Ramp Butter Duck Breast Tartine

Ramp Butter Duck Breast Tartines

A Ramp Butter Duck Breast Tartine just might be the best possible way to wish a Happy Mother’s Day! to the ones you love best. It’s fun to make and even more fun to eat. The crunchy, sweet and savory toast slathered in decadent ramp butter and topped with thin slices of grilled duck breast are rich and flavorful. A drizzle of aged balsamic seals the deal. This lovely Ramp Butter Duck Breast Tartine works equally well when served as a rich dinner or as a slightly lighter appetizer (okay, it’s really not any lighter, you just eat less of it). I like pre-slicing the tartine for my guests because when left intact, the duck breast pieces are hard to bite and it makes eating the Ramp Butter Duck Breast Tartine just a little too messy a prospect, especially considering the elegance of the dish. But four little pieces of the Ramp Butter Duck Breast Tartine are the perfect solution. I feel like I should warn you so that you can best plan ahead, this tartine is so good, it’s on my list of dishes worthy of the wine cellar collection. So if you don’t have one handy, or in … Continue reading

Grilled Ramp Butter

Grilled Ramp Butter on buckwheat cherry bread

While Grilled Ramp Butter, isn’t actually a meal in and of itself, and it’s really simple, just two ingredients: grilled ramps processed with salted cultured butter, I think it’s the ultimate in decadent Spring condiments. This delicious butter is amazing on grainy toast with a poached egg, a slice of fancy cheese, a little ham, or, it’s the base for my amazing duck tartines. Keep this Grilled Ramp Butter in the fridge for a week or so and you’ll find it dangerously disappears. A tablespoon will slip into the spring peas you make as a side for dinner, a teaspoon will be on a late afternoon piece of toast with a sliver of good parm. A dallop will land in a cup of store-bought soup. This Grilled Ramp Butter is a special spring treat that helps make ramps season (one of my all-time favorite seasons) last just a little longer. Because, of course, if you haven’t eaten it all too quickly, Grilled Ramp Butter could also be squirreled away in the freezer. … Continue reading

Lavender Rosemary Goat Cheesecakes

Lavender Rosemary Goat Cheesecakes honey drizzle

I perfected these Lavender Rosemary Goat Cheesecakes some time ago (read: a really long time ago) for a fabulous dinner party but for some reason, I’ve been holding out on you. My friend was serving some very special wines, including a dessert wine that had been bottled in the 1920’s. It was an amazing, Spanish Sherry, caramel-y and rich with a hint of orange. It turned out that these little cakes were a perfect pairing, because they are not too sweet and they are full of rich goat cheese. All in all, great for pairing with dessert wine, since they’re almost like a little cheese course in a crust. So if you’re thinking of trying something new this Valentine’s Day, then forgo the champagne (or who am I kidding- just commit to an extra indulgent meal) and buy a dessert wine to serve with these Lavender Rosemary Goat Cheesecakes. They’re creamy and smooth with herbaceous and floral notes. And the honey. Oh man, the honey. I try hard not to send you on wild goose chases for specific ingredients, but this honey is serious business and absolutely makes the cheesecakes all that extra special. If you’re not going to track … Continue reading

Banana Foster Brioche Bread Pudding

Banana Foster Brioche Bread Pudding with Caramel Sauce

Happy almost Mardi Gras friends, have I ever got a recipe for you in this Banana Foster Brioche Bread Pudding. While it’s based on a bon appetit recipe, I have made some serious modifications to this Banana Foster Brioche Bread Pudding to make it more user friendly, as well as to make it fit in the pan. I have no clue how the original recipe ever fit this in an 8×8. It’s simply impossible, at least in my house! Maybe the pan they used was a foot deep? And then I don’t know how you’d eat a whole piece of this Banana Foster Brioche Bread Pudding at all, because it’s SUPER rich, which is also probably why it remains one of the best desserts I’ve ever had and on my now and then list. When you cook as often as I do, there aren’t that many dishes that have you coming back, again and again. It’s always onto the next new thing, you know? But this Banana Foster Brioche Bread Pudding is so special, and so satisfying that I remember it each year when the Crawfish Boil rolls around, it’s Mari Gras, or a Cajun emergency pops up, like a very … Continue reading

Dense Walnut Cake

Dense Walnut Cake with blood orange

Go ahead, bake this Dense Walnut Cake today and “Let it Snow, Let it Snow, Let it Snow!” The checkout line at the grocery store was so long that I simply shopped from the line yesterday, so I can tell snowpocalypse or snowmagedon must be upon us. We’re cozied in and ready to enjoy? a massive Philly snow storm, so we’ll definitely need a satisfying treat of some sort to warm up the house and our cold wintery hearts. And when I think about the most wonderful of winter cakes, one of my first thoughts is of this bon appetit recipe, but since it’s about as rich as it gets, I’ve modified the recipe to make it smaller. A full 9×13″ pan of this cake is just a little too much to have around the house unless you have a large party on the way over. Just a little square of this Dense Walnut Cake will perfectly revive you after a winter ski or skate. The cake is not all that sweet, which cements its status securely in Scandinavian baking; we Scandinavians often tend towards fat rather than sugar when it comes to winter treats and this cake certainly follows … Continue reading

Sausage Tomato and Sprouts Toad in the Hole

Sausage Tomato and Sprouts Toad in the Hole puffed and browned

This Sausage Tomato and Sprouts Toad in the Hole is a somewhat new recipe for me. I certainly never grew up with it. It comes from my friend Jon, whose mother is English. He made it for breakfast during our Chesapeake Bay Weekend and it was my first experience with the classic English breakfast. Of course, I loved it and have been making it ever since. It’s really fun to make with kids because you can ask them about the name of the dish and have them help assemble it. Whatever you put in the pancaked batter will be peeking up through the holes, like a toad in the water since the batter will puff up and around the meats and veggies. Added kid bonus, Sausage Tomato and Sprouts Toad in the Hole is quite easy to make and really delicious. And who doesn’t love a savory pancake? Even super picky kids will likely enjoy this dish and it’s great as breakfast or breakfast for dinner. I love adding whatever cooked leftover veggies I have on hand, as well and cherry tomatoes and sausages of course. This week, I made it with roasted Brussels sprouts, but of course, you can add … Continue reading

Baked German Cherry Almond Pancakes

Baked German Cherry Almond Pancakes

As many Summer stories do, at least for me, this one, the story of the Baked German Cherry Almond Pancakes begins with a large bowl of cherries. I pitted the cherries and then what to do? It turns out, wait for your birthday, which isn’t in the summer at all. I first made these Baked German Cherry Almond Pancakes last summer and then never quite got them up and posted. But this year on December 10th, for my birthday, I was inspired to make a special breakfast for one. I love baked German pancakes of all flavors. I like the apple ones in the fall, blueberry is a particular favorite, but this cherry almond one is fit for a birthday celebration, so that’s just what I did. And since it can be made with fresh cherries when they’re abundant in the summer, or with the special flown in from Chile cherries in the winter, or even from frozen cherries if you’re far from the fancy flown in from Chile sort of markets, it’s something you can make special to celebrate all year long. No matter when you make it, or what cherries you’re using, you’ll love these Baked German Cherry … Continue reading

Thick and Smooth Fall Apple Butter

Thick and Smooth Fall Apple Butter with croissant

Thick and Smooth Fall Apple Butter is a delight to eat and a cinch to make. And the best part? Thick and Smooth Fall Apple Butter makes fall last all year long if you decide to preserve it. The apples, plus apple cider give it a very concentrated flavor. The cinnamon and cardamom make the thick spread full of spice and flavor. And the dark brown sugar, which is my personal preference, makes this spread rich and deep in flavor. I love spreading it on warm breads of all sorts but warm croissants are one of my personal favorite uses. I also love it in place of mustard or mayo on a sandwich like my Ladies Lunching Chicken Salad Croissant Sandwich. My sister put it on a slice of my Double Almond Pumpkin Bread over Thanksgiving and remarked, this tasted like fall! No matter how you choose to use this Thick and Smooth Fall Apple Butter, you’re going to love it. … Continue reading

Fig Sage Cotija Cornbread

Fig Sage Feta Cornbread

This Fig Sage Cotija Cornbread is an unexpected but delightful combination of savory and sweet loaded with fun textures and flavors and delicious served with soups and stews of all sorts. It’s based on a recipe I read in Food and Wine and I’ve used it as the base for a Cornbread Stuffing on my Mexican Thanksgiving Menu. I’m going to let you in on all of my cornbread tricks and secrets. I like to use a mixture of grinds for the cornmeal to get a little extra texture in the bread (but of course you can use all of one or the other if you don’t want to keep both on hand). If you use all medium, add just a little extra buttermilk to keep it really moist as the more course meal absorbs more moisture from the batter. I also use a regular cake pan for this Fig Sage Cotija Cornbread since a cast-iron skillet is a pan I don’t keep around. It was fun to discover that a cake pan heated really hot and filled with melted butter will yield almost the same results as a skillet. Pretty cool, right? And that crispy outer texture is one … Continue reading

Thanksgiving Leftover Turkey Gumbo

Thanksgiving Leftovers Turkey Gumbo

This Thanksgiving Leftover Turkey Gumbo is a very popular recipe in my family. My brother in particular requests this one every year. The good news is that aside from being a crowd-pleaser, this hearty stew is a great way to use up any extra turkey you have hanging out post Thanksgiving feast. I always make a great big pot of this Thanksgiving Leftover Turkey Gumbo, since I usually have lots of lovely turkey stock as well and it freezes nicely for some ready to serve weeknight meals. And while I typically serve it with rice, if I convinced you to make a rice stuffing like my Rice and Peas Thanksgiving Style off my Caribbean Thanksgiving Menu, you can easily serve it over that instead as another great way to use up any leftovers you may have. It’s full of lots of kinds of vegetables and loaded with flavor. And keep in mind that if you made a turkey like my Bacon Herb Paste Stuffed Turkey you want to keep an eye on the salt, because there will be plenty in the stock and the meat from all of that delicious bacon. But no matter how you make your turkey each … Continue reading

Rye Crust Apple Custard Pie

Rye Crust Apple Custard Pie dallop of creme fraiche

I love everything about this Rye Crust Apple Custard Pie, except perhaps the fact that it requires a deep-dish pan and it’s a bit of a pain to make. The dense, savory, buttery crust goes so well with the cool creamy custard. Then the tart but caramelized apples bring bushels of fall flavor and provide texture and balance to the vanilla custard. It is playful and unexpected all the while fulfilling my love for old-fashioned dessert flavors. This Rye Crust Apple Custard Pie is oh-so-worth the extra effort this recipe may require, and I have broken it into a two or three day process to make it feel less arduous when I make it. Simply make the pastry one day, roll it out and bake it another, make the apples a day or two ahead and refrigerate them. When you’re ready to bake it, it will be a matter of throwing all of the ingredients together, rather than the make and wait all-day process this looks like. That said, if you’re having a busy, multi-tasking full-meal sort of cooking day, you won’t notice the challenge at all because the steps are straightforward and you can use the downtime for other … Continue reading

Scandinavian Thanksgiving Table Decorations

Scandinavian Thanksgiving Decorations tablescape

Scandinavian Thanksgiving Table Decorations were all about letting small lights reflect off of coppery metal and etched glass. The party started with late afternoon light slanting in through our West windows bringing lots of attention to the glassware and it’s shape and texture. But the centerpieces popped and came alive as the sun slipped low over the city. The copper baskets and balls were ablaze with tiny lights and the glass balls and Christmas lights on the rafters created a gentle glow. It was bright enough to leave the lights off, but dim enough to create an elegant dinner party atmosphere and hide the creases on the tablecloths. What can I say? I just never made it to the ironing. Over the years I’ve collected lots of flatware, china and stemware, and I love that it all sort of goes together, sort of is mix and match and it was a definite focus of these Scandinavian Thanksgiving Table Decorations. I prefer pairing the antique striped French wine glasses I have with tall etched glass water goblets and polka-dotted champagne coupes. The different heights and styles of glasses create lots of visual intrigue. And check out the vase filled with a … Continue reading