[recipe difficulty=”easy”]


Preheat oven to 350°


  1. Chocolate graham cracker crumbs:  the boxes have 3 separate packages of 8 double crackers.  I use one package of 8 and another 5 double crackers.  Put them in food processor and grind into fine crumbs.  Then add:
  2. 1 stick butter and another 3 TBS. that has been melted in microwave. Blend in food processor until mixed.
  3. Butter a 10 inch removable rim tart pan and push the crumbs into the tart pan first around the rim and then the bottom so that it is spread evenly and packed down well.
  4. Bake 8 minutes, remove from oven and carefully push crust back into shape using a small spatula or your fingers.



1-8 oz. package cream cheese (I use the 1/3 less fat variety)

½ cup sour cream (I use the lite variety)

½ cup sugar

 2-3.5 oz. bars of chocolate 70% cocoa (I use Lindt Excellence)

1-50 ml. bottle Godiva chocolate Liquor (the little darkest bottles you see when you check out)

1 large egg


  1. Mix cream cheese, sour cream and sugar in a food processor until well blended.
  2. Break the bars into largish pieces and then melt.  The easiest way I’ve found to do this is by setting the microwave for 1 minute and then swishing your bowl around so that the pieces are distributed in the melted chocolate.  Then microwave for another 30 seconds and let sit a minute.  You want the last few pieces to melt after the chocolate has been removed from the microwave.  Don’t melt the whole thing in the microwave or you risk burning the chocolate.
  3. Add the melted chocolate to the cream cheese mixture and blend together.
  4. Add Godiva Liquor and blend.
  5. Add egg and blend using a spatula to scrape down the sides.
  6. Pour into tart shell and bake 25-30 minutes.  You want the sides to begin cracking but the center to be slightly moist and dipped down.

Cool the tart.  It can be refrigerated and brought to room temperature to serve the following day.  I like to garnish it with raspberries.  Or you can garnish with whipped cream.  This pie is VERY rich and can serve 10-12 people easily.












Raspberry Almond Thumbprints




Preheat oven to 350 degrees



1 cup (2 sticks) softened butter

2/3 cup sugar

½ teaspoon almond estract

2 cups flour

Raspberry jam



½ cup confectioner sugar

¾ teaspoon almond extract

1 teaspoon milk


1.  In a mixing bowl cream together the butter and sugar

2.  Add almond extract and mix

3.  Add flour and mix quickly

4.  Form about 36 balls and place them on a baking sheet

5.  Make a thumb print in each ball and fill with a little raspberry jam

6.  Bake 14-18 minutes  and  cool

7.  Mix together glaze ingredients and drizzle over the cookies.




Michal’s Chocolate Brandy Snowballs


3 eggs

½ cup sugar

350 Grams dark chocolate (I use 3 bars of Lindt 70%) 

50 grams butter ½ stick

45 ml brandy (3 Tab

1 tsp Nescafe or espresso powder

¾ cup flour

1 tsp baking powder

1 cup finely chopped almonds (.3 pounds) I chop them in a food processor

Granulated sugar

Powdered sugar



1.     Beat eggs and sugar for 5 minutes in a mixer.

2.     Melt chocolate and butter carefully in the microwave.  I don’t melt the chocolate completely because it is too easy to burn.  Instead I melt it almost all the way and stir it to melt the last little bit of chocolate.

3.     Add coffee and brandy

4.     Fold chocolate mixture into eggs

5.     Add dry ingredients and mix quickly

6.     Fold in almonds

7.     Refrigerate 3-4 hours or for several days

8.     Make snowballs by rolling into 1-2 inch balls, dipping into granulated sugar and then into powdered sugar so that each is completely covered.

9.     Bake in preheated 360 ? oven for 8 minutes.  Do not overcook.








Chewy Ginger Cookies recipe


If you love ginger, then I guarantee, you’ll love these cookies.  They are made with three kinds of ginger:  fresh grated, dry powdered and candied ginger.  This cookie packs a punch and you can have it thin and crispy or thick and a little more cakey.  It depends on whether you use the batter right away when it’s really soft or chill it for a while so that it’s much easier to handle.  Chilling it results in a puffier cookie that holds its shape better. 


I didn’t have the robust blackstrap molasses and used the regular, less strong original molasses with fine results. For the recipe, just click on the CHEWY GINGER COOKIES TITLE.









I followed this recipe exactly except for a change that simplified the preparation.  The first step instructs one to puree the peanut butter and pecans in a blender and then add to the rest of the ingredients.  I just added the peanut butter straight to the mixer and saved the clean up of the food processor.  I chopped the pecans ahead of time in a "chop-chop" which works great for this.  It's one of these gadgets where you pull a string that rotates a blade in a small container.  It works well for small quantities of onion, or fresh herbs or nuts.  I also used it to chop the crystalized ginger in the previous recipe.  










 I found an amazing blueberry muffin recipe online from allrecipes which needed only a few minor adjustments.  I added lemon peel and vanilla and replaced milk with buttermilk .  I also made 9 muffins with this batch.


This recipe also works great for cake.  I make it in a 9 inch square cake pan.


Blueberry Muffins, ADAPTED from Allrecipes.com




1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

3/4 cup white sugar

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/3 cup vegetable oil

1 egg

1/3 cup buttermilk

Grated rind from one organic lemon

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 cup fresh blueberries

1/2 cup white sugar

1/3 cup all-purpose flour

1/4 cup butter, cubed

1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon



Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C). Grease muffin cups or line with muffin liners.


Combine 1 1/2 cups flour, 3/4 cup sugar, salt and baking powder. Place vegetable oil into a 1 cup measuring cup; add the egg and enough butter milk to fill the cup and add the lemon and vanilla. Mix this with flour mixture. Fold in blueberries. Divide filling between 9 muffin cups, and sprinkle with crumb topping mixture.


To Make Crumb Topping: Mix together 1/2 cup sugar, 1/3 cup flour, 1/4 cup butter, and 1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon. Mix with fork, and sprinkle over muffins before baking.


Bake for 20 to 25 minutes in the preheated oven, or until done.


'Tis apple season and we are lucky enough to have such a great selection in Ithaca.  Over the past few weeks we've had so much fun with apples.  We've had two cider pressing parties.  We started having these parties when the kids were young and we'd invite families of their friends.

 I'd make 4 or 5 different soups and serve them with bread and everyone would bring an appetizer or dessert.  This year was a scaled down version since the kids are grown up and I can't get them all home at the same time.  Here is my son Jeffrey with his friend Seth enjoying themselves.

We usually rent a press from the Cayuga Nature Center.  We go to King Town Orchards to buy bulk second hand apples.  Everyone takes a hand at cranking the apples and everyone leaves with a half gallon of freshly pressed cider.  We get a variety of apples and sometimes throw in some pears and this is guaranteed to be the best cider around.






Other great things to do with apples:  Dried apples.  I invested in a $20 apple corer, peeler and slicer and we already had a dehydrator.  Making a batch of apples using the Back To Basics apple corer/slicer  takes only a few minutes, once you get the hang of it.  It's an amazingly simple and efficient design and it works.

 Don't add anything to the apples.  They get incredibly sweet once they're dry and it takes about 12 hours.  If you don't want to waste the scraps (peels and ends of the apples) you can make applesauce with them.  I just throw everything (minus the cores) into my crock pot and let them cook down.  After putting them through a food mill I taste for seasoning and may add sugar,honey or cinnamon.  

This last batch of applesauce I used to make my spiced applesauce muffins.










Yesterday I made the apple garlic chutney recipe I posted a while back and we started eating it right away even though it's better after a couple of weeks.  I used dried mango, golden raisins, dried apricots and apples. 



The following recipe was passed out a few years ago by Jackie Sherwin of Black Diamond Farm.  I adapted the original recipe which was from the cookbook: An Apple Harvest-Recipes and Orchard Lore, by Frank Browning and Sharon Silva




4-5 tart apples, peeled, cored and coarsely chopped
1 cup dried apricots chopped
1 cup golden raisins
6-7 garlic cloves, peeled and mashed
2 tsp. grated and peeled fresh ginger
2 1/2 cups sugar
1 1/2 cups cider or red wine vinegar
1 tsp salt
1/2-1 tsp cayenne pepper
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.



Makes 16-18 muffins
  • 1 ¼ cups applesauce
  • 1 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 ginger
  • ½  teaspoon ground allspice
  • ½ teaspoon ground clove
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • ½ cup raisins or chopped dried apricots
  • ½ cup chopped pecans or walnuts
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
  2.  Prepare muffin pans (16-18 muffins) with cupcake foils
  3. In a large bowl, Beat eggs first and then  add the applesauce, sugar, oil, and milk; beat well.
  4.  Sift together the flour, baking soda, baking powder and mix in cinnamon, ginger, allspice, cloves and salt. Add to the applesauce mixture but don't overstir.
  5. Add vanilla and fold in the pecans and raisins.
  6. Pour batter into prepared muffin tins.
  7. Bake in preheated oven for 15-20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into center of a muffin comes out clean.









[recipe difficulty=”easy”]

Chocolate Raspberry Oatmeal Bars


What a great combination:  raspberries and chocolate.  This is an easy recipe combining two great recipes:  a chocolate oatmeal bar and a raspberry oatmeal bar recipe.  My guests found it a little reminiscent of sacher torte but much easier to make. 



Bottom layer:

½ cup brown sugar

½ cup softened butter (1 stick)

1 large egg

1 cup flour

1 tsp baking powder

pinch of salt

1 tsp vanilla extract or coconut extract

¾ cup instant oatmeal

½ cup chocolate chips


1/2 cup raspberry jam




½ cup brown sugar

1/4-1/2  cup softened butter (1/2-1 stick)

¾ cup flour

¾ cup instant oatmeal


1.      Preheat oven to 375 degrees

2.      In a food processor cream together sugar and butter and beat  in egg. 

3.      Add flour and baking powder and pulse until blended.  Do not over mix.

4.      Add the extract and oatmeal and pulse a few times until mixed but do not over mix.

5.      Stir in chocolate chips.

6.      Press into a 9 X 9 inch nonstick pan that has been spread with oil or butter.

7.      Spread the jam evenly over the dough.


8.      In the food processor cream together the butter  and sugar and add the flour pulsing a few times until incorporated. Do not overmix. 

9.      Add the oatmeal and mix quickly.

10.  Crumble the topping evenly over the raspberry and press down.

11.  Bake in oven for 25-30 minutes or until beginning to brown.

12.  Let cool completely.  These are even better the next day.  Cut them into small squares or rectangles.  These are very rich cookies.










Inspired by Alice Water's (CHEZ PANISSE) interview on Fresh Air last week, I decided to select the most beautiful and sweetest local fruit I could find and offer it to my dinner guests just like this.

 The peaches were from the Ithaca Farmer's Market, the plums were from Black Diamond Farm which has a booth at the IFM, and the little yellow plums in the back, under the grapes were from Indian Creek Orchards.  The green grapes, bursts of total flavor and sweetness and the Chestnut Crab apples were also from Black Diamond Farm. The raspberries were from our garden picked a few hours beforehand at their peak of ripeness.  I couldn't resist adding the perfectly ripe figs even though they were interlopers to the local platter.

Served as is with homemade plum ice-cream and this was a feast for the eyes and the taste buds.  The next day I made a peach/raspberry pie with the leftover very ripe fruit.  But it really is a shame to cook fruit when it is so fresh and perfect as were these fruits.


Thanks to my friend Doug Hexler who hosted the party and took this beautiful picture.












 This is a terrific way to serve blueberries.  I tried this recipe back in April of 2006 when I t was first published.  I marked it “fantastic” and have made it several times since then with great success.  I have adapted this recipe from the original in several ways.  It’s  hard to this mess up.  I would also make this recipe using frozen blueberries.


It’s not elegant looking but wait until you taste it.  The lemon, almond paste and blueberries are a match made in heaven.



Lemon  Blueberry Upside-Down Cake

Adapted from Bon Appétit  | April 2006

Blueberry topping

·         1/3- 1/2 cup (packed) golden brown sugar

·         1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, cut into 4 pieces

·         1 1/2 cups fresh blueberries

Lemon-almond butter cake

·         3/4 cup cake flour

·         1/2 teaspoon baking powder

·         4 ounces almond paste (scant 1/2 cup), broken into small pieces .  Make sure this is (SOLO) almond PASTE.

·         1/2 cup sugar

·         3 tablespoons finely grated lemon peel

·         1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted

·         3 large eggs, room temperature

·         1 tsp. vanilla


·         http://www.epicurious.com/rd_images/primaryContent/recipe_detail/rd_buckets_divider.gif


For blueberry topping:
Preheat oven to 350°F. Melt butter in microwave and put in 9-inch-square cake pan with 2-inch-high sides (preferably nonstick) and add brown sugar. Place cake pan over low heat and stir constantly until butter and sugar melt and mixture is smooth and bubbling. Using pot holders, remove pan from heat; cool 15 minutes. Sprinkle blueberries evenly over.

For lemon-almond butter cake:
Sift flour and  baking powder into medium bowl. Combine almond paste, sugar, and lemon peel in bowl of food processor. Mix until almond paste is broken into very small pieces, about 1 minute. Add melted mixing until mixture is smooth and scraping down sides of bowl occasionally.  Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating well and scraping sides of bowl after each addition then add vanilla. Add flour mixture and pulse a few times just until batter is smooth. Spoon batter in dollops over blueberries in pan; spread evenly with offset spatula to smooth.

Bake cake until deep golden and tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 25-30 minutes. Remove from oven; let stand 1 minute. Run small knife around cake to loosen. Place large platter atop pan. Using oven mitts or potholders and using both hands, hold platter and cake pan firmly together and invert; shake gently, allowing cake to settle on platter. Cool at least 20 minutes.

Garnish cake with lemon slices and lemon peel curls, if desired. Serve warm or at room temperature with additional blueberries and whipped cream or ice-cream.


We have a great crop of rhubarb and I started thinking of the perfect dessert using rhubarb. Strawberry Rhubarb pie is the default dessert, of course.  But I wanted to try something different.

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


1.       Bring heavy cream, ½ cup buttermilk and sugar to a simmer in a small saucepan.  Split bean lengthwise and scrape the seeds into the simmering cream mixture.

2.      Meanwhile, sprinkle gelatin over two tablespoons water in a medium sized bowl and leave for 10 minutes.

3.      When the cream has just started to simmer add to the gelatin and mix until the gelatin has dissolved. 

4.      Add remaining buttermilk and goat cheese and mix until creamy.

5.      Divide the panna cotta into 6-6 ounce custard cups and chill for several hours or overnight until set.






When ready to serve discard the cinnamon and star anise and divide the soup into 6 bowls.   Run a thin knife around the edge of the ramekins and release them gently unto the soup. 


Garnish with the diced strawberry.


The black specks in the panna cotta are from the vanilla bean.






Tapas is a great culinary tradition of Spain.  I love serving tapas at parties because it gives me a chance to cook lots of things that wouldn’t ordinarily go together in a traditional meal.  The way it works in Spain is that most bars serve a variety of little plates of food to accompany your beer or glass of wine or sherry.   Some of the typical tapas are tortillas (a potato and onion much like a frittata), garlic shrimp, a few slices of Spanish serrano ham, fried potatoes or potato salad with tuna fish…and the possibilities are endless. Seville is the capital of the Tapas bar and since I just came back from Seville I was quite excited to try some of the interesting tapas I tasted there.


The idea for a tapas party is that you have some dishes prepared ahead of time and some, like the shrimp cooked last minute.  You serve a few good wines and sherries to accompany the little platters of the tasty treats that come forth from your kitchen.


Here are some of the wonderful tapas I’ve served at my recent dinner parties:



Spanish tortillas:  Start with a nonstick 12 inch skillet heated up and coated with olive oil. Fry coarsely chopped sweet onions until soft and beginning to brown, remove to a large bowl.  Peel and cube 3-4 medium potatoes into ¼- 1/2    inch dice and fry them in olive oil until beginning to brown and almost cooked through.  Add to the onions.  Beat 5-6 eggs until well combined and add to the potato and onion mixture stirring well to distribute the onions and potato.  Salt to your taste.  Coat the skillet again with olive oil and add the egg mixture.  When the mixture has browned on the bottom, you are ready to turn it over to cook the other side. Carefully take the frying pan to a sink. Place a large dinner plate (12”) upside down over the frying pan. With one hand on the frying pan handle and the other on top of the plate to hold it steady, quickly turn the frying pan over and the omelet will “fall” onto the plate. Place the frying pan back on the range and put just enough oil to cover the bottom and sides of the pan – approximately 1.5 tsp. Let the pan warm for 30 seconds or so. Now slide the omelet (which is probably still a bit runny), into the frying pan, using a spatula to catch any egg mixture that runs out. Use the spatula to shape the sides of the omelet. Let the omelet cook for 3-4 minutes or until the tortilla is set and beginning to brown. Turn the heat off and let the tortilla sit in the pan for 2 minutes.

Carefully slide the omelet onto a plate! To serve as a main course, slice it into 6-8 pieces like a pie. Serve sliced French bread on the side.




Chickpeas and spinach: Fry a small chopped onion d in a skillet or pot that has been coated with olive oil. When the onions are beginning to brown,  Add a 15.5 ounce can of chickpeas (garbanzo beans) and   1 teaspoon of Spanish smoked paprika. Fry together for 1-2 minutes and  then add ½ cup of chicken or vegetable broth. Meanwhile cook a pound of spinach and drain off the water.  When the chicken broth has been reduced by about half, add the spinach and salt to your taste and cook together for 5-10 minutes.  You can serve right away or refrigerate and heat up the next day. Before serving add a dash of good olive oil and a squeeze of lemon.  Chickpeas are a very commonly served tapa in Spain


Shrimp with garlic and sherry:  Start with a pot or frying pan and add olive oil covering the bottom with about an inch.  Slice 3-4 peeled garlic into thin slices.  Add them to the pot of olive oil and heat.  Watch the garlic closely and wait  till it is fragrant but not brown.  Add 1 pound of peeled shrimp and let them cook together adjusting the temperature so that the garlic does not brown. Add salt to taste.  When the shrimp are just pink, add ¼ cup sherry ( I use Amontillado)  and boil together.  If you want an extra garlic kick (and I always do)  chop up or use a garlic press and add another couple cloves of garlic at the last minute.  Serve this right away, bubbling hot with some good bread to sop of every drop of the wonderful sauce.  Once you’ve tried this, you may not want to have shrimp cooked any other way.



Scallop, shrimp and asparagus terrine:  Starting with Julia Child’s fish terrine, I came up with this simpler and  show stopping version.  If you love scallops this is one of the greatest way to enjoy essence of scallop, but you need to use the best scallops you can find.

Start by heating up your oven to 350 degrees ?. Place a large oven proof dish in the oven which is big enough to hold your terrine and ½ filled with hot water. I used a lasagna pan.

Take a pound of scallops (minus 2 large scallops that you’ve set aside) and an egg and puree them together in a food processor for several minutes until very smooth.  Meanwhile chop up the scallops and 5 large shrimp into a coarse 1/4 inch dice.  Blanch ½ pound of asparagus and slice them in half if they are thick. 

Back to the food processor:  add ½ cup heavy cream, 1/4 cup 1/2 and 1/2 and  a small pinch of saffron that you’ve soaked in ¼ cup of hot cognac.  Blend this together for a couple of minutes and then add 1/3 cup of bread crumbs, and blend until the mixture is very smooth.  Stir in the scallop and shrimp pieces..  Add salt to your liking.  Use a 6 cup terrine (or loaf plan) that has been lined on the bottom with buttered parchment cut to fit.  Pour in half the scallop mousse and thump the pan a little to distribute evenly.  Then distribute the asparagus over the top, salt the asparagus and add the second batch of mousse.  Cover with another piece of parchment and either the top of the terrine or another piece of aluminum foil placed over the top.  Put your terrine carefully into the pan with water that has been heating in the oven.  Cook for 60 minutes and check for doneness.  The internal temperature should be 160 degrees?. This terrine can be served hot or cold.  It is very rich so keep the tapas servings to one slice per person.


Polenta with morels:  Yesterday we found some beautiful morels and I came up with this recipe to showcase them. 

Mushroom mixture: Start with finely chopped onions that have been gently browned in a combination of butter and olive oil.  Set aside when soft and beginning to brown.  Set the onions aside. Fry the morels (that have been sliced in half or if larger, sliced in quarters and cleaned).  If you need more mushrooms, add some regular baby belas or any combination of wild or domestic sliced mushrooms, enough to feed your guests or family.  Cook the morels separately and set aside with the onions. The morels need to be cooked medium high so they get a little crispy.  Fry the rest of the mushrooms until cooked and then bring back the morels and onions to the frying pan.  Cook and mix together, taste for saltiness and add ¼ cup of Marsala wine and ¼ cup chicken or vegetable broth and cook together for 4-5 minutes until most of the liquid is gone.  Set aside and make the polenta.

Creamy polenta; Put one cup water and one cup corn meal in a saucepan and stir until mixed.  Then add two cups of hot chicken or vegetable stock and cook over medium heat until it thickens into a creamy texture (like a thin mashed potato). You need to be stirring pretty constantly so it doesn’t develop lumps. Add ¼ cup of parmesan or Romano cheese or a mix of the two and another1/4 cup shredded Swiss cheese and stir until melted and incorporated into the polenta.  Add salt to taste.

To serve, use a small plate and mound about a 1/3 cup of polenta covered by a big spoonful of mushrooms.  Sprinkle with parsley for garnish if desired.


To round out your tapas meal you can serve nice crusty bread, lots of good olive oil for bread dipping or to drizzle over your tapas,  along with olives and salad.