Mr. C’s Strawberries Armagnac

A Berry Boozy Dessert Mr. C’s Strawberries Armagnac Dessert Just when I thought I didn’t have any more recipes from my late stepfather Mr. C, I rediscovered this delicious way to serve those gorgeous strawberries that are just coming into season. I love the first berries of spring as they are so big and juicy, and ooze strawberry deliciousness. There is a lot of booze in this recipe, and I do not have a substitute for any of it, so I would not serve this to any of the under-21 set. (You don’t need to use the bottle of cognac below that we were told by a server cost $3,000 at the bar in Le Château Frontenac in Quebec City … Read more…

Guinness Chocolate Pudding with Irish Whiskey Whipped Cream

The Proof Is More Than In The PuddingGuinness Chocolate Pudding with Irish Whiskey Whipped Cream Dessert Here is a recipe I found on BBC Goodfood, which uses rich dark chocolate and Guinness stout. Guinness is Tom’s favorite beer, and I love chocolate! It seemed like a good recipe to attempt for St. Patrick’s Day. I think it is better than lava cake … light, yet super chocolatey that falls somewhere between a brownie and a truffle … Wow! I combined a bar of Lindt 85% cocoa dark chocolate with a Lindt dark chocolate sea salt bar. The Lindt flavored dark chocolates are only 47% cocoa so be sure to use at least one bar of the 70% or greater. Next … Read more…

Old-Fashioned Chunky Peanut Butter Cookies

Just Like Mom Used To Make Old-Fashioned Chunky Peanut Butter Cookies Dessert This recipe for peanut butter cookies is from my mom’s very first cookbook, Miss B’s First Cookbook, which she received in 1950.  My mom would have been eight at that time, so I suspect the crayon markings all over the book are mine.                      These are the cookies I grew up with. It was my job to press the fork tines into the cookies to form the hatch marks. I love the first instruction: “Have Mother light the oven …” I have updated the recipe a tad using butter instead of shortening and adding ground dry roasted peanuts to boost … Read more…

Cajun Bread Pudding with Jack Daniels Sauce

The Proof is in The (Bread) Pudding Cajun Bread Pudding with Jack Daniels Sauce Dessert This Cajun Bread Pudding is one of the most requested desserts at our holiday parties. It is tied for popularity with Tom’s Famous Black Russian Cake, both of which are easy to make and guaranteed to Wow! your friends and family.  Tom always dresses up for the parties. If you Google bread pudding recipes you will get 177 MILLION results! So why should you give mine a whirl? Because the combination of the raisins and cinnamon in a moist, custard-like interior together with the Jack Daniels sauce remind me of an adult version of cinnamon rolls. Yum, yum, yum! I have been making this recipe … Read more…

The Bomber’s Best Ever Oatmeal Spice Cookies

Chewy and Crunchy! The Bomber’s Best Ever Oatmeal Spice Cookies Dessert On a recent visit to our friends Kim and Mary, we walked into the aroma of something just out of the oven. I could detect hints of cinnamon and cloves and thought it might be a pumpkin pie (maybe that’s because it was so close to Halloween) …                                       … but was pleasantly surprised to learn Kim was baking a batch of his mom’s oatmeal cookies. Wow! Chewy and crispy at the same time, full of subtle spice flavor, these are not your usual thick, bland oatmeal cookie. The Bomber is … Read more…

Orange Chocolate Chunk Bundt Cake with Chocolate Ganache

Best.  Cake.  Ever!Orange Chocolate Chunk Bundt Cake with Chocolate Ganache Dessert I have been working from home since mid-March and, judging by the empty shelves of flour at the market, everyone but me has been baking! Thumbing through my cookbooks for inspiration, I came across the Barefoot Contessa’s Parties!, which was the first cookbook I ever purchased. Ina has a recipe for Orange Chocolate Chunk Cake with chocolate ganache that she said was a big hit at her store.  Yum! This recipe uses the zest from four oranges together with fresh-squeezed orange juice and buttermilk to make a delightfully moist, citrusy Bundt cake with big chunks of chocolate and, as if that isn’t enough, the moistness is sealed in by … Read more…

Banana Cake with Maple Buttercream Frosting

Banana Cake with Maple Buttercream Frosting

Going Bananas! Banana Cake with Maple Buttercream Frosting Dessert On our recent vacation to Montreal and Quebec City, Canada, we tasted all things maple. Maple candy-coated soft serve ice cream cones. Profiteroles with maple syrup ice cream. Even the whisky has maple syrup in it.  Yum, yum … what?! Canadians love their maple syrup, and no wonder. Quebec province produces two-thirds of the world’s maple syrup (according to our tour bus driver, who has never lied to us before).  After tasting pure maple syrup, there is no going back.  This is not “pancake” syrup, which, if you read the label, doesn’t even have maple syrup in it! The only ingredient in maple syrup is 100% pure maple syrup from trees.  … Read more…

Barefoot Contessa’s Chocolate Orange Mousse

chocolate orange mousse

Don’t Eat The Entire Bowl! Barefoot Contessa’s Chocolate Orange Mousse Dessert We served French fare for Christmas Eve this year using several recipes from the Barefoot Contessa’s Barefoot in Paris cookbook.  As you can tell from the photo below, her Chocolate Orange Mousse is a recipe I make all the time (watch out for flying mousse!). Paris bistros frequently serve chocolate mousse family-style in a big communal bowl.  At the beginning of Ina Garten’s recipe is a story about how her husband thought the bowl was all for him! Fortunately, I had read and remembered that story while dining at Chez Janou in Paris, so we did not commit a faux pas when an enormous bowl of chocolate mousse was … Read more…

Hatch Chile Carrot Cake with Pineapple Cream Cheese Frosting and Hatch Chile Candied Walnuts

Carrot Top Hatch Chile Carrot Cake with Pineapple Cream Cheese Frosting and Hatch Chile Candied Walnuts Dessert We are nearly at the end of Hatch chile season here at the Casa de Mai Tai Tom and Tracy, and we recently picked up a bunch of Melissa’s Produce Extra Hot Hatch chiles.  Tom has been hankering for my carrot cake lately, so I decided to try a Hatch Chile Carrot Cake. My Nana had a great carrot cake recipe that I used for this recipe, swapping out the Hatch chiles for the pineapple.  Since I took the pineapple out of the cake, I added it back into the cream cheese frosting and topped the cake with candied walnuts made with Melissa’s … Read more…

Citrus Olive Oil Bundt Cake with Kumquat Infused Syrup

Citrus Olive Oil Bundt Cake

Sensational Citrus Olive Oil Bundt Cake Citrus Olive Oil Bundt Cake with Kumquat Infused Syrup Dessert I never know what to do with the kumquats our tiny tree produces.  This year it was particularly prolific, probably due to all the rain.  In the past, I have made Kumquat Infused Vodka, but this year I was pretty much just letting the corgis and squirrels eat the fruit, but then I chanced upon a recipe for Candied Cocktail Kumquats from chef Ben Mims in the LA Times.                                                    (I had to get those kumquats off the tree before the Corgis … looking … Read more…