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March 2013

Carrot Spiked Mashed Potatoes

Carrot Mashed Potatoes

Although they’re often a favorite side dish staple, sometimes mashed potatoes need a little inspiration. Root vegetables make a perfect addition to potatoes, and I particularly like the sweet flavor of carrots in this recipe, but parsnips, rutabagas, turnips, and celery root will work just as well.. Yukon Gold potatoes are a great choice because of their rich, creamy flavor. It’s important to rinse the potatoes will, to remove excess starch which can make the mixture gluey.

Download Carrot Spiked Mashed Potatoes recipe


4 tablespoons unsalted butter

3 medium carrots (about 8 ounces) cut in half lengthwise, and sliced into ¼” thick pieces

1 ½ pounds Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled, quartered lengthwise, and cut crosswise into 1/4-inch-thick slices; rinsed well in cold water and drained

1/3 cup low-sodium chicken broth

Kosher salt

2/3 cup half-and-half, warmed

3 tablespoons minced fresh chives or scallion greens

Ground black pepper


1. Melt butter in large saucepan over medium heat. When foaming subsides, add root vegetables and cook, stirring occasionally, until butter is browned and vegetables are dark brown and caramelized, 10 to 12 minutes. (If after 4 minutes vegetables have not started to brown, increase heat to medium-high.)

2. Add potatoes, broth, and 3/4 teaspoon salt and stir to combine. Cook, covered, over low heat (broth should simmer gently; do not boil), stirring occasionally, until potatoes fall apart easily when poked with fork and most of the liquid has been absorbed, 25 to 30 minutes. (If liquid does not gently simmer after a few minutes, increase heat to medium-low.) Remove pan from heat; remove lid and allow steam to escape for 2 minutes.

3. Gently mash potatoes and root vegetables in saucepan with potato masher (do not mash vigorously). Gently fold in warm half-and-half and chives (or scallion greens). Season with salt and pepper to taste; serve immediately.

Carrot Mashed Potatoes Saute 1

Carrot Mashed Potatoes pot

Carrot Mashed Potatoes masher

Carrot Mashed Potatoes pan

Individual Pavlovas With Lemon Cream and Mixed Berries

Pavlova Berries

Apparently the origin of this meringue-based dessert is somewhat unclear, but seems to have been created in honor of Russian ballet dancer Anna Pavlova’s visit to New Zealand and Australia. The nationality of its creator has been a source of argument between the two nations for many years, but according to Helen Leach’s research in her book, The Pavlova Story: A Slice of New Zealand's Culinary History, New Zealand is the source of the ethereal dessert. It’s a fairly easy recipe to master, and although the cloudlike meringue shells are somewhat delicate, they are easy to make in large batches, and will keep for a few days in an airtight container. They are usually served with fruit and whipped cream, but I prefer this version that incorporates lemon curd. Because you can make the shells ahead, it’s a great dessert for entertaining, and they can be assembled in minutes. Store-bought Lemon Curd is fine to use in this recipe – look for Wilkin and Sons Tiptree Lemon Curd or Dickinson's. Pavlovas are light and refreshing, making them an elegant Spring dessert, perfect for Easter.

Download Individual Pavlovas With Lemon Cream and Mixed Berries recipe

Serves 12. 

Meringue Shells

4 large egg whites (about 1/2 cup), at room temperature

¼ teaspoon cream of tartar

Pinch of salt

1 cup (7 ounces) sugar

½ teaspoon vanilla extract

½ teaspoon white vinegar

Mixed Berries

2cups (10 ounces) raspberries

2cups (10 ounces) blueberries

1 tablespoon sugar

Lemon Cream Filling

1 cup (1 pint) heavy cream, chilled

1 ½ cups Lemon Curd, store-bought or homemade

Powdered Sugar and Mint leaves, for garnish, optional



1. Adjust the oven racks to the upper- and lower-middle positions and heat the oven to 200 degrees. Line 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper.

2. In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat the egg whites at medium-low speed until they are opaque and foamy, about 30 seconds. Add the cream of tartar and salt, increase the speed to medium-high, and, watching carefully, beat the egg whites until they form soft peaks, about 90 seconds. Slowly sprinkle in ½ cup of the sugar and then the vanilla and vinegar and continue to beat until incorporated, about 60 seconds. Remove the bowl from the mixer and sprinkle in the remaining ½ cup sugar and fold in just until incorporated. Using a ¼-cup dry measuring cup and a soupspoon, place 6 heaping ¼-cup dollops of meringue about 1 inch apart on each sheet. Gently press the back of the soupspoon into the center of the mounds to create hollows. Bake for 1½ hours or until the meringues have smooth, dry, and firm exteriors. Turn the oven off and allow the meringues to cool in the oven for two hours. Once cool, store the meringues in an airtight container, where they will keep for 3-4 days, until ready to use.


1. Combine raspberries and blueberries in a medium bowl. Sprinkle 1 tablespoon sugar over the fruit, and using a rubber spatula, stir gently to combine. Cover with plastic wrap and set aside at room temperature until the berries begins to exude their juices, about 30 minutes.



1. Just before serving, beat the cream in a chilled bowl of an electric mixer on low speed until small bubbles form, about 30 seconds. Increase the speed to medium; continue beating until the beaters leave a trail, about 30 seconds more. Increase the speed to high; continue beating until the cream is smooth, thick, and nearly doubled in volume, about 60 seconds for stiff peaks.  Beat in the Lemon Curd just until well combined.


1. Place a meringue shell on a dessert plate. Top with ½ cup lemon cream. Spoon ½ cup of fruit over the lemon cream. Sprinkle with powdered sugar and mint.  Repeat with the remaining meringue shells, lemon cream, and fruit. Serve immediately.

Pavlova Egg Whites bowl

Pavloca scoops

Pavlova Shells

Caramelized Vanilla Spiced Grapefruit

Broiled grapefruit 

A friend of mine recently brought me a bag full of grapefruit picked from her tree in Palm Springs. There’s nothing like fresh grapefruit and this recipe takes it to a new festive level. Broiling grapefruit is quick and easy and can be increased to accommodate any number of servings which makes them a great brunch option. Serve them warm or at room temperature with some Greek yogurt and granola.

Download Caramelized Vanilla Spiced Grapefruit recipe

Serves 4.

2 large grapefruit

2 tablespoons  maple syrup or honey

2 teaspoons brown sugar

1 tsp. pure vanilla extract

¼ teaspoon cinnamon

1/8 teaspoon cardamom (optional)

1. Position an oven rack about 4 inches below the broiler and heat the broiler on high. With a serrated knife, cut the grapefruit in even halves. Using a small paring knife or a grapefruit knife, cut each section away from the surrounding membrane. Set the grapefruit halves in a shallow broiler-safe pan or a heavy-duty rimmed baking sheet). If necessary, trim a thin slice off their bottoms so they sit level.

2. In a small bowl, stir together the pure maple syrup or honey, brown sugar vanilla extract and spices. Drizzle the mixture over the grapefruit halves. Broil until bubbling and lightly browned in spots, 5 to 7 minutes.

3. Remove from the oven and let cool slightly. Serve warm or at room temperature.

  Broiled grapefruit 2a

Easter Torrijas - Spanish French Toast

Easter Torrijas

Torrijas, a cross between French Toast and bread pudding, can be found throughout the year in Spain, but they are particularly popular for dessert around the Easter holiday. The tradition of reviving stale bread with eggs and milk dates back to Roman times, and most countries have their own particular version. I first tried this dish at the Palace Hotel in Madrid and was impressed with the subtle flavors of cinnamon, lemon and honey. There are many variations of this treat – some soften the stale bread by soaking it in a sweet wine, while other variations use milk, and honey. The chef at the Palace was kind enough to share his recipe, which I think is just about perfect. In Spain, it’s served cool or at room temperature (frankly almost everything in Spain is served at room temperature) and drizzled with honey syrup. 

Download Easter Torrijas Spanish French Toast recipe

1 baguette, day old (or thick sliced challah, left out overnight)

1 cup water

1 cup sugar plus ¼ cup

½ cup honey

2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

2 cinnamon sticks

4 eggs

1 tablespoon water

2 cups milk

¼ cup sugar

Peel of 1 lemon

1/8 teaspoon salt

1-2 tablespoons olive oil

1.    Arrange 1” thick slices of day old baguette in a single layer in large glass dish; set aside.

2.    In medium saucepan, combine water, 1 cup sugar, honey, lemon juice and 1 cinnamon stick. Bring to a boil and reduce heat to medium-low and let simmer for 7-9 minutes until slightly thickened. Remove cinnamon stick and allow honey mixture to cool.

3.    Beat eggs with 1 tablespoon water in shallow dish and set aside.

4.    Mix together milk, remaining ¼ cup sugar, lemon peel, remaining cinnamon stick and salt in heavy saucepan over medium heat and stir until sugar is dissolved and milk is hot.

6.    Heat 1-2 tablespoons olive oil in large griddle to medium heat (or 350 degrees on electric griddle).

7.    Pour warm milk over baguette slices. Using tongs, dip each slice into egg wash to coat both sides and drop onto hot skillet. Cook until golden brown, adding more oil as needed, about 2-3 minutes per side. Arrange on serving platter. When ready to serve, pour honey syrup over bread slices and serve.

Traditional Irish Soda Bread

Irish Soda Bread 1

With St. Patrick’s Day around the corner, this is the perfect time of year to bake a traditional Irish Soda Bread. After trying several versions, this one from Cook’s Illustrated is a favorite. For a more traditional soda bread, reduce the sugar by half and omit the raisins. If you're in the mood for more Irish fare for St Patrick's Day - try making a Guinness Beef Stew or some Colcannon - Irish Mashed Potatoes)

Download Irish Soda Bread recipe

3 cups bleached all-purpose flour, plus more for work surface

1 cup cake flour 

1/4 cup granulated sugar 

1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda 

1 1/2 teaspoons cream of tartar 

1 1/2 teaspoons table salt 

4 tablespoons softened unsalted butter 

1 1/4 cups buttermilk 

1 egg, lightly beaten

1 cup raisins, golden raisins, or currants (or combo of dark and golden raisins)


1.    Adjust oven rack to upper-middle position and heat oven to 400 degrees. Whisk flours, sugar, baking soda, cream of tartar, and salt in large bowl. Work softened butter into dry ingredients with fork or fingertips until texture resembles coarse crumbs.

2.    Add buttermilk, egg, raisins, and stir with a fork just until dough begins to come together. Turn out onto flour-coated work surface; knead until dough just becomes cohesive and bumpy, 12 to 14 turns. (Do not knead until dough is smooth, or bread will be tough.)

3.    Pat dough into a round about 6 inches in diameter and 2 inches high; place on greased or parchment-lined baking sheet or in a cast-iron skillet. Cut a cross shape into the top.

4.    Bake until golden brown and a skewer inserted into center of loaf comes out clean or internal temperature reaches 170 degrees, 40 to 45 minutes, covering bread with aluminum foil if it is browning too much. Remove from oven and brush with some melted butter; cool to room temperature, 30 to 40 minutes

Irish Soda Bread