Year-Round Chocolate Soufflé Cakes with Ganache Filling

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Every spring Passover week arrives, and with it comes the endless parade of desserts that can be described as meh at best. This year was no different. As I sat down to my family’s Passover meal a week ago, I was secretly bemoaning the absence of a dessert that I would actually want to eat the other fifty-one weeks of the year.

For those of you unfamiliar with my lament, a little background on the rituals involved in the Jewish holiday of Passover is in order.

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Chocolate Ganache & Strawberry Jam on Buttered Toast

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With Valentine’s Day arriving tomorrow, images of chocolate-dipped strawberries are everywhere.   Appearing all over the internet, in grocery and retail stores, and on special menus in restaurants all over town, their pervasiveness is a constant reminder that the holiday of love is almost upon us.

Now, don’t get me wrong.   I love chocolate-dipped strawberries as much as the next person. And in previous years, they were definitely a welcome gift.

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Cranberry Almond Shortbread Tart

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As much as I love the holiday season, the constant temptation to indulge in all manner of sweet and savory special occasion foods can be overwhelming. Rich fare at holiday parties, homemade baked goods brought to office and school events, cookie swaps among friends — I’m nearly in a food coma just thinking about it.

One way to keep the temptations in check is to find ways to lighten your holiday desserts. That’s what I’ve done with this cranberry shortbread tart recipe. I saw the original version a few years ago in an issue of Fine Cooking. As you know, I absolutely love cranberries, and this tart, with its mixture of cranberries and almonds, seemed a perfect addition to my holiday dessert list.

But it also has 550 calories per serving, which is about one-quarter of a day’s worth of calories for most people. That’s huge! So, about a year ago, I made a new version with less sugar, fat, and calories. Read More


Butternut Squash Soup with Mushroom and Pine Nut Garnish

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For many people, the point of a restaurant is to avoid the chores of cooking and cleaning up. Yep, been there, done that.  But did you know they can also be a source of inspiration?

Last Saturday night, both of my daughters were at friends’ houses, so my husband and I had that rarest of experiences — a night alone.  We decided to eat out at a nearby Moroccan French restaurant where I ordered the evening’s soup, butternut squash with a mushroom and pomegranate seed garnish.  As I was eating it, my first thought was “this is delicious,” and my second thought was “I can make this at home!” Read More


Herb Finishing Salt, or One Way to Stay Far From the Madding Crowd During the Holiday Season

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For the last week I’ve been reading the book, Paleofantasy by Marlene Zuk.  I ran across it during a weekend trip to the library and, because I’ve recently heard several people vigorously proclaim the benefits of the Paleo diet, I decided to give it a read to see what the diet’s opponents have to say.

Now I’ll say right up front that this post is not about the pros or cons of this newest health trend.  (I will say that I am skeptical of diets that forbid huge categories of nutritious foods — calcium-rich dairy and whole grains packed with fiber, vitamins, and minerals in this case — since such diets are generally unhealthy and unsustainable.  For me, the real benefit of the Paleo diet, and possibly the reason for any beneficial effects, is its ban on sugar and hyper-processed foods.)

What this post is really about is salt, specifically homemade herb finishing salt. Read More