Appetizers and Snacks · Recipes · Side Dish · Vegetarian

magical mushrooms

I made these mushrooms for a birthday celebration for Stephanie.  The recipe comes courtesy of Mario Batali’s The Babbo Cookbook.  Sunshine is usually not a big fan of shitakes, but he really likes these.

Cool Roasted Shitakes with Barbecued Onions and Basil Oil

Serves 4
  • 1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 10 fresh sage leaves, finely chopped
  • 1 sprig of fresh rosemary, leaves finely chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1 pound shitake mushrooms, stems removed
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
  • 1 tablespoon anchovy paste
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • 2 large red onions, sliced crosswise into 1/2-inch slices

Basil Oil

Makes 2 cups

  • 1 cup packed basil leaves
  • 2 cups extra-virgin olive oil, chilled 2 hours
  • 1 teaspoon Kosher salt
To prepare the mushrooms:
Preheat oven to 350º F.
In a small bowl, combine 1/4 cup of the olive oil, sage, rosemary and chopped garlic, whisk to blend.  Place the mushrooms in a small roasting pan or casserole dish and pour the oil mixture over.  Season with salt and pepper and roast, uncovered, for 20 minutes.
Remove the mushrooms from the pan and set aside in a medium mixing bowl.
Add the anchovy paste, balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper to the pan.  Gently whisk in 3 tablespoons of olive oil and pour over the mushrooms.
Preheat the grill.
Brush the onion slices with the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil, season with salt and pepper and grill on the hottest part of the grill until tender and grill-marked, about 4 minutes each side.  Remove onions from grill and place them on a serving platter.  Remove mushrooms from the marinade and place on top of the onions.  Drizzle plate with basil oil and serve.
To make the basil oil:
Place all of the ingredients in a blender and puree until nearly smooth and uniformly green.  Strain through a fine sieve.

The spread…

A little wine, and Stephanie’s shoes.

Cakes and Cupcakes · Dessert · Recipes

Suzie’s insanely delicious cake

Look what we got in the mail!  Suzie made this amazing cake and sent it to us!  It’s insanely delicious.

She warned me not to get carried away with garnishing it, but I just couldn’t help myself.  It really doesn’t need a thing.  Suzie’s cream cheese pound cake makes my mouth water just thinking about it.

She was kind enough to include the original recipe from Bon Appétit along with the cake.  The cake is put into a cold oven, and then slowly bakes at increasing temperatures.  She said you’ve got to follow the directions exactly, otherwise it won’t turn out.  Here is the recipe as originally written.

Cream Cheese Pound Cake

  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 8-ounce block of cream cheese, room temperature
  • 3 cups sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 6 large eggs, room temperature
  • 4 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 3 cups sifted all purpose flour
Butter and flour a 12-cup bundt pan.  Using electric mixer, beat butter and cream cheese in a large bowl until fluffy, about 4 minutes.  Add sugar and salt; beat 10 minutes, occasionally scraping down sides of bowl.  Add eggs 1 at a time, beating until blended after each addition.  Beat in vanilla.  Beat in flour at low speed until batter is smooth (do not overbeat).  Transfer batter to pan.
Place pan in cold oven.  Set temperature to 200° F; bake 20 minutes.  Increase to 275° F; bake 10 minutes.  Increase to 300° F; bake until tester inserted nearest center comes out clean, about 1 hour longer.  Cool cake in pan on rack 15 minutes.  Turn cake out onto rack; cool completely.  Can be made 3 days ahead.  Wrap; store at room temperature.
Nice packaging!
Smells so good, even through the wrapping!  Buttery love.
Mom sent her favorite grand dog another pretty little dress.  Paige wore it for 3 days straight.  She really likes dressing up.
Appetizers and Snacks · Recipes · Soup · Vegetarian

twisted gazpacho

This is easy, refreshing, and delicious.  It’s another Michael Chiarello recipe, modified a bit.  It got twisted with a splash of tequila.  Just a splash.  I swear.

Twisted Gazpacho

  • 2 cans (11.5 ounces each) tomato juice
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1 cup fennel, fine dice
  • 1 cup cucumber(1 medium), seeded and peeled, fine dice
  • 1/2 cup red onion(1 small), fine dice
  • 1/2 cup celery(2 stalks), fine dice
  • 1 pint sweet 100 or other small cherry tomatoes, stemmed and quartered
  • 2 tablespoons italian parsley, fine chop
  • 2 tablespoons fresh basil, fine chop
  • 1 tablespoon sherry vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon garlic, minced
  • 2-3 tablespoons jalapeño pepper, seeded, fine mince
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • splash of tequila (that’s the twisted part)
In a bowl, combine tomato juice, lemon juice, fennel, cucumber, red onion, celery, tomatoes, parsley, basil and sherry vinegar.
Add olive oil to a small sauté pan along with minced garlic over medium heat, stirring until lightly browned.  Add minced jalapeño and cook, stirring for 15 seconds.  Add wine and cook until reduced by half.  Stir mixture into the gazpacho and chill for 1-2 hours.
Spoon mixture into small martini glasses and serve at once.  Add a splash of tequila, if you dare.

Nice fireworks.

Another one.

Another good one.

Main Dish · Pizza · Recipes

90 second pizza and a 20 minute massage

Check out these lovely pizza pies.  We made them in Chik’s ALMOST finished pizza oven.  He’s been building it for about a year now.  Of course we’re building one too.  He really copied us even though he made his first.  I still think we may finish our pizza oven first, even though we haven’t started it yet.  As a matter of fact, we just got the plans.  I wanted to bypass the year of thinking and let someone else do that for me.  We ordered our plans in April and they have only just arrived this past weekend.

Some things are worth waiting for, right?  I’ve got a great birthday weekend planned of watching all the boys in my life build my pizza oven.  Who wants to join in the fun?  I promise I will make it worth your while.

A good pizza has to start with the dough.  I’ve been fussing with my recipe for years.  I think it’s pretty damn good.  I posted it a long time ago, here it is so you don’t have to go digging around for it.

Pizza dough

  • 3 cups unbleached all purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 package of active dry yeast
  • 1 cup water, between 100 and 110 degrees
  • 1 teaspoon honey
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil

Combine flour and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer.  Add honey and yeast to the water and let it sit for 5 minutes.  The yeast should start to bubble.  If it doesn’t, start over with a new package of yeast.

Add olive oil to the yeast mixture and slowly add to the flour mixture, run the mixer on low using the dough hook.  Mix for 4 minutes.  The flour and yeast mixture should be well combined, and the dough should be a little tacky to the touch.  If it isn’t, add a little more water, 1 tablespoon at a time.  Let the dough rest for 5 minutes.  Continue to mix after the dough has rested for an additional 2 minutes.

Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and shape into a ball.  Place the dough in a bowl, drizzle with olive oil, and cover with a damp kitchen towel.  Place in a draft free area.  The dough can be refrigerated overnight at this point.  If using the same day, do not refrigerate and let the dough rise until it has doubled in size, about 30 minutes.  Punch the dough down, gather into a ball, and either refrigerate at this point or cut into 4 equal parts.  Shape each piece into a ball.

It really is better if you can make it a day or 2 ahead.  The flavor improves and the texture of the dough is more elastic, which makes it easier to shape your pie.

Chik came up with a great tip…dust your pizza peel with rice flour before adding your dough, and then building your pizza.   I’ve been using corn meal, but rice flour works so much better.  It’s ground finer than the cornmeal and doesn’t burn.

Glory be.

I’m not kidding.

Chik!  You are almost done!!   Finish it already!  It is quite glorious.

How cute is Sunshine.  Chik bought a crazy massage chair.  Can’t beat a 90 second pizza and a 20 minute massage.

Appetizers and Snacks · Recipes · Salad · Vegetarian

watermarc beets

We had a tasty dinner at Watermarc recently.  Mom and Dad took us for Joey and Sunshine’s birthdays.  I shared a beet platter with Dad that tasted as good as it looked.  I’ve been getting beets galore in our CSA box, so I thought I would give them a try.  Here is my version…

Watermarc Beets

  • Baby beets
  • French feta
  • Micro greens
  • Olive oil
  • Lemon juice
  • Dijon mustard
  • Finely minced shallot
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 400º.  Season beets with olive oil, salt and pepper and wrap them in foil.  Cook until they are tender when pierced with a fork.  Timing will depend on size.  It can take anywhere from 40 minutes to just over an hour.   Let cool and peel.

To make the dressing: mix two parts olive oil with one part lemon juice.  Mix in a little bit of mustard, salt and pepper.  Add shallots and mix to combine.

Toss the beets in the dressing, set on the platter.  Toss the micro greens with the dressing and create mounds on the platter.  Cube the feta and place on the platter.  Season to taste.

Can’t wait for the tomatoes!

Figs are coming too..

Paige can be a sweatheart.

She got a new kennel.  She’s getting used to it.  And then one day I’m hoping we will be able to sleep through the night!!!!

It looks like prison, but then again you can consider it to be her private suite.

Cakes and Cupcakes · Dessert · Holiday · Recipes

Vanilla Bean-Coconut Cupcakes with Coconut Frosting for Easter

Cupcakes for Easter!  These are rich and decadent.  They should be, there’s almost a pound of butter between the cake and frosting.  But it’s Easter, so live it up.

This recipe comes courtesy of  Happy Easter!

Vanilla Bean-Coconut Cupcakes with Coconut Frosting

Reduced coconut milk:

  • 2 13-to 14-ounce cans unsweetened coconut milk* (preferably organic)


  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 2 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 1/3 cups sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • Seeds scraped from 1 split vanilla bean or 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 cup reduced coconut milk (see above), room temperature


  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 2 1/2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1/3 cup reduced coconut milk (see above), room temperature
  • Seeds scraped from 1 split vanilla bean or 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 cups sweetened flaked coconut, lightly toasted (for garnish)

For reduced coconut milk:  Bring coconut milk to a boil in a LARGE DEEP saucepan, not a small pan like I did.  It pays to read the directions all the way through.

Reduce to medium-low heat, stirring occasionally.   Boil until the coconut milk is reduced to 1 1/2 cups.  Cover and chill.  Can be prepared 2 days in advance.

See my little saucepan?  And the puddle of coconut milk underneath it?  Now I’ve got some clean up to do.

For the cupcakes:  Preheat oven to 350°.  Sift the dry ingredients.  One of my favorite baking tools is my tamis.  It makes sifting so easy.  Just add all of your dry ingredients in the middle of the tamis lined with parchment.  Then give it a few taps and it’s done!

A lovely vanilla bean.  Save the empty pods and put them in a bag full of sugar.  Then you’ve got vanilla sugar.

In a stand mixer fitted with a paddle, cream butter and sugar together until light and fluffly.  Add the eggs, one at a time, incorporating each egg first before adding the next egg.  Add the vanilla seeds and coconut milk.  Add half of the sifted dry ingredients until just mixed together.  Add the remaining dry ingredients until just incorporated.  Fill lined cupcake tins with batter, you should be able to fill 18 cups.  Bake for 20 minutes, the tops should be lightly browned.

For the frosting:  In a stand mixer fitted with a whisk, cream butter until light and fluffy.  Add the coconut milk, vanilla bean and powdered sugar.  Continue to whisk until the frosting is light and fluffy.  Fill pastry bag with frosting fitted with a piping tip.  Frost the cupcakes, leaving a rim of cake exposed.

Aren’t they pretty?

When we were kids… coloring Easter eggs.   That’s John, me in the middle and Chris on the right.  Veronica wasn’t feeling so good.   I hope Mom has some eggs for us to color today.  I don’t care if I am moments away from being 50 years old, I still want to find an Easter basket, or some plastic eggs filled with goodies in the backyard.  Dad, are you going to hide something on the roof for John to find?

See?  There’s Veronica, trying to get some sleep while the rest of us are apparently trying to prevent that from happening.

Check this picture out of all four of us Schwartz kids.  Doesn’t Chris look just like the E-Trade baby?  Apparently riding the dog is FROWNED UPON in this ESTABLISHMENT!  Good stuff.

Chocolate · Dessert · Recipes

frozen banana balls of joy

Aren’t they fabulous?  They’re frozen chocolate covered banana bites, sprinkled with a little walnut and toasted coconut love.  I found the recipe on and tweaked it a bit.  

Chocolate-Dipped Frozen Banana Bites

  • 2 – 3.5 ounce dark bittersweet chocolate bars (I used Valrhona)
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 3 bananas, cut into 3/4″ slices
  • toasted coconut
  • crushed walnuts, or any nut, cookie, candy sprinkles or candy bar


Melt the chocolate and butter.  Carefully.  Use the lowest possible heat, and don’t walk away.  The chocolate just needs to melt.  It should barely be warm, not hot.


Dip ’em.  I used my fondue fork to dip the banana slices into the chocolate.

Add the crunchy exterior.  Or not.  I did leave a few just dipped in chocolate.

Freeze ’em.

And so it begins.  We’ve ordered our wood-burning pizza oven plans, and moved all of Chik’s left over pizza oven supplies from his house to ours.