Moroccan Kefta Tagine (Spicy Meatballs & Tunisian Tomato Sauce)

Moroccan Kefta Tagine

A meatball is a meatball, is a meatball, is a meatball. Right? Well sure, in the sense that nearly all meatballs are simple mixtures of ground meat, spices, and sometimes fillers (for tenderness) and binders (for cohesion). And nearly all meatballs are round, although the same mixture can be shaped meatloaf-style or cigar-style around a […]

Homemade Nutella: Two Ways (Chocolate Hazelnut Spread)

Homemade Nutella

To my palate, store bought Nutella tastes like overly sweet, poor quality chocolate, with way too much vanilla and the lingering taste of stale powdered milk. But wait, you can easily make your own! And it’s fabulous. There are five basic ways to make Homemade Nutella. This articles explores two of the best.

Chocolate Snacky Wacky Cake (Depression Cake)

Chocolate Cake Serving 2

This is NOT your average, common place, every-day, garden-variety cake. Frankly, it’s not normal or even respectable. It doesn’t play by the rules. If you are Merriam-Webster, you might call it bizarro, wacko, crazy, curious, eccentric, far-out, odd, kooky, offbeat, outlandish, peculiar, quirky, screwy, strange, or weird. In other words, this unassuming little snack cake is […]

Asian Potsticker Dough (for Jiaozi & Gyoza Dumplings)

Chinese Bamboo Steamer Filled with Potstickers

This silky, beautifully chewy potsticker dough is a mainstay in Asian kitchens where it is used to make Chinese Jiaozi and Japanese Gyoza. After you master this easy dough, you’ll find dozens of fillings to keep your dumplings interesting all year.

Sweet Potato Pie Perfecto Mundo

Sweet Potato Pie Perfecto Mundo

Confession time. I am a late convert to Sweet Potato Pie. Very very late. Because for me, Pumpkin Pie always takes precedent around the holidays. I LOVE Pumpkin Pie. But this year, I noticed a flurry of Pumpkin Pie posts that included candied yams and claims of supreme silkiness. So I tried it, only instead of using a combination […]

Perfect Classic Pumpkin Pie + 10 Uncommon Variations

Classic, Perfect Pumpkin Ma

My basic, perfect pumpkin pie contains maple syrup–for the simple fact that maple syrup is the perfect complement to pumpkin. It actually enhances the pumpkin flavor. Once I tasted this combination a few years ago, there was no turning back.

Pumpkin Pie, Ginger High, Meringue in Your Eye, Oh My

Pumpkin Streusel Pie to Knock Your Socks Off_Dana Zia

Check out these fabulous and decidedly uncommon pumpkin pies from four Portland, Oregon food stars.

Sweet Corn & Black Bean Salsa

With chips

I look forward to making Sweet Corn & Black Bean Salsa each August when the first ears of fresh corn hit Northwest farmers markets. The corn is the star here, and it really must be fresh, sweet, and in season locally.

Melon Pico de Gallo (AKA Melon Salsa)

Melon Salsa

This refreshing, colorful Melon Pico de Gallo (AKA Melon Salsa) hits a perfect balance between sweet, hot, acidic, and salty. You’ll appreciate it best in the heat of summer with local, ripe, juicy melons.

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 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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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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Asian Pancakes (Beijing Pancakes)

Asian Pancakes

Also called Beijing Pancakes, Mandarin Pancakes, or Moo Shu Pancakes, these tasty wrappers are not actually pancakes at all. At least not what we think of as pancakes in the United States. They’re not made with a pancake batter, but with a simple, unyeasted flour and water dough that is cut into golf ball-size pieces and then rolled as thinly as possible to form transparent disks.

Vietnamese Crispy Crepes (Banh Xeo)

Vietnamese Crispy Rice Cake with Lettuce Leaves, Fresh Herbs & Nuoc Cham Sauce

You’re first bite of Vietnamese Crispy Crepes, served lettuce-wrap style with fresh mint, Thai basil, fresh or pickled vegetables, prawn and barbecued pork filling, and sweet-sour-spicy-hot Nuoc Cham sauce is going to push all your gustatory senses into overdrive. The aromas, the flavors, the textures. It is one amazing taste sensation, and you aren’t going to forget it anytime soon.

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).

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)

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 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.

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


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


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.