Cold Green Pea Soup (Green Pea Gazpacho)

Chilled green Pea Soup (Green Pea Gazpacho)

The vibrant green color is perhaps enough incentive to make this gazpacho-like soup during the height of sweet pea season, but the fresh, bright pea flavor with a chile kick and a hint of mint and lime will convince you too.

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Grandma Mary’s Heavenly Light Buttermilk Skillet Biscuits

Heavenly Light Buttermilk Skillet Biscuits

My Hutterite grandmother, Mary Pullman Stahl, was lauded for her other-worldly cooking, and when it came to biscuits, hers were incomparable. As a farm girl used to the demands of communal meal preparation, she never measured anything and the speed with which she could cover every counter in the kitchen with impossibly tender, light, fragrant biscuits was nothing short of magic–especially to her eight-year-old granddaughter who stood by ready to make cinnamon “dog ears” with the scraps.

The Perfect Vichyssoise (Cold Potato Leek Soup)

Vichyssoise Serving 1

If there is one soup that is an absolute must for me in the summer (in addition to Gazpacho of course), it is the cold, silky, incredibly reviving amalgam called Vichyssoise (vih-she-swaz). I have been known to make a gallon at a time and polish it off easily in a week. (Luckily, one can actually survive healthily on a diet of only potatoes supplemented with dairy.)

The New Monte Cristo Sandwich

Monte Cristo Sandwich

A well-made (i.e. home-made) Monte Cristo Sandwich is an inspired pairing of oh so tender, batter drenched bread, artisan cheese, and fragrant ham—served hot and oozing. Finished with a dusting of powdered sugar and accompanied by a tart fruit sauce, it’s sublime perfection.

Strozzapreti Pasta with Fava Bean Greens Pesto, Spicy Italian Sausage & Toasted Walnuts

Strozzapreti Pasta with Fava B

Strozzapreti (stroh-tzuh-PRAY-tee) is one of my all-time favorite pastas. Its 1-inch length and rolled S-shape captures and holds the sauce, while its chewy texture adds character and interest to any pasta dish. It’s always in my pantry.

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Fava Bean Greens, Walnut & Orange Pesto

Fava Bean Greens, Walnut & Orange Pesto in Jars  (3)

This unusual fava bean greens pesto is enhanced with the earthy flavor of toasted walnuts and toasted walnut oil. Orange and lemon zest, plus a bit of spicy heat, lifts the subtle flavor of fava bean greens to new heights.

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Asian Tacos with Prawn & Shiitake Filling & Cabbage Slaw

Asian Taco with Prawn & Shiitake Filling & Cabbage Slaw | LunaCafe

Tender, chewy flatbread wrapped around crunchy cabbage slaw, succulent prawn and mushroom filling, and spicy peanut sauce. Add a squeeze of lime and it doesn’t’ get much better than this. The only words coming from MauiJim’s lips between bites were WOW, WOW, WOW. And then finally, after eating three without coming up for air, “Are there MORE?”

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Thai Red Curry Soup

Thai Red Curry Lime Soup - Serving in white bowl

This is one of those soups that everyone raves about for days after eating it. You will have to make it again and again–so luckily it’s easy to make, especially if you have the Thai Red Curry Paste on hand in the fridge or freezer (which I highly recommend).

Thai Red Curry Paste

Thai Curry Paste Ingredients

I love the convenience of premium, ready-made condiments, such as Thai Red Curry Paste. They can be quite good. Especially when they are locally made and preservative-free, such as the Thai and True brand. But that said, ready-made can’t beat home-made. No way. No how.

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Warm Cauliflower Salad with Edamame & Raisins

Warm Cauliflower, Edamame & Raisin Salad

Lately, I find myself staring at creamy white, firm heads of cauliflower in the market and then pass them by for lack of inspiration. Well, not this week. Enough is enough. I boldly pounce on the most beautiful head of cauliflower in the stack and set it my cart.

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Chewy Peanut Butter, Roasted Peanut & Chocolate Chunk Cookies

Chewy Peanut Butter, Roasted Peanut & Chocolate Chunk Cookies

I’ve been working on perfecting Peanut Butter Cookies since around the age of eight. Not the taste, which is nearly always great, but the texture. I love these All-American cookies super-crispy or super-chewy–but not in-between.

Chocolate, Peanut Butter & Honey Crème Brulee

Chocolate, Peanut Butter & Honey Creme Bruleee

Who doesn’t love Creme Brulee? Or better yet, Chocolate Creme Brulee? And February is all about love and chocolate at LunaCafe. But, there are so many formulas for Chocolate Crème Brulee, I hardly knew where to begin. After some initial testing, I figured that the important thing was to first get the perfect proportion of egg yolks to cream, then the perfect types and amount of chocolate, and finally the perfect process. The romantic flavor pairing was added after I worked out the basic formula.

Cupid Crunch (Cracker Jacks for Lovers)

Cupid Crunch (Cracker Jacks for Lovers)

Cupid Crunch (Cracker Jacks for Lovers)
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I’m in a Cracker Jack craze, and there is no end in sight. After developing Chinese Cracker Jacks in December and eating it daily for weeks, I can’t stop thinking about all the possible flavor permutations. This is such a versatile concept: popcorn, nuts, seasonings, caramel brittle. Hey, wait a minute, what about chocolate?

Home-Style Chinese Fried Rice

Chinese Sausage Fried Rice

I have been in love with Chinese Fried Rice for as long as I can remember. Our family was Catholic, and we didn’t eat meat on Friday. Thus, Dad instituted what he called “Chinese Joint” night and every Friday evening, you could find our family of four at one of the many Chinese restaurants that dotted the Seattle cityscape. We even made it to Chinatown on a few special occasions. Chinese Joint night was special, because we each got to order the one dish we wanted most.

Spicy Pork Wonton Soup

Spicy Pork Wonton Soup

It’s All Asia All Month at LunaCafe. Of all the dishes I wanted to explore this month, Wonton Soup was at the top of my list. It’s one of the world’s greatest soups and my absolute favorite. This version is as close to perfection as you will find. Be sure to check back as the adventure unfolds this month.

Spicy Korean Noodle Soup (Jjambbong)

Korean Spicy Noodle Soup (Jjambbong)

Korean soup (Jjambbong) is a spicy, red-hued, infinitely variable, magically comforting noodle soup. Jjambbong is one of the most popular Korean dishes. It’s great with prawns and other seafood, but also delicious with vegetables only. The soup broth is clean and bright and only moderately spicy as prepared here.

Chinese Cracker Jacks

Chinese Cracker Jacks

Many moons ago, as director of the Yankee Kitchen Cooking Schools, I had the opportunity to work with the inestimable Barbra Tropp of the China Moon Café in San Francisco. She came to Seattle to teach a series of classes for the school and the first thing she wanted when she arrived was a whirlwind shopping tour of Chinatown.

The Sticky Gingerbread of My Dreams

Gingerbread cake Serving 2

I began this exploration with a question. “What is the difference between sticky and regular gingerbread?” Put another way, “What makes sticky gingerbread, well, sticky?” A couple of rounds of baking later, I had identified the differences. Namely, sticky gingerbread starts with a fluid, molasses-heavy batter, which, if not over baked, creates a beautifully moist cake, which if wrapped and refrigerated for a day or two and then brought back to room temperature, has a dense, chewy, somewhat sticky texture.

Heavenly Hot Chocolate Mix–with Seven Variations

Heavenly Hot Chocolate

I adore Hot Chocolate, as distinct from Hot Cocoa or Drinking Chocolate. Definitions abound, but which is best?

Dreamy, Creamy, No-Bake Pumpkin Butter Cheesecake

Dreamy, Creamy, No-Bake Pumpkin Butter Cheesecake

I have developed dozens of cheesecakes over the years. At one point, I even launched a cheesecake company.

But a recent request from a reader made me realize that my focus has been almost exclusively on baked cheesecakes. A quick scan of my files shows only two no-bake cheesecakes. This post is one small and very tasty step toward correcting that omission.

Homemade Vanilla Marshmallows (Angel Kisses)

Homemade Marshmallows on Serving Plate

Okay, I know there are a zillion recipes for homemade marshmallows on the web, each claiming to be the lightest, fluffiest, springiest, tastiest, BEST marshmallows in the entire universe. But I’m giving you a marshmallow post this holiday season anyway for the following reasons.

Spicy Ciabatta & Cornbread Stuffing with Italian Sausage, Wild Mushrooms & Fresh Herbs

Spicy Ciabatta & Cornbread Stuffing with Italian Sausage, Wild Mushrooms & Fresh Herbs

f I could have only one dish this Thanksgiving, it would be a tossup between this stuffing and this tart. Wait, I also need these rolls, these mashed potatoes, and this gravy. Okay, it’s hopeless; may as well throw in this salad and this turkey. But even though each of these dishes is memorable, I bet this stuffing wins “Best of Show” at our Thanksgiving table this year. I can’t seem to get enough of it.

The Perfect Roast Turkey

New-roasted-turney-fresh-from-the-oven

Roasting a perfect Thanksgiving Day turkey is a cinch—especially if you keep a few things in mind. The first and most important of these is to buy a premium, FRESH turkey. Below are some of the options available in Portland, Oregon. The biggest myth I hear from folks about roasting turkey is that it “takes all day.” I just roasted a 16-pound bird to perfection in 2¼ hours. It’s resting on the stovetop now for another 30 minutes. Then we will eat it with the best stuffing I’ve ever made: Spicy Ciabatta & Cornbread Stuffing with Italian Sausage, Wild Mushrooms & Fresh Herbs. (Posting next.) So minus the brining (48 hours) and warming to room temperature (1 hour), the bird is ready to eat in under 3 hours.

Spiced Apple Cider Brined Roast Cornish Game Hens with Apple Cider Mustard Glaze

Spiced Apple Cider Brined Roast Cornish Game Hen with Apple Cider Mustard Glaze

A large roast turkey is considered mandatory for many families as part of the massive meal that typifies Thanksgiving. It’s big, bold, beautiful, and definitely celebratory. When you have a large crowd to feed, there is no grander way to go. But what if your family is small, dispersed across the country, or for whatever reason, you long for a more intimate but still festive dinner with only a few close friends?

Romanesco, Applewood-Smoked Bacon, Cranberry & Pecan Salad

Romanesco-New

True confession. This is my first real encounter with romanesco. Tempted by it many times over the years at the Portland Farmers Market, this past weekend, I succumbed. I bought two heads without a clue what to do with them. A member of the brassica oleracea family, romanesco has an exotic, almost alien beauty and can be a little formidable to the uninitiated.

Marbled Spiced Cranberry & White Chocolate Cheesecake

Slice of Marbled Spiced Cranberry & White Chocolate Cheesecake

I am very for­tu­nate that the newest mem­ber of our fam­ily, Christo­pher Weaver, LOVES cheese­cake. Because I love to cre­ate end­less vari­a­tions, and can’t afford all those calo­ries hang­ing out in the fridge taunt­ing me. Chris is a work­out machine, so he doesn’t worry a fig about calo­ries. If there are a few slices of cheese­cake left after a fam­ily din­ner, he saves me by tak­ing them home.

Decidedly Different Cranberry, Walnut & Currant Tart

Decidedly Different Cranberry, Walnut & Currant Tart

Every fall about this time, I am sitting cross-legged on the flour, surrounded by stacks of dessert cookbooks and culinary magazines. I’m looking for a cranberry tart for Thanksgiving. A UNIQUE, MEMORABLE, WOW-INDUCING tart worthy of the most spectacular meal of the year. And I’m willing (okay, eager) to try (okay, eat) several cranberry tart contenders before making the final cut.

Pumpkin Ricotta Gnocchi with Garlic Sage Butter

Pumpkin Ricotta Gnocchi with Garlic Sage Brown Butter

Can you say NYOK-ee? Luckily, gnocchi are more difficult to pronounce than to actually make. And unlike the pronunciation, you have lots of latitude on how to make, shape, and sauce these delectable little dumplings. Beyond the standard ingredients of ricotta, eggs, flour, and cheese, you can go wild with additional flavors. It’s almost Halloween, so of course I added pumpkin to my time-tested gnocchi recipe. And I’m glad I did. These may be my favorite gnocchi of all time.

Savory Pumpkin Honey Dinner Rolls

Savory Pumpkin Honey Dinner Rolls with Maple Pumpkin Spice Butter

I knew these rolls were going to be a hit, but I didn’t anticipate the mania that ensued as I took them from the oven, let them cool for a few minutes, pulled them apart, and piled them on a platter to serve. I mean, should you stop someone from eating six rolls, back-to-back, without coming up for air? Or just pass them more butter?

Sweet Corn & Vanilla Bean Ice Cream

Sweet Corn & Vanilla Bean Ice Cream with Spiced Caramel Apple Sauce & Gingersnap Crumble

Never heard of sweet corn ice cream? Well then, you’re in for an ice cream flavor revelation. As my collection of American Southwest and Mexican cookbooks grew over the years, I occasionally encountered this “oddity” in one or another of the dessert chapters. Finally, I searched the web and lo and behold, the word is out.