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

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 nizoral. 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 Almond Pancakes. … 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 nizoral. It was fun to discover that a cake pan heated really hot and filled with melted butter will nizoral. Pretty cool, right? And that crispy outer texture is one of the many things that sets this Fig Sage Cotija Cornbread apart … Continue reading

Swedish Gjetost Fondue

Swedish Gjetost Fondue with sliced fruit and crisps

This Gjetost Fondue is another great easy to make ahead hors d’oeuvres that’s perfect for any Thanksgiving, but I served it as a started for my Scandinavian Thanksgiving Menu for good reason. It’s chock full of lovely Swedish cheeses, which are actually rather easy to find, particularly if you live near an IKEA, where they stock all of the cheeses required for this Swedish Gjetost Fondue. But even if you can’t find many of them, the only two that are absolutely essential are the French Gruyère and the Scandinavian Gjetost. The Gjetost in particular cannot be substituted because it is a very unique caramelized goat’s milk cheese. Yes, you heard me, caramelized goat’s milk cheese. But, caramelized milk sounds crazy to describe cheese. It is, you’re right. And while Gjetost on it’s own tends to be a love or hate it food because it’s a little sweet and extremely dense and creamy. It is also absolutely the element that makes this Swedish Gjetost Fondue so special and one of the crowd favorites at Thanksgiving last year, even amongst people who said they didn’t normally like Gjetost. It’s also a cheese that I grew up with at breakfast, served on toast, … Continue reading

Bloody Mary Bar

Bloody Mary Bar the drinks

One fine day, with four of my best Bloody Mary drinkers, I set out to make the perfect mix for Bloody Marys by setting out a Bloody Mary Bar, or lab, with lots of ingredients for us to experiment. The results were a different story. We definitely didn’t create a best possible mix. Instead, it turns out, we each made a VERY different version of the classic drink, and almost all of us strongly preferred the version we created. So what I learned was that for serious Bloody Mary conoisseurs, a Bloody Mary Bar is the way to go, so guests can customize their Bloody Mary to suit their particular tastes. Aside from a Bloody Mary Bar yielding the best possible results, it also was incredibly fun. It turns out hosting a Bloody Mary Bar is a brunch in and of itself it you set out enough ingredients. I also recommend asking guests to bring any special fixings that are unique, or that they can’t live without in their desired concoction. I served my Bloody Mary Bar with killer chilaquiles, but really, what wouldn’t pair well with a customized drink? Also, this Bloody Mary Bar was decked out with homemade … Continue reading

Swedish Almond Loaf Cake

Swedish Almond Loaf Cake

This very simple Swedish Almond Loaf Cake is one of my special pan exception recipes. I don’t really have another use for the wacky little pan (other than making half batch Bundt recipes I suppose). But I’m fine with it because it’s so good, so fast, and so beloved. In fact, this recipe (which is so old and reprinted on any Swedish pan you buy that I don’t know how to attribute it to a source) really makes two special pan exceptions, because the cake tray is pretty specific, too. But what’s the point of having rules if you don’t have good reason to break them? Swedish Almond Loaf Cake is lovely for brunch/coffee cake needs as well as for dessert. It’s great with a coffee or tea warm from the oven and without garnish, and it’s perfect with berries, crème fraîche, or ice cream. It’s also the cake I use as the base for my Saffron Poached Apricot Almond Trifle, and it was absolutely perfect. So what I’m trying to say, is that this cake may cause you to break a “no special pan” rule of your own. Or, you’ll just double it and make it in a Bundt … Continue reading

Vasterbottenpaj Swedish Quiche

Vasterbottenpaj Swedish Quiche sliced

It feels a little ominous to post my Vasterbottenpaj (Swedish Quiche) the day before the US v. Sweden Women’s World Cup game. While I love celebrating my Swedish heritage, I have to admit that when it comes to sports, I’m USA all the way. That said, it’s time to start gearing up for my Midsommar Menu, and first up is this Vasterbottenpaj (Swedish Quiche). I based my Vasterbottenpaj (Swedish Quiche) on a couple of Swedish recipes (One and Two), so I left in the metric amounts so you can see the conversions, because I think it’s fun. That said, I also provided the standard amounts as well. You’ll notice they’re not quite your typical amounts. The good news is, this Vasterbottenpaj (Swedish Quiche) isn’t the type of recipe that requires extreme precision. Also, don’t let the foreign cheese intimidate you. It’s very hard to find these days, so check out the note at the bottom on how to get a good substitute for the flavor and texture. I think one of the best lessons to be learned from these recipes is the addition of crème fraîche into the filling. It provides a richness and tang that I absolutely love and … Continue reading

Cucumber Mint Lime Agua Fresca

Cucumber Mint Lime Agua Fresca with mint leaves

We’ve got leaves, we’ve got flowers, we’ve even got some legitimately hot days head our way and since it seems I’m determined to skip right into Summer this year, we’ve got refreshing Cucumber Mint Lime Agua Fresca just in time for Cinco de Mayo. In Spanish, “agua fresca” means cool waters, and I first really learned about the wonder that is agua fresca living in the San Francisco Bay Area, where every good burrito stand has some form of house agua fresca that they serve to counter the heat of the hot weather and the spicy food. I’ve had a lot of different flavors over the years, but recently a friend of mine made a Cucumber Mint Lime Agua Fresca (like this one) that she had at the restaurant Lemonade in L.A. While I don’t promise that this is their exact recipe, I can promise that I like it a lot, it is delicious and refreshing, and it’s easy to make. And once you make it the first time, you’ll be persuaded to make it often. It’s a great beverage to keep on hand for guests who aren’t imbibing, too. Just serve it in a big pitcher with lots of … Continue reading

Crunchy Blueberry Avocado Salad

Crunchy Blueberry Avocado Salad

This Crunchy Blueberry Avocado Salad is one of those super simple, but “best thing ever” recipes, especially if you have some pistachio brittle on hand, which you should, since I’m sure I convinced you to make it for my Citrus Flowers with Spicy Pistachio Brittle. It’s really easy to throw together with a very simple lime vinaigrette. But of course, it’s wonderful with any citrus dressing really. We’ve had it with grapefruit, blood orange and Meyer lemon depending on what I have on hand. This salad was served recently for Valentine’s Day Brunch, but of course, it isn’t really season specific unless you live in California. Otherwise, you may as well eat it in the winter, since the avocados have to be shipped in year ’round. I love the combination of blueberries, avocados and pistachios, and the hint of spice from the pistachio brittle is perfect for this rather sweet salad. I serve this Crunchy Blueberry Avocado Salad over spinach leaves most often, but of course it’s great with any green. Another favorite is wilted or roasted kale. This Crunchy Blueberry Avocado Salad is also a great weeknight dinner salad; between the avocados and the nuts, it’s plenty filling- just … Continue reading