In the Spirit of Mother’s Day!

How do you thank a woman for being your friend, protector, supervisor, guidance counselor, stylist, and above all overseer, aka, Mom….you make her a strawberry tart with a marzipan cake and a sugar cookie pastry….of course flowers are always welcome!

Strawberry Marzipan Tart


1/3 recipe sugar dough, recipe follow
1/2 pound unsalted butter, slightly softened
1/2 cup sugar
3 eggs
1 tablespoon Cassis
1 teaspoon almond extract
2 cups ground almonds
1/4 cup currant jelly, melted
2 baskets strawberries, green tops cut off flat


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.On a floured surface, roll the pastry 3/8-inch thick and line a 10-inch flan ring with it. Place the ring on a parchment paper lined baking sheet and chill it until needed.Cream the butter and sugar lightly in an electric mixer; don’t let the butter get too soft. Add the eggs and mix lightly. Stir in the liqueur, and almond extract, then mix in the ground almonds. Pour into the chilled pastry shell and bake for 1 hour or until golden brown. Remove the tart from the oven and let cool to room temperature. Brush the top of the tart with the currant jelly. Arrange the strawberries cut side down on the tart. Remove the flan ring and transfer the tart to a flat serving platter. Cut into wedges.

Sugar Cookie Dough:

2 sticks butter, slightly softened
3 cups all purpose flour
Pinch of salt
1/4 cup sugar
1 egg yolk
1 – 2 tablespoon heavy cream

Cut the butter into large pieces and place in the food processor with the flour, salt, and sugar. Mix until just incorporated.  Add the egg yolk and cream, continue to mix until the dough pulls away from the sides of the bowl. Remove the dough, flatten, wrap in plastic and refrigerate for at least 2 hours.





Sunny Rum Punch!


Seaside Sunrise

Seaside Sunrise Rum Punch

  • 2 cups pineapple juice
  • 2 cups orange-mango juice
  • 2 cups passion fruit–flavored rum
  • 1 cup cranberry juice cocktail
  • 2 tablespoons grenadine
  • 1 (750-milliliter) bottle sparkling water (optional)
  • Garnishes: orange and lime slices

Combine first 5 ingredients and chill.  Serve with sparkling water floating on top.

Cocktails for a crowd. Here are 7 other Summertime drink recipes from Coastal Living.

Photo: Jennifer Davick





Spring Evening Dining

Although still a bit chilly, Spring evenings are generally warm enough for al fresco dining with a sweater.  There is nothing more engaging than conversations around the table, meal completed, candles glowing….

Elegant and Easy this Pork Tenderloin will be the hit of the evening.

Pork Tenderloin in Puff Pastry


1 whole egg

1 tablespoon water

½ apple finely diced

1 T butter

1 whole pork tenderloin, approximately 1 pound

4 1/2 ounces thinly slice prosciutto

1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme leaves

1 teaspoon flour

1 sheet puff pastry, thawed completely

1 tablespoon whole-grain mustard


Place a rack in the upper third of the oven and heat to 400 degrees F.

Whisk the egg and water in a small bowl and set aside.  Saute the apples in the butter just until tender, 3 mins or so.  Slice the tenderloin down the middle lengthwise, creating 2 separate pieces. Lay the tenderloin pieces next to each other head to tail, so when laid back together they are the same size at the ends.

Lay out a 12 by 16-inch piece of parchment paper on the counter and arrange the pieces of prosciutto in the center, overlapping them enough to create solid layer that is as long as the tenderloin. Top with a second piece of parchment, and using a rolling pin,  roll over the prosciutto to help adhere the pieces to each other. Remove the parchment paper and sprinkle the prosciutto with the salt, pepper, and thyme. Set the tenderloin down the middle of the prosciutto. Spread the diced apples in between the 2 pieces of tenderloin and push back together so the apples are held between them. Using the parchment paper to assist, wrap the proscuitto around the tenderloin to completely enclose in a package.

Sprinkle the counter with flour and roll out the pastry to 12 by 14 inches. Spread the mustard thinly in the center of pastry and lay the prosciutto wrapped tenderloin in the center of the pastry on the mustard. Fold the puff pastry up and over the top of the tenderloin, then roll to completely enclose, brushing the edges of the pastry with the egg wash in order to seal. Turn the tenderloin over so the side of the tenderloin with the double thickness of pastry is underneath. Pinch the ends of the pastry to seal.

Brush the entire pastry with the egg wash. Place the tenderloin on a parchment lined half sheet pan and bake for 25 to 30 minutes or until the pork reaches an internal temperature of at least 140 degrees F.

Remove the tenderloin from the oven, transfer to a cooling rack and let rest for 10 minutes before slicing and serving.


Perfect Breakfast!

Eggs En Cocotte With Spinach & Prosciutto Fingers - Breakfast

Eggs En Cocotte with Spinach Puree & Prosciutto Fingers



  • 6 slices prosciutto, halved lengthways
  • 6 breadsticks


  • 2 T Butter
  • 1 Box Frozen chopped spinach
  • 6 T Crème fraiche
  • 2 T Finely-chopped chives
  • Salt and freshly ground black peppper
  • 6 Eggs
  • 1 C Gruyere cheese finely grated


  1. For the prosciutto fingers, wrap 2 strips of prosciutto ham around each bread stick and set aside.
  2. Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Butter 6 ramekins or similar-sized ovenproof dishes. Place the frozen chopped spinach in a saucepan and cook over a low heat, stirring, until the spinach has melted into a purée. Turn up the heat and cook the spinach until there is no watery residue. Remove from the heat and stir in 5 tablespoons of the crème fraiche and the chopped chives. Season well.
  3. Spoon the spinach purée into the base of each ramekin; crack the egg into each one. Mix the grated cheese with remaining tablespoon of crème fraiche. Carefully place a small amount of the cheese mixture on top of the eggs. Place the ramekins in a roasting tin and pour in enough boiling water to come halfway up the sides of the ramekins.
  4. Cook in the oven for 12-14 minutes, or until the yolks feel just firm to the touch. Serve immediately with prosciutto fingers on the side.


I found this recipe originally in House & Garden and have adapted it to my taste. You can use polenta in place of the spinach puree for a variation of taste. Both work perfectly with the eggs. Just make sure you don’t overcook the yolks so you can dip the bread sticks in the yummy yolk.


Lamb & Egg Frisee!


Burger Heaven!

The other night we were trying to figure out what we wanted for dinner. More often than not, at least one member of the family is determinative enough in their food craving that they pipe up immediately. But it was the end of the week and fatigue was definitely weighing heavy in the room. Left up to me, I always go with breakfast for dinner…my kids favorite. We used to have it all the time when Dad was traveling. However now that the kids are adults, their culinary tastes are a bit more sophisticated. So I came up with this recipe for Grilled Lamb Burgers on a bed of Spicy Aioli dressed Frisee with a Fried Egg and Sweet Potato Fries.  Nothing was left on the plate!

It’s easy and very satisfying. You can use any type of ground meat, turkey or chicken you like. However if you go with a white meat turkey or chicken I would add a couple of tablespoons of olive oil because you need a little bit of fat for moisture in the burger.


Lamb Burger Frisee

For 4 servings


2 lbs ground lamb

1 teaspoon cumin

1 teaspoon coriander

1 clove garlic minced

1 teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon pepper

Mix the ingredients into patties and let them sit while you prep the Aioli.

Spicy Aioli:

In a food processor add the following-

1 anchovy fillet

1 egg yolk

1 teaspoon red pepper flake chili sauce

1 teaspoon Sirachi (optional for more heat)

1 teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon pepper

2 tablespoons lemon juice

Mix these ingredients together and then slowly pour in ½ c olive oil

½ cup olive oil. Cover and refrigerate for 10 minutes while you finish the prep.

Grill the burgers to medium rare, cover and let them sit.

Toss the Frisee with a small amount of the Aioli. A little goes a long way, nothing worse than drenched greens.

Fry your eggs. You can poach them if you prefer.

Prepare your plates with a handful of Frisee, then the Burger, the Egg and a drizzle of the Aioli.

We served them with store bought Sweet Potato fries, from bag to oven and they were terrific!

Salmon Smoked & Succulent!


So before you discount this recipe because it sounds complicated, I guarantee you it is not. Everytime I make this I swear I’m going to double the amount I prepare so I can have some in the fridge for a salad or snack the next day. The fish is succulent, sweet and spicey with a wonderful smoke to it. Here I served it with roasted organic carrots and onions. spicey green beans and a saffron rice with curried lentils. Hmm, yum!

Here’s the recipe:

Spice Rub for the Salmon:

1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup dark brown sugar, lightly packed
Kosher salt
1 tablespoon coarsely ground black peppercorns
2 teaspoons grated lemon zest (1 lemons)

1 teaspoon smoked paprika

1 teaspoon chili powder

1 teaspoon coriander

1 tablespoon fresh thyme

2 pounds King salmon fillets, skin on, cut in serving pieces
3 cups wood chips such as oak, hickory, or mesquite
2 large, flat disposable foil pans

Fresh Dill Sauce:

¼  cup mayonnaise
¼  cup sour cream
¼  cup plain yogurt
1 tablespoon room temp cream cheese

2 scallions chopped
¼  cup minced fresh dill
¼  cup minced fresh flat-leaf parsley
1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
½ c chopped cucumber


The night before serving, combine the ingredients for the spice rub. Place the salmon fillets skin-side down on a large flat ceramic or glass dish and spread the mixture on the top of the salmon. Cover the dish with plastic wrap and refrigerate.

At least 1 1/2 hours before you plan to cook the salmon, soak the wood chips in water.


If you are using a gas grill put your drained wood chips either in a small smoker box or an aluminum foil tin and place them at one end of the grill. On the other end of the barbecue place another foil pan with 1 cup of water under the grates you will use for the salmon. This will collect any drippings avoiding flare ups. You don’t want flare ups with wood chips close by even though they are soaked with water. Just a word of caution.

Scrape the spice rub mixture off the salmon and re-season with coarse ground pepper and salt. Brush the skin side of the salmon lightly with olive oil and place the skin-side down on the opposite side of the grill away from the wood chips but directly over the foil pan. Put the lid on the grill, making sure the top and bottom vents are open. Smoke the salmon for 10 – 15 minutes or just until the fish is firm but still slightly springy to the touch.

Transfer the salmon to a clean platter and immediately cover tightly with aluminum foil. Allow to rest for 10 minutes before serving.

The fish is so tasty on it’s own but if you are someone that needs a sauce, this one is light and compliments the smoke really well.


Dill Sauce:

Place the mayonnaise, sour cream, yogurt, cream cheese, scallions, dill, parsley, lemon zest, lemon juice, 2 teaspoons salt, and 1 teaspoon pepper in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the steel blade. Puree for a few seconds, until well mixed. Add the cucumber and puree for another few seconds, until combined. Pour into a container and refrigerate for a few hours to allow the flavors to develop.

Meatloaf you say?


Yesterday I made the best meat loaf ever!

Now I understand that everyone who loves meatloaf has their own version. It’s a dish,  like other comfort foods, which must be recreated the way we remember our mothers’ made it. So some people like it wrapped in bacon, others prefer it drenched in tomato sauce or ketchup, some like it dense, others might prefer it permeated with onions. I’ve never, until now, created it to my liking so it’s never really been a go to dinner for me.  But with the torrential rain, a roaring fire and a request from my husband for one of his favorite foods, I endeavored to create my version of meat loaf.  It was sooo good I’m sharing it with you.

I served the meat loaf with roasted potatoes that I sliced almost all the way through to create a fan look, rubbed them with olive oil, lemon thyme and sea salt and roasted them on a baking sheet. In the same oven as the potatoes  I roasted brussel sprouts that I tossed with olive oil and salt in a cast iron skillet.   They all took the same amount of time to cook which made the timing of the dinner perfect! I made the meat loaf in individual sized loaves primarily because my daughter is a genius and she thought they would be cute! She was right, they were.

Just a note the leaner the beef you buy the less fat the meatloaf sits in while it cooks. I placed the meatloaves on parchment paper while they cooked in a 350 degree oven.  The potatoes and brussel sprouts cooked at 400. Total cooking time for all 40 – 50 minutes depending on how accurate your oven is. Really a terrific meal…tonight meatloaf sandwiches on cracked wheat sourdough!

IMG_1853      IMG_1856

Furstman Family Meatloaf!


3 lbs lean ground beef

1 tablespoon chopped, fresh chives, plus 1 teaspoon for the sauce

1 tablespoon chopped, fresh thyme leaves, plus 1 teaspoon for the sauce

1 tablespoon chopped, fresh Italian parsley, plus 1 teaspoon for the sauce

3 large eggs

1 1/3 cups finely ground Panko

1 T pesto

¼ c parmesan cheese

2/3 cup ricotta

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper

Olive oil

1/2 lb sliced mushrooms

1 large onion diced

2 cups beef stock

3 cloves of garlic

1/2 c red wine

2 tablespoons butter, at room temperature


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Place the chives, thyme, parsley, eggs, Panko, ricotta, pesto, garlic, Parmesan, salt and pepper in a large mixing bowl.

Heat a medium saute pan over medium-high heat add 1 T olive oil and when the oil is hot add the onions to the pan and cook until lightly browned. Remove onion from the pan and let cool. When the mixture is cool, incorporate with the other ingredients.

Add the meat to the mixture and gently blend the ingredients until everything is evenly mixed together but don’t mash it to pieces. Place a piece of parchment paper on a sheet pan. Shape the meat into a loaf. I like to make individual loafs about 5 inches by 3 inches. Place the sheet pan in the oven and bake 40 to 50. Remove the meatloaf from the oven and let it rest for 10 minutes.

While the meatloaf is cooking sauté 1/2 lb of sliced mushrooms in 2 T of butter until they are nicely browned on the edges. Deglaze the pan with 1/2 c of red wine and reduce it until almost nothing is left. Add the broth and simmer for about 10 to 15 minutes, or until lightly thickened. Add 1 teaspoon of each of the chopped thyme, chives and parsley. If you prefer the sauce thicker, sprinkle in 1 T of flour whisking as you add to avoid lumps.

Serve the meatloaf with a spoonful or two of the mushroom herb sauce.








Top 10 Restaurants in Napa or Dinner at Home?

The Boon Fly Cafe at The Carneros Inn

You’ve suddenly discovered that you have a free weekend and want to wander up to the valley of locally grown, exquisitely presented, phenomenal cuisine that provides a diversification of wineries that would make France blush. Napa Valley has just posted it’s top 10 Restaurants as well as the top 10 in the North Valley and top 10 Downtown. No need to query where to eat, provided you can get a reservation, here is the link to the regions top picks. My favorites, Auberge and La Toque.

However if you would rather  stay home and enjoy our beautiful weather this weekend. I have a wonderful Pasta and Home-made Sausage recipe that will satisfy your culinary craving. Now before you stumble on the thought of making your own sausage, it’s incredibly easy and you can season it anyway you like.  I use ground pork but you can easily use chicken, turkey or beef.

Here’s the recipe:



1 lb ground pork

½ t baking soda

1 tsp thyme

1 tsp sage

2 t parmesan cheese

1 clove garlic

1 tsp salt

1 tsp pepper

2 T water



Dissolve salt, baking soda in water. Add pork and mash the mixture with the back of a wooden spoon to combine.  Let sit for 10 minutes.


Add the garlic, thyme, sage, parmesan cheese and 1 t pepper and smear until tacky in nature about 15 seconds will do it. The smearing technique creates the snappy texture of sausage. It stretches the meats proteins to form a strong network which creates the consistency you want.

Pasta & Sausage


Recipe for Sausage

1 clove garlic

½ lb mushrooms finely diced

2 T olive oil

1 c heavy cream

1 lb dried pasta (whichever shape you prefer, farfalle, orecchiette, rotelli)

½ c white wine

¾ c parmesan cheese

2 T fresh chopped parsley

1 t fresh Thyme

½ t salt

½ t pepper



* Heat the olive oil in a sauté pan to medium high and add the sausage to the hot oil breaking it apart as it cooks. Once it is nicely brown on both sides remove the sausage and add it to the heavy cream, set aside.

* To the empty sauté pan add the mushrooms, cook 5 – 7 minutes until nicely brown. Don’t salt them while they are browning because this will draw out their water and the mushrooms won’t brown. Add the garlic, thyme, ½ t salt, ½ t pepper and cook for 30 seconds.  Add the wine scraping up the brown bits that have accumulated on the bottom of the sauté pan and reduce until evaporated. 

* Cook the pasta until al dente.  Reserve 1 cup of the cooking liquid, drain the pasta and return it to the pot.

* Stir in the sausage and cream mixture with ½ cup of the reserved pasta water, simmer for 3 minutes until the consistency will coat the back of a spoon. If the sauce becomes too thick or if you have made it ahead and reheat it add the remainder of the pasta water. Turn off the heat and add the parmesan cheese. Toss with the pasta and parsley.


Note: if you would like to add asparagus, brocolini or kale sauté the vegetable with the mushrooms until tender.  You may also add red pepper flakes to the recipe if you want it a bit spicy.  This can be done when you sauté the vegetables.

Wine and Beef make?

Yesterday was National Drink Wine Day….so in honor of that I am sharing one of my favorite go to, heart warming, phenomenal tasting, beef braises (I like that word better than stew).  Now the first secret to making a tender braise is to not buy the “stew” meat they sell in the market because it’s generally just butchers’ scraps. Which means that there is loin meat in the mix and that particular cut of meat doesn’t lend itself to low and slow cooking. If you use loin meat your braise will be stringy and tough. The optimal cut for a slow braise is a Beef Chuck Roast, a Pork Butt (which really is the Shoulder),  or a Lamb Shoulder. Here’s my recipe tenderly adapted over the ages! Please enjoy it’s been perfected to a tee.


Beef Braise (Stew, Bourgignon, Ragout de Beouf)


1T olive oil

8 ounces applewood smoked bacon, diced

2 – 3  pounds chuck roast (I leave mine whole but you can easily cut it into cubes for a more stew appearance)

Kosher salt

Freshly ground black pepper

3 carrots, sliced in half diagonally

2 carrots cut in small 1/2″ pieces

1 yellow onion, diced

3 cloves garlic

1/2 cup Cognac

2 cups good red wine

2 cups beef broth

1 tablespoon tomato paste

3 sprigs fresh thyme

3 springs fresh parsley

2 tablespoons unsalted butter at room temperature

2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

1 pound frozen whole onions

1 pound fresh mushrooms quartered

Fresh parsley, chopped for garnish


Preheat the oven to 250 degrees F.

Heat the olive oil in a large Dutch oven. Add the bacon and cook over medium heat for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the bacon is lightly browned. Remove the bacon with a slotted spoon to a large plate.

Season the meat with salt and pepper.  Add the oil to the Dutch oven and sear the Roast on both sides. You want a really nice brown sear to the meat. Remember brown means flavor.  Remove the beef and add to the plate with the bacon and  Set aside.

Toss the halved carrots, halved celery and diced onions into the pan and cook for 12 minutes, stirring occasionally until the vegetables are nicely caramelized. Add 1 t of salt and 1/2 t pepper. Add the tomato paste and brown slightly for 2 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for an additional minute.  Stir everything together and add the Cognac, let it simmer for 2 minutes. Pour in the wine and cook for 3 minutes then pour in the stock and bring everything to a simmer.  Put the meat and bacon back into the pot with any juices that collected. Tie the thyme and parsley together in a bundle and add them to the pot. Put the lid on and place it in the over for 2 1/2  hours.

Take the carrots, the celery and the thyme/parsley bundle out of the braise. Combine 2 tablespoons of butter and the flour with a fork and stir into the stew. Add the frozen onions, the mushrooms and the 2 carrots you chopped earlier. Bring the stew to a boil on top of the stove, then lower the heat and simmer for 15 minutes. Season to taste.

Sprinkle with the parsley, taste and add salt and pepper to taste.

Note: I discard the carrots and the celery from the braise because they are too soft for my palette. They do taste wonderful though because my husband actually waits until I remove them from the pot and sneaks in the kitchen to eat them before I give them to the dogs with their dinner!

Now what to serve this wonderful dish with.  My daughter and I love polenta, my sons love mashed potatoes and my husband loves a pappradelle pasta.  A Kale salad with a classic vinaigrette, a Kuleto Zinfandel, your family and life doesn’t get any better. This is a great Sunday night Family dinner.