Almond Tart with Raspberry Sauce

Just Like Mamma Used To Make Almond Tart with Raspberry Sauce Dessert Returning from our first trip to Italy in 2001, we were enamored with all food Italian, especially the desserts (Pignoli cookies … gave me energy to join in a festival in Siena; Zabaglione in Rome; Panna Cotta in, well, everywhere … yum). I immediately ordered several Italian cookbooks including Dolci Toscani, The Book of Tuscan Desserts, by Anne Bianchi and Sandra Lott.  I have tried a few of these recipes over the years but the one I keep going back to is the Torta della mamma con fragole (Almond Tart with Raspberry Sauce), which is equally delicious with or without the raspberry sauce.  Interestingly, I read that the … Read more…

Dorie’s Mincemeat Oatmeal Bar Cookies with Bourbon Glaze

Try It,You’ll Like It! Dorie’s Mincemeat Oatmeal Bar Cookies with Bourbon Glaze Do you have a mincemeat pie fan in your household?  When I first met Tom I had never even heard of mincemeat pie, let alone tasted one.  But it is a family tradition apparently handed down on his dad’s side of the family who are English, so every Thanksgiving we would pick up a mincemeat pie. Tom’s mom was in charge of the hard sauce (butter, powdered sugar and bourbon); and Tom would eat one slice of that pie and we would eventually toss the rest.  No one had any interest in that pie except Tom.  I didn’t even know what mincemeat was… for some reason in the … Read more…

Make Ahead: Tom’s Mom’s Sour Cream and Cream Cheese Mashed Potatoes with Caramelized Onion and Cognac Gravy

Just Like Mom Used To Make! Make Ahead: Tom’s Mom’s Sour Cream and Cream Cheese Mashed Potatoes with Caramelized Onion and Cognac Gravy Here at the Casa de MaiTaiTom & Tracy, there is only one mashed potato recipe that is served at each and every Thanksgiving meal … Tom’s Mom’s Mashed Potatoes.  I love these so much because they are creamy and delicious and best of all, are made the night before so that you can cross one more item off your Thanksgiving To Do List.  Just bring to room temperature, fluff with a fork and pop in the oven or microwave to reheat just before serving. Tom’s mom used White Rose potatoes, but we prefer Yukon Golds.  I usually … Read more…

Cranberry Pineapple Jell-O Mousse

A Side Dish That Fits The Mold Cranberry Pineapple Jell-O Mousse Here is an easy make-ahead recipe for your Thanksgiving menu.  This was shared with me by our friend, Helen, who brought it to Thanksgiving dinner a few years ago, and we now always request she make it.  When I was a kid, my Nana used to make a carrot pineapple Jell-O ring for Thanksgiving which I have to admit I’d never eat.  I’m not sure what I had against carrots as a kid, because I love them now.  I would also never eat the carrot cake that she made, which is DELICIOUS and one of Tom’s favorites (I’ll have to share that recipe some day). Tom, on the other … Read more…

Caramelized Bacon & Apple Coffee Cake with Bourbon Bacon Pecan Glaze

Bacon, Bourbon, Apples and … More Bacon! Caramelized Bacon & Apple Coffee Cake with Bourbon Bacon Pecan Glaze Autumn is taking its sweet time arriving here in lovely Southern California (hottest opening game in World Series history last week … 103 degrees).  Despite the heat, a few weeks ago my thoughts turned to comfort food and what is more enticing than apples, bacon and coffee cake?  Wow!  Just the title of this recipe had me drooling. I came across this recipe from Bacon Nation on the Chew and decided to liven things up a tad by caramelizing the bacon ala Barefoot Contessa from Foolproof.  Ina’s recipe is actually for appetizers, but it sounded so delicious I knew it would work … Read more…

Wedge Salad with Pancetta and Maytag Blue Cheese Dressing

Maytag Is Back! Wedge Salad with Pancetta and Maytag Blue Cheese Dressing Long, long ago (before I even met Tom!), I was lucky enough to work with my friend, Gloria.  On Fridays, Gloria and I would lunch at a restaurant in Long Beach called Simon & Seaforts and we would almost always start with a salad with this rich and creamy Maytag Blue Cheese Dressing.  Although Simon & Seaforts no longer exists (at least not in Long Beach), I have the recipe card from the restaurant, and while the ingredient list is long, it is well worth the effort.  Simon & Seafort’s served it over romaine greens with toasted slivered almonds, but it is equally as scrumptious on an old … Read more…

Hot Hatch Chile Chicken Enchiladas Suizas

In Search Of The Perfect Chicken Enchilada Hot Hatch Chile Chicken Enchiladas Suizas What’s a girl to do when her husband brings home a haul of Extra Hot Hatch Green Chiles courtesy of the very generous Melissa’s Produce?  Roast them!  Tom was once again fortunate to be included in an event at Melissa’s Produce, this one featuring La Tortilla Factory.  Not only did Tom score the Hatches and get to taste scrumptious food, but he also brought home a bunch of La Tortilla Factory’s products, too. If you haven’t had an opportunity to taste La Tortilla Factory tortillas, you must hunt them down.  I love, love, love their Original Flour Tortillas in a quesadilla.  And the Hatch Chile 50/50 Corn … Read more…

The TomTini…Citrus Vodka Martini Delight

Martini…With A Twist! The TomTini…Citrus Vodka Martini Delight In many of my trip reports or restaurant reviews, I mention ordering a TomTini on certain occasions. I have been asked by more than a few, “What is a TomTini?”  Well, it all started back in 2001 on a warm spring afternoon in Siena, Italy. Tracy and I (along with Kim and Mary) had just returned to our hotel after exploring the towns of San Gimignano and Volterra.  It has been a long day. Sensing a cold libation was in our future, we noticed that the bar area of the Palazzo Ravizza was open for four thirsty Americans. I ordered a martini, and a guy (who we later learned was a lawyer … Read more…

Blue Cheese Apple Soup

Soup With Lots Of A Peel Blue Cheese Apple Soup Category: Main Dish or First Course I love apples, but I must admit that when Tracy said she had a recipe for Apple Soup, I was a tad skeptical. However, once I took the first spoonful, I knew she had concocted a winner.  It’s a perfect dinner for a chilly night.  Heck, it’s a perfect dinner any night.  We happen to use a variety of apple called Envy, and it is the best tasting apple I’ve ever tasted (yes, even better than Honeycrisp).  If they’re in season (and it’s a nearly year-round season now with apples out of the Pacific Northwest and New Zealand) try one, and if you love … Read more…

Caramelized Pineapple & Ghost Pepper Salsa

Pineapple Paradise Caramelized Pineapple & Ghost Pepper Salsa With the last remaining Ghost Pepper from my friend Joseph’s garden, I made a variation of the Caramelized Pineapple Habanero Salsa found in the Best of Ball Home Canning & Preserving book. If you didn’t read my prior post about the peppers in the Ghost Pepper Strawberry Jam, I will repeat a portion of it here… All I knew about ghost peppers (Bhut Jolokia) was that they are HOT, in fact I believe they are among the hottest peppers in the world as measured on the Scoville Heat Scale.  I originally learned of the Scoville Heat Scale while eating Indian food at the Mint Leaf in Pasadena.  Ghost Peppers clock in at … Read more…