Saturday, December 30, 2017

Gingerbread with Lemon Curd + Donkey & Goat's Pinot Gris

For the final course of our Christmas dinner, I served my favorite festive sweet - gingerbread with lemon curd. And I paired it with Donkey & Goat's Pinot Gris.

In the Glass
Donkey & Goat's 2016 Ramato Pinot Gris is skin-fermented which resulted in a vivid salmon color . The wine smells like peaches and sea salt; and while it is light-bodied it's exotic and almost meaty. This wine, like many of Donkey & Goat's creations, is not for the faint of heart, but, like all of Donkey & Goat's wines, it's fascinating.

On the Plate

  • 1-1/4 C butter, plus some for greasing
  • unsweetened cocoa powder for dusting pan
  • 1 C unsulphered molasses
  • 1 C organic granulated sugar
  • 1/3 C ginger syrup
  • 1 T ginger paste
  • 1 t dried ginger
  • 2-1/2 C flour
  • 1 C ground almonds
  • 1 T baking powder
  • 1 C sour cream
  • 2 eggs
  • organic powdered sugar for serving

Lemon Curd
  • 1 C fresh lemon juice
  • 4 t fresh lemon zest
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 6 large eggs
  • 12 T butter, cut into cubes

Lemon Curd
Whisk together juice, zest, sugar, and eggs in a 2-quart heavy saucepan. Stir in butter and cook over moderately low heat, whisking frequently, until curd is thick enough to hold marks of whisk and first bubble appears on surface, about 6 minutes.

Transfer lemon curd to a bowl and chill, its surface covered with plastic wrap, until cold, at least 1 hour.

Preheat the oven to 350 degree F. Butter pan and dust the pan with unsweetened cocoa powder to prevent sticking.

Melt the butter. In  large mixing bowl, whisk together molasses, sugar, ginger syrup, ginger paste, eggs, and sour cream. Pour in the melted butter and stir until well-combined.

Add in dry ingredients and stir till completely moistened. Spoon into buttered cake pan.

Bake for 1 hour or till a toothpick inserted comes out clean. Let cool in pan for 10 minutes before inverting onto a wire rack. Let cool for another 10 to 15 minutes.

To serve, spoon a dollop of lemon curd onto your serving plate. Top with a square of gingerbread. Dust with powdered sugar.

Parthian Game Hens #CooktheBooks #FoodieReads

For this round - our December-January selection - of Cook the Books, the book selection was chosen by Debra from Eliot's Eats. She chose Feast of Sorrow: A Novel of Ancient Rome by Crystal King.* You can read Debra's invitation in the book announcements: here.

On the Page
I first read this book on our ten-day camping trip last July along the Eastern Sierras. I swung in the hammock, breathing in the clean mountain air, and devouring King's book. Actually, I read a lot of books during the trip, but this was the first...and my favorite.

Then, in preparation for this event, I read it again. Let me start with this: I love this book. What's not to love, right? Food, history, love, passion, betrayal, and ancient Rome.

I became enamored by ancient Rome when I studied Latin in high school. And that passion was only flamed more when I lived in Rome for a year after college. Visiting those sites, walking among the ruins...I get misty-eyed just thinking about Rome.

King's research is evident and meticulous from the very first page and you are quickly transported to the world of Apicius, Thrasius, Sotas, and more. 

"Marcus Gavius Apicius purchased me on a day hot enough to fry sausage on the market stones. It was the twenty-sixth year of Augustus Caesar's reign" (pg. 3).

So began the tale of Thrasius, the fictional narrator of Feast of Sorrow. The novel is based on the real life of ancient Roman noble Apicius who is said to have inspired and contributed to the world's oldest surviving cookbook, a ten-volume collection bearing his name Apicius.

Some of the earliest foodies, it turns out, wrested credit for the work of the talented cooks they enslaved. This is a story where innovation collides with exploitation, loyalty with rivalry, and love with venomous hatred. I high recommend this for any fan of historical fiction, anyone who loves Rome, and anyone who enjoys feasts and foods. I found it impossible to put down. Twice.

On the Plate
I decided to make a variation on the Parthian Chicken that the author has on her blog: here. This dish was one that Thrasius imagined in the small dinner he suggests to Apicius on the day of his purchase. "...I would begin with a gustatio of salad with peppers and cucumbers, melon and mint, whole-meal bread, soft cheese, and honey cake. ...Then pomegranate ice to cleanse the palate, followed by a cena prima of saffron chickpeas, Parthian chicken, peppered morels in wine, mussels, and oysters" (pg. 6).

Parthian Chicken

 Apicius 6.8.3: Pullum Parthicum: pullum aperies a naui et in quadrato ornas. teres piper, ligusticum, carei modicum. suffunde liquamen. uino temperas. componis in Cumana pullum et condituram super pullum facies. laser et uinum interdas. dissolues et in pullum mittis simul et coques. piper aspersum inferes.

Ingredients serves 3 or 4
  • 3 cornish game hens
  • 1 t ajwain seeds
  • 1 t caraway seed
  • 10 garlic cloves, peeled and pressed
  • 1/2 C sweet white wine  (I used a local Muscat wine)
  • 1/2 C dry white wine (I used a local Sauvignon Blanc)
  • 1 T olive oil
  • freshly ground pepper
  • 3 T fish sauce (this is closest approximation to the ancient Roman garum, a fish sauce that was used in almost all ancient Roman dishes)
  • 3 t softened butter
  • 3 apples (for stuffing the birds, you can use onions or anything else that will fill the cavity)
  • Also needed: three 9" length of 100% cotton twine, roasting pan

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.

Remove giblets from the cornish game hens and stuff them with apple quarters. Use the twine to truss the hens. Place them a roasting pan.

Grind the ajwain and caraway seeds and place them in a small mixing bowl. Add in the garlic and black pepper. Stir in the fish sauce and the olive oil.

Rub 1 t butter into the skin of each bird. Spoon the spice mixture over the top and spread it over the surface with a spoon.

Pour the wine over the birds. Put the pan in the oven and roast for 90 minutes. Every 20 minutes or so remove the pan from the oven and baste with the cooking juices. 

After 90 minutes in the oven, remove the hens from the oven and let them rest for 15 minutes before serving.

Serve with steamed rice, blanched green beans, and a great wine. I poured a skin-fermented Pinot Gris from Donkey & Goat winery.

*This blog currently has a partnership with in their affiliate program, which gives me a small percentage of sales if you buy a product through a link on my blog. It doesn't cost you anything more. If you are uncomfortable with this, feel free to go directly to and search for the item of your choice.

I am also linking this post to the Foodie Reads Challenge. 
Here's what everyone else read in December 2017: here.

Thursday, December 28, 2017

Coffee and Garlic-Rubbed Lamb Lollipops + Donkey & Goat's Grenache Noir

This was the second course for our Christmas dinner. You can read a bit about the tasting and planning here. Though this wine wasn't on the tasting menu for the day, Kelsey poured us a taste when we started talking about lamb lollipops. And I knew she had a winning combination.

In the Glass
This is the 2016 Grenache Noir from the El Dorado appellation. This is a lighter bodied red which makes it extremely food-friendly. I like that it's mineral-driven and simultaneously soft and playful.
Light and fruity with hints of berries at the forefront, the flavor deepens with each sip to reveal more complex fruits - think pomegranate or tart cherries - with just the right amount of fresh herbs.

On the Plate
Lamb lollipops are a family favorite. To complement the earthy tannins in the wine, I decided to go with a coffee and garlic rub with a bit of dried thyme.

Ingredients serves 4 as an appetizer (2 ribs per person)
  • rack of lamb with 8 ribs, sliced into lollipops
  • freshly ground salt
  • freshly ground pepper
  • olive oil
  • sixteen 1/2 t minced garlic
  • sixteen 1/2 t espresso-ground coffee
  • caper berries, for serving

Lay ribs on a plate or parchment-lined tray. Season each side of lamb liberally with salt and pepper. Spoon 1/2 t minced garlic and 1/2 t coffee grounds on each lollipop. Flip over and repeat. Let meat stand for at least 10 minutes, longer, if you have time.

Heat olive oil in a skillet on medium heat. Once hot, add the lamb and sear for 1 minute and flip it over. Cook for 4 to 5 minutes on the second side. Flip over again. This time cook for 3 to 4 minutes. At a total of 4 to 5 minutes per side, these were medium done. Adjust cooking time to your preferred doneness.

To serve, plate them with caper berries on the side. Serve hot.

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Chicken and Waffles + Donkey & Goat's Chardonnay

Last week, for D's 14th birthday, we headed up to the San Francisco Bay Area for a quick one-day adventure. But, because it can't all be about him, I squeezed in a stop in Berkeley at one of our favorite vintners Donkey & Goat.

I had hoped to finally meet Jared face-to-face after years of emails, but he was out doing family things with his kids. 'Tis the season for fun and family! I'll meet him one of these days, I'm sure.

But, over the course of an hour or so, Kelsey guided us through a tasting and helped me plan out our Christmas dinner with Donkey & Goat pairings. We ended up with three courses and three wines.

In the Glass
After tasting the chardonnay, Jake said, "I see this with chicken and waffles!" Kelsey and I hesitated, tasted again, then both agreed. One pairing down.

The 2016 Linda Vista Vineyard Chardonnay was made with grapes that enjoy both the cooling influence of the Bay and the warming sunshine of Napa Valley. On the nose there's an alluring blend of stone fruit and citrus; I was getting a hint of something very familiar, but I couldn't put my finger on it then and still need to work it out. It'll come to me. What I love about this wine is its balanced acidity with a lush mouthfeel. I'm not a huge fan of Chardonnay, usually, but this one gets my thumbs up. And it was a delicious foil to my chicken and waffles.

On the Plate
This will just be a recipe for the oven-baked chicken as I used a waffle mix from Bob's Red Mill for the actual waffes. I also used the mix in the breading for the chicken. So, just use your favorite waffle recipe and your favorite gravy recipe. I'll share mine eventually.

Also, for an entree size dish, you could serve a whole waffle with two tenderloins on top. As this was just part of a larger menu, I opted to serve one-quarter of a waffle with half of a tenderloin!


  • 1 C waffle mix (I used the blend from Bob's Red Mill)
  • 1 t dried oregano
  • 1 lb boneless, skinless chicken tenderloins (approximately 10 tenderloins, sliced in half to make a large 'nugget')
  • 2 eggs, slightly beaten
  • 3 T butter, melted
  • Also needed: waffles and gravy for serving

    Preheat oven to 450 degrees F. In a medium size bowl mix together waffle mix and oregano. In a smaller bowl, whisk the eggs. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

    Dip chicken into eggs then toss in flour mixture. Place it on the prepared baking sheet. Repeat for the remaining tenderloins. Drizzle melted butter over the chicken (approxmately  ½ tsp on each).

    Bake for 10 minutes. Flip chicken and bake for an additional 8 minutes or until chicken is firm to the touch and no longer pink in the center.

    To serve, place one-quarter of a waffle on your serving plate. Top with chicken piece. Drizzle with gravy. Serve immediately.

    Cracked Freekeh Pilaf Breakfast Bowl #Sponsored

     This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Bob's Red Mill.
    I received complimentary product for the purpose of recipe development,
    but all opinions are honest and they are my own. This page may contain affiliate links.

    We have decided to detox from sugar. I shouldn't laugh, but Jake came out yesterday morning and said, "We have a major problem." Then he proceeded to tell me that his so-called 'fat pants' were tight. I tried not to laugh and used it as an opportunity to get him to give up, or at least cut waaaay back on, sugar. 

    So, this morning, instead of pancakes with maple syrup - or some other sugary breakfast - I decided to try my hand at a breakfast bowl made with whole grains, greens, and savory yogurt. I'll admit: I got a few groans, but I liked it! And they'll adjust.

    What the Freekeh?
    You may be asking yourself, "What in the world is freekeh?" As part of a shipment for a grains around the world class I was planning, I received a bag of Cracked Freekeh from Bob's Red Mill.*

    Freekeh is, essentially, wheat. But it's a young green wheat that's been toasted and cracked. And it's part of Bob's Red Mill line called 'Grains of Discovery.' I decided to try it as I would use bulgur wheat - in a pilaf. If you don't have freekeh, use any grain that you have on hand. I will be trying different grains throughout the coming month. I'm thinking sorghum, kamut, and even brown rice.

    Freekeh Pilaf
    • 2 cloves garlic, peeled and pressed
    • 1 shallot, peeled and minced
    • 1 T olive oil
    • 1-1/2 C cracked freekeh
    • 4 C liquid (for flavor I used 3 C homemade beef stock and 1 C homemade chicken stock)
    • 1 T freshly squeezed lemon juice
    • 2 to 3 C finely sliced kale (I used lacinto kale)

    Savory Yogurt Condiment
    • 2 C whole milk yogurt
    • 2 T preserved lemon peel, diced (my Preserved Lemons)
    • 2 T fresh herbs, chopped (I used Italian parsley)
    • 1 t freshly squeezed lemon juice

    Other Elements for Serving

    Freekeh Pilaf
    Heat olive oil in a lidded pan and cook the garlic and shallots until softened. Stir in the freekeh and cook for a minute or two until the grains are glossy and nicely coated with oil. Add in the kale and stir until it turns brighter green. Pour in the liquid and the lemon juice. Bring to a boil.

    Reduce the heat to a simmer and cover. Simmer for 20 to 25 minutes until all of the liquid is absorbed and the grains are softened. While the freekeh cooks, prepare the rest of the dish.

    Savory Yogurt Condiment
    Place all of the ingredients together in a small mixing bowl. Stir until well combined.

    Other Elements for Serving
    To serve place a scoop of pilaf in a serving bowl. Top with a poached egg. Spoon the yogurt on the side and add your microgreens. Sprinkle with more fresh chopped herbs.

    You may find Bob's Red Mill...
    on the webon Facebook, on Twitter, on Pinterest, on Google+, and on Instagram

    *Disclosure: I received product for free from the sponsor for recipe development, however, I have received no additional compensation for my post. My opinion is 100% my own and 100% accurate.

    Sugar by Any Other Name

    For years I've been screaming about reading labels. Both my kids read labels. My husband is less vigilant, but he also doesn't do a whole lot of food shopping.

    So, as we prepare to launch into a sugar detox in January, I thought I'd write some posts about this journey. The first thing is this: just because it doesn't read 'sugar' doesn't mean that it doesn't have added sugar.

    Sugar has aliases. Seriously. A good rule of thumb is to look for any words that end in -ose. Keep an eye out for any ingredient with the word 'syrup'. Here are 50 of the most common aliases for sugar (sources include,, and 

    • Barley malt
    • Beet sugar
    • Brown sugar
    • Buttered syrup
    • Cane juice crystals
    • Cane sugar
    • Caramel
    • Corn syrup
    • Corn syrup solids
    • Confectioner’s sugar
    • Carob syrup
    • Castor sugar
    • Date sugar
    • Demerara sugar
    • Dextran
    • Dextrose
    • Diastatic malt
    • Diatase
    • Ethyl maltol
    • Fructose
    • Fruit juice
    • Fruit juice concentrate
    • Galactose
    • Glucose
    • Glucose solids
    • Golden sugar
    • Golden syrup
    • Grape sugar
    • High-fructose corn syrup
    • Honey
    • Icing sugar
    • Invert sugar
    • Lactose
    • Maltodextrin
    • Maltose
    • Malt syrup
    • Maple syrup
    • Molasses
    • Muscovado sugar
    • Panocha
    • Raw sugar
    • Refiner’s syrup
    • Rice syrup
    • Sorbitol
    • Sorghum syrup
    • Sucrose
    • Sugar
    • Treacle
    • Turbinado sugar
    • Yellow sugar

    Tuesday, December 26, 2017

    Aunt Tiffy's Bûche de Noël for D #TiffBakes

    Every year the Enthusiastic Kitchen Elf and I make a Bûche de Noël for his birthday cake. When I found out that my cousin was hosting our big family Christmas celebration on D's birthday, I emailed her: That is D's actual birthday. Any chance you might be able to make him a cake? 

    Don't think that's a completely odd request. While she's an engineer, she bakes for fun and, sometimes, as a side job. She readily agreed. I certainly didn't expect her to make him a bûche. But she did...because she's an awesome auntie. 

    She made chocolate bark, marzipan pinecones, and meringue mushrooms.

    And she even had candles to make it the full birthday experience.

    It was so beautiful and so tasty.

    And, best of all, he felt so celebrated. It's tough to have a birthday so close to Christmas. I just appreciate when friends and family make the effort to make him feel special. Thanks, Tiffy!

    Wednesday, December 20, 2017

    Double the Eggnog Cookies #FantasticalFoodFight

    When I read that December's Fantastical Food Fight theme was eggnog, I might have done a little dance of joy. Maybe a medium dance of joy. We love eggnog in my house. I mean, we just did an Eggnog Tasting.

    And, in case you don't want to click and read the results: Humboldt Creamery's Organic Eggnog was the winner in the 'sipper' category - that is to say straight from the carton with nothing added; Straus Family Creamery and Clover Organic eggnogs were the winners when we mixed them with booze. And both Jake and I preferred SNAP liqueur to rum in our nog.

    I love the Fantastical Food Fight coordinated by Sarah of Fantastical Sharing of Recipes. For more information about the event, click here.

    I haven't been very good at participating, but this month, I couldn't resist. We were given the challenge of making a recipe with eggnog. So. Many. Possibilities.

    Double the Eggnog Cookies

    I decided to make eggnog cookies with an eggnog glaze. These eggnog cookies are so moist and absolutely delicious.

    Ingredients makes approximately 3 dozen
    • 1 C butter, softened (2 sticks)
    • 1 C organic granulated sugar
    • 3/4 C eggnog
    • 1 egg beaten
    • 3-3/4 C flour
    • 1 t baking powder
    • 1 t baking soda
    • 1/2 t salt
    • 1/2 t freshly grated nutmeg

    Eggnog Glaze

    • 1-1/2 to 2 C organic powdered sugar
    • 1/4 C eggnog
    • 1 egg white
    • nutmeg for grating

    Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Cream together butter and sugar. Add in eggnog and egg. Add flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and nutmeg.

    Drop by teaspoonfuls onto parchment-lined or silicone mat-lined baking sheet. Bake for 8-10 minutes.

    When you pull them out out the oven, let them cool for a minute. Then, gently flatten the top with the bottom of a mason jar.

    Cool completely on a wire rack.

    Whisk the glaze ingredients together to form a thick paste. Spoon a dollop on top of each cookies and carefully spread the glaze to the edge.

    Use a microplane to grate fresh nutmeg over the top of the glaze. Let the glaze harden before serving.