Recipes · Salad · Vegetarian

my new favorite salad

I’m in love with fuyu persimmons!  I’ve been getting them in my CSA box but wasn’t sure what to do with them.  I’ve been scouring the internet for recipes.  Then I asked my sister.  She told me “just eat them”.  WHAT????  It’s really that simple?   No recipe needed, just take a bite.  Okay, so…I decided to peel and slice them into wedges and put them on a platter with prosciutto.  My friends loved it.  And now the salad…my new favorite.

Persimmon and Arugula Salad

  • Baby arugula
  • Pomegranate seeds
  • Fuyu persimmons, peeled, and cut into wedges
  • Goat cheese, crumbled


  • 2 parts Olive oil
  • 1 part Balsamic vinegar
  • spoonful of Dijon mustard
  • a little bit of dried thyme, crushed by hand
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Combine salad ingredients in a large bowl.  Combine dressing ingredients in a small bowl.  Dress the salad!

Turley is the worst.  What’s wrong with all those chew toys you have?

Persimmon on Foodista

Cakes and Cupcakes · Chocolate · Dessert · Recipes

Goodbye Corey!

Sadly our little Corey at work is leaving us and moving on to bigger and better things:)  As his last request before heading off to NYC he’s chosen a Mexican themed department breakfast.  We will miss you my shark obsessed friend!

I’m brought these mini boozy bundt cakes.  Not exactly breakfast fare, but who doesn’t love a boozy bundt cake anytime of the day?  I have yet to meet you, if you’re out there.

Mini Mexican Chocolate Bundt Cakes

  • 1 box Duncan Hines devils food cake mix
  • 1 box chocolate pudding mix
  • 8 ounces sour cream
  • 1 tablespoon cinnamon (a little Mexican twist)
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 cup corn oil
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 12 ounces chocolate chips
  • Kahlua
  • caramel sauce

Preheat oven to 350°.

Combine cake mix, dry pudding mix, sour cream, cinnamon, eggs, oil and water.  Add chocolate chips.

Spray mini bundt pan with Pam made especially for baking.  Add batter until 3/4 full.  Bake for approximately 15 minutes.  Turn out onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.  Pour a little bit of Kahlua in the center of each cake while still warm.  Cakes can be made a day ahead.  I cover the cakes with another layer of parchment and then cover the baking pan with foil.

Drizzle with caramel sauce and serve.

Greg says:  I’m going to be a bit indulgent with this pairing. I usually try to find pairings that don’t cost a fortune, but I just couldn’t help myself with this choice – Tommaso Bussola 2003 Recioto della Valpolicella Classico, Robert Parker scored it 95 Points and had this to say: “This is textbook high-class Recioto. This opulent, silky-textured wine possesses gorgeous aromatics and layers of raisin, mineral, licorice, chocolate, spice and dark cherry flavors that flow onto the palate with dazzling style, superb persistence and a long, finessed finish. It is not to be missed.” I agree!

Main Dish · Pasta · Recipes · Vegetarian

butternut squash ravioli

Sunshine decided we should make ravioli with the butternut squash I roasted last week.  A very good call.

Sunshine made the pasta dough, Sondi rolled it out, and then everyone had their hands in shaping the ravioli.  I love inviting friends over to make their own dinner.  Where’s Melissa?  Probably manning the camera.

I changed up the sauce a bit for my vegetarian friend, Chik.  I’ve made this before with chicken stock and pancetta.  This time I used vegetable broth and eliminated the pancetta and it was still delicious.  I think I’ll keep to my vegetarian version from now on.  Thanks, Chik.

Butternut Squash Ravioli with Cider Cream

Ravioli filling

  • Roasted Butternut Squash
  • large scoop of mascarpone
  • large scoop of ricotta
  • snow flurry of freshly grated parmigiano-reggiano
  • salt and pepper

Cider cream sauce

  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 shallots, minced
  • 1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
  • 5 sage leaves, chiffonade, plus more whole leaves for frying
  • 2 1/2 cups vegetable broth
  • 3/4 cup apple cider
  • Freshly grated parmigiano-reggiano
  • olive oil, for frying the sage leaves

Puree the butternut squash.  Add the mascarpone, ricotta and parmigiano-reggiano.  Season to taste.

Make the fresh pasta, let rest for 30 minutes.

Roll out sheets of dough .  If you’re using the Kitchen Aide attachment: start on setting number one.  Fold rolled out dough into thirds, and pass through the pasta machine on the same setting, but rotate the dough 90 degrees.  Repeat.  Now you’re ready to pass through to setting number two.  Dust the dough with flour before changing to setting number three, four and five.

Now you’re ready to make the ravioli.

Using a small scooper or spoon, place ravioli filling in the middle of each cut piece of pasta.

Dab the edges with egg wash and then fold into a triangle or rectangle.

Press down around the filling to the edges of the ravioli to seal.  The ravioli can be frozen on a sheet pan and then transfered to a large ziplock bag.

For the sauce:  Saute the shallots and thyme in melted butter in a medium skillet over medium heat.

Add broth and cider, and simmer for 8 minutes.

Add cream and sage, simmer for an additional 5 minutes.  Add freshly grated parmigiano-reggiano, mix to incorporate.  Turn off heat.  Fry sage leaves in olive oil until they stop sizzling.  Drain on paper towels.

Cook pasta until it floats.  It’s fresh, so it won’t take long.  Drain and then toss into the cider cream.

Garnish with fried sage leaves and additional parmigiano-reggiano.



Greg Schroeder, owner of Amazing Grapes Wine Store

Greg says:  The “safe” choice is an Alsace Pinot Gris for its touch of sweetness and acidity, but instead, I’m really into this obscure white grape from Campania Italy called Falanghina. The producer is Terredora and we have the 2009 vintage Falanghina.   I’m not the only person who liked it either; Wine Advocate scored this beauty 90 points!
Falanghina has a surprising richness in its almost tropical expression of fruit. The aromatics that emerge in the glass add further complexity to this generous and utterly engaging white. It is unbelievably delicious, and has this great finish of pumpkin and all spice on the back palate.  This will pair with your Butternut Squash Ravioli perfectly!

Here’s Chik!  Crazy vegetarian…

Bacon · Main Dish · Recipes

another French lesson

I made these veal chops with mustard for Sunshine, my sister Veronica and her husband Joey.  They were so delicious and very tender.  This was another French lesson from Anne Willan’s book,  The Country Cooking of France.  I love all of the pictures in the book, not just of food, but of the rural France as well.
I’m sad I just missed a series of classes she was teaching in Los Angeles.  Hopefully she’ll be teaching more classes soon.  Here is the recipe from her book:

Cotes de Veau Dijonnaise

  • 4 veal chops (about 2 pounds total)
  • salt and pepper
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 6 ounces lean bacon, cut into lardons
  • 16-18 baby onions, peeled
  • 1 tablespoon flour
  • 3/4 cup white wine, preferably chardonay
  • 3/4 cup veal broth (I used veal demiglace)
  • 1 bouquet garni (a tied bundle of fresh thyme sprig, dried bay leaf, and several sprigs  of fresh parsley wrapped in a the leek greens)
  • 1/4 cup creme fraiche
  • 2 tablespoons dijon mustard
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley

Season chops on both sides with salt and pepper.  Heat oil over medium heat in a large saute pan.  Add bacon lardons and cook until lightly browned, 3-5 minutes, remove and drain, set aside.  Add onions to the pan a saute until golden brown, 7-10 minutes.  Remove from pan and set aside.

Add the chops to the pan and brown, 2-3 minutes on each side.  Remove from the pan, set aside.

Whisk flour into the pan and cook until bubbling.  Add wine, bring to a boil and stir to incorporate the browned bits stuck to the pan.  Stir in broth and whisk until smooth.

Add the bacon and chops back into the pan, tuck the bouquet garni in between the chops.  Cover and simmer over low heat for 25 minutes.

Uncover, add the onions and cook for an additional 15 minutes.   Transfer chops to a serving plate, remove the bouquet garnis.  Whisk the creme fraiche into the sauce and bring to a simmer.  Stir in the mustard and parsley, spoon over the veal chops and serve.

Greg Schroeder, owner of Amazing Grapes Wine Store

Greg says:  Veal chops wine pairing: I’m going with the Brown Estate 2007 Chaos Theory Proprietary Red.  This is a dark, deep, brooding yet  seductive wine that glides over your palate toward a long, elegant finish. The perfect wine to pair with the veal and mustard based sauce.

Brown made a beauty here.  It has a dense crimson color, with a blue scarlet rim, that leads to a fragrant nose of exotic Asian apple blossom, crushed rose petals, and cloves.  Its soft, silky texture gives way to ripe, forward fruit that is  balanced with layers of complexity. Flavors of blackberries, black cherries, cappuccino, and tobacco lead to an earthy undertone of big game and fresh sage and rosemary. I’m drooling over this one!

Dessert · Recipes

Tarte des Demoiselles Tatin

Another French lesson from Anne Willan’s book,  The Country Cooking of France .  This time it’s an upside down caramelized apple tart.  I made this for Veronica, Joey and Sunshine, and I’m definitely going to make this one again.  It was fun making the pâte brisée old school, like Sunshine does with his pasta.  I love watching the video of him kneading the pasta dough, he has a LOT more patience than I do.  It is pasta and he is Italian, so it’s kind of in his DNA.  So….back to apples and France we go.

Tarte des Demoiselles Tatin

  • 3 pounds firm apples
  • 4 ounces butter
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar

Pâte Brisée

  • 1 1/3 cups flour
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3 tablespoons water
  • 6 tablespoons butter

To make the pâte brisée:  Sift flour onto a work surface and make a well in the center.  Put egg yolk and salt in the middle of the well.

Pound butter with a rolling pin to soften and add to the well.

Work with your fingers to incorporate all of the ingredients in the well.  Using a pastry scraper, gradually draw in the flour from the sides  of the well and continue working with both hands until coarse crumbs form.

Gently press into a disc.  Wrap in plastic and refrigerate.

Peel, halve and core the apples.  Melt butter in a large oven proof sauté pan.  Sprinkle with sugar, and cook over medium heat without stirring until it starts to brown.  Stir gently and continue to cook for 6-8 minutes, until deep golden brown.  Turn off heat.

Arrange apples in concentric circles with cut side standing vertically.  Pack them as tightly as possible into the sauté pan.  Return the pan to medium heat and cook apples for 8 minutes, or until the juices start to run from the apples.  Turn the heat up a little bit and continue to cook for 15-25 minutes, until caramelized to a deep golden brown.

Turn each apple halve upside down and continue to cook over medium heat for 10-20 minutes, or until more of the juice has evaporated.  Remove and cool until tepid.

Heat oven to 400 degrees.

Roll out dough to a round just larger than sauté pan.  Top apples with dough.  Slice the center of the dough to create an air vent for the steam to escape.  Tuck the edges down around the apples.  Bake for 20-25 minutes, until dough is firm and lightly golden.  Remove from oven and let cool for 10 minutes.  The tarte tatin can be made up to 12 hours ahead of time, kept in the pan and refrigerated.  To serve, heat pan on stove top to soften the caramel and loosen apples.  But who can wait?  To finish, invert tarte onto serving plate and serve with whipped cream.

Greg Schroeder, owner of Amazing Grapes Wine Store

Greg says:

Caramelized apple tarte tatin wine pairing: You’re keeping me busy with my favorite wine type – dessert wines! This dessert screams for a Sauternes and I happen to have a great one for you. The Chateau Guiraud 2003 Sauternes was #14 on the top 100 wines for 2006 as picked by the Wine Spectator and they bestowed it with 95 points as well! Very sweet and rich on the nose, with toffee, honey and spices. Full-bodied, with thick honey, spice, dried apricot and syrup flavors that last for minutes on the palate. Big botrytis bomb. Love it.

Recipes · Side Dish

a sharp knife or a strong man is required

I’ve got a sharp knife.

I’ve been thinking about my dear sweet Michael lately.  Not in a sexy way as you might assume.  I just have a butternut squash, and he has the magic recipe.  It’s Michael Chiarello I’m referring to and his recipe in The Tra Vigne Cookbook for roasted winter squash.  A sharp knife is necessary for cutting a butternut squash, if you don’t have that, well…. you know what you need.  I’m not sure what I’m going to do with my roasted butternut squash puree yet, I know it’s a little anti-climatic.  I’m thinking raviolis, or soup, or I’ll mix it into polenta.  Next time I won’t puree the squash.  I’ll serve it over pasta and add a little crumbled French feta.  Stay tuned.

Roasted Butternut Squash

  • 3 pound butternut squash
  • salt and pepper
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped sage
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1/4 cup blasamic vinegar
  • 1/4 cup dark unsulfured molasses

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Peel the squash with a vegetable peeler, halve and remove seeds.  Cut into 1″ dice.  Place in a bowl, season with salt and pepper.

Heat butter in a medium saute pan over medium-high heat.  When butter ceases to foam and turns light brown, remove from heat.  Add sage, sugar, vinegar and molasses.  Mix well and return to medium low heat for 1-2 minutes.

Pour mixture over squash, toss to coat.  Transfer to a rimmed baking sheet.  Place in the oven and roast, tossing occasionally, for 1 hour.

Transfer to food processor, and puree until smooth.  Refrigerate for up to 5 days, or freeze for up to 2 months.

Grandma Sherry is up to her old tricks again…check out Paige’s fancy new outfit, compliments of Grandma of course.  Sunshine said Paige has more clothes than me now.  Fine.  I’ll go shopping.

Cakes and Cupcakes · Dessert · Recipes

French lessons

I wanted to learn French, so I picked up a cookbook, The Country Cooking of France by Anne Willan.  I could have bought the Rosetta Stone French lessons, but that wouldn’t have been nearly as much fun.

These little gems are called Les Canneles de Bordeaux.  They’re like a little creme brulee chewy cake with a crisp, caramelized exterior.  Each tiny cake is baked in its own little mold.  There’s just a hint of dark rum, which I love.

I’ve got the molds if anyone wants to give them a try.  Or you can just come to my house and I’ll make them for you.  Here’s the recipe from Anne Willan’s cookbook.  More French lessons to follow, I’ve got a whole book to get through.

Les Canneles de Bordeaux

  • 2 egg yolks
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 vanilla bean
  • 2 cups whole milk
  • melted butter, for the molds
  • 1 cup flour
  • 2 tablespoons dark rum (I used Myers)
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil

12 medium cannele molds

Place egg yolks in a bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment and mix until blended.  Add sugar and whisk until coarse crumb forms, about 2-3 minutes.  Add whole egg and continue to whisk until light and mixture holds a ribbon when the whisk is lifted.  Split the vanilla bean and scrape seeds into the mixture.  Add the bean to 1 cup of sugar to create vanilla sugar for another use.  Whisk in milk.  Transfer to a saucepan and bring to a simmer over medium heat.  Stir with a whisk until it thickens, then curdles and separates, about 3-5 minutes.  Set aside to cool, stirring often so the eggs do not clump together.

Meanwhile, heat oven to 400 degrees.  Brush molds with melted butter and set them on a baking sheet.  When mixture has cooled, stir in sifted flour until smooth.  Stir in rum and oil.  Pour into molds until  two-thirds full.  Bake for 55 minutes.  Let cool for 2-3 mintues, then unmold while still warm.

Greg Schroeder, owner of Amazing Grapes Wine Store

Greg says:

There are few, make that VERY few wines I’ll ever recommend from Temecula, but the Wilson Creek Angelica Sherry is worthy of respect and my choice for your Canneles. Normally, creme brulee gets paired all day long with Sauternes, but because this is essentially a cake, with a caramelized exterior and a hint of rum, this recipe calls for a sweet sherry.

The Wilson Creek Angelica Sherry is made from 100 year old vines. In fact, Angelica is considered the first wine made in California.  It was used in ceremonies by the Padres in the California missions.  This fortified dessert wine became known as “Angelica” in that it was sweet, heavenly, and long-lived.  With its beautiful flavors of caramel, hazelnut and vanilla, this sherry pairs beautifully with creme brulee or many other holiday desserts!