Holiday dessert classic La Tarte Tatin from Julia Child

Watch the full episode. See more Julia Child.


God bless PBS. 

The educational TV channel has uploaded 28 Julia Child videos. 

And just in time for the holidays, you too can watch and learn to  make a classic ,  LaTarte Tatin, made with juicy, tart and tangy apples.

Bon appetit, now you may eat!

Charles Phoenix one-on-one with the Cherpumple


I was looking for the perfect holiday dessert and reading up on the new dessert trends - yes, cupcakes are so last year - when I discovered the answer to every dessert table dilemma. 

Serve a Cherpumple, a monster cake filled with already baked pies!

This frightening baking project fascinates and repels.  My son would love it, no doubt.

In fact,  this  gi-normous pie cake - made with box mix, can frosting and pre-made pies - presents a challenge.  Could the Cherpumple be refined? Would the Cherpumple lose its kitsch appeal if it was re-invented in a more delicate fashion using better ingredients?

Take the Cerpumple challenge and let us know.

Quick & easy no cook ice cream recipe


I love bargain shopping - so much so that I can't resist kitchen appliances that will let me make products I could more easily buy.

There was the fresh pasta maker I bought when a chain cooking store closed out. More recently, there was the tabletop ice cream freezer I bought for a whopping 50 percent off.

Today I broke that little ice cream churning machine in with a batch of no cook Mango ice cream. I modified a recipe for Vanilla ice cream that I found at the Eagle Brand website.

What a creamy, dreamy frozen treat!

Easy no cook mango ice cream

  • 1 cup half-and-half or light cream
  • 2 very ripe mangoes, peeled & pitted
  • 1 (14 oz.) can Eagle Brand® Sweetened Condensed Milk

Puree all ingredients in a food processor. Pour into the mixing canister of an electric ice cream freezer. Churn for 20-40 minutes or until desired consistency is achieved. Remove from canister and freeze well before serving.

Strawberry chocolate daifukumochi

Cute little mochi My son just came home from Tokyo bearing daifukumochi, Japanese sweets typically made from glutinous rice cake and red bean paste.

They are delicious!

Last year he brought me green tea flavor. This year's treat was strawberry chocolate.

I'm used to buying daifukumochi in the Asian markets, but they really aren't the same quality.

There's just a little something missing, texturally and flavor-wise.

These little bites are sublime, soft and slightly chewy, with the sweet tang of  strawberry tempered by a tiny but rich dark chocolate drop.  Amazing!

I love lemon bars!

Lemon bars lighter than air Fitness magazine proves less is indeed lusciously more with these lemon bars.

The recipe makes sixteen 100-calorie bars for a light and refreshing summer dessert that won't wreck your diet.

According to Kerry Neville, RD, a spokesperson for the American Dietetic Association, the butter used in this recipe is better in flavor and health benefits than margarine. 

Additionally, Neville says this recipe uses far fewer eggs for a lighter, healthier bar.

For the recipe, go to Slim Lemon Bars at

Red, White & Blue Desserts for the Fourth

Stained glass jello stars!

 It's a grand old flag and it jiggles! 

Look what the Browneyedbaker has done with Jello just in time for the Fourth of July.

I love the stained glass effect and how fun these cute little stars are for big and little kids alike. 

Want to make some of your own? Hop on over to BEB for the recipe and more festive pics.

Need more inspiration?

Over at Bon Appetit, they've got a slide show of patriotic desserts that make me want to grab my spoon and dig in - now.This dessert from Bon Appetit has start appeal (photo by Mark Thomas)

Their Orange Layer Cake with Buttercream Frosting and Fresh Berries has me pledging allegiance. Ditto for the Red Velvet Cake, also with berries of the red and blue persuasion.

For star appeal, try their recipe for White Balsamic Custard Tart with Fresh Berries.  Or perhaps the Strawberry-Blueberry Napoleons, another revolutionary dessert.

Happy Independence Day!

Rhubarb and Strawberry Shortcakes with Gingered Crème Fraîche recipe

The arrival of spring's first crops, rhubarb and strawberries, are a welcome reminder that the warmer months of summer are not far away. When you put the two together—juicy sweet strawberries and tart rhubarb—over freshly-baked shortcakes and top them with a silky, gingered cream topping, it's easy to create a simple and delicious dessert that everyone will love.

"Many people are intimidated by using fresh rhubarb in recipes, because they are just unfamiliar with how to prepare it. Yes, rhubarb is known to have a tart taste, but when paired with sweet spring strawberries, the best of both ingredients shine through," explains CIA Chef Stephen Durfee from The Culinary Institute of America at Greystone in California's Napa Valley. "The only caution for those making this dish at home is to be careful not to overcook the rhubarb, as it can get soft very quickly."

This new twist on how to make classic strawberry shortcake, was created to take advantage of both crops that are currently in season at supermarkets and farm stands everywhere. For those of you interested in pairing this treat with wine, Chef Durfee recommends serving it with a late-harvest Muscat, which provides another layer of fruity aroma.

If you are looking to take advantage of fresh strawberries and rhubarb, but don't feel like baking, you can always prepare the topping and serve it over your favorite store-bought biscuits as well.

These and more recipes are explained and illustrated in The Culinary Institute of America's Season's in the Wine Country (2010, Chronicle Books) cookbook available at bookstores nationwide or at

To watch CIA's Chef-Instructor Stephen Durfee demonstrate how to prepare Rhubarb and Strawberry Shortcakes with Gingered Crème Fraîche click here:

Rhubarb and Strawberry Shortcakes with Gingered Crème Fraîche

Makes 9 small square shortcakes or 8 small round shortcakes

click image for Hi-Res copyVanilla Shortcakes

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 2-inch section of a vanilla bean
  • 1 to 1 1/2 cups heavy cream
  • 3 tablespoons melted butter


  • 1 pound rhubarb, cut into 1/2-inch cubes (about 1 quart)
  • 3/4 to 1 cup sugar, depending upon desired sweetness
  • One 2-inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and halved (about 1 1/2 ounces)
  • 2 cardamom pods
  • 2 cups fresh strawberries, cut into 1/2-inch thick slices

Whipped Cream and Crème Fraîche with Ginger Chips

  • 1/2 cup crème fraîche
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 1/2 cup ginger chips or candied ginger, finely minced

For the shortcakes:

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 425°F.
  2. Sift the dry ingredients into a large mixing bowl. Slit the vanilla bean and, using a sharp paring knife, scrape the seeds into flour mixture. Stir the flour mixture to distribute the vanilla seeds.
  3. Starting with 1 cup of the cream, mix the cream into flour with a large wooden spoon or silicone spatula. Add additional cream as necessary to take up all of the dry ingredients into a firm ball of dough with no dry spots; it should not be sticky.
  4. Turn the dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead about 20 times, until the dough becomes smooth, but not shiny, and firm but pliable. Pat the dough into a square approximately 9 x 9 inches. Cut the dough into nine 3-inch squares. Alternatively, use a 3-inch round cookie cutter, cutting circles as close as possible to one another and folding the scrap dough under the main dough.
  5. Brush each shortcake on both sides with a light coating of melted butter and place on an un-greased baking sheet. Place in the oven and bake until puffed and light golden, about 15 minutes.
  6. Place the shortcakes on a cooling rack and allow to cool completely.

For the rhubarb:

  1. Toss the rhubarb, sugar, ginger, and cardamom pods in a glass container. Cover and refrigerate overnight. Turn the mixture once or twice to evenly distribute the sugar.
  2. Place a fine-mesh sieve over a medium saucepan. Gently pour the rhubarb mixture through the sieve into the saucepan. Remove sieve with the rhubarb and place over a bowl. Remove and discard the ginger and cardamom.
  3. Bring the liquid and sugar in the saucepan to a boil over medium-high heat and cook, stirring gently, until all of the sugar is dissolved, about 3 minutes. Add the rhubarb to the saucepan and cook, stirring occasionally, until the rhubarb just begins to soften, about 3 to 4 minutes. Remove the rhubarb mixture from the heat and reserve at room temperature while preparing the whipped cream. Rhubarb will continue to soften as it sits.

For the whipped cream:

  1. Place the stainless steel bowl and whip attachment for an electric mixer in the freezer 10 minutes before whipping the cream. Place the crème fraîche, cream and sugar into the chilled bowl and whip on medium-high speed until soft peaks form, about 2 to 3 minutes. Gently stir in the ginger chips. Reserve until needed.
  2. Place the saucepan with rhubarb mixture back on the stove over medium-high heat. Add the strawberries and cook until the strawberries are just heated through but still firm, about 2 minutes. Tease shortcakes apart with a fork. Divide rhubarb and strawberry mixture between the shortcakes (about 1/2 cup per serving) and finish each shortcake with a small dollop of whipped cream.

Nutrition analysis for Rhubarb and Strawberry mixture per 1-ounce serving: 25 calories, 0g protein, 6g carbohydrate, 0g fat, 0mg sodium, 0mg cholesterol, 0g fiber.

Nutrition analysis for Shortcake serving: 260 calories, 4g protein, 27g carbohydrate, 16g fat, 210mg sodium, 50mg cholesterol, less than 1g fiber.

Nutrition analysis for Crème Fraîche per 1-ounce serving: 120 calories, 1g protein, 12g carbohydrate, 8g fat, 15mg sodium, 30mg cholesterol, 0g fiber.

I scream, you scream, we all scream for GELATO. That's right. In this house gelato reigns king.

We love ice cream. We do. But one bite of ultra-rich and creamy gelato turned our tastebuds forever.

When we were in Italy, if we felt tired or frustrated because we were the clueless Americans, we headed straight for the gelateria for a cup of happiness. Gelato - any flavor - makes everything all better. The perfect cure for every boo-boo or mishap.

Italian Notebook has more about the history of this wonderful treat.

    Gelato of one kind or another has been popular in Italy for thousands of years. After the Civil War in the     United States, Italian immigrants emerged in large cities as ice cream vendors called Hokey-Pokey         Men.

    The term "Hokey Pokey" presumably evolved from the Italian cry that the Italian vendors used as they         hawked their cheap ice cream. "Ecco un poco" they’d cry (that’s Italian for “here’s a little”), or "O che         poco" (Oh, how cheap). Hokey-pokey actually referred to cheap ice cream or ice milk.

Cool and creamy (photo courtesy of Italian Notebook)

Berry sweet brunch for Valentine sweethearts

Strawberry creme brulee

This year, Valentine’s Day falls on one of the least romantic days of the week: Sunday. But while Sunday may not shine in the romance department, it positively owns brunch. So let’s make the most of it, shall we?

Invite two or three couples over and celebrate the fact that cupid’s arrow finally hit its target and the pressure is off!

Start by setting the table with red and pink accessories like red carnations, candy hearts and vases filled with red and white M&M’S®. Use old-fashioned Valentine cards as place cards.

Now for the most important element – the food. Brunch is all about variety. So take the time to buy or prepare several dishes.

Fruit is a brunch staple. We happen to love incorporating raspberries and strawberries into the menu, not only for their color, but because they’re yummy and healthy, too. In fact, topping traditional pancakes or waffles with Fresh Raspberry Sauce instantly updates an old favorite. For a more savory menu item, try a Raspberry Ham Frittata or Goat Cheese and Strawberry Bruschetta.

We heart pink drinks! Valentine’s Day is the perfect time break out the Maker’s Mark and whip up a refreshing Belmont Breeze. And for those who don’t imbibe, try a simple strawberry smoothie.

What could possibly be sweeter than your sweetheart? That’d be dessert. Strawberry Crème Brulee is a fabulous treat that is as easy on the eyes as it is the taste buds.

Strawberry Crème Brulee

Prep time: 15 minutes
Bake time: 35 minutes
Makes 6 servings
Crème Brulee:

1 package (16 ounces) Driscoll’s Strawberries, hulled, divided
2 cups half and half
7 egg yolks
1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 cup light brown sugar, divided
Heat oven to 325°F. Place six 6-ounce ramekins in a roasting pan; set aside.  
Coarsely chop 4 strawberries and evenly divided in bottom of each ramekin. Bring half and half to a boil in a saucepot over medium heat. Whisk egg yolks, sugar and vanilla in a bowl 2 minutes or until golden yellow. Slowly whisk hot half & half into egg mixture. Divide among prepared ramekins. Pour enough hot water into roasting pan to reach halfway up sides of ramekins.
Bake 35 minutes or until edges of custard are set and center jiggles when ramekin is tapped. Remove from hot water bath and cool to room temperature. Cover each one with plastic wrap and refrigerate 2 hours or overnight.
Heat broiler. Press through a sieve 2 teaspoon light brown sugar evenly over the top of each custard. Arrange custards on a baking sheet and place 2 inches from source of heat. Broil until sugar melts and bubbles.
Top each with a strawberry halved.
Nutrition Per Serving: 285 calories, 13.26g total fat, 7.23 saturated fat, 6.33g protein, 31.85g carbohydrate, 284.74mg cholesterol, 1.03g fiber, 51.27mg sodium
Tip: lighten up the recipe by replacing half and half with milk

Making Baklava not as difficult as it seems

Deliciously easy to make buttery Baklava

From the first bite, I've always loved Baklava. It's a simple dessert with complex contrasts of flavor and texture - honeyed citrus and cinnamon, layers of papery-thin, buttery crust, and finely chopped nuts.

Years ago on a memorable date, my companion wanted to introduce me to the wonders of Mediterranean cooking.  He was so earnest and so completely charming, that I hadn't the heart to tell him I'd eaten already at the restaurant he proposed or that I was familiar with the cuisine.

Never one to disappoint someone, especially someone of the male persuasion, who is trying to make me happy, I never let on and my Prince Charming proceeded to wow me with his Greek restaurant, ordering all his favorites and finishing with the classic dessert.

I loved the way he seemed delighted to delight me, and I loved the honey-syrup drenched Baklava.

Although the love affair lasted only a brief moment, my passion for Greek food and the deceptively simple Baklava has lasted a lifetime.  Still, I'd never considered making Baklava. I always thought it would be too hard, having heard horror stories of phyllo's difficulty. 

The good news is that the dessert, while time-consuming, is not difficult at all and the results are sensational. Make some for your next gathering and your reputation as a domestic goddess will be firmly established.

This recipe is easily halved as well.


from Gourmet June 2004

Adapted from Eleni Theos Stelter

Resist the urge to chop the nuts in a food processor — it makes them release more oil, resulting in a heavier baklava.

Active time: 1 1/2 hr Start to finish: 12 hr (includes chilling and standing)

Yield: Makes 32 pieces


For syrup
2 cups sugar
2/3 cup water
1 lemon, halved
1 orange, halved
1 1/2 (3-inch) cinnamon sticks
2/3 cup honey

For baklava
3 1/4 cups whole almonds with skins (1 lb), finely chopped
2 1/3 cups walnuts (1/2 lb), finely chopped
1 1/4 cups sugar
1 tablespoon cinnamon
2 teaspoons freshly grated nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 sticks (1 1/2 cups) unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly
1 (1-lb) package phyllo dough (17 by 12 inches; about 28 sheets), thawed if frozen


Make syrup:

Combine sugar and water in a 2 1/2- to 3-quart saucepan. Squeeze juice from lemon and orange into sugar mixture. Add fruit halves and cinnamon sticks. Bring mixture to a boil over moderate heat, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until sugar is dissolved, then simmer 10 minutes. Stir in honey and return to a boil. Remove from heat and cool to room temperature. Pour through a sieve into a large measuring cup or bowl, pressing hard on, then discarding, solids. Chill, uncovered, until cold, about 1 hour.

Assemble and bake baklava:

Put oven rack in middle position and preheat oven to 350°F.

Whisk together almonds, walnuts, sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, and salt until combined well.

Generously brush a 13- by 9- by 2-inch glass baking dish with melted butter. Halve phyllo sheets crosswise and stack sheets. Keep stack covered with 2 overlapping sheets of plastic wrap and then a dampened clean kitchen towel.

Lay 2 sheets of phyllo in bottom of baking dish and brush top sheet generously with butter. Continue to layer 2 sheets at a time, staggering sheets in each double layer slightly to cover bottom of dish, then brushing every second sheet generously with butter, until you have used 10 sheets of phyllo total.

After brushing top layer of phyllo with butter, spread a rounded 1 1/2 cups of nut mixture over it. Drizzle with 2 tablespoons butter.

Repeat layering 3 more times. Top with 10 more sheets of phyllo. (You will use 50 sheets of phyllo total.) Butter top and let baklava stand at room temperature to harden slightly (to facilitate cutting), 10 to 15 minutes.

Using a sharp knife, cut baklava into 16 equal rectangles, then cut each piece in half diagonally. (Be sure to cut all the way through.)

Bake baklava until golden, 50 minutes to 1 hour. If your oven runs hot like mine does, the baklava will be ready in 30 minutes.

Transfer dish to a rack to cool, then slowly pour cold syrup around edges of hot baklava, in between all cuts, and over top. Let stand at room temperature at least 8 hours. (Cover once baklava is at room temperature.) Do not chill.

Cooks' notes:
• Syrup can be made up to 5 days ahead and chilled, covered. • Baklava keeps in an airtight container up to 1 week.