Summer Nectarine (or Peach) & Blackberry (or Boysenberry) Pie

When nectarines and peaches are so perfect that you can smell their heady perfume and luxuriate in their fresh nectar as it dribbles down your chin, turn them into this glorious summer pie.

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Never-Fail Pie Crust

This is enough pastry for two 9 or 10-inch single crust pies or one 9 or 10-inch double crust pie. I like to make the entire recipe even when I am only making a single pie, that way I can freeze the second half for another pie. Of course it is easy enough to cut the recipe in half, if you prefer. This recipe is adapted from Room For Dessert by David Lebovitz. 

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Shaved Veggie Salad with Tahini & Dates

Smear salad plates with tahini dressing, top with thinly shaved raw beets, carrots, radishes and leafy greens and enjoy a unique, fresh, crisp and colorful salad. Of course you'll scrape your plate clean.

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Vietnamese Shaking Beef

Vietnamese Shaking Beef recipe, like all quick stir fries, is easy once you have assembled the ingredients. And this recipe takes few, compared to most stir fries.

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Chocolate Rads

One and one-half pounds of semi-sweet chocolate churned into 12 ginormous, crunchy, chewy, nutty chocolatey cookies is pretty radical to me.

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Best Banana Bread a.k.a. Kona Banana Bread

I call this banana bread, which comes from Marion Cunningham, the best, because it truly is. Your bananas must be very ripe. I have a trick.  

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Cecilia Chiang's Sichuan Shrimp

I don't cook Chinese food often, but when I do, I make these fabulous shrimp. The good news is that the sauce is made with ingredients you most likely have on hand, with the exception of Shaoxing wine, which once you buy it, keeps in the fridge indefinitely.  These are so easy to stir-fry that they make a quick family meal, but they are special enough for friends. 

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Passover Blueberry Cinnamon-Streusel Muffins

I didn't just test these once. Or even twice. Or even thrice. Sum it up to say that I had muffins as hard as hockey pucks, as dense as tennis balls and as palatable as styrofoam cups all over my kitchen before I hit Passover perfection. 

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Bouquet of Baked Spring Vegetables

A rainbow of spring veggies for your Easter or Passover plate.  Bouquet of Baked Spring Vegetables. Prep them, bake them and serve them all in one casserole. It doesn't get easier than this. 

Scarlett onions, crimson peppers, orange carrots, emerald asparagus and yellow and green squash bake into a rainbow of colors on your plate. They are the perfect veggies to go with your Easter ham or Passover brisket.  

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Flaky Mushroom Blue Cheese Tartlets

When my dear friend and award winning baking book author, Flo Braker, passed away, the Bakers Dozen* group I belong to suggested each of its members bring one of Flo's pastries to our meeting as a tribute.

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Chocolate Pecan Meringue Cookies

I baked the exact same cookie twice making only one change--I used 2 different cocoas. Check out the recipe to find out how changing only one ingredient gave me two very different results. 

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Slow-Roasted Salmon with Caramelized Onions & Olives in Parchment

It isn't often my guests rate my entree, but they gave this one an eleven. I give it a twelve for its taste, texture, ease of preparation and serving. No cooking technique beats roasting in parchment. 

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Sausage, Tomato & White Bean Soup

A terrific dinner to warm up those chilly winter nights. It cooks for less than 35 minutes and is guaranteed to help toss away those dreary winter doldroms.  

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Pear Upside-Down Gingerbread Cake

Just in time for the holidays. A homey gingerbread cake dressed up with caramelized pears around the top. Along with a secret to ensure the pears come out on the cake instead of sticking to the pan. 

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Brined Roast Turkey Breast

If you think of turkey breasts as dry meat that needs gobs of gravy, you probably wouldn't think of roasting a whole breast.  But after trying a slew of different brines, I've finally found a mixture that actually makes the meat moist; plus, it gives it fabulous flavor.  A rolled breast with no bones is also a no brainer to carve and very low in fat. Hopefully I've convinced you to try it.

To begin, you need to purchase a whole boned and rolled turkey breast with the skin that weighs between 4 to 6 pounds. I bought the one for my class from Whole Foods. 

The marinade recipe comes from chef extraordinaire, Jan Birnbaum. Year's ago I ate the best turkey breast I'd ever tasted at one of his restaurants and he was kind enough to give me the recipe. I came across it in an old file and decided to give it a try, after being frustrated with so many other attempts that didn't add enough moisture or flavor. .

You'll want to make the marinade in a large pot.  Bring it to a boil and cool it completely before using. Put the turkey into a large stock pot or a 3 gallon zipper bag. If using a zipper bag, line a large pot with the bag, add the turkey and then slowly pour in the cool marinade. You will need to add weight to keep the turkey submerged.  Refrigerate a 4 pound breast for 8 hours and a larger one for 10. 

If you like a crispy skin, you can leave the roast uncovered in a roasting pan in the fridge overnight.  Although it does give the roast a more golden sheen and the skin becomes crisper, it is completely optional. 

At my class I served the roast with a tangy Warm Port, Cranberry, Orange Sauce that beautifully balances the flavors in the turkey.  Look up the cranberry sauce recipe.   

Brined Roast Turkey Breast

1 boned rolled turkey breast with skin (4 to 5 lbs.)

Brine
½ gallon (8 cups) water
½ cup white vinegar
1½ cups kosher salt
1½ cups golden brown sugar
1 small onion, cut into eighths
2 cloves garlic, peeled and quartered
1 bay leaf, crumbled½
2 tablespoons black peppercorns, crushed

Roast
1 cup chicken stock or white wine
1 to 2 tablespoons melted butter

To brine: Bring all brine ingredients to a boil. Remove from heat and cool completely. 

Place roast in large plastic bag or large saucepan and pour marinade over. It must cover the roast completely.  Seal securely or cover and refrigerate for 8 to 10 hours.

  1. Remove from marinade and pat dry.

  2. To roast: Preheat oven to 375°F.  Place the turkey in a roasting pan that it will fit in comfortably. If it is too big, the drippings will burn. Pour stock or wine into bottom of pan. Brush turkey with melted butter. Roast for 20 minutes per pound. (About 80 minutes for 4 lbs.) If the turkey gets too brown, cover loosely with foil. The turkey is done when it reaches 160°F.

  3. Remove to a cutting board and cover loosely with foil. Let rest 20 minutes. Cut off strings and carve the turkey into 1/3-inch thick slices.

Serves 8 to 10.

 Here I am carving with an electric knife the turkey breast I roasted in a class for Foster City Village. Carving was so easy it was actually fun.   

Here I am carving with an electric knife the turkey breast I roasted in a class for Foster City Village. Carving was so easy it was actually fun.   

 During the class we forgot to get a close up picture of the whole turkey when it came out of the oven, but we did get some with it sliced. It is shown here with  Cornbread Stuffing Muffins  from the class. 

During the class we forgot to get a close up picture of the whole turkey when it came out of the oven, but we did get some with it sliced. It is shown here with Cornbread Stuffing Muffins from the class. 

 Turkey Breast with Warm Port, Cranberry, Orange Sauce  cranberry sauce recipe . and  Cornbread Stuffing Muffins

Turkey Breast with Warm Port, Cranberry, Orange Sauce cranberry sauce recipe. and Cornbread Stuffing Muffins

 
 This is a whole turkey breast boned and rolled weighing 6 pounds.  Whole Foods rolled and tied it for me at no extra charge. . 

This is a whole turkey breast boned and rolled weighing 6 pounds.  Whole Foods rolled and tied it for me at no extra charge. . 

 Here is the roast in a bag filled with the marinade. The turkey floats to the top. 

Here is the roast in a bag filled with the marinade. The turkey floats to the top. 

 A large can on the top keeps the turkey under the marinade so it is completely submerged.   

A large can on the top keeps the turkey under the marinade so it is completely submerged.   

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Warm Port, Cranberry, Orange Sauce

 Brined turkey breast (see Meats) with sauce and Corn Stuffing Muffins.

Brined turkey breast (see Meats) with sauce and Corn Stuffing Muffins.

When I finally finalized my turkey breast recipe, I didn't want to mask the meat with traditional gravy.  So I came up with this sweet and tangy cranberry sauce. In looks it resembles regular cranberry sauce, but it is warmer, thinner and has more layers of flavor. 

The trick is to make it any time you like, up to 3 days ahead, and finish it right before serving.  The sauce keeps getting thicker and thicker as it sits, which isn't a problem because right before serving, you thin it out with port wine and Balsamic. You want a definite kick from the vinegar as your final taste. 

WARM PORT, CRANBERRY, ORANGE SAUCE
12 ounces fresh cranberries
Zest and juice from 2 oranges (about ½ cup juice)
3/4 cup chicken stock
1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 cup port wine, tawny preferred
2 to 3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar, to taste

1. In a medium saucepan, combine cranberries, orange zest and juice, stock, sugar and salt. Bring to a boil over high heat.
2. Reduce heat to medium and cook until berries pop. Lightly smash them against side of pan to break them up.
To make ahead:  Sauce may be refrigerated up to 3 days. Reheat before cont
3. Just before serving, stir port and 2 tablespoons vinegar into heated sauce. Heat just until hot and taste. Do not allow to boil. If desired, stir in more vinegar. The sauce should taste sweet and tart.
Makes 6 servings.

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Cornbread Stuffing Muffins

Stuffing Muffins.jpg

Baking stuffing in muffin cups has many advantages. These  are universally popular, because it seems everyone likes cornbread. Here are several other advantages:

  • Each cup is an individual portion.
  • They have something for everyone--crispy on the outside and moist within. 
  • They are easy to dish up.
  • They can be frozen and reheated. 
  • They are incredibly easy to make. If you purchase onions and celery already cut, you don't even need to take out a knife. 
  • If you use vegetable stock or broth, they can be vegetarian.

Cornbread Stuffing Muffins

1 tablespoon butter or margarine
3 cups packaged onion and celery chopped for stuffing
4 cups packaged cornbread stuffing (about 8 ounces)
1¼ cups vegetable or chicken broth or stock
½ cup canned creamed corn
1 teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
1 teaspoon poultry seasoning
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 tablespoon chopped fresh sage
Small sage leaves, for garnish, optional

  1. Place rack in upper third of oven and preheat to 400 degrees. Spray 9 or 10 muffin cups with nonstick coating. 
  2. In a large skillet over medium-high heat, melt butter.  Add onion and celery and cook until soft, about 8 minutes.  
  3. Place stuffing mix in large bowl.  Stir in broth, corn, salt, pepper, poultry seasoning, egg and sage. Stir in onion mixture.  Spoon into greased muffin cups.  Do not pack them down. 
    To make ahead: Unbaked muffins may be refrigerated overnight.
  4. Bake in top third of oven for 20 minutes or until tops are crisp. Insert a knife into the edge and remove. 
    To make ahead: Muffins may be held at room temperature for up to 8 hours. Reheat at 400°F for 3 to 5 minutes until hot.
  5. Before serving, garnish each with a small sage leaf.

Makes 9 or 10 muffins, depending on how full you like them.

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Buckwheat Crepes with Chard, Mushrooms & Caramelized Onions

Find out how I made breakfast for 28 people in San Francisco and took it with me to Venice Italy. 

Read on to learn how I gave Meals on Wheels new meaning. 

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Melon, Apple & Pear Chutney

Making chutney may not be on your bucket list, but if you taste this version, you will want to make it.  

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Apple Spice Cake With Raisins & Pecans

Bake this awesome apple cake for the High Holidays and it will guarantee your reputation as a great baker for the entire year. P.S. You don't need to be Jewish to enjoy it!

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