Category Archives: Dessert

Ultimate Gingerbread


These intense little bars are great on their own or crumbled over a little bowl of gelato or ice cream.


Ultimate Gingerbread

(from Jamie Oliver Cook with Me)

Makes 9-12 pieces

1 x shortbread recipe or a 15 ounce package of store-bought shortbread

6 ounces of raw sugar

3 level t of ground ginger

1/3 cup mixes peel (dried and candied orange, lemon, pineapple), chopped

1/3 cup crystallized ginger, chopped

7 T flour

A pinch of baking powder

2 T golden syrup (white karo)

2 T treacle (black molasses)

5 T butter


If you are using your own shortbread, make it first.  Recipe follows. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.  Baking pan required is about 9 x 14 inches.  Place shortbread in food processor with the sugar and 2 T of the ground ginger.  Pulse until you have crumbs.  Remove about 2/3-1 cup of the crumbs and set aside.  To the remaining crumbs add the chopped peel, the crystallized ginger, the additional 1 T of ground ginger, the flour and the baking powder. And pulse until well mixed.  Place in a large bowl for further mixing.


In the meantime melt the syrup, butter, molasses in a saucepan.  When everything is melted ,mix it together with the crumb fruit mixture and mix until well combined.  Press the mixture into the bottom of the pan –making even with a spatula.  Place in the oven for about 10 minutes.

When done, take the tray out and sprinkle the hot gingerbread with the remaining crumbs, pressing them down with spatula or spoon.  Cut into squares while warm and leave to cool in the pan.

Serve on its own or use to sprinkle over ice cream.

This recipe dates back to England’s Lake District of 150 years ago.  It also makes a great base for cheesecake!


1 cup + 2 T butter (for pan preparation)

½ cup + 1 T superfine sugar, plus extra for sprinkling

2 scant cups all-purpose flour (for dusting)

2/3 cup semolina flour a 1 scant cup cornstarch

Preheat oven to 300 degrees F.  Grease bottom and sides of 9 x 9 inch baking pan

Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy.  Add the flour and semolina or cornstarch.  Mix lightly until you have a smooth dough.

Press the dough into the prepared pan and prick all over with a fork.  Bake for about 45-50 minutes until golden.  Dust with additional sugar while still warm.  Cut while warm and let cool in the pan.




Manchego with Honey Brown Butter Sauce

Tammy pours the warm honey brown butter over this creamy Spanish Manchego wedge. Yum!

1 Stick Butter

3 Tablespoon Honey

1/2 pound Manchego Cheese Wedge

Sea Salt

Melt Butter in small saute pan and cook until it is golden brown.  Drizzle in the honey and stir to incorporate.  Let cook together until rich and brown.  Place cheese on a platter big enough for the cheese wedge to swim in the sauce.  Sprinkle with salt and serve warm with crackers or thinly sliced baguette.  We also slice up some red Asian pears – it was delicious!  You could also serve this as a cheese dessert.

Asian Pears were a delicious addition to this recipe

Serves 6

You won’t believe how fast this disappears!

Cookie Box Time

I am thinking it would be great fun to gather for a special class devoted to making cookies for the holidays!  I would like to make it an all day affair on a Saturday and set aside 2-3 hours in the afternoon to kids, who accompanied by an adult – could come help make and decorate sugar and ginger cookies!   Cookie Boxes are wonderful and there are more than enough varieties to choose from – in fact half the fun is deciding which cookies to put in the box.  I usually bake at least 6-8 kinds and toss in some rum balls or chocolate covered brandy cherries to boot!  Pretty boxes, pretty cookies, wrap them up as a taste treat. In addition I would like to offer a Sunday class devoted to Biscotti.    Hmmmm… much holiday fun and baking ahead.


photo via

The Reason I Love to Go Out!

I mentioned this in class this week and last night once again I discovered it was true.  The reason I like to go out is not only to have a break from cooking and just relax, but also because I discover new foods and new ways to prepare foods.  G and I both had a long hard week and wanted to just relax and have some dinner at one of our favorite Portland restaurants – Fore Street.  We have become regulars over our years here and whether we eat in the dining room with the family or perch at the bar for an intimate cozy adult evening – the food never fails us and the servers always take good care of us.

Because we like taste treats, we frequently share a few things and accompany them with wine tasting treats provided by our favorite sommelier.

The winners last night were the fall tasting platter, the Jonah crab and squash soup and the creme brulee with a ginger cookie.  The tasting platter had black trumpet mushrooms with toasted pine nuts, roasted spicy and sweet tiny carrots on a bed of arugula, a dense wild mushroom (the name of which I now forget),  sautéed chanterelles and a wonderful pickled slaw made of kohlrabi.  Now I must admit I have never eaten kohlrabi before, but have always been intrigued by it.  It was crunchy, flavorful and wonder.  So today at the farmers market we bought some to experiment with.  I will let you know how it goes.  Kohlrabi came to the United States from Europe. It’s name literally means cabbage-turnip.  It comes in white, actually green, and purple varieties.

The beauty of the crab and squash soup is that is was rich and smooth and the bits of Jonah crab simply melted into it and provide a bit of texture and a delicately salty flavor to the sweet squash.

To top off our luxurious tasting menu – we splurged with a creme brulee – perfectly torched and a dense, not to sweet old fashioned ginger cookie sprinkled with powdered sugar.  What could prove more delightful to your taste buds as we begin the march to the holidays?

Recipes – Class One

All Day Apple Butter

This makes a nice hostess gift for Thanksgiving or the holidays.  Tie with a small card and raffia

5 ½ pounds apples – peeled, cored and finely chopped

4 cups white sugar

2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

¼ teaspoon ground cloves

¼ teaspoon salt

  1. In a medium bowl, mix the sugar, cinnamon cloves and salt.  Pour the mixture over the apples and mix well.
  2. Place the apples in a slow cooker / crock pot
  3. Cover and cook on high for 1 hour
  4. Reduce the heat to low and cook 9 to 11 hours, stirring occasionally until the mixture is thickened and dark brown.
  5. Uncover and continue to cook on low 1 hour.  Stir with a whisk, if desired, to increase smoothness.
  6. Spoon the mixture into sterile containers.  Cover and refrigerate or freeze.

Smokey sausage and apple appetizer

The guys like this one as it is a bit meaty and both savory and sweet.  Good for a game day Sunday.

2 Tablespoons butter

1 large onion, chopped

½ cup apple jelly

½ cup packed brown sugar

2 pounds cocktail sized smoked sausages (or slice large sausage into bite sized chunks)

3 apples, peeled cored and chopped

1 Tablespoon cornstarch

2 tablespoons water

In a large skillet, melt butter over medium high heat.  Add onion and sauté, stirring constantly, until onion is golden.  Stir in apple jelly and brown sugar.  Add sausages and reduce heat to medium-low.  Cook and stir occasionally, 20 minutes or until mixture begins to thicken.  Add apples, partially cover pan and cook about 10 minutes more or until apples are tender.  Combine cornstarch and water and stir into mixture in pan to thicken.  Cook 2-3 minutes more until thickened.  Serve warm with toothpicks and a small plate or napkins.

Apple and brie bruschetta

This is a quick appetizer to throw together for a last minute party.  You can even slice the bread the day before, prepare the walnut mixture and prep the cheese.  Then toast the bread and slice the apples before the final assembly before the party!

½ stick butter

1 loaf French bread (baguette) slice into ½ inch slices

2 to 3 Granny Smith apples

½ cup brown sugar

1/3 cup walnuts (or pecans), chopped

Small round of brie (12-14 ounces)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Toast bread until slices turn golden.  Center should be slightly soft still and crusts brown.

Remove rind from cheese and discard.  Wash and slice apples into ¼ inch slices.

Mix walnuts, brown sugar, and melted butter and set aside.  Put slice of cheese on toasted bread and place apple slice on top.  Spoon a little walnut mixture on top of the apple slice.  Prepare all of the slices.  (Recipe can be covered and set aside for later heating at this point if desire.)

Place cooking sheet in oven until cheese melts.  Be sure to watch cheese so it doesn’t over cook.

Belgian Endive with Apples and Hazelnuts
(from Mediterranean Fresh by Joyce Goldstein)

Serves 4

1/2 cup hazelnuts, toasted, skinned and coarsely chopped
3/4 cup hazelnut vinaigrette
4 medium heads Belgian Endive, leaves separated (can use some radicchio for color variation)
2 Pippin or Granny Smith Apples, cored,halved and thinly sliced
Shavings of Parmesan or strips of Gruyere cheese for garnish (optional)

If you cannot find blanched hazelnuts with the skins already removed. If not, you can prepare them yourself at home.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Place the nuts on a baking sheet with sides or in a small pan.  Toast until the peels crack and the nuts are fragrant, 10-12 minutes.  Turn the nuts out onto a dish towel.  Briskly and with some force, roll them around in the towel, scrunching them with your fingers to loosen the skins.  You may not be able to get all of the skins off but that is all right.

Chopping hazelnuts can be a bit tricky because they are round.  But do not use a food processor, as it will reduce some of the nuts to dust and render them useless.  To chop, layout a few nuts at a time and hit them with the flat side of a cleaver or a small frying pan.  After you hit them – they will be broken into more easily chop-able pieces. At this point you may not need to chop them – you do not want the bits to be too small or they will be difficult to pick up with a fork.

Toss the hazelnuts with a little bit of the dressing to coat.

You may leave the endive whole, if you plan to serve the salad with a knife and fork or you may cut them crosswise into fork sized slices.  Toss the leaves with most of the rest of the vinaigrette and divide amongst 4 salad plates.

Top with the apples slices and drizzle with a bit more of the vinaigrette.  Sprinkle with the nuts and garnish with the cheese shavings if you like.

Hazelnut vinaigrette
(from Mediterranean Fresh by Joyce Goldstein)

2 Tablespoons balsamic vinaigrette
1 Tablespoon sherry vinegar
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper
1/2 cup hazelnut oil
2 Tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

Whisk all ingredients together in a small bowl.

Apple and Walnut Risotto with Gorgonzola
(from Jamie Oliver’s COOK with JAMIE)
Serves 8

Make 1 basic risotto recipe

7 Tablespoons unsalted butter
1-2 small handfuls freshly grated parmesan cheese, plus extra for grating
7 ounces gorgonzola cheese, diced
3/1/2 ounces soft goat cheese, crumbled
2 crisp/crunchy eating apples, halved, cored and tossed in a bit of lemon juice (I like one with red skin like cortland but you may also use a granny smith)
A small bunch of fresh marjoram leaves picked and chopped
Sea salt and fresh ground pepper
A handful or walnuts (coarsely chopped)
extra virgin olive oil

Turn the heat off and stir in the butter, Parmesan, gorgonzola, goat cheese, chopped apple and marjoram.  Check the seasoning and add salt and fresh ground pepper id desired.  Put a lid on the and leave the risotto  to rest for a minute so the cheese can really ooze into it.  While you are waiting – gently heat the walnuts in a pan.  You can either divide among plates and drizzle with a little extra olive oil and sprinkle with nuts or leave in a large dish and do the same.  Bring extra parmesan to the table for grating or sprinkling!

Sonoma Orchard Apple Tart

Adapted from a recipe from the bi-rite market in san Francisco as seen in food & wine

Serves 10

2 ½ cups all-purpose flour

½ cup plus 1 teaspoon sugar

1 ½ sticks butter, cut into ½ inch cubes and chilled

1/2 teaspoon salt

About ½ cup ice water

1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest plus 1 teaspoon lemon juice

4 Granny Smith or similar apples, peeled, cored and thinly sliced

1 large egg white

2 Tablespoons turbinado sugar

In the bowl of a mixer with a paddle blade, combine the flour, 1 teaspoon of the sugar and the salt.  Add the butter and mix at low speed until it is the size of peas, about 30 seconds.  When the machine is running add ¼ cup ice water.  Add only as much of the remaining ice water as is needed until the dough is just moistened, 1 tablespoon at a time.  Turn the dough onto a work surface and knead quickly until the dough all comes together.  Pat the dough into a disk and wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate one hour or overnight.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.  Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.  On a lightly  floured work surface, roll out the dough into a 17 inch circle and trim to 16 inches.  Transfer the dough to the cookie sheet.

In a large bowl, combine the remaining ½ cup sugar with the lemon zest and a pinch of salt.  Add the apples and lemon juice and toss well.  Arrange the apples on the dough in two concentric circles, leaving a 3-inch border all around.  Fold the edges of the dough up and over the apples, overlapping the dough on itself as needed.  Brush the rim with egg white and sprinkle with the turbinado sugar.

Bake the pie in the center of the oven until the crust is golden and firm and the apples are tender – about 55 minutes.  Transfer the cookie sheet to a rack to cool.

Slice into wedges and serve with a dollop of crème fraiche, whipped or ice cream.

If you like, the dough can be prepared a day ahead and refrigerated.