Goat Cheese Panna Cotta

This panna cotta is my invention since I found nothing close to what I had in mind.  The creaminess and slightly sweet and tangy flavor of the panna cotta works perfectly with the sourness of the rhubarb.  Play around with the amount of sugar and spices you want with the rhubarb.

 I used Goya Guava juice because we always have it around.  It’s great for smoothies!  But you can try this with another juice as well.  Or just use more wine..  Keep an eye on the rhubarb so it isn’t overcooked.  It should keep some of it’s texture.

This is an elegant and refreshing summer dessert.  It has met with rave reviews every time I’ve served it.


Rhubarb soup

1 pound rhubarb cut into ½  inch pieces

½ cup sugar

1 cup white wine

1 2 inch cinnamon stick

1 cup guava juice

1 star anise (optional)

Strawberries washed and cut into small dice for garnish

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F

In a pot, combine rhubarb and sugar.  Bake, stirring occasionally for 10-15 minutes or until softened but still holding its shape.  

Meanwhile, boil wine, juice, cinnamon stick and star anise for 5 minutes and then let it sit.  Pour over the baked rhubarb and chill in refrigerator.


1 cup heavy cream (or if you want to cut down on the cream, use 1/2 cup of heavy cream and 1  1/2 cups of buttermilk.)

1 cup buttermilk cup 

1/3 sugar

8 ounces  creamy goat cheese such as Chevrie

1 packet gelatin

1 vanilla bean or 1  tsp. vanilla extract

Eggplant with Plum Sauce

eggplant in basket
  1. Slice small (3 inches or less) eggplant in half lengthwise, spread with olive oil and salt and grill over barbecue until browned on both sides and barely cooked. Salt and set aside.
  2. Meanwhile make the sauce: Mix together

          ¼ of plum jam,

           3-4 skinned plums if you have nice fresh, ripe plum

            2-3 Tbs. soy sauce

            I Tbs. grated fresh ginger

            !-2 Tbs. minced garlic

            1 tsp Asian chili garlic sauce (optional)

      ¼ cup Iron Chef Sesame Garlic Sauce : NOTE: I have to defend using a ready  made sauce but I have to say it really kicks it up significantly. This sauce is all natural with no preservatives and not particularly high in sodium.

3. Boil these ingredients together for 5 minutes until the flavors meld and it is slightly  


  1. Put the cooked eggplant in an oven or grill proof dish and cover with the sauce. I add more garlic since I love garlic. Cover and cook for 5-10 minutes in hot covered grill (300°-400°). It should be boiling hard so that the sauce thickens.   But check to make sure it is not burning.  


Madeleines (Makes about 16)


2 large eggs

2/3   cups sugar (divided)

1 tsp vanilla extract

1 lemon using only the peel

1 cup all purpose flour

pinch of salt

1 ½ sticks of butter, melted and cooled slightly so as not to cook the eggs

Powdered sugar

1.     Preheat oven to 375°

2.     Use madeleines mold with teflon coating sprayed with oil or greased with butter

3.     In the food process process the peel of one lemon mixed with 1/3 cup of the sugar until lemon peel is finely incorporated into the sugar

4.     Add eggs and the final 1/3 cup sugar and process together along with vanilla.

5.     Add flour and pulse a few times until just blended

6.     Gradually add the cooled butter processing until just blended

7.     Let the batter stand at room temperature for at least two hours or refrigerate overnight or even for a couple of days.

8.     Spoon about 1 TBS into each mold filling about ¾ of the mold

9.     Bake for 10-12 minutes or until the edges are beginning to brown

10.Turn them out while still hot onto a rack. 

11.  Sprinkle the top with powdered sugar.

    12.These are best eaten warm but also keep for a few days in a tin. 


Years ago I entered a recipe contest through Fine Cooking Magazine where we were instructed to use certain ingredients to create our own recipe.  This is what I came up with and though I didn’t win, I did get a phone call from the judges asking for more clarification so that was pretty close to winning, right? 

My concept was to blend the best ingredients of French beef stew with the great Chinese stew ingredients:  wine, garlic, bacon, oyster sauce,  and of course ginger. The other flavor booster I work into this recipe is to layer the ingredients so that you have garlic and ginger cooking slowly and flavoring the broth.  But I also add these ingredients the last minute to enhance the ginger and garlic flavors.This is a recipe I go back to time and again.  My grown up son asked for the recipe and said it came out great.  Feel free to modify as you wish.  For instance, he used regular mushrooms rather than shiitake. If you don’t have the rosemary, don’t worry.  You can add a little thyme, a bay leaf some herbs de province or leave out the spices 


 3 slices bacon

Olive oil as needed

2 lbs stew beef, cut in 2×2 inch pieces (a marbled, fatty cut works best for stew such as chuck.  And if you use organic meat it may take less time since organic meat tends to be less fatty)

Salt and pepper

1 ½ cups shallots, coarsely chopped (about ½ lb)

2 large cloves garlic, minced

1 Tbs. fresh ginger, finely minced

¼ cup flour

2 cups dry red wine (such as Shiraz or Merlot)

1 can chicken broth (10.5 oz)

¼ cup oyster sauce

2 Tbs. sugar

1 sprig fresh rosemary

½ lb. shiitake mushrooms, cleaned, stems removed and cut in slices.

2 (more) cloves garlic, finely minced

1 Tbs. (or more) fresh ginger, finely minced

1 tsp. sesame oil

3-4 green onions finely minced

1.  Heat a medium size heavy pot over medium heat and cook bacon until crispy.  Remove and set aside to drain on paper towel.  Chop into small pieces.

2. Season meat with salt and pepper.  Increase heat to high, add oil to bacon fat to coat bottom of pot and when oil shimmers add meat in three batches, browning each batch and setting aside. Add more oil if necessary to coat bottom of pan after each batch.

3. Turn the heat to medium and add shallots, browning while stirring for about 5 minutes.  Add ginger and garlic and cook, stirring for two more minutes or until aromatic.  Add flour and mix together while cooking for another 2 minutes.

4.  Add wine while stirring quickly to mix in the flour.  Add broth, oyster sauce, sugar, rosemary, and reserved bacon and beef. Stir well and heat to simmer.

5. Cook for 30 minutes and remove rosemary.  Continue to cook stew over low heat for 30- 60 minutes more hours stirring every 30 minutes and adding more water or stock if necessary.  Depending on the cut of meat and size of the chunks this may take more or less time.  Take a piece out and see if it is tender.

6.  While the stew is cooking, fry the mushrooms in two batches over medium heat in frying pan coated with oil for 3 minutes or until beginning to brown. Add the mushrooms to the stew for the last 30 minutes of cooking.

7. For best flavor refrigerate the stew overnight and reheat the next day, adjusting seasoning as desired. 

8.  15 minutes before serving add the two cloves of mashed garlic and 1 Tbs. of ginger to the simmering stew.

9. Just before serving, stir in the sesame oil and sprinkle with spring onions.

 Serve over mashed potatoes, with peas on the side.

 Preparation time is 30-45 minutes and cooking time is 2 hours.



 moroccan chicken

This is a spectacularly delicious chicken dish.  It can be made with lamb or meatless.  Using seven vegetables brings good luck.  I used parsnips, butternut squash, onions, tomatoes, turnips, zucchini and carrots.  Feel free to put together any combination you want.  And the quantities I used in the recipe are totally open to modification.  I used a flavorful homemade organic chicken broth but store bought chicken broth or vegetable broth will work just fine.  Garam Masala is an Indian spice blend that is sweeter than some of the other blends.  It contains cinnamon, ginger, cumin,, clove, coriander, bay leaf and chili.  I also use a traditional Moroccan curry blend called Ras el Hanout.  It contains turmeric, white pepper, aniseed, cardamom cloves, all spice, cinnamon, nutmeg, mace and ginger.  Some recipes include saffron but I don’t think it stands up with all the other spices.  I prefer to use saffron by itself. 

When I make this dish I serve it with rice instead of couscous which would be the traditional accompaniment.  But I just found a smoked basmati rice which is delicious with fried onions and barberries.  For 6 people I cook the cups of  rice as directed and then take out a 1/4 of the rice and add a  pinch of saffron that has been steeped in a TBS of hot water.  To the rest of the rice I add a 1/4 cup of  barberries that have also steeped in a little hot water (draining the water) and add a medium onion that has been diced and fried until beginning to brown.  I serve the barberry rice on a platter surrounded by the saffron rice.

 [recipe difficulty=”medium”]



8 chicken thighs with bones and skin

4-6 cups chicken stock

1/2 cup flour

3 carrots, peeled and sliced into 1/2 inch pieces

2 parsnips peeled and sliced into 1/2 inch pieces

1 can petite diced tomatoes

1 large onion cut into small dice

1 small turnip or part of a rutabaga chopped into 1-2  inch dice

1 cup butternut squash cut into 1-2  inch dice

1/2 pound zucchini, either the tiny zucchini cut into 1 inch pieces or a larger one cut into 1/2 slices

1 can chickpeas

1/4  lb.  sliced dried apricots

2 garlic cloves, crushed.

2-3 TBS garam marsala

1 TBS Ras el Hanout (Moroccan blend of spices) 

1/4 pound slivered almonds

Harissa  (This is a spicy  red pepper blend that serves as a condiment. It can be found in Middle Eastern section of Wegmans or from a specialty grocer.)



  1. Dredge the chicken in flour and fry in olive oil until brown on both sides.  Set aside
  2. Fry onions in olive oil until soft and beginning to brown,  set aside.  Then fry turnip, parsnip, carrot  and butternut squash in batches until beginning to brown and smell aromatic.  Set aside
  3. Fry spices mixtures for three or four minutes,  stirring until aromatic, but take care not to burn.
  4. Add broth to frying pan along with tomatoes and bring to boil.
  5. Combine the vegetables, chickpeas, apricots and chicken and bring to simmer.  Cook for 30 minutes.  Taste for seasoning and add salt and more curry seasonings to taste.
  6. It is best if the dish cools overnight in the fridge and is reheated one or two days later.
  7. Last minute  lightly brown almonds  in butter.
  8. Also last minute fry the zucchini until barely cooked in olive oil and add garlic for the last minute, stirring it evenly into the zucchini.
  9. Remove the chicken mixture from fridge and carefully spoon off the solidified oil from the top.  Heat it up.  When simmering add the zucchini.  Check for seasoning .
  10. Serve on large platter sprinkling with rice and almonds.  Serve Harissa on the side.

Banana Upside-Down Cake

banana upside down cake

[recipe difficulty=”medium”] 

Banana Upside Down Cake

This cake is the best of a banana cake and an upside down cake.  You have to love bananas because this cake is the essence of bananas.  This is the cake you make when you have lots of really ripe bananas.

Topping ingredients:

1/2  cup brown sugar
2 Tbs. maple syrup
1/4 stick unsalted butter
2-4 large ripe bananas, peeled and cut into 1/4 inch thick slices.

Cake ingredients:

1 stick softened or melted butter
3/4 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 cup mashed banana (2-3 bananas)
1 cup all purpose flour
3/4 cup cake flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup buttermilk or a combination of buttermilk and sour cream
1 teaspoon vanilla


1. Melt butter and sugar together along with maple syrup in 9 inch cast iron pan and let them caramelize until light brown. Be careful not to let it burn but no need to stir.
2.  Place the bananas attractive over the butter sugar mixture and set aside

Cake:  Preheat oven to 350 degrees

1.  Mix together all the dry ingredients:  baking powder, baking soda, two flours, cinnamon and salt and set aside.
2.  Beat sugar and butter in another bowl until creamy.
3.  Add egg and continue to beat until light and fully. 
4.  Add bananas,vanilla and milk and sour cream and beat together until blended.
5. Add flour mixture and mix just until incorporated.  Do not over mix
6. Carefully pour over the bananas in the iron skillet and spread evenly.
7. Place in center of oven and bake for about 45-55 minutes or until brown and tester comes out clean.
8. Remove the cake from oven and let cool for 5 minutes before carefully inverting it unto a serving tray.
9.  This cake is amazing served warm.






Mushroom-Walnut Paté



Mushroom-Walnut Paté
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  1. • 2-1/2 tablespoons butter
  2. • 2/3 cup mushrooms(any combination), sliced
  3. • 1/4 cup chopped shallots or onions
  4. • 1 small clove fresh garlic, minced
  5. • 1/2 cup toasted walnut pieces
  6. • 1 tablespoon walnut oil or olive oil
  7. • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  8. • 1 teaspoon lemon zest
  1. 1. In a large skillet over medium heat, melt butter.
  2. 2. Add mushrooms, shallots and garlic. Sauté 7-10 minutes, stirring often, until mix is just browning and any liquids given off have evaporated.
  3. 3. Place walnuts, oil, salt and zest in a food processor and process until a paste has formed.
  4. 4. Add mushroom mix and blend until almost smooth.
  5. 5. Taste and add salt as needed.

Apple Garlic Chutney

[recipe difficulty=”medium”]
4-5 tart apples, peeled, cored and coarsely chopped
1 cup dried apricots chopped into little cubes
1 cup golden raisins
6-7 garlic cloves, peeled and mashed
2 tsp. grated and peeled fresh ginger
1 cup sugar
1 1/2 cups cider or red wine vinegar
1 tsp salt
1/2-1 tsp cayenne pepper (to taste)
In a non-reactive pot (not aluminum or iron) combine all ingredients.  Bring to a boil and reduce to simmer, stirring often.  Add more vinegar if necessary to prevent burning.  Cook for about 30 minutes until the apples are softened and the mixture is thickened.  Taste and add more salt, sugar or vinegar if necessary. To give it a nice kick I add a teaspoon of grated ginger and a clove of pressed garlic after I turn off the heat and stir it in.
Remove from heat and cool to room temperature.  Spoon into sterile jars and cover tightly.  Refrigerate for several days and up to two weeks to allow flavors to mellow.  This chutney can be kept in the fridge for up to 2 months.

Applesauce Upside Down Cake



These next two posts are my creations of upside down cake with the fruit also in the cake.  So this applesauce upside-down cake has an applesauce spice cake with the apples caramelized over the top.

I started with my applesauce muffin recipe adapting it as a cake recipe. 

 [recipe difficulty=”medium”] 

For Topping:
5-6 medium apples (peeled cored and quartered)
1/2 stick unsalted butter
2/3 cup sugar
For Cake Batter 
  • 1 ¼ cups applesauce (if sweetened cut down on the brown sugar)
  • 3/4  cup brown sugar
  • ½  cup olive oil
  • 2 eggs
  • ¼ cup buttermilk
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • ½  teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ½  teaspoon ground allspice
  • ½ teaspoon ground clove
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt


1.  Using a 9 inch cast iron skillet melt the butter and add the sugar.
2.  Arrange that apples cut side up in a decorative way over the melted butter and sugar. You can crowd them since they will shrink when cooked.
3.  Cook undisturbed for 25-45 minutes or until the apples are tender,  and the are light brown. Make sure not to burn the apples.


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
  2. In a large bowl, Beat eggs first and then  add the applesauce, sugar, oil, and buttermilk; beat well.
  3.  Sift together the flour, baking soda, baking powder and mix in cinnamon,  allspice, cloves and salt. Add to the applesauce mixture but don’t over stir.
  4. Add vanilla.
  5. Pour batter over the cooked apples, making sure to spread evenly almost to the edge.
  6. Bake in preheated oven for 30-35 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into center of the cake comes out clean.
  7. Cool cake for 5 minutes and then carefully reverse it unto a platter.


Charlie Bird’s Farro Salad with Arugula


Charlie Bird's Farro Salad
Serves 6
A beautiful salad with a flavorful mixture of arugula, basil and mint
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Prep Time
45 min
Cook Time
30 min
Prep Time
45 min
Cook Time
30 min
  1. 1 cup farro
  2. 1 cup apple cider
  3. 2 teaspoons kosher salt, more as needed
  4. 2 bay leaves
  5. 8 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  6. 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  7. 70 grams Parmesan cheese, shaved with a vegetable peeler (1/2 cup)
  8. 70 grams chopped pistachio nuts (1/2 cup)
  9. 2 cups arugula leaves
  10. 1 cup basil leaves, torn
  11. 1 cup mint leaves
  12. ¾ cup halved cherry or grape tomatoes
  13. ⅓ cup thinly sliced radish
  14. Maldon or other flaky sea salt, for finishing
  1. In a medium saucepan, bring farro, apple cider, salt, bay leaves and 2 cups water to a simmer. Simmer until farro is tender and liquid evaporates, about 30 minutes.
  2. If all the liquid evaporates before the farro is done, add a little more water.
  3. Let farro cool, then discard bay leaves.
  4. In a salad bowl, whisk together olive oil, lemon juice and a pinch of salt.
  5. Add farro and mix well.
  6. This salad base will keep for up to 4 hours at room temperature or overnight in the refrigerator (bring to room temperature before serving).
  7. Just before serving, fold in arugula, herbs, tomatoes, cheese and pistachio nuts and mix well. Add flaky salt to taste.
Adapted from Slightly adapted by Celia
This is one of the best salads to bring to a pot luck. It’s a winner and everyone wants the recipe. I usually adapt recipes but in this case I’ve followed Charlie Bird’s directions exactly (except that I don’t add the radishes). I usually cook the farro the day before and add the lemon juice and olive oil. Right before serving I fold in the rest of the ingredients. For a vegan offering I add the cheese separately. Thank you Charlie!