"It's so beautifully arranged on the the plate – you know someone's fingers have been all over it." – Julia Child

Posts from the Desserts Category

Shoes. Sweaters. Pajamas. Toiletries. Check, check, check, and check. Your overnight bag is packed and you have your directions mapped out or your train or plane ticket printed, but The Gift for people hosting Thanksgiving dinner? Ugh. What to bring to your family’s or friends’ gathering? Booze is a given, and, now, you cannot be That Person Who Brings Salad. Oh, you know what I’m talking about. And, have you noticed? It’s never even an interesting salad, with say, kohlrabi and a horseradish dressing, but the worst offender: bagged and chopped romaine with tasteless out-of-season grape tomatoes and bottled LO-CAL dressing.

You can always choose to impress with a pricey present, but a thoughtful homemade addition to the meal can be even more noteworthy.These bite-sized treats travel well and can be tucked into the desserts table, or kept in their wrappings and enjoyed by the hosts once all the party and its stresses are over.

Makes 1 sheet of brittle (approx. 9- by 11 inches)

Prep note: Brittle seems daunting, but its success relies more on having equipment ready than on being skilled. Be sure to have a candy thermometer (available at most supermarkets) and that your baking sheet is prepped.

For the Brittle
Cooking spray
1 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup honey
2 tablespoons water
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 cups (about 9 ounces) roasted and salted cashews

For the Chocolate Drizzle
2 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped
Maldon salt
Aleppo pepper
Ground cardamom

– Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper and lightly coat it with baking spray. Set up a small bowl filled with water and a pastry brush next to the stovetop.

– Combine the sugar, honey, and water in a large saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring with a heatproof rubber spatula until the sugar is dissolved. Allow the mixture to come to a boil and (with the damp brush) brush the sides of the pan where the sugar mixture makes contact with it to dissolve any granules of sugar.

– Cook the sugar mixture until it registers 300¨F on a candy thermometer (hard crack stage), 6 to 8 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat, and with the spatula, stir in the butter, salt, and baking soda. Stir in the cashews and immediately pour the mixture onto the prepared baking sheet. Quickly spread the brittle out to the thickness of 1 cashew and cool completely.

For the Chocolate Drizzle: Once the brittle has hardened, melt the chocolate in a small bowl in the microwave (try 30 seconds at a time, stirring in between zaps) or in a small saucepan on the stovetop. Drizzle the melted chocolate over the brittle and sprinkle it with salt, Aleppo, and cardamom. Chill for 10 minutes, then break up into shards.

– Brittle will keep in an airtight container for up to 1 week. *Refrigerate if you live in a warm place to prevent the chocolate drizzle from melting.

Makes about 42 cookies

These snowy cookies are crumbly and nutty and not too sweet. You might want to make a double batch and save some for yourself.

1 cup roasted and salted pecans
2 sticks (8 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature (about 60°F)
6 tablespoons confectioners’ sugar, plus 1 cup for coating
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
Orange zest for sprinkling (optional)

– Pulse the pecans in a food processor until finely ground.

– Beat the butter, confectioners’ sugar, and granulated sugar with an electric mixer on low speed until combined, then increase speed to medium and beat until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes.  Add the vanilla and beat to mix.

– Stop the mixer and add the flour, salt, cinnamon, and ground pecans to the butter. Beat on low until the mixture is cohesive, scraping the sides and bottom of the mixing bowl as needed.  Beat just until a dough forms. If the dough seems too soft to handle, refrigerate it for 20 to 30 minutes.

– Adjust 2 oven racks to the upper and lower middle positions and preheat the oven to 350°F. Line 2 baking sheets with silicone baking mats or parchment paper.

– Using a 1-tablespoon (1/2-ounce) ice cream scoop or a 1-tablespoon measure, scoop out the dough, dividing it among the 2 prepared sheets. Bake the cookies until just golden on the sides, 15 to 20 minutes, alternating the sheets’ positions halfway through baking.

– Transfer the sheets to cooling racks, cool the cookies on the sheets for 10 minutes, then cool them completely on the racks.  Cookies will keep in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks.

Makes 24

These are a dainty alternative to classic pecan pie — try them with pecans, walnuts, or even a mixture of cocktail nuts. You’ll need a mini-muffin tin and a biscuit cutter about 2 1/4 inches in diameter.

1 package puff pastry or pie dough, thawed
All-purpose flour for dusting surface
Baking spray
2 large eggs
1/2 cup dark brown sugar
1/4 cup dark corn syrup
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 teaspoon instant espresso powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup walnuts or pecans, chopped and toasted

– Adjust an oven rack to the middle position and preheat the oven to 350°F.

– Roll the dough out to about 1/8-inch thick on a lightly floured surface. Stamp out 24 circles with a 2 1/4-inch in diameter biscuit cutter and press them into a mini-muffin tin. Lightly coat the whole thing with baking spray.

– Beat the eggs in a large bowl, then whisk in the sugar, corn syrup, vanilla, espresso powder, and salt. Divide the mixture evenly among the dough-lined muffin tin, and top with the nuts.

– Bake until set, about 30 minutes, then transfer to a cooling rack. Cool 10 minutes, then, with a wooden skewer or paring knife, gently pop the mini-pies out of the tins and onto the cooling rack. Cool completely and store, refrigerated for up to one week. You can also freeze the pies for up to 1 month and reheat them in a 300°F oven.

This cake is moist and really spiced, packing quite a bit of fresh ginger in addition to the usual allspice, ground ginger, cloves, and cinnamon.  It’s meant to be baked in a 9-inch springform pan, but you can divide the batter among smaller vessels, filling each with batter about halfway up the sides.  When using smaller vessels, arrange them on a rimmed baking sheet for easier handling.  Click HEREfor the recipe.

Strapped for time? Order your packaging supplies at Paper Presentation.

And, if you’re looking to get festive and giving your room a quick makeover, try  Tempaper, temporary wallpaper!  The luxe gold and peacock feathers pattern featured in this post is one of our favorites.

Well, it’s that time of year again: a time we love and hate all in the same breath.  As we say goodbye to summer and hello to fall, the days get shorter, the air grows cooler, and we squeeze in as much outdoor fun as we can. Watching the leaves change and soaking in that gorgeous fall sunlight is always more fun with your friends. So we decided to have a few people over to enjoy a warm fire, hot cider, and delicious food. Carving pumpkins, roasting marshmallows, and toasting pumpkin seeds are just a few of the nostalgic activities that took place. Lucky for us, one of our favorite prop stylists, Penelope Bouklas, joined us and turned our gathering into a photo-worthy event.


  • 4 cinnamon sticks
  • 2 tablespoons whole allspice berries
  • 2 tablespoons whole black peppercorns
  • 2 tablespoons whole cardamom pods, crushed with the side of a knife
  • Rind of 1 orange
  • 1 quart apple cider
  • Pinch of salt
  • Cheese cloth

– Toast the spices in a large saucepan over medium heat until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Wrap the spices in cheese cloth. Add the orange rind, cider, spices, salt and simmer over low heat for 30 minutes to allow the spices to infuse. Strain the cider and serve with optional garnishes.

Optional Garnishes:

  • Orange rounds
  • Whipped cream with orange zest and freshly ground black pepper

*Can also be enjoyed cold!

A little Jiffy Pop is always fun & super easy!


Serves 6 – 8

  • 1 pound ground beef  (black angus)
  • 2 (35-ounce) cans whole peeled tomatoes
  • 1 (15-ounce) can each of butter beans, red beans, and Great Northern beans
  • (or any combination of beans you like)
  • 2 to 3 ears of corn, shucked and removed from the cob, or 2 cups frozen corn
  • 2 to 3 large cloves of garlic, chopped
  • 1 medium yellow onion, chopped
  • 2 red poblano peppers, chopped
  • 2 jalapeño peppers, 1 choopped and seeded, 1 sliced with seeds
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons cumin
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • Salt and pepper to taste

– Rinse and drain the beans and set aside

– Heat the oil in a Dutch oven over medium – high heat. Add the meat, salt, and pepper. Cook until browned, 5 to 7 minutes.  Once browned, add the poblanos, jalapeños, onion, garlic, cumin, & chili powder. Cook over medium heat for 5 minutes, scraping the pot with wooden spoon as needed.

– Crush the tomatoes by hand as you pour them into the pot. Add the beans and corn. Stir together & bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer covered for about 1 hour.

Optional Garnishes:

  • Dollop of crème fraiche or sour cream
  • Chopped scallions
  • Shredded sharp cheddar cheese
  • Toasted pumpkin seeds


Makes 1 (10-inch) round, serves 4 to 6

  • 1 cup medium-grind yellow cornmeal
  •  1 cup all-purpose flour
  • ¼ cup granulated sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  •  1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3 large eggs
  •  ½ cup sour cream
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 cup frozen or fresh corn kernels
  • 5 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 6 scallions, chopped
  • 1 poblano pepper, roasted and chopped
  • Suggested garnishes: butter, honey, cheddar cheese

– Adjust an oven rack to the middle position and preheat the oven to 400°F.

– In a large bowl, whisk together the cornmeal, flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Whisk the eggs, sour cream, and milk together in a separate bowl. Whisk into the flour mixture. Stir in the corn.

– Heat the oil and butter over medium heat in a 10-inch cast iron skillet until shimmering. Add the scallions and chile and cook until softened, about 3 minutes. Stir in the scallion-poblano mixture into the batter then into the skillet skillet. Bake until the cornbread is golden and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, 25 to 30 minutes. Transfer skillet to cooling rack and cool at least 10 minutes before serving with suggested garnishes.

– Refrigerate leftovers in an airtight container. Reheat in a preheated 350°F oven for about 10 minutes. Alternatively, cut slices and butter both sides. Cook in a nonstick skillet over medium heat until crisp and heated through.


  • Graham Crackers
  • Bar of good dark or milk chocolate  (we used Ghiardelli 60% Cacao)
  • Large marshmallows
  • Sticks for cooking over the fire

– Place a marshmallow on the end of a stick and heat it over the fire, paying careful attention not to burn it. (Unless you like it burnt!)  Meanwhile, warm 2 graham crackers with 1 piece of chocolate on the edge of the fire. Depending on your fire pit, you’ll need to find a good steady spot to get indirect heat. Once your marshmallow is cooked to just right, put your s’more together like a sandwich and enjoy!!

Strawberry Vodka Cocktail & Chocolate Madelines

I think of myself as “ladylike,” but truth be told, I’ve been known to sit on filthy floors at Penn Station, curse like a sailor, and engage in a number of other activities that would not be characterized as demure. I think that goes for Tara as well, though I suspect the dirty floor situation is a María del Mar Exclusive.

What happened?! Remember when women wore hats and little white gloves and skirts and crossed their ankles? Remember those up-do’s and perfect lipstick? When did we start wearing Uggs (I admit to being a chronic offender) and dressing in sweatpants to travel?

Modernity has its freedoms: No corsets! No girdles! No nonsense! I did grow up somewhere where it was a major violation of code to leave your house without makeup, a proper blow-out, and an impeccably pressed linen outfit. While it made for a very decorous procession down the aisles of the supermarket, it was a terrible chore.

Balance, I say! Most of the time you’ll find us wearing utilitarian uniforms—trousers, chambray button-downs, flats, and fine, yes, UGGS—but once in a while, especially now that spring has graced us with its presence, you might spy us in a dress and heels and pucker-up-perfect lipstick: I adore it! I love feeling like the vision of women I had when I was painstakingly buttoning up Barbie’s pink double-breasted suit (which had a sparkly underpinning and a tulle lining under the pencil skirt). When it comes to dining, a lady sits and eats daintily and sips.

When it comes to a modern-day lady, a meal might entail half a bottle of wine and forkfuls of food between retouching and typing. Balance? What we often write about: going about your daily business of rushing everywhere, sandwich hanging out of your mouth, takeout coffee spilled down your front, and then, occasionally, sitting down to sip and take tiny bites out sheer enjoyment and wanting to make the moment last rather than trying to fit an Emily Post ideal.

In thinking of these brief respites we came up with a new tea party idea that combines the ombré spectrum of our femininity. There are indeed dainty chocolate bites, but instead of tea, strawberry vodka and bubbles. Take a seat, and, do, DO! take your hat and glove off. Crossed ankles optional.

Processed with VSCOcam with g3 presetAn excerpt from one of my favorite books, courtesy of Abuela Muriel: “Good Housekeeping Party Menus and Recipes” 1958 edition.


Recipe adapted from Epicurious

Yields about 18

Baking spray
8 ounces bittersweet (60 – 70% cacao) chocolate, chopped
2 large eggs
1 large egg yolk
½ cup granulated sugar
½ teaspoon pure vanilla or almond extract
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ cup heavy cream
1 ounce (¼ stick) unsalted butter, cut into pieces
Confectioners’ sugar for dusting

– Adjust an oven rack to the middle position and preheat the oven to 375°F. Place a standard or silicone Madeleine baking pan (these come in different indentation numbers) on a baking sheet (for easier transferring in and out of the oven) and lightly coat with baking spray.

– Set up a double-boiler by adding about 2 inches of water to a small saucepan. Bring the water to a boil over high heat, then reduce heat to a simmer. Place the chocolate in a metal or glass bowl that will fit over the saucepan—when using a double-boiler, the bowl should never make contact with the water as it is the hot vapor that will allow gentle heating. Stir the chocolate until it is melted and glossy. Remove from the heat and allow to cool about 5 minutes.

– Meanwhile, with an electric mixer, beat the eggs, egg yolk, sugar, extract, and salt in a medium bowl until pale yellow in color and tripled in volume, about 5 minutes. Stir in the melted chocolate.

– With a soup spoon, spoon the batter about ¾ of the way up each Madeleine mold. Bake 8 to 10 minutes until set and puffed. Transfer the baking sheet to a rack and then, the molds directly to the rack.

– Cool Madeleines for 10 minutes, then gently turn out of molds and continue cooling. Dust with confectioners’ sugar and serve.


Let us note that store-bought fruit-flavored vodka is not our go-to, but “Sorbetta”, LiV Vodka’s strawberry liqueur is the exception to the rule. Smooth, bursting with strawberry flavor, and just sweet enough, we like to add it to a chilled glass of prosecco or drink it straight.

Oh, Valentine’s Day. Mostly I associate it with the not getting of the “Be Mine” card in my school desk in grade school. What sort of holiday is this where the frizzy haired and bespectacled girls get snubbed? Boooo!!! Hiss!!! BUT! You know, I love pink and red and it seems like those are the colors of that Valentine guy. AND! Dessert. Seems to be the thing that either you enjoy on a date or binge on if you don’t have one. Go for it,  eat it like a hot dog. xoxo


Makes 6

Once cooled, you can freeze leftover éclairs in a zipper-lock bag. When ready to use, warm through in a preheated 350°F oven, then allow to cool to room temperature.

For the Eclairs
1 cup water
4 ounces (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
1 cup all-purpose flour
4 large eggs, beaten plus 2 egg yolks, at room temperature
1 tablespoon heavy cream

Preheat oven to 400°F. Line a baking sheet with a silicone baking mat or parchment paper.

In medium saucepan, combine the water, butter, sugar, and ¼ teaspoon salt. Bring to a boil, stirring until butter melts. Stir in flour all at once, and continue cooking, stirring constantly and vigorously, until the mixture forms a smooth ball of dough, 4 to 5 minutes. The bottom of the saucepan should be clean.

Remove from heat and transfer dough to a large bowl. Using a wooden spoon, add the eggs and stir until they’re fully incorporated. With a soup spoon, scoop dough out into 6 logs.

Beat the yolks, a pinch of salt, and cream in small bowl. Brush tops of dough with egg wash. Bake for 15 minutes, then reduce oven temperature to 350°F and continue baking for about 30 minutes, or until the dough is puffed and golden golden. Transfer éclairs directly to cooling rack and cool completely.

For the Glaze
1 ½ cups fresh raspberries
½ cup confectioners’ sugar

Pulse the raspberries in a food processor until completely puréed. Strain the raspberry sauce and discard the seeds. Whisk in the sugar.

For the Filling
1 ½ cups heavy cream, chilled
¼ cup confectioner’s sugar, sifted
2 cups fresh raspberries

Beat the cream and sugar together in a large bowl with a large whisk or an electric mixer until soft peaks form.

To assemble, cut the éclairs in half lengthwise. Spoon in whipped cream and tuck in raspberries. Drizzle glaze over the éclairs.

ThanksgivingOnce a year, we gather and give thanks. We had the chance to do that early, as a warm-up if you will, this year, when we got together to put this Thanksgiving spread together.

The cold had crept in, with rain and gusts of violent wind. Those weather conditions mirrored some of our emotional states as well. But, as we settled into the evening and into the kitchen, all was calm and warm and safe.

Let’s be thankful for the moments, little and big, that bring us together with the people we hold dear, be it a Tuesday night or a calendar holiday.

And, a special thanks to the talented Penelope Bouklas and Jessica O’Brien for making these images come to life.


Serves 4 to 6

I’m a word geek, and “cruciferous” gives me no end of pleasure. I like that it sounds like a description of a tree creature in a Tolkien novel, but also, that it sounds like a biting into something crunchy and spiky and nubby and slightly juicy. It’s perfect, because cruciferous vegetable (cauliflower, broccoli, cabbage, and kohlrabi, to name a few) are just all those things.

Here is one of my favorite crucifers: Romanesco. Pale green and spiraled and spiky like an underwater sea creature, it’s a more robust yet more sophisticated version of cauliflower. And, did you know? The spirals in each funky floret follow the Fibonacci sequence. Look it up: mind-blowing.

This is a pretty and simple recipe that really ups the ante on the basic crudité platter. Romanesco florets get a blanch in boiling water and a shock in cold, while purple cauliflower, another cruciferous beauty, is quickly sautéed for warm, buttery contrast.

Make the dip first:
½ cup mayonnaise
½ cup crema or crème fraîche
2 garlic cloves, miced or grated
2 teaspoons finely grated lemon zest plus 1 tablespoon lemon juice
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

– Whisk all ingredients together in a small bowl and store, covered, until ready to serve.

Prep the crudités: 
1 head Romanesco, cut until florets
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 head purple cauliflower, cut into florets
2 teaspoons lemon juice

– Line a large baking sheet with 3 layers paper towels or a clean kitchen towel. Fill a large bowl halfway with ice. Add enough cold water to fill bowl about three-quarters of the way. Bring a large pot of water to a boil over high heat. Stir in 3 tablespoons salt and Romanesco florets and cook for 1 minute. Drain and immediately add florets to prepared ice bath. When completely cooled, drain florets and spread them on prepared baking sheet.

– Cook butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat until bubbling and beginning to brown. Add the cauliflower, season with salt and pepper, and cook, tossing or stirring , until crisp-tender, about 4 minutes. Remove from heat and add lemon juice (Surprise! Did you see the color change?!).

– Arrange the Romanesco and cauliflower florets on a platter and serve with garlic dip.


ThanksgivingPUMPKIN SOUP

Makes about 7 cups

Equipment: paring knife, soup spoon or ice cream scoop, baking sheet, cooling rack, large mixing bowl, blender, large skillet, soup pot, slotted spoon, paper towels

There are numerous gourds for sale this time of year, from pie-friendly sugar ones to quick roasting ones like acorn. We opted for this large cheese pumpkin in order to make enough soup for a crowd.

Wipe the exterior of the pumpkin clean with a damp rag, then carve it as you would a jack-o’-lantern (well, don’t carve out a face on it or the soup will ooze out): run a sharp paring knife around the pumpkin, about a quarter of the way below the stem, then remove the “hat” and scoop out the seeds and membrane. I like to use a sharp-edged ice cream scoop to do this. Now you’re ready to make the soup.

For the soup:
1 (6 to 7-pound) cheese or Cinderella pumpkin, prepared as instructed above
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 teaspoons Aleppo pepper or red pepper flakes
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
2 cups chicken broth (*low-sodium if not homemade)
1 tablespoon lemon juice

– Adjust oven rack to middle position and preheat oven to 375°F. Place pumpkin on a large baking sheet. Rub inside of pumpkin with 1 ½ teaspoons salt, 1 teaspoon pepper, Aleppo pepper, and butter. Rub the exterior of the pumpkin and its hat (place it beside the pumpkin on the sheet) with oil and roast until flesh is easily pierced with a skewer, 45 minutes to an hour.

– Transfer pumpkin on sheet to a cooling rack, and allow to cool about 10 minutes. With a large spoon, scoop out flesh and accumulated juices into a large mixing bowl. Leave about 1-inch of flesh all around the interior of the pumpkin so it doesn’t collapse. Scrape the flesh from the underside of the pumpkin’s hat, too.

– Puree the pumpkin in a blender, in batches, until smooth. Transfer each batch to a Dutch oven or soup pot. Heat the soup over medium heat, stirring, and adjust consistency with chicken broth. Season to taste with salt and pepper and lemon juice. When ready to serve, place pumpkin on a large serving tray or platter, and ladle in the soup. Serve with garnish (see below).

For the garnish:
4 slices slab bacon (about 1/2-inch thick slices), cut into ¼-inch thick batons
1 pound mixed mushrooms, such as shiitake, hen of the woods/maitake, and cremini, sliced
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon olive oil, if needed
½ cup raw pumpkin seeds
1 bunch sage
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 cup Latin American crema or crème fraîche

– Line a plate with 2 layers paper towels. Place bacon in a large skillet and heat over medium heat. Once bacon starts rendering fat, increase the heat to medium-high and cook, stirring, until crisp and deep golden brown, about 8 minutes. With a slotted spoon, transfer bacon to prepared plate.

– Add mushrooms to skillet and cook, stirring occasionally, until golden, about 6 minutes. Taste mushrooms and season to taste. Transfer to plate with bacon.

– If skillet is dry, add 1 tablespoon olive oil and heat until shimmering. Add pumpkin seeds and sage and cook until crisp, about 3 minutes. Add garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Return bacon and mushrooms to skillet and toss to combine. Transfer to serving plate and pass at table along with crema.


Yield: 1 (3-pound) squash yields 4 cups, serving 6 to 8 as a side

Equipment: chef’s knife, mallet and metal bench scraper (if available), cutting board, kitchen towel, soup spoon, baking sheet, foil, fork, large skillet

We’re obviously not going to tell you to skip the mashed potatoes this year, but include this lush side in your menu: think creamy, spicy mac’n’cheese sauce over golden, sweet spaghetti squash.

Lickety split!
We hate splitting spaghetti squash, but, we’ve tried roasting the thing whole and even thought the skin softens, it takes forever it’s a big old mess inside afterwards. Microwave? Sure, but proceed with caution—explosions have been known to happen.

Here’s what we find is an easier approach to cracking that nut-hard skin: Place a damp kitchen towel on a *stabilized cutting board and place the squash on it. Tap a metal bench scraper into the squash with a meat mallet or hammer until it begins to crack. Pry it out, then, use a large knife to finish the job. Don’t worry if it doesn’t come apart in two completely even halves, as they rarely do.

Scoop the seeds and membranes out with a soup spoon or, better yet, with a metal ice cream disher.

Stabilizing cutting boards: Never chop on a board that’s slip-sliding all over your work surface. Set the board on a rubber grip mat, a damp paper towel, or a damp kitchen towel.

Roast the squash:
1 (3-pound) spaghetti squash, cut in half lengthwise, seeds and membranes removed
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 teaspoon dark brown sugar
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

– Adjust oven rack to middle position and preheat oven to 425°F. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil (for easier cleanup).

– Season the cut sides of squash with salt and pepper and sugar, then brush with butter. Roast, cut-sides up, until fork tender, 45 minute to 1 hour.

– Transfer squash on sheet to a cooling rack and, when cool enough to handle, scrape out flesh with a fork. If immediately proceeding with recipe, leave flesh in the shell, cover, and keep warm. Otherwise, refrigerate flesh and shells separately until ready to use. When ready to use, drain any accumulated liquid and reheat flesh in a lightly oiled saucepan over medium heat, or in the microwave.

Sauce it!
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 tablespoons olive oil
2 poblano peppers, stems, ribs, and seeds removed, cut into thin strips
2 jalapeño peppers, stems, ribs, and seeds removed, cut into thin strips
1 medium onion, thinly sliced from pole to pole
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 garlic cloves, chopped
1 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups milk, warmed
1 cups Latin American crema or crème fraîche
2 teaspoons lemon juice
2 ounces cotija cheese or feta, crumbled

– Heat butter and oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add the poblanos, jalapeños, and onion and season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until mixture is softened and deep golden brown, 12 to 15 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for an additional 2 minutes.

– Add the flour and stir to coat. Cook 2 minutes to eliminate raw flavor in flour. Add the milk in a slow, steady stream, stirring constantly to avoid lumps from forming. Stir in crema and cook until heated through and slightly thickened, about 3 minutes. Stir in lemon juice and adjust seasoning. If you prefer a soupier sauce, stir in milk as needed.

– Pour sauce over spaghetti squash and sprinkle with cheese. Serve.

MacGyver your leftovers!
Use leftovers to make grilled cheese sandwiches or quesadillas.


Serves 6 to 8

Equipment: Peeler, chef’s knife, baking sheet, cooling rack, large skillet

Whether you’re having roast beast or fowl this Thanksgiving, dressing is a must. Why am I not calling stuffing? Because I’m not putting it into anything other than my mouth, and also, please only stuff your turkey with aromatics like onions, apples, lemons, and herbs. The bread mixture will only act as a sponge, soaking up turkey blood and juice and not really tasting like anything much at the end. The texture is a horror, too.

This dressing is crisp and multi-textured, with nubby bits of hot Italian sausage, good bread, and sweet pieces of butternut squash. Avoid prepackaged stuffing: crumbly bread and to many dry spices that taste like forgotten crouton crumbs at an all-you-can-eat salad bar.

You can roast the squash & toast the bread up to 2 days in advance!
1 large loaf sturdy bread, such as ciabatta, cut into 1-inch cubes to make 6 cups
1 butternut squash (about 3 pounds), peeled, seeded, and cut into 1-inch dice to make 3 cups
2 tablespoons olive oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 teaspoons orange zest plus 1 tablespoon orange juice

And pick it up from here, on the stovetop before serving: 
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, plus more as needed
4 fresh hot Italian sausages, casings removed and crumbled
2 large shallots, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon rosemary leaves, chopped
2 teaspoons thyme leaves
8 sage leaves, chopped

– Adjust oven rack to middle position and preheat oven to 400°F. Line a baking sheet with foil and arrange squash in an even layer. Season with salt and pepper and drizzle with olive oil. Sprinkle with zest and juice and use hands to evenly coat. Roast until tender, about 12 minutes. Transfer to cooling rack.

– Melt butter over medium-high heat in large skillet. Add the sausage and cook, stirring, until no longer pink, about 5 minutes. Transfer to a bowl.

– If the skillet is very dry, add 1 tablespoon butter. Add the shallots and cook until softened, about 3 minutes. Add the garlic, rosemary, thyme, and sage and cook until fragrant, about 3 minutes.

– Add butternut cubes and sausage to the skillet and stir to combine. Taste and season. Add bread and stir to combine. Add broth, and once again stir to combine. Cover and keep warm.

– When ready to serve, adjust oven rack to upper third and heat broiler to high. Transfer dressing to an oven-safe serving dish, or, if going super casual, leave it in the skillet. Run the dish under the broiler until crisp and golden, 1 – 3 minutes. Serve.


Makes 6

Equipment: Dutch oven or 6- to 8-quart pot, slotted spoon or spider, blender, strainer, rolling pin, chef’s knife, baking sheet, parchment paper, cooling rack

A few months ago, I needed a pumpkin for a photo shoot, but they were nowhere near being in season. Enter ayote or zapayo, or what I call “Latin pumpkin” or calabaza. It’s just one more of the gourd family, with the unique exception that you can find it year-round at many grocery stores. I grew up eating ayote en miel: ayote cooked in dark brown sugar syrup until dark and tender. Usually, to offset the sweetness, it, along with other stewed fruits, are served with salty cheese.

We had a piepalooza last year and were reluctant to revisit, but this Pop Tarts-inspired dessert brought together some heritage, a departure from the usual pie, and a great option for sending your guests off with an edible gift. If you’re pressed for time, do use store-bought pie crust, otherwise, visit our 2013 “Pie-Faced” Thanksgiving post for our recipe and method. Prepare the recipe for a double-crust pie and divide the dough into 2 rounds for easier handling. You can make the dough a couple of days in advance.

For the ayote en miel: 
1 tablespoon peppercorns
1 teaspoon allspice berries
1 cinnamon stick
3 pounds ayote, zapayo, calabaza, or sugar pumpkin, peeled, seeded, and cut into large chunks
2 cups packed dark brown sugar
½ teaspoon salt
Peeled zest of 1 orange, plus its juice

– In a Dutch oven or other heavy-bottomed pot of 6- to 8-quart capacity, toast peppercorns, allspice berries, and cinnamon over medium heat until fragrant, about 2 minutes.

– Add the pumpkin cubes, sugar, salt, orange zest and juice, and enough water to cover the pumpkin by about ½ inch. Bring to a boil over high heat, then reduce heat to medium low and simmer until completely tender, 1 to 2 hours.

– With a spider or slotted spoon, transfer the pumpkin to a bowl. Allow to cool to room temperature, then, purée in a blender until smooth. Strain cooking liquid and use it to sweeten and flavor anything from tea, to mulled wine, warm cider, and simple cocktails.

To assemble: 
All-purpose flour
1 large egg yolk
2 tablespoons heavy cream
Pinch salt

– Adjust oven rack to middle position and preheat oven to 375°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

– Dust a clean, dry work surface with all-purpose flour and roll each dough circle out to about 12- by 13-inches. Place 2 to 3 tablespoons pumpkin purée on the lower half of the dough, leaving a “frame” of about 1 inch around each mound of filling. Fold the top half of the dough over, with a chef’s knife cut into 3 hand pies (each will be roughly 4- by 5-inches), and use a fork to crimp and seal the tarts.

– Whisk together the yolk and cream and brush evenly on each hand pie. Bake until golden, 20 to 25 minutes. Transfer to cooling rack and serve warm or at room temperature.



I always feel like I need to bring something to a party, aside from my sparkling personality. I’m a cook and a stylist, and it just wouldn’t do for me to show up empty-handed, or worse yet, with a store-bought dessert. Sometimes, I bring booze. When I do, I start stuttering through a series of excuses, “Oh! It’s been madness! All of this travel! I’m never home anymore! I…etc.etc.etc.” Ultimately, I’m sure no one cares, but I feel dreadful.

Enter this dessert. It’s one of those Key lime pie recipes that you can find in the Wild West that is the Internet, or even on the side panel of a box of Grahams or a tin of sweetened condensed milk. You can make this thing blindfolded, even those of you who proclaim themselves non-bakers. AND! While there is a crust recipe here, go ahead, get one of those ready-made things if you want.

Top this tart with the most seasonal fruits you can find, like raspberries and plums, and not only will this be a refreshing and delicious dessert, it’ll look very “wow!”


Makes 1 (9-inch) tart, serving 8

1 ¾ cups Graham cracker crumbs
½ cup granulated sugar
¼ teaspoon salt
1 stick (4 ounces) unsalted butter, melted and slightly cooled

– Adjust oven rack to middle position and preheat oven to 350°F. Combine all ingredients in a medium bowl with a rubber spatula, then scrape into a 9-inch round pie plate. Press crumbs into bottom and up sides of plate.

– Bake until golden, 7 to 10 minutes, then transfer to a cooling rack and reserve.

1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese, softened*
1 (14-ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
1 tablespoon finely grated lime zest
Pinch salt
1/3 cup freshly squeezed lime juice, from about 12 limes
3 cups assorted fruits, such as berries and sliced peaches, plums, and nectarines

– With an electric mixer, beat cream cheese in a large bowl until light and fluffy. With machine running, gradually beat in condensed milk, lime zest, and salt. Slowly add the lime juice and beat just until mixture is combined.

– With a rubber spatula, scrape mixture into prepared pie shell. Top with fruits and refrigerate until chilled and set, about 2 hours. Serve.

*SOFT AND SUPPLE: Don’t try to beat this cream cheese when it’s cold: you’ll wind up with a filling that’s lumpy, like cottage cheese. If you’re in a rush and don’t want to wait for the cheese to come to room temperature, buy cream cheese in the carton with the foil wrapper on the cheese. Massage the cheese while still wrapped.

Thanksgiving Pies

The holidays are upon us! Again, they caught us by surprise, but there is no denying that in the city the streets are carpeted in thick layers of fallen leaves and the windows of shops are screaming out invitations to shop.

We had another early celebration, a dry run, so that we could share our Thanksgiving with you. Last year we honored the turkey and showed you how to roast and carve, but this year, we decided to go straight for what people most ogle at the table: PIE. Here you’ll find sweet and savory pies with classic flaky crusts, nut-based crusts, puff pastry berets, and crunchy layers of phyllo. We’ve included the standard but regal apple pie, and included a reimagined version of candied yams and marshmallows, as well as brown butter pear and cranberry, potato, and of course, turkey.

Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours!

And a very special thank you to our friend and rock star prop stylist, Emily Rickard!

Thanksgiving Pies

Thanksgiving Pies

Thanksgiving Pies

Makes 8 to 10 pot pies

Notes: You can roast the turkey up to two days in advance.  
My rule of thumb for seasoning poultry is ¾ teaspoon salt per pound of meat.
– I prefer Dufour brand puff pastry; it is pricier, but well worth it for true butter flavor.
– Warming the milk makes it easier to incorporate into the roux.

For the Turkey
1 (6-pound) bone-in turkey breast
4 ½ teaspoons salt* and freshly ground black pepper
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/3 cup mixed herbs, such as thyme, sage, and rosemary, chopped
1 tablespoon olive oil

For the Turkey: Adjust an oven rack to the middle position and preheat the oven to 450°F.  Set an oven-safe cooling rack in a rimmed baking sheet.

– Gently separate the skin from the flesh of the turkey with your fingertips. Rub most of the salt and pepper directly on the flesh, then rub the remaining on the skin. Combine the butter with the herbs and smear the butter in between the skin and flesh.

– Drizzle the breast with the olive oil and roast for 20 minutes. Reduce the oven temperature to 375°F and continue cooking until the thickest part of the breast registers 150°F (usually it is 160°F, but there will be carryover cooking and the turkey will be cooked within the pot pies).  Cool turkey to room temperature, then carve and cut into 1 ½-inch pieces.

For the Filling and Topping
3 pounds red waxy potatoes, scrubbed and cut into 1-inch pieces
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
10 tablespoons (9 ounces) unsalted butter
12 ounces slender carrots, peeled and cut on the bias into ½-inch-thick slices
12 ounces mushrooms, such as maitake or shiitake
4 shallots, minced
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves, plus sprigs for garnish
1 tablespoon fresh sage leaves, coarsely chopped
2 tablespoons sherry
1/3 cup all-purpose flour, plus additional for dusting counter
4 cups whole milk, warmed*
2 sheets puff pastry*, thawed according to package instructions
1 large egg yolk
2 tablespoons heavy cream

For the Filling and Topping: Adjust an oven rack to the middle position and preheat the oven to 375°F.

-Place the potatoes in medium saucepan and cover by 1 inch with cold water. Add 1 tablespoon salt and bring to a boil over high heat. Simmer on medium heat until potatoes are just tender, about 10 minutes. Drain.

– Melt 2 tablespoons of the butter in large skillet. Add carrots, season with salt and pepper, and sautée until golden about 5 minutes. Transfer to large bowl.

– Melt an additional 2 tablespoons of butter in now empty skillet. Add mushrooms, shallots, garlic, thyme, and sage, season with salt and pepper, and cook until mushrooms are golden, 6 to 8 minutes. Stir in sherry and cook an additional 30 seconds. Transfer to bowl with carrots.

– Melt the remaining 6 tablespoons of butter in now empty skillet. With a wooden stirring spoon, stir in the flour to make a paste (this is the roux). Cook, stirring, until beginning to turn golden, 2 to 3 minutes. Season with salt and pepper and slowly pour in milk while vigorously whisking. Simmer on medium-low heat for about 2 minutes until thickened; it should be like gravy. If too thick, add more warm milk.

– Pour sauce over vegetables in bowl and fold in potatoes and turkey.

– Divide the mixture evenly between (6- to 8-ounce-capacity) ramekins.

– Dust a clean, dry work surface with flour and rub a rolling pin with more. Roll out the puff pastry — this will depend on the size of your ramekins. Use a round cookie cutter to punch out “lids” for the ramekins, or cut it into squares. Cover the pot pies with pastry. Whisk the egg yolk and cream together in a small bowl and brush over pot pies.

– Set the ramekins on a baking sheet and bake until the pastry is puffed and golden, about 30 minutes. Garnish with thyme sprigs and serve.

Makes one 9-inch pie, serving 8

Notes: Granny Smiths are firm and tart and will retain their shape while they bake. Avoid softer-fleshed apples like Golden Delicious, which will blow out and turn mushy.

For the Double Crust
400 grams/14 ounces (about 2 ½ cups) all-purpose flour, plus additional for dusting counter
1 ½ teaspoons salt
¼ cup sugar
200 grams/7 ounces (15 tablespoons) unsalted butter, chilled and cut into ¼-inch pieces
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
Ice water, as needed

For the Filling
2 ½ pounds Granny Smith apples*, peeled, cored, and cut into 3/4-inch-thick wedges
1/3 cup packed dark brown sugar
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 ½ tablespoons cornstarch
2 teaspoons finely grated zest plus 2 tablespoons lemon juice
½ teaspoon salt
1 large egg yolk
2 tablespoons heavy cream
Demerara or other coarse-granule sugar for decorating

For the Double Crust: See Brown Butter Pear and Cranberry Pie crust recipe above for method. The only difference will be that once you’ve kneaded the dough, you’ll divide it in 2 before wrapping in plastic and refrigerating.

– Once your pie has been filled, roll out the second disc of dough and cut out decorative pieces, if desired. For the design in this picture, I lopped off the top third of a green apple and placed it on the topping. I then used a cookie cutter to cut out an opening in the center of what would be the lid and placed it over the filling and green apple. Rather than trimming off the edges of the dough to make a classic fluted edge, I decided to go a more organic route and simply pinched the bottom and top doughs together, letting the rest ruffle.

For the Filling: In a large bowl, toss together the apples, brown sugar, granulated sugar, cornstarch, lemon zest and juice, and salt.  Pour mixture into prepared dough shell. Cover with second dough round, decorate as desired, and refrigerate for 20 minutes (this will allow the top dough round to rest and also allow the apples to release some of their juices).

– Meanwhile, adjust an oven rack to the middle position and preheat the oven to 375°F. Whisk the egg yolk and cream together in small bowl and brush all over pie dough. Sprinkle with demerara sugar and bake until pie is deep golden brown, about 1 hour. Transfer to a cooling rack and cool to room temperature before serving.

Makes one 8- by 8-inch pie, serving 8 to 12

For the Crust
Baking spray
1 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 cup pecans
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 stick (4 ounces) unsalted butter, cut into thin slices and chilled

For the Crust: Adjust oven rack to the middle position and preheat oven to 375°F.

– Lightly coat an 8- by 8-inch baking pan with baking spray. Line the pan with parchment paper, laying down first one piece and allowing about 3 inches of excess to hang over the edges, then a second piece crosswise to create a sling. Coat with spray once more.

– In a food processor, pulse the flour, pecans, sugar, and salt until the pecans are finely ground. Add the butter and pulse until the mixture resembles coarse meal. Transfer dough to prepared baking pan and press into bottom of pan in an even layer.

– Bake until just set, about 20 minutes, then transfer to a cooling rack.

For the Filling
½ stick (2 ounces) unsalted butter
1/2 teaspoon allspice
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
3 pounds garnet sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes
1 cup apple cider
3/4 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons sorghum syrup or molasses
Finely grated zest and juice of ½ an orange
2 large eggs

For the Filling: Melt the butter over medium-high heat in a large saucepan. Add the allspice and cinnamon and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the sweet potatoes, apple cider, and salt and bring to a simmer (if potatoes are not covered, add enough water to cover by about 1 inch). Cover and cook over low heat until the potatoes are fork-tender, about 12 minutes. If liquid remains in pot, remove lid, increase heat to medium-high and continue cooking until no liquid remains. Remove pan from heat, cool potatoes to room temperature, and transfer to the bowl of a food processor.

– Add the orange zest and juice and eggs to food processor and blend until mixture is completely smooth. Scrape mixture into prepared crust and smooth out into even layer. Prepare topping.

For the Topping
2 large egg whites, at room temperature
Pinch salt
1 (16-ounce) tub marshmallow fluff

– Beat egg whites and with wire whisk in large bowl until they hold soft peaks. Scrape fluff into a second large bowl. Stir in 1/3 of the egg whites, then fold in the rest using a rubber spatula.  Spread over sweet potato filling.

– Bake until marshmallow fluff is puffed and golden, about 30 minutes. Transfer to cooling rack and cool to room temperature. Using the overhanging parchment paper, pull pie out onto a cutting board and cut into 8 to 12 pieces. Serve.

Makes one 9-inch pie, serving 8

Notes: In the images in this post, the pie was baked in several different-sized pie plates. Feel free to do the same.
– The measurements for the crust are provided in grams and ounces as I normally use a scale when preparing it.

For the Crust
200 grams/7 ounces (about 1 ¼ cups) all-purpose flour, plus additional for dusting counter
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons sugar
100 grams/3.5 ounces (7 ½ tablespoons) unsalted butter, chilled and cut into ¼-inch pieces
1 large egg, lightly beaten
Ice water, as needed

For the Filling
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 pounds firm Bosc pears, peeked, cored, and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
Finely grated zest and juice of 1 lemon
3/4 cup fresh or frozen cranberries
1/3 cup demerara sugar
1/4 cup brandy

For the Crust: Combine flour, sugar, and salt on a clean, dry, and cool work surface. With a bench scraper, cut in butter until it resembles wet sand. Alternatively, combine flour, sugar, and salt in bowl of food processor and pulse to combine. Add butter and pulse until mixture resembles wet sand, then transfer mixture to work surface.

– Form a well in the center of flour mixture and pour in beaten egg and 1 tablespoon ice water. Working quickly, use the bench scraper to combine the ingredients.  If the mixture appears very dry and crumbly, add ice water, 1 teaspoon at a time, until mixture is cohesive but not overly wet.

– Bring dough together with lightly floured hands. Pinch off small pieces of dough and, working quickly, with the heel of your hand extend on work surface to ensure even distribution of butter. Gather dough together into a disc. Wrap with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

– Clean and dry off counter and sprinkle with flour. Rub flour on rolling pin. Roll dough out, starting in the center and working outwards (never roll back into center as it will just bring the dough back). Dough should be about 12-inches in diameter.  Roll dough lightly onto rolling pin, then transfer to 9-inch pie plate. Press into the bottom and sides, trim off edges and reserve them, then pinch the edges into a decorative pattern. Refrigerate for 30 minutes, during which time you can prepare the filling. (The dough may be prepared up to 1 week in advance to this stage and frozen).

For the Filling: Adjust oven rack to middle position and preheat oven to 375°F.

– Melt the butter in large skillet over medium-high heat, swirling the pan occasionally, until it begins to foam. Once the foam subsides and small brown flecks can be seen in the butter (it will smell nutty, too), add the pears, lemon zest and juice, and a pinch of salt and cook, tossing and stirring, until pears are browned and beginning to soften, about 8 minutes.

– Stir in the brandy, sugar, and cranberries. Remove the pan from heat and allow to cool for 10 minutes. Then, pour into prepared crust. Pinch off pieces of the reserved dough scraps and scatter over pie. Bake until bubbling and edges of pie are brown, 30 to 40 minutes. Transfer to a cooling rack and cool to room temperature. Serve.

Makes 1 tart, serving 6 to 8

Notes: This is a great appetizer.
– I used a rectangular tart pan, about 7- by 11-inches. Any tart pan in that general size will work.
– Phyllo is a tissue paper-thin dough that dries out and breaks if exposed to air even for a few seconds. Set the pile of phyllo sheets on your counter, cover it with wax or parchment paper, then cover it with a damp towel. You will work with only one sheet of dough at a time.
– I used Cana de Cabra, a Spanish cheese with a chalky exterior and soft center. Avoid using the chalky logs of goat cheese here as it is lacking in flavor.
– A mandolin makes quick work of thinly slicing potatoes. While working, keep potatoes in a bowl of cold water to prevent them from oxidizing.

10 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 leeks, white and pale green parts thinly sliced (or 5 shallots, thinly sliced)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
8 sheets phyllo dough, thawed out according to manufacturer’s instructions
6 ounces goat cheese or brie*
2 teaspoons thyme leaves plus additional for garnish
2 ½ pounds red or yellow waxy potatoes, peeled and very thinly sliced*

– Adjust an oven rack to the middle position and preheat the oven to 375°F.

– Melt 2 tablespoons of the butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add leeks or shallots, season with salt and pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened and golden, about 8 minutes. Set aside.

– Melt the remaining 8 tablespoons butter. Brush a tart pan with butter, then press 1 phyllo sheet (see notes above about working phyllo) into the pan. Brush the sheet with more butter, then repeat layering and buttering process until you’ve used all the sheets. Crumble or break apart the cheese and scatter over the dough. Scatter the leeks or shallots over the cheese.

– Arrange the potatoes in a slight overlapping pattern over the leeks and cheese.  Brush the potatoes with butter, lightly season with salt and pepper, and sprinkle with some of the thyme. Repeat the process until you’ve run out of potatoes. Trim off any excess pastry hanging over the edges of the tart mold.

– Bake until potatoes are tender and golden, 30 to 40 minutes. Transfer to cooling rack and cool to room temperature before serving.

*Leftovers are great reheated and served with a fried egg on top.

The Lone RangerOn a recent trip, I found myself alone in a darksome wood, driving for miles under cover of pre-dawn darkness.  The road meandered and snaked, unspooling like a cat’s ball of yarn. It was lonesome, but not lonely. Quiet, calming, sleepy, yet coursing with adrenaline, a soft, insistent thudding underneath the ribs keeping the time. The moon, even as morning hours progressed, shone high beam-bright, Night resolutely ignoring daybreak.

Seldom am I away from the din of cities, home and work pushing me back and forth between crowded spaces. Being alone comes with its own noise, however.

A while back I wrote about dining by myself and many of you responded with your experiences. Some of you applauded the activity and others wondered if they had the stomach for it – your thoughts have stayed with me…

This has been a particularly travel-heavy year and eating out on my own is becoming increasingly more routine. It’s ever easier, but admittedly, it has exhausting and trying moments. Food is about community, family, and sharing, and a party-of-one-dinner lacks in companionship. I do still try to pick interesting and popular restaurants that are easy to slip into as a single diner, but now there’s a bit more exploration: each new city, each new seat at the bar, each new dish provides space for thought.

Those thoughts have of late focused on eating alone at home. It is now a treat to do so, and, on occasion, I avoid having lunch at my desk or standing in the kitchen. This steak and mashed potato meal (cocktail included!) is a treat. Approach its preparation and consumption as if you’re a guest.

The Lone Ranger

The Lone RangerThe Lone Ranger

Serves 6

Notes: When buying white chocolate, read the ingredients list and be sure it contains cocoa butter. Many brands omit it, and the quality of the dessert suffers.

This recipe is clearly not for 1, but leftovers keep for about 5 days.

1 (0.25-ounce) packet powdered plain gelatin
½ cup lukewarm water
3 cups heavy cream
2 tablespoons honey
1/3 cup fresh lavender (or 3 tablespoons dried lavender buds), plus additional for garnish
1 vanilla bean pod, seeds scraped out, pod reserved
Table salt
10 ounces white chocolate, finely chopped*
Maldon salt, for garnish

– Stir gelatin and water together in small bowl and allow to stand until softened, about 5 minutes.

– Bring 1 cup cream, honey, lavender, vanilla bean pod,  and a pinch of salt to a simmer over medium heat. Remove from heat and steep 15 minutes. Strain and discard solids.

– Return cream to pot and bring to a simmer once again. Add the vanilla bean seeds and white chocolate. Stir until smooth.

– Transfer mixture to bowl, cover with plastic, pressing down on surface. Refrigerate about 30 minutes until firm.

– Whip the mousse to soften and lighten. In a separate bowl, whisk (or whip with electric mixer) remaining 2 cups cream until soft peaks form. Stir in 1/3 of the whipped cream into the mousse, then, fold in the rest with a rubber spatula. Serve in bowls or cups and garnish with lavender and Maldon salt.


I don’t have much of a recipe for this one, but some guidelines that will hopefully help you:

–  Pat the steak dry with paper towels.
–  Season it generously with salt and pepper.
–    Heat about 2 teaspoons vegetable or canola oil over medium-high heat in a large skillet and be sure the oil is beginning to smoke: the skillet needs to be raging hot in order to get a proper sear on the meat.
–  Cook the meat to your desired doneness – I like mine bloody, so I go for 4 to 6 minutes on each side. The more you cook, the more familiar you will become with steak – you’ll be able to touch it with a fingertip and tell how done it is. In the meantime, an instant-read thermometer is helpful.
–  Allow the meat to rest at least 5 minutes before eating.
–  Always cut against the grain.


When it comes to mashed potatoes, I like a russet potato. Peel and cut about 1 pound into 1-inch cubes and bring to a boil over high heat, starting with cold water and 1 tablespoon salt. If you start with boiling water, the potatoes will cook from the outside in and they’ll blow out. DON’T DO IT!

–  Cook the potatoes until fork-tender, about 15 minutes. Drain the potatoes and return them to the pot over the heat. Allow them to dry out for a few minutes. Mash them or put them through a ricer or food mill, then stir in melted butter and warm heavy cream (warm butter and cream will incorporate much more easily into your mash, and you  won’t have to reheat them). Add as much butter and cream as you like, then season with salt, and sprinkle with chopped chives if desired.


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