On my last visit to my father’s house in France, he handed me an old biscuit tin, smiled and said “try this!” Given the age of the tin, I assumed there was something else in there — not aging biscuits. Inside was a golden, nut-filled granola. It was his creation. I was very impressed and had the best intentions to make my own when I returned to California. More than a year later, whilst visiting friends Harley and Ute in the Bay Area, I once again sampled some excellent homemade granola. It dawned on me that I had procrastinated too long. It was time to make my own! This combines my father’s recipe and my friends’ recipe with my penchant for dried fruit and lots of almonds.
This is one of my favorite breakfasts, however, I’ve been known to have it for lunch too!
Makes (9 cups) 2¾ lbs Granola
4 cups rolled oats
1 cup raw almonds
1 cup flax seed
1/3 cup packed brown sugar
½ cup organic vegetable oil such as sunflower
¼ cup honey
2/3 cup hazelnuts — roughly chopped
2/3 cup pecans — roughly chopped
½ cup dried cherries and/or cranberries
2/3 cup dried apricots — chopped
¼ cup golden raisins
Lightly whipped cream + crème fraîche + whipped egg whites, vanilla and a touch of sugar + lemon juice = a little bit of heaven in a bowl.
Serves 8 people
12 oz whipping cream
3 oz (1/3 cup plus 1½ tablespoons) sugar
Zest and juice of 2 lemons
6 oz crème fraîche
½ teaspoon vanilla paste or pure vanilla extract
3 large egg whites
All the men in my family are chocolate obsessed. They must have a genetic predisposition to it. This extremely moist cake is for them, and for all chocolate lovers.
Serves 10-12 people
12 oz dark chocolate – chopped into small pieces
12 oz unsalted butter
9 oz sugar
6 eggs – lightly beaten
1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.
2. In a medium sized saucepan over low heat, melt the sugar and butter until completely melted and smooth.
3. Add the chocolate and melt until completely incorporated and smooth once more.
4. Remove from the heat, let the mixture cool down for 5 minutes and stir in the beaten eggs.
5. Pour the cake mixture into a parchment lined cake tin. Place the cake in the center of the oven. Bake for 25-30 minutes.
6. Remove the cake from the oven and invert it onto a cake plate. Remove the cake tin and parchment paper. Let cool for 20 minutes before dusting with cocoa powder. Serve with crÃ¨me fraiche or vanilla ice cream, or both.Note: It will still be very moist so that a knife inserted will not come out clean.
My brother and I loved Canard a l’Orange growing up. Our mother used to make an incredibly elaborate version of this dish, which at the time seemed to take days to prepare. This version is more rustic. It’s quick to make and a tribute to that delicious extravagance I remember from my childhood. Merci Maman.
Serves 8 people
8 duck legs — trimmed of any excess fat
16 sprigs of thyme
Coarse sea salt and black pepper
4 oranges — peeled and sliced into disks
4 blood oranges — peeled and sliced into disks
2 bunches baby watercress
This salad contains two of my favorite ingredients—white asparagus and wild mushrooms. If the wild mushrooms happen to be chanterelles, even better. Honestly, there are few things that are more mouth-watering than the aroma of sizzling butter in a pan with sliced mushrooms cooking in it. Sometimes I’ll cook a few mushrooms to add to a green salad or on some toast with a piece of goat cheese. I love their earthy flavors. White asparagus have an herbaceous quality to them. They balance the rustic qualities of the mushrooms in this salad. It’s a dish I look forward to every spring as we emerge from winter.
Serves 8 people
2 lbs. white asparagus — carefully peeled, tips cut off, and stems cut on a bias in 1-inch pieces
2 shallots — peeled and finely sliced
1 ½ lbs. assorted wild mushrooms — cleaned and sliced
1 tablespoon butter
1 teaspoon mustard
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon vinegar
1 bunch chives — finely chopped
Salt and pepper