Three Days until Christmas …

So this year brings and entirely new Christmas experience. For the first time in over ten years I have a man to share Christmas with. I am all at once excited and nervous. We’ll be staying at his parents home and my family will celebrate on the Eve not the Day. I have no plans to cook. Which is even more weird. Perhaps I’ll get to do that at my mothers Christmas Eve day.

I haven’t posted anything in more than a week. I haven’t been cooking much. Well, nothing original anyway. I have made a few things out of the Cook’s Illustrated book. Last night I made poached salmon with a maple brandy glaze. It was delicious! Monday I made Beef Stroganoff. It was amazing. D, of course, adored it because it has a lot of meat in it. I’m telling you this cookbook does it all right. From what I can tell all the recipes are accessible to the average cooks home. Some of the ingredients may not be staples but they are usually available in most grocery stores I am going to bake for my nephews. They’ll love the peanut butter / chocolate cake I learned to bake. I made one for D’s birthday and it was amazing.

I found a blog like and think you should check it out too. Hopefully, she won’t mind the plug.

So, last weekend D took me to Chicago as our Christmas present to one another. I have never spent any time in Chicago so I was thrilled to be able to go. I loved it of course. We played to tourist role perfectly. A colleague of his got us a discount at the Palmer House Hotel. We had a suite. It was simply elegant, opulent and lovely. Our suite has a Christmas tree even.

City life amazes me. I love the crowds and the voices you hear in the passers-by. So many languages and accents. It’s inspiring. D took me to Billy Goats Tavern

Billy Goat Tavern

where we ordered cheeseburgers, because that’s kind of all you can order I think. It’s the restaurant SNL mimicked back in the 70’s where Dan Ackroyd and Jim Belushi bellow “cheeseburger, cheeseburger, cheeseburger”. It was greasy and dark and I wouldn’t want to see the joint in full light but the burgers were salty and crispy and wonderful.

We also ate at a place called Miller’s Pub. The atmosphere was great. The food, uh, so-so. It’s been around for over 50 years and there are pictures of the owner with every big celebrity name you can imagine. It’s a fun place.

The best meal though was at Sixteen in Trump Tower. Now I know how the 1% live. No prices on the menu. Mushrooms with names like “hen of the woods”. I had Nantucket bay scallops with osetra caviar, lemon confit, golden and red beets as an appetizer and for dinner I had the butter poached Maine lobster with kohlrabi gratin, turnips, bone marrow espuma, lobster jus, and chanterelles. See what I mean? Mouth watering and indescribable flavor. Wow.

Sixteen in the Trump Tower

So, that’s where I’ve been. With the holiday coming up I may not have the opportunity to post much. I hope my four readers have a wonderful, blessed holiday and may you know the spirit and peace of Christmas!

Much love,


They said it was good for my fingernails . . .

I was reading an article online about how eating Swiss Chard three times a week will make your fingernails stronger. So off to the store I went. I found some Rainbow Chard at  Whole Foods. It looked so pretty and green with dark red stems. I couldn’t wait. Upon returning home I searched my cookbooks and internet for tantalizing recipes. They all looked similar and from the recesses of my mind I had visions of my grandmother cooking greens with bacon grease and fried eggs. Rather than following a single recipe I decided to improvise. Of course I fried up some bacon (three strips), browned some pine nuts, onions and chopped dates in the bacon grease then threw in the stems. Once they all started to soften I added the chopped leaves and garlic. I cooked them until they “wilted”.

It was so very tasty. Well, except for the stems. To me they taste a bit like dirt, very earthy. The leaves are wonderful … next time I’ll leave the stems out. Oh and I took a picture. The steak I cooked looks sad so don’t judge.

Try it you'll like it. Just skip the stems.


Today I made Browned Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies. OH MY GOODNESS. If you haven’t tried this recipe then you just have never baked cookies before. They are hands down the VERY best cookies I have ever had. Ever!

I really did bake these! They are perfect!

Wow your holiday guests with … Lavender/Thyme Mushroom Turnovers.

So, you’re having a holiday party and want to serve something out of the ordinary and delicious. I have the perfect recipe for you. It may seem time consuming but let me tell you it is worth the effort. Your guest will rave over these and ask you to make them for every occasion. This recipe has been in my family for years. Only recently did I add the lavender to the mix. What a wonderful addition.

Lavender is my favorite herb, period. It’s my favorite scent and every time I’ve tried it in my cooking experiments I’m wowed by the wonderful taste it provides. It’s on par with rosemary as far as I’m concerned and I’m surprised it doesn’t garner the attention some other herbs receive. It is subtle and soothing to taste and smell. It’s wonderful as a calming tea, in scrambled eggs (amazing actually) or simply mix some into goat cheese and serve with water crackers. I grow my own lavender so I always have it on hand but if you don’t have any on hand you can buy it at Dean & DeLuca or order it online. Keep it in your staple of herbs.

Lavender/Thyme Mushroom Turnovers.

  • 8 oz soft cream cheese
  • 1-1/2 cup all purpose flour
  • 1/2 lb. minced mushrooms (button & crimini)
  • 1 + 3 tbsp stick softened butter
  • 1 medium minced onion
  • 1 clove minced garlic
  • 1 tsp dried lavender petals
  • 1/4 cup sour cream
  • 1 tbsp fresh thyme leaves
  • 1/2 tsp salt & pepper
  • 1 egg beaten

1. In a large bowl mix together cream cheese, flour, salt and stick of butter until smooth. Shape into a ball and wrap with plastic wrap. Refrigerate for at least one hour.

2. Using a sauté pan melt butter and cook onions until they begin to soften, add garlic and mushrooms, sour cream, thyme, lavender, salt and pepper, cook until all are cooked and mushrooms are soft. Let cool before assembling turnovers.

3. On a floured surface roll the dough so that it’s about 1/8 inch thick, then using a 2-3/4 inch cookie cutter cut into circles. Fill each with round with 1 tbsp. of the mushroom mixture. Seal the turnovers with the beaten egg and brush the top with egg as well.

4. Bake at 350, 12-14 minutes or until golden brown, makes about 20 turnovers.