Ratatouille Wellington

Increasingly when we travel, I like to try to get to a cooking class. But I haven’t done much of that when at home. So several months ago I went to a cooking class, called a “puff pastry primer”, at the local community college. I was hoping the class would be about making puff pastry and that I could get a few tips on improving my technique, but it turned out to be things to do with store-bought puff pastry. (Throwing it out wasn’t one of the options. ūüôā ) So while the class was kind of a bust for me, one good thing that did come out of it was watching the instructor make a big showy “wellington”. Continue reading

Empanada Dough

I’ve used different doughs for making empanadas, including buttery doughs and standard pie crusts, and while they were good, I knew they could be better.¬†After scouting around for recipes, I reluctantly concluded that I would have to try making them with lard. I know … eeew … I have never, ever bought lard in my life and truly didn’t want to start. But I have to say, I’m glad I did, at least for this dough. The result was light and flaky, and actually when you consider how much lard is in a batch of dough, eating one or two empanadas isn’t *that* bad for you … depending on your filling.

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Eggnog Ice Cream

Eggnog ice cream is a distinctly wintery, holiday treat…I mean, it would just taste weird in the summertime. This recipe is adapted from the superb ice cream recipes in¬†Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams at Home, by Jeni Britton Bauer. If you like to make ice cream, by all means buy this book! I have had more success making ice cream with this book than almost any other recipes I have tried (and I’ve tried a lot).

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P√£o de Queijo (Brazilian Cheese Puffs)

Brazil has a few signature dishes –¬†feijoada and¬†caipirinhas come to mind – but few are as addictive as p√£o de queijo. Dry and slightly crispy outside, soft and cheesy inside, they are yummy little breads made with tapioca flour. Tapioca flour is made from cassava root, also known as manioc and yuca (yes, one c). We enjoyed these on a recent trip to the Brazilian Amazon, but (despite finding many recipes on the internet) I thought it would be unlikely I’d be able to make these at home; who sells tapioca flour, after all?

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Eggs with Mushrooms and Cream

Technically this is¬†oeufs en cocotte, eggs steamed in ramekins. I’d love to say that I had this in a Parisian bistro while sipping some¬†cafe au lait, but the truth is I saw this on a Jacques P√©pin PBS show while I was sitting in a VW dealer waiting room not long ago. It’s one of those recipes that everyone says you don’t need a recipe for – indeed, on his tv show’s website there isn’t a recipe – but I’ll write it out anyway.

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Carrie Hamblen’s Chiles Rellenos

This post is courtesy of Carrie Hamblen, CEO & President of the Las Cruces Green Chamber of Commerce. I had the pleasure of hearing Carrie speak at the recent 2016 Conservation Lands Foundation’s Friends Grassroots Rendezvous in Las Vegas, as a panelist for “How Friends Groups Can Engage the Business Community on Conservation Issues”. She mentioned her¬†chiles rellenos¬†during the session so of course I tracked her down after the panel and asked for the “not-yet-but-will-be famous” recipe. Thanks Carrie! Continue reading

Chicken and Seafood Paella


Seafood paella, El Caldero, Madrid

We had some fabulous paella in Spain earlier this year, the best being at a restaurant called El Caldero, in Madrid near Atocha station. I have made paella off and on at home, but until recently didn’t have a real paella pan … I’d avoided buying one because I thought I didn’t really need another specialty kitchen item.¬†But when my cousin Bob made paella for us not long ago, with the special pan, out on the bbq grill, I thought…ok, time to get serious. Lo and behold, I got a pretty nice pan from Amazon.com for only about $20.

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Patates Lemonates (Greek Lemon Potatoes)


Robert sips his ouzo, I knock it back

I’m in full Olympics mode this month, and while I have a few Brazilian recipes up my sleeve, I’m going to detour instead over to Greece. I *love* Greek food, and two Greek restaurants stand out for me – Papadakis Taverna in my hometown of San Pedro, California, and a little place whose name I forgot in Pullach, Germany (outside Munich). Lamb, lemon potatoes, moussaka, saganaki (“burning cheese”, as my niece Margaret once called it)…a good shot of chilled ouzo (see right)…what’s not to love? (Ok, I can do without retsina.)

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The Rio Olympics are upon us, so what better time to turn south for food and drink inspiration. The caipirinha is Brazil’s national cocktail, and there is made with¬†cacha√ßa, sugarcane hard liquor. Cacha√ßa, also known as aguardente,¬†may be a bit hard to come by here at home, but you can make do with any good rum. It may not be authentic, but it’s darn good!

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