Yogurt Jam Tart

I love a good hack and here it is: if you make a fresh batch of jam and a tart crust you are halfway to tempting a few friends and family with a dessert that feasts on the last glut of end of summer fruit in a yogurt jam tart, which is precisely how a batch of my Dapple Dandy hibiscus jam talked its way into an empty tart shell.

Yogurt Jam Tart

Here’s something maybe sneaky if you’re not prone to turning your yogurt tub to read the ingredients. Gelatin is sometimes added to firm up yogurt for a tight consistency you can cut with a knife. Taking a cue from some yogurt companies (who will not be named!)–I wanted to pair the sweetness of stone fruit jam with the tart expression of a good Greek yogurt that could set more like a custard and work as the filling in a tart. So, I used agar agar, a Japanese seaweed gelling agent that’s vegetarian and a gelatin substitute. One word here is that the liquid combined with the agar agar need to be brought to a boiling temperature and then simmer for 5 minutes to set up properly.

Yogurt Jam Tart is a great way to make an easy dessert of either homemade jam or use storebought and a yogurt custard.

One word here again on yogurts is that not all in the refrigerated aisle are created the same (and honestly it’s so easy to make your own with the help of my friend Cheryl’s trusty guide in all things yogurt that you might decide to go that route. And now that I’ve heard there is a yogurt feature on Instant Pots, I might be back in plain yogurt-making business. Plain yogurt brings pizazz to all kinds of meals..  The agar agar slurry is intended to thicken up runny yogurts like Straus Organic or Wallaby, as I wanted a more set consistency in this tart.

The yogurt layer is fairly easy to make for the yogurt jam tart. Use agar agar to gel the yogurt for a stiff set.

If you don’t have time to make the yogurt filling, proceed with spreading a decent filling of jam in the tart. Then, you can simply add a dollop Greek yogurt and perhaps fresh fruit on top. I tagged Claire Ptak’s pate sablee recipe from her cookbook, Violet Bakery primarily because I want to cook from it more and there’s no time like the present. I like the way she thinks about baking and still associate her with Berkeley even if she’s come more into the public eye for her London bakery. She makes the tart dough in a food processor and you can use any pate sablee recipe you have on-hand, intended for a 9-inch tart pan.

Fresh fruit tiled on top makes this yogurt jam tart a stunning dessert that's different each time.

Yogurt Jam Tart

Course Dessert


  • Pate Sablee for 9-inch tart pan

Dapple Dandy Hibiscus Jam

  • 1 batch Dapple Dandy Hibiscus Jam

Yogurt Filling

  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon agar agar
  • 1 1/4 cup whole milk yogurt

Fresh Fruit, optional

  • (such as tiger figs, blackberries, golden raspberries, red currants)


Make the tart crust: Bake and cool.

  1. Fill the cooled tart crust with the hot jam (or if cool, warm the jam in a small skillet until easily spreadable. Set aside.

Make the yogurt filling:

  1. Whisk the milk and agar agar into a small saucepan set over high heat. Continue whisking and bring to a boil. Once boiling, turn the heat down to simmer for 5 minutes, whisking the whole time. Pour the hot yogurt into the tart, onto the jam carefully. Chill for 5 minutes.

  2. Remove the tart from the refrigerator and top with fresh fruit such as tiger figs, blackberries, and raspberries. Chill overnight before serving.


Sunburst Yogurt

Have you ever tried Lemon Curd Yogurt? This is going to be your new favorite way to flavor plain yogurt for dessert.

Stowed away in my closet, in the farthest reaches of where the walls meet, a winter coat enclosed in a zippered bag waits. Nestled nearby, snow boots that are nearly good as forgotten, might as well yell that they still reside with me. It’s been almost a decade since I attended New England in the winter and summer for my poetry MFA, but I can almost hear the slight crunch of snow compacting underfoot. The break of seasons gives a natural rhythm to the year and even though winter sometimes can take its time finishing its lap, there is something whimsical about a world bathed in fresh snow and diffused light. Living in the golden state, we forget what winter can mean. For us, on good years, we can expect rain. And this year, days three and four involved climes of mid-seventies weather. So, I’m dedicating this recipe to my friends and family entrenched in a winter wonderland. Think of it as a love letter from California.

Do you have a buddha's hand? Zest it and mix it into lemon curd yogurt for a dreamy treat.

Winter sun for us means bright orbs of citrus that when sliced open reveal the jewel tones of gold, crimson, and copper. I have a slight obsession with one citrus in particular, a fruit so odd you might think it comical or creepy depending on how it comes to you. I dedicated a marmalade recipe to it in Steeped, sparked a hearty fascination with it candied and enrobed in chocolate, and sometimes just like to infuse it into a simple syrup with ginger. I’m teaching a cooking class on teatime around the world later this spring and while visiting the cooking school, kindly received two very unexpected gifts. You don’t expect an extra hand or two on a Monday! And so, I mused how I might best preserve their exquisite flavor and heady aroma. It doesn’t take much to get me considering curd and thus, I was reminded of my favorite way to eat yogurt in Seattle and crafted my own version. May your winter days grow shorter until spring shoots grace you with green. Until then, find bright moments of glee in a glass bowl of yogurt kissed by the sun, what I’m calling sunburst yogurt, but you can call Buddha’s Hand Lemon Curd Yogurt.

Buddha's Hand Lemon Curd Yogurt will brighten any winter day.

Buddha's Hand Lemon Curd Yogurt

Course Dessert
Servings 8


Buddha's Hand Lemon Curd

  • 4 large yolks
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/3 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 1 Buddha's Hand
  • 1/4 cup (4 tablespoons) unsalted butter, chopped
  • 1 quart plain yogurt


  1. Peel the Buddha's Hand. The zest is pure gold. Finely mince the peel. You should end up without 1 1/2 tablespoons of it, depending on the size of your Buddha's Hand.

  2. Set up a double boiler, placing a metal bowl or pot on top of a saucepan, set over medium heat and filled with an inch or two of water. The bowl should not touch the water. Whisk the sugar and yolks in the bowl until combined. Pour the lemon juice into the bowl and add the Buddha’s hand zest, whisking until the mixture thickens up and gets glossy, about 3 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in the butter chunks. Pour into a container and bring to room temperature before chilling.

  3. Make the sunburst yogurt: Scoop or pour 1/2 cup of yogurt into a bowl. Spoon a tablespoon of warm citrus curd into the center of the yogurt. Using the skinnier end of a chopstick, drag the tip from the center of the curd circle, curving to the left. Continue drag-curving from the middle of the curd until you’ve made sun rays shooting out from around the curd. Then, taste a bit of sunshine.

Recipe Notes

PS- You can use whatever yogurt you'd like. I'm amenable to Greek yogurt with its thick pucker that transports me to Seattle. Or, I also like the looser cow's milk yogurt made by Straus Organic Yogurt. But, I'm a devoted fan of the lovely goat's milk yogurt from Redwood Hill Farms

PPS- Don't have Buddha's Hand on hand? (I had to do it). Feel free to add lemon zest for a basic curd or mix it up and add the zest from bergamot (if you can find some!), blood orange, cara cara, tangerines, or even clementines. I'm an equal opportunity citrus curd lover. I've also been known to make Feijoa (Pineapple Guava) Curd when it's in season.


Creamy Coconut Joys

If you’re reading this you might have noshed on an elegant slice of flourless chocolate cake last week. Perhaps you whisked together a last minute dark chocolate pudding and dusted it with chopped pistachios. Maybe, you received two bars of chocolate in the guise of Blueberry Lavender or Dark Chocolate Almond Sea Salt that you will hoard away until the moment calls for a square or two to be notched off the ends. If February 14 had a movie moniker, it would be, “There Will Be Chocolate.”

What is it with chocolate and Valentine’s Day that makes them feel indispensible, one from the other?

In the other room, the synthesized music of Mew floats into this room, over to my desk as a knife chops applewood smoked bacon for a once a year gift of homemade Carbonara. It’s become our tradition of a simple decadent dish anticipated with the fervor of turkey and dressing or any dish you might assign to a holiday. Soon, a sizzle and the wooden spoon’s nudging against the stainless steel walls will join the happy sounds coming forth from our kitchen. Then too, more chopping will commence, but a harder sound, as if knuckles rap against the front door. Twirling my fork around the noodles, watching John Cusack become Edgar Allen Poe on screen and sidled up against my love, this, this is worth remembering. And we try to etch the small moments into the trunk of our memories.

What is it with our need to complicate the very best things in life? We chase happiness like it just might be joy but that goodness can’t last. Joy, on the other hand, never ceases to surprise me. How can something so good be found in the dregs of circumstance? And maybe that’s it. Circumstance proves happiness to be so very fickle, where it cannot touch joy. Other times, we have to scratch around the dry earth of our spirits for that joy, but that does not vanquish it from existing. I think of Corrie ten Boom, a personal hero of mine who somehow found bits of joy even as she was incarcerated in a concentration camp for hiding Jews in her house during World War II or Paul singing songs in prison.

When you come down to it, joy can be hard to understand. If history has shown me anything, we don’t often chase after what we don’t understand. Instead, we try to quell it. Happiness and joy- which one are you running toward or trying to cultivate?

And this is why, after a day dedicated to chocolate and the kind of love found in small gestures or the grandiose, we come back to joy. It’s no surprise that the classic combination of almonds, coconuts and chocolate culminate in nomenclature of joy. Just as I think you will agree these Creamy Coconut Joys can present a small luscious gift whenever the occasion calls for it.  Stumbling over the ridiculously luscious St. Benoit yogurt had me clamoring for resuming my post-dinner yogurt habit. Since I trust the folks in Sonoma to not steer me wrong with yogurt, we go full fat and I’ve been told by an RD friend that yogurt from grassfed cows can give more omega’s, which is a bonus to the creamy consistency of our other favorites, Straus Organic or our love of goat’s milk yogurt from Redwood Hill Farm. Keep in mind, light yogurt equals more processing and really, when you’re keeping it simple, quality ingredients are paramount. You might find these Creamy Coconut Joys live up to their name.

We all need a bit more joy in our lives, methinks.

Creamy Coconut Joys The Food Poet



This recipe comes together pretty easily. I enjoyed this regularly without the coconut milk, so you can opt for that or take it over the top and make your own coconut cow’s milk yogurt. It’s your choice really. Make the yogurt hours in advance of serving and let it sit in the fridge so the flavors can coalesce. You can also toast the coconut in advance too. I find this makes for a novel, portable dessert for intimate potlucks as all items get packed into jars and are easy to transport by bus or walking.

YIELD: 4 servings

1 quart high quality full-fat plain yogurt

1 can coconut milk

4 tablespoons thick shredded unsweetened coconut

4 tablespoons raw almonds, chopped

4 tablespoons high quality bittersweet chocolate chunks or chips

In a medium sized bowl, empty contents of one quart of yogurt. Spoon coconut milk into the yogurt and stir. Cover and refrigerate.

In a pan or electric oven, toast the coconut for around 2:30 to 3 minutes on low medium heat until it starts browning but before it burns. Set aside to cool.

In the same pan or electric oven, toast the chopped almonds until they start giving off their aroma and before they burn, around 2:30 to 3 minutes. Set aside to cool.

When you’re ready to assemble the Creamy Coconut Joys, pour about 1/2 cup of the coconut yogurt into a small bowl. Scatter a tablespoon of almonds on top. Then, sprinkle a tablespoon of the toasted coconut. Lastly, dot the surface of the Joys with a tablespoon of chocolate chips or chunks.




Cranberry Lassi

There’s a pretty good chance this season has been one of indulgence for most of us. And why not? A lot of people let Christmas stand alone as a cordoned off season to bake a few dozen cookies, and keep tasting as they bake. This might have happened in the baking of 8 dozen of these cookies that I am glad to announce all made their way into other peoples’ homes. Then again, a reason to get excited for the onset of Christmas includes a chance to experience traditions that come only once a year… like Christmas music. It can be a bit jarring to find yourself doused in Christmas music before Thanksgiving. Perhaps it’s one holiday overlapping another and thus stealing its focus that makes me come undone. Christmas carols might be the sonic equivalent for many twinkling lights on a fir tree.

Their joyous melodies and contemplative moments of dissonance help revelers reflect on the reason behind the season. A few Christmases ago, a final Christmas, involved a piano, a bass and mezzo-soprano working their way through the songs being played. I look on that evening with the fondness of memory and a last call to sing with my Dad while he was still alive. Some things I know for sure. I know at some point I will want to wail a version of “O Holy Night” in the confines of my kitchen without worrying too much about the neighbors thinking a cat has been afflicted in some melee. I will want to attempt to sing the “Gloria” chorus of “Angels We Have Heard On High” using one single breath or to attempt the descant sung many years ago in grade school when my voice could easily reach those rafters. Recently I’ve been grooving to the jazzy interpretations of “Go Tell It!“, finding my foot tapping along as the horn section swells and the double bass thumps its way through the songs.

This year, my thoughts keep turning to “Adeste Fideles / O Come All Ye Faithful.” The song makes me consider what  it takes to be faithful in anything. Having faith that things will turn out for the best, looking to faith to help carry you through uncertain periods are certainly ways in which faith can find application. This season has been one of questioning, one of waiting… which can be good, but is not always easy. The Advent season is set apart as one of waiting. As I match my harmonies with the melody line and sing “O come let us adore Him,” I am reminded that in spite of this season being one with potential external hardships, the internal landscape in all of us sometimes requires a wide space necessary to broach things that have not had time available for proper attention or perhaps that we have grappled with all year. The song is an invitation for others to join in to “behold Him”.

In the challenge of writing advent poetry, namely “A Mother’s Prayer”, I found myself thinking about Mary more than usual and about the kind of faithfulness required for her specific task. If Thanksgiving calls us to consider what we are thankful for, then I would posit that Christmas calls us to consider that to which we are faithful. As “Little Drummer Boy” played in our dark car zooming north last night, we let the words enter our ears “I have no gift to bring, pa ru pum pum pum. I played my best for Him, pa ru pum pum pum, ru pum pum” and found these words to be true.

So, if you are like me and glutting yourself on the last remnants of Christmas carols and music that effectually will cease to play mere days from now, you have set your radio dial to Christmas 24/7. The fun and joy of seasonal songs that soon will be packed up only to unpack them again a year from now reflects my appreciation for cranberries. I can’t get enough of them and know they will soon fade into a year that has passed before I expected it to take its leave. I tend to buy a few extra bags and freeze the berries so that if the urge for a cranberry craving strikes in summer, I can indulge it.

And this is where the Lassi comes in. I might reckon that the Lassi was the precursor to the Smoothie. A lassi is a simple combination of milk, yogurt and fruit with your choice of sweeteners. In India, you can order a Salty Lassi or sweet and the most popular version is easily the Mango Lassi. This drink makes a welcome accompaniment to rich foods as it helps with digestion. A Cranberry Lassi tastes a bit like Christmas in a cup- a little spicy and tart, but mostly sweet. So “joyful all ye nations rise, join the triumph of the skies” and as you raise another strain of song, here’s a drink to match the music.



I let the cranberries macerate overnight and then even tried out a batch after a few days of the cranberries blending with the ginger, lime and sugar and found the Lassi tasting great. If you’re interested in your cranberries being ready sooner than the allotted time belowset aside for only 30 minutes in the refrigerator and that will be fine too. For a sweeter Lassi, try using a small glug of maple syrup to make your drink merry.

YIELD: 2 servings

1 cup fresh cranberries

1 teaspoon grated ginger (a knob about 1 inch long)

splash of fresh lime juice

2 tablespoons sugar

1 cup plain yogurt

½ cup milk

Cut the cranberries in half and in a small non-reactive bowl, sprinkle the sugar on top of them. Grate the ginger into the bowl and stir. Then squirt fresh lime juice over the berries. Leave them in the refrigerator for 30 minutes to a day.

When ready to make your lassi, add your milk, yogurt and macerated cranberries to the body of a blender. Puree until smooth. Sweeten to taste.


NOTE: Let’s say you just want to make a lassi for yourself – portion 4 tablespoons of the cranberry mixture plus ½ cup yogurt and ¼ cup milk in blender for each lassi.




Creamy Chickpea and Yogurt Casserole

Let’s talk about hummus. It’s a good place to start. When most people think about Mediterranean food, this dip perfectly scooped up by pita comes to mind. You could say it would be on the top five list for a Family Feud quiz. And who would disagree? The creaminess of chickpeas blending with garlic, just the right amount of lemon juice and tahini makes for that distinctive flavor profile.

Now, let’s move to Tissiyeh. This Creamy Chickpea and Yogurt Casserole might be the cousin to hummus. Like hummus, it includes chickpeas, garlic, lemon, tahini and salt. And yet, it goes so much farther. The toasted pine nuts and oil give the complexity characteristic of pignolas. The bright and creamy yogurt is a bit of a revelation and yet if you consider how much yogurt makes its way into Mediterranean cuisine, it’s not an altogether surprise. Oh, hummus lovers, you are in for a real treat.

Making the casserole perplexed me. While cooking through “An Edible Mosaic” cookbook, the photo and description enticed me enough to include it on a weeknight menu. But, how to serve it? Is it an appetizer? Is it a dinner entree? Is it just plain comfort food in the first order? At this point in our cook-the-book exploration, I trusted cookbook author Faith Gorsky enough to just go with it. Don’t get me started on how much we looked forward to her Fish Pilaf leftovers…

We modified the recipe ever so slightly to make it compliant with how we eat in our home. In place of  the flatbreads recommended in the Creamy Chickpea and Yogurt Casserole recipe, we heated up some gluten-free pizza crusts. I figured this substitution would still achieve the same textural goals of the original. This dish came together in such a short time and found it to be quite filling. Gorsky describes Tissiyeh as a traditional dish served in Damascus, Syria, where her family lives.

So when you’re in the mood for a light dinner, an interesting appetizer or comfort food in a bowl, whip up your own batch of Creamy Chickpea and Yogurt Casserole and leave the hummus for tomorrow.

An Edible Mosaic- Creamy Chickpea and Yogurt Casserole




by Faith Gorsky from “An Edible Mosaic”.
*Reprinted with permission and a minor adaptation

YIELD: 4-6 servings

2 gluten-free pizza crusts

2 16oz. cans chickpeas, reserve the liquid

2 cups water

2 teaspoons ground cumin, divided

3 1/2 cups plain yogurt

1/2 cup tahini

4 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

4 cloves garlic, crushed

1 teaspoon salt

4 tablespoons olive oil or clarified butter

4 tablespoons pine nuts

1 tablespoon minced parsley leaves (optional, for garnish)


Preheat oven to 250. Put the flatbread directly onto the oven rack and bake until brittle but not burned, about 15 minutes, flipping once. Cool the bread completely, and then break into bite-sized pieces. Line the bottom of 1 large serving bowl (or 4 individual bowls) with the bread and set aside.

Pour the chickpeas (and their liquid), water, and 1 teaspoon of cumin into a medium saucepan; bring to a simmer over medium heat. Ladle a bit (about 1 – 1 1/2 cups) of the chickpea cooking liquid onto the dried bread to make it moist, but not soggy, pressing down with a spoon to help the bread absorb the liquid. If you add too much liquid, just drain off any excess. Remove 4 tablespoons of chickpeas to a small bowl and set aside, and spoon the remainder of the chickpeas onto the moistened bread.

Whisk together the yogurt, tahini, lemon juice, garlic, salt, 1/2 cup chickpea cooking liquid, and the remaining 1 teaspoon of cumin in a medium bowl. Pour the yogurt mixture into the chickpeas and sprinkle the remaining 4 tablespoons of chickpeas on top.

Heat the oil in a small skillet over medium heat; add the pine nuts and cook until golden brown, about 1-2 minutes, stirring constantly; set aside. Drizzle the pine nuts and their oil on top, and sprinkle on the parsley, if using. Serve immediately.




Fish Burger with Lentil Dip and Cucumber Yogurt

FISH RECIPES- Fish Burger with Lentil Dip and Cucumber Yogurt

My first cookbook giveaway is over – congrats Routhie! I will be sending you your own copy of “Blood Sugar” to enjoy. And in the spirit that everyone is a winner, I’m posting a recipe from the cookbook with a thanks to the publisher New Holland.

Say this with me: fish burger with lentil dip and cucumber yogurt.

I just returned from the pre-eminent food show for the natural and organic food industry and three nights out of five, I found myself hankering for fish. In a sea of non-GMO, organic, natural foods, fish and vegetables were what I craved regularly.

This sandwich puts other fish sandwiches to shame for the simple facts: variety of flavors and textures. The crispety crunch of the roasted garlic toast contrasting with the tangy yogurt sauce and smooth savory lentil dip played well with the fish. This recipe is typical of Chef Michael Moore’s style, featuring fresh herbs incorporated in to make a full-flavored without being full fat entree that’s pretty exciting.

Enjoy. Every Monday needs a bit of oomph.

fish burger with lentil dip and cucumber yogurt

Recipe by Chef Michael Moore from “Blood Sugar”
Reprinted with permission & with a few adaptations

I didn’t use canned lentils, so I’m giving the measurements below for what we did use, which was dried lentils. Also, we didn’t find any wholemeal soy and linseed rolls, but there was a beautiful loaf of roasted garlic bread that caught our eye instead, which I think worked out great. This sandwich is tall and if you’re like me and have a small mouth, the sliced bread worked better than a roll. Also, I encourage you to consider eating this as an open faced sandwich which, we enjoyed at several meals. The recommended serving size of each sandwich has two fish patties on the toasted bread, which works out to neat single patty portions if you cut the bread between the patties.


1 lb. firm white fish filets, boned and skinless

2 egg whites

½ bunch cilantro, chopped

1 teaspoon harissa paste

pinch of salt



1 tablespoon olive oil

1 clove of garlic, crushed

1 teaspoon, ground cumin seeds

1 teaspoon ground coriander seeds

pinch of ground fennel seeds

1 cup dry brown lentils

1 ¾ cup water



½ Persian cucumber, grated

1 cup non-fat plain yogurt

juice of 1 lemon




Sliced roasted garlic sourdough bread

  1. Chill the fish and egg whites in the freezer for 15 minutes.
  2. Using a blender, process the fish and harissa until smooth. Add egg whites and season with salt and pepper. Add the cilantro and blend will. Form 8 small patties from the mixture and make sure to coat with cooking spray. Cook over medium heat for 3 minutes on each side or until cooked in a nonstick pan. They should look golden and firm to the touch.
  3. Bring 1 ¾ cup water to boil and add in 1 cup dried lentils. Bring down to a simmer and cover to cook for 20-25 minutes or until soft.
  4. Make the Moroccan dip by cooking the garlic in oil for a few minutes and then stir in the spices. Heat for another minute and add in the cooked and drained lentils and 1/4 cup of water. Simmer for 10 minutes or until liquid has evaporated and lentils are thick. Cool slightly and then puree until smooth. Add a pinch of salt and pepper to taste. Set aside.
  5. On a box grater, grate the cucumber and drain out any excess liquid. Add grated cucumber to a small bowl of yogurt, lemon juice and mint. Stir.
  6. Toast your bread slices.
  7. Assemble your fish sandwiches by laying down two slices of toast and then smearing one side with the lentil dip. Lay down the mixed greens or spinach and two fish patties on top. Finish with a dollop of the yogurt.

SERVING SUGGESTION: Try these with some roasted parsnip fries for a delightful healthier fish and chips combination.




Bok Choy Soup with Avocado Crema

Bok Choy Celeriac Soup

I would be remiss if I didn’t say that my current obsession with celeriac knows no bounds. Celery root is mellow in its celery flavor and is great roasted with sea salt.

In the past few weeks we’ve tossed it into salads , tried it braised letting it soak up the juices of the other ingredients as well as impart its distinctive flavor into them and played with working it into soup… This soup layers green upon green blending the mellow celery flavor of roasted celeriac with the sauteed greens of bok choy, a hint of ginger and the toasted pistachio meal for something quite special.

You will note that I don’t recommend salting the soup and that is purely for preference. If you want to add salt to the soup to taste, go for it. I included the generous pinch of salt in the avocado crema knowing it would suffuse its slight saltiness to the rest of the soup and avocado for me comes alive after a hit of salt. Have you ever tried avocado with a pinch of salt, smeared on fresh baguette? With sliced tomatoes, it is a meal of much hullabaloo. But I digress…

Topped with a bright dollop of avocado crema, you might find, like we did, that this soup makes a tasty accomplice to an egg frittata or baked ricotta casserole.

SOUP RECIPES- Bok Choy Celeriac Soup with Avocado Crema





  • 6 Bok Choy, coarsely chopped
  • 2 leeks, coarsely shopped
  • 1 medium celery root, peeled and coarsely chopped
  • 4 cups chicken stock
  • 2 tablespoons grapeseed oil (plus 1 teaspoon for roasting pepper)
  • 1 green bell pepper
  • 1 inch ginger, peeled and minced
  • 1 large garlic clove, minced
  • 3 tablespoons toasted pistachios
  • 4 tablespoons plain goat’s milk yogurt
  • 1 avocado
  • a generous pinch of salt


1. Preheat oven to 425F.

2. Place celery root and whole green bell pepper on roasting pan and roast for 30 minutes.

3. Saute ginger, leeks and garlic over medium low heat for 3 minutes in 2 tablespoons of oil.

4. Add bok choy to pot and stir in. Stir for five minutes as bok choy cooks down. Add chicken stock. Set to low. Cover and simmer for 20 minutes.

5. Remove pepper from the oven and remove the skin, seeds and stem.

6. Chop the pepper into strips and add to pot along with adding the celery root to the pot once done.

7. Pulverize pistachios into meal. Then add the pistachio meal to the pot and stir in.

8. Puree in small batches in a blender until smooth or use an immersion blender in the pot and puree until smooth.

9. For the avocado crema, mash the chopped avocado with the yogurt together and add salt. I like this a bit chunky, so mash until the avocado is slightly broken up.

10. Serve soup with a dollop of avocado crema.





Lamb Burgers with Tzatziki

LAMB RECIPES- Lamb Burgers with Tzatziki

Summertime in San Francisco is not summertime in Texas. Let’s be clear about that.

If you’re planning a vacation and thinking a trip to California and more specifically San Francisco is the place to go for warmer climes, I regret to inform you that our weathermen would be shaking their heads, “no.” Come to think of it, that might account for the booming business that is selling sweatshirts and fleece pullovers emblazoned with “San Francisco” on the front- good marketing and good reminders for future packing lists.

Sure, we have beaches here and they are beauties! Flanking the Pacific Ocean for miles, Ocean Beach looks out into the vast blue waters extending to the Pacific Rim. In fact, a handful of years ago, I lived two blocks away from that beach where the air is pure… and had a bit of a bite. Years later, I lived by Baker Beach with its picturesque and oft-photographed backdrop of the Golden Gate Bridge. Take note though, if you walk too far out, you might stumble into the nude section of the beach. And maybe that’s your intent or maybe not.

Summers in San Francisco are dismal in the most majestic of ways: grey skies lighting everything in recessive tones and a gentle fog or mist that settles on everything in its path. Beach visits involve blankets, fleece and quite possibly steaming mobile mugs of hot tea. You get used to it, unless you don’t and end up wiling your way down to sunny SOUTHERN California. Seeing as my hide and tail come from Texas where summers are a gentle 107 degrees, I open my arms to our San Francisco summers. Arms wide open.

But sometimes you need a burger.

They’re a food equivalent to the throes of a summer well in season. The very smells and flavors call to mind a grill fired up, flames licking the charcoal briquets just like the sweat is licking the back of your neck. And in a San Francisco summer, all you need is a bit of that fairy dust to transform your kitchen stovetop into a grill out back. Maybe that and a Greek-inspired burger.

This recipe below has become a staple in Casa Annelies and Beck. Ted Allen‘s combination of goodies grilled into the burger and the sauce on top is finger-licking good in a way even the colonel could appreciate. We use pain au Levain bread slices rather than buns and in season, I like to add minced padron peppers to the meat, lending a bit of their depth and swagger.



Lamb Burgers with Tzatziki

Adapted from Ted Allen’s “Mini Lamb Burgers with Yogurt Cucumber Sauce”

YIELD: Serves 4


  • 1 pound ground lamb
  • 2 tablespoons capers
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons fresh parsley, minced
  • 1 tablespoon lemon zest
  • 2 tablespoons whole grain mustard
  • 4 padron peppers, minced
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • Pepper, to taste


  • 1 cucumber, peeled, halved, seeded, minced
  • 1/2 tablespoon crushed sea salt
  • 2 cups yogurt, preferably thick, Greek yogurt
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons chopped fresh mint leaves
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • Extra-virgin olive oil

1. Add minced cucumber to a medium sized mixing bowl. Go ahead and add yogurt, mint, cumin, sea salt and pepper. Sprinkle the olive oil into the sauce and mix. Then spoon some of your sauce into a ramekin.

3. Heat a grill pan over high heat.

4. Mix together ground lamb, capers, parsley, zest, mustard, padrons, salt and pepper. Form lamb mixture into 2 similar sized mounds in the bowl. Divide lamb mixture in half, then half again. Form into 4 medium sized burger patties.

5. Oil the grill pan with oiled paper towel held in tongs. Turn heat down to medium. You want to brown the burgers for about 4 minutes on each side for burgers cooked medium.

6. Slice several thick cuts of bread and then cut in half. Toast.

7. Lay down a few leaves of spinach on one of your toasted bread slices and then place one of the burgers. Add a dollop of the tzatziki and seal the deal with another slice of your toasted bread. Serve and enjoy!

8. I like to serve this with the ramekin of tzatziki in the middle of the table because you or your guests might want more of the sauce as you eat your way through the burger.




Fig & Goat’s Milk Yogurt Parfait

When traveling internationally, your pick of companions is key: do you like the same activities? Are you both regimented in scheduling activities or flexible to let the wind take you where it may? Is your companion someone who prefers historical artifacts and art or shopping? Does your companion have a discriminating palate or not? There’s no right answer to these questions provided the answer for your companion complements your own, as I learned in France many moons ago with a companion who was bored at the Louvre after an hour’s visit. But that’s a story for another time.

santorini sea photo

A few years ago, when I entered a new decade, Olga and I set out on a Mediterranean adventure. Tight on cash but high on ideas, we began investigating ways to visit Greece that would let us stay there for the most days while being budget-friendly. After much scrimping, saving and sorting through airline miles, we flew to Italy and embarked on our Italian cruise of the Greek Isles and Dalmatian Coast.

She and I had traveled overseas before but on this particular trip, she began channeling her mom SallyD, planning out the minutiae and I began channeling my mom, who goes where the wind blows. SallyD in fact had been quite concerned with us going as there were reports of marauders in Cyprus. We cajoled and convinced her that our islands were nowhere nearby, at least not as close as a pebble’s throw, and off we went with the blessings of our parents.

Oia santorini church and sea

Neither of us had ever been on a cruise before and learned several important tips to share if considering cruising:

a.) A cruise is like a tasting menu with each port offering a snack bite of its environs.

b.) Pack accordingly.  And what I’m saying here pertains to books & reading material. You might be at sea several days or only while sleeping, but I’ve designated cruises as great opportunities for longer reads from greats like Tolstoy and Dostoevsky.

When we were out to sea, I would laze about on deck after going for a swim. My deck chair would point toward the guardrail, letting me look out into the dizzyingly beautiful blue waters of the Mediterranean with Anna Karenina in hand. I never got sick of staring out into that sea of blue expanse and could understand the inspiration painters and artists experienced. Olga signed up for dance classes and attended social events. What worked so well for the cruise ship model of travel is that both of us had an enjoyable trip… that to a point was quite different from one another’s. Also, I decided then and there that the best way to sink into a massive tome from the likes of Leo Tolstoy required unbroken time staring out at the sea between pages.

At one port-of-call, we walked the wall of Dubrovnik with newfound friends Catherine and Marian, both of whom had traveled alone on the cruise. Marian possessed this quiet and peaceful spirit about her and became a regular part of our travels on land. I remember thinking meeting Marian made my Greek adventure so much more memorable. On the wall of Dubrovnik, she mentioned this cruise had come as an opportunity to explore the world after some sobering health news from her doctors. Together we conquered the streets of Oia in Santorini, ate a long leisurely lunch in Corfu, and shied away from the precocious giant pelicans in Mykonos along with our visit to the terracotta city of Dubrovnik flanked against a sparkling sea.

One thing Olga and I had been looking forward to included a growing desire to taste rich strained Greek yogurt in Greece dripping with local honey. After a trek from the train station to visit the Parthenon in Athens, we got our long-anticipated bowls of yogurt and paired them with Greek iced coffee- such a welcome chilled respite in the afternoon heat! And then there were the figs…

adriatic figs in dubrovnik

I’m a sucker for figs.

farmer's market dubrovnik

There are few foods that I would claim to be smitten about, but figs, friends,  are the fastest way to my heart. Pair them with chocolate or goat cheese and you’ve got me around your little finger.

dubrovnik farmers market scales measuring system image

Olga and I sought out freshly dried Kalimyrnas in Santorini and noshed on Adriatics in Dubrovnik, where they dried them with bay leaves to a splendid unexpected flavor! The tour guide in the bus winding up the steep mountain hills of Santorini to Oia pointed out wild fig bushes and we watched them whiz by. Suffice it to say, that visit to Greece and Dubrovnik left their indelible marks on both of us during that fall. Then there are the figs…

dried figs strung with bay leaves dubrovnik farmers market

I’m a sucker, indeed.

My affection for figs has garnered me new friends (hello Mark and Gary), a job offer and even a persona poem during a writing exercise in graduate school called “Ode to a Black Mission.”

A little known reason for our October wedding was to catch the tail end of the California Black Mission fig season. Our wedding reception caterer did a great job pairing them with California blue cheese, prosciutto and a port wine reduction sauce. You know how some brides and grooms talk about being so busy that they don’t get to eat the food? Beck and I heartily requested seconds on the figs the day of our nuptials, remembering them to be our favorite bite during the tasting.

Brown Turkey. Calimyrna. Black Mission. Kadota. The list goes on and so does the love affair. If you’ve never eaten a fresh fig, you’re in for a treat- one of nature’s sweet candies that’s chock full of fiber, flavor and texture. If you’re a wine aficionado, watch out, you may have met your wine and cheese match. Let yourself swoon at this dessert to end all dessert- if you love figs, that is.

Fresh figs. Goat’s milk yogurt. Chocolate and honey. Olga and me.

Good friends that just keep on getting better with time.

DESSERT RECIPES- Fig & Goat's Milk Yogurt Parfait



Fig & Goat’s Milk Yogurt Parfait

To select ripe figs, you want to squeeze them lightly. If the flesh sighs a little under your touch, you’re set. For this recipe, I rinsed the ripened figs, pat them dry and then left them overnight in the refrigerator to great success. This dessert is healthy and breathes balmy Mediterranean sea air into my summer evenings. I like to use small mason jars as they show off the parfait well and help control the portion size. I would also encourage trying this with chipped dark chocolate instead or bittersweet chipped chocolate. May it bring you happiness of the mouth.

YIELD: Makes 1 (easily shareable) portion.

  • 3 fresh black mission figs
  • 1 tablespoon mini chocolate chips
  • 1/4 cup plain goat’s milk yogurt
  • 5 walnuts
  • 1 teaspoon raw honey

Step 1: Remove the figs from the refrigerator and chop them.

Step 2: At the bottom of your mason jar, add 1 T of chopped figs. Then add a layer of 2 tablespoons  goat’s milk yogurt on top.

goat's milk yogurt fig parfait

Step 3: Add 1 tablespoon mini chocolate chips as the third layer.

how to make a goat's milk yogurt fig parfait

Step 4: Add 2 tablespoons goat’s milk yogurt for the fourth layer of the parfait.

Step 5: Then add 1 tablespoon of chopped figs as the fifth layer.

Step 6: Add another 2 tablespoons goat’s milk yogurt for the sixth layer.

how to make goat's milk yogurt fig parfait

Step 7:  Add walnuts as the final layer and drizzle your raw honey over them.

how to make goat's milk yogurt fig parfait




Bok Choy Bell Pepper Scramble

BRUNCH RECIPES- Bok Choy Bell Scramble

Breakfast is important in these here parts. Did you know it’s the most important meal of the day? One of the best things you can do for your husband, wife, girlfriend, boyfriend, boss, deskmate, and most definitely for yourself is not skip this meal of champions. You “break” the “fast” of eight hours sleep with a kickstart of food fuel to get your body and mind primed for the day.

Julia Child still has a thing or two to teach me about making the perfect omelette and perfecting the flip, so until that time, I am crazy about scrambles. Notably, I’m cuckoo about scrambles at posh and oh-so-delicious brunch locale extraordinaire Ella’s. They put the most creative combinations together of seasonal ingredients with flair. One of the ways they dress up a plate of eggs is with flavored creams (lime creme with salmon scramble anyone?) Yum.

I played a riff off of what Ella’s might make in looking through our cleaned up fridge. This includes new favorites virgin coconut oil and goat’s milk yogurt. We are switching to coconut oil in these parts because it can withstand high heat well, is packed with nutrients and good fat and it also kind of gives everything a bit of island flair. Goat’s milk yogurt and cheeses are new additions replacing our cow’s milk products as easier to digest alternatives. They’ve gotten me thinking I want goats in the future to join the chickens in the imaginary sprawl of lawn one day. If I had a goat, she’d be named Bessie and he’d be named Hal. But that is neither here nor there, and somewhere it’s time for breakfast…


Bok Choy Bell Pepper Scramble

YIELD: Serves 3

1. In a large sauce pan, heat the coconut oil over medium high heat. Add the peppers and bok choy to saute for about five minutes or until slightly charred on edges.

2. Then add in the caramelized onions, za’atar and sea salt. Stir and let meld for about a minute. With a fork, whisk the eggs.

3. Pour eggs over the sauteed veggies and let sit for 2 minutes, taking care to tip the pan as needed to spread the fluid egg out to the outer corners. Begin to chop and scramble the eggs and sauteed veggies and then let it cook until the eggs are cooked to your preference.

4. Sprinkle 1 teaspoon of Purple Haze Chevre on each portion of the scramble. Serve with sliced avocados and a dollop of goat’s milk yogurt, which gives it a lovely tang.