at the county fair: funnel cake

At the County Fair: Funnel Cakes

For many Americans, going to the state or county fair is as much a summer tradition as baseball and fireworks on the Fourth of July. Despite the searing heat and sweaty crowds, we flock to the fair to enjoy the carnival games, rides, attractions, and, of course, the food. For me, the food is only one reason to go. Shocking, right? I can skip the games (I’m way too old for stuffed animals), the rides (I never understood the appeal of spinning really fast while suspended in mid-air), and the animals (too smelly, too hot, and ewww, too smelly). I just can’t skip the corn dogs, grilled corn, and, of course, the funnel cake! Continue reading

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persimmon galette

Persimmon Galette

Persimmons have always looked rather unappealing to me – bruised, overly ripe, and way too soft, as if they would burst and ooze at the slightest touch. Sometimes, their skins had black streaks which made them appear almost rotten. I could never understand why my Mom liked them so much. As a teenager, I vividly remember countless times when she would lovingly offer me some of its dark orange, almost gelatinous flesh cradled in her hands, and how I would rebuff her each time. Being the bratty teen that I was, I would crinkle my nose, make that “face” that signifies utter disgust and total disinterest, and walk away with my hands folded across my chest, without ever tasting it. She seemed almost disappointed that she couldn’t share her enjoyment of this “weird” fruit with me, yet, somehow, she also had a look of relief that I now assume meant, “Yippee, I get to eat all of this luscious fruit by myself.” She would always cut the persimmon in half and expertly take spoonfuls of fruit, leaving the peel almost completely intact, her hands sticky and dripping with orange-colored juice.

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“red, white, and blue” berry shortcake

Red, White, and Blue-Berry Shortcake

The warm and sunny days of July means that a variety of fruits are plentiful and at their peak of flavor. One of my favorite summer fruits is the strawberry – and I can’t think of a better way to showcase it than in a shortcake!

This classic American dessert is a great addition to your holiday picnic menu. To get the recipe for the shortcake, with a little added twist, click the link to follow me over to A Lucky Life blog. Continue reading

fig, almond frangipane, and orange tart

Right off the bat, I will say that this is one of the best things I have ever baked in my entire life. While I cannot take credit for developing this tart recipe on my own, I can acknowledge those who did – Paule Caillat, renowned French cook and cooking instructor for the tart shell and Anita Chu from Dessert First Girl for the frangipane. I did add my own tweaks to the recipe as well, as you will see. You might be wondering how I came about putting this recipe together. Well, read on and I will tell you the story of how this lovely tart came to be.

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meyer lemon-raspberry mini cakes

I made these meyer lemon-raspberry lemon curd filled mini cakes using my new Wilton dessert shell pan.  It is the perfect pan for these cakes because the “cavity” it creates on top of each mini cake holds more delicious filling than “coring” and filling regular cupcakes would.  Served this way, each bite has the right proportion of filling and cake.  These mini cakes are simple, yet elegant desserts that would be perfect to serve at a bridal or baby shower or afternoon tea. Continue reading

meyer lemons: mini-lemon and vanilla cream parfaits

Mini Meyer Lemon and Vanilla Cream Parfaits

Starting today, and throughout the coming week, I will be featuring my organic, home-grown meyer lemons in various recipes. I’ve just harvested about 20 lemons today and there are probably another twenty ripe ones on my little tree that I will juice and freeze to use in the next couple of months.

When I think of lemons, the first thing that comes to mind is lemon curd. I love slathering it on a scone or using it as a tart filling, but most of all, I love eating it straight out of its container, a spoonful at a time.  This particular recipe, from Spago Restaurant’s pastry chef, Sherry Yard, has been my go-to recipe for lemon curd for a while now.  It is from her first book, The Secrets of Baking: Simple Techniques for Sophisticated Desserts.  This lemon curd is a beautiful pale yellow in color with flecks of zest and has just the right amount of tartness.  It is the featured component of these Mini-Lemon and Vanilla Cream Parfaits, which also have layers of buttery graham crackers and vanilla bean whipped cream. Continue reading

baked banana wontons


I bought a small jar of  Babbi hazelnut cream  on sale at a gourmet Italian grocery store a couple of weeks ago and I finally got a chance to use it. It is a spread, like Nutella, except that it does not contain any cocoa.  I used a small bit of it to make these banana wontons.  They’re super easy to make and no “recipe” is needed.  Let your creativity flow and make your own filling.  You may substitute Nutella, chocolate, peanut butter for the hazelnut cream or give the combination of cream cheese and strawberry preserves a try.  Better yet, how about pairing mascarpone and roasted figs with a drizzle of orange honey? Oh, the possibilities…..
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pumpkin bread pudding

pumpkin bread pudding
This bread pudding is so fantastic that I’ve decided to serve it at next month’s Thanksgiving Feast instead of pumpkin pie.  It is such an easy and quick dish to make, yet so satisfying.  The rich, warm custard has just the right amount of spices and pumpkin flavor. Garnished with a dollop of whipped cream and a drizzle of caramel sauce, this is the perfect fall treat!

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