This rich chocolate cake is almost too good to believe. With just 3 ingredients which come together in a few minutes, it is decadent and very satisfying with a texture reminiscent of a dense chocolate mousse. Baking the cake in a water bath helps keep it moist. Recently made for a friend’s birthday, it elicited moans of delight around the table. The type of chocolate used can change the flavor of the cake. Who knew Chocolate + butter + eggs = BEST CHOCOLATE CAKE EVER? I served mine with a dusting of powdered sugar and fresh raspberries but you could substitute strawberries, or other fruit. Continue reading
Did you know dates are one of the world’s most ancient fruit? Date palms are known to have been cultivated for over 6,000 years in the Middle East and North Africa and appear in ancient art.
Dates are rich in minerals and a good source of fiber. Turning the fruit into a sweet little guilt-free morsel could not be easier. When a friend dropped in unexpectedly and joined us for dinner recently, I made these dark chocolate-dipped dates with orange zest for a impromptu dessert. The chocolate envelops the date with a velvety decadence and the zest makes it pop. It is a perfect trifecta of flavor. Use any variety of dates you have on hand.
To make 8-10 dates, melt 1.5 oz of chocolate. I used a 1.44 oz bar of Dove Dark Chocolate for a yield of 8 coated Medjool dates. Dip half of each date in the melted chocolate then place it on a piece of wax paper. Sprinkle finely grated orange zest on the warm chocolate and let set undisturbed until the chocolate loses its shine, about 30 minutes. These would also be great with some chopped pistachios. A healthy sweet little morsel with a lot of flavor!
Shopping for flowers the week after Valentine’s Day might not have been the best decision. I set out to find a big bunch of tulips to fill the Alice Goldsmith ceramic pitcher I had coveted and which my own true love had surprised me with. The tulips were picked over. The roses too. Then I spotted them~these dusty lavender and green roses that everyone else had left behind. “Perfect for Halloween,” said one woman. “Could I use them for funeral luncheon arrangements?” queried another. “Weird,” pronounced another. I had never entertained so much conversation in front of supermarket flowers. But those roses made my heart skip a beat. They were modern in a charming old fashioned way with their faded coloration. They reminded me of roses ones sees in fashionable Paris florists’ ateliers. Of course I brought 2 dozen home. Continue reading
This hearty roasted squash salad is a delicious winter dish, eaten warm from the oven. The squash offers a big dose of carotenoids which helps protect against heart disease. The pomegranate seeds are a nutrient-dense superfood with anti-oxidant and immune-boosting benefits and may help lower bad cholesterol. The hazelnuts bring a nice crunch to the salad as well as provide good fats, making this a heart healthy dish. A whole squash is sliced and brushed with a marinade of olive oil, maple syrup and spices to give it a bit of kick then oven roasted until caramelized. The warm wedges are then topped with feta, pomegranate seeds and hazelnuts for a colorful salad with great texture and flavor. Blue cheese, chèvre or queso blanco can be substituted for the feta.
When winter storms are in the forecast, crowds make bee lines to the supermarkets to stock up on provisions. Instead I like to go pantry and freezer diving and get creative in the kitchen while cleaning out the cupboards. This Southwestern Shepherd’s pie was one of those delicious creations when our area was recently hit with a blizzard dumping 28 inches of snow on us. It was so good I made it a second time a week later. I used lean ground pork but you could use ground turkey. The cauliflower mash was a revelation: creamy with a fabulous texture that allowed me to pile it up as high as the snow banks! So good it would convert any mashed potato lover to this healthier alternative. Mine was mashed with sweet potato to bring out Southwestern flavors but it could be made entirely with cauliflower. Being stranded in a blizzard never tasted so good!
When my sons were still at home, I would break out all things pink and set syrupy-sweet Valentine’s Day tables complete homemade cards and heart-shaped foods. Being the only female in this household(even the cat is male!), I had to have one day a year of pink feminine touches! You can read about one of those pretty-in-pink-breakfast tables here. The boys have grown into men and have all flown the coop now but I still had to send them some Valentine love, wrapped in, you guessed it, pink. Snickers is one of America’s most popular candy bar and a favorite of my sons. How good would cookies chock full of melted Snickers be? Really good! To fancy them up, I finished the cookies with a drizzle of melted chocolate. They were soft with just the right crumbly texture. And in every bite, the sheer deliciousness of caramel, chocolate and peanut combination that makes Snickers so famous and beloved.
I love anything lemon but especially can’t resist lemony sweets. In the heart of winter, lemony flavors whisper spring is around the corner and really lift the spirits. In this interesting cornmeal shortbread cookie, sweet meets savory. The lemon is paired beautifully with thyme in a very flaky shortbread dough sweetened with honey. Cut them in fun shapes. Perfect with a cup of tea. If life gives you lemons, make lemon~thyme shortbreads!
The secret ingredient is always love.
Sheet pan dinners are all the rage but they have been around for generations of home cooks feeding their families. Anything can be combined on a sheet pan for a one-pan dinner as long as most ingredients will cook in about the same time. Chopping ingredients in similar sizes is important for even cooking and providing some fats for nice roasting is key to success. I have been frustrated to see fussy sheet pan recipes popping up that require ingredients to be cooked on 2 pans at different temperatures or time settings. Sort of defies the whole purpose in my eyes! Continue reading
Growing up in a French home, I don’t recall ever eating eggplant. The first time I had eggplant was in college where I discovered ratatouille, a French classic, yes, but new to me. I fell in love and learned to make it since I craved it often. Then I was swept off my feet by my sister’s Italian inlaws’ stuffed eggplants. My favorite countries to travel to? Greece, Italy and Turkey, where, you guessed it, eggplant figures prominently in their cuisine.
“O, wind, if winter comes, can spring be far behind?” Percy Bysshe Shelley
Grain salads are hearty and can be made with whatever you have on hand. They are great to bring to potluck as they hold up well. This one used a fabulous wheat berry grain from France but you could substitute Israeli couscous, quinoa or your favorite grain. It is more a “how I made it” kind of post than a true recipe.
The grain is toasted before cooking it to bring out nuttier flavor, give it a nice toothsome bite and enhance its color. I paired savory and sweet elements for balance and brought in plenty of crunch with shredded cabbage, celery, and pecans. Feel free to substitute freely. The citrus notes make the salad sing! I can’t say enough about all the flavors you can develop by using flavored oils and vinegars. The Meyer Lemon balsamic I paired with garlic olive oil from Cardenas’ in Philadelphia’s Italian market are incredible and appearing in all my winter salads right now. Visit one of the popular olive oil tasting shops that are popping up all over right now and discover some new favorites to bring into your kitchen. The nutritional value of this salad is off the charts and it delivers an exciting explosion of flavors and textures to brighten a drab winter day. You can easily add cooked chicken to the salad if desired.