“Cooking and eating in a foreign country may be the surest, truest way to its soul.”
by Luke Barr from his book Provence 1970
Julia and Paul Child built their Provence home on the Beck and Fischbaker estate called Le Mas Veiux outside the little town of Plascassier, a half hour drive from Cannes. The five acre property has an eighteenth century farmhouse called Bramafan that Simon Beck and her husband remodeled and lived in. Simone Beck was Julia’s close friend (they called each other sisters) and co-author of Mastering the Art of French Cooking. In 1965 the Child's leased the land and built their modest house in an old potato batch of the estate. They called it La Pitchoune, the little thing. The deal between the Becks and the Childs was made with a handshake, a house built on friendship. La Pitchoune would revert back to the estate once Julia and Paul Child were done with it and that is exactly what happened. The house was returned to the estate in 1992 and later sold. La Pitchoune is now available for rent to the public by the new owner.
The Child's spent many happy years (three decades) at La Peetch, as they nicknamed La Pitchoune. They entertained legends like James Beard and M.F.K. Fischer. Julia Child and Simone Beck worked on the second volume of the Art of French Cooking. The Child's spent many happy years (three decades) at La Peetch, as they nicknamed La Pitchoune. They entertained legends like James Beard and M.F.K. Fischer. Julia Child and Simone Beck worked on the second volume of the Art of French Cooking.
After arriving at La Pichoune I met our group of 9 women, three of them professional cooks. Our tour guide Barbie Aknin and her friend Deb greeted us with hors d’oeuvres and a glass of rosé, the first of many to come.
We took a tour of La Pitchoune and the adjacent house Mas Bramafam. The current owner has turned it into a modern house with a large kitchen and dining area. Both houses were to be our home for the next week.
Before we go on let me tell you a little bit about our tour guide Barbie Aknin owner of Community Cuisine. She was the best tour guide I have ever had. When we arrived there was a folder on our bed with all the information we needed, including recipes. Barbie has the perfect personality for a tour guide. She is calm, organized, and nonjudgemental and a talented cook. I felt well taken care of the entire time I was with her. I hope that in the future I can take another trip with her. Another very important person on this trip was our driver Fouad. He took special care of me because of my ankle . Whenever I needed a hand he was there without asking, a true gentleman with a kind soul. His knowledge of the area is vast . He and Barbie made the perfect team. Like I said before, my goal is to go back and have him as a tour guide. As you know my blog is for my personal enjoyment and I don’t monetize it. All opinions are my own.
Barbie had prepared Daube de Boeuf with polenta for our first dinner served with vegetables and a salad.
Under the guidance of Barbie, we prepared a delicious picnic called Pan Bagnet for our Sunday lunch. For the rest of the week we were encouraged to help and ask questions or just sit by the fire and have a glass of wine. She hired a young woman to help with the dishes. Throughout the week Barbie invited us to participate in formal cooking lessons. I learned a great deal and hope to post some of her wonderful recipes.
The following day, Sunday, we went to the Cannes farmer’s market which was amazing. Julia and her friends had come here often. I bought a jar of truffles and Barbie bought produce for the week. All the vendors were very friendly and we got to taste everything.
After the market we took a boat to the island of Saint-Honorat, a mile off shore from Cannnes. Since the fifth century the island has been home to a community of monks. The 21 monks still living there are cultivating eight hectares of grapes from which they make wine. It was a day filled with beautiful things to explore, good food, and making new friends.
Monday was spent sightseeing and shopping in Nice. Barbie wanted us to explore the Cours Saleya, a market in the old town of Nice. It is a beautiful flower and fruit market from Tuesday to Sunday and an antique/flea market on Monday. We were free to choose to do whatever we wanted to do.
Three of us went with Fouad, who gave us a fascinating tour of the old narrow cobblestone streets. The four of us had a wonderful lunch and afterwards admired the antiques at the market before we went home for another delightful dinner with our group.
On Tuesday we visited Grasse to tour the Fragonard Perfumery . We had a nice tour of the facility learning how perfume was made now and in the past. People that mix the perfumes have a job which is called the nose. What a job! Perfume is made by extracting substances from plants . There are different methods of extractions.
After the visit to Grasse we visited Frederik and Isabelle. Frederik raises heritage pigs in a wild nature setting. It was a wonderful visit for a farm girl like me. Frederik and Isabellle treated us to a lunch in their home.
There are so many beautiful villages in Provence to visit. We saw several of them during our week's stay. On Wednesday we went to Saint-Paul de Vence, a walled medieval scenic town set on top of a hill with magnificent views and hilly cobblestone streets. Marc Chagall has his final resting place here. From St-Paul de Vence Fouad drove us to Touretttes-sur-Loup, a hilltop medieval authentic village with spectacular views.
We had a tour of the Confiseries Florian in Touretttes-sur-Loup. They manufacture some fantastic candied fruit, crystallized flowers, and different sorts of candy. It's wonderful to watch them produce these delicacies. I wonder, did Julia and Paul ever come in to buy some of their goodies.
To all my foodie friends, how many times have you dreamed of helping a famous chef prepare a meal in his kitchen. My dream finely materialized when our group prepared lunch with Chef Alain Llorca at his Michelin starred restaurant. This beautiful restaurant and hotel sit on a mountain overlooking Saint-Paul de Vence. We had a fabulous lunch on their terrace. Alain and his wife Virginia and brother Jean-Micheal created an establishment that offers the best of the region. In the morning we watched and helped Alain cook a mediterranean fish terrine that was served later for lunch. I was in culinary heaven and couldn't have been happier even though I received a troubling text telling me that my flights home had been canceled. .
On Friday, we visited the farmer’s market at Valbonne. That night we had our last dinner at Julia’s house, what a treat, what a beautiful vacation.
We all said “good bye” on Saturday and Faoud picked four of us up to give us his special tour, called “The best of the French Riviera Tour “. What a great last day. I can highly recommend this tour for anybody visiting the area. I just hope that I can come back one of these days. Two days later everything was shut down because of the Corona virus.
I made it home, even though my flights were changed three times, one of them on Sunday morning, two hours before I was supposed to leave. I caught one the last flights to Frankfurt and then on to San Francisco. After getting home I quarantined myself for two weeks. There are so many more memories and photos I would like to share about this wonderful trip but I need to publish this post. I will post more photos on Instagram. I hope you are all safe and healthy coping and getting used to our new way of life. Virtual hugs to all of you.
This will be a two part post about my trip to France. Part one will be about my stay in Nice and part two about staying at La Pitchoune, Julia Child’s vacation home in Provence.
I signed up for this cooking class sometime in January dealing with the aftermath of my broken ankle. By then I knew I could do it. It was the perfect motivation to push myself with exercise and physical therapy. On March 3rd my husband dropped me off at the San Francisco airport and I was on my way. Flying comes naturally to me, I have done it so many times in the past. I changed planes in Frankfurt and landed in Nice as the sun was setting over the Alps. I fell in love with the city and area before I even landed. I was picked up by the most wonderful driver and tour guide ever. I hope to come back to this beautiful area and Fouad from France Azur Excursion will be my guide.
I spent two days by myself in Nice . There are times when I like solo traveling . This was one of them. As a woman of a certain age I was treated kindly by the staff in my hotel, the Le Meridian. There was a cook in the morning that made a perfect omelet, the receptionist recommended some great restaurants and her sense of humor was delightful. The server in the rooftop restaurant entertained me since I was the only customer.
Nice is the capital of the Côte d’Azur and is located on the French Rivera with a seaside promenade called the Promenade des Anglais. This promenade stretches for miles and defines the city. My hotel was on the promenade and near the old town with its open air markets, tiny boutiques, and incredible restaurants . I loved exploring this part of the city and had an opportunity to do it again a week later with my group.
My first day was a rainy day and I decided to go the Matisse Museum. The Matisse museum documents the various stages of the artist’s development. I especially enjoyed the sculptures. Unfortunately, I couldn’t explore the surrounding gardens and the park. I took the bus back to Nice and had lunch at Armand Crespo’s latest restaurant called Peixes. This restaurant specializes in fresh local fish turned into mouth-watering ceviches, tartare and Japanese-style takakis. It has a no nonsense young vibe, my kind of place. I had the fish of the day with coconut foam , tom yum, and vegetable spaghetti. It was divine.
The second day I bought a ticket for the ‘hop on hop off’ bus. This is a great way to see any city. After touring the city I visited the Chagall Museum. Many artists including Chagall were enchanted by Nice’s beauty and lived there for years. In the Chagall Museum you will find the largest public collection of his work. This museum was designed with the the cooperation of the artist himself. The museum’s core is a series of large paintings illustrating the first two chapters of the bible. I very much enjoyed looking at these colorful paintings.
On my walk home I had made reservation at La Meranda , a tiny small restaurant that serves only 20 people is run by Dominique Le Stanc, formerly the chef at Negresso, a two-star Michelin restaurant. This unusual restaurant doesn’t have a phone. You have to drop in to make reservations and sit close together on small uncomfortable stools. The menu is on the blackboard and reflects local rustic dishes. I had a delicious salad and the daube of beef was very good. Don’t expect elegance or a charming restaurant but the food is outstanding and the price its right. A real experience, it reminded me of of sitting in my grandmother’s kitchen on a bench being served a tasty soup that filled my tummy and soul.
When I returned to Nice the following week with my group Foud took some of us on a walk through the tiny cobblestone streets where I hadn’t been before. He also took us to a restaurant where I had the most delicious duck confit ( that and onion soup is a must when I am in France.)
I enjoyed exploring Nice and hope that one day I can return and explore more of this gorgeous town on the Mediterranean .
Stay tuned for part two where I had the best week ever at Julia Child’s summer house La Pitchoune.
Here is a little secret, I never made bolognese sauce before, I never looked at a recipe for bolognese sauce but here I am, in the middle of the corona crisis. I am quarantined and trips to the store to get necessary ingredients are not an option.
However, I am well stocked and as I enjoy my morning coffee I think of the ingredients that are available to me to make bolognese sauce. I pull the vegetables out of the fridge and select some that need to be used pretty soon. I find a handful of shiitake mushrooms, a beautiful looking fennel bulb and some garlic. Beside the onion, carrots, celery, zucchini I find some very tired mini peppers in the back of my refrigerator. There are a few leftover shiitake mushrooms from last weeks barley soup. Then I remember my Italian friend telling me that she uses two different kinds of meat when making her bolognese. I use some pieces of prosciutto and the leftover meat from last night’s short ribs. I have some overripe tomatoes that are not good for anything else and pull out a can of tomato sauce. That should do it.
But let’s not forget the pasta. I was given several boxes of dried pasta from an on-line store in Virginia. The pasta was outstanding and I will order some more. We had two delicious dinners, slurping the pasta being coated by the rich sauce. I served my lemon caesar salad with it and a nice glass of wine.
These days I have only one tester, my husband . He can be a picky eater, he doesn’t like vegetables and could live on steak and potatoes for the rest of his life. I love sneaking in some vegetables and this is a good way. Of course you could substitute different vegetables and use different meat like leftover pot roast or beef stew. Or, leave out the meat entirely and make a vegan sauce. The possibilities are endless.
This recipe made four generous meals with about 2 cups of leftover sauce that I put in the freezer. I added 2 TBS of my frozen pesto to the sauce. You could substitute different vegetables and use different meat like leftover pot roast or beef stew. Or, leave out the meat entirely and make a vegan sauce. The possibilities are endless.
My lemon trees in my tiny little yard are my treasures. I love their aroma and love their flavor. Every year I try to write a new post on my blog with a new lemon recipe. I remember the year all my lemons were stolen . It was so sad. This year I had a bumper crop that I shared with friends near and far. I sent off some boxes to friends on the east coast. I don’t mind sharing as long as they are a few left for me.
I asked for new lemon recipes on a Facebook site I belong to and the response was amazing. I got over three hundred responses with a lot of wonderful new recipes. Thank you to all of you. I will share two new recipes here and save the Facebook post so I can try some amazing looking recipes later. I am a little pressed for time because I am leaving for a trip to France in two days where I will cook my heart out in a very special kitchen. If all goes well I will tell you about it later.
I made Limoncello and lemon curd. The curd is delicious and easy to make if you have a Vitamix. This is the first time I made limoncello and after reading more about it I don’t think that it is authentic, but again it was easy to make and I had a little taste today. Not Bad! I also made 6 jars of preserved lemons. I must say I had a production going and loved it because I was in my element.
You have all heard of the famous German cake called Black Forest Cake, a chocolate cake filled with cherries and whipped cream. In Germany it is called Schwarzwälder Kirschtorte. I had my share of it when I lived in Germany. My godmother, who was an excellent baker, made an awesome one. Somewhere I have her recipe, I think! But in the meantime and with Valentine’s Day just around the corner, I found a much easier German recipe for chocolate mousse with cherries. How good is that? You can whip this up in no time and end up with a memorable delight.
This is not a sweet dessert, it has no added sugar and it is made with a few ingredients that I got at Trader Joe’s. It needs some good chocolate, heavy cream, frozen cherries, cherry marmalade and Kirsch liquor or Kirschwasser as we call it in Germany.
I upped the ante by adding some fruit from my Rumtopf, which turned it into an adult dessert for my book club meeting. Remember my Rumptopf I made last summer by preserving fresh fruit in rum. I was a great success, we enjoyed it over the holidays and I gave some jars to my friends. Next year I am making it again when cherries are in season. Cherries were my favorite fruit in the Rumtopf.
Let’s get back to my mousse that I am leisurely nibbling on while writing this post. Like I said before, it is not sweet but it is rich and chocolatey. The cherries with their sauce add a fruity crunch to the mousse. A little bit of this dessert will go a long way. If you make this I hope you enjoy it as much I did.
For my book club dinner I made my Italian crespelle (crepes) stuffed with fennel and salmon in a white lemony sauce. Life is good when I am in the kitchen.
This mousse is made in no time, yet it is perfect for any dinner party with its rich chocolate flavor being complimented by the cherries and the sauce. Depending on the portion it will serve 6-8 people, maybe more. It is rich, so a little bit goes a long way. This is a great dessert to make ahead. My husband and I enjoyed it for several days.
It’s the end of January 2020—a new year and a new decade. I never thought I would make it this far. But here I am, thankful for being able to walk again and living in this beautiful area called Monterey Bay. There are so many wonderful things to do and to see, the endless Pacific Ocean, the mountains with their valleys and so much more. I have lived here for over 30 years and I haven’t seen everything—even though I have tried. I always look for new inspiration and new things to do and eat. A free magazine called edible Monterey helps me find new ventures in food. That’s where I found a new soup recipe using celeriac root, one of my favorite winter vegetable.
This soup is very similar to my creamy vegetable soup, called Krabbensuppe from the city of Hamburg, Germany. While my German version has different vegetables in the soup to complement the tiny shrimp from that part of the world. The celeriac soup in edible Monterey has apples, onions and celeriac root, seasoned with a hint of masala.
The soup by itself is delicious. I had some leftover for breakfast. But to bring it to the next level, add fresh Dungeness crab meat sautéed in browned butter. It makes it an elegant and special dish for any occasion. When I made it, I served it with crab cakes on a salad with citrus dressing. It was one of the first meals I cooked for my husband after I recovered. To all my friends who don’t have Dungeness crab available, I think lobster or shrimp would be great, maybe even scallops. It would make a special Valentine’s Day dinner.
Here are some other celeriac root recipes.
I would not omit the marsala , it adds a great flavor. I bought a small box at Whole Foods called Tandoori Marsala. The original recipe used garam masala. I don’t know the difference. I used different variety of apples that I bought at the Farmer’s Market . The original recipe called for granny smith apples. Peeling the celeriac root can be tricky. I use a pairing knife and try not to cut myself. As soon as you peel and cut the celeriac into slices put them in cold water with a splash of lemon juice to prevent them from discoloring
Its been a while since I posted and I do apologize. After breaking my ankle in Budapest, my spunk and motivation left me. During my recovery, I was entertained by your blogs and reading them helped me a great deal. Speaking of recovery, I am walking again and I am thankful for every tiny step I take. The last part of my recovery seems to be the hardest, as I am impatient by nature and eager to move on. But I can’t. I have to take it easy, because if I don’t, I am back in bed with my foot elevated, watching Netflix or YouTube. I also had some emotional issues to deal with, like a post-dramatic depression, upon realizing the danger I had been in and its possible consequences.
But it is a new year, a new decade, and with it comes new beginnings. I am ready to move on. I am starting to cook again and I am enjoying it. I had planned to make a goose for the holidays, but instead my dear friend and neighbor, Susanne, invited me for Christmas dinner. She made her famous Rouladen (stuffed rolled beef), a German tradition for the holidays. I was in culinary heaven.
I have wanted to make homemade potato dumplings for years, but have always opted for the pre-made packaged ones. The one time I tried, when I prepared a goose years ago, it turned into an inedible potato soup. So this year, it was a project I wanted to tackle, so I started to watch German YouTube videos and tried one recipe. I didn’t like them—honestly the pre-packed ones made by Pfanni were better. But I didn’t give up. My girlfriend, Monika, from Germany makes them every year with her goose for Christmas. She uses a recipe from an old German cookbook from Schlesien (or Silesia) that is now in southwestern Poland. Both she and her husband came from this region. I love the quote in the cookbook saying that a Sunday dinner without dumplings is like a sky without stars. They were served with every roast, cooked cabbage or any other vegetable. In the cookbook, they are described as an easy-to-make recipe, but there are tricks to follow to avoid the dumplings falling apart or being hard as a rock.
I made them twice now and both times they got the approval from my friend, Susanne. Each region in Europe has their own version of potato dumplings. The Bavarian ones are made with half-raw and half-cooked potatoes. Leftover dumplings are perfect sliced and then fried in butter, the ultimate German comfort food. When making the dumplings, you can stuff them with small croutons. I think they need some kind of sauce to be truly enjoyed—like a mushroom sauce or gravy from a roast. I don’t have any photos of our Christmas dinner, but a week later, I served my second batch of potato dumplings with some of my friend’s leftover beef brisket from Hanukkah.
I recommend that you follow the recipe and make no modifications. Or you will end up with potato soup. I used two russets and two yellow fin potatoes. It is also important to make a test dumpling before cooking the rest. I made a small one and tasted it, and both times it was okay. To avoid bland-tasting dumplings, don’t reduce the salt. If the dough is sticky, add some more flour. Don’t over mix the potatoes. If you don’t have a potato press, you can use a potato masher. Don’t skimp on the salt because you are flavoring the water—first to boil the potatoes and then to cook the dumplings.
It has been almost eight weeks since my accident, and I am not allowed to walk without my boot and crutches. One of my ankle bones has not healed yet. My doctor told me to write the alphabet with my foot as many times as I can to regain mobility. I can now do it in cursive and in block print. I have learned a lot during these last eight weeks, especially to be patient and resourceful. I also learned to be very careful and take care of my body. Being so physically dependent, I am thankful for my husband’s and son’s loving care. Most of all, it has been a humbling experience, and a lesson about how fragile life can be.
I have been cooking very little these days. I have eaten a lot of salads, rotisserie chicken and food brought by friends and neighbors. Once I am allowed to walk, I will start cooking again. I can’t wait.
A couple days ago, I was looking at a chicken carcass. I hate to waste good food. For years, I’ve made my own chicken and vegetable stock, and never make it the same way. Sometimes I buy chicken legs or a whole chicken, but most of the time I just use the chicken or turkey carcass, leftover vegetable scraps from the freezer or veggies that have seen better days. Whenever I use leeks, I freeze the part that I don’t use which are the dark green leaves. I wash the leaves and put them in a bag. Mushrooms stems give the stock a great Unami flavor. Ginger and garlic add more flavor. I add a couple of carrots, a couple of celery stalks with the leaves, and a whole onion cut into half (leaving the skin on). Some cooks blacken the cut side of the onions in a frying pan to add color, but I don’t. I put all these ingredients in a large cast iron pot and cover them with cold water. When the water boils, I add 1 teaspoon of salt, some pepper, and garlic salt. I always add a couple of bay leaves. So, you see I really don’t have a specific recipe.
Budapest is the capitol of Hungary and Hungary's most populous city. It is a city that has been influenced by many cultures throughout history, most prevalent is the Austrian influence from the 19th century when Hungary was part of the Austrian Habsburg Empire.
Budapest consists of two parts—Buda and Pest. The Danube River divides the medieval streets and Roman ruins of Buda from the 19th century boulevards of Pest. Many bridges connect the hilly Buda with the flat Pest. The most famous and first bridge ever built was the 19th century Chain Bridge. It was the first bridge to link Buda with Pest.
In 1987, Budapest was added to the Unesco World Heritage list for the cultural and architectural significance of the banks of the Danube—the Buda Castle Quarter and Andrássy Avenue.
You will find some great architecture in Budapest, especially the Art Nouveau style. Unfortunately, we only had two days to explore the city before I fell and broke my ankle.
We arrived by train from Vienna on a Friday, a pleasant 2 ½ hour train ride. That night, we attended a concert in the St. Stephan's Basilica, the largest church in Hungary. It was a wonderful introduction to Budapest. This church was dedicated to the first King of Hungary.
The next day, we took the Castle Hill funicular up to the castle. It offers a great view while riding up. The funicular links the Adam Clark Square and the Chain Bridge.
The castle built on Castle Hill was meant to protect the city from the Tartars and Mongols. It was destroyed many times. Today, the Castle Hill area houses the Hungarian National Gallery and the Budapest City Museum.
On Saturday, after exploring Budapest on a warm and sunny day, we had a wonderful lunch on an outside patio at Dunacorso, a restaurant that has been in existence for over one hundred years. We enjoyed the food and the ambiance with a view of the Danube.
After being released from the hospital, I was well taken care of and nurtured by the Ritz Charlton of Budapest. The concierge was wonderful and so was the rest of the staff. I could not have survived this ordeal without them. The Ritz has a great spa with a swimming pool. The restaurant had a wonderful goulash soup that I had two times. It was the staff of the Ritz who saved us when I broke my ankle. I cannot thank them enough.
Traveling is a wonderful way to enrich your life but there are inherent dangers that we all hope won’t happen to us. After half a century of traveling, I had an accident. My husband and I planned a 10-day trip to Europe, visiting Vienna and a long weekend in Budapest. Vienna was gorgeous, and hopefully I will write a blog post about it. We took the train to Budapest for a long weekend, planning to return to Vienna Monday and fly home Tuesday.
On Sunday afternoon, after spending some delightful hours in a large thermal bath, we were looking for a taxi in the park. I saw a taxi and turned around on a small incline—and the next thing I knew I was on the ground and heard a loud crack in my left ankle. My left foot was turned the wrong way and I knew something bad had happened. A kind soul called an ambulance and a woman who spoke English called our hotel. The ambulance picked me up, the EMT didn’t speak English and I was transported to the Budapest Trauma Center.
In the admission room, some guys took me and grabbed my foot to set it. I screamed bloody murder, then somebody stuck me with a needle to take some blood and insert an IV in my hand. Nobody asked my permission, because nobody spoke English. It was like a pre-war movie. I was in shock, my husband and the most wonderful concierge from the Ritz Carlton spent four hours doing all the paperwork.
While lying on a gurney for four hours, I made calls to Germany, the US, and Switzerland. I didn’t think I had an option because I had a complicated break that needed an operation immediately. I was rolled into a room with five female patients who lay undressed, covered only with a sheet. (The hospital does not provide gowns.) I was snarled at by the staff, and my husband was not allowed in the room. The surgeon came in saying that he would perform the surgery the same night or the next day. When I asked him how many of these operations he had done, he told me that I had insulted him by asking the question. The anesthesiologist was a kind and gentle woman who stayed with me throughout the operation late Sunday night. She looked so tired. After my operation in a very antiquated operating room, I was rolled to what I thought was a private room, because I spent the night by myself with a kind nurse who gave me an extra pillow and asked if I wanted a blanket. The next morning, two other patients were rolled in, when I realized it was not a private room. My husband came as soon as possible, bringing water, juice and something to eat that the hotel had packed for me. In Hungary, the family of the patients provide the towels, cups and everything else you need. The staff is totally overworked and earns very little money. Most of them are unfriendly and don’t speak English or German. The surgeon told me that I was going to be released on Wednesday and I could fly home that day. He never checked my wound and disappeared and I never saw him again. But I am thankful for his skills, because my doctor here in Santa Cruz told me he did a pretty good job. Most important, he had written a sentence in my report that allowed my return flight home.
There was no wifi in the hospital, I called all my friends in Europe who offered to pick me up and drive me to Switzerland, Austria or Germany, but I thought it was best for me to go straight home. My husband went back to the hotel and booked a new flight, canceling all the old reservations. The hotel staff helped him. I was on the phone all day, calling my doctors, friends and anybody else who I thought could help. I spent another horrible night at the hospital, and checked myself out the next morning after my bandages were changed and the drainage taken out.
I can tell you I was so happy when I reached the Ritz and the entire staff, including the manager, greeted me. The hotel extended our room for an additional three nights and provided me with a wheelchair. It was like I had entered heaven after being in hell. I will never forget the kindness and the generosity that the Ritz-Carlton in Budapest gave us. It was phenomenal. They provided us with food, drinks, comfort and taxis anytime my husband needed one. One of their employees took us to the airport counter, where the airline personnel asked for a document from my doctor saying I was "fit to fly." And here is one of the reasons why I am writing this post, my dear readers. If you ever intend to board a plane with some obvious handicap, you need to have a doctor’s note saying you are FIT TO FLY.
The 2 flights lasting 14 hours were fine. My husband booked a business class seat that enabled me to raise my legs. The flight attendant brought ice for my ankle. Thank you, United Airlines. I was transported by a special wheelchair that fit the aisle of the airplane and a regular wheelchair for the airport.
I arrived on Thursday and ended up going to the Stanford emergency room where I waited for five hours before somebody changed my bandages. It was a total waste of time and we were totally exhausted, especially my poor husband. The next morning, we saw a wonderful doctor here in town who is now taking care of me. He said my operation was good, so now I am in a cast hopping around on one leg.
I haven’t cooked. Friends are bringing dinner and my husband is barbecuing. So sorry, there's no new recipe, but I am sharing some photos from Budapest on my Wanderlust blog.
Since Thanksgiving is right around the corner click here for recipes that are helpful to you for the upcoming feast.
When I see plums I always think of the Italian prune plum tree we had at our farm in Germany where these plums are called Zwetschgen. When the fruit ripened in mid September we would make Zwetschgenmus (plum jam) and everybody baked Zwetschgenkuchen on large trays. They dough was usually a yeast dough with different toppings for the plums. My favorite was a custard topping which is called Schmandkuchen. One day I would like to bake it in my village and get advice from all those old cooks and bakery friends. In the meantime I found this wonderful recipe on YouTube that is easy to make and all my American friends liked it. The shortbread dough is used for the crust and the streusel.
The Zwetsche , a European plum ( Prunus domestica) has many different names, in France it is called quetsche, here in the US they are called Italian Prune Plums and sometime Empress Plums. These plums are small and dense with purple skin, easy to pit (freestone pits) and have yellow flesh. There is something magical that happens to this egg shaped, somewhat bland tasting Italian plum when you bake it, it becomes a sweet gooey delight, in cakes, in jams, and dumplings. As was the case with my cake.
I am writing this while eating small slivers of this tasty treat. My doctor tells me to stay away from sweets and I do most of the time but there are times when these rules don’t apply. This cake brings back memories from my childhood in Germany, where Zwetschgenkuchen was a seasonal treat . My mother liked the simple version, adding plums with a little bit of sugar to a sheet yeast cake. Sometimes she splurged and put a custard on top of the cake. I remember stuffing myself and being told to share. My friend, aunt Frieda, that lived on the next farm made the best sheet cakes ever in a wooden pizza oven where she also baked her bread. I would sit on her wood box watching her cook. Oh, those childhood memories.
Some more of my recipes using plums. The plum jam is tart but full of flavor. It's baked in the oven so you don't have to sweat over a hot stove and there is no stirring. Click on the photos below for the recipe.
Here is the link to the YouTube video where I found this recipe. It's in German but Thomas speaks very slowly and it is fun to watch him make the tart. I think this would be a great project for young cooks.
When buying Italian Prune Plums get the hard ones, some of the soft ones will be rotten inside and always buy more, just in case. These plums don’t have a long shelf life, that’s why a lot of stores don’t carry them.You can use another variety of plums if you are unable to get Italian plums.
One of the reasons I write my blog is to share my love of cooking and experimenting with different foods. There are so many recipes hidden away in my folders, magazines and books. And there is so much food I buy because it looks so good, as was the case when I ended up with an abundance of fresh berries and cherries. I used the freshest fruits for my Rumtopf and the rest of the berries to make a quick jar of jam, using only one tablespoon of honey as a sweetener. It is good and I have been eating it for the last three weeks. My favorite is to put it on a cracker with peanut butter for a quick snack.
It’s also great on my morning yogurt. This is the perfect recipe for making your first jam. I realize cherry season is over but with this recipe you can use other seasonal fruit. It’s easy and doesn’t take much time and effort. I found the recipe in a magazine called Real Simple that I enjoy reading. A little warning that this is not a sweet jam; it is more of a spread on the tart side. The original recipe called for chia seeds and I added them, but I made my second batch without them and I like that better. I like the crunchiness of the chia seeds, but one could easily mistake them for blackberry or raspberry seeds.
Here are some recipes for some of the marmalades and jams I have made in previous years. Plums are in season right now and my Zwetschgenmus (spiced plum jam) is a real treat, as are my other jams.
You only need three ingredients for this jam. The consistency is more of a topping or spread than a jam. It is tart and has to be kept in the fridge.
Yum, yum, it’s soaked in rum! If you are looking for an easy way to preserve the taste of summer for a cold winter night, look no further. Make an old-fashioned rum pot with the tastiest strawberries, cherries, raspberries (or any other fruit), add sugar and rum, then let it sit for at least two months. You will end up with a boozy delicacy, which is perfect on pudding, ice cream, flan, cheesecake, almond cake and in drinks. You only need three ingredients and a non-corrosive container with a lid for this classic German condiment.
This German tradition of making a rum pot goes back to 18th century, when rum was imported from the Caribbean to the northern Hanseatic towns. Legend has it that some tropical fruit accidentally ended up in a rum barrel. Whether it’s true or not, it’s a good story. My story goes back to my gentle, caring and loving father who wasn’t a cook. How could he be when he worked from dawn to dusk on the farm seven days a week? But he managed somehow to make a rum pot, which he loved to pour over ice cream.
A traditional Rumtopf is done in a special crock pot ( see the photo below) . My father just used a regular crock pot, but a mason jar will do. The fruit is added when it is ripe—strawberries in June, followed by raspberries, apricots, blueberries, cherries, plums (or any other fruit) in July and August. Sugar and rum is added for each addition. The beauty of the Rumtopf is that you can use almost any fruit you have available as long as you top it with rum that is 54% or higher (108 proof). It will put hair on your chest, so be careful and eat responsibly.
I live in California and only harvest a handful of berries from my garden, but fresh delicious fruit is everywhere else, especially at the farmers markets. I am found of cherries and love to eat them. I ended up with a refrigerator full of fresh fruit and had to do something with it, so the idea of a Rumtopf was born. All I had to do was find was a bottle of rum that was more than 54% alcohol. I am thinking of starting another Rumtopf the traditional way, by adding fruit and sugar and topping it with rum. Layering my Rumptopf with different fruits as time goes by, which keeps the pot going indefinitely.
Before you click on the recipe, please understand that this is an experiment , I usually taste my recipes before I post them, so please keep in mind that this is not one of them. If it turns out (and I don’t see why not), I will fill some small mason jars with my Rumtopf and give them to my friends for Christmas. We’ll see!
Your container can be a crockpot or a mason jar that has been cleaned thoroughly.
I mixed the stronger rum with regular 40% (80 proof) rum. But make sure to use 54% (108 proof ), otherwise your Rumtopf will get moldy. Be careful, because the rum is flammable. It is important that the fruit is covered with rum. You might have to top it off while you are aging it. I loosely put some plastic wrap on top of my pot and and then add a saucer on top of that to make sure that the fruit is immersed in the rum. After I put the lid on, I wrap the top again in plastic wrap. According to all recipes I found, the Rumtopf needs to age at least two months so that the special flavors can develop. Some Rumtopf have been nurtured for years. The Rumtopf is like a perpetual jar, much like sourdough starter that can be kept alive for years
Do you want a fruity drink tonight, try out my recipe for a light Strawberry Punch. Click on the photo for the recipe.
A personal note to followers of my blog:
For those of you who been wondering about me, life has had its challenges this year for my family. But we survived and I had to become stronger because of it. It’s been difficult, but the outcome is good for better days ahead. Thank you to all my friends and family for your support and love. I am respecting my husband’s request for privacy to not share more on the worldwide web.
Apricots are in season and it’s time to make my favorite recipes and discover some new ones and that is exactly what I have done for the last couple of weeks. On our way home from the Sierras I bought several pounds of apricots from a fruit stand in the Central Valley of California. They were not quite ripe so I put them on a cookie sheet in my cool downstairs bedroom. They ripened quite nicely and I ended up with some juicy apricots.
I had dreams of making my delicious apricot jam or my apricot dumplings but I didn’t. Instead I was searching for new recipes. I found some but wasn’t real happy with them. In my opinion one cake was too sweet and the other was not as good as my German apricot cake or my apricot blueberry cobbler. Click on the photo below for the recipes.
After looking through some of my cookbooks and folders I came upon a recipe that caught my attention, poached halibut with apricot salsa. Sunset magazine published this recipe in 2007. I was a little hesitant to poach the halibut, but it was perfect and had an amazing texture and the apricot salsa was a perfect condiment for the halibut. This meal makes an elegant lunch or dinner, especially on a hot summer day. I served it on lettuce with some avocados. I can also imagine making this salsa with peaches or plums.
I am disappointed that I didn't get to make my roasted apricot sorbet, my apricot dumplings, or my apricot jam. Hopefully I will catch up next year. Click on the photos for the different posts and recipes. Have a happy and healthy summer, my friends.
Chilled Poached Halibut with Apricot Salsa The secret in the salsa are toasted brown mustard seeds that add a nice crunch. Usually you can find mustard seeds in your grocery store. Be careful when roasting the seeds as they burn easily. I thought that the texture of the halibut improved after it was chilled for a day.
I returned from Germany and Switzerland two months ago. I was planning on writing several posts about my wonderful trip but didn't. My April-May trip was wonderful. I savored every minute and criss-crossed Germany on the train by myself visiting places and friends. I decided to write a post on how to navigate the German trains because some people have ask me to do so . Hopefully this post will unravel some the mysteries of German Railroad travel.
ICE means Intercity Express. It is the fastest train of the GermanRail system and provides high-speed connections between metropolitan areas. They usually run every hour and have a dining car and a bistro for food and drinks. However, I would recommend taking your own food and drinks. Ok, maybe the lentil soup is fine and so is the potato salad with a hot dog. Most of the trains have WiFi.
The dining car in the ICE train divides first class from second class. It is called Bordrestaurant. Some people stay in the dining car for the duration of their trip and order a drink or something to eat.
You can order food and drinks in first class. Of course it's expensive and that is why I often bring my own lunch which is totally ok. Larger rail stations have several food courts , a book and magazine store, and an information center where most of the agents speak English and can help you with your ticket and other questions you have.
Most of the time I take the ICE but sometimes I take the IC/EC ( InterCity/EuroCity). They are slightly slower than the ICE and are usually older trains. I have never taken an overnight train with sleeping accommodations. I often take the Regional Express (RE) or RB (ReginalBahn) that connect smaller towns.
Each railway station is different and it takes some time to navigate your way to the train. Most rail stations have escalators and elevators but occassinally you have to carry your own suitcases down some stairs. I always have to negotiate stairs in Hamburg which is my least favorite railway station.
Once you arrive in the station look for an electronic display for the departure of trains. This display will tell you from which track your train is leaving and if it is on time. You will also find the information posted on boards in the railway station. These boards will show you the cities at which the train stops. White boards show the arrivals and yellow boards show the departures. Each train is numbered . Compare the number on your ticket with the number on the board to get the right one.
You made it to the right track, called a Gleis in German. This was my train leaving at 12:14 pm to Interlaken Ost (East). I was getting out in Göttingen which is not on the board . You see the A B C D E F G and the knife and the fork. The knife and fork indicate the dining car. The 1 and 2 indicate first and second class. The next train following my train was an IC going to Amsterdam and the one after that was a regional train going to a small town nearby.
At the track where your train is leaving you will find a board like the one below. It has your train number and the location of your car if you made seat reservations. Even if you didn't make seat reservations I recommend deciding where you want to enter the train. The last thing you want to do is to slog your luggage through a train. Not good, believe me. On the blue board an announcement was made indicating the train cars were in a different order than on the yellow board. If you ever are not sure don't hesitate to ask other train passagers or a conductor.
Here you can see how long some of the trains are and why you want to be in the right section. In this case it is G. The trains will only stop for a few minutes and the doors close automatically. I know of an American family that lost their father because he wanted to get something outside the train. They eventually reunited but it ended up to be a stressful day.
The ICE has a little booklet called "Ihr Reiseplan" a travel itinerary that shows when your train arrives at your destination and connecting trains at the different stations.
Whenever I plan my trip to Germany I decide on what to buy for a train ticket. If I know exactly what I am doing and where I am going I buy tickets ahead a time with the Deutsche Bahn. This is the least expensive way. The Deutsche Bahn has a good English website. I also have the app on my phone. When you buy tickets you have to use the train you buy the ticket for, changing times and trains can be expensive.
These days I prefer to buy a German Rail Pass for a set number of days. You can buy this pass before you travel or at some stations like the one at the Frankfurt Airport. I always bought mine ahead of time. When you arrive in Germany you have to validate it at the station with your passport. The pass is good for four weeks and you choose which days you want to travel. For each day you travel you can go anywhere in Germany. I buy a first class pass because there are usually more seats available, second class is fine but it can be very crowded and if you don’t have a seat reservation you are liable to stand for hours. I seldom buy a seat reservation in first class, although I recommend it for long trips. There have been times over the years where I have had to stand .
My favorite train ride was in an old Hungarian train going from Berlin to Prague , the train continued to Budapest. It was in the winter and the countryside was beautiful and remote .
I hope I didn't bore you with this post, but I have helped so many American travelers that I hope this will be helpful to some. Let me know if you have any more questions that I can answer for you. Gute Reise my friends.
Asparagus was considered a beneficial herb among the Romans and later in the 12th century was given aphrodisiacal power by Indian sex gurus. It was cultivated by French monks circa 1469, and a century later in Germany.
Here in the United States we eat green asparagus, while in Germany white asparagus is popular. Although green asparagus is becoming more popular. In Germany, Spargelzeit (asparagus season) is from April to June. During that time in Germany, you will find an abundance of asparagus at the local farmer’s markets and on the menus in most restaurants. Traditionally, it is served with boiled potatoes and hollandaise sauce. You can have it with cooked or smoked ham, or Schnitzel (pork chops).
Asparagus is low in calories and rich in fiber and vitamins. It has chromium, a trace mineral that helps insulin-transporting glucose from the bloodstream into the cells. This is a big plus for the millions of people who are diagnosed with pre-diabetes or are diabetic. Click here for a recipe for asparagus frittata that I posted a couple of years ago..
I love asparagus. Once the season starts, I buy it all the time. My husband prefers steamed asparagus, but I prefer mine roasted with hazelnut oil and sprinkled with some sea salt. When I steam the asparagus, I break off the woody ends. When I roast the asparagus, I prefer the thicker stems. I break off the woody ends and peel the rest of the stalk using a vegetable peeler, leaving the tips intact. However I cook my asparagus, I like it al dente. Click here for a delicious Chinese noodle salad that is perfect for spring and summer parties.
I have been playing with the recipe for this asparagus soup for a few years. Last year, I made one using leeks that was good, but not as good as the one I am posting here. This is a very simple but deliciously creamy soup with the flavor of asparagus. It is cooked in no time and you will enjoy every spoonful. I usually serve it with some fresh bread and salad. It would also make a great first course for a fancy dinner.
Quickly, let me give you my recipe for avocado toast. Take a slice of your favorite bread (toasted or not) and spread a ripe avocado on it. Or just put slices of avocado on your bread. The choice is yours and anyone can do it. If you want to, add a fried egg and call it breakfast or lunch. Or add anything else you like. I see coffee shops and restaurants that sell these toasts for a lot of money. There is a way to elevate this simple toast into a culinary delight by adding finely chopped, preserved lemon rind. Anytime you bite into one of these crunchy little lemon cubes, your palate will experience an explosion of flavors from the floral notes of the released lemon oils to the salty fermented umami crunch.
Preserved lemons are more than just lemons, as they capture the glorious perfume of the lemon and excite your palate. They will enhance almost any dish. Sprinkle them on a salad, a chicken dish or anything else you can think of. Preserved lemons add a fermented quality that regular lemons don’t have with their tart, salty and slightly bitter taste.
Preserved lemons have been a staple in North African cuisine since the 11th century. It is a way to preserve lemons for use long after their season is over. Paula Wolfert introduced them to the American audience in 1970 with her award-winning cookbook Couscous and Other Good Food from Morocco. If you want a true Moroccan preserved lemon, add the spices.
Those who have followed me, know about my lemon trees and my ongoing love for lemons. My blog has many recipes using my Meyer lemons, which I treasure. For years, I have made preserved lemons with some of them, but I have never blogged about them. So, I thought it is time to do so. I have given many jars to my friends and wish I could share them with you too. My niece and her husband took a jar with them back to Germany. I have added whole cloves, dried bay leaves, cinnamon sticks, coriander seeds and black peppercorns. In my last batch, I used just kosher salt, and I think that’s what I prefer. Usually, I use the rind and peel only, removing the pulp and rinsing the peel thoroughly to remove most of the salt. Then, I cut them into into tiny cubes, the smaller the better. I read somewhere that the pulp is great in cocktails, but I haven’t tried that. Lately, I have been adding some preserved lemon when making my chicken stock.
Making preserved lemons at home is easy; it just takes time. Mine have lasted a year or longer in the fridge.
I am leaving for Germany in a few days and I am not sure that I will post again before Easter. Easter is one of my favorite time to visit my family and friends. The arrival of spring is a happy occasion after the long winter. Everybody is happy and ready to embrace the warmer weather and longer days. The restaurants and cafes move their tables outside, as every ray of sunshine is greeted with a smile and spring is celebrated with holidays and festivities.
This year is especially nice because the Easter holiday is later in April. I am going to be able to not only to celebrate Easter but also the first of May. In my village, this day is celebrated with a walk through the forest into the next village. Along the route, there are stands with drinks, some of them being little shots of Schnaps (a gin-like drink). The word Schnaps (according to wikipedia) refers to the fact that the drink is a consumed with a quick slug from a shot glass. In the evening, the celebration continues with a gathering around the May tree in the center of the village where Maibowle (May punch) is being served. This punch is wine steeped in an herb called sweet woodruff. I'll post more about my trip when I return, but in the meantime, I will add some photos from my trip on Facebook and Instagram. I can't wait to be with my German family again. Read about one of my previous trips and deviled eggs here.
In this nutty, chewy, not-too-sweet almond lemon cake, whole cooked lemons are being used. It is not your average lemon cake. Click here for the recipe.
Here is an easy-to-make pound cake that is infused with lemon juice. A great combination and perfect any time of the day. Click here for the recipe.
I wish you all a Happy Easter or Fröhliche Ostern as we say in German.
It is important to scrub the lemons very clean with a brush in a tub of water and dry them with a clean towel. Sterilize the jars in boiling water for 15 minutes and then dry them.
These crab cakes have a little spice with a kick and are a delicacy, especially when they are made with our local Dungeness crab. I usually buy one or two freshly cooked crabs and my husband cleans them meticulously, pulling out every little tidbit of crabmeat he can find. What a nice guy. Normally, we have crab with a salad and some fresh crusty bread. It is the perfect meal with a glass of Chardonnay. Life during crab season is good.
Then I came across an old page from my beloved Gourmet magazine that had a recipe for Louisiana-style crab cakes. Of course, I had to make it. Crab cakes are a real treat for me and I often order them in restaurants. There are many varieties, as each region has its own way of making crab cakes and using their own local crab. I am still dreaming of Maryland crab cakes made with Maryland blue crab. The secret to any good crab cake is using big lumps of crabmeat that retain its form through the cooking process. That way, you will bite into mostly crabmeat with some added flavor.
There are all kind of sauces that are served with crab cakes. I like a good tartar sauce or a remoulade. This time, I choose to make crab cakes for dinner with creamed leeks, so I didn't need any extra sauce. There is nothing wrong with a citrusy green salad and a crab cake. I can envision making mini-crab cakes, served on lettuce with a dollop of tartar sauce. What is your favorite way to eat crab cakes?
If you are looking for another special dish to prepare, try my crepes with salmon and fennel filling. In Italy, this dish is called Cannelloni Ripieni di Salmone and the crepes are called crespelle. This could be an elegant dish to celebrate the arrival of spring especially when served with fresh asparagus.
How about something sweet that is easy to make and tastes good? Try this Italian shortbread tart called Fregolotta. Pretend you are eating a slice in a little cafe somewhere in Italy.
This recipe makes 4 crab cakes and it doesn’t take more than 30 minutes to make if you buy the fresh crabmeat. Make sure your crabmeat has large pieces in it. Carefully pick over the crabmeat to remove any small pieces of shells. I finely grind the saltine crackers in my blender
This wonton soup is full of flavor, easy to make, and you end up with a light soup which is flavored with ginger, enriched with bok choy and tasty wontons. It has been my go to soup for years and I think of it as Chinese penicillin when I have a cold.. The term wonton comes from a Chinese phrase meaning swallowing clouds.
Lately I have been needing wonton soup in my house. On a cold and rainy evening this soup will warm your belly. It will do the same on a foggy summer night. I have been playing with the recipe for years . The secret is in the tasty light broth that you want to slurp with delight. Of course a homemade broth is tastier but there is nothing wrong with using commercial chicken broth.
Normally I have been making this soup with store-bought wontons that I keep in the freezer. It is an easy and light dinner that is ready in 20 minutes. But when I decided to post this recipe I had to make my own wontons. I found a recipe I liked at (click here for the video on how to make wontons). I modified the original recipe to make less wontons. I didn’t like the flavor of my wonton wrappers so I made mostly pork-shrimp balls. For all purposes you can make this soup with pork-shrimp balls only. Whatever you do, I hope you enjoy it as much as my family has.
In about a month I will be in Hamburg, a city in Northern Germany. I can’t wait, but in the meantime here is a recipe for Krabbensuppe, a delicate pureed vegetable soup , topped with bay shrimp. This soup is a staple in that region served with a tasty local little shrimp called Krabben. (click here for the recipe)
Make the wontons first if you make your own and keep them covered so they don’t dry out. The pork should be finely ground. If you don't have Mirin cooking wine try using sherry. Get all the ingredients for the broth ready before you begin cooking. Use both the stems and the leaves from the bok choy. There is enough soup for 3-4 servings .
This was a particularly special trip to Maui because my niece and her husband from Germany came with us. It was a wonderful week long vacation. Hawaii has always been my favorite tropical destination. The warm trade winds greet you as soon a you exit the airplane.
Continue to read about my Maui trip on my Wanderlust blog . Click here!
After all this traveling, I am ready to cook some food at home. Since it is crab season here in Northern California, it’s time to make my cioppino. Click here for the recipe.
If you need a more substantial meal that is absolutely delicious try my Jägerschnitzel. I just made this breaded pork cutlet with a creamy mushroom sauce and I enjoyed every bite of it. It's the perfect meal for a rainy evening. Click here for the recipe.
For dessert, let’s have something with chocolate. It’s February after all.
This is a German chocolate walnut tart with a shortbread crust. It is a chocolate lover's delight. Click here for the recipe.
These chocolate walnut delight bars are great for a crowd. The office will love you for these tasty morsels. Click here for the recipe.
The aloha spirit can still be found on the busy yet beautiful island of Maui in the Pacific Ocean. The light, the sun, and turquoise color of the ocean all add to the beauty of this island. It was a pleasure to share this trip with my niece and her husband.
On this trip we rented a condo located near Kaanapali, which we had booked last August. It has a nice beach, which is important to me because I love splashing in the water, although I’m a lousy swimmer. I love to snorkel and look at the colorful fish and turtles. To me, snorkeling is a moving mediation in water.
On the first day, we gave our kids (as we refer to them) a feel for the island with its fabulous scenery on different parts of the Island. Our first quick stop was Paia, a historic plantation town near the beach. We had a good cup of coffee while checking out all the cute little stores.
Then we went along the coast to look at places to go kite surfing, a hobby of my niece’s husband.
We continued upcountry to Makawao, where we had lunch at the Hali’imalie General Store, a must-do for me when I am in Maui. Our guests were not disappointed with their meal either. My niece and I had the fish tacos, which we decided were the best fish tacos on the Island. The fresh fish of the day was served on grilled taro tortillas with mole sauce and tropical salsa. My niece’s husband had the Kalua pork enchilada pie, which I highly recommend.
I always enjoy my visit to the town of Makawao, with its mix of eclectic stores and buildings dating back from the cowboy era. Makawao has a feel of the past and old Hawaii that I enjoy.
On the way back, we visited the Iao Valley State Park with Iao Needle. It had been years since my last visit and it wasn’t too crowded with buses or visitors.
Food was more of an afterthought on this trip, as we prepared several dinners in our condo. I seared some fresh tuna and served it with an Asian salad. The kids made us pizza.
We did have a nice meal during happy hour at the Monkey Pod Kitchen in Kaanapali. We were lucky to be seated outside with a great view of the sunset. The Mai Tais were the best.
Another day we drove through Kihei and Wailea, showing them our favorite beaches at Makena and the Kanahena Natural Area Reserve, which is an amazing peaceful spot on this busy Island. It’s where you can see the where lava flowed from the Haleakala volcano.
The kids had a lot of fun driving around the island, hiking and going kite surfing. My husband, an ardent football fan, had to watch the playoffs while I enjoyed the beach and a good book. Life was very good. The highlight of the trip was hiking the Kapalua Coastal Trail on West Maui on a day with a high surf.
The time went by fast and before we knew it, we were back on the crowded airplane returning to San Fransisco. Read about my previous trip to Maui here. Note however, that Chef Sheldon Simeon of the former Migrant restaurant at the Marriott’s in Wailea has moved to Wailuku. He opened a new restaurant called the Tin Roof in Kahului, but I have not eaten there yet. The Marriott Hotel now has a new restaurant called The Humble Market Kitchen by Roy Yamaguchi, who became famous with Roy’s restaurants. I can't wait to return to this beautiful Island.
My husband and I love to visit the Napa Valley in January or February when it is not crowded, and the rolling hills are green and covered with yellow mustard flowers. The air is usually crisp in the morning and warm in the afternoon.
Did you know that the Napa Valley is the only Agricultural Preserve in the United States? With an abundance of different wineries and fabulous restaurants, the valley’s cute little towns lure visitors from all over the world. I feel so lucky that I live within a two-hour drive to this gorgeous spot on earth. .
My husband is the wine expert in the family, so he gets to pick the wineries we visit. Since we belong to the Foley Johnson Wine Club, we always visit their wineries. Click here for our 2018 visit to Napa and read more about their beautiful wineries. If you go, I recommend you pick a few you really like, as there are so many beautiful and often spectacular ones. I read that there are approximately 475 wineries in the Napa Valley, 95% of which are family owned.
This year, we visited the Culinary Institute of America Greystone in the Napa Valley. I have eaten there several times and have never been disappointed
We only had a quick lunch at the cafeteria and it was delicious. All the food is prepared and served by CIA students under the direction of a CIA director. I had a wonderful Caesar salad with a moist chicken breast and my husband had a delicious small pizza that he shared with me. For dessert, the chocolate-caramel nut cookie with my espresso was divine. I bought some local products at their store. There are also tours of the Institute. The Gatehouse restaurant is part of the Institute and serves creative meals prepared by the students.
Just as my husband likes his wineries, I love to overnight at Indian Springs in Calistoga to swim in their amazing pool. The pool was built in 1910 and is completely fed by naturally hot geyser water that ranges from 92-101 degrees Fahrenheit. There are four geysers and the water comes from a 400-foot depth heated by the earth’s hot magma. I love to float in the pool for hours, especially at night or in the early morning. It’s an experience that I treasure.
The two days went by too fast, and before I knew it, I was back at home and dreaming of next year. As soon as I got home, I started to work on some new recipes. One of the recipes was from a famous chef and his new cookbook promoting a healthy diet, which was a Christmas gift from my son. I picked a recipe I thought I would like: fish marinated in miso and cooked in parchment paper with bok choy. It totally bombed—for which I take full responsibility. Once again, I realized that not every recipe works for me. In the meantime, I’ll stick with my foolproof Mediterranean recipe with fish and vegetables baked in parchment paper. Click here for the recipe.
There are some wonderful pears in the store right now, so here are a few pear recipes I have enjoyed over the years.
I baked this almond pear tart last week and everybody loved it. This is a variation of the traditional French-style Pear Frangipane Tart. It is easier to make than it looks.
Click here for the recipe.
This poached pears make a stunning presentation. It's a light dessert, perfect after a heavy winter meal.
Click here for the recipe.
A great bundt cake, full of spices and different flavors. The recipe is from Gale Grand, a pastry chef from Illinois.
Click here for the recipe.
Making the base for this ice cream a day before will develop the flavors. Add more sugar if you want a sweeter ice cream.
Here is a link to the rhubarb compote.
This is the first time I made strawberry jam with homemade pectin. The jam carries the fresh sweet flavor of sweet strawberries. It has the essence of the food. Nothing takes away from the flavor. It is a runny soft jam, thickened just a little by the pectin of the green apples. This is a keeper for years to come.
I bought cooked shrimp instead of cooking raw shrimp. In this case, I don't think it makes much difference. If you omit the shrimp you have a regular salad the goes well with chicken or meat dishes.
WELCOME TO SUNNY COVE CHEF
Thank you for visiting my blog. My two passions are cooking and traveling. Traveling exposes me to a wide variety of food and experiences. I walk around cities looking for markets, restaurants, bakeries, shops, you name it, and if it is related to food you will find me there, tasting, smelling, talking to vendors, and having a great time.