking powder and 1-1/2 tsp. coarse salt into a bowl; set aside.

Using a mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream butter and sugars together until very light, about 5 minutes.  Add eggs one at a time, mixing well after each addition.  Stir in the vanilla.  reduce speed to low, add dry ingredients and mix until just combined, 5 to 10 seconds.  Stir in chocolate and nuts.  Press wax paper against dough tightly and cover bowl with plastic wrap.  Refrigerate 24-36 hours, or up to 72 hours. 

When ready to bake, preheat oven to 350F.  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper; set aside.

Scoop  3-1/2 oz. mounds of dough onto baking sheet.  (I used somewhat smaller mounds made with my small ice cream scoop.)  For very cold dough, you can press down slightly with your fingers, because the dough will stay puffed up.
JT choc chip pecan cookies (2)

Sprinkle cookies lightly with sea salt and bake until golden brown but still soft, 12-15 minutes.  Cool in pans 10 minutes, then transfer to wire rack to finish cooling.  Makes 18 (5”) cookies.  I got 32 (3-1/2”) cookies with my smaller mounds.

JT choc chip pecan cookies (4)

Wednesday, May 25, 2011


delectable marinated chicken

As we are all told, white meat is better for you and dark meat contains too much fat. Consequently, most feel that chicken thighs are too fatty to eat on a regular basis.  While it is true that chicken thighs contain twice the amount of fat of boneless, skinless breasts, it is only at a mere 11 grams of fat per 4-ounce serving. That is less than you will find in the same size serving of beef, lamb or pork.

The calories and cholesterol in skinless chicken thighs weigh in at 232 calories and 105 milligrams cholesterol per serving.  There is not much difference in the breast meat. It weighs in at 196 calories and 96 milligrams of cholesterol per serving. If you are one who gave up the dark meat of chicken thighs, take heart! You can include them in your diet again -- guilt free.

Buy skinless, boneless thighs and use this excellent recipe for grilling them.  The flavors of this marinade are perfectly balanced and make for really delectable chicken.  There’s just enough sweet, just enough hot, just enough soy.  This is in my regular rotation.

Delectable Marinated Chicken
Adapted from
Rating:  9.5 out of 10

INGREDIENTS:  1 Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
1 Tbsp. low-sodium soy sauce
1 Tbsp. teriyaki sauce
1-1/2 tsp. molasses
1-1/2 tsp. sesame seeds
1-1/2 tsp. brown sugar
1/2 tsp. hot paprika
1-1/2 tsp. minced garlic
1/8 tsp. sea salt or kosher salt
2 big pinches black pepper
2 Tbsp. vegetable or olive oil
4 boneless, skinless chicken thighs

In a resealable plastic bag, combine Worcestershire sauce, soy sauce, teriyaki sauce and molasses.  Seal bag and massage till molasses has dissolved.  Add  sesame seeds, brown sugar, paprika, garlic, salt, pepper and oil; mix well.  Add chicken thighs.  Seal bag and marinate for 4 hours in the refrigerator, redistributing the chicken in the marinade occasionally. 

Clean and oil grill grates.  Heat grill to 375-400F.   Place chicken on grill (preferably over indirect heat) and cook to an internal temperature of 165F, or till flesh is firm and opaque and no blood remains, about 12 minutes per side if thighs are left rolled up.  If you roll them out flat, cooking time is considerably less.  Discard any remaining marinade.   Yield:  2 servings (2 thighs per person)

Double recipe for 4 servings.

Monday, May 23, 2011


This recipe, from McCormick, was supposed to use semi-sweet chocolate chips and walnuts.  But since it was a vanilla-rich cookie, it seemed to me that white chocolate would be a better choice.  I passed up the chemical-tasting white chocolate chips that don’t contain any cocoa butter at all and opted, instead, to use Ghiradelli white chocolate bars, cut into chunks. 


Ghiradelli’s white chocolate baking bar contains cocoa butter and no partially hydrogenated fats.  The flavor is rich, the texture is smooth.  These worked well in this cookie with the coconut, pecans and extra vanilla.  Everyone loves this cookie, including me.


After the cookies cool, the chocolate chunks are soft and almost gooey, and the outside edges of the cookie are crisp.  The insides are soft and almost chewy.  The cookies start to soften quickly and lose their crispy edges, but it doesn’t matter.  These are so good, no one cares about crispy edges.  These are just plain good.

Vanilla Rich White Chocolate Chunk-Coconut-Pecan Cookies
Adapted from McCormick’s Vanilla Rich Chocolate Chip Cookies
Rating:  9.5 out of 10

INGREDIENTS:  3-1/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking soda
3/4 tsp. sea salt or kosher salt
1-1/3 cups (2 sticks + 5-1/3 Tbsp.)butter, softened
1-1/4 cup granulated sugar (I used 1/2 cup sugar + 3 Tbsp. NuNaturals Stevia)
1 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
2 large eggs
4 tsp. pure vanilla extract (I used homemade)
1 (4 oz.) bar Ghiradelli white chocolate, cut into  chunks (almost 1 cup)
1 cup sweetened dried coconut
1 cup toasted broken pecans

Heat oven to 375F.  Whisk together flour, baking soda and salt in medium bowl; set aside.
Beat butter and sugars in large bowl with electric mixer on medium speed until light and fluffy.  Add eggs and vanilla; mix well.  Gradually beat in flour mixture on low speed until well mixed.  Stir in chocolate, coconut and pecans.

Drop onto baking sheets lined with parchment  by rounded tablespoonfuls about 2 inches apart.  (I used my small ice cream scoop.) 


Bake 9-11 minutes, or till lightly browned.  Cool on baking sheets 1 minute, then transfer to  wire rack to finish cooling.  Yield:  about 28 (3-1/2”) sturdy cookies.


Saturday, May 21, 2011


We have a friend with a vegetable garden who planted too many beets, and he's been kind enough to share the overload with us.  Guy and I are beet lovers.  We like cooked beets warm, room temperature or cold.  We like shredded raw beets on a salad.  And we're even discovering beet greens.  Yesterday I made over-the-top delicious Beet-Green Spanokopita, which I'll be posting about soon.

My simple beet salad is topped with Feta cheese and toasted walnuts for an easy and tasty dish.  Get the recipe HERE.

Friday, May 20, 2011


Bocelli's  (2)

We were all understandably nervous about eating Italian in a mountain town in western North Carolina.  So I made a scouting trip to check the place out before we committed.  One of the owners proudly told me that Bocelli’s won first and second place in a 13-restaurant cook-off, even beating out our favorite restaurant, Chef’s Table.  Both of Bocelli's winning dishes were available on their menu.  Further, she explained, everything at Bocelli’s is homemade and fresh and they work hard to please their customers.  The place was full.  Who am I to argue with success?  Besides, the place had a charm, inside and out. 

Our party of four arrived to another full dining room, and people looked happy.  We couldn’t wait to order. 
For me, it was the #1 winning Yellow Tail Snapper topped with fresh seasonal fruit chutney, served over risotto with a side of squash and zucchini.  If the chutney hadn’t been quite so sweet, and if the fish hadn’t been so smothered with it, this dish would have been enjoyable. 
Bocelli's  (6)

Mandy opted for Chicken Cacciatore with marinara-sauced spaghetti and said it was just okay.
Bocelli's  (3)

David ordered Chicken Florentine Bocelli (boneless chicken breast, spinach, artichokes and feta cheese served over creamy fettucine florentine).  It had absolutely no flavor, so we asked the waitress to bring some freshly grated Parmesan.  It helped a little, but the dish was still disappointingly bland.  There was a lot of pasta, but very little chicken.
Bocelli's  (5)

Guy decided on Beef Ravioli served over penne bolognese with tomato cream sauce.  There was too much sauce, not enough raviolis, though both the sauce and the raviolis were good.
Bocelli's  (4)

All four of us left disappointed.  For folks that are not from areas where good Italian restaurants reign, this restaurant might be a good choice.  For us, it was not.  Our trip ended on a low note.  We said goodbye to Waynesville and headed home the next morning.  On our next trip, we plan to stay in Asheville where restaurant selection shouldn't be a problem.

Thursday, May 19, 2011


12 Bones (3)

Monday was going well.  A good breakfast at Huddle House was  followed by a trip to Asheville where we visited Earth Fare, then the WNC Farmer’s Market.  Then we headed to lunch to eat at the famous 12 Bones Smokehouse where the Obamas ate ribs, mac and cheese and collards.  An unpretentious building with limited inside seating, this sign says it all:
12 Bones (5)

The menu is displayed outside so you can ponder your selection as you wait in the perpetually long line to get in.  You may not get a table inside, but never fear, there’s a covered picnic area outside where you can enjoy your meal, served without fanfare in pie plates.
12 Bones (6)

Guy got the pulled pork sandwich with beans and coleslaw.  I tasted it but thought the pork was just a tad too salty.  He disagreed and thought it was great.
12 Bones (8)

David got the smoked turkey with beans, mashed sweet potatoes and cornbread.  The turkey also tasted a tad salty to me, but David loved it.  The sweet potatoes were nicely seasoned with just a hint of sweetener, and the whole-grain cornbread was flavorful and moist with sturdy but tender texture.12 Bones (9)

I got the pulled chicken and beans, and was surprised at how delicious it was.  The chicken was seasoned perfectly with just the right amount of smokiness, and not too salty.  The beans, surprisingly, were smoky also and quite good. 
12 Bones

The entire bill for the three of us came to $21.00.  I have to agree with the Obamas that this place is a keeper.
12 Bones (4)

We headed back to Waynesville to get ready for our dinner at Bocelli's.  We were hoping our luck had changed and it would be a good dinner.

To be continued.....

Wednesday, May 18, 2011


Our second day in Waynesville started better.  Clyde’s diner, our usual breakfast place, was closed, but we were pointed towards a good substitute:  Huddle House.

Huddle House (2)

The restaurant appeared clean, and cooking was done on an open griddle in full view. 
Huddle House (3)

Our orders arrived quickly and were cooked to our satisfaction.  Eggs were not  greasy, sausage was tasty and moist.   We were feeling better about Waynesville.
Huddle House (4)

First we drove to our son and DIL's in Hot Springs.  They proudly showed us their new baby chicks that are growing faster than normal from all the TLC they're getting.
David's (4)

I'm not surprised that each chick has been given a name, because as David and Mandy told us, "They each have their own personality and special markings."  Hopefully, next time we visit, the chicks will have reduced the ubiquitous bug population.  We headed out to Asheville.

Earth Fare, a fast-growing grocery store chain selling mostly organic food  at less-than-premium prices, was our first stop.  This was a treat for me, since Earth Fare has no stores near New Bern.  My cart quickly got loaded up with items that are either not available in our town or at lower prices.  Steel cut oats, sea salts, farro, whole-wheat pastry flour and sesame seeds could all be purchased in small or large quantities at fabulous prices.  Callebaut chocolate was available in blocks.  Organic vinegars could be had at less than half the price we would pay in New Bern.  We limited our purchases to items that would keep unrefrigerated until our return home sometime the next day.  $41 later we carried our treasures to the car and carefully guarded the only fragile item, the chocolate, to ensure it didn’t melt in the heat. 

On to Asheville’s WNC Farmer’s Market
farm mkt

Asheville has no less than 14 farmer’s markets.  All but WNC are open only one day a week.  WNC is open daily and is the largest.  Two long enclosures are loaded with produce, meats, dairy, honey, preserves and other items.  Compared to our small farmer's market in New Bern, this one was gigantic.
farm mkt (2)

So far, our Monday had put me on a high.  Things were definitely going well.  Our stomachs reminded us it was lunch time, so we headed to 12 Bones. 

To be continued….

Tuesday, May 17, 2011


j arthur's

Maggie Valley is just a stone’s throw from Waynesville.  Named after one of the daughters of the first postmaster, this small mountain village on the fringe of the Great Smoky Mountains is the stereotypical off-the-beaten-path town with a white-knuckle hold on yesterday, trying desperately to not look forward.  J. Arthur’s is considered by locals to be “upscale.”  It was packed on Mother’s Day, but we were taken in on time for our 6:30 PM reservations. 

The dining room is unpretentious but adequate.  Tables are spaced comfortably apart and acoustics are fairly good.  Service here is also fairly good.  We ate with our son, who drove an hour from Hot  Springs to join us.  Although our meal was adequate, none of us raved.  I had the fresh local trout, but then learned that all the restaurants serve “fresh local trout,” because trout farms abound in the area.  Bummer.  And I thought someone was really catching this fish.  Not only were they not being hook-and-line caught, they were also being fed pellets and antibiotics instead of feasting on their own diet of water insects and smaller fish. 

I can’t say anything really bad about this restaurant, but I also can’t say anything tremendously good.  It’s just okay.  As we left, I was handed a long-stemmed rose (as were all the mothers that day).  Nice touch. 

We started off Mother’s Day with a delayed lunch that was disappointing, then spent hours trying to find a restaurant open for Mother’s Day that would take reservations.  We were hoping that our Monday would turn out better. It was to be in Asheville.  To be continued…..

Monday, May 16, 2011


David's (3)
(Above photo is at the bottom of our son’s driveway in Hot Springs.)

Last October, our visit to Waynesville was a huge success as far as eating was concerned.  We ate at Chef's Table and Bogart's and had great meals at both.  We even found a nearby diner, Clyde’s, that provided us grease-free eggs for our morning breakfasts.  So we looked forward to another culinary feast as we left our grandniece’s graduation in Charleston and headed northwest.  We forgot that we were traveling on Mother’s Day. 

We knew the trip was starting off wrong when we had trouble finding a lunch place.  Instead of stopping near Henderson, NC, for a lunch at Fudd Rucker’s, we opted to find something better.  As we neared Asheville, we remembered a great deli we had lunched at several years ago and hoped our GPS could help us find it.  We were stabbing in the dark at names but picked one, and set out.  The deli we were headed for must have been bulldozed.  Our GPS told us to turn in to a construction site. 

Not to be dismayed, we instead turned in to the “award-winning” Moose Cafe, affiliated with the Asheville Farmer’s Market.   How bad could that be?  Amid a long line of waiting people, we were seated quickly because we were the only twosome.  One look  at the menu and the platters being eaten by dining customers convinced us we were in the wrong place. 

Continuing on to Waynesville, we thought we might get a bite to eat at Clyde’s, the diner that gave us such good breakfasts last year.  But it was Mother’s Day.  Everyone seemed to have the same idea.  At 1:30 pm, when we arrived, the line was out the door, and not a table was available.  We spotted two seats at the counter and decided to sit there.  Customers were feasting on the same kind of fare that was at the Moose Cafe, meat and potatoes, grits, overcooked veggies.  The prime rib was being boiled in a large pot and then sliced.  We asked for a cheeseburger, but only 1/2-lb. burgers were available.  So we asked if we could split one.  “That’ll be a $3.00 charge,” we were told.  “Okay, charge us $3.00, neither one of us can eat a 1/2-lb. cheeseburger,” I replied.  I was beginning to get a nagging feeling that maybe this trip would not be as successful as the first, especially after my first bite of cheeseburger.

Our favorite restaurant, Chef’s Table, was closed Sunday and Monday, the only two days we would be in Waynesville.  Before we left New Bern, Plan B was going into effect.  My research had pointed me to the Pisgah Inn.  High up on a 5400-foot mountain, the inn/resort was open 7 days a week and boasted beautiful views and great food.  Reviews online were good, too.  But when I called, I found that reservations were not accepted.  When we got to Waynesville, some further checking revealed a few more facts:  (1) We would need to  line up starting at 4PM for a 5PM opening.  (2) There was no guarantee that we would get one of the ten window tables in the 40-table dining room.  (3) The place is insanely popular and people are always lined up to get in.  (4) It was Mother’s Day and the lunch crowd not yet served would be spilling over to the the dinner crowd. 

This trip was not going as expected.  We were now on Plan C.  The lady at our motel recommended J. Arthur’s Restaurant in Maggie Valley.  “It’s a bit upscale, but the dress is casual,” she insisted.  Reservations were being accepted, and a quick drive by convinced us it could be a good choice.

To be continued….

Sunday, May 15, 2011


charleston (2)

On the occasion of our grandniece’s graduation from College of Charleston, we dined at Chef Ken Vedrinski’s circa 2008 restaurant, a charming Italian eatery inspired by the ancient Tuscan city of Lucca.  Located in the Elliotsborough neighborhood, where gentrification is in progress, this small corner restaurant provided some of the best Italian food I’ve tasted.   Food and service were both exceptional, but acoustics were, at times, mind-numbing loud. 

If you’re thinking tossed green salad followed by entree, think again.  Instead, we feasted on appetizers that could have easily been our entire meal.  The Warm Cauliflower Sformatino (with Soft Organic Egg, Pancetta, Parmigiano) was amazingly addictive.  Plates of asparagus, wax beans, golden beets with arugula, mushrooms and farro, each served separately and with their own seasonings, were so much more interesting than the usual tossed salad.  There were plates of imported cheeses and salumi to feast on as well.   Our table of nine gobbled  up all of the many dishes that were passed around.  But entrees were still to come.

I ordered the local flounder with Parmesan crust and found it to be everything I hoped for.  A light citrus-tomato sauce surrounded the delicate and perfectly cooked fish.  I also tasted the flat-iron steak with sauteed spinach, another home run. 
charleston (4)

Too full for dessert, I took bites from those who were brave enough to order.  My favorite, the chocolate-hazelnut pudding, was only a photo finish ahead of the Tiramisu cheesecake (a New York-style cheesecake with a tiramisu center layer). 


I can’t help being partial to a restaurant that offers farm-to-table produce and fresh local seafood.  We don’t get to Charleston often, though it’s only a 4-1/2-hour drive from New Bern, NC, but I’m looking forward to a return visit soon to get more of Trattoria Lucca’s food.  Prices, compared to other quality Charleston restaurants, are about average or a little below.  Appetizers are $9 each, and entrees range from $19 - $30.

Trattoria Lucca, 41-A Bogard Street, Charleston, SC 29403, (843) 973-3323

Friday, May 13, 2011


choc cupcakes mascarpone frosting (2)

Wondering what to do with a half container of mascarpone, I decided to make these fabulous chocolate cupcakes and top them with cocoa mascarpone frosting.  The cupcakes are deeply chocolate and very moist, yet light and almost fluffy.  The frosting is creamy, mildly chocolate and rich – a perfect complement for the not-too-sweet cupcakes.  They freeze beautifully, but be warned they will beckon you from the freezer.

choc cupcakes mascarpone frosting (3)

Chocolate Sour Cream Cupcakes with Cocoa Mascarpone Frosting
Adapted from Cook’s Country TV’s Chocolate Cream Cupcakes
Rating:  9 out of 10

1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. sea salt or kosher salt
1/4 cup + 2 Tbsp. hot brewed coffee (I used decaf)
2 Tbsp. coffee liqueur
1/3 cup unsweetened natural cocoa powder
1/3 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
3/4 cup sugar (I used 1/2 cup sugar + 1 Tbsp. NuNaturals Stevia)
1/2 cup sour cream or lite sour cream (I used lite)
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 large eggs
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract (I used HOMEMADE)

Heat oven to 325F.  Line a 12-cup muffin tin with paper liners, or grease and flour.  In medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda and salt.  In large bowl, whisk together coffee, liqueur, cocoa powder and chocolate chips till smooth.  Add sugar, sour cream, oil, eggs and vanilla and whisk till well combined.  Whisk in flour mixture until incorporated.  Divide batter evenly among muffin cups, using about 1/4 cup for each.  Bake until toothpick inserted into cupcake returns with just a few crumbs, 16-19 minutes.  Cool cupcakes in tins 10 minutes, then turn out onto wire rack to cool completely.  (Note:  if using liners, cupcakes may be transferred to wire rack immediately.) 

choc cupcakes mascarpone frosting (4)

4 oz. Mascarpone, room temperature
4 Tbsp. unsalted butter, softened
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa, Dutch or natural
4 Tbsp. heavy whipping cream, chilled
1-1/2 tsp. VANILLA POWDER or vanilla extract
1/2 tsp. coffee essence (equal parts of instant coffee and coffee liqueur)
2-1/2 cups confectioner’s sugar

In medium bowl, combine Mascarpone, butter and cocoa.  Beat with electric mixer on medium speed till well combined and smooth.  Add cream and flavorings and beat till incorporated.  Gradually add sugar and beat on high till fluffy and smooth.  Spoon into piping bag and chill before frosting cupcakes.

choc cupcakes mascarpone frosting (5)

Yield:  enough to frost 12 standard cupcakes

choc cupcakes mascarpone frosting

Thursday, May 12, 2011


If you're looking for something different to spice up your next party, look no further.  These hard-boiled eggs are first brined in a spicy soy-sake mixture, then the yolks are mashed with sriracha, chives and wasabi paste to make a beautiful and delicious appetizer.  The outside of the eggs are brown from the brining, and the inside are a creamy white.  Get the recipe HERE.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011



The best way to buy beets is with greens attached.  But the greens are mostly too big and tough to enjoy in a salad, and I’ve been unsure if I would like them cooked.  With my recent farmer’s market purchase, I decided to take the plunge and found this interesting recipe that uses both the roots and the green tops together. 

I was amazed at how much I liked this salad, and at the same time, disappointed that I’ve missed out all these years.  And, while the entire salad is delicious, it was the beet greens that I was poking around for.  Drizzled with an orange vinaigrette, they are beyond delicious.  This recipe will be in a regular rotation at our house from now on, and even picky hubby agrees it’s a winner.  Don’t wait too long like I did – enjoy this salad now while beets are in season.


Roasted Beet Salad With Oranges and Beet Greens
Source:  Bon Appetit, January 2004
Rating:  10 out of 10

INGREDIENTS:  6 medium beets with beet greens attached
2 large oranges
1 small sweet onion, cut through root end into thin wedges
1/3 cup red wine vinegar
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 tsp. finely grated orange zest

Heat oven to 400F.  Trim greens from beets.  Cut off and discard stems.  Coarsely chop leaves and reserve.  Wrap each beet in foil.  Place beets directly on oven rack and roast until tender when pierced with fork, about 1 hour 30 minutes.  (It will depend on actual size of beet root, so open the largest beet and pierce with fork to test for doneness at 45 minutes to gauge your cooking time.)  Cool.  Peel beets, then cut each into 8 wedges.  Place beets in medium bowl.

Cook beet greens in large saucepan of boiling water just until tender, about 2 minutes.  Drain.  Cool.  Squeeze greens to remove excess moisture.  Add greens to bowl with beets.  Cut peel and white pith from oranges. Working over another bowl and using small sharp knife, cut between membranes to release segments.  Add orange segments and onion to bowl with beet mixture.  Whisk vinegar, oil,  garlic and orange peel in small bowl to blend; add to beet mixture and toss to coat. Season with salt and pepper.  Let stand at room temperature 1 hour.  Serve.  (Note:  I placed the beet greens on the bottom of a dish, then arranged the remaining ingredients on top, and drizzled with the vinaigrette for a prettier presentation.)

Saturday, May 7, 2011


We're taking a short trip to my hubby's grand-niece's college graduation in Charleston, SC, and then two days with my younger son and DIL.  Will try to check in via laptop, but making no promises.  If your comment doesn't post, please be patient.  I have to check all comments because the spam is never-ending.

In the meantime, my very best wishes to all the mothers out there for their special day on Sunday.  I hope you have a break from the kitchen and that you have someone near and dear to spend your day with.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011


Fresh spinach from our local farmer's market inspired me to make this old favorite breakfast.  It's a great way to start your day and for low-carb eaters like me, it's a breakfast that needs no toast or other bread.  It's so delicious and filling it can stand alone.  How great is that?  Get the easy recipe here.

Monday, May 2, 2011


lemon ripple cheesecake (6)

This is one of those cheesecakes that steals the show.  Maybe not for its beauty – I wound up covering the unbecoming top that cracked, and the lemon ripples turned out to be the same color as the cheesecake itself, making for a boring-looking dessert.  But once you sink your teeth into this baby, you’ll be singing its praises.  The New-York style creaminess and firm texture, the perfect blending of lemon and vanilla flavors, and the addition of creamy mascarpone to tangy cream cheese combine to make this one memorable dessert.  And, believe it or not, the topping, which also serves as a sauce to be passed around, really adds another dimension of goodness to an already great taste experience.  Try this one for sure.... you won’t be sorry.

lemon ripple cheesecake (5)

Mascarpone Lemon Ripple Cheesecake
Inspired by Food & Wine and Elinor Klivans
Rating:  9.5 out of 10

CRUST:  2 cups graham cracker crumbs
6 Tbsp. unsalted butter, melted

Heat oven to 325F.  Grease an 8” springform pan on bottom and sides.  Combine ingredients in medium bowl and blend with fork; press onto bottom and 3/4 up sides of prepared pan.  Bake 10 minutes, or till very lightly browned and set.  Cool on wire rack.
lemon ripple cheesecake (2)  

8 oz. mascarpone
16 oz. Philadelphia cream cheese or Neufchatel
1 cup sugar  (I used 1/2 cup sugar + 2 Tbsp. NuNaturals Stevia)
3 large eggs
3 Tbsp. heavy whipping cream
2 Tbsp. unbleached all-purpose flour
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract (I used homemade)
1 cup purchased or homemade lemon curd

Increase oven heat to 350F.  Combine mascarpone, cream cheese and sugar in work bowl of food processor.  Pulse till smooth, about 1 minute.  Add eggs, one at a time, pulsing till blended after each.  Add cream, flour and vanilla and pulse till just blended.  Pour into crumb-lined pan.  Drop spoonfuls of lemon curd over filling and swirl with knife.
lemon ripple cheesecake (3) 

Place cheesecake in oven on a baking sheet, close door and immediately reduce oven heat to 300F.  Bake 1 hour 15 minutes, or till cheesecake is lightly browned on edges and almost set in middle.  Off heat, leaving cheesecake in oven for 15 minutes.  Cool on wire rack 3 hours, or till cheesecake is room temperature. 

lemon ripple cheesecake (4)

Place in fridge, uncovered, for 2 hours, or till cold.  Cover with plastic wrap and leave overnight in fridge.  Spread Mascarpone lemon curd topping over cheesecake.  Pass extra topping to guests in small bowl.  Yield:  6 servings

2 oz. Mascarpone
1/2 cup lemon curd
1/4 cup confectioner’s sugar
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream

Combine mascarpone, lemon curd and sugar in medium bowl and beat with electric mixer on medium speed till smooth and well combined, about 3 minutes.  Gradually add cream and  beat on medium high, then on high, until mixture is smooth and fluffy, about 5 minutes.

lemon ripple cheesecake