This is a recipe from Smitten Kitchen’s new cookbook.  I found the dough a bit thick but the flavors excellent.  The next time I make this I may try using the “DuFour” puff pastry dough instead.  This is a perfect winter lunch, appetizer or dinner!  Enjoy!


• 1 ¼ cups all-purpose flour
• ¼ teaspoon salt
• 8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into
¼ cup sour cream
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
¼ cup ice water

• 1 small butternut squash (about one pound)
• 2 tablespoons olive oil
1 to 2 tablespoons butter (if you have only non-stick, the smaller amount will do)
1 large onion, halved and thinly sliced in half-moons
• 1 teaspoon salt
Pinch of sugar
¼ teaspoon cayenne, or to taste
¾ cup fontina cheese (about 2 1/2 ounces), grated or cut into small bits
1 ½ teaspoons chopped fresh sage leaves



• Make pastry: In a bowl, combine the flour and salt. Place the butter in another bowl. Place both bowls in the freezer for 1 hour. Remove the bowls from the freezer and make a well in the center of the flour. Add the butter to the well and, using a pastry blender, cut it in until the mixture resembles coarse meal. Make another well in the center. In a small bowl, whisk together the sour cream, lemon juice and water and add half of this mixture to the well. With your fingertips, mix in the liquid until large lumps form. Remove the large lumps and repeat with the remaining liquid and flour-butter mixture. Pat the lumps into a ball; do not overwork the dough. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour.

• Prepare squash: Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Peel squash, then halve and scoop out seeds. Cut into a 1/2-inch dice. Toss pieces with olive oil and a half-teaspoon of the salt and roast on foil lined (for neatness sake) sheet for 30 minutes or until pieces are tender, turning it midway if your oven bakes unevenly. Set aside to cool slightly.

• Caramelize onions: While squash is roasting, melt butter in a heavy skillet and cook onion over low heat with the remaining half-teaspoon of salt and pinch of sugar, stirring occasionally, until soft and lightly golden brown, about 20 minutes. Stir in cayenne.

• Raise the oven temperature to 400 degrees. Mix squash, caramelized onions, cheese and herbs together in a bowl.

• Assemble galette: On a floured work surface, roll the dough out into a 12-inch round. Transfer to an ungreased baking sheet. Spread squash, onions, cheese and herb mixture over the dough, leaving a 1 1/2-inch border. Fold the border over the squash, onion and cheese mixture, pleating the edge to make it fit. The center will be open.

• Bake until golden brown, 30 to 40 minutes. Remove from the oven, let stand for 5 minutes, then slide the galette onto a serving plate. Cut into wedges and serve hot, warm or at room temperature. Serves 6.




The best pinot noirs are elegant, graceful, and balanced. Here is a pinot that is dark, rich, and flamboyant in style. Belle Glos is the winery and they are known for producing outstanding single vineyard pinot noirs under their Belle Glos label which fall in the $45-$50 price range.

However, the Meiomi label which has only been around for a few vintages can be found in the $16-$20 price range and is well worth the few extra dollars beyond my normally under $15 value wines. I found it in Costco for $17.99. Since this is the holiday season I wanted to suggest a few special wines that are still very reasonable for what they deliver.

Now back to the wine. This vintage of Meiomi recently received 92 points from the Wine Spectator. It was sourced from vineyards in Santa Barbara, Monterrey, and Sonoma. Take your time to enjoy the rich dark berry and vanilla aromas along with a very long and satisfying finish. You can drink this pinot for the next 8 years if you can hold on to it that long. This is a very versatile wine and will pair well with grilled salmon, rotisserie chicken, and even a standing rib roast.



recipe: chicken pot pie

January 22nd, 2013 | Posted by admin in Entrées | RECIPES - (0 Comments)

I love pot pies, chicken, beef, and lobster.  This recipe is Ina garten’s but I use Dufour pastry dough for the topping.  It’s the perfect puff pastry and a pantry (freezer) staple in my house.  When it’s cold outside this is a wonderful meal to serve with a great salad and a glass of wine… maybe even in front of a warm fire.  Enjoy!


• 3 whole chicken breasts, bone-in, skin-on (split)
• 3 tablespoons olive oil
• Kosher salt
• Fresh ground black pepper
• 5 cups chicken stock, preferably homemade
• 2 chicken bouillon cubes
• 12 tablespoons unsalted butter
• 2 cups yellow onions, chopped (2 onions)
• ¾ cup all-purpose flour
• ¼ cup heavy cream
• 2 cups medium-diced carrots, blanched for 2 minutes
• 1 (10 ounce) package frozen peas (2 cups)
• 1 ½ cups frozen small whole onions
• ½ cup minced fresh


• Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

• Place the chicken breasts on a baking sheet and rub them with olive oil.

• Sprinkle generously with salt and pepper.

• Roast for 35 to 40 minutes, or until cooked through.

• Set aside until cool enough to handle, then remove the meat from the bones and discard the skin.

• Cut the chicken into large dice.

• In a small saucepan, heat the chicken stock and dissolve the bouillon cubes in the stock.

• In a large pot or Dutch oven, melt the butter and sauté the onions over medium-low heat for 10 to 15 minutes, until translucent.

• Add the flour and cook over low heat, stirring constantly, for 2 minutes.

• Add the hot chicken stock to the sauce.

• Simmer over low heat for 1 more minute, stirring until thick.

• Add 2 teaspoons salt, ½ teaspoon pepper, and heavy cream.

• Add the cubed chicken, carrots, peas, onions and parsley. Mix well.

• Use the Defour Pastry Dough… remember to defrost in the fridge for two to three hours.

• Roll out dough and cut out around your ramekin to fit, making sure it hangs over the edge.

• Use an egg wash to brush on dough. (Egg wash: 1 egg & 1 tablespoon of water whisked).  You can use extra dough to cut out show flakes, leaves or hearts.

• Divide the filling equally among 4-6 ovenproof bowls.

• Brush the outside edges of each bowl with the egg wash, then place the dough on top.

• Trim the circle to 1/2-inch larger than the top of the bowl.

• Crimp the dough to fold over the side, pressing it to make it stick.

• Brush the dough with egg wash and make 3 slits in the top.

• Sprinkle with sea salt and cracked pepper.

• Place on a baking sheet and bake for 1 hour, or until the top is golden brown and the filling is bubbling hot.



I know it has been a while since we had an entry from “The Wine Buddy”.  I have missed him, but then I can make a call and get all my wine questions answered.  It’s a new year and every meal can be special when accompanied by a wonderful wine selection.

Calling all Chardonnay lovers!  Here’s a fantastic chardonnay for a great price, especially if you live near Costco.

Chateau Ste. Michelle, located in the Columbia Valley of Washington state is one of my favorite value based wineries, just like Columbia Crest.  They make several levels of many varietals.  The Indian Wells line is comparable to the H3 series that Columbia Crest produces.

This sleek chardonnay brings lemon, pear, and spice to the forefront and leaves a subtle intensity on the finish.  It is refreshing and offers enough complexity to keep you coming back for more. I found this for $13 at Costco, but if you can find it for $15 or under you are getting a great deal.  Another Wine Spectator outstanding selection, this received 90 points recently.

Great with light appetizers like humus, cheeses, or perfect with shellfish and light chicken dishes.  There were 20,000 cases made and it should be great for 3-5 years.  But there’s no need to hold onto it because Chateau Ste. Michelle will certainly produce similar quality year after year.



I have made this soup many times this winter, it’s easy and delicious, the perfect combination.  I may add a bit more curry and top the soup off with toasted cashews or leeks… be creative.


• 4 cups cubed butternut squash
• 2 medium sweet onions, chopped/diced
• 4 cloves of garlic, minced
• 3 medium Granny Smith apples, cubed
• 4 tablespoons of good olive oil
• Dash of Kosher salt
• 4-5 cups of chicken stock, preferably homemade
• ½ cup heavy whipping cream
• 1 tsp of curry
• Salt & pepper to taste



• Roast the chopped apples and squash, drizzled with 2 tablespoons of olive oil, in a 400-degree oven for approximately 40 minutes or until they are tender.

• Sauté the onions and 2 tbsp of oil in a large heavy pan, cook until clear, then add garlic and cook for another minute.

• Add the roasted squash and apples with stock and cook for 5 minutes.  Emulsify the soup with an immersion blender.

• When smooth add the cream and curry.  Add more stock if needed and salt & pepper to taste.



the joy of cooking for others

January 9th, 2013 | Posted by admin in UPDATES - (0 Comments)

I started this blog to catalog meals that I had made for my family.  Then I met an amazing client that changed my life and she had me cooking for her.  She broadened my vision of cooking in my life.  The understanding that food is more than just nourishment was not something new to me.  It has always been a source of comfort and joy sharing dinner with family and friends… but bringing that feeling to others was new.  Food, and I guess I can say my food, has allowed me to enter the lives of my clients and bring that joy into their homes.

I have been cooking for the past several months for another special client, someone who brought his food to all of us.  I originally met him back in the 60’s, a family friend.  I cannot begin to do justice to all his accomplishments, but he pioneered the fast food icon ” McDonald’s” with Ray Kroc.  I was fortunate to get to cook for him all the comfort foods we grew up eating.  I had a menu printed for each meal I would serve.  He loved a good soup, a great cut of meat, and always a special dessert.  I think his favorite meal was a piping hot chicken or beef pot pie… his eyes would light up and that smile and look of contentment I won’t easily forget.  That reaction is what makes cooking so worth the effort when you know someone is loving your food and it makes them feel good… it warmed my heart.  I printed my last menu for him this past Monday.  Fred Turner passed away surrounded by his loving family.  I will miss beyond words Fred’s smile, his clenched fist high five, his kind words about my meals, and the encouragement he gave me as a cook.  I ate my favorite meal at McDonald’s today in honor of Fred, comfort food I grew up with that will always bring good memories and a smile to my face.  Thank you, Fred.



This is an amazing cookbook and I appreciate anything Middle Eastern.  There are so many recipes I want to try, most using my favorite meat, lamb.  Stay tuned, I’ll be cooking from this book in the coming weeks.



recipe: sugar cookie cut out cookies

January 5th, 2013 | Posted by admin in Desserts | RECIPES - (0 Comments)

This is the cut out cookie recipe I have used for years.  I cannot remember where or when I came across this but it is the best I have found.  I use it for Valentine cookies, Easter, fall leaves, really any holiday or special event cutout cookie.


• 2 sticks unsalted butter
• 1 cup sugar
• 1 egg
• 2 teaspoons vanilla
• 1 tablespoon buttermilk or cream

• 3 cups of flour
• 3/4 tsp of baking powder
• Dash of salt


• Cream the first five ingredients together.

• Add the flour, baking powder and salt and form into two discs.

• Wrap in cellophane and refrigerate for at least 2 hours.

• After dough has been chilled, roll out onto a floured surface and place on cookie sheet into a preheated oven of 350 degrees, for 8-10 minutes.

• Let cool and Frost.


pantry staple: knives

January 4th, 2013 | Posted by admin in PANTRY STAPLES - (0 Comments)

This should be a cook’s best friend, pantry/kitchen staple.  I am not a knivesman.  Meaning I have no formal training chopping, slicing, and dicing, but I manage to get the job done.  These two knives were a recent gift from my youngest son.  They have changed my world!  I now feel as if I can chop, slice, and dice like a pro.  So my recommendation to any of you who love to cook… Check out the Wusthof Classic Ikon #4176/17cm and the Japanese Classic chef’s knife “Shun” #DM0706.  They will change your life.



recipe: seafood chowder

January 4th, 2013 | Posted by admin in RECIPES | Soup - (0 Comments)

Seafood chowder was a request from one of my clients for Christmas Eve dinner.  I really have never made my own seafood stock but after talking to my fish expert he said using the shells of the African Lobster tails in the stock would make this recipe magical!  It worked… I can’t explain how delicious this recipe is filled with Little Neck Clams and African Lobster meat.  I took the basic recipe from Ina Garten’s Lobster Chowder and added clams, you could also add shrimp, halibut, whatever you love in a seafood chowder.

Let me know if you like it.


Serves 12

• 3 (1 ½ pound) cooked lobsters, cracked and split OR 6-8 tails
• 24 little neck clams (scrub with brush under cold water to clean)
• 4 ears corn

• 1 ½ sticks unsalted butter
• 2 cup chopped yellow onion
• ½ cup cream sherry
• 1 ½ teaspoon sweet paprika
• 8 cups whole milk
• 4 cups heavy cream
• 1 cup dry white wine

• 2 tablespoon good olive oil
• ½ pound bacon, diced large
• 4 cups large-diced unpeeled Yukon gold potatoes (4 medium)
• 3 cups chopped yellow onions (4 onions)
• 4 cups diced celery (8 stalks)
• 1 tablespoon kosher salt
• 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
• 4 teaspoons chopped fresh chives
• ½ cup cream sherry


• Remove the meat from the shells of the lobsters.

• Cut the meat into large cubes and place them in a bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate. Reserve the shells and all the juices that collect.

• Cut the corn kernels from the cobs and set aside, reserving the cobs separately.

• For the stock, melt the butter in a stockpot or Dutch oven large enough to hold all the lobster shells and corncobs.

• Add the onion and cook over medium-low heat for 7 minutes, until translucent but not browned, stirring occasionally.

• Add the sherry and paprika and cook for 1 minute.

• Add the milk, cream, wine, lobster shells and their juices, and corn cobs and bring to a simmer. Partially cover the pot and simmer the stock over the lowest heat for 30 minutes. (I move the pot halfway off the heat.)

• Meanwhile, in another stockpot or Dutch oven, heat the oil and cook the bacon for 4 to 5 minutes over medium-low heat, until browned and crisp.  Remove with a slotted spoon and reserve.

• Add the potatoes, onions, celery, corn kernels, salt, and pepper to the same pot and sauté for 5 minutes.

• When the stock is ready, remove the largest pieces of lobster shell and the corn cobs with tongs and discard.

• Place a strainer over the soup pot and carefully pour the stock into the pot with the potatoes and corn.

• Simmer over low heat for 15 minutes, until the potatoes are tender.

• Add the cooked lobster, the chives and the sherry and season to taste.

• Heat gently and serve hot with a garnish of crisp bacon.