Caramelized Upside-Down French Sweet Potato Pie {Tarte Tatin}

Caramelized Upside-Down French Sweet Potato Pie {Tarte Tatin}

Caramelized Upside-Down French Sweet Potato Pie

Holiday Spiced Sweet Potatoes are our seasonal favorite side dish, where thinly sliced sweet potatoes are baked with rich cream, brown sugar, warm spices, salt and pepper.

Apple Tarte Tatin, the world famous upside-down apple tart with buttery caramel-y flavors, is super easy to make and results in one impressive dessert time and again.

Here, the recipes are blended together – where the French tart’s apples are replaced with sweet potatoes and seasoned with pumpkin pie spices (cinnamon, ginger, lemon peel, nutmeg, clove, cardamom) for a unique pie that will definitely make it onto my Thanksgiving menu this year. Caramelized Upside-Down French Sweet Potato Pie makes a fabulous dessert, but could be equally successful served as a sweet-savory vegetable side dish, perhaps along side a Standing Rib Roast or Holiday Turkey.

Caramelized Upside-Down French Sweet Potato Pie Recipe

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Classic Apple Tarte Tatin with Cognac and Crème Fraîche

Classic Apple Tarte Tatin with Cognac and Crème Fraîche

Classic Apple Tarte Tatin with Cognac and Crème Fraîche

Here we have the irresistible color and flavors of Autumn on a plate. Top slices of just-from-the-oven apple tarte tatin with a dollop of crème fraîche – its slightly sour, nutty flavor and velvety texture make it the perfect accompaniment. Serve alongside a warmed snifter of Cognac and it would be difficult to find a better dessert to entertain as the weather cools and the leaves turn…

Classic Apple Tarte Tatin Recipe

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Banana Split Pavlovas

A Banana Split Pavlova - For Both Adults and Kids!

 Banana Split Pavlova – A “Sick” Dessert For Both Adults and Kids!

I learned this adjective from my nephews. It now means crazy, cool, insane. OK. This dessert is definitely sick. Our beloved sophisticated pavlova, a refined dessert created to honor prima ballerina Ánna Pávlova, at the turn of the last century has been turned on its graceful ear, so to speak.

Here, our marshmallowy meringue is filled with low-fat vanilla yogurt (for the adults) or ice cream and whipped cream (for the kids). Then it is topped with fresh pineapple and banana, chopped peanuts, a wild drizzle of hot fudge, and studded with (natural, no artificial color) maraschino cherries. For an extra kick, the adults’ cherries get soaked in brandy.  It is not the finale for your next elegant dinner party. But it is delightful and playful, a sick dessert with wholesome “banana split” ingredients for adults and kids alike.

Banana Split Pavlovas Recipe

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Hanukkah Brisket Tamales

Hanukkah Brisket Tamales
Hanukkah Brisket Tamales

Sending my warmest wishes to you at Hanukkah
May you be blessed with joy, good health, peace, and tender brisket….

Hanukkah Brisket Tamales

Oh how we adore our brisket. And since the cooking process takes over eight hours, I usually make enough for leftovers and extra to freeze for later too. This year – the intersection of Hanukkah, brisket in the freezer, spying some mouth-watering tamales at LA’s Grand Central Market, and a tamalada (my Latino friends’ traditional Christmas season tamale-making party) – led to a unique holiday treat…Hanukkah Brisket Tamales. Made with my super-tender beef brisket, from a recipe that we have been making for many years. It is so good it’s one of the few recipes that I never adjust. The addition of carrots sautéed in olive oil and seasoned with a bit of cumin, salt and pepper plus a medley of sautéed onion and jalapeño adds fresh flavor and spiciness. The (optional) gouda cheese brings another dimension of smokiness and creamy texture. And lastly, who could resist the adorable little packages all wrapped up like a present, representing the age-old Jewish custom to give gifts of gelt to children on Hanukkah.

Note: Omit dairy or replace with non-dairy vegan substitutes for your Observant guests who follow the laws of kashrut (Jewish dietary laws).

Hanukkah Brisket Tamales Recipe

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My Exquisite French Martini, Macaron Garnish

My Exquisite French Martini, Macaron Garnish

My Exquisite French Martini, Macaron Garnish

St-Germain Liqueur is created in the artisanal French manner from freshly hand-picked elderflower blossoms. Its sublime taste hints at pear, peach and grapefruit, yet none of them exactly. It is a flavor as subtle and delicate as it is captivating. Dolin Vermouth de Chambéry is made of fine wines and botanicals found in the Alpine meadows above Chambéry. Together they impart a fresh and elegant nose, with a subtle and complex palate. Each batch of Grey Goose Vodka begins with soft winter wheat grown on farms of Northern France, using the same wheat used in the finest French breads and pastries. After the wheat grain is fermented and distilled into a high-proof spirit, it travels south to the Cognac arrondissement where it is blended with the remarkably pristine water found there. The result is a vodka with an elegant floral and citrusy nose, and a soft smooth palate with a hint of almond, and a fresh bright finish.

Now, I ask you – with these three fine French ingredients, is there any way to improve upon this cocktail? Yes, I can think of one…Garnish it with a fabulous French macaron! Exquisite, indeed.

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Holiday Fried Honey Cookies with Cinnamon Ginger Syrup

Fried Cookies with Ginger, Honey, Pine Nuts (Korean Yakgwa)

Holiday Fried Honey Cookies with Cinnamon Ginger Syrup
Garnished with Pine Nuts, 
Red & Green Sparkling Sugars
Korean Yakgwa 약과

Looking for a different type of sweet treat to add to your holiday cookie repertoire this year? Try Korean yakgwa. These fried cookies soaked in a cinnamon ginger syrup have a unique biscuit-like texture and are bursting with an unexpected flavor combination of toasted sesame oil, cinnamon, and ginger. This time of year I sprinkle them with red and green sparkling sugars along with the traditional chopped pine nuts. They are petite, super-sticky, and honey-sweet with an interesting savory element – and make a delightful addition to the Christmas dessert buffet.

Fried Cookies with Ginger, Honey, Pine Nuts (Korean Yakgwa)

Holiday Yakgwa Recipe

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Quinoa Omelette with Brussels Sprouts & Cheddar

Quinoa Omelette filled with Roasted Brussels Sprouts and Cheddar

Quinoa Omelette
filled with
Roasted Shaved Brussels Sprouts and Cheddar

Lovers will love. But will haters, hate? There is something about roasting shaved Brussels sprouts that makes them appealing to even the most picky eaters. And stuffing them into a fluffy omelette made with quinoa and melting cheddar – well perhaps we are able to win some new friends for these cute little brassicas that have the unfortunate reputation of being one of the country’s most disliked vegetables.

Brussels sprouts can have a slightly bitter quality, especially the large older ones, which can be off-putting to many. And then there is that childhood memory of mushy overcooked Brussels sprouts with their lingering cabbage-y smells. But when those mini cabbages are shaved – so there are lots of leaves exposed to get crunchy and crackly, then roasted – creating crispy caramelized bits, they do become quite irresistible.

I add cooked quinoa to eggs to increase fiber and nutrients. Cooked quinoa is fluffy like couscous, creamy like rice, slightly crunchy with a nutty taste reminiscent of sesame seeds. It adds flavor and texture to this unique seasonal omelette.

Quinoa Omelette filled with Brussels Sprouts Recipe

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