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Goat Cheese, Pesto & Sun-Dried Tomato Terrine

This is a staple at most of my shindigs. You can make it a day ahead and it is such a beautiful presentation. If you aren’t a fan of goat cheese then just use cream cheese. When processing the sun-dried tomatoes it is much easier to cut them up before adding to the food processor.

Serve with crostini and crackers.

Photo source:


  • 16 oz. cream cheese
  • 4 oz. goat cheese
  • 1/4 to 1/2 cup milk or half & half
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon lemon zest
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • ½ cup basil pesto (homemade or store-bought)
  • ½ cup oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes, drained & chopped in food processor (or store-bought)
  • 1/4 cup pine nuts, toasted and coarsely chopped
  • Extra-virgin olive oil for drizzling


Bring cream cheese and goat cheese to room temperature. With a mixer beat the cheeses and milk until smooth and spreadable. Add more milk if needed to loosen the mixture. Add lemon zest, 1 glove minced garlic and season with 1/4 tsp. salt and a few grinds of pepper. Mix well and set aside.

Line the inside of a 3-cup sharply sloping bowl with plastic; let the ends extend over the sides a few inches.

Spoon about one-third of the cheese into the lined bowl and pack it into an even layer. Spread the pesto almost completely to the sides of the first layer of cheese. Top with another third of the cheese, the sun-dried tomatoes, and all but 1/2 Tbs. of the pine nuts. Top with the remaining cheese. Pack down, fold the plastic over, and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.

Half an hour before serving, take the bowl out of the refrigerator. Pull on the edges of the plastic to loosen the terrine from the bowl. Invert the terrine onto a plate, drizzle with a little olive oil, and let sit for 1/2 hour to warm up. Sprinkle with the remaining pine nuts, season liberally with pepper, and serve.


Lemon Chess Pie

On a recent trip home to Arkansas I had the pleasure of leafing through a recipe collection from Pat Lacy. Pat is the late grandmother of my beautiful friend Lacy. I had a bite of her Green Bean Casserole and knew I had to look through that little book of handwritten recipes for more old Southern jewels. Folks, I don’t even like Green Bean Casserole… I had seconds.

I came across several great recipes including this one for Lemon Chess Pie. Chess Pies are a Southern specialty of eggs, butter & sugar. When cooked the inside resembles a creamy lemon curd and the top becomes a beautiful golden brown.

Surprisingly, I didn’t have a lot of Chess Pie growing up in the South. My mom always made Chess Squares which are actually NOTHING like Chess Pie (but yummy). This is a very rich pie… so plan on sharing.

Since I shouldn’t eat an entire Chess Pie (no one should or COULD really) I made 3 small ones. The recipe makes 1 regular pie and the cranberries were just a holiday addition.


  • 1 pie crust
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 tablespoon flour
  • 1 tablespoon cornmeal
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup melted butter
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 4 eggs
  • 1/2 cup fresh cranberries (optional)


Preheat oven to 350.

Prepare a pie plate with a homemade or store bought crust. Set aside.

Combine sugar, flour, cornmeal & salt in a bowl. Add melted butter, lemon juice & milk. Mix well. Add eggs one at a time until just mixed. Pour in pie shell. If adding cranberries – drop a few fresh cranberries on the top.

Bake at 350 for 50 minutes.


Mustard and Herb Crusted Salmon

I do love a cold Sunday morning sipping hot coffee and planning a delicious Sunday dinner… that will take a good part of my day to prepare.

Yes, I love those meals that take entirely too long to chop all the veg, dirty up all the pots in the kitchen and ultimately fill my house with an aroma I won’t get from a 30 minute meal.

Those days are more plentiful recently, but some meals are meant to be simple. Like fish. This Mustard and Herb Crusted Salmon is so simple but tastes like a million bucks in less than 10 minutes.

The cooking method requires only broiling but make sure to use the middle oven rack. I had rosemary & thyme still growing but use any herb you have on hand and if you don’t have fresh, by all means use dried (just use 1/2 the amount as dried is more potent than fresh).


  • 1 pound salmon fillets
  • 1/2 tsp garlic, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon finely chopped fresh rosemary leaves
  • 1/2 teaspoon finely chopped fresh thyme leaves
  • 1/2 tsp extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • 1 tablespoons whole-grain mustard
  • 1 teaspoon honey
  • Juice of 1/2 a lemon
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper


Preheat the broiler.

In a small bowl combine garlic, rosemary, thyme, oil, Dijon mustard, whole-grain mustard, honey and lemon juice.

Line a baking sheet with foil. Spray the foil with nonstick spray or drizzle a little olive oil. Arrange the salmon fillets on the baking sheet and season with salt and pepper. Broil for 2 minutes. Remove from the oven and spoon the mustard sauce over the fillets. Continue broiling until the fillets are just cooked through and golden brown, about 5 minutes longer.

Remove from oven and let rest for 2-3 minutes before serving.


Acorn Squash and Sweet Potato Ravioli in Pineapple Sage Brown Butter Sauce

Making ravioli is easy when you don’t have to make the pasta. These beautiful little pillows are savory, delightfully sweet and very easy to make thanks to premade wonton wrappers.

I used Pineapple Sage as I had a ton of it in my garden and I had no idea what to do with it… but regular fresh sage will be just as wonderful.

Your efforts will not go without reward (these freeze VERY well and make about 4 dozen)… well worth the time to make them… and enjoy for a few months.

I served the ravioli as a side with an apple cider brined pork chop finished with a shallot cider pan sauce (recipe to come soon and may be the best thing I’ve come up with on the spot). These beauties would also be very impressive as an appetizer for the holidays.

Note: Wonton wrappers are found in the freezer section of most grocery stores.


  • 1 small to medium acorn squash (about 2 1/2 pounds)
  • 1 sweet potato or yam
  • 1 tablespoons dark molasses
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
  • 1/4 cup crème fraiche (substitute: cream cheese)
  • 2 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1 package round Wonton Wrappers (usually found in the freezer section)
  • Flour, for dusting board
  • 4 tablespoons sweet butter
  • 8 fresh sage leaves
  • 2 ounces Parmesan, for grating


Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

Cut squash in half lengthwise and scrape out seeds. Season with salt and pepper. Place cut side down on a roasting pan. Scrub outside of sweet potato, pierce with fork in several places and place on roasting pan with acorn squash. Cook in the oven until very soft, about 1 hour.

Let cool to room temperature and scoop out flesh into a large mixing bowl. Mash with sweet potato until well combined.

Heat 2 tablespoons of butter in a saucepan over medium-low heat until it begins to brown. Immediately remove from heat and add remaining 1 tablespoon molasses and all the vinegar. Add to squash and sweet potato with crème fraiche, Parmesan, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Season, to taste, with salt and pepper and mix well. The recipe can be made ahead to this point. Cover well and refrigerate 4 hours or up to 2 days.

To fill the raviolis: Put 1 tablespoon squash filling in the center of a wonton wrapper. Leave a 1/2-inch border all around the filling. Moisten borders with water and fold in half. Press all the air out and seal firmly by pressing all around with fingertips. Lay raviolis out to dry on a lightly floured board or baking sheet and lightly flour the tops. Repeat until you run out of wrappers and/or filling.

To cook, boil in lightly salted water until tender, about 3 minutes. Reserve 2 ounces of the cooking water.

Uncooked, filled raviolis may be used immediately or frozen for 2 months. Lay them out on sheet pans and place in freezer until frozen. Transfer to plastic bag.

For the Sage Brown Butter: While raviolis are cooking, in a large saute pan, melt the butter with the sage and a pinch of salt until it foams and becomes light brown. Reserve.

On medium heat toss the cooked raviolis in the sage butter then transfer to a serving platter or dishes. Finish with a generous grating of Parmesan cheese.


Shrimp Bisque with Brandy and Sherry

David Ansel, aka “The Soup Peddler”, is a well known Austinite on a bike. A bike that delivers soup. Brilliant really… why didn’t I think of this concept? His recipe in Food & Wine magazine appealed to me as it has BOTH brandy and sherry.

The more liquor the better, right?

My modifications included adding pancetta (doesn’t it make EVERYTHING better??) and replacing the final heavy cream with crème fraiche. I did use fat free half and half… GASP… but it was still fabulous and I didn’t miss a calorie of flavor.


  • 1 pound large shrimp, shelled and deveined, shells reserved
  • 3 cups water
  • 1 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • ¼ pound pancetta, ¼ inch dice
  • 4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/4 cup brandy
  • 2 tablespoons chopped basil, plus 8 leaves, thinly sliced
  • 1/4 cup dry sherry
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups half-and-half
  • 5 cups seafood stock (Kitchen Basics is my favorite)
  • 1/3 cup tomato paste
  • 4 ounces crème fraiche (or 1 cup heavy cream)
  • 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper


In a small saucepan, cover the shrimp shells with the water and bring to a boil. Simmer for 20 minutes, then strain the shrimp stock into a bowl.

In a large skillet cook pancetta until crispy. Drain pancetta to paper towels – leaving the rendered fat in the skillet. Add the shrimp, garlic, onion and cayenne and cook over high heat until the shrimp begin to turn pink, about 3 minutes. Add the brandy and boil until reduced by half, about 2 minutes. Add the chopped basil and the sherry and simmer until the shrimp are just cooked through, about 2 minutes. Transfer the shrimp to a food processor, add a little of the shrimp stock and puree until smooth.

In a medium saucepan, melt the butter over moderate heat. Whisk in the flour and cook, whisking, until smooth, about 2 minutes. Slowly whisk in the half-and-half and cook, whisking, until the roux is very thick, about 5 minutes.

In a soup pot, combine the fish stock and remaining shrimp stock with the tomato paste and the shrimp puree and bring to a simmer over high heat. Slowly whisk in the roux and the crème fraiche. Reduce the heat to moderately low and simmer until thick and creamy, about 20 minutes. Add the lemon juice and season with salt and pepper. Ladle the bisque into bowls, garnish with the sliced basil and pancetta.

Roasted Potato Salad with Dijon Caper Vinaigrette

This potato salad is party friendly and exactly what I had in mind for an upcoming BBQ. Yes, I know the recipe calls for bacon and there is NO bacon in my photo. I decided to test out this recipe before serving it to people I’d like to keep as friends… and well I had no bacon. It will make its way into the next batch of this perfectly tangy and tasty potato salad.

To make ahead: make dressing and store in refrigerator (bring to room temperature the day of serving). Roast potatoes the day before and store in refrigerator. Before serving, warm potatoes in oven & follow recipe assembly.


  • 2 lbs. Yukon gold potatoes – cut into 3/4” pieces
  • 1 clove minced garlic
  • 1 red onion thinly sliced
  • 1 tbsp capers – drained
  • 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil + 2 tbsp
  • 1/4 cup champagne vinegar
  • 2 tbsp dijon mustard
  • 1 tbsp whole grain mustard
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper


Preheat your oven to 400°F and set the top rack in the middle position.

Toss potatoes with 2 T olive oil, minced garlic, salt & pepper and spread the potatoes in an even layer on a baking sheet.

Turn potatoes every 15 minutes. Bake for 45 minutes total or until golden brown and crispy.

Whisk together mustard, vinegar and honey. Slowly pour the olive oil in while whisking to emulsify the dressing. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Add the potatoes, bacon, red onion and capers in a large bowl. Toss with vinaigrette and serve warm or room temperature. Adjust seasonings if needed.


Spotlight Montréal: Café Soufflé (Lemon Curd Bars with Pistachio Graham Cracker Crust)

Café Soufflé

location: 100 Marie-Anne W. (corner St-Urbain), Montréal, QC

I was lucky enough to find the perfect room at Urban Haven in Montréal. My generous hostess, Carolyn, turned me on to the lovely coffee shop with homebaked treats just steps from her front door. I happily let Café Soufflé become my afternoon treat & café au lait stop while I caught up on email.

Café Soufflé is the home to Marie-Josée and Brigitte Anne and their very creative baking. Sinful brownies, fabulous tarts & muffins (poppyseed pear and strawberry white chocolate…not your everyday boring muffin). I was most impressed by the best homemade toffee I’ve had the pleasure of letting melt in my mouth (don’t miss the creation with masala chocolate).

On my last visit to the café on the corner there was a beautiful lemon tart sprinkled with nuggets of bright green pistachios… delightful. My inspired version of Lemon Curd Bars with Pistachio Graham Cracker Crust has satisfied my lemon cravings… but the Montréal atmosphere I just can’t recreate.


For the crust:

  • 5 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 2/3 cup shelled pistachios
  • 1 cup graham cracker crumbs
  • 1/4 cup sugar

For the filling:


  • 5 egg yolks
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 4 lemons, zested and juiced
  • 6 tablespoons butter, cut into pats and chilled


Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter an 8-inch square baking dish and line bottom with parchment paper, leaving a 2-inch overhang on two sides.

In a food processor, grind pistachios with graham cracker crumbs and sugar. Blend in butter. Press mixture into bottom and 1 inch up sides of prepared pan.

Bake until lightly browned for 8 to 12 minutes. Set aside to cool.

To make the lemon curd, add enough water to a medium saucepan to come about 1-inch up the side and bring to a simmer. Combine egg yolks and sugar in a medium size metal bowl and whisk until smooth. Measure lemon juice and if needed, add enough cold water to reach 1/3 cup. Add juice and zest to egg mixture and whisk smooth. When water reaches a simmer, reduce heat to low and place bowl on top of saucepan. Whisk until thickened, approximately 8 minutes, or until mixture is light yellow and coats the back of a spoon. Remove from heat and stir in butter a piece at a time, allowing each addition to melt before adding the next.

Pour filling into cooled crust. Bake for 15 minutes or until set. Cool in pan on rack; then chill at least 1 hour before serving.

Using parchment paper as handles, lift out of pan and transfer to a cutting board. Cut into 16 squares, wiping knife with a kitchen towel between each cut. To store in refrigerator, cover with plastic wrap.

Red & Green Verde Venison Enchiladas

This recipe is for my friends Matt and Scott. Matt asked me a few months ago if I had a good recipe for venison. Sadly, I didn’t, as I’ve never cooked with venison meat. Shortly after my good friend Scott sent me home from a BBQ with ground venison from his hunting expeditions. What are the odds?

There are two variations: a green sauce with goat cheese and a New Mexico red sauce with chocolate and cinnamon. The green sauce was a complete cheat job as I doctored up a can on Goya green enchilada sauce. The red sauce is a culmination of many recipes I researched and many adjustments made when cooking the sauce.

I also snuck in some spinach and cremini mushrooms into the filling… I had them on hand and I’m always looking for a way to sneak in some veggies where they are unexpected.

Served with my favorite cabbage slaw.

Put leftover enchilada sauce in the freezer… I see a Tortilla Soup coming from my leftovers soon.


For the filling:

  • 1 1/2 pounds ground venison, or beef
  • 1 medium yellow onion, diced
  • 2 tablespoons chopped garlic
  • 1 tablespoon New Mexico chili powder
  • 1/2 cup chopped cilantro
  • 1/2 cup chicken stock
  • 6 ounces cremini mushrooms, medium cube
  • 1 – 12 ounce package chooped spinach, squeezed dry
  • 1 – 8 ounce package shredded colby-jack cheese
  • 4 ounces goat cheese
  • 24 corn tortillas
  • Red enchilada sauce, recipe follows
  • Green enchilada sauce, recipe follows


Heat oil in a large heavy. Add venison meat, chopped onion and chopped garlic, season with salt and pepper and brown the meat, stirring occasionally. Add mushrooms and spinach and cook for 3-4 minutes until mushrooms are brown. Add chili powder and cilantro. Deglaze this with the chicken stock. Removed from heat and allow to cool.

For the Red enchilada sauce:

  • 2 tablespoons canola oil
  • 1 tablespoon flour
  • 1/4 cup New Mexico chili powder
  • 2 cups chicken stock
  • 1/4 cup tomato paste
  • 2 – 8 ounce cans tomato sauce
  • 1 tsp garlic paste
  • 1 tablespoon grated onion
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tsp cocoa powder
  • 1 ounce chocolate
  • 1/8 tsp cinnamon


In a medium saucepan heat oil, add flour, smoothing and stirring with a wooden spoon. Cook for 1 minute. Add chili powder, tomato paste, onion and cook for a minute. Add stock, tomato sauce, oregano, cumin, cinnamon, cocoa powder, and chocolate. Stir to combine. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low and cook for 15 minutes. The sauce will thicken and smooth out. Adjust the seasonings.

For the Green enchilada sauce:

  • 1/2 onion chopped
  • 1 tsp garlic
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 cup chopped cilantro
  • 1 jar green Goya enchilada sauce


In a medium saucepan heat 1 tsp canola oil, add onion, garlic and cumin. Cook for 3-4 minutes until onions are translucent. Add Goya enchilada sauce and cilantro. Stir to combine. Cook for 5 minutes.


Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

Soften corn tortillas in a microwave oven, wrapped in a damp cloth for 20 seconds on high, until soft and pliable. Spoon 2 to 3 tablespoons of venison mix into center of tortilla and top with cheese and roll. Place rolled enchiladas into a lightly oiled baking dish, seam side down.

For Green Enchiladas: Smother with green enchilada sauce and sprinkle with colby-jack cheese and goat cheese crumbles.

For Red Enchiladas: Smother with red enchilada sauce and sprinkle with colby-jack cheese.

Cover and bake for 20 minutes.


Spotlight Montréal: Meat Market (Chicken Sandwich with Harissa Mayo)

Spotlight Montréal: Meat Market


I had just returned from Québec City and was on the hunt for a seat outside, a glass of wine and a wifi connection. It had been several days with no internet and I was having withdrawals (and I had a TON of photos I needed to go through).

The Meat Market fit the bill with a decent wine selection and a perfect table for me on the sidewalk. The sweet potato fries I spied on another diners table didn’t hurt either.

I decided on the “East Meats West” sandwich as it was a flavor combination I’d never considered: Grilled chicken marinated in cinnamon & orange with harissa mayonnaise. I was so impressed with the combination it sent me on a 2 day hunt for harissa in Dallas. I finally found it at World Foods but Central Market now has it back in stock.

Harissa is a North African hot red sauce or paste. Main ingredients are chili peppers (often smoked or dried), garlic, coriander, caraway, or cumin, and usually olive oil.

The heat in harissa is not a painful heat…. it’s quite addictive. When I recreated this recipe I had a few friends over for a chilly evening on the patio. On the first bite my good friend Rhonda said “At first I thought oooh it’s spicy… and I want more”. It’s good stuff.


  • 2 chicken breasts
  • ciabatta bread or rolls
  • 1/4 head red cabbage – cut into 1 inch pieces
  • 2 tbsp. apple cider vinegar
  • salt & pepper

For the marinade:

  • 1 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp. ground coriander
  • Juice of 1/2 orange
  • Zest of one orange
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 tbsp. olive oil

For the harissa mayo:

  • 1/4 cup mayonnaise
  • 1-2 tsp. harissa paste
  • 1 tsp. lemon juice


In a large plastic bag combine marinade ingredients (cinnamon, coriander. orange juice, orange zest, garlic & olive oil). Add chicken and marinade in the refrigerator for 4 hours or overnight. When ready to grill, remove from marinade and salt & pepper chicken. Grill or bake until cooked through and let rest for 10 minutes. Slice into pieces for sandwich.

In a medium skillet add cabbage and vinegar and cook on medium until cabbage is wilted but still has a small bite to it. Salt & pepper to taste.

For mayo: combine mayo, harissa and lemon juice. Set aside until ready to assemble sandwich.

To assemble sandwich spread mayo on both sides. Add a layer of cabbage on the bottom and top with the chicken breasts.

Serves 4

Spotlight Montréal: Patati Patata (Sundried Tomato, Balsamic and Coriander Vinaigrette)

Patati Patata

location: 4177 boulevard Saint-Laurent, Montréal, QC

Every trip I take has “the list” and this list contains the essential places I want to eat. Most often the list is comprised of places well known by locals and cuisine I can’t get at home. I do my research as nothing is more disappointing, albeit to me, than suffering through a mediocre meal when a mouthwatering meal is two doors down.

The infamous Patati Patata was at the top of my list of local favorites. It is SMALL with just two tables and one short counter. No one seems to mind and I wouldn’t change a thing. It’s also cheap – hard to spend $10 for food and a glass of the local St. Amboise beer on tap.

I must admit I have a soft spot for this place after meeting a few of the master grillers the previous night at my favorite Montréal bar: Quai des Brumes. We shared some libations and they included me in their celebration of Mathieu’s upcoming voyage. As luck would have it I got an invite to dinner on the following night and witnessed his last call on his last shift after 7 years at the Patati. Mathieu’s loyal diners were in tow to wish him bon voyage.

The food was better than good. It was fantastic. Burger, fries and salad seem to be a favorite and I was not disappointed. In fact, I went back the next night for more. On a tip from my lovely local I had the fish sandwich (done on the grill not fried) and more salad, which is the honest reason for my return. I became an addict for the salad dressing. Sundried tomato, balsamic and coriander is my favorite of the two very creative dressings they serve. Sour cream, basil & sesame oil being the other equally creative dressing.

I’ve been home 1 week and have tried to recreate it twice. This last try was the closest I’ve come until I can get back to Montréal and sweet talk my remaining new friends at the Patati for the recipe. The secret is the coriander and I ground it fresh as I had coriander seeds waiting to be used for something special.

Until I return to the Patati this will be my tasty reminder. Enjoy!


  • 1/4 cup sundried tomatoes packed in olive oil
  • 1/3 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1 tablespoon shallot
  • 1 tablespoon red bell pepper
  • 3/4 teaspoon freshly ground coriander seeds
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/2 cup olive oil


In a food processor whiz the sundried tomatoes and garlic until fine. Do not puree – it needs to have some texture. Place the pulp in a jar or container you can store in the refrigerator when done. Next add the shallot and red bell pepper to the food processor and whiz until chopped very fine. Add to the jar with the balsamic vinegar, ground coriander, salt and pepper. Add the olive oil to the jar and shake to combine. Store in the refrigerator.