I have been conscious of my innate passions from an early age. My inner strength carried me forward from the get-go, fearlessly driving me to be where and who I am today. A person who chooses to seek, explore, and travel as a means to creative fulfillment, as a means to set my soul on fire. To live generously, deeply and passionately in my authentic skin.
From an early age, I desired to embrace life to the fullest regardless of the loneliness of such a path. I have spent most of my life traveling. That is when I am happiest and at my most humble and learning. Through my work in agriculture, famers have invited me into their homes and kitchens. Here I discovered the deep connecting power of food, culture, and community. Here I learned my love of cooking. I have witnessed how food ignites and excites and connects humans all over the world. I discovered the same in myself.
I’ve learned most of my cooking skills, techniques, and knowledge of ingredients by watching passionate women in their kitchens in rural parts of Israel, Holland, Peru, Mexico, Tunisia, Dominican Republic, South Africa, Ecuador, Italy, Greece, and beyond. To most of these women, fresh herbs are not a mere garnish. I took notice. I noticed that where there were lots of fresh herbs in the food, lots of flavor resulted. Where there was flavor, there was a connection to farming and devotion to community. Where there was devotion, there was joy. Fresh herbs, much like my work with mangoes, brings joy.
It is in this herbal, agricultural, global, culinary existence where I find the utmost joy, when my soul feels most ignited. I choose paths in life that repeatedly guide me to where I am happiest.
I am indeed happiest when traveling the globe discovering. Check out of a few of the places that have most ignited my soul and inspired my culinary artistry. HERE
This New Year’s Eve, despite being alone and feeling lonely, I felt the urge to celebrate the part of myself that I enjoy most, helping manifest more of what I want in my life for 2022. I’ve had some amazing New Year’s Eves all over this globe, with and without other people. This one will be no different. I will do that which sets my soul on fire and cook and connect myself to all the people and places of my past. This living as my authentic self and with my open and generous heart forward will be what invites new people, places, and things in. It will be what pushes me toward more exploration of the world and the people, place and food in it.
Creating menus is one of my favorite things to do. Connecting the dots between seasons, fruits, vegetables, places, flavors, farmers and eaters – landing on an herb or a tone or essence. I find the experience of menu creating and cooking to be as enjoyable as (and often more than) the event itself. It is in the creation where I am happiest and most fulfilled. I am like my dad, a builder.
This menu requires a bit more work than I would normally like for anything I wasn’t getting paid to do, but I’m smart and I know that the week leading up to New Year’s could possibly be a lonely one, so I make sure I have plenty to do, specifically tasks which create joyful and happy feelings.
Some of my favorite flavors are in this menu as are my favorite food buzzwords. Local Bradford ornamental pears, organic Treviso and cherry tomatoes from my life-saving trips to Kansas City, sustainable seafood from Know Seafood and fairly traded chocolate.
My creativity accelerates with lots of weird ideas and flavor combinations, like the Turkish Coffee Chestnut Ice Cream or using the Royal Jelly from Greece in my vinaigrette. Certainly, the little foraged pears are a weird idea that makes me feel clever and helps me find a new sense of home here in Missouri.
I practice and improve upon my techniques in this menu, especially in the handmade pasta arena. Fresh pasta making is something that can only really be perfected by practice.
My favorite places and people are represented. Istanbul is my favorite city in the world, so the Turkish coffee pays homage to my love of that city. Italy, one of my favorite food places, is all over this menu from the radicchio salad to of course the ravioli. My love of Paris is represented in the chestnut cream. My Greek souvenirs of olives and pastes are finally being used and the wine, from my favorite wine region and a place I’d love to live one day, Sicily.
Herbs are obviously abundant, and I find great satisfaction in making sure I incorporate them into every nook and cranny. My new home contributes a great deal to this with its still thriving garden of herbs and greens and with its beautiful kitchen with its breathtaking vista of Table Rock lake.
This experience, this menu is what my Missouri joy feels like. Home, for me, is not just a place that we own or live in; it’s a place where one’s authentic soul is coaxed out over and over and over, and this new Missouri home has me feeling as comfortable as it has ever been for me, proving to me again that life is very unexpected sometimes.
It’s taken me a good year to get most of what I needed to thrive here but, now that it is all falling more into place, I feel happier here, and that in itself is worth celebrating!
Happy New Year! May you feel lots of powerful soul fire in 2022!
Jump Below the Menu for All the Recipes
The original idea behind this cocktail was in utilizing the ornamental pears I have on my property. I discovered tiny little pears appear after the first frosts. They are not sweet, more a bittersweet pear taste. They are the ideal pear to use for the vermouth infusion, but regular pears work, too.
Place the booze and the lemon juice in a shaker filled with ice and shake vigorously. Strain into a coup glass and top with champagne. Garnish with a dried pear and a few drops of bitters.
*For the pear vermouth: Soak fresh pear in bitter and dry vermouth for a week, strain and refrigerate.
*For the dried pear: mix sugar, rosemary and lemon zest and sprinkle on both sides of thinly sliced pears and dry in the oven at 250ºF for about 50 minutes.
Winter Chicory Salad
Chicories require bold cohorts. The best flavor and texture companions are salty, sour, sweet, crunchy, garlicky, and peppery. This salad has all of those things and utilizes Treviso radicchio, but any chicory will work.
1 teaspoon orange zest
2 tablespoon orange juice
2 tablespoons champagne vinegar
2 tablespoons royal jelly honey
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon cracked black pepper
2 cups torn Treviso radicchio leaves
1-2 cups miscellaneous hearty winter baby greens, like chard, kale, etc.
1 handful shaved fennel
A few spoonsful each of chopped fennel fronds, mint and parsley leaves
Whisk together the orange zest, orange juice, vinegar, royal jelly, salt and pepper until it’s emulsified and creamy.
In a salad bowl, toss together radicchio and baby greens until well mixed. Toss shaved fennel and herbs on top and drizzle with the dressing.
Lobster ravioli, made with fresh pasta for me is the epitome of decadence. Partly it’s the lobster which we all believe is special and partly it’s the work I have to do by hand that reminds me that all the best things are built from scratch. Lobster in ravioli makes the lobster go further and, thus, makes these raviolis rather economical in the end.
For me the joy of lobster lies in its simple preparation. My ravioli is just that, fresh lobster poached in butter and vermouth, then sautéed with shallots, lemon and herbs then stuffed into the decadent freshly made pasta dough. My sauce is a simple, make a head, spicy tomato butter and a slight lemon edge. Because it’s New Year’s Eve, I’m going to add some seared lemon marinated scallops on top.
If I’m going to put forth the effort of making fresh pasta, I’m going to use high quality semolina flour. I use Antimo Caputo Semola Di Grano Duro Rimacinata Semolina Flour, which you can buy at most specialty food stores and easily online. Semolina flour is made using a special milling process from durum wheat. The end result is a coarser flour that is capable of more elasticity. It’s incredibly nutritious as well. It’s a pale-yellow color and excellent for fresh pasta, bread and pizza dough. Sometimes I mix it with 00 soft flour when I’m making ravioli, but if I’m making shapes I don’t. Full semolina yields a sturdier pasta.
Using a wooden cutting board is important to knead the dough and work the pasta, shaping the ravioli. The wood absorbs any access moisture and keeps the dough from sticking.
Stick some of these ravioli and some tomato butter in your freezer and live decadently on an ordinary Wednesday.
For the spicy tomato butter:
1 cup ripe cherry tomatoes, halved
1 tablespoon parsley leaves
½ tablespoon lemon thyme leaves
1 tablespoon finely chopped basil leaves
1 red cherry bomb chili pepper, deseeded and chopped fine
1 teaspoon Preserved Lemon Herbal Salt or Maldon salt
½ teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper
1 teaspoon lemon zest
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 stick unsalted butter, room temperature
For the pasta dough:
1 ¾ cups 00 soft flour
1 cup semolina flour
3 eggs and 3 egg yolks, beaten together
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
Pinch of salt
For the lobster filling:
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons finely chopped shallot
2 tablespoons butter
2 8-ounce steamed or poached lobster tails, shelled and chopped superfine
2 teaspoons lemon zest
¼ teaspoon Cobanero chili flakes
2 tablespoons chopped fine parsley leaves
2 tablespoon finely chopped chives
1 tablespoon chopped fine tarragon leaves
2 tablespoons extra dry Vermouth
1 teaspoon kosher salt
½ teaspoon freshly ground white pepper
½ cup finely grated parmesan cheese
For the scallops:
1-2 scallops per person
Lemon zest, lemon juice
Spicy Tomato Butter
For the tomato butter:
Pre-heat the oven to 400°F.
On a lined sheet tray, combine the cherry tomatoes, herbs, chili, salt, pepper and lemon zest and drizzle with oil. Mix it all up and then lay the mixture out flat and place in the oven for about 15 minutes or until the tomatoes begin to char a little. Remove from the oven and let cool.
Blend or process the mixture up (use a blender, hand held emulsifier or a small food processor) with the lemon juice until a thick and gritty paste is formed. Mix that paste into the room temperature butter in a small bowl, making sure it’s mixed really well. Refrigerate the butter until use.
For the pasta dough:
Mound flours on a work surface, preferably wooden, and make a well in center. Add the beaten eggs and salt. With a fork, rotating it around the well, gradually pull in enough flour to form a paste, pulling in flour closest to egg mixture, being careful not to make an opening in outer wall of well.
Knead remaining flour into the paste mixture with your hands and a bench scraper to form a sticky, straggly dough ball. It will look like a big ugly mess of dough. The dough should be firm but not too sticky. Knead dough by pushing it away from your body with a lot of force, pressing down with the palm of your hand. Then rotating the dough little by little and repeating the kneading pattern. Knead dough until it is smooth and elastic. You will knead for at least 10 minutes and up to 13. If you need more moisture, lightly moisten the tips of your fingers a few times in the beginning. Place the dough in a plastic bag or sealed Tupperware, and let rest for 30 minutes.
For the lobster filing:
Place the olive oil in medium sauté pan, and add the shallots. Cook on medium heat for a few minutes, until the shallots turn a bit translucent in color. Add the butter, chopped lobster, lemon zest, chili flakes and herbs and sauté 3-4 minutes until the herbs cook down a little and the lobster soaks up some of the butter. Add the vermouth, salt and the pepper and cook another minute. Remove from the heat and place in medium mixing bowl. Let the mixture cool down for about five minutes and then add the grated cheese and mix well. Refrigerate until use.
Assembling the ravioli & serving:
Divide dough into 8 pieces, then flatten each piece into a rough rectangle. Cover the rectangles while not rolling through the pasta machine. Set rollers of pasta machine on widest setting. Roll each rectangle through several times, making the width of the setting thinner and thinner each time until you reach long thin strips of dough.
Dust a large cutting board with semolina flour and lay out each set of pasta.
At this point, if you intend to use a ravioli mold do so following the instructions with the mold. I prefer to make larger ravioli, so I do it all by hand.
Drop about 1 ½ tablespoons of filling about 2 ½ inches apart down on half of each pasta sheet. Fold the unfilled pasta dough half over the filling. Using a tiny bowl or espresso cup, press the air pockets out of mound of filling and gently form a seal. Use a pasta crimper to cut each mound into square ravioli. Make sure your crimped edged have sealed well. Place the raviolis on a lined backing sheet dusted with cornmeal to prevent them from sticking.
To freeze ravioli, place them on a small plate or tray in your freezer not touching for three to four hours and then you can package them together touching in a container or freezer bag.
Place the scallops in a bowl and drizzle with some lemon juice and a little lemon zest (1 tablespoon lemon juice per 2 scallops and a pinch of zest per two).
Place a few dollops of the tomato butter on the bottom of shallow bowl, depending on how many you are making will determine the size of the bowl. You should figure about 1 tablespoon of the butter per 3-4 ravioli. Cram them a small sauté pan and set aside with a little tomato butter in it. Let the scallops marinade while you prepare the pasta.
Bring a large and somewhat shallow pot of salted water to a boil and gently drop your ravioli in. Make sure your ravioli have plenty of water to move around in; they don’t like to be crowded. Cook the ravioli for about 10 minutes. They will need to be floating a few minutes before they are done.
Remove the ravioli with a slotted spoon, making sure the water drains and lay them on the butter in the bowl. Once all the ravioli are in the bowl, gently mix them up in the butter.
Heat your sauté pan to high heat and, once hot, add your scallops making sure they do not touch each other. Sear them for about 1 – 1½ minutes on each side. They will have a golden crust on each side.
Place a few of the buttered ravioli in a shallow serving bowl and add one or two scallops on top. Garnish with a little freshly grated parmesan and some fresh herbs and sprinkle on some finishing salt. I’ll be using my Preserved Lemon Salt.
Flourless Chocolate Rosemary Cake
This cake is a recipe from Martha Stewart that I simply adapted by adding some rosemary and not topping with any glaze. I like this recipe because it’s simple and not overly sweet.
Makes 1 9-inch cake
3 tablespoons salted butter, plus butter for the pan
6 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped
6 large eggs, separated at room temperature
1 cup sugar, divided
1 tablespoon chopped fine fresh rosemary leaves
2 tablespoons espresso powder
¼ teaspoon of coarse salt
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
Preheat oven to 350ºF.
Invert bottom of a 9-inch springform pan (so cake will slide easily onto serving plate) and line with a parchment round; butter parchment. Melt butter and chocolate, stirring until smooth, in a bowl set over a saucepan of simmering water.
Beat together egg yolks and 1/2 cup sugar and rosemary leaves with a mixer on medium-high speed until thick and pale, about 3 minutes. Add espresso powder and salt; beat until combined, about 1 minute. Add vanilla and melted-chocolate mixture; beat about 1 minute more.
In another bowl, beat egg whites on medium-high speed until foamy. Increase speed to high; gradually add remaining 1/2 cup sugar, beating until stiff peaks form, about 5 minutes. Fold into chocolate mixture in 3 batches. Transfer batter to pan and bake until set, 40 to 45 minutes. Let cake cool completely in pan on a wire rack. Remove side of pan; transfer cake to a serving plate.
Turkish Coffee Ice Cream with Rosemary Chestnut Cream
Makes about 2 pints
This ice cream contains the joys of my favorite city in the world, Istanbul and ripples in silky French chestnut cream, which is easy to make. You can make your own Turkish coffee powder if you own a good coffee grinder. The grind for Turkish coffee is finer than espresso. It’s a powder grind.
You’ll need an ice cream maker for this, but it’s worth the investment if you can spring it. I happen to have one of the high-end De’Longhi versions. These have a built-in compressor making the ice cream making process incredibly easy and quick. It can freeze your ice cream in under 30 minutes. I have it for the culinary center work, but it was one of the best kitchen investments I ever made.
For the rosemary chestnut cream:
1 pound roasted chestnuts, chopped
1 cup sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon finely chopped rosemary leaves
Pinch of salt
For the ice cream base:
5 egg yolks
½ cup sugar
2 cups heavy cream
1 cup whole milk
1 vanilla bean split
Pinch of salt
3 tablespoons Turkish coffee powder
For the rosemary cream:
Place the chestnuts in a pot with water, making sure they are totally covered and boil for about 15-20 minutes until the chestnuts are super tender. Remove 1 cup of the hot water and strain the rest. Add the ¾ cup of water back into the pot and add the sugar. Bring back to a boil until the sugar has totally dissolved.
Puree the mixture in a food process until totally smooth. Place the mixture back in the pan you cooked it in and add in the vanilla, salt, and rosemary. Cook on medium temperature until it becomes a thick paste. It should take a few minutes. Cool completely and refrigerate.
For the ice cream base:
Mix up the egg yolks and sugar until it’s super creamy and well mixed.
In a heavy bottom pan, heat the milk, cream, vanilla, salt and Turkish Coffee powder until just about boiling. Whisk in a little of the hot milk mixture to the eggs (to temper) then a little more, then a little more. Next, add the egg mixture to the warm milk mixture, turn the burner to medium-low, and allow the mixture to thicken, stirring constantly about 2-3 minutes. It should get thick and coats the spoon (but honestly, I don’t know if that description helps enough; it’s more a feeling that it’s the right consistency than anything).
Then strain it into a glass bowl (I think the glass cools it quicker). Put that bowl into an ice bath, stir a lot and let it cool as quickly as possible. Then, put that in the refrigerator or freezer until it gets super cold. In the meantime, turn your ice cream maker on freeze so it gets cold.
To combine: Put the cold ice cream base in the ice cream maker and turn the churn and freeze on. Let it do its thing for about 30 minutes. Then add a stream of the chestnut cream, and turn it on freeze for another 15 minutes.
Then place the mixture in a pre-chilled container. At this point, it’s still kind of like soft serve. Freeze the ice cream for at least 6 hours before serving.
Chestnut Cream Amaro Elixir (Housemade)
I love after dinner cocktails that go with dessert. Ports and brandies are typically too sweet for me, so making my own dessert cocktail makes for a better, less sweet experience. With this one, I can use more of my chestnut cream, and Amaro goes exceptionally well with both chocolate and coffee.
Makes a half liter
½ cup cream de marrons
½ cup hot coffee
¼ cup half and half
1 ½ cups Averna Amaro Siciliano
¼ teaspoon cardamon bitters
Orange Peel & Rosemary Garnish
Blend the chestnut crème, the hot coffee and the half and half until totally smooth. Allow to cool completely. Add in the Amaro and cardamon bitters and chill. Serve over ice in a rocks class garnished with an orange peel and a few rosemary leaves.