Simple Blueberry Cream Cheese Tart

This insanely easy tart is a perfect last-minute,HOLY CRAP-PEOPLE ARE COMING OVER-I NEED A DESSERT PRONTO-dessert! Do yourself a favor and keep a package of store-bought puff pastry in your freezer at all times.  It will come in handy for moments like this and when you’ve got a buttload of veggies that are about to go bad, you can make a quick pot pie with very little effort.  I learned to make puff pastry or as the French say, pâte feuilletée, at the former French Culinary Institute (now International Culinary Center) and while there is no comparing delicious homemade puff with Pepperidge Farm, I don’t always have time to be wacking a solid pound of butter into flour and folding it a thousand times.  You can use any fruit you’d like on this tart, cook ’em or throw them on juicy and raw, it’s all good in the hood.  This would be pretty and delicious as part of a brunch buffet too.  If you’re gonna go that way, make one of my mimosa variations, My Darling Clementhyme for buzzy good times.

Serves 6


1 pkg puff pasty, thawed

1 egg, beaten

4 tbsp sugar

1 pkg cream cheese, softened

½ cup heavy cream

1 tsp vanilla extract

¼ cup confectioner’s sugar

2 pints blueberries

1 lemon, juice and zest


Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

On a floured surface, roll the puff pastry into a long rectangle, about 10×14.  Place on a sheet pan lined with parchment paper.  Score a 1” border around the outside of the pastry being careful not to cut all the way through.  Brush the border with egg and sprinkle it with half of the sugar.  Bake until it puffs up and is golden brown, about 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, place the blueberries, lemon juice and zest and the remaining sugar in a small pot.  Cook over medium heat just to break down the blueberries slightly and for the sugar to melt, about 5 minutes.  Remove from the heat and cool.

While the blueberries and pastry are both cooking, mix together the cream cheese, heavy cream, vanilla.  Sift in the confectioner’s sugar and set aside.

When the puff pastry is done, remove from the oven and immediately rescore around the edge and lightly press down the inside of the pastry to flatten it.  Allow it to cool.

To assemble the pastry, spread the cream cheese onto the baked tart within the border and top with the blueberries. Dust with powdered sugar et voila!


Surf and Turf Kabobs with Spicy Sesame Butter

Let’s pretend it’s 1965, you’re wearing a fabulous muumuu poolside and a man who eerily looks like Don Draper is making Mai Tais.  Your friends are coming over, you probably have Don Ho playing in the background and you need something to nosh on at this fabulous make-believe party.  I’m thinking Ramake, Crab Rangoon, a pineapple carved out like a boat and filled with fresh fruit and these delicious, sorta fancy Surf and Turf Kabobs.  You can mix up the seafood to your liking; prawns, scallops, firm fish such as mahi or halibut work well and colorful veg like bell peppers or onions won’t disappoint.  The real kicker with this recipe is the spicy sesame compound butter so don’t be stingy with it.  I’m pretty sure I’d eat a dirty sock if it was covered in that fatty goodness.

Serves 4


For the Skewers:

2 lobsters (1 ½ – 2 lbs.)

3 cloves garlic

2 inch piece of ginger, grated

Juice of 1 lime

1 tbsp soy sauce

1 tbsp sesame oil

Salt, to taste

Black pepper, to taste

2 lbs top sirloin or filet, cut into ¾ -1 inch cubes

For the Butter:

½ lb. cold butter, cubed

2 tbsp sesame oil

2 tbsp Asian hot sauce, such as Sriracha

Zest of 1 lime

Salt, to taste

1 tbsp black sesame seeds


½ bunch cilantro, chopped for garnish



Bring a large pot of water to a boil and par-cook the lobster for 4 minutes.  Plunge it into an ice bath to cool and prevent from further cooking.

In a bowl, whisk together the garlic, ginger, lime, soy sauce, sesame oil, salt and pepper and set aside.

By now the lobster is cool and you can remove the meat from the shell.  Crack the claws with the back of a knife and twist from the body.  Carefully remove the meat and put it in a bowl.  Cut the underside of the tail using either a knife or kitchen shears and remove the tail meat.  The small tentacles are of no use for the skewers, but are certainly tasty to snack on while you’re cooking.  Discard the shells and chop the lobster meat into 1-2 inch pieces.

Either using bamboo skewers that have been soaked in water or metal skewers, begin to assemble the surf and turf, alternating between the steak and the lobster.  Place the skewers in a baking dish, cover with the marinade chill in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes.

Preheat the grill to high heat.

To make the compound butter, in the bowl of a food processor add the butter, sesame oil, hot sauce, lime zest and salt.  Process until it is smooth.  Scrape the butter into a bowl and stir in the sesame seeds.  At this point, you can also roll the butter into a tube using plastic wrap and then it is very easy to cut a piece off whenever you want to use it.

Grill the skewers over high heat for 2 minutes per side for medium rare.  To serve the surf and turf skewers, serve them on a bed of butter lettuce and top with the spicy sesame butter and cilantro.


Strawberry Rhubarb Fool

People from cold climes have many reasons to be jacked up over Springtime; no more long johns, baby birds, mud pies and our tart friend rhubarb.  Growing up in Wisco, it grew wild outside our farmhouse and so we would end up with loads of rhubarb jam for the rest of the year.  I don’t really remember my mom cutting it with strawberries, rather I think she just added a butt load of sugar to sweeten it up.  Here’s my take on the English dessert, fool, which uses cooked fruit or jam as a base to be layered with custard or whipped cream.  It’s so easy Mr. T be yellin’ “I pity the fool that doesn’t make this fool!”

Serves 4


½ lb rhubarb

½ lb strawberries, hulled and quartered

½ cup sugar

Pinch salt

1 small vanilla bean, scraped

Juice of 1 orange

1 cup heavy cream

1 tbsp sugar


Wash the rhubarb and trim away the tough ends.  Cut in half, put in a bowl filled with cold water and soak for 20 minutes.  This will help to retain its color while cooking.

After the rhubarb has soaked, slice it into ½ inch pieces and put into a medium saucepan.  Add the strawberries, sugar, salt, vanilla and orange juice and bring to a boil.  Reduce the heat to medium low and cook until the rhubarb is tender, about 7-10 minutes.  Only stir a few times so that you do not break up the rhubarb.  Transfer the mixture to a bowl and refrigerate for 1 hour or until it is thoroughly cool.  This can also be done 1 day ahead of time as well.

Either using a stand mixer or by hand with a whisk, whip the heavy cream and 1 tablespoon sugar until soft peaks form.

To assemble the fools, start by first layering the strawberry rhubarb mixture into the bottom of a glass.  Top with the whipped cream, then another layer of the strawberry rhubarb mix and then a final layer of whipped cream.

"Nice job on the fool, fool!"

“Nice job on the fool, fool!”



2-Day Refrigerator Dill Pickles

It’s St. Patrick’s Day and I’m sitting at LAX waiting to board my delayed flight to NYC.  While I’m not happy about getting into the city at 1am, I’m okay with some extra time for pre-flight beer drinking.  Golden Road Point The Way IPA is going down nicely, I’m feeling productive and I figured I should post a recipe featuring something green.  How about some pickles!  These are crazy easy and they require no fancy equipment, boiling jars or the overall BS that comes with canning.  Though hipsters across the globe have tried to convince you that pickles are something you should pay $10 a jar for, you my friends, are better than that.  Make your own damn pickles and all of your refrigerator-less, preserving ancestors will be cheering from above.  Sláinte!

2 Day Refrigerator Dill Pickles


8 cups water

2 cup apple cider vinegar

2 cup rice vinegar

¼ cup sea salt

2 whole dried chili

4 bay leaves

1 tbsp black peppercorns

1 tbsp whole coriander

1 tbsp mustard seed

1 tsp whole cloves

1 tsp whole allspice

10 small cucumbers, such as Persian or Kirby

1 bunch dill

8 cloves garlic


Start by making the brine.  Put the water, vinegars and salt in a medium pot and heat until the salt has dissolved.  Remove from the heat and add the rest of the ingredients, except for the cucumbers, dill and garlic.  Allow this mixture to cool completely.

Meanwhile, slice the cucumbers into spears.  Alternatively, you can slice the cucumbers into rounds of varying thickness.  The thinner the slice, the quicker the cucumber will pickle.

Place the cucumbers into a non-reactive (glass or plastic – no metal) container that has a tight fitting lid.  Add the dill and garlic and pour the brine with all the seasonings over the top.  If you put the cucumbers into more than one vessel, make sure to divide the dill, garlic and seasonings evenly.  Cover tightly and put in the refrigerator.

Allow the cucumbers to pickle for 2 days (1/2 day for super thin slices).  They will last in the refrigerator for up to 2 months.




Orzo with Spring Green Veggies, Feta and Almonds

I really love super simple pasta dishes that come together quickly but are full of flavor.  Let’s face it, we all need to eat more vegetables and recipes like this make it exciting.  There’s a bit of white wine in here, so make sure you use something that you want to drink.  I mean after all, there will be 3/4 of a bottle leftover and you wouldn’t want that to go to waste.  I love a light Albariño but you can also use beer in the recipe and as a great pairing.  Try a Saison, something like Brooklyn Sorachi Ace would rock.  But hell, if all you’ve got is a crusty High Life in the back of the fridge, I’m cool with that ‘cuz I know you’re eating your vegetables.


Serves 6


½ pound orzo

3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

2 cloves garlic, minced

¼ cup spring onions, thinly sliced

2-3 cups of fresh spring vegetables; such as English peas and asparagus; cleaned and shelled

½ cup white wine

1 cup of arugula

1 lemon, zest and juice

4 oz. feta, crumbled

½ cup sliced almonds, toasted

¼ cup of mixed chopped herbs; such as basil, parsley, mint or chervil

Salt to taste

Black pepper to taste



Bring a medium pot of salted water to a boil, add the orzo and stir to make sure it does not stick together.  Cook the orzo for ten minutes, or until it’s al dente.

In a large, deep sauté pan over medium heat, add the olive oil, garlic and onions.  Cook until the onions just start to soften, about 5-7 minutes, paying attention not to brown them.  Add the peas, asparagus and white wine and cook for another 5 minutes. Once the orzo is cooked, strain the pasta, reserving ¼ cup of the pasta water. Add the orzo and pasta water to the saute pan of veggies and cook for another 2 minutes.  Remove from the heat and add the arugula, lemon juice and zest, feta, almonds and herbs.  Stir to combine and season with salt and pepper

This dish can be served immediately warm or is just as delicious at room temperature.






Allspice Braised Chicken Thighs with Golden Raisins and Pearl Onions

Every so often I force myself to dig through my spice cabinet and reorganize, which is a game of Tetris considering this is what it looks like. That space measures a mere 12″x 18″, which I don’t think is even big enough to fit my cat Vinny.

Messy Spice CabinetWhile I’m deep in the bowels of Madras curry, garlic powder or Ryan’s “Man Spice” (which could be any number of store-bought spice blends like Emeril’s Essence), I’m usually scheming on how to use up the old to make way for more.  As we all know, spices go quickly and before you know it that canister of ground cumin starts to taste like dirt.  Mmmm.

A while back while on this mission, I pulled out the allspice and was thinking about what to do with this fragrant gem that could be savory, quick and easy.  At the same time, Kin Community was requesting some simple dishes for weeknight dinners.  This is what I came up with and if I do say so myself, it’s pretty damn good.

Serve this with any number of starches; rice, pasta, potatoes, grits, polenta or a big toasty piece of bread to soak up all that delicious gravy.  You can even bulk it up by adding some greens like spinach or kale near the end of cooking to get your veggie nutrients.

Serves 4


4 bone-in chicken thighs

½-1 tsp allspice

Sea salt, to taste

Black pepper, to taste

¼ cup AP flour

3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

¼ bottle white wine

2 cups chicken stock

1 tbsp white wine vinegar

5 cloves garlic, minced

¾ lb pearl onions

½ cup golden raisins

2 sprigs thyme, tied with twine

2 bay leaves

2 tbsp heavy cream

¼ bunch parsley, chopped


Wash the chicken thighs and pat very dry.  Season both sides of the chicken with allspice, salt and pepper.  Place the flour in a bowl and dredge each chicken thigh through it to coat very well.  Shake off any excess flour and set aside.

Heat a deep skillet over high heat.  When the pan is smoking, add the olive oil.  Starting skin side down, sear the chicken until golden brown, about 5-7 minutes.  Turn over each piece of chicken and sear the other side another 5 minutes.

Turn the heat down to medium and add the white wine, scraping all the brown bits from the bottom of the pan.  This step is imperative, since those morsels are what will give the braise its deep flavor.  Add the chicken stock, vinegar, honey, garlic, onions, raisins, thyme, bay leaves and seared chicken.  Season again with salt and pepper and bring back to a boil.

Turn down the heat to medium low and cover.  Cook until the bone becomes slightly loose and the chicken is cooked, approximately 15-20 minutes.

When the chicken is done, remove the thyme and bay leaves and discard.  Using a slotted spoon, scoop the chicken, onions and raisins onto a platter and tent with foil.  Turn the heat back up to high to reduce the cooking liquid by half.  Remove from the heat and add the cream.  Adjust the seasoning if necessary.

Pour the sauce over the chicken, garnish with parsley and serve immediately.






Golden Beet Blue Cheese Dip

Beets and blue cheese are damn tasty together and they live quite nicely in this dip that is a crowd-pleaser with vegetarians and dirty meat eaters.  Stick a chicken wing in and you’ll know what I mean.  By the way, check out how pretty this ceramic bowl is!  It was made by my friend Tina who runs Little Cat Pottery in the Highland Park neighborhood in Los Angeles.  She also took the photo, so basically all I did was show up and make some dip.

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Chilaquiles Verdes

One of my favorite recipes, Chilaquiles is a classic on West and East coast, hailing its tradition from the heavy influence of the Mexican culture. It doesn’t take much effort, and the ingredients are simple and available. Impressive enough to make for breakfast with friends and a Bloody Mary, and simple enough to have on a relaxing day at home by yourself.

Miso Sweet Potatoes

I love sweet potatoes and yams but I’ve never understood the need to make them any sweeter than they already are.  The traditional candied yams during the holidays are lost on me, as is the casserole topped with marshmallows, though I’m sure many of you reading this think I’m crazy for feeling this way.  I like my sweet potatoes savory so what better way than adding a bit of miso?  Sweet, salty, buttery and slightly spicy are these and I’ve yet to meet a person that didn’t love them.  I make them in hobo packs for the grill but they can also be made in the oven in a covered baking dish.  Take them camping or live on the edge and add them to your Thanksgiving spread.  They taste great with cranberry relish.

Serves: 6-8


½ cup butter, room temperature
3 tbsp sesame oil
3 tbsp. miso (white or red)
2 tbsp sriracha
4 large sweet potatoes, sliced
1 onion, sliced
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 lemon, quartered
Herbs such as chives, cilantro or parsley for garnish
Sesame seeds, for garnish


Heat the grill medium over medium heat.

In a large bowl, mix the first 6 ingredients into a smooth paste. Add the potatoes and onions and using your hands mix until coated well.

Tear off as many sheets of foil as there are guests to make hobo packs (a nifty name for anything cooked inside foil on the grill or over a fire pit!). Divide the potato mixture amongst the foil sheets and close them tightly. Place the hobo packs on the grill and close the lid. Cook until the potatoes are soft and caramelized, about 20 minutes. Make sure to flip the hobo packs halfway through cooking and rotate them so they cook evenly.

After the sweet potatoes are done, open up the foil and garnish with a squeeze of lemon, some chopped herbs and sesame seeds. Guests can either eat right out of the foil or scoop them onto their plate.

Bacon-Wrapped Jalapeño Poppers

I once saw a grown man push over a small child to get the last of one of these poppers.  He may or may not have been my husband and I couldn’t have been more proud of someone wanting something so badly at that very moment.  This recipe is not rocket science and that’s what makes these such great party food.  Bring them out for the Superbowl, 4th of July or a random Sunday Funday and you’ll see what I mean.  I should also note that if you have some friends or family that are wimps when it comes to chilis, most supermarkets sell baby bell peppers that are a non-fiery alternative.  Fire up the grill, crack open a beer and get poppin’ on these Poppers!



Serves: 8-12


For the filling:

1 lb. cream cheese, room temperature

½ cup sharp cheddar, grated

¼ cup parmesan cheese, grated

6 scallions, roughly chopped

4 cloves garlic, roughly chopped

¼ cup fresh herbs such as cilantro, basil and parsley

1 lime, zest and juice

1 tbsp ground cumin

Salt, to taste


20-24 jalapenos

2 lbs. bacon

Limes for garnish

Cilantro for garnish


Put all the ingredients for the filling in the food processor and pulse to combine.  Scrape down the sides and pulse again until all the herbs and scallions are broken up.  Scrape the contents into a pastry bag or ziplock bag and set aside for the flavors to marry.  This step can be done up to 3 days ahead of time.

To prep the jalapeños, cut the tops off and using a pairing knife or small spoon, scrape out the insides.  If there are a few seeds kicking around inside, it is fine and will just add some extra heat to the popper.

Fill each pepper with some of the cheese mixture and line on a baking sheet.  After all of the peppers are filled, wrap them with bacon.  Start by covering the top of the pepper where the cheese is exposed and then proceed to wrap the length of the pepper.  Turn the pepper and continue around the width of the pepper until you’ve used the entire piece of bacon.  Secure the bacon by inserting a toothpick through the pepper and place back on the baking sheet.  At this point the peppers can be refrigerated for up to a day or used right away.

Heat the grill to medium heat.  Spray the poppers on all sides with cooking spray and place on the grill.  Cook until the bacon is crispy and the jalapeños have softened, about 20 minutes, rotating them while cooking.

Serve the jalapeño poppers garnished with some fresh lime, cilantro and of course, ice cold beer.