Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Easter Eggs

Years ago I planned this fabulous Easter picnic in Sonoma. It was a gorgeous blue-sky day and I couldn't wait to enjoy it outdoors with friends.  I packed up a big picnic basket with lots of delicious food, including my famous deviled eggs.  I was carrying the basket to the picnic table with ease until the container holding the deviled eggs somehow inadvertently got turned over.  When we opened the container, instead of the deviled eggs looking like this photo, they looked more like egg salad!  The best part, everyone said, “They still taste good!”

Enjoy springtime!


6 large eggs
2 tablespoons homemade or prepared mayonnaise
2 tablespoons non-fat yogurt
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
1 clove garlic, minced
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon cayenne
1/4 teaspoon sweet paprika
2 green onions, finely diced
1/4 small red bell pepper, roasted, 1/4" dice
1 very small pinch saffron threads
2 teaspoons boiling water
salt and freshly ground pepper
1 tablespoon finely snipped fresh chives

Fill a large saucepan three-fourths full of water and bring to a boil over high heat.  Reduce the heat to medium, add the eggs and boil, 10 minutes.  Remove the eggs and plunge them in a bowl of ice water.   Let the eggs cool 30 minutes.

In the meantime,  combine the mayonnaise,  yogurt, mustard, garlic, lemon juice, cayenne, paprika, green onions and red pepper.  Place the saffron in a small bowl and pour the boiling water over the saffron to moisten it.  Add the saffron and water to the mayonnaise mixture.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Peel the eggs and cut each egg in half from top to bottom.  Place the yolks in a bowl and with a fork mash them and break them into small pieces.   Add the yolks to the mayonnaise mixture.  Reserve the whites.   Spoon the egg mixture into the hallows of the egg white, distributing evenly.  Sprinkle with chives.

Serves 6

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Happy 20th "From Tapas to Meze"

I can hardly believe how fast 20 years go by.  I was such a tyke in the cooking field.  I'd just left Chez Panisse and was excited to write my first book.  It was a huge endeavor and in retrospect, I was so naive.  I loved small plates and that's mainly what I made when I worked at Chez Panisse.  It spurred an idea;- a very ambitious one, but still, an idea for a book.  

I decided that I wanted to write a book about small plates from the Mediterranean.  I left for Spain and tasted tapas from La Rioja in the north, east to Barcelona and then far south to Cadiz and the Strait of Gibraltar.  Then it was on to Morocco for an extended tour from Marrakech through the desert to Fez and beyond.  There I sampled flavors like nothing I'd ever had before.  Although I'd been to Provence numerous times, still I added Antibes, Nice and Bandol to the itinerary.   I don't think I realized how immense Italy is until I traveled (and ate!) from Puglia to Sicily and Sardinia and then all the way north to Cinque Terre, Venice and the Piedmont.  I spent Greek Easter on the island of Zakynthos in western Greece eating  spit-roasted lamb, tzatziki and the best rolled grape leaves and then traveled from Athens to Thessaloniki to taste every meze I could get my hands on.  And finally I traversed Turkey from Istanbul and south to Izmir, Pamukkale and Goreme.  I sailed the coast for two weeks from Bodrum to Marmaris tasting every kind of fruit the sea had to offer.  

What started out as a simple little idea of small plates eaten along the Mediterranean turned into a trip of a lifetime.  The generosity and sharing I experienced and everything I learned along the way made this one of the most rewarding journeys I've ever had.  The best part?  Learning that tapas, antipasti and meze are so much more than just a few small plates of food.  It's a lifestyle.  Along the Mediterranean people don't drink without eating something.  Civilized, right?  But it's also a way to extend the dinner hour and spend time with friends and family talking about politics, the latest gossip and anything in between.  

In late March 1994, I opened the door to find a delivery man.  He handed me my first book wrapped in brown paper.  I remember it like it was a few minutes ago.  I tore off the paper and I bet my eyes were almost bugging out of my head.  I was holding a hard covered book with the title "From Tapas to Meze"  with my name printed boldly on the cover in my hands.

A week later I was celebrating my first born at the Ritz Carlton.  Gary Danko, my best chef friend, was the chef there at the time and he hosted a launch party.  It was the who's who of the food world.  I don't think my smile could have gotten much bigger.

Happy birthday, From Tapas to Meze and thanks to everyone who helped make it happen!


Click here and try one of my favorite recipes from the book and make sure to enjoy it with friends, family and wine, of course!

Friday, February 21, 2014

What’s Better Than a Girls Night?

Agave Girls Night! 

It all started years ago, when I was invited to the launch of a new tequila in a sexy square bottle at the infamous Tommy’s Mexican Restaurant in San Francisco.  The place was hopping!  As I looked around the room (filled mostly by men), I observed the camaraderie among these tequila aficionados.  But as I looked closer, I noticed a few women who were enthusiastically swirling and sipping and savoring tequila from snifters.  It was a revelation: Women are as passionate about tequila as men!   I banded together with the ladies that night and decided to start a group called the “Agave Girls”, for women who appreciate tequila. Ay caramba... it took off! Ten Speed Press asked me to write a book about tequila.  Featuring food recipes and cocktails from the best bartenders in the country, this meant lots of tequila research!   
All of this led to the margarita challenge with restaurateur, Larry Mindel, and the rest is history.

My restaurant, Copita!

It had been a while since the Agave Girls gathered together, and I thought we were overdue for a reunion.  So, last week, we made it happen.  Thirty women met at my restaurant, Copita Tequilaria y Comida!  Jaques Bezuidenhout from Partida Tequila got things started with a "Dr. T", a refreshing cocktail made of Partida Blanco, Dr. Loosen Riesling, lemon and agave nectar and a hint of Laphroaig 10yr single malt.  Delicious!  Then Chef Gonzalo and the team brought out shrimp tacos ingeniously wrapped in jicama tortillas with a lime tartar sauce.  Outstanding!  

Everyone sat down to a flight of Partida tequilas and we had a lesson in tequila production and aging while the cooks created our next courses.  Then came the cocktail to end all cocktails:  the Partida Ruby, a surprising concoction of Anejo Tequila, Ruby Port, cinnamon-chili agave nectar and lemon juice.  Everyone said “This tastes like the best Christmas present!”  From Fried Oyster Tacos,  Duck Confit Tacos with Tamarind Mole to Goat Birria, everything paired well with tequila (arguably, the most food-friendly spirit there is!). 

We finished up with  Dulce de Leche Mexican Coke Floats, Coconut Flan and  Cara Cara Granita.  The show stopper was the final glass of Partida Elegante.  Rumor has it, it’s $350.00 if you want to spring for a bottle.  Better yet, join us at the next Agave Girls event on none other than tax day, April 15!

Can't wait to see you ladies there*!

*Contact Copita to reserve your space.

Copita Tequileria y Comida

Address: 739 Bridgeway, Sausalito, CA 94965
Phone:(415) 331-7400

Friday, February 14, 2014


Warm Strawberry Soufflé

Love is like Food

“Love is like Food.  There is a hunger in our hearts that needs it.  There are as many flavors as there are people.  For love is practically everyone’s favorite dish…  If you take your time, work hard, and keep it fresh, you will have a true masterpiece.  You will have true love.”  -Kasey Szamatul

Happy Valentine's Day!

PS  Find recipes for the Warm Strawberry Soufflé pictured above and more here: 

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

The best part of Christmas

When I was a kid I used to count the days, even the minutes until
Christmas. I loved everything about it, singing Christmas carols,
shopping, the snowy cold New England weather, making all kinds
of cookies and of course, the presents. To be really honest, I didn't like 
decorating the tree but all the other stuff was right up my alley.

Christmas Eve was more than I could handle. We always went to my
grandparents in the Berkshire hills of Western Massachusetts. The
adults loved the food and all the jabber around the table. Us kids
loved playing and of course opening presents.  I remember all the way
home I used to look into the sky looking for a Santa sighting.  I
never saw him!  Me and my sisters and brother couldn't wait until we
got home, dying to crawl into bed and wait for Santa.

I still Iove the spirit of Christmas and just like the big folks at my
grandparents on Christmas Eve, I love the food and all the jabber
around the table.  Mostly what I love is getting together with friends and 
family.  I guess that what it means to grow up.
Have a very Merry Christmas!


Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Happy Thanksgivikkah!

I always loved Latkes... my family just called them potato pancakes.  When I was a kid, we had them every Friday night.  We ate potato pancakes hot out of the frying pan topped with a big dollop of creamy cottage cheese,  You see, my Dad’s side of the family came from Lithuania in Eastern Europe and this was the food my grandmother made.  My Dad loved them.  

This year, when I asked my brother what he wanted me to bring for Thanksgiving, he said, “Appetizers!” .  I thought long and hard about what I wanted to make and finally came up with the perfect thing.  Since Thanksgiving and the first day of Hanukkah fall on the same day this year,  I thought latkes or potato pancakes, would be the perfect appetizer to celebrate the double holiday.

On Thanksgiving day, as I slide those crispy, golden potato pancakes out of the pan and onto the platter and top them with a spoonful of crème fraiche and a thin slice of smoked salmon, I’ll think of you Dad and give thanks to the wonderful family I grew up with.   

Here's my recipe.  Hope you enjoy these as much as I do: 


4 baking potatoes
3 whole large eggs, whisked together
1/3 cup beer
¼ onion, finely diced
½ cup all purpose flour
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
½ cup canola oil
Smoked salmon 6 ounces, thinly sliced
Crème fraiche

Peel the potatoes and grate them by hand into a bowl.  Let sit 30 minutes.  Drain and place the potatoes in a bowl.  Add the eggs, beer, onion and flour.  Season with salt and pepper.

Heat  half of the canola oil in a large non-stick frying pan over medium high heat.  Add a few tablespoons of the potato mixture and form into a pancake.  Cook until golden on one side, 2 minutes,  Turn and continue to cook until golden on the other side, 2 to 3 minutes.

Drain on paper towels.  Garnish with salmon, a dollop of crème fraiche and chives.  Serve immediately if they make it out of the kitchen!

Serves 8 to 10 

Happy Thanksgiving and Happy Hanukkah!

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Mom and the perfect roast holiday turkey

Remembering the Thanksgiving traditions of a childhood in New England and a mom who, it seemed, could do it all.

As a kid growing up in New England, Thanksgiving meant heading to school dressed like a pilgrim and looking forward to a few extra days to spend at home with family.  Since Mom was a professional chef, we took Thanksgiving extra seriously.  This was the time the leaves turned colors and we had bushel baskets of McIntosh apples and butternut squash stored in the cellar. 
My mother started to prepare days before, shopping for ingredients and cooking anything that could be done ahead, like the filling for pumpkin pie and cranberry sauce. The night before Thanksgiving, my mother stayed up late making stuffing and flaky pie crust. My father always helped by peeling vegetables and us kids – we helped set the table.
On Thanksgiving Day, my Mom got up at dawn.  With only one oven, it was a juggling act.  I can still remember waking up to the smell of turkey roasting all the way upstairs in my room.
Probably because it focusses on food, Thanksgiving has always been a favorite holiday of mine.  Plus it brings back lots of great memories.  And now, every year when I smell the roasted turkey and mash potatoes, I always think of my mom and the joy she felt sharing the table with those who were closest to her heart. For this, and so many other great memories, I'm feeling quite thankful!
I would like share my tried-and-true method for making the most perfectly moist roast turkey. Be prepared, you have to start a few days in advance, but it’s well worth it.  Here you are:

Happy Thanksgiving!