Pumpkin Carbonara with Caramelized Pumpkin & Frizzled Sage

Pumpkin Carbonara with Caramelized Pumpkin & Frizzled Sage

Some of our best meals are the result of zero planning, rabid hunger, and whatever happens to be in the fridge. I was flagging after a Saturday cruising and photographing Portland Farmers Market. I had bought a pile of winter root vegetables but wasn’t prepared to put them to use for dinner. Instead, there was a […]

Triple Celery Soup with Parmesan, Parsley & Garlic Croutons & Parsley Oil


I grew up on Campbell’s Cream of Celery Soup. It was always in the cupboard, because I put it in Mom’s shopping cart every Saturday at the local market. Combined with the cream-rich milk that Mom bought from a one-woman dairy nearby, it was more like a velvet cream sauce than soup. I loved its […]

Smokin’ Hot Cajun Spice

Smokin' Hot Cajun Spice

Recipes for Cajun Spice are all over the place, but paprika is always the star, with black and white pepper, and chile pepper playing strong supporting roles. Most versions include onion and garlic powder, but I’m not partial to either. Much better to add fresh garlic and onion to the dish if and when it […]

Curried Pumpkin & Green Tomato Soup

Curried Pumpkin & Green Tomato Soup

You know the old saying: What grows together goes together? It’s usually true. Take this fall for instance. I was perusing the rows of produce at Portland Farmers Market one decidedly cool Saturday morning and spotted a large basket loaded with small pumpkins. Nestled next to the basket was a heap of green tomatoes. Voila! […]

Peach & Blackberry Pie with Coconut Streusel

Peach & Blackberry Pie with Coconut Streusel

I love Peach Pie. There’s probably no pie I love more—when prepared with good technique and the right local peaches. But alas, not every peach makes a great pie. The right pie peach has full peach flavor, firm texture that doesn’t turn to mush when baked, and a balance between sweet and tart. I recently […]

Really Wild Mushroom Soup: Two Fabulous Ways

Really Wild Mushroom Soup: Two Fabulous Ways

I love almost everything about Mushroom Soup, except one glaring thing—the color. The color displeases me so much that it almost deterred me from this post. How in heavens name was I going to get mouthwatering photos of a soup the color of beach sand? Also, I didn’t want to make just another Cream of […]

Frizzled Onions (Tobacco Onions)

Frizzled Onions

I use these addictive fried onions as a garnish for all kinds of dishes. They are the ultimate embellishment to soups, chiles, burgers, rice pilafs, and even mashed potatoes. But one person I know (hey, you know who he is), BEGS me to make them for him for no reason at all and then proceeds to […]

LunaCafe Garam Masala

Toasting Spices for Garam Masala

Garam Masala in a fragrant, utterly appealing spice blend used predominantly in Northern Indian cuisine. The spices used in this blend vary from region to region and cook to cook. Regardless of the specific spices used, they are always toasted to bring out their flavor before grinding to a powder. LunaCafe Garam Masala Garam Masala, the […]

Mexicano Chocolate Pudding Cake (Hot, Easy & Good)

Serving 2

When it comes to special desserts these days, I’m  into EASY. But I’m not willing to compromise on taste, so it’s got to be EASY and GOOD. And because Valentine’s Day is in two days, it’s also got to be HOT. And seriously, why can’t HOT, EASY, and GOOD go together? There are three components […]

Phat Thai (Stir-Fried Rice Noodles with Tamarind Sauce, Peanuts & Lime)

Phad Thai  with Tamarind Sauce, Peanuts & Lime

Phat Thai is a symphony of harmonious flavors. It’s a simple dish really–thin, flat, chewy rice noodles, stir-fried with a salty, savory, sweet, and sour sauce that gives the dish its distinctive flavor. This recipe covers all elements of this delicious Thai noodle dish.

Pok Pok’s World Famous Vietnamese Chicken Wings

Pok Pok Vietnamese Chicken Wings

Pok Pok’s Vietnamese Chicken Wings have taken the food world by storm. They are the stuff of legends. And now you can make them at home.

The Best Super Chewy Snickerdoodles Ever

Stack of Super Chewy Snickerdoodles

There’s something about fall–the brisk mornings, heavenly colors, and burning leaves—that make me want to run to the OtherWorldly Kitchen and whip up a batch of fragrant, spicy, crinkle-topped, chewy Snickerdoodles. You know, the super chewy Snickerdoodles of my dreams.

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.

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.

Spiced Caramel Apple Sauce

Spiced Caramel Apple Sauce

You know the flavor contrast you get when you bite into a perfect caramel apple—first rich, creamy, sweet caramel, and then bracingly tart, juicy apple? Add half a dozen spices and that’s what this caramel sauce tastes like. At first, you think, “Oh yeah, luxuriously rich, wonderfully spiced caramel,” and then POW, the acidity of the reduced apple cider kicks in and your mouth goes, “Hey, whoa, what’s happening here?” I love this double-punch effect.

Ginger-Lime Peach & Blueberry Crisp with Toasted Hazelnut Streusel

Ginger-Lime Peach & Blueberry Crisp with Toasted Hazelnut Streusel

Northwest farmers markets were overflowing with fresh peaches this past weekend. And the selection is just beginning.

So far, I’ve seen Red Rose, Suncrest, Angelus, August Lady, Blushing Star, Snow Giant, Hale, Red Gold, Regina, September Snow, Summer Lady, and Yukon varieties. There are so many choices that making a decision is difficult. I sampled peaches at the Portland Farmers Market on Saturday and then again at the Hillsdale Farmers Market on Sunday.

Smoked Sockeye Salmon Cakes with Chipotle Aioli & Green Apple Pico de Gallo

Final 1

After last week’s post, I had a fridge full of Perfect Homemade Mayonnaise, and the super-delicious variation, Chipotle & Roasted Red Pepper Rouille, demanded attention.

Of course, I could have just slathered it on a heap of grilled vegetables or corn on the cob, but there was also a ½ pound of cold-smoked salmon staring at me every time I opened the fridge door. I imagined the two would taste great together but nothing came immediately to mind.

Baby Red Potato Salad with Applewood Smoked Bacon & Oregon Blue

Baby Red Potato Salad with Applewood Smoked Bacon & Oregon Bleu

The 4th of July is coming up fast, and on Independence Day, you will find me (as usual) at the Portland Waterfront Blues Festival on the balmy banks of the Willamette River.

Warm-Spiced Molten Chocolate Cake

Closeup of Warm-Spiced Molten Chocolate Cake

I know, I know! Molten Chocolate Cake, or Lava Cake, as it is sometimes called, is so YESTERDAY. I am almost perturbed today when I see one on a dessert menu.

I mean, really, can’t the pastry chef think of SOMETHING ELSE? Haven’t we moved beyond warm, fragrant, oozing, fudgy chocolate soufflé cakes and their requisite ice cream accompaniments?

Spicy Chocolate, Banana & Fresh Ginger Tea Loaf

Close Up of Spicy Chocolate, Banana & Fresh Ginger Tea Loaf

It’s All Chocolate! All Month! in the LunaCafe OtherWorldly Kitchen. As usual during the Month of Love, I am covered in chocolate: milk chocolate, semi-sweet chocolate, bittersweet chocolate, white chocolate, and unsweetened cocoa powder. All in an effort to come up with the most delectable, memorable Valentine’s Day dessert ever.

Spicy, Creamy Mulligatawny Soup

Heavenly Mulligatawny Soup

Do you remember that Seinfeld episode where Elaine and Kramer were kibitzing about Mulligatawny Soup? I bet that episode sent thousands of people to the web in search of the recipe. The name alone is an inducement.

Creamy Cauliflower Leek Soup with Curried Mustard Croutons

Creamy Cauliflower Leek Soup with Curried Mustard Croutons

I was walking through the Portland Farmers Market a couple of weeks ago and did a double take on a stack of orange cauliflower. I adore cauliflower (the earthy flavor, the crunchy or creamy texture), and the only nit I can pick with this lovely vegetable is its color. It gets lost on a white plate and looks pallid and unimaginative next to other basic ingredients I love, such as potatoes, rice, pasta, and poultry.

Spicy Pumpkin Butter Gingerbread Beignets

Pumpkin Butter Gingerbread Beignets

This concept should have been a cinch. After all, I developed White Chocolate, Cardamom & Coconut Beignet and they’re wonderful—ethereally light, tender, moist, and beautifully flavored.

But I made a classic mistake at the onset. I tried to pattern the new beignets after the earlier success. And that, my friends, was a disaster. I threw batch after batch of beignets in the trash after just one taste.

Something different went wrong with each batch: too dry, too wet, not sweet enough, not pumpkin enough, not spicy enough, and finally, just okay but nothing special. I almost gave up. Where was I going wrong?

Spiced Maple Pumpkin Butter & 20 Ways to Use It

Pumpkin Butter Closeup

I was at Trader Joe’s a few weeks ago and spied a perky little jar of Pumpkin Butter. I must be years behind on this, but that was my first encounter with this luscious spread.

The Inestimable Vegetable Rice Tian

Fennel, Bell Pepper & Summer Squash Creamy Rice Tian

A “tian” refers to a large number of French layered vegetable dishes, some of which include rice and a binder of some sort (as typified by Julia Child’s Tian de Courgettes au Riz, featured in Mastering the Art of French Cooking, Volume 2).

I enjoy both styles but admit a particular fondness for the rich creaminess of the latter. It’s simple home cooking at its delicious best, and it lends itself to endless seasonal variation.

The Green Goddess (Salad Dressing)

The Green Goddess (Dressing)

Suddenly, Green Goddess Dressing is showing up everywhere. I’ve encountered it on four menus in the past month. And I can’t stop ordering it, even though restaurant versions pale by comparison to what you can make in your own kitchen. Restaurants invariably hold back on the herbs, perhaps to control cost or to appeal to the less adventurous diner. This is a mistake, because this dressing is supposed to be all about the herbs and bold rather than timid.

Risotto of Sweet Corn with Corn Coulis, Zucchini, Chevre & Green Chile Oil

Risotto of Sweet Corn with Corn Coulis, Zucchini, Chevre & Green Chile Oil

If there is an easier, quicker, more elegant, more economical, more versatile, more satisfying dish in the world than risotto, I can’t think of what it might be.

As long as you keep a premium-quality risotto rice on hand, you will almost certainly have something in the frig to complete the dish. That something can be any thoughtful combination of fresh or cooked vegetables, meats, seafood, fresh herbs, and cheese.

Crostone with Basil Mint Pesto & Roasted Ratatouille


I used to make ratatouille (an aromatic vegetable mélange of eggplant, zucchini, onions, bell peppers, tomatoes, garlic, and herbs) the classic way (AKA the Julia Child way), sautéing each vegetable separately in copious amounts of olive oil. Julia says that her recipe is the only one she knows in which each vegetable retains its own shape and character.