Friday, June 24, 2016

Roasted Beet Tarragon Hummus

I hate beets. There. I said it and now I cannot take it back.

For years I have struggled to like them but they have always tasted like dirt to me.  What brings me back to them again and again, is their beautiful color. 

What I have learned over my years of beet hating is I kinda like them in small doses, but only when their flavor is diffused or transformed a bit.  I once served them thinly shaved and caramelized in a Thanksgiving salad. They were delicious.

I used one medium sized beet in this hummus. The tahini and the tarragon mitigated the strong beet flavor and I loved it. And the color - wow.

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Peanut Butter Rosemary Cookies

Three cookie varieties I grew up with were Toll House Chocolate Chip Cookies, Quaker's recipe for Vanishing Oatmeal Raisin Cookies and Peanut Butter Blossom Cookies. 

My mother was a working mom with little time to luxuriate in the kitchen. However, she was also extremely nutrition conscious. Aside from some boxed pastries she occasionally picked up  from the Entenmann's Factory store, located by the school where she taught, everything sweet at home was homemade. My European Grandmother loved those pastries, by the way. 

This trinity of classic cookies, all simple to throw together with easily sourced ingredients, were the first ones I learned to make  as a child.  It's no surprise I return to those recipes again and again. Sometimes I am in the mood for creating the classic versions, or , in the case of  introducing these cookies experiences to someone for the first time (non-Americans).

Other times, I like to riff on them, adding unexpected or exotic ingredients. I don't know when this peanut butter rosemary combination made it's way into my imagination, but I am glad it did.

Two batches later, these are ready to share with you. 

Monday, June 13, 2016

Yogurt Lemon Balm Torte

Every spring I look forward to growing a selection of interesting herbs. Last year, for the first time I planted lemon balm, I don't know how I lived this long without it. It's such a wonderful addition to any herb garden. 

Lemon balm contains multiple properties including a calming effect and a natural anti-viral. It is also a delicious fresh herb addition to everything from salads to scones. It also grows abundantly and returns every year. 

This beautiful torte is not a recipe you can whip together before guests come because the various stages of the recipe take quite a bit of time to create. The majority of that time is refrigerating the layers in various stages. 

Thursday, June 9, 2016

A Few Words on Why You Should Care About Sustainable Palm Oil


Several years ago, during extended travels in Malaysia, I made an unforgettable stop at Sepilok Orangutan sanctuary. As we drove through fields of palm tree farms, my guide explained to me the negative effects of Palm oil harvesting. 

The biggest impression on me came when he explained workers often cut trees down to make room for planting more palm trees. Rarely do they look up. Too many times a mother orangutan is in the tree. When the tree falls, she makes sure to fall on her back to protect the infant in her arms. Most times, the mother does not survive the fall and the infant does.  If the baby orangutan is lucky, it is not killed (the body buried and hidden) or smuggled elsewhere to be sold on the black market. The more fortunate of them are taken to Sepilok to be raised and released into their sanctuary.


This is only one of the evils of unsustainable palm oil production affecting humans and animals. Other devastating consequences can be large-scale forest conversion, loss of critical habitat for endangered species, including rhinos, elephants and tigers, soil erosion, soil and water pollution, eviction of forest-dwelling people and social conflict in communities. 

Friday, June 3, 2016

Rhubarb Lavender Cake

As promised, here is the other rhubarb cake, simple to make but with sophisticated flavor. This lavender spiked cake comes together very quickly.

The best part is the no fuss, no muss with the rhubarb. You don't have to cook it down or chop it into tiny pieces. Large pieces of the stalks are pushed into the lavender scented cake batter before baking.

Once the cake is removed from the oven, let cool completely, sprinkle with powdered sugar and if you like, some extra dried lavender to make it even prettier and done. 

Friday, May 27, 2016

Rhubarb Raspberry Streusel Cake

It may be little late in the season to post rhubarb recipes but I see there is still plenty around in markets and..... rhubarb, I love you so.

I love your unique flavor.

 Your ruby and emerald color and your texture, crunchy or soft.  

So sad your loveliness is shared for only a short time each year.  

But I guess it makes you all that more precious.

Ok enough with the tragic love sonnet to rhubarb. Just make this cake. You won't be sorry. 

I made two rhubarb cakes last weekend. Both are super easy to make and are each packed with flavor. Both recipes are German style so although they are delicious, the sugar content is lower than an American style dessert. I'll be posting the second one in a few days.

Ever since last year's Rhubarb Raspberry Gin Fizz, I've wanted to create something else with the flavor combo. Here it is.

Monday, May 23, 2016

Strawberry Basil Heart Torte

As we head into berry season, I have to admit, I'm more than a little excited. 

In Germany, there are whole issues of cooking magazine dedicated to strawberry recipes in anticipation of the season's crop. Perhaps it's all those years spent there anticipating strawberries.

When I was home in Germany a few weeks ago, a version of this strawberry torte jumped out at me from one of those magazines. I added basil to my version which I believe amped up the flavor. This is a perfect dessert to complement your Memorial Day barbecue menu.

Friday, May 20, 2016

White Asparagus with Speck in Orange Chervil Cream Sauce

I'm a little late into white asparagus season in posting this recipe. However, I recently saw a few bunches around in the markets. You can easily substitute green asparagus in this dish.

The orange chervil sauce is worth making by itself. Use fresh chervil if you can. Leave out the speck or thick cut bacon for a vegetarian version. 

Each year, when Germany has white asparagus fever, watch out. As soon as the "white gold" is harvested, Germans are in their kitchens creating new and traditional white asparagus recipes. The German cooking magazines are filled with eye-catching dishes to make with weiss spargeln.

I saw a version of this recipe in one of the magazines and was looking forward to reinventing it. 

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Spring Asparagus Salad with Mini Potato Chip Schnitzel

I officially declare this recipe a less guilty way to eat potato chips because salad and protein are involved. 

Are you with me?

Potato chips make a great coating for schnitzel. A fun food for kids of all ages. For flavor twists, use barbecue or sour cream and onion potato chips for the mix. 

You can also go all upscale and colorful and use homemade or store bought gourmet chips like blue, beet or sweet potato chips. All would add some lovely color.

The schnitzel recipe can be made with whole cutlets. Just skip cutting out the rounds with a cookie cutter. I wanted a miniature size for presentation so I used a small round cookie cutter to shape the schnitzel out of the veal. Skip that and take the easier way of cutting asymmetrical pieces or strips out of the meat. 

Of course, you don't have to use veal. Substituting turkey or chicken cutlets would also work well in this recipe.

To bump up the color factor, I used orange tomatoes and red onions in the salad. 

For the full recipe and instruction, hop on over to my German Food Page at

Monday, May 16, 2016

Radish Mint Soup

Just landed back in NYC after a week in a warm climate and greeted by very Fall weather in mid May. 

What. Is. Up. With. That?

I have the solution.
This is a perfect spring or summer soup recipe that also sports some heft for colder days.

The soup has a creamy parsnip and potato base but the flavors of red radishes and fresh mint freshen up the flavor preventing it from becoming too heavy.

Butter fried shallots add another layer of flavor to this lovely dish and the flavors of mint and radish work surprisingly well together.