THE OUTRAGEOUS OATMEAL COOKIE . . . with walnuts, dried cherries and chunks of chocolate


There are those days when you want to bite into an oatmeal cookie that’s a little over the top.   A  superlative chewy cookie with just the right amount of  old fashioned rolled oats, nuts, chocolate and fruit.  A cookie with deep molasses flavor, light and crisp on the outside and chewy, dense and soft in the center. A cookie of such divine decadence that just one cookie is simply not enough.  This may just be the ultimate, outrageous oatmeal cookie.

This is an oatmeal cookie recipe you can claim as your own.  Substitute pecans or hazelnuts for the walnuts or dried cranberries for the cherries.    Quick oats can be substituted for the old-fashion oats, but they will yield a cookie with slightly less chew.   Other than the options be sure to follow the remaining ingredients to the letter.  It is the extra moisture found in brown sugar and the combination of baking powder and baking soda that produces a cookie  that is thin,  light and crisp on the outside, and chewy in the middle.  These cookies really spread so be sure to allow a generous  2 to 2 1/2 inches between cookies.

THE OUTRAGEOUS OATMEAL COOKIE . . . with walnuts, dried cherries and chunks of chocolate
: cookie
Cuisine: regional
: 16
A perfect combination of old fashioned oats, nuts, chocolate and fruit. A cookie that is both crisp and chewy.
  • 1¼ cups (6¼) ounces) all-purpose flour
  • ¾ tsp baking powder
  • 1/12 tsp baking soda
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 1¼ cups (3¾ oz) old-fashioned rolled oats
  • 1 cup walnuts or pecans, toasted and coarsely chopped
  • 1 cup(4 oz) dried sour cherries or cranberries, coarsely chopped
  • 4 oz bittersweet chocolate chopped into generous chunks the size of large chocolate chips. Err on the side of large chunks. Small pieces melt quickly and disappear into the cookie mixture.
  • 12 tbs (6 oz) unsalted butter soft room temperature
  • 1½ cups packed (10½ oz)light or dark brown sugar
  • 1 large egg room temperature
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  1. Set your oven rack to middle position of the oven and the temperature to 350F.
  2. Line baking sheets with parchment paper.
  3. In medium sized bowl whisk flour, baking power, baking soda, and salt together.
  4. In a second bowl stir oats, walnuts, cherries, and chocolate together.
  5. In a stand mixer fitted with paddle beat butter and sugar at medium speed until no lumps remain, about 2 or 3 minutes,scraping down bowl as needed.
  6. Add egg and vanilla and beat until fully incorporated (about 30 seconds or so) scraping down bowl as needed.
  7. Reduce speed to low and add flour mixture mixing until just combined, about 30 seconds.
  8. Gradually add oat mixture until just incorporated ( do not over-mix).
  9. Using a sturdy wooden spoon give dough a final stir by hand to ensure that no flour pockets remain and ingredients are evenly distributed.
  10. For these outrageously large cookies work with ¼ cup dough at a time roll in to balls and space them 2½ inches apart on prepared sheets. THESE COOKIES REALLY SPREAD!
  11. Dampen your fingers and press each ball to 1 inch thickness.
  12. Follow the instructions carefully for baking the cookies to ensure your cookies are both chewy and crisp.
  13. Bake cookies for 20 to 22 minutes until medium brown and edges have begun to set but centers are still soft. Cookies will look raw between cracks and seem underdone.
  14. Half way through baking rotate cookie sheet from front to back.
  15. Let cookies cool on cookie sheets for 5 minutes before transferring to a wire rack, and let cookies cool completely before serving.


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My recipe for CHICKEN WITH MUSTARD AND RED PEPPER is a riff on a recipe by Patricia Wells.  Her book, THE PARIS COOKBOOK.  To read or cook from it  is pure delight.   I use French Dijon and coarse-grain French Dijon, a whisper of cayenne pepper, a dusting of red pepper flakes .  It goes together quickly.  Almost before you finish singing La Marseillaise you  top it with a little butter and pop it in the oven and bake it (despite the name).     This simple dish suggests a sauvignon blanc or a  young Côtes-du-Rhône.  Pour yourself a glass of wine  and voila!   That’s it.

Here’s the very, very best part of this recipe.  I think it tastes better the next day.    You can double or even triple the recipe for a crowd.  Don’t be concerned about the amount of red pepper flakes and cayenne called for in the recipe.  For some wonderful and unexplained reason they become just a hint of spice.   This is the chicken recipe to serve again and again and call it your own.  Tweak the spices.  Add a little more of this.   A little less of that.  To go with the chicken I roast chunks of  Yukon Gold potatoes tossed in a glug of extra-virgin olive oil and a generous sprinkle of coarse sea salt and freshly ground pepper.  This chicken recipe is known in our home as PICNIC CHICKEN because it is so delicious eaten cold the next day.  The flavours absolutely sing.

: Chicken
Cuisine: French
: 4
In French cooking, any meat or poultry seasoned with mustard and hot pepper then coated with bread-crumbs is called a la diable. This version of a classic Bistro dish is easily prepared and delicious served hot or cold.
  • 2 tablespoons French Dijon mustard
  • 1 tablespoon coarse-grain French Dijon mustard
  • ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 2 large egg
  • 8 chicken thighs (bone-in with skin) or 4 chicken legs, thighs attached
  • 1 generous cup fine homemade breadcrumbs (do not use Panko)
  • ½ teaspoon coarse sea salt
  • ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 tablespoons cold unsalted butter (cut into 8 cubes)
  1. Preheat oven to 375F.
  2. Line a shallow baking pan or roasting pan with parchment paper.
  3. In a small bowl combine the two mustards and the peppers and stir to blend.
  4. Place the egg into a medium sized shallow bowl and whisk lightly with a fork to blend.
  5. In a large bowl combine the homemade breadcrumbs, salt and pepper and mix to combine.
  6. (Have your sink filled with hot, soapy water with a bit of bleach (Oxygen Bleach preferably). You are handling raw chicken and it is important not to cross containment anything in your work space. Wash your utensils and dishes in the "bleach water" before loading them in the dishwasher. )
  7. Have a large platter at hand and using a pastry brush, brush the mustard mixture all over the chicken pieces and place in one layer on the platter.
  8. Dip them in the eggs coating evenly on all sides.(discard any left over eggs)
  9. Sprinkle with the bread-crumbs coating as evenly as possible. (discard any left over crumbs)
  10. Place the chicken pieces in the pan about 2 inches apart.
  11. Dot the chicken pieces with the butter cubes.
  12. Place in the oven and bake for 35 to 45 minutes, basting frequently. The chicken is done when the juices run clear when pierced with a fork.
  13. Remove the chicken from the oven and transfer the pieces to a wire rack to help firm up the coating, about 5 minutes.
  14. Serve hot or cold.


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The most loved, most used  of all my many baking cookbooks is tattered, torn, mended and scribbled.  More than fifty years ago it came free with a bag of Robin Hood Flour.     I adore anything  baked with cherries.  This recipe for Cherry Almond Cake is literally bursting with big, bright cherries.  It makes a generous cake.  Wonderfully generous.  You can cut, slice and slice and nibble away to your hearts content.  It is a splendid cake for entertaining.  Large enough for second or even third slices.  What could be more perfect.


This is very straight forward recipe.  Have all your ingredients at room temperature and follow the instructions carefully.  You will be rewarded with a rich cake with a fine crumb.


CHOP about 3/4  cup of the cherries in half.  Combine all the cherries and the chopped almonds in a medium sized bowl.


ADD the 1/2 cup flour you set aside and mix well.


COMBINE the remaining 2 cups of flour, add baking powder and salt and stir thoroughly.


CREAM butter and margarine until fluffy.


Gradually add sugar mixing until creamy.  Add flavourings.


Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.  Blend in milk.


MIX IN all the dry ingredients until completely blended.  Don’t over mix.

BAKE in 300°F (slow) oven for 1 to 1 1/2 hours or until pick inserted in center comes out clean.


Allow to stand in the tin for five minutes.  Turn out on a wire rack and cool thoroughly before storing.  You can sift a little icing sugar over the top of this delicious old fashioned cake.


5.0 from 1 reviews
: 12
This recipe for Cherry Almond Cake is literally bursting with big, bright cherries.
  • ½ cup blanched almonds coarsely chopped
  • 1½ cups glace or well-drained maraschino cherries
  • 2½ cups All purpose flour (set ½ cup aside for cherries and almonds)
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • ½ cup butter
  • ½ cup shortening such as Crisco
  • 1¼ cups sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 tsp. almond extract
  • 1½ tbs. lemon juice
  • 4 eggs
  • ¼ cup milk
  • Preheat your to 300°F. (slow)
  1. Preheat your to 300°F. (slow)
  2. GREASE and line a 9 or 9½ inch spring form pan with two layers of parchment paper. Grease again.
  3. CHOP about ¾ cup of the cherries in half. Combine all the cherries and the chopped almonds in a medium sized bowl.
  4. ADD the ½ cup flour you set aside and mix well.
  5. COMBINE the remaining 2 cups of flour, add baking powder and salt and stir thoroughly.
  6. CREAM butter and margarine until fluffy.
  7. Gradually add sugar mixing until creamy. Add flavourings.
  8. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Blend in milk.
  9. MIX IN all the dry ingredients until completely blended. Don't over mix.
  10. BAKE in 300°F (slow) oven for 1 to 1½ hours or until pick inserted in center comes out clean.
  11. Allow to stand in the tin for five minutes. Turn out on a wire rack and cool thoroughly before storing. You can sift a little icing sugar over the top of this delicious old fashioned cake.




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CHEDDAR AND GRUYERE CRACKERS . . . Frozen assets for holiday entertaining.


I like to make a splash  with holiday hors d’oeuvres.     Step out of the ordinary.  Conjure up the unexpected.   There is nothing more wonderful.  Nothing more special than freshly baked homemade crackers.  These are a snap to make.    A double dose of sharp cheese makes addictive crackers then don’t even need a topping.  Just whip up a handful of ingredients.  Pop them in the freezer and  slice off rounds whenever you want to serve freshly baked crackers.

They may seem like the last thing you have time for during the holidays but the dough for these savory slice-and-bake comes together in minutes.  Make a batch or double the recipe for a bigger stash.  You won’t regret it.

Dear friends, you know how I love to gild the lily.  These crackers take beautifully to hits of hot red pepper jelly or pungent blue cheese.  A little Brie or Gouda topped with a wafer thin slice of Granny Smith apple would go down treat.

Serve your wondrous cracker creations with glass of bubbly on New Year’s Eve.  You’ll be the toast of the town!


: crackers
Cuisine: Sophisticated
: 36
Homemade crackers are an extraordinary treat! You can make them ahead then slice and bake them for on the spot holiday entertaining. The dough keeps in the freezer for 3 months.
  • 1 cup (4¼ oz) all purpose flour
  • 1 tsp coarse sea salt
  • ½ tsp poppy seeds plus more for topping
  • 2 tbs (1 oz.) cold unsalted butter cut into small pieces
  • ½ cup (2 oz) FINELY grated sharp cheddar cheese
  • ½ cup (2 oz) FINELY grated Gruyere
  • ¼ cup (or more) whole milk
  • ¼ tsp Dijon mustard.
  1. Whisk together milk and mustard and set aside.
  2. In a large bowl whisk together flour, salt and poppy seeds.
  3. Work in butter with fingers until crumbly.
  4. Add the cheeses and mix with your fingers, breaking apart any clumps of cheese.
  5. Stir in the milk into the flour mixture with a fork until dough comes together.. Depending on the humidity you may require a little more milk to completely bind the mixture together.
  6. Shape the dough into a 2-inch-wide log.
  7. Wrap in the plastic and gently roll back and forth to shape it.
  8. Refrigerate for about 30 minutes then freeze for 1 hour or up to 3 months. If your crackers have been in the freezer for any lengthy time allow the frozen dough to stand at room temperature for around 30 minutes or so before slicing.
  9. Preheat oven to 350F.
  10. Cut log into ⅛-inch-thick rounds and arrange on parchment lined baking sheets.
  11. Sprinkle with poppy seeds.
  12. Bake rotating sheets front to back once until edges are golden, 14 to 16 minutes. You want the crackers to be on the crispy sides so do not underbake.
  13. Let crackers cool on a wire rack.


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EASY AS PIE . . . a no-fail pastry recipe


It is every baker’s dream.  The ability to whip up the perfect pie with a crust so  light and flaky and  delicious you chase the last crumbs around your dessert plate.    There’s more than a baker’s dozen way of making pie crust.     They all require a certain level of skill and more than a modicum of knowledge of the various types of pastry required for specific pie fillings.

Here is “the little black dress” of pie crusts.  It is suitable for almost every filling.  It is superb for savory pies and fruit pies.   Single crust pies like lemon meringue.   Chicken pot pie or steak and kidney pie.  Hand pies and tarts.  And best of all follow the recipe faithfully and you should be rewarded with perfect pie crust!

This is the secret to perfect pie crust every time.  The flour, butter, shortening, and water most all be VERY cold.  Let the dough rest in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes or longer before rolling.  And  finally,  don’t stretch the dough when you’re placing it into the pan.

One of the most popular fruit pie to make is apple.  The secret to eliminating the  gap between the apple filling and the baked pie crust is to toss your sliced apples with sugar and let it macerate while your pie crust rests.  Then add the thickener, spices and butter before putting your pie together.

You can prepare the dough ahead.  Form it into two balls, wrap well with plastic wrap and refrigerate for up to 4 days or freeze for up to 3 months.  Defrost in the refrigerator.

This recipe makes two  9-inch crusts.

Bake according to your pie recipe.


: 8
  • 6 ounces (1½ sticks) VERY COLD unsalted butter cut into ½-inch dice
  • 2½ ounces (1/3 cup) VERY COLD vegetable shortening, such as Crisco, diced
  • 3 cups VERY COLD all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon sugar (eliminate for savory pies)
  • 1 teaspoon coarse sea salt
  • ½ cup (or more if needed) ice water
  1. Place the flour, sugar and salt in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the steel blade (I like to put the steel blade in the freezer ahead of time). Pulse a few times to mix.
  2. Ad the butter and shortening and pulse 10 to 12 times until the butter is the size of peas(fat peas).
  3. With the machine running pour the water down the feed tube and PULSE the machine just until the water is mixed into the flour. Depending on the humidity you may require a little extra water.
  4. Turn the loose dough out onto a lightly floured board and using a bench scraper or your hands, gather it into a ball.
  5. Cut the ball in half and pat it into flat discs. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.
  6. Roll each piece out on a well-floured board into a 12 to 13 inch circle. Roll from the center to the edge, turning a quarter with each roll, flouring the dough to make sure it doesn't stick to the board. A long metal spatula slipped under the pastry is very useful for this maneuver
  7. Roll half the dough over your rolling pin and position it on the pie plate.


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It is the attention to detail.  The little extra that pushes something over the top that take it from very good to extraordinary.    And when that extraordinary itself is truly magnificent you have pure gold. During our restaurant years every … Continue reading

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THE TOP BANANA CAKE . . . a delicious doodle to make!


Cakes lavished with icing appear to be attending a party.    They sashay onto your plate with a come-hither look, and you swoon with delight.  There’s banana muffins. There’s banana loaf.  But the top banana is this old-fashioned banana cake by my favorite cook-book writer, The Barefoot Contessa.

This is a no nonsense, never fail type of cake.  A doodle to whip up even if you don’t have a mixer.  It has a fine, moist crumb flavoured with orange zest and studded with almonds.   And the icing is definitely “the icing on the cake”.   Cream cheese frosting  and banana cake is a marriage made in kitchen heaven.

This is the cake I make when bringing a dessert to a pot-luck supper.  It travels well.  It keeps well.  You can whip it up a day or so before serving.  And it slices beautifully.

THE TOP BANANA CAKE . . . a delicious doodle to make!
: old fashioned baking
Cuisine: American
: 8
An easy to make banana cake flavoured orange zest and frosted with cream cheese frosting.
  • 3 very ripe bananas, mashed
  • ¼ cup granulated sugar
  • ½ cup light brown sugar, lightly packed
  • ½ cup vegetable oil
  • 2 extra-large eggs, at room temperature (or two large eggs and one egg yolk)]
  • ½ cup sour cream
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • Grated zest of one orange
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • ¼ tsp fine sea salt
  • 1 cup coarsely chopped walnuts
  • walnut halves, for decorating
  • 6 oz cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 6 tbs (3 oz) unsalted butter at room temperature
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 2½ cups sifted confectioners sugar (8 oz)
  1. Preheat oven to 350F. Grease. flour and then line with paper a 9 x 2-inchround cake pan.
  2. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, mix the bananas, granulated sugar, and brown sugar on low speed until combined.
  3. With the mixer still on low, add the oil, eggs, sour cream, vanilla, and orange zest. Mix until smooth.
  4. In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda, and salt.
  5. With the mixer on low, add the dry ingredients and mix just until combined.
  6. Stir in the chopped walnuts.
  7. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 45 to 50 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
  8. Cool in the pan for 15 minutes, turn out onto a cooling rack, and cool completely.
  9. Spread the frosting thickly on the top of the cake and decorate with walnut halves.
  10. To make the CREAM CHEESE FROSTING:
  11. Mix the cream cheese, butter, and vanilla in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment on low speed until just combined. DON'T WHIP!
  12. Add the sugar and mix until smooth.


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THE MAGIC OF SUN DRIED TOMATOES . . . preserving the magic of summer all winter long

IMG_3627Through the halcyon days of summer I plundered the garden for the fattest, juiciest,  reddest of red tomatoes.  The days shortened.  Marine fog drifted across the fields poking destructive fingers into the garden.    Time to harvest the tomatoes, ripe or green.    The heady fragrance of tomato leaves surrounded me as I  filled my basket with these last jewels of summer.IMG_3621-001The green tomatoes were tucked single layer in closed cardboard boxes.  As they changed colour out they came to sit in a bright window.  Taking the sun.    I had already frozen tomatoes for soups and stews.  These tomatoes were to be oven roasted and frozen.

IMG_3626I cut the little cores out.   Sliced the tomatoes in half.  Placed them in parchment lined pans ( saves scrubbing pans ).   The tomatoes were sprinkled with a little coarse sea salt and freshly ground black paper.  Then  with a breeze  of olive oil and graced with whole sprigs of fresh thyme.

IMG_3634Roast the tomatoes at 275F for about five hours.  Then increase the oven temperature to 300F for the last hour.  Watch these little darlings.  The smaller tomatoes will brown faster and should be removed.  You don’t want them to become dry and brittle.  Toss the dried thyme.    Store the tomatoes in plastic freezer containers with layers of parchment papers between the slices.  Five pounds of fresh tomatoes will reduce down to about one pound.

IMG_3639It really is like magic!   Oven roasted tomatoes on pizza are  nothing short of divine.     Tossed in pasta dishes they are brilliant shots of colour and flavour.      Roasted tomatoes in the humblest of sandwiches takes the sandwich to delicious heights.  Or try coarsely chopped roasted tomatoes  and goat cheese on a baguette.

Bon Appetit dear friends.

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This is one of those desserts masquerading as something it is not.   It’s baked in a pie plate.  It looks like a pie.   But it is a delicious,  easy peasy cake.    The inspiration comes from  Ina Garten of Barefoot Contessa fame,  one of my most favorite cook-book authors.

This is the cake to whip up when you just can’t face another pumpkin pie at Thanksgiving.    It’s an absolutely doodle to make.  It simply hums along when you serve it with morning coffee.   It is so rewarding.   Combing tart cranberries and apples with a sweet cake topped with walnuts and cinnamon sugar.    Could you ask for anything more?  Of course.  Top your slice of goodness with a big scoop of vanilla ice cream.

(chef’s note:  If you use frozen cranberries defrost before adding to your cake)

: cake
Cuisine: dessert
: 8
A quick and easy to make cold weather cake delicious with morning coffee o rserved as a dessert with ice cream.
  • 12 ounces fresh or frozen (defrosted and drained) cranberries
  • 1 Honey Crisp or Granny Smith apple, peeled and diced
  • ½ cup lightly packed light- brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon grated orange zest
  • ¼ cup orange juice
  • 1¼ teaspoons cinnamon - divided
  • 2 extra-large eggs or 2 large eggs and 1 egg yolk at room temperature
  • 1 cup plus 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
  • ¼ pound (4 oz) unsalted butter melted and slightly cooled
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • ¼ cup sour cream
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • ¼ tsp coarse sea salt
  • 1 cup coarsely chopped roasted walnuts
  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
  2. Combine in a large bowl the cranberries, apple, brown sugar, orange zest, orange juice and 1 teaspoon of the cinnamon. Give it a good stir and set aside.
  3. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment beat the eggs on medium for two minutes.
  4. Add 1 cup of the granulated sugar, the melted butter, vanilla and sour cream and beat on medium until combined.
  5. Add the flour and salt and mix on low speed JUST until combined.
  6. Pour the fruit mixture evenly into a 10-inch glass pie plate. Pour the batter over the fruit covering it completely.
  7. Combine the remaining 1 tablespoon of sugar, the chopped roasted walnuts and ¼ teaspoon of cinnamon and sprinkle it over the batter.
  8. Bake for 55 to 60 minutes until a tooth-pick inserted in the middle of the cake comes out clean and the fruit is bubbling around the edges.
  9. Serve warm or at room temperature.

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An Amaretti cookie is a cookie with attitude.    It is an elegant bite of crunchy, chewy wonderfulness,   heady with the perfume of almonds,  perfect with exactly the right amount of sweetness. Amaretti cookies are definitely not your common, home-baked … Continue reading

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