Honey Chiffon Cake



We welcomed the Jewish New Year in a few days ago. This was a special year for us since we could share it with our children for the first time in many years.


At the holiday table you will find many sweet dishes symbolizing our wish for a sweet year ahead.

Among the most traditional of desserts at this time is the honey cake.  This year I made a different version than my other favorite ones which are already posted on the blog.

This year I made a Honey Chiffon Cake. The October issue of Food & Wine magazine featured  this recipe from a new cookbook called The Feast Goes On.

This book is the work of The Monday Morning Cooking Club, a group of six women from Sydney, Australia who have a calling:  to save traditional Jewish cooking, one recipe at a time.

For founding member Lisa Goldberg, the catalyst was the death of her Auntie Myrna, a platinum blonde from Poland who made phenomenal cabbage rolls. 

Ms. Goldberg states, “Our mission is to find all the Auntie Myrna’s in the world and save their recipes before it’s too late.”

For The Feast Goes On, they asked Jewish home cooks from all over  Australia to send in their family heirloom recipes.  They tested and tasted hundreds of recipes, and only unanimous favorites went into the book.

Honey Chiffon Cake (makes one 10-inch cake)

This recipe is an especially light and moist take on the honey cake that Eastern European Jews traditionally eat for Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year.

The cake must be cooled upside down to maintain its distinctive fluffy texture.

3/4 cup honey

1/2 cup strong black tea, warm

1 and 1/2 cups self-rising flour

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

3/4 cup granulated sugar

6 large eggs, separated

3/4 cup light olive oil

1 cup confectioners’ sugar

4 teaspoons fresh lemon juice

1.  Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  In a small bowl, stir together the honey and tea; let cool.  In a medium bowl, stir together the flour and baking soda.  In a large bowl, using a handheld mixer at medium-high speed, beat half of the granulated sugar with the egg yolks until thick and pale, about 2 minutes.  Slowly drizzle in the olive oil, beating until thickened, then beat in the honey-tea mixture and the dry ingredients in alternating batches.

2.  In another medium bowl, beat the egg whites until soft peaks form.  While beating, gradually add the remaining granulated sugar and beat until stiff peaks form.  Fold the egg whites into the batter until no streaks of white remain.  Pour the batter into an ungreased 10-inch angel food cake pan.  Smooth the top and bake for 45-50 minutes, until the top is dark golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.  Immediately invert the cake pan onto a wire rack and let the cake cool completely.

3.  Meanwhile, stir the confectioners’ sugar with the lemon juice, adding 1 teaspoon at a time, to form a thick glaze.  Once the cake has cooled, run a thin knife around the edge to release it from the pan.  Lift out the cake by the central tube.  run a knife between the bottom of the cake and the pan, then transfer the cake to a serving plate.  Drizzle with the lemon glaze.

Make Ahead The cake can be wrapped and stored at room temperature for 1 day before glazing and serving.

Note:  I used a local honey which I purchase at one of the many farmer’s markets here.  It is called Native Wild Sage Honey, (raw and unfiltered) and is amazing!


The Sturgeon Queens …A Bagel and a Movie


This morning my husband and I had the pleasure of viewing this deliciously charming documentary presented by the Jewish Community Center/ Federation of San Luis Obispo.  

It tells the story of Russ and Daughters, the famous fish emporium on the lower east side of New York. 

The Film

100-year-old Hattie Russ Gold and her sister 92-year-old Anne Russ Federman have life stories that hit all the key notes of the Jewish immigrant experience: hard work, humor, romance, and a little tsuris. Hattie and Anne are the two surviving daughters from the famed lox and herring emporium Russ & Daughters on the Lower East Side. They are also the stars of THE STURGEON QUEENS.

This documentary – timed to coincide with the store’s centennial in 2014 – traces four generations of Russ family history, from patriarch Joel Russ, who immigrated to the US from Austria-Hungary with little more than the shirt on his back, to Josh Russ Tupper and Niki Russ Federman, Joel’s great grandchildren, now in their 30s, who run the store today. Niki’s father Mark Russ Federman, who ran the store from the 1970s until 2008, adds insights from his years researching Russ family history.

The film also features Herman Vargas, aka “The Artistic Slicer,”  longtime Russ & Daughters employee, now manager, who represents the new wave of immigrants behind the R & D counter.

Here’s a link to the film’s website, an article about it, and a little taste of what the film has to offer:

Peach Tart


With peaches at their peak a couple of weeks ago this fresh Peach Tart from the Food 52 website was the perfect ending to the meal I prepared for our friends from Maryland on the first evening of their arrival.

Not only is it delicious it is so simple to prepare.  Here is what Amanda Hesser has to say about her recipe…

"Every cook needs a good dessert recipe that can be whipped up anywhere-especially when you’re away from your kitchen and its mixer and rolling pin and comforting gadgets.  this peach tart is that recipe for me.  To make it all you need is a knife, a bowl, and some kind of a pan.  A tart pan ideally, but I’ve even made it on a baking sheet with one sideshored up with aluminum foil.  And when I’ve been without a bowl, I’ve even mixed the dough right in the pan.

The dough is made with oil, milk and almond extract, and is pressed into the pan.  there is no blind baking nonsense.  you just top the dough with the peaches, and then shower it with a sugary, salty crumble and send it on its merry way to the oven.

I got the original recipe from my mother, who uses all vegetable oil in the crust.  I use half vegetable oil and half olive oil.  she neatly peels her peaches.  Lazy kin, I do not.  Hers is probably better, but you are stuck with me.  I can promise you, however, that whoever you serve this to will not mind.”

I made it just as she suggests, and it is definitely a keeper.  Here is the recipe…

Peach Tart ( recipe from Amanda Hesser, Food 52)

Makes one 11-inch tart; serves 8

1and1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

3/4 teaspoons kosher salt

3/4 cups plus 1 teaspoon sugar

1/4 cup vegetable or canola oil

1/4 cup mild olive oil

2 tablespoons whole milk

1/2 teaspoon almond extract

2 tablespoons cold, unsalted butter

3 to 5 small ripe peaches, pitted and thickly sliced (about1/2-inch wide)

1.  Heat the oven to 425 degrees.  In a mixing bowl, stir together 1 and 1/2 cups flour, 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1 teaspoon sugar.  Stirring enables the salt and sugar to sift the flour, so you don’t need to sift it in advance.

In a small bowl, whisk together the oils, milk, and almond extract. 

Pour this mixture into the flour mixture and mix gently with a fork, just enough to dampen; do not over work it.




Then, transfer the dough to and 11-inch tart pan ( you can use a smaller one if needed), and use your hands to pat out the dough so it covers the bottom of the pan, pushing it up to the sides to meet the edges. 

This will work if you pat firmly and confidently, but not if you curl your fingertips into the dough.  It should be about 1/8-inch thick all the way around; trim and discard excess dough.

2.  In a bowl, combine 3/4 cup sugar, 2 tablespoons flour, 1/4 teaspoon salt and the butter.  (If your peaches are especially juicy, add 1 tablespoon additional flour.)  Using your fingers, pinch the butter into the dry ingredients until crumbly, with a mixture of fine gramules and tiny pebbles.


3.  Starting on the outside, arrange the peaches overlapping in a concentric circle over the pastry; fill in the center in whatever pattern makes sense.  the peaches should fit snugly.


Sprinkle the pebbly butter mixture over top. (it will seem like a lot).


Bake for 35-45 minutes, until shiny, thick bubbles begin enveloping the fruit and the crust is slightly brown.


Cool on a rack.


Serve warm or room temperature, preferably with generous dollops of whipped cream, (or, in my case, vanilla ice cream).


Heirloom Tomato Salad with Pickled Fennel



This past week our very best friends from Maryland visited us for the first time since we moved here just over a year ago.

Our friendship began 26 years ago when we had both moved into the same new development in a Maryland suburb, about 25 miles northwest of Washington, DC. 

We moved there from Chicago, and they from Cleveland, but we soon discovered our differences were few compared to so much that we shared.

We became fast friends., all four of us. The kind that even though we haven ‘t seen each other for over a year, and over 3000 miles now separate us, when we embraced at the San Luis Obispo Airport last Sunday it was though no time had passed at all.  We picked up where we had left off without skipping a beat.

It is a full day flying from the east coast to the west coast, especially with the time difference so after picking them up we came back to the house to eat, relax, chat, and of course, eat some more.

Before leaving for the airport (my husband and I are still getting used to the idea that a trip to the airport is only a 10 minute drive), I had arranged some assorted cheeses, crackers, olives, and fruit to nibble on along with the first of many glasses of local wine we shared this past week.


I included some of the wonderful items we have discovered in our short time living here… the handcrafted sopressa salami from one of our favorite restaurants, and sold at some of the farmer’s markets, http://www.allepiasalumi.com/about/our-story.

The vibrant and  delicious California apricots, along with local grapes and small gala apples I bought at the farm stands as well.

For dinner we served a favorite of theirs that I had made for them many times over the years… my husband’s Grilled Baby Back Ribs with my special BBQ Sauce. 


We also grilled some fresh sausage with fennel seed from the same source as the sopressa salami…


Fresh corn on the cob and the Heirloom Tomato Salad with Pickled Fennel rounded out the meal.

To be able to share all this with our best friends made it even more special.  Now for this delicious salad…

 Heirloom Tomato Salad with Pickled Fennel (Bon Appetit, August, 2013)

6 servings

The flavor of the spiced pickled fennel really pops with the sweet tomatoes.

Pickled Fennel

1 whole star anise pod

1  teaspoon aniseed

1 teaspoon coriander seeds

1 teaspoon fennel seeds

1/4 teaspoon cumin seeds

1/4 lemongrass stalk, tough outer layer removed, crushed

Zest of 1/4 orange, removed with a vegetable peeler

1 medium fennel bulb, cored, thinly sliced


1 and 1/2 cups unseasoned rice vinegar

1/2 cup sugar

2 tablespoons kosher salt


2 lb. large heirloom tomatoes (about 3), cut into wedges

1 cup cherry tomatoes, preferably heirloom, halved

2 tablespoons while balsamic or Sherry vinegar

7 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided

Kosher salt, freshly ground pepper

2 Cubanelle peppers or Anaheim chiles, sliced into 3/4 inch rings, seeded

Note:  unable to find any Cubanelle peppers I used a pastilla green pepper and a yellow chile pepper, both fairly mild, and perfect for this salad.

Fennel fronds (for serving)

Pickled Fennel

Toast star anise, aniseed, coriander seeds, fennel seeds, and cumin seeds in a small skillet over medium-low heat, stirring often, until fragrant, about 3 minutes.


Bundle toasted spices,lemongrass. and orange zest in a piece of cheesecloth and tie with kitchen twine to make a sachet.  Place sachet and fennel in a 1-qt. jar or bowl.



Bring vinegar, sugar, salt, and 1/2 cup water to a boil in a medium saucepan, stirring to dissolve sugar and salt. 

Pour vinegar mixture over sachet and fennel and let cool; discard sachet.  Cover fennel and chill at least 12 hours.



Note:  Pickled fennel can be made 2 weeks ahead.  Keep chilled.


Combine large and cherry tomatoes, vinegar, and 6 tablespoons oil in a medium bowl; season with salt and pepper.  Let sit at room temperature 30 minutes.

Before serving heat remaining 1 tablespoon oil in a medium skillet over high heat.  Cook the peppers, tossing often, until charred in spots, about 4 minutes.

Serve tomato salad topped with peppers, pickled fennel, and fennel fronds.


With peaches at their peak I made this Peach Tart., the perfect ending to a summer meal.  I’ll be sharing this easy recipe with you soon.


We packed a lot into the time we had with our good friends, showing them the highlights of San Luis Obispo with all its history, charm and beauty.

We even had an impromptu lunch I threw together where we dined in the shade of the olive trees at a beautiful vineyard, toasting to our friendship, all the time pinching ourselves to make sure this wasn’t a dream. 

It wasn’t a dream.  We  really are living in California, and  our best friends were here with us .  It was perfect! 

Soft Pretzels


A week ago we were invited to our friends’ home for Sunday brunch.

When we are together the conversation always seems to come back to food in one way or another.

On one occasion my husband and I had shared with them our love of pretzels, especially warm soft pretzels.

Growing up in  Pennsylvania Dutch Country, pretzels quickly become a staple of one’s diet.  Good pretzels, we are talking about here… whether hard or soft, Bavarian or beer, in the form of rods, sticks, or nuggets, you cannot roam around this area very long without realizing you are in pretzel country.

Here is a little of what Wikipedia has to say about the subject…

In the late 18th century, southern German and Swiss German immigrants introduced the pretzel to North America. The immigrants became known as the Pennsylvania Dutch, and in time, many handmade pretzel bakeries populated the central Pennsylvania countryside, and the pretzel’s popularity spread.[30]

In the 20th century, soft pretzels became popular in other regions of the United States. Cities like Philadelphia, Chicago, and New York became renowned for their soft pretzels.[31][32] The key to success was the introduction of the new mass production methods of the industrialized age, which increased the availability and quantity, and the opening up of multiple points of distribution at schools, convenience and grocery stores, and entertainment venues such as movie theaters, arenas, concert halls, and sport stadiums. Prior to that, street vendors used to sell pretzels on street corners in wooden glass-enclosed cases.[33]

In particular, the S-shaped soft pretzel, often served with brown mustard, became iconic in Philadelphia and was established as a part of Philadelphia’s cuisine for snacking at school, work, or home, and considered by most to be a quick meal. The average Philadelphian today consumes about twelve times as many pretzels as the national average.[34]

Pennsylvania today is the center of American pretzel production for both the hard crispy and the soft bread types of pretzels.[31]Southeastern Pennsylvania, with its large population of German background, is considered the birthplace of the American pretzel industry, and many pretzel bakers are still located in the area. Pennsylvania produces 80% of the nation’s pretzels.[35]

The annual United States pretzel industry is worth over $550 million.[36] The average American consumes about 1.5 pounds (0.7 kg) of pretzels per year.[37]

To this day my husband and I have vivid memories of running out of elementary school when the dismissal bell rang and getting in line to buy a hot soft pretzel from the “pretzel man’s wagon”.

So when we moved to San Luis Obispo we were disheartened to see the dearth of good pretzels here on the central coast.

Here most stores seem to carry one, maybe two brands, where in the past  we had been accustomed to practically a full aisle of pretzels.

Hot, handmade soft pretzels are still available in much of the area where we grew up…some baking and selling from their home kitchens.

So when our invitation to brunch included an opportunity for me to help the hostess make soft pretzels from scratch as a precursor to brunch I was excited. 

This was also the recipe that won her a first prize ribbon in the Mid-County Fair here on the central coast a year or so ago!

It was a lot of fun…she had the dough ready to go when we arrived, so I helped her divide the dough into balls for each pretzel…


Then we shaped  them, (and we definitely gave them a home made look)…


We dropped them into the boiling water…


and baked them (some sprinkled with salt and some with onion bits)…


It didn’t take long once they were out of the oven to smother them in some good brown mustard and eat them along with a glass of local champagne. 

Now that is a delicious combo I’m pretty certain the Pennsylvania Dutch have not tried !  But they should!



Here’s the recipe…

Homemade Soft Pretzels (Recipe courtesy Alton Brown, 2007)


1 and 1/2 cups warm (110 to 115 degrees F) water

1 tablespoon sugar

2 teaspoons kosher salt

1 package active dry yeast

22 ounces all-purpose flour, approx 4 and 1/2 cups

2 ounces unsalted butter, melted

vegetable oil, for pan

10 cups water

2/3 cup baking soda

1 large egg yolk, beaten with 1 tablespoon water

pretzel salt


Combine the water, sugar and kosher salt in the bowl of a stand mixer and sprinkle the yeast on top. 

Allow to sit for 5 minutes or until the mixture begins to foam.

Add the flour and butter and, using the dough hook attachment, mix on low speed until well combined.

Change to medium speed and knead until the dough is smooth and pulls away from the side of the bowl, approximately 4-5 minutes.

Remove the dough from the bowl, clean the bowl and then oil it well with vegetable oil.

Return the dough to the bowl, cover with plastic wrap and sit in a warm place for approximately 50- 55 minutes or until the dough has doubled in size.

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F. 

Line 2 half sheet pans with parchment paper, and lightly brush with the vegetable oil.  Set aside.

Bring the 10 cups of water and the baking soda to a rolling boil in an 8-qt  saucepan or roasting pan.

In the meantime, turn the dough out onto a slightly oiled work surface and divide into 8 equal pieces.

Roll out each piece of dough into a 24 inch rope. 

Make a u-shape with the rope, holding the ends of the rope, cross them over each other and press onto the bottom of the u in order to form the shape of a pretzel.

Place onto the parchment-lined half sheet pan.

Place the pretzels into the boiling water, one by one, for 30 seconds.

Remove them from the water using a large flat spatula.

Return to the half sheet pan, brush the top of each pretzel with the beaten egg yolk and water mixture and sprinkle with the pretzel salt.

Bake until dark golden brown in color, approximately 12-14 minutes.

Transfer to a cooling rack for at least 5 minutes before serving.

Grilled Salmon Dinner



For the past couple weeks my brother, sister-in-law and niece who live in New York have been visiting the west coast. 

They began their vacation in LA where they were able to connect with various extended  family members including my older son and his girlfriend among others. 

After successfully accomplishing this no small feat which entailed covering a lot of ground around greater Los Angeles, they headed up the coast to spend several days in Big Sur, before heading back down the coast to visit us in San Luis Obispo for six days.

Along their way from LA they stopped by for a quick tour of our new home and a short walk to one of our favorite places for lunch here.

We last saw them a year and a half ago when we went back east for a cousin’s wedding, and in all this time we have been talking about our new house and this new hometown of San Luis Obispo, sometimes ad nauseum, I’m sure.

So all that talk turned into a reality as they stepped over the threshold to see our beautiful new home.  It was such a good feeling to have them here!

After they pulled away to continue on to Big Sur (where they would meet up with our younger son and his girlfriend for an afternoon) we were thrilled to have my now  23 year old niece stay with us for a few days. 

For many years when she was younger she would spend a week with us in the summer in Maryland.  So having her here now was just icing on the cake.

I planned a relaxing dinner at home the evening they returned from Big Sur. 

While we enjoyed many fantastic meals out at local restaurants,  I was eager to serve a few home cooked meals as well.  Here is the menu…

For starters we  had  some appetizers on the deck… a Caprese platter with some beautiful local heirloom tomatoes…



and a platter of melon and prosciutto de Parma…


 My husband grilled fresh wild sockeye salmon fillets. 

The salmon was simply prepared with extra virgin olive oil, kosher salt, freshly cracked pepper, a bit of chopped fresh dill, and a squeeze of lemon juice. 


As long as the grill was hot we grilled an assortment of summer squash with peppers…


and a platter of assorted new potatoes, all tossed with some olive oil, salt and pepper…


And some homemade tzatziki on the side for dipping with any or all of the above.


A green salad with a Blood Orange Vinaigrette completed the meal.


Except of course for that Sour Cherry Pie I had promised my brother.


We had a fun packed week, and still found time to relax, and just hang out. 

We showed them around our neighborhood and walked  our very walkable downtown.

We impressed them with our Mediterranean micro-climate.

We went to the vineyards, the beaches, and the farmer’s market.

We went hiking (got a little lost, but found our way),  and enjoyed delicious meals at many of the marvelous farm to table restaurants that surround us.

We love our home, and we love our new hometown, but being able to share it all with our family is what really makes it feel like home. 

We will be looking forward to our other family members and friends  coming to visit us as time goes by, and repeat visits from all.

Through the entire process of our move I continued to tell myself that although change is hard at times change is good, and I do believe that.

 But with my brother’s visit this past week i am reminded that some things never change, and that is a very good thing.


Ina’s Shrimp Salad


Last week my cousin came to visit for a few days from Sunnyvale, California.  She has lived on the west coast for the last 35 plus years. 

Growing up we lived about a half hour away from each other in small towns in Pennsylvania.  Our mothers were sisters and enjoyed a very close relationship.

Through most of our youth our families shared many holidays together. Thanksgiving at their home, Passover, and the Jewish New Year at ours, and much time spent together at the home of our grandparents  who lived near us.

Many Sundays my sister, brothers, parents and I would all pile into our car and with our grandparents in theirs, we would make the trip caravan style to my cousin’s house for a backyard barbeque and  an afternoon of baseball.

Those are wonderful memories to have.  While my mom and her sister and their cousins all seemed to settle down where they were raised many of our generation flew a bit further from the nest. 

That  kind of extended family we grew up with no longer exists. College, career paths, marriage and children have led many of us to put down roots far from the home where we were raised.

The close relationship our parents had with their siblings and their own parents  we witnessed growing up has impacted our lives today. 

It is the reason to this day that we all try to stay connected regardless of the distances. 

Be it through  weddings, bar-mitzvahs, family reunions, or simply by driving 3 or 4 hours to visit  a cousin who has recently moved to her coast we continue to maintain the strong connection to family the foundation of which was laid down for us so many years ago.

We planned a busy few days for my cousin.  She arrived in time for lunch, and with the temperature in the 80’s I thought a summer salad was called for.  I chose a Shrimp Salad, cold roasted golden beets with a citrus vinaigrette, a summer fruit plate, and a crusty baguette for the menu.  For dessert a fresh peach tart .





Here is the recipe for the wonderful shrimp salad…

Ina’s Shrimp Salad ( from the Barefoot Contessa, Ina Garten)

Note:  This recipe serves 12 but it is easily adapted for serving less.

3 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 lemon cut into quarters
4 pounds large shrimp in the shell (16 to 20 shrimp per pound)  *
2 cups good mayonnaise
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons white wine or white wine vinegar
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
6 tablespoons minced fresh dill
1 cup minced red onion (1 onion)
3 cups minced celery (6 stalks)
*you can also buy frozen large shrimp  already shelled and deveined with the tail on. Defrost in the bag  overnight in the fridge and proceed with the directions  below.  Remove the tail after cooking.
When cooking shrimp use plenty of salt, and do not overcook!


Bring 5 quarts of water, 3 tablespoons salt, and the lemon to a boil in a large saucepan. Add half the shrimp and reduce the heat to medium. Cook uncovered for only 3 minutes or until the shrimp are barely cooked through. Remove with a slotted spoon to a bowl of cold water. Bring the water back to a boil and repeat with the remaining shrimp. Let cool; then peel, and devein the shrimp.

In a separate bowl, whisk together the mayonnaise, mustard, wine or vinegar, 1 teaspoon salt, pepper, and dill. Combine with the peeled shrimp. Add the red onion and celery and check the seasonings.  Serve or cover and refrigerate for several hours.

A Dinner with Mozart



Last week we were fortunate to attend what has become an annual event in San Luis Obispo, The Festival Mozaic.  What began as 3 concerts over a weekend 44 years ago has grown to encompass 22 events over a 10 day span during the month of July.

An array of very talented musicians have come to the Central Coast to participate in this unique and special musical event, performing in various venues throughout the area.

Read More

French Pear Tart


This French Pear Tart which I served at my recent brunch is simply an adaptation of Ina Garten,The Barefoot Contessa’s French Apple Tart which I have made numerous times.

I had bought a large bag of Forelle Pears when I spotted them at Costco on a recent visit.  I first tasted them several years ago, and was hooked. 

Forelle pears are not as well known as your Bartlett, Bosc, or Anjou, but they are more beautiful, every bit as delicious, and when ripe, they are as sweet as they come and yet still crunchy and juicy at the same time.

Their small size makes them perfect for snacking, adding to a salad, or serving with an assortment of cheeses.

They are actually perfect for a tart because their firmness keeps them from getting too mushy when baked.

I had enough left after snacking on them all week to use them in place of the apples in Ina’s recipe for the French Apple Tart.

This is the dessert to try whether using apples or pears, because even the most baking phobic among us will find success.

By using store bought puff pastry which you will find in the freezer section of most good grocery stores, and a few other simple ingredients you can create  this fantastic tart that your guests will think you purchased at a French bakery.

French Pear Tart (adapted from Ina Garten’s French Apple Tart, Back to Basics)

-one sheet frozen puff pastry, defrosted according to manufacturer’s directions 
(I prefer Dufour’s, which can be found in better grocery stores, but Pepperidge Farm or Trader Joe’s will also do)
Note: Dufour’s is larger so you can roll it out to a 10” by 14 “rectangle.  If using the others they are usually packaged 2 smaller ones to a package so you will just use one and roll it out to a 10 and1/2” by 10 and 1/2” square.

8 -10 Forelle pears
1/2 cup sugar
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) cold unsalted butter, small diced
1/2 cup apricot jelly or warm sieved apricot jam
2 tablespoons water

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper.

Roll the dough slightly larger than 10 by 14-inches. Using a ruler and a small knife, trim the edges if necessary. Place the dough on the prepared sheet pan and refrigerate while you prepare the pears.

Peel the pears and cut them in half through the stem. Remove the stems and cores with a sharp knife and a melon baler.

Slice the pears crosswise in 1/4-inch thick slices. Place overlapping slices of pears diagonally down the middle of the tart and continue making diagonal rows on both sides of the first row until the pastry is covered with pear slices. (I tend not to use the end slices in order to make the arrangement beautiful.) Sprinkle with the full 1/2 cup of sugar and dot with the butter.


Bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour, until the pastry is browned and the edges of the pears start to brown.

Rotate the pan once during cooking. If the pastry puffs up in one area, cut a little slit with a knife to let the air out. Don’t worry! The juices will burn in the pan but the tart will be fine!
When the tart’s done, heat the apricot jelly or jam together with the  water and brush the pears and the pastry completely with the jelly mixture.
Loosen the tart with a metal spatula so it doesn’t stick to the paper. Allow to cool and serve warm or at room temperature.


And pat yourself on the back!

Sunday Brunch



We have been fortunate to have made so many new friends in the short time we have been calling San Luis Obispo “home”.  

A couple we had met shortly after arriving here last July ( it is really hard to believe we will soon be here one year) joined us for brunch this past Sunday.

We had met them  at a social gathering and she and I immediately realized we shared a passion for all things food related…cooking, baking (her specialty), finding great restaurants, blogging, etc.  She even hosted a food related radio show for many years here in SLO.

Sunday Brunch is one of my favorite ways to entertain because it is undeniably more relaxing for the guests as well as the host.

Many dishes and baked goods are easily prepared ahead, and lend themselves to being served buffet style, eliminating any last minute stoveside cooking frenzy.

The house was filled with sunlight,  a gentle breeze entered through the open windows and doors leading to the deck where my flowers were providing a colorful display.   (All that garden work does pay off)!


The best part is everyone is content to just linger at the table with more coffee and cake telling stories since the whole day lies ahead.  A beautiful start to the week!

Here are the cast of characters for my Sunday Brunch



Chilled Gazpacho  (a beautiful bouquet of roses from our guest’s garden)




and Lox


Roasted Honey Smoked Salmon…(Costco!)


Tomatoes, Cucumbers, Onions, and Olives


And something sweet…The Best Coffee Cake. Ever.


French Pear Tart


Nancy Silverton’s Bran Muffins