Holiday December 2018 Class

December 2018 Class


Maybe I should’ve have called this class a “celebration class” rather than a “holiday class.” This menu is so impressive and indulgent that it’s perfect for celebrating any occasion with family and friends! I remember going to the iconic Lawry’s restaurant in Los Angeles for special occasions; the waitresses with their impressive, white, starched aprons, majestically pushing the big, beautiful, silver carts over to the table, filled to the brim with roast beef. Yum! Although I don’t have a big, silver cart here at the house, this menu is still pretty impressive. I’ll give you some tips and tricks for making your holiday dinner almost effortless, and leaving you with plenty of time to celebrate with your loved ones. So, what are we cooking?

Shrimp Cakes w/ Red Pepper Aioli

These decadent little darlings are so flavorful! We toss them in Panko breadcrumbs and cook to a perfect crispy brown, and then serve them with a red pepper aioli. They are a delectable way to start your meal as either an appetizer or a first course.

Standing Rib Roast, Au Jus, Horseradish Sauce & Yorkshire Pudding

This is such an impressive piece of meat! Just looking at it makes you want to get your merry on. It’s a decadent dish, with the rich flavor provided by all the yummy fat, and also because it’s a bit pricey (so make sure you read all my tips and tricks to not overcook it). We serve it with a pan-dripping au jus, an awesome spicy horseradish cream sauce, and, of course, Yorkshire pudding to sop it all up!

English Trifle

This is my spin on a classic English holiday dessert. We combine amaretto, almonds, and pears, and serve them in adorable little mason jars to resemble little presents, the perfect way to end your festive feast!

May your holidays be merry and bright!

March 2018 Class

March 2018 Class

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I love a good brunch. It’s feels so luxurious to take the time to enjoy a meal on a (hopefully) sunny afternoon with family and friends. Whether you are celebrating Easter, or just want to celebrate a wonderful spring weekend, this is menu is sure to be a hit. One of the challenges with entertaining is to get everything to the table hot. This menu is ideal for entertaining because all the dishes can be prepared ahead of time and are actually best served warm or room temperature, giving you plenty of time to enjoy the day. 

So what are we cooking? 

 Bellini Cocktail
No brunch would be complete without a festive bubbly cocktail! Bellinis were created at Harry’s Bar in Venice. It is a combination of peach purée and Prosecco. But, I honestly prefer to serve it with a dry, brut sparkling wine. Whichever bubbles you choose, either way, this cocktail is delicious.  

Artichokes, Asparagus and Hazelnuts 
Nothing says the arrival of spring like beautiful bunches of asparagus and fresh artichokes at the market. In the past, I have made this dish with fresh baby artichokes that I have to peel and clean. But, there were none at the market, so I'm using frozen artichoke hearts. The frozen artichokes paired very well with the fresh asparagus. They taste quite nice and are absolutely no work at all. We perfectly steam the asparagus and artichoke hearts, than toss them with a tangy vinaigrette and top with some roasted hazelnuts. Serve as a lovely first course or along side the main dish. I'll be making this recipe all season since it goes so well with so many different meats and fish dishes. 

Torta Pasqualina
Torta Pasqualina. “Torta” means cake in Italian, but this is really a savory Italian pie traditionally served for Easter brunch.  It's so wonderfully satisfying that I bet that you will want to make it so much more often than just one time a year. This savory dish is positively addictive and so easy to cut and serve, making it portable and an ideal lunch, picnic, or snack dish. I've been known to take it directly out of the fridge and eat it on the go. The satisfying filling of sautéed leeks, Swiss chard, and spinach are combined with two cheeses and topped with five raw, whole eggs and baked in a puffed pastry crust. The outside is a beautiful golden brown and when you slice it, the inside reveals the cooked eggs which symbolize the rebirth of spring and Christ. I love the combination of veggies and cheese….who doesn't? For this Easter brunch, I will be serving the torta alongside a platter of roasted Italian link sausage to make the meat lovers in my group happy, but you could instead add cooked, crumbled sausage, bacon, or chopped ham into your torta if you wish. 

Very Berry Coffee Cake
In this day and age, coffee cakes are often overlooked as an addition to a brunch menu. Upstaged by bars, muffins and donuts. That is too bad, because to me this is the very best coffee cake. Kinda old school, something you would find at a good diner bakery case. It has a moist cake, a crumbly topping, and isn't too sweet. When cut into squares, it reveals all the berry goodness in the center. It is perfect for serving with your brunch, with a cup of coffee, or maybe with another Bellini! 


Wishing you and your family a Buona Pasquau, Happy Easter, Happy Passover, Happy Spring and, most of all, a Happy Brunch! 

January 2018 Class

January 2018 Class

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Classic French Bistro….With A Twist

This menu focuses’ on one of my favorite styles of cooking, French Bistro. Dishes that are homey satisfying. They are perfect for warming up family and friends on a chilly winter day. In San Diego that’s been 80, but needless these dishes are crowd pleaser regardless of the weather. We start with a salad that incorporates some of my favorite ingredients, then serve up a fulfilling dish of braised chicken over mashed potatoes, then finish it off with a scrumptious pear tart!

Apples, Greens & Goat cheese
This salad starts with assorted greens and radicchio, adding apples and perfectly roasted beets, all tossed with Champagne vinaigrette.   Use whatever greens look best.  I like to combine different lettuces and spinach with the radicchio to get a nice balance of textures and flavors.  Roasting beets transforms these little root vegetables into a powerhouse of sweetness and earthy flavors. That not only adds a fantastic color to your salad. They are packed with goodness for your body. They promote a healthy circulatory system, help with digestion and have loads of vitamins just to name a few. They can last in the refrigerator for a week to ten days so go ahead and roast a bunch and then add them to all your salads! The goat cheese on top a baguette is a classic French Bistro addition to a salad. Toasty baguette, creamy goat cheese pairs perfectly with this tangy salad making it a great way to start or end your meal.  

Coq au vin
Translated literally it means “rooster in wine”.  This is a classic braised dish that uses a whole chicken but I prefer to use chicken thighs with are scrumptious and easier to serve.    Braising is one of my favorites cooking techniques because braised dishes can be made the day before and reheated before serving, so its perfect for entertaining and getting a jump on family dinner. In fact they are best made a day ahead so that the flavors get a chance to improve. You need 3 things for a perfect braise. A sturdy pot with a lid, brown your chicken to help develop the flavors and flavorful liquid, in this recipe, its wine.  Traditionalists use a red Burgundy, but any full-bodied red wine will do. Served over mashed potatoes, this is true French “comfort food”!

Pear Tarte tatin
This dessert is a twist on the classic apple tarte tatin but with pears. The pears are bathes in buttery sugar caramel syrup then topped with puff pastry. Just 4 ingredients and classic preparation techniques gives you a show-stopping dessert. The combination of warm pears, caramel sauce and pastry crust topped with a side of vanilla ice cream in a heavenly way to end the meal.  I’m sure your family and guests will want you to open your own French Bistro!


November 2017 Thanksgiving Class

November 2017 Thanksgiving Class

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Thanksgiving is the perfect holiday menu for entertaining. Many people are overwhelmed by it, but all of these recipes have a great make-ahead component. And by using my four-day turkey “Game Planner” (CLICK HERE FOR IT)  you will be completely organized so that the day of Thanksgiving you're just basically assembling things and cooking the turkey. You will have plenty of time to relax and enjoy your family…. and that something to definitely be grateful for.

Greens & Mushroom Galette
This is a scrumptious, savory pastry free-form tart filled with sautéed Swiss chard and mushrooms. Its just enough to ward off pre-festivities hunger, but not fill you up. Perfect paired with a glass of bubbles!

Perfectly Roasted Turkey, Gravy and Stuffing
This is the way my mom cooked a turkey. She calls it steam roasting. It's a tried and true method that results in a turkey that is both moist and delicious.  You roast the turkey uncovered for 30 minutes, and then tightly sealed the pan with aluminum foil. This creates a moist environment that results in a juicy bird.  And no basting required! The stuffing is a delectable combination of Italian sweet sausage, mission figs and sage. And, of course, the perfect pan gravy to top it all off!

Brussels Sprouts Gratin
Beautiful tender Brussels sprouts are blanched and then tossed with a delicious white sauce called the Béchamel. Topped with Panko and Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, this is a delicious side dish that is rich in flavor, but not too heavy, and adds a little texture to the plate as well.

Cardamom Carrots
Cardamom has a lovely, sweet floral note, and combined with the ginger, gives these carrots and exotic taste that is a nice counterpoint to all the savory goodness on your plate. These add both a little color and counter-balanced flavor.  Perfect!

Cranberry Ginger and Pear Tart
In this dessert, the tanginess of the cranberry, sharpness of the crystallized ginger, and the sweetness of the pears combine together in a flaky pastry to make this a show-stopping way to end your meal. Top with a dollop of whipped cream.  What could be more delicious?

November 2017 Appetizer Class

November 2017 Appetizer Class

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I love the holidays. They are full of excitement. You can feel the anticipation of the upcoming festivities in the air. The chill outside makes it the perfect time to get together in the warmth family and friends. And there is no better way to experience this comforting joy than having an appetizer party.

The idea behind this class is that you can make all of these recipes and throw a perfect appetizers/holiday open house party, or, since each recipe is delicious enough to stand on its own, you can bring one for a potluck gathering. Perhaps you just need just one to add to your existing holiday menu. 

All of these recipes have a great make-ahead component, which I strive to do with all my recipes. It just makes entertaining so much more relaxing and enjoyable when the preparation can be spread out in the days ahead of the event.

What we are cooking:

Poinsettia Cocktail:
I adore bubbles and nothings rings in the holiday like this festive cocktail named the poinsettia because of its red color!! 
A simple but scrumptious combination of Cointreau, cranberry juice and sparkling wine. Gives you a cocktail with the perfect balance of sweet and tart.  Make sure to use good brute dry sparkling wine. This is the perfect way to celebrate the season whether your celebrating with our appetizers or serve it with brunch. 

Salmon Rilletes:
This is a play on a classic rillettes, which is kinda like a pate that is usually made with a combination of meat usually pork, spices all cooked in fat. To achieve a delectable spread. Instead of meat, we are using perfectly poached salmon combined with smoked salmon along with herbs, lemon, and butter to make a sublime spread that is delicious for an appetizer or try it for brunch. Served with crostini or Melba toast crackers, it's a very elegant and versatile spread.

Spicy Chi Chi Beans:
“Chi Chi beans” is the Italian word for garbanzo beans. These little gems are packed with protein and are so good for you. Simply roast them in the oven and toss them with some spices. They are a perfect little munchy, crunchy dish to go along with your holiday cocktail. 

Sausage Stuffed Mushrooms:
Sausage, peppers, and onions are one of my favorite meals. I just love that savory combination of the pork & sweetness of the onions and peppers. In this rendition, those scrumptious, savory, sweet flavors are presented in an easy-to-hold “bowl” of a lightly roasted mushroom. A perfect finger food for an appetizer party! I dare you to eat just one.

Arugula Walnut Pesto in Puff Pastry:
Pesto is greens ground up with garlic. Add some cheese, nuts and olive oil, and you have a sublime sauce that can go on pasta, top bruschetta, or serve as a dipping sauce for artichokes. This is a winter version of the summer classic pesto made with basil. This combination of the sharp bitterness of arugula, walnuts, and the saltiness of the Pecorino-Romano cheese is a winner. For the holidays, we're going to use the pesto as a filling between puff pastry, and then cut it into a whimsical Christmas tree!

Roasted Beet Hummus:
The amazing color of these roasted red beats brings a huge wow factor to this well-known dip. I can’t believe this stunning bright pink/fuchsia color is all natural! When the beets combine with the garbanzos beans, lemon, and tahini, it makes for a really spectacular dip for vegetables or pita chips. Ho Ho YUM! 

Snowflake Cookies:
Nothing beats a simple cookie: egg, sugar, and almonds. When I added the flavoring fiori di Sicilia, it transported me back to my childhood. It reminded me of those classic Italian nougat candies from La Florentine that came in little boxes. My favorite was the orange ones with the picture of Ippolita on them. Have you ever had one?? Backs then these candies were only available at holiday time. These cookies have just enough sweetness, along with a hint of orange, citrus, and vanilla. That is positively addictive. Each one is shaped a little different, like a snowflake. They are so good and will disappear as quickly as a snowflake too!