You'll never get a lemon

Murphy’s Law was operating in full force last night as I tried to
duplicate Chef Mary Sue Milliken’s Lemon Soufflé recipe seen on Bravo
TV’s Top Chef Masters a few weeks ago.

While Milliken lost in the final round to Chef Floyd Cardoz, the judges’
oo-ing and ah-ing sent visions of lemons dancing in my head. But the
recipe serves 12. Who would be my guinea pigs?

My opportunity came last night as my houseguests from Sweden – a
delightful family of five – sampled the dish. Unfortunately they also
“sampled” my haphazard style as they watched me screw up a seemingly
simple recipe. And yet, despite six (count them) mistakes, the result
was tasty, but here are some tips so that may learn from the wisdom of
my experience.

Pay attention and concentrate! The good news is I have an open kitchen
which allows me to talk to guests as I’m cooking. The bad news is I have
an open kitchen which allows me to talk to guests as I’m cooking.

Read the recipe! Seems obvious, doesn’t it, but I can’t tell you how
many times I’ve looked at the list of ingredients without consulting the
method. “Oops” is not something you want to hear in the kitchen.

So where did I go wrong? Here goes:

(Step 1) Notice it says “half the sugar.” Don’t throw all the sugar into
the yolks and then try to pick some out later. In this case, the other
half the sugar is for whipping the egg whites, which need to get only to
the medium peak stage, so no harm done there. (Whew!)

(Step 2) When you’re bringing milk to a boil, don’t start chatting and
turn your back on it and let it boil over with skim forming on top so
that you have to strain it.

Posted in Submitted by Judy on Sat, 07/16/2011 - 7:48am.

Summer fruit and the living is easy

Attention shoppers. A new fruit in town will hit the shelves any day
now. Check Ralphs and Trader Joe’s for a white apricot called
“angelcot,” a trademarked name from Freida’s, the specialty produce
company headquartered in Los Alamitos.

And here’s a recipe any busy cook will love: “Split open an apricot, dip
it in Cholula Hot Sauce – you know, the one with the wooden top – and
eat!” says Karen Caplan, Freida’s daughter and president of the company.
“It’s a delicious combination of hot and sweet.”

As Ina Garten, the Barefoot Contessa, would say, “How easy is that?”

Now in its fiftieth year, the company was the brainchild of Freida
Caplan, who started as a cashier at the produce market and began selling
a neglected stack of mushrooms near the cashier stand. They took off.

“Unable to find enough mushrooms to supply her growing customer base,
she did something really wild and unheard of,” Karen writes in “The
Purple Kiwi Cookbook” (Favorite Recipes Press), a tantalizing recipe
collection based on the exotic produce –– from Asian pears to wood ear
mushrooms – that Freida’s markets today.

“She began visiting growers. No one at the produce market had ever
thought of that before.”

Why the Purple Kiwi Cookbook?

“My mom introduced the kiwifruit to America in 1962, first imported as
Chinese gooseberries and renamed it.” Karen noted. And the company color
is purple, because it was the only color the sign painter had on his truck!

“The Purple Kiwi Cookbook” demystifies cactus pears, horned melons,
lychees, passion fruit, quince, star fruit – all those exotics you’ve
seen in the market and wondered, now what do I do with this?

Posted in Submitted by Judy on Thu, 06/30/2011 - 10:18pm.

Purim: merriment, mirth…and good eats!

from Orange County Jewish Life magazine, March 2012. (Recipes for Layered Hummus and Eggplant with Roasted Garlic and Pine Nuts plus three varieties of Hamantaschen follow the story.)

Every Jewish school child knows the characters: Ahasuerus, the foolish king; Vashti, the spurned wife; Haman, the wicked first minister (sound your groggers now!); Esther, the brave and beautiful maiden; and Mordecai, her honorable protector. Their tale of intrigue is told in the Scroll of Esther (Megillah) as an annihilation plot is foiled and our people saved. Purim, which begins at sundown on Wednesday, March 7, is the holiday of merriment, mirth, and trickery!

To celebrate our deliverance, sweets are the order of the day. Gifts of cakes and fruit (shaloch manot) are exchanged. For Ashkenazim no Purim celebration would be complete without eating three-cornered hamantaschen, traditionally filled with poppy seeds, while Sephardim
enjoy honeyed pastries called oznei Haman (Hebrew for Haman’s ears).

Bulletin! This just in! Taschen means “pockets,” and Haman never wore a three-cornered hat! (You just can’t believe anything you hear these days.)

Posted in Submitted by Judy on Thu, 03/03/2011 - 5:55pm.

Saucing it up for the new year

New Year’s Eve is almost upon us, and you’re having a party. So why does
the thought of celebrating in your own home with your own family and
friends make you nervous? The whole world is throwing confetti, and
you’re already saying to yourself, “What was I thinking?”

“Special occasions and special recipes do not have to be difficult or
fussy,” says Sheila Lukins in “Celebrate!” (Workman $19.95), a cookbook
I turn to again and again for menus and party ideas for every holiday
and occasion.

Beautiful color photos leap off the page as Lukins invites you to
celebrate not just Thanksgiving and Christmas, but a housewarming, a
bridal shower, a new job, glorious summer… 43 holidays and celebrations
in all.

The book begins as the year does, with New Year’s, and offers recipes
for a casual New Year’s Day celebration that won’t leave you harried.
Keep it low-key, she suggests, with an open house buffet and food that
will stay delicious throughout the day as friends drop in and out.

“I believe the most memorable celebrations take place at home,” Lukins
writes. “In mine, all celebrations begin in the kitchen, and part of the
fun is deciding what to prepare, creating a menu with appeal, start to

You’ll find a tempting array of dishes to serve 24 as you ring in the
New Year. This sumptuous buffet includes the foolproof, doable, yet
impressive dishes we’ve come to expect from the coauthor of the “Silver
Palate” cookbooks.

Party pork tenderloins are the centerpiece with a trio of sauces: Pebre,
a fresh salsa verde with herbs, onions, and garlic (similar to
Argentinean chimichurri); Lemon-Garlic Aїoli and Romesco
mayonnaise, a Catalan tomato- and bell pepper-based sauce that Lukins
combines with mayonnaise for body and a splash of orange juice.

Posted in Submitted by Judy on Mon, 01/03/2011 - 12:36pm.

My crunchy crispy latke recipe on Workman's blog

I'm making minis this year for our Hanukkah tapas party! Different latkes with different sauces - one can't have too many! See my blog.

So much more than a bowl of soup

Weather a little brisk for you these days? My story in today's Orange County Register extolls the virtues of - you guessed it - soup! Enjoy the recipe for Chicken Tortilla Soup. For a kosher version, use nondairy sour cream. Read the story.

New Year's resolution food needn't be tasteless

You know those packages that say, “Do not open until Christmas”? If you tend to avoid resolutions until the actual first of the year, then eat, drink and be merry tonight, and save this column for tomorrow.

It’s New Year’s resolution time again, and I’m making the same one I make every year (sigh), to lose those extra pounds. And how I would love to implement my resolve at, say, the world-renowned Golden Door spa, pampered in the epitome of luxury with world-class chefs lavishing me with nutritious, satisfying, and glorious meals.

Ain’t gonna happen.

With the tight economy affecting travel plans, more and more Americans are choosing a staycation instead of a vacation – you know, donning bathing suit, sunglasses, and a wide-brimmed hat for a luxurious loll in the backyard.

I’m spending my staycation at home with the help of the new “Golden Door Cooks at Home” cookbook (Clarkson Potter, $40) by executive chef Dean Rucker with food writer Marah Stets.

This year marks the fiftieth anniversary of Golden Door with resort spas in Escondido, California, as well as throughout the United States and Puerto Rico.

“It used to be that the term ‘spa food’ evoked images of unadorned dishes without flavor or flair, created to contain as few calories and as little fat as possible without regard for how enjoyable it was to actually eat them,” writes chef Rucker.

No longer. The emphasis now is on a healthy diet and portion control. “And this is made far easier when the food is both delicious and filling,” he says.

Chicken and Scallion Potstickers with Chili Lime Sauce. Pan Roasted Lobster with Basil Potato Puree. Moroccan Spice-Rubbed Lamb Loin with Chickpeas, Feta, and Olives. Warm Flourless Chocolate Cake with Orange Sauce.

Spa food? Hardly.

Posted in Submitted by Judy on Thu, 12/31/2009 - 5:15pm.

Help for those New Year's resolutions

It’s resolution time again! According to, the most popular New Year’s resolution is (drum roll please) lose weight! What a surprise.

If, like me, you make this same resolution every year, two new books may turn things around, and then maybe next year we can all resolve to reduce carbon emissions and promote world peace.

In The Portion Plan: How to Eat the Foods You Love & Still Lose Weight (DK, $17.95) TV and radio personality Linda Gassenheimer says the key to losing weight and keeping it off may lie in the palm of your hand. Love that burger? A healthy portion is palm sized. Your baked potato should be the size of your fist. And you don’t have to give up French fries if you eat what will fit in two cupped hands (about 20).

“The portions of foods we are eating have ballooned,” writes Gassenheimer. “Restaurants serve extra-large amounts of food, yet we still clean our plates, just as we were told to do when we were children.” This “portion distortion” has completely perverted our sense of normalcy.

Take the bagel, for instance. “Originally the size of a hockey puck, bagels now have the circumference of a CD,” she says. Stick to a palm-size portion and use reduced-fat cream cheese and save 382 calories.

Seeing is believing, and “The Portion Plan” offers dozens of life-size food photos of ideal and not-so-ideal portions of common foods so we can make wise food choices. And learning to distinguish between what Gassenheimer calls “the good, the bad, and the ugly” (choices to savor, choices to watch and choices to avoid) will assure we’re not only losing weight, but maintaining a healthy lifestyle as well.

The book also includes a seven-day eating plan with recipes, an eating-out guide and oodles of tips for delicious alternatives to calorie-laden foods.

Posted in Submitted by Judy on Sun, 12/27/2009 - 1:03pm.

Visiting family shares holiday traditions

My Christmas story for The Orange County Register contains a recipe for a Swedish pastry called Lussikatter. It's a wonderful eggy sweet bread reminiscent of a saffron-scented challah. Read the whole story.

Blogging about Hanukkah

Join the discussion as I blog about Hanukkah on project foodie and Workman Publishing's website.

Syndicate content