Thursday, December 29, 2011


I have made this chocolate pave recipe numerous times. Mostly for holiday events. And because there is one more holiday coming up I thought I'd share a little chocolate love. Bonus!: It doesn't require baking!

This is a Thomas Keller recipe that was given to me by a pastry chef where I used to work. It's beautiful, simple, decadent and elegant (and gluten free!). And did I mention it doesn't require baking? I have never taken the time to take a picture of this but it doesn't hang around long for the camera either. The recipe says it serves 14 but I say it serves twice as many. With a quenelle of fresh cream a tiny slice will more than do.

One last note: The recipe calls for a 12x4x3" terrine mold. If you don't have one I'm sure something else would suffice. I have a beautiful red cast iron enamel mold that was a gift. I enjoy every chance to use it.

Chocolate Pave

12 Ounces Bittersweet Chocolate (64% Guayaquil suggested)

8 ½ Ounces Unsalted Butter (Plugra suggested)

8 Large Egg Yolks

4 Egg Whites

1 1/3 Cups Powdered Sugar

1/3 Cup Dutch-Process Cocoa Powder

4 ½ Ounces Heavy Cream

2 Tablespoons Granulated Sugar

  • · Spray a 12x4x3” Terrine mold and line with plastic wrap. Take the time to press all the air bubbles and creases out of the plastic.
  • · Sift powdered sugar with the cocoa and set aside
  • · Whisk cream to soft peaks and set aside in refrigerator
  • · Whisk egg whites to soft peaks adding granulated sugar gradually, set aside.
  • · Melt chocolate and butter in a bain marie, remove from heat and cool slightly until warm to the touch
  • · Stir whisked egg yolks into the chocolate mixture until well combined
  • · Stir in cocoa powder and powdered sugar until well combined
  • · Fold in whipped egg whites until well combined
  • · Fold in whipped cream until well combined
  • · Pour into prepared terrine mold, cover with plastic and refrigerate.

The terrine can be frozen at this point. If not freezing then refrigerate for 8 hours. Unmold the terrine and dust with cocoa powder. Score with marks for cutting. You can decorate with ganache rosettes if you like.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Speaking of Chanterelles

I haven’t met a mushroom I didn’t like. I have met some mistreated mushrooms, who, out of no fault of their own, ended up slimy as a result of poor preparation. But those are the few, and hopefully forgotten.

After my disastrous fail with mac n’ cheese I’ve walked lightly and thought carefully about what I want to cook and how I want it to turn out.

I ran across some recently foraged Chanterelle mushrooms at my local market yesterday. What to do… what to do.

I am finding I need to plan a little ahead when it comes to cooking without meat. I need to busy my knife skills and soak beans or grains the night before. So when the fancy strikes I’m in the ready. I soaked some barley overnight. I’ve never done that before but had read somewhere that it was a good thing to do.

I decided to let those Chanterelles star in the show with the barley. It sounded like a perfect match. I’m happy to report it was! Barley-Mushroom “Risotto”. Comfort food wearing no disguise.

I used Crimini, white and Chanterelle mushrooms and cut them large and chunky. I added them to some finely diced onion I had sautéed in olive oil. I threw in a couple of cloves of minced garlic and some fresh thyme. I let the magic get all worked up in that pan over a moderately high heat. When the color and texture became caramelized I removed the mixture and set it aside. Then I added more finely diced onion to the pan with a little olive oil. I cooked the onions to translucent and added a cup of drained barley. I “toasted” the barley over the same moderately high heat for a few minutes. Then I lowered the heat to about medium and added a cup of white wine, stirring until it was almost all absorbed by the barley. Then I began feeding the grain a ladle at a time of warm mushroom stock. I added some fresh thyme leaves and red pepper flakes to this mixture and decided to start a pot of veggie soup between stirring and adding stock.

When I got to the end of the cooking process (about an hour later) I added the mushroom mixture back in along with a couple of tablespoons of fresh chopped parsley. I topped mine with a tiny bit of vegan parmesan. I needed that zing. If you prefer to use cheese be sure to use a good Reggiano.

I do love fall. But I long for summer and in Seattle summer hardly remains long enough to build a friendship. Wrapping my mind around fall is made easier in the presence of good comfort food.


Sunday, October 9, 2011

In the absence of cheese....

There’s no gentle way to put this. I gave up meat. Animal products actually. That’s right. I can’t candy-coat this one. All these years I’ve said how much I love vegans and that they taste like chicken … now… here I am.

I’m still holding out on eggs though. I mean it’s un-American isn’t it? To deny a farm fresh egg every now and then? You are not the boss of me. If I want an egg I’ll have an egg.

I want to write a word about Tofu Mac n’ “Cheese”.. that’s why I came here today. And I’ll get to it in just a minute. I just want you to chew on that thought while I’m telling you how I got here on this Sunday afternoon with a steaming bowl of Tofu Mac n’ “Cheese” wafting up in my face… not providing the LEAST resemblance (smell, taste nor aesthetics ) of anything cheesy.

I’m a big documentary watcher. Almost to the point of being obsessive. I knock out a half dozen or more documentaries every week. I’m trying to find a little balance there but it’s how my brain is wired. It takes a lot for me to escape into a drama or a comedy. I find myself saying, “This isn’t real”! and that’s that. Biographies over novels, documentaries over dramas. You get the picture.

So, about a month ago I watched a documentary called Forks over Knives. The knife in this title is played by a scalpel. The upshot of the program is that we are an obese, unhealthy nation and we are filling our graveyards at an alarming rate through diabetes, heart disease and cancer. Having lost both of my parents last year to cancer I pay attention to messages that get down and dirty about where this rotten disease thrives and conversely where it is conquered.

I recommend the video. I bought it for myself. I don’t collect DVD’s so that says something. After viewing the program and hearing evidence that studies show in the absence of (or at less than 5%) animal products (not just meat but dairy) that these diseases ceased to exist. I’m in! Well, we still have the issue with eggs but other than that. I’m in!

That’s the long story short. Let’s get back to our tofu mac n’ ‘cheese”. I address this because outside of baking, I typically do not follow a recipe. But I’ve never driven on the tofu highway before and I thought a road map might be a good idea.

So, I bought the Happy Herbivore cookbook. I cannot speak to the other recipes in the book because I haven’t tried them. But the Baked Shells and Cheese with the enticing picture of a fork full of creamy looking seashell pasta with crispy breadcrumb topping; let’s just say I’m going to dog-ear that page all the way over.

Deep inside I think I knew it was impossible to make tofu sing in mac n’ cheese like Martha Stewart makes Gruyere the star in her 3 cheese mac n’ cheese. But I really, really wanted this recipe to prove me wrong. Ugh.

Back to the drawing board.

I know I shouldn’t. But I’m posting a picture of this stuff before it heads for its next destination: my garbage disposal. It’s not the texture so much, I could tweak the recipe to fix that. It was the taste! Yikes! Enough said. I’m moving on. I’m over it. I have a problem sleeping at night and I do NOT want to have tofu nightmares. Get thee behind me tofu!

I commenced healing right away with roasted cauliflower and Brussels sprouts and sautéed mushrooms with fresh green beans. Don’t get me wrong. I am not giving up on tofu. I’m just giving up on THIS recipe. If there’s one thing I do know how to do it’s to make food taste good. The challenge is on!

Life without cheese must go on.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011


It has been a month of an embarrassment of blessings, a wealth of love, letting go and growing up and becoming comfortable in my own skin and not being afraid of the voices I hear. I’ll explain the voices in a minute.

I feel like my Winnie the Pooh little black rain cloud is gone. Just like that. Gone.

I made the trek to eastern Washington where I met my brother and together we buried our parent’s ashes. It was a beautiful place and a healing experience. It was finally closure for both of us. I knew it was time to let go. I’d nearly cried myself to death in the last 9 months. I just didn’t know that the letting go process would lead to such immediate inner peace. Who knew? There is not a manual for such things.

Now I’m on to the next chapter. And I can’t lie. I’m liking the direction this story is taking.

I’m sitting here in the tropical breeze of Hawaii listening to the ocean waves pound against the rocks. Everywhere I look I seem to find something or other that I’ve never seen before in my life! I’ve never been here before and let me just step right up and introduce myself: Hi, my name is LuAnne, and I can be a real elitist snob sometimes. I don’t know where it comes from. I guess it’s that strong-opinion thing. Whatever it is, I never really wanted to travel to Hawaii. It wasn’t a passion or a goal even. Not that I would turn down a trip if it fell into my lap (which it did!). But I’m just not a tourist-y sort of gal. And in my limited knowledge (heavy on the limited part) of Hawaii, I thought it was ALL a big tourist snare. I would like to happily admit how wrong I was.

My friend and ex-sister-in-law, Joey, sent me an email a few days ago that said something like: “Please, please, please go to Hawaii with me. I’ll buy your ticket.” SHUT UP! I am NOT kidding you. The part that’s hard to admit here: I said “no”. I KNOW! Get thee to a nunnery! I hit send on my reply email to her and heard a voice.. (I have been listening to ‘that’ voice a lot more closely lately. I have to quiet my own loud voice to really hear it.) I know I don’t need to tell you what that ‘voice’ said to me. I sent a second email right on the heels of the first. The rest is minutia. Here I am in Kapoho on The Big Island of Hawaii so happy and so comfortable with the fact that I hear voices!!

Now, I am in a beautiful vacation house surrounded by an ocean view, coconut trees, geckos and Coqui frogs that sing the night away. I guess the frogs are unwelcomed guests that snuck in on a produce shipment from Florida and the results were population ballistic explosion. They propagate quickly in paradise. But they sing a lovely nighttime tune.

Joey and I woke up early the first morning and hit the local farmer’s market in Pahoa, about 8 miles away. We had no boundaries when it came to trying something new. We ate dragon eyeballs and regretfully indulged in a little Kava drink. Unlike the bubbly cava of Spain (which I love!) this looked like it was skimmed right off a dairy farm mud puddle. When they say you taste with your eyes first I’m here to tell you it’s just true. Nothing, and I mean nothing could convince me that this was anything other than mud puddle water. The vendor assured us it was the magical elixir that would add years to your life, length to your penis and stop diabetes, depression and poverty right in their tracks! But still, think mud puddle. I took one sip of Joey’s 75 cent investment and told the vendor I’d rather have diabetes thank you very much. Or as they say on the island mahalo nui loa!

Joey kept feigning misplacement of her Dixie cup of mud water at the nearby produce tables. Each time she would walk away and someone would chase her down and return her ‘magic elixir’ to her. She was too polite to gag and pour it on the ground.

We asked where we could buy fresh fish and were told to go to the boat launch at Pohoiki. Which we determined to do right away. We quickly found out in our excitement that flying by the seat of our pants will catch our pants on fire… AND we’ll get distracted, a little lost and several hours later the fishermen will have taken their catch to Hilo. So we had chicken for dinner with all of our fresh market veggies and fruit. It is all Ono grinds (tasty food).

Anytime you are buying your food at the source you are likely to find happiness in your tummy. When you buy your food at the source and the source is a tropical climate. You are in what they call paradise. What is not to love about pineapple right? But when the pineapple is picked ripe or when it’s a local delight called white pineapple. Well… you just want to rub it on your body, stir it in your coffee and roll around on the floor making moaning noises with it. I think if you’ve been here you know what I’m talking about. The best. No, really. THE BEST pineapple I have ever tasted.

I am only 3 days in so I have a few days left. I will write more about this beautiful oasis later.


Monday, June 6, 2011

When good karma comes knocking

My weekend started right with a friend sending me what she thought was a coaxing text message:

“Play hooky tomorrow and come with me to see U2”…

Hooky wasn’t necessary … I was all in.

We took the commuter train into Seattle and along with 65,000 others we converged on Qwest Stadium. I crossed one thing, one great concert off of my bucket list. Pinch me!

Though we were too far from the stage to catch one of the flowers Bono tossed to the audience while singing “Where have all the Flowers gone”, we were close enough to “feel” the enrapturing presence the band sent through the crowd. At many times I found myself completely unaware of the masses that surrounded me and fully aware of the near “religious” feeling of being in that crowd. It was memorable and inspiring.

Back to that karma… I was offered up the entire month of June on a silver platter recently when some good friends who just HAPPEN to have the greatest home on earth asked me to house sit for them.

They encourage entertaining. In fact they designed their house around it.

So, Sunday dinner it was, around the glowing warmth of their outdoor wood-fired pizza oven. The fire was started, stoked and fed for 6 hours before the guests arrived. Twelve of us pooled together a thoughtful but un-orchestrated spread of toppings and salads. We roasted fresh, local asparagus in the 800 degree oven and ate the still-crunchy, perfectly smoky spears with our fingers as we watched our pizza toppings bubble and sizzle in the oven.

I was going to make the dough myself but the after-effects of a rock concert running until midnight convinced me that pre-made flat breads were going to be just perfect for the occasion. And they were! I made a red sauce and a white sauce and we chose from a myriad of toppings to create the most colorful and yummy pizzas.

Among the toppings were caramelized onions, homemade pesto, sautéed mushrooms, crispy bacon, Andouille sausage and crispy pepperoni. There were fresh roasted Anaheim peppers, jalapenos, red and green bell peppers. Cheeses included fresh mozzarella, smoked mozzarella, feta, and chevre. There were spirals of mozzarella and prosciutto. Fresh heirloom tomatoes, basil leaves and crispy garlic.

There was a salad of hand-massaged kale with almonds and currants. There was fresh fruit and of course there was also wine. There was music and laughter and some colorful story telling made easier by the recent antics of Sarah Palin. She brings guaranteed laughter, to any table. Really, you MUST laugh when you’d rather cry when it comes to Sarah Palin.

I wish we could all have a wood-fired pizza oven on our patio. Even if we can’t have everything we can have friends around our table. The table isn't even necessary! There are plenty of Sarah Palin jokes to go around. Listen my friends and you shall hear about the midnight ride of Paul Revere.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Memorial Day

Bonnie Wiles April 16, 1937 - September 30, 2010

No recipe today. Unless it’s my mother’s recipe for pulling yourself up by your bootstraps and getting on with it.

She would never have said it that way. Even her sternest admonishment would have had a loving and positive tone. I don’t think I’m overstating it when I say so. She was one of the most positive people I’ve ever had the fortune of knowing.

Boy do I miss her.

I’ve been talking to her a lot lately. Not in a crazy sort of way. My voice is the only one I hear. But I can remember hers and I know what she would say if she were here. “Sis, why don’t you write?”

Writing is my way of cleaning house and rearranging the furniture in my mind. When I write I feel like I’ve opened the doors and windows in the house and let the fresh air blow through and renew everything.

So, why don’t I write? I could lay out a laundry list of reasons. Mostly it’s time. I just haven’t taken the time to let myself be still and listen to my heart. To be honest, my heart still hurts from the crushing loss of my mom. She was my best friend.

I’m doing better day by day and have big plans to keep moving in that “better” direction. It just takes time.

I’ve visited this blog many times. I just sort of stood there at the door looking around in silence not knowing what to say. There are still dinners with friends and I’ve come a long way from my frazzled Lean Cuisine days. I just put a stop to those in short order.

It’s a discipline that I set aside. I replaced it with a myriad of UN-disciplined activities. I was talking to mom this morning and I heard my voice say, “I’m going to do it mom!” so here I am. It may only matter to me. I’m not so full of myself that I think it has to matter to anyone else. I know it mattered to mom and so for her and for me. I’m going to get it done. And I plan on having fun doing it!

One of my mother’s favorite poems was written by Edgar A. Guest. She gave me a copy of it when I was about thirteen. She reminded me of it often during my difficult years. Every time I dramatically threw my hands in the air and declared defeat she would gently remind me that it could be done.

I had the poem printed on the back of her memorial program along with a picture of her, suntanned, beautiful and proud, I’m sure. She is standing next to a little Cesna that she learned to fly, soloed in and got her pilot’s license. What a great woman.

It Couldn’t Be Done

Edgar. A. Guest

Somebody said it couldn’t be done

but he with a chuckle replied

That, “Maybe it couldn’t”, but he would be one

Who wouldn’t say so till he tried.

So he buckled right in with the trace of a grin on his face.

If he worried he hid it.

He started to sing as he tackled the thing that couldn’t be done,

And he did it!

Somebody scoffed: “Oh you’ll never do that! At least no one ever has done it.”

But he took off his coat and he took off his hat and the first thing he knew he’d begun it.

With a lift of his chin and a bit of a grin,

Without any doubting or quiddit,

He started to sing and tackled the thing that couldn’t be done,

And he did it!

There are thousands to tell you it cannot be done.

There are thousands to prophesy failure.

There are thousands to point out to you one by one,

The dangers that wait to assail you.

But just buckle in with a bit of a grin,

Just take off your coat and go to it.

Just start in to sing as you tackle the thing

That “cannot be done” and you’ll do it.

So, thank you mom for all the good advice and the amazing example you gave me in the way you lived your life. I can’t thank you enough. And mom. I didn’t want to tell everyone else because they might think I’m nuts, but I can hear your voice and what a comfort it is.