Sarah’s Recipes

Sarah uncovered her mother’s cookbook, a small three-ring binder that contained all of the recipes she’d collected over the years—a devoted collection of recipes she’d learned from Sarah’s Nana, those they had advanced together, as well as the many they had invented. Over the years, they had improved upon them and as a result, most recipes had little notes here and there as to what they had eliminated, added, or altered.

Each handwritten note brought them both to life and the feeling that somehow they were alongside Sarah as she created each meal, baked each loaf, or crafted delicious deserts.

Now, this precious homemade compilation has Sarah’s own notes and alterations and has become a three-generation cookbook.

Alyana, her children, and all those that follow will most certainly incorporate their own contributions and continue the tradition.




Chapter 6

First Meal Prepared for Conrad

French Bread, Spaghetti and Meat Sauce, Fresh Vegetables Chopped Salad

Chapter 8


Homemade Butter Pie Crust, Pumpkin, and Pecan Pies

Chapter 10

Sarah's Sunday Brunch with Conrad

Potato Pancakes,  Eggs and Vegetables Casserole

Turkey Sausages and Lemon Meringue Pie

Chapter 13

Baking With Nana

Tarte de Mademoiselle Tatin

Chapter 14

Decorating the Christmas Tree

Ham with Maple Syrup Sauce,

Buttered Vegetable and Potatoes Au Gratin

Chapter 19

The Bond

Chicken Marsala and Caesar Salad

Chapter 23

Conrad and Sarah's Fun Brunch

Eggs and Pigs in a Blanket, Hash Browns

Chapter 27

Sarah and Conrad's Mexican Dinner

Margaritas, Guacamole,

Chicken Enchiladas in Tomatillo Sauce,

Black Beans and Mexican Rice

Chapter 28

Sarah's Christmas Eve Dinner

Marinated Leg of Lamb, Mashed Potatoes, Christmas Eve Salad

Chapter 29

Sarah's Christmas Day Pastries

Almond, Walnut, Pecan Creamy Cheese Puffs

Blueberry, Raspberry Muffins

Chocolate, Walnut Muffins

Snowball Cookies (Mexican Wedding Cookies)

Chapter 30

The Commission

Spanish Paella

Chapter 31

Wedding Appetizers

From Spain

   Shrimp in Garlic Sauce and Spanish Tortilla

From Mexico

Fish Ceviche and Crab Salad Dip

From France 

Rustic Chicken Pate and Oysters and Mushrooms Pate

Alyana’s Contributions

Brie in Puff Wheels

Cranberry Champagne Cocktail or Apple Cider Cocktail

Sarah’s First Meal for Conrad


 Homemade French Bread


Try this recipe and feel free to change it to seek the taste you seek. Sarah altered her mother’s recipe so that the bread would have the consistency that she sought.   

Making bread is great fun and shouldn’t intimidate anyone who hasn’t tried it. Even though you can buy baking equipment that can work the dough, Sarah enjoyed doing the work and found it much more rewarding. To eat the bread freshly baked is an unforgettable experience.

This recipe makes a nice large loaf, but if you prefer thinner baguettes you can split the dough in half before you let it rise the last time. In addition, you can easily double this recipe and make two loaves at once. The time investment is virtually the same and you get twice the bread. Enjoy!



Two large mixing bowls

One spoon to stir the dough

One electric hand mixer to stir the dough

One measuring cup

One measuring spoon

One bread pan to bake the French baguette (depending on the bread you prepare you’ll need pans with different shapes)

One clean hand towel to cover the bread dough as it rises



¼ cup of milk

5 teaspoons of sugar

1 teaspoon of salt

5 teaspoons of butter

1 package of active dry yeast

2 ½ to 3 ½ cups of unbleached flour (2 cups for the bread and the rest to roll the dough)

Cornstarch to coat the bowl and prevent sticking



Pour the yeast into a mixing bowl and add a cup of warm water, stir until there are no lumps in the yeast and it seems to bubble up.

Melt the butter, and then add it to the yeast, along with the milk, sugar, and salt. Stir.

Note:  To make breads with flavors (Italian, garlic, olive) other than a white French baguette, see the instructions below since this would be the time to add those ingredients.

Slowly add two cups of flour to the mix by adding about a ¼ of a cup at a time and waiting to add more as soon as the previous one has been well integrated. Use the electric mixer set on low. As you stir the mix it will stick to the sides of the bowl. Use the spoon to fold it in and keep stirring and adding flour until you have poured the two cups.

Now for the best part of making bread—kneading the dough. Start by sprinkling flour over the top of an area on the table where you’re going to knead the dough until it is lightly covered in flour. Take the dough ball out of the bowl (it will be sticky) and place it on the table. Start kneading. To knead, smash the dough down to flatten it, then fold it back up into a ball again, then flatten it again, and so on and so forth. I also liked squeezing and twisting the dough, then flattening in again. Do this for ten minutes and then shape the dough into a ball.

Coat the inside of a clean mixing bowl with cornstarch, and then put the ball of dough in the bowl.  Place a cloth over the bowl and set it somewhere that is somewhat warm for an hour.

After an hour the dough should’ve risen and it should be roughly double the size that it was before.

Push the dough down (two or three good smacks will make it shrink back to normal), then put the dough on the floured area of your table and spread it out in the shape of a rectangle with one side the length of your baking pan. As you do this you may need to put a bit more flour on the table to prevent the dough from sticking. Roll it out to the same size as the bread pan.

Note: This recipe makes one good size loaf. If you prefer thin baguettes just split the dough in half at this time then roll it out in two and you’ll have two thin baguettes.

Coat the baking pan with cornstarch and put the loaf inside the pan. If you’re baking a French baguette, cut slits on the upper part of the dough with a knife, diagonally ½ inch more or less. If you are just baking conventional types of bread you don’t need to cut the dough.

Cover that loaf with the towel, and let it sit again in a somewhat warm environment for one hour to rise.

Heat the oven to (400°F or 200°C).

Note: Sarah's mother had written a note on the side of her recipe that she liked to place a water container in the oven in order to create a wet atmosphere given that the bread bakes better is such conditions and turns up with a crispier crust. It sure worked for Sarah, so give it a try.

Place the bread in the oven and bake.           

Cooking time may vary depending on your oven, and it can range between 20 to 45 minutes. Keep a watchful eye after 20 minutes and you’ll find the correct amount time for your oven.

When it’s done, check to see if it’s ready by tapping the underside of the loaf. If it sounds hollow, it’s done. Remove it from the pan to cool. Let it cool down completely before slicing.

Adding Flavors to Your Bread

For Italian Bread - follow the same instructions, but when you melt the butter, add in some Italian seasonings to taste. Depending on the main dish you’re serving, add the seasoning you wish the bread to have.

For Garlic Bread - follow the same instructions, but when melting the butter add 4 cloves of crushed fresh garlic, same amount of butter, a dash of olive oil, a pinch of rosemary, basil, and dried thyme. After you slice the bread, brush it with some olive oil, and sprinkle it with Parmesan cheese and parsley.  Place it in the broiler for 30 seconds to brown.

For Olive Bread - follow the same instructions, but when you melt the butter, add in sliced black or green olives to taste. Make sure that when you stir them into the dough they end up distributed evenly throughout.


Garlic Bread Using an Existing Baguette


1 loaf of Sarah’s homemade bread, split lengthwise (store bought also works)

4 garlic cloves, crushed

2 tablespoons of butter

2 tablespoons of extra-virgin olive oil

¼ teaspoon of dried rosemary

¼ teaspoon or a pinch of dried basil

¼ teaspoon or a pinch of dried thyme

3 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese

Chopped fresh parsley



Combine garlic, butter, rosemary, basil, dried thyme, and olive oil in a small saucepan. Heat garlic, butter and oil in a small pot over moderate-low heat for 3 minutes (or in the Microwave for ½ a minute).

Cut the loaf of bread in half and, with a basting brush slather it liberally with the garlic and spices mix. Sprinkle with cheese and fresh parsley.

Place the bread under broiler and brown 30 seconds.

Cut into halves and serve.

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 Spaghetti with Meat Sauce


This easy dish sure came in handy for Sarah's first home cooked meal with Conrad. It’s simple to make and it has the great advantage of always satisfying those who eat it.

This recipe is for 4-6 servings of pasta. You can make the meat sauce for this many servings, but if you are only serving 2 people just use 1 pound (one package) of spaghetti. Refrigerate the leftover meat sauce and use it again by just reheating it. It tastes even better when it has absorbed all its ingredients. If it gets a bit too dry, just add a little water, or more beer.

Note:  Sarah's mother had a note in the recipe stating that when served, the meat sauce shouldn’t overtake the pasta. In most Italian home-cooked meals, the pasta is the main ingredient and the meat sauce its companion.



2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil

2 to 4 cloves of garlic, minced (depending on how garlicky you want it)

½ cup of chopped fresh parsley

2 medium onions, chopped (add more onion if you add more garlic)

1 pound of lean ground beef

1 (16oz) can peeled and diced tomatoes

1 (6oz) can of tomato paste

1 cup of water

6 ounces of beer

2 teaspoons dried oregano

1 teaspoon dried basil (if you have fresh basil use about 2-4 tablespoons according to your taste)

Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

1 bay leaf

2 pounds spaghetti, cooked and drained (any other pasta will do as well) if you are serving 4 to 6 people, but if you are serving 2 to 4 persons just use one pound or less.

Grated Parmesan cheese to taste



Crush the diced tomatoes with a fork and set them aside.

Sauté the garlic and onion until tender, but not browned.

Add the ground beef, and cook over high heat, stirring to break up meat as it browns.

Add the tomatoes and the tomato paste, water, beer, salt, oregano, basil, parsley, pepper and the bay leaf.

Bring to boil, and then lower the heat and simmer, uncovered, for about 30 minutes. As the meat sauce simmers, taste it and correct its seasonings by adding what your palate wishes.

Once the meat sauce is done, cover it and take out the bay leaf and discard it.

In a large pot, boil enough water to hold the spaghetti. Add dash of olive oil to ensure the pasta doesn’t stick, a pinch of salt, parsley, and minced garlic.

When the water is boiling, add the spaghetti and bring it back to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer until the pasta is close to being fully cooked. Test it. It should be tender but still firm to the bite—al dente. If you can still see a little ring of uncooked pasta in the center of the noodle, it’s perfect. It’ll continue to cook and soften up when you mix it with the meat sauce.

When the pasta is done, remove the pot from the burner immediately and carefully pour the contents into a colander in the sink and rinse with cool water. Drain the pasta well.

Pour the pasta in a serving bowl and add the meat sauce. Sprinkle the top of the entire dish with a little bit of grated Parmesan cheese just for presentation.

I like to have the cheese at the dinner table and offer each person the option of sprinkling the cheese on top of the pasta to taste.


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 Fresh Vegetable Chopped Salad


A nice fresh salad is always a good side dish, and I love the strong fresh and crisp flavors in this salad. This recipe yields 6 servings.


Ingredients for the Dressing

1 garlic clove, peeled and minced

1 teaspoon of Dijon mustard

2 tablespoons of red wine vinegar (you may need a bit more if you want it zestier)

2oz of extra virgin olive oil

4 tablespoons of lemon juice

Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste


Ingredients for the Salad

1 medium-sized head iceberg lettuce, washed and dried

½ medium-sized head red cabbage, washed and dried

2 carrots, peeled, chopped

4 celery stalks chopped

1 small red onion, skin removed, chopped

2 cucumbers, peeled, halved lengthwise, chopped

2 firm plum tomatoes, halved widthwise, chopped


Directions To Prepare Dressing

Whisk together all ingredients until combined, season with salt and pepper to taste. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Directions To Prepare Salad

Chop all ingredients to desired size and store separately until ready to serve. When ready to serve, toss all ingredients together. Drizzle with dressing, one spoonful at a time. The salad tastes better if the dressing doesn’t overwhelm its ingredients.


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Sarah’s Thanksgiving Pies

 Homemade Butter Pie Crust


Making the pie crusts proved to be an enjoyable experience and a lot easier than Sarah had anticipated. You can add more butter if you want it “buttery”, but her mother and grandmother didn't recommend it so Sarah followed their lead. This pie crust recipe is specifically intended for pies with fillings that will be baked along with the pie crust.

Ingredients - Makes 2 pie crusts for either 2 single pies or one double crust pie

2 cups of flour

1 teaspoon of salt

1 teaspoon of sugar

1 cup of cold butter cut in small pieces

6-8 tablespoons of cold water


Stir the flour, salt, and sugar together in a large bowl.

Make sure you keep the butter and water cold until you need them (chilling will prevent the fat from clumping). Mix—or cut—the chilled butter into the dry ingredients by pinching the fat into the mixture with your hands. Do not handle the butter too long in your hands because you’ll warm it. Work fast. The resulting mixture should have fat lumps.

Once the butter is mixed, slowly add the cold water. Drizzle it in with a tablespoon so it drops slowly and doesn’t clump the flour. Mix it with the edge of a spatula or with a fork gently after each addition. Once you’re done, grab the dough with your hand and squeeze, if it holds together you have enough water. If it doesn’t, add a little more and mix quickly. The dough will be sticky.

Split the dough into two equal amounts (bottom and top crusts or two bottom pie crusts).

Gently shape the dough into two balls. Handle the dough as little as possible —you don't want the warmth of your hands to melt the butter into the flour.

Flatten the balls a bit, and wrap them in saran wrap. Once the plastic covers the dough, roll the dough and shape it into a flat disc.

Note: As Sarah learned to bake, she learned that by making a flat disc at this point, instead of leaving it as a ball, it made it easier to roll out the dough later on. It doesn’t matter how big or how thick the disc is, as long as it’s ready to roll out in the shape of your round pie when you take it out of the fridge.

The dough needs to “rest” in the refrigerator. What happens when it rests is that, as it cools, the flour absorbs all of the liquid, and the dough then becomes more flexible.

Refrigerate for at least an hour.

Take out the dough and let it warm up to room temperature for about 10 minutes before you roll it so that it’s easier to handle.

Lightly flour the top of your working area and your rolling pin.

Note: You can either sprinkle flour as you roll and flip the dough over, or you can place the dough between waxed paper or plastic wrap to roll it and flip it to avoid adding more flour. It’s your choice.

Begin by rolling from center of disc out. Make sure you roll in one direction and turn the dough often. This also helps you avoid overworking the dough (which I did on my first few tries, resulting in tough pastry). ?If the dough splits, just pinch it or push it back together. It doesn't need to be in a perfect circle, just large enough to fit your pie pan. Also I recommend a thicker crust, it holds the fruit mixture or filling better and it doesn’t get too soggy.

Now that you have your crust rolled out, brush away any excess flour; gently fold the dough in half, and then into quarters. Carefully pick it up and place it so the center point of the dough is in the center of the baking pan.

Carefully unfold the dough, and without stretching it, press it into the pan and trim any excess dough from the edge. Leave a ¾ inch overhang to make a decorative edge or trim it to a half-inch if you're adding a top crust. If the dough cracks, pinch it back together with your fingers or patch the cracks with some dough from the outer edges.

Crimp the edges either with a fork or by pinching around the edge with your fingers. 

Top Crusts

Once the pie is loaded with filling, to make a standard top crust, roll the dough out as explained above and lay it carefully over the pie. Tuck the edges of the top crust under the lower crust and press together lightly. Using the rim of the pie plate as a guide, create a fluted edge with your fingers or the back of a spoon. Cut vents with a sharp paring knife, or use a fork to prick a decorative pattern on the top crust. Brush the surface with egg wash or milk, if desired, and bake. The oven temperature and the time will depend on the filling you’re using.

You can create lattice tops, decorative top crusts made with cutout shapes, braided edges, and other artistic touches with the second half of the dough. Just roll it out as you did for the bottom crust and create edible art. I sure did, and it is fun to do!


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  Homemade Pumpkin Pie


Sarah thought that homemade pumpkin and pecan pies were extremely difficult to make, yet she discovered that not only they are not challenging, but preparing them proved to be quite gratifying.

Feel free to change the amount of certain ingredients in the mix of the pumpkin pie to satisfy your own taste buds. Sarah's mother’s recipe called for a bit more cinnamon and cloves that Sarah cared for since she preferred to enhance the flavor of the pumpkin instead. This recipe therefore, uses a reduced amount of those spices, but you can create your own mixture to satisfied your palate.



1 medium pumpkin (you can also use canned pumpkin)

¾ cup of granulated sugar (organic granulated sugar is best)

1 teaspoon of cinnamon

½ teaspoon of ground nutmeg

½ teaspoon of ground ginger

A pinch of ground cloves (less than ¼ teaspoon)

1 teaspoon of salt

12oz of evaporated milk

4 eggs, beaten

1 delicious butter pie crust as described above (deep dish if the pumpkin yields about 15oz of puree)



Preheat oven to 400°F (200°C).

Cut out top of pumpkin and clean out all seeds and strings from inside. Slice the pumpkin vertically into 3-inch wide strips. Place strips onto a baking sheet. Bake in preheated oven for about 1 hour.

Once baked, scrape the pumpkin from the skins, then beat with a mixer or puree in a food processor until smooth.

Preheat oven to 425°F (220°C).

Mix the nutmeg, ginger, salt, evaporated milk and eggs with the pumpkin puree. Pour mixture into two 9-inch pie crusts.

Bake in preheated oven for 15 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 350°F (175°C) and bake for an additional 45 to 50 minutes, or until toothpick inserted into center comes out clean.  Cool and refrigerate. 


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 Homemade Pecan Pie


For this recipe you may want to change the amount of syrup or the balance between the dark and light syrup depending on your taste. Try it out and create your own perfect flavor.



I cup of light brown sugar

¼ cup (½ stick) of butter, melted

1 teaspoon of cinnamon

1 tablespoon of flour

Pinch of salt

¾ cup of light corn syrup

2 tablespoons of dark corn syrup

3 large eggs, lightly beaten

1½ tablespoons of heavy cream

1 tablespoon of vanilla extract

½ cup of pecans crushed

1 cup of pecan halves

1½ cups of pecan halves for the top layer (not broken)

1 delicious butter pie crust as described above



Preheat the oven to 350°F (175°C).

In large bowl, combine butter and sugar. Slowly add flour, salt, cinnamon until completely mixed. 

Note: Sarah's mother recommended mixing the flour, salt, and cinnamon in a separate small bowl, and then adding it onto the large bowl. The spices mix better.

In a separate bowl, combine the eggs, corn syrup, heavy cream, and vanilla extract, mixing to combine completely. Then add it to the mix in the large bowl and blend it well.

Stir the crushed pecans and ½ cup of pecan halves into filling and mix thoroughly.

Spread 1 cup of quartered pecans over bottom of pie crust.

Pour filling over the quartered pecans and into pie crust. Then add 1 cup of the pecan halves.

Note: Sarah's mother’s cooking book called for gently turning each of the pecan halves right side up to make a beautiful pie, and it is worth the trouble. The pie looks marvelous!

Bake at 350°F (175°C) for 55-60 minutes, depending on how hot your oven runs. 

Note: Make sure that the oven rack you place the pie in is in the middle of the oven and not too high. You don't want to burn the edges, but you do want the filling to cook well.

After 55 minutes check the area between the center and edges of the pie with a knife, if it comes out pretty clean, it's done. If it comes out gooey, it's not done.

When done, let the pie cool for several hours, or overnight. Store at room temperature.

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 Sarah’s Sunday Brunch with Conrad 

Preparing Sunday brunch for Conrad turned out to be a great exprience. The recipes Sarah used were easy to make and it all turned out to be a great success. The recipe is designed to  serve 4 but you can easily double the amounts for larger groups. Make sure you marinate the turkey before you start any of the other dishes to ensure it has at least one-hour prior to making it into patties to fry. Enjoy!


 Potato Pancakes


4 large peeled grated potatoes

1 yellow onion finely chopped

1 egg, beaten

2 tablespoons of all-purpose flour

½ teaspoon of baking powder

1 teaspoon of parsley

1 teaspoon of salt

1 teaspoon ground black pepper

Extra virgin olive oil and butter to fry the potato pancakes



In a large bowl beat the egg. Add the salt, pepper, parsley, and mix well. Pour in the flour and baking powder and thoroughly blend.

Finely chop the onion and place in a bowl. Add the grated potatoes to the onion and mix well.

Pour the potatoes and onions into the egg mixture. Mix well.                  

Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat and add a dab of butter. Spoon the mixture into skillet and cook as you would pancakes, for 3 to 4 minutes on each side. You may need to add oil and butter after each batch.


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 Eggs and Vegetable Casserole


1 cup of broccoli, chopped

1 cup of green beans, chopped

1 cup of corn kernels

1 cup of zucchini or yellow squash, thinly sliced

½ cup of onion

2 garlic cloves chopped

1 cup of shredded Swiss cheese

1 cup of grated Parmesan cheese

4 large eggs

1 cup of milk

1 teaspoon of basil

1 teaspoon of parsley

 Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Note: You can use any combination of vegetables to fit your taste, such as more broccoli and less zucchini, or different types of vegetables all together. What is nice about these vegetables is that they add a nice crunch to the casserole and they combine well.



Preheat oven to 350°F (175°C).

In a large bowl, mix vegetables and cheeses.

In a separate bowl, beat together eggs, milk, basil, parsley, salt and pepper and then pour it into the vegetable-and-cheese mixture and stir until well-blended.

Pour into well-greased 9x13 inch baking pan. Bake for about 40 minutes.


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  Turkey Sausages


1 pound of ground turkey

1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce

¼ tablespoon of sage

¼ tablespoon of tarragon

¼ teaspoon of thyme

¼ teaspoon of cayenne pepper

¼ teaspoon of onion powder

¼ teaspoon of garlic powder

Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

1 tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil to marinate the meat in

2 tablespoons of extra virgin oil to fry the patties



Mix all the ingredients well and marinate the ground turkey for about one hour.

Form into small to medium-sized patties. Fry until brown.

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 Lemon Meringue Pie

Sarah made this pie the day before in order to have the morning free to make all the other dishes she prepared. You can begin the preparation of the brunch by making the pie first, but Sarah would recommend making it the day before. You’ll be preparing the pie shell—or tart shell—first, then the filling, and then the meringue. It takes a bit of time but it’s not difficult to make. The key is to time yourself since you’ll need a good four to five hours to prepare it.


Ingredients for the Tart Shell

1½ cups of flour

½ teaspoon of salt

¼ cup of sugar

10 tablespoons (1 stick plus 2 tablespoons) of butter, chilled and cut into small pieces

3 to 4 tablespoons ice water

Directions for the Tart Shell

Place flour, salt and sugar into bowl and mix. Add the cold butter and mix it by hand, crumbling it into the mix until mixture resembles coarse meal.

Add ice water and mix with a fork or a spatula just until the dough begins to come together. Turn the dough out onto a cutting board or smooth surface and loosely cover it on both sides in wax paper or saran wrap. Roll it and flatten it so it looks like a disc the size of your baking dish more or less. Wrapped in saran wrap, refrigerate the disc for at least one hour.

Take out the dough from the fridge and let it soften at room temperature for about 10 minutes.

Preheat oven to 425°F (220°C).

Remove the saran wrap and roll out dough on a lightly floured surface. Press lightly into the bottom and sides of a removable-bottom tart pan. Trim off excess dough so that it's even with the top of the pan, and then prick sides and bottom all over with a fork.

Place pie weights—dried beans or rice—on a piece of foil or parchment paper in bottom of the shell to keep pastry flat while baking.

Bake 10 to 15 minutes, or until crust is just golden. Remove the pie weights and reduce oven temperature to 375°F (150°C). Continue baking until the pastry is completely dry on the bottom and golden brown, 8 to 10 minutes longer.

Set aside to let cool completely before using.

Lemon Filling


1 cup of sugar (organic sugar cane is best)

2 tablespoons of all-purpose flour

3 tablespoons of cornstarch

¼ teaspoon of salt

1½ cups of water

4 egg yolks, beaten (save the egg whites for the meringue)

½ cup of freshly squeezed lemon juice

¼ pound (1 stick) of unsalted butter, cut into small pieces

1 tablespoon of grated lemon zest


Directions for the Lemon Filling

Take out the butter from the fridge, cut it in small pieces, and let it warm to room temperature as you prepare the lemon mix.

Grate the lemon zest from the full lemons before you squeeze them to draw their juice.

In a medium-sized saucepan, whisk together the sugar, flour, cornstarch, and salt. Slowly add water stirring until smooth.

Note: If you add ½ a cup first and whisk it around into a paste, you’ll be able to dissolve the dry ingredients without any lumps forming.

Stir in the lemon juice and lemon zest. Cook over medium-high heat and bring to a gentle boil stirring constantly. Boil until it thickens—about 1 minute. Remove from the heat.

Place egg yolks in a small bowl and gradually whisk in ½ cup of the hot sugar mixture to “temper” the eggs (in this way the eggs are eased into the heat of the mix and won’t cook). Once the eggs are “tempered”, whisk the egg yolk mixture back into remaining sugar mixture and stir constantly.

Stir in the butter, a piece at a time, until fully incorporated. Bring to a boil and continue to cook while stirring constantly until thick.

Remove from the heat and let it stand a room temperature for a few minutes.

Pour filling into baked pastry shell.




4 large egg whites (that were set aside)

½ teaspoon cream of tartar

½ cup sugar



The egg whites should be at room temperature to whip.

Place the egg whites along with the cream of tartar in a bowl and beat until they form soft peaks. Gradually drizzle in the sugar and continue beating the egg whites until the mixture reaches stiff peaks.

Spoon the meringue over the filling decoratively, mounding it in the center and spreading it all the way to the outer edge, so it touches the crust forming occasional peaks. The meringue should be slightly thicker in the center than at the edges.

Bake at 350°F (175°C) until the top is browned, about 10 minutes. Watch carefully so it doesn't burn.

Let the pie cool on a rack at room temperature for 1 hour, then refrigerate for at least 2 hours before serving, preferably 3 hours.


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Baking with Nana

 Tarte de Mademoiselle Tatin


For those of you who are connoisseurs of the Tarte Tatin, please note that this recipe deviates considerably from the traditional one. In Sarah's opinion, of course, this recipe is much better given that the improvements were made by her Nana. What contributes to the unique taste of Nana’s Tart is that the apples are sliced thinly instead of in big chunks as the traditional recipe, plus the delicious flavor the Chantilly cream adds. Please enjoy making it as much as you’ll enjoy eating it.


Mille Feuille Crust


2¾ cups of all-purpose flour

2/3 of cup of cake flour

1½ teaspoons of salt

1½ cups plus 2 tablespoons chilled unsalted butter (3¼  sticks)

1 cup of ice water


Sift together the all-purpose flour, cake flour, and salt into a large mixing bowl.

Cut 6 tablespoons of the chilled butter, returning the remaining butter to the refrigerator to keep cold.

Place the diced butter into the mixing bowl and blend with your hands until the mixture forms a coarse meal. Don’t let the warmth of your hands melt the butter, just mix it in.

Make a hole in the middle of the mixture and add the water and gradually blend the water with the flour mixture with a fork or a spatula, mixing it until a sticky dough is formed. Wrap the dough in saran wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour.

After an hour, quickly join the butter together until you have a pliable 5-inch square—make sure you don’t overwork the butter — it should stay as chilled as your dough. Place it back in the refrigerator until you finish the next step.

Remove the cooled dough from the refrigerator and place on a lightly floured work surface and roll out dough into a circle slightly larger than a pie pan, being careful not to pull or tear the dough.

Take the mashed butter out of the fridge and place it on the center of the dough circle and fold the edges of the dough over the butter, pressing to seal the edges. You should now have a square of butter wrapped in dough.

Note: the time-consuming part of the preparation begins now since you will have to roll the dough on three separate occasions over a span of three hours. Keep track of each time you roll the dough, or of each turn.

Note: Do not roll the dough more than two times on each turn.

On a slightly floured surface, and using a rolling pin, roll the square into a 20-by-10-inch rectangle. The dough may need to be pounded with the rolling pin several times to allow the butter to become more workable. Make sure you don’t heat the butter and be careful not to tear the dough. Lift and rotate the dough to prevent it from sticking.

Now that you have a rectangle, fold it 3 times as if you were folding a letter before you mail it. Place the folded rectangle in front of you lengthwise and roll out again into a 20 by 10 inch rectangle. Fold it again 3 times as you would a letter. This completes the first turn. Dust away the flour, wrap the dough in saran wrap, and refrigerate—rest it—it for 1 hour.

Return the rested dough to a lightly floured surface and repeat the process of rolling the dough into a rectangle and then folding it like a letter with 3 folds, two more times. Dust away any remaining flour and wrap the dough in saran wrap and refrigerate for at least 1 hour. This completes the second turn.

Remove the dough from the refrigerator and place on a lightly floured work surface. Roll the dough into a large rectangle and then fold it like a letter with three folds two more times again.

Note: This completes the third turn. You should’ve rolled the dough now 6 times (two times each of the three turns).

Dust away any remaining flour and wrap the dough in saran wrap, and refrigerate for at least 2 hours. After it rests the pastry is ready to be rolled and used in any puff pastry recipe.


Apple Filling


½ cup of sugar

2 tablespoons of butter

4 good-sized baking apples peeled and cored

Juice of one lemon


Chantilly Cream (Crème Chantilly)


½ cup of heavy whipping cream

2 teaspoons of sugar

¼ teaspoon of vanilla

½ teaspoon of brandy



Prepare the Chantilly cream by whisking the cream, sugar, vanilla, and brandy in bowl until well mixed.

Set aside to be used once you cook the apples and before you bake the tart.

Note: The amount of cream you will add to the tart will vary according to the tartness of the apples, so make sure you taste it and are pleased with the proportions. There were times when Sarah's Nana only added two to four tablespoons of cream; other times she’d add the entire ½ cup.

Peel the apples, then core them, and cut them roughly into quarters.

Slice the quarters into extremely thin slices.

Note: When slicing the apples the image you should have in your mind as you slice them is that the apples should parallel the look and feel mille feuille pastry crust - delicate and very thin.

Place the apples in large bowl, gently toss the apples with the lemon juice, and set aside.

Butter the bottom and sides of a sturdy 10-inch stove-safe baking pan. Sprinkle sugar throughout using about half of your ½ cup of sugar.

Place the apples side by side with the curved side to the right, each slice slightly overlapping the previous slice fanning out into a nice circle. Layer them by alternating the slices making you fill all the gaps. The apple slices should be placed in concentric circles until the entire pan is covered.

Add the remaining sugar by sprinkling it over the top of the apples and pour the remaining butter over the entire tart.

Place the stove-save baking pan on the stove, and cook on a low flame for 10 to 15 minutes until the apples are almost tender and have started to release their juices.

Taste the flavor of the apples and sugar, then add the Chantilly cream to your taste.

Cook until the caramel is ready. Just insert a knife on the side of the pan and lift a bit of the caramel - it should be light brown or “blond.”   Remove the pan from the fire.

Place the baking dish in the oven for 10 to 15 minutes to soften and fully cook the apples. Let it cool at room temperature.


Baking the Tart


Preheat the oven to 400° F (200° C).

Note: It’s easier if you preheat the oven while the apples are cooking on the stove so that you don’t have to wait and the oven is nice and hot when you’re ready to bake.

Remove the dough from the refrigerator and let it sit at room temperature until slightly softened, about 5 minutes.

On a lightly floured surface, roll dough to a 12 to 14 inches diameter circle and no more than ½ inch thick. The pastry should be very thin.

Place the dough atop the baking dish where you have the hot apples and tuck the edges into the dish, carefully folding or pushing the overhang down tightly around the apples. Cut several slits in the dough to allow steam to escape while baking.

Bake the tart for about 20 minutes or until the crust is golden.

Remove the tart from the oven and allow it to cool.

Run a small knife around the edge of the pie dish to loosen the tart, and then place a large plate or platter over the pie dish. Careful not to burn yourself, grasp platter and baking dish and invert it, letting the tart settle onto the platter. Give the baking dish a quick tap if necessary. Carefully lift off the baking dish and place any apples remaining in the dish on top of the tart.


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 Decorating the Christmas Tree


 Ham With Maple Mustard Syrup Sauce


Preparing a fully cooked ham is more like "dressing" it. Sarah chose this recipe amongst several others in her mother’s cookbook (all of which titled “dressing the ham"), because she thought it would go well with the accompanying dishes and, of course, the Tarte Tatin.



1 (8 pound) fully cooked ham

Whole cloves

1 cup of whole-grain Dijon mustard

1/3 of a cup golden brown sugar

¼ cup pure maple syrup



Preheat oven to 350F°F (175°C).

Prepare the maple mustard sauce by combining the Dijon mustard and the maple syrup. Stir until combined well.

Cut the top layer of the ham into diamonds.

In a bowl combine ½ cup of the mustard sauce with the brown sugar. Spread the mixture over top and sides of ham.

Stud the center of each diamond with a clove.  Bake the ham for 40 minutes.

Transfer ham to a platter and let sit for 15 minutes before serving.  Carve and serve with remaining maple mustard sauce on the side.

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 Buttered Vegetables

The enticing aroma of the butter and the freshness of the vegetables make this dish the perfect companion for the ham.



Mixed fresh vegetables (carrots, broccoli, cauliflower, peas, green beans, and celery) or anything you can find that is fresh.

½ onion chopped

1 clove of garlic chopped

1 cup of fresh red and white cabbage, combined

 ¼ teaspoon of fresh chives

2 tablespoons of butter

2 tablespoons of fresh parsley

Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste



Steam the vegetables without the cabbage. Place them on a serving bowl, add the fresh chopped chives, and cabbage and toss it all together.

Melt the butter and pour it over the vegetables and toss.. Add the dash of salt and pepper to taste and toss again. Sprinkle the fresh parsley on top and serve.

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 Potatoes au Gratin


This is a delicious recipe and, of course, I imagine it’s all due to the high fat content of the butter, cheeses, and heavy cream. Sometimes one has to indulge. This recipe is for 4 servings, and you can eat just a bit if you’re watching your weight.



1/3 cup of unsalted butter, softened 

4 medium-large Idaho potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/4-inch-thick slices

½ cup of grated Gruyere cheese

½ cup of freshly grated Parmesan

1 cup of heavy cream

1 teaspoon of salt

½ teaspoon of ground black pepper

1/8 teaspoon of paprika



Preheat oven to 350F°F (175°C).

Peel the potatoes. Put the potatoes in a bowl filled with chilled water to prevent them from oxidizing while you prepare the dish. Cut the potatoes in ¼ slices and place them back in the water until you begin layering them.

Butter a 1½ quarts baking dish with about 1 tablespoon of the softened butter.

The next step is to layer the potatoes, but first, you must fully dry the potatoes one layer at a time (leaving the remainder in the water as you work). Place the first layer arranging them to completely fill the bottom of the baking dish, and sprinkle both cheeses over them. Continue layering potatoes and cheeses until you’ve used them all. Make sure you end with a top layer of potatoes.

In a small bowl, whisk the cream with the salt and pepper. Pour the mix over the potatoes.

Dot the remaining butter over the top and sprinkle with the paprika.

Bake for 1 to 1¼ hours, or until the potatoes are tender and golden brown on top.

Let stand for 5 minutes before serving.


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  The Bond

  Sarah’s Chicken Marsala


Sarah found these recipes written in small cards tucked away in the back of her mothers’ cookbook.

When she prepared them she took some short-cuts and made them even easier to prepare, so she wrote them into the cookbook and now they form part of the entire collection.

Both the Chicken Marsala and Caesar Salad recipes serve 4, but you can easily increase it for larger groups.



4 (1 pound) of boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut in halves and pounded thin

½ cup all-purpose of flour

½ teaspoon of fresh oregano crushed (you can also use the dried oregano—add ¼ of a spoon since dry spices are stronger yet the fresh taste will not be there)

Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil

2 tablespoons of butter

3 cups of sliced mushrooms

3/4 cup Marsala wine (a good Sherry would do as well)

1 cup of chicken stock



Pound the chicken breasts ¼ inch thick. For easy handling, place each breast in between a sheet of saran wrap then pound it down.

In a shallow bowl or plate combine the flour, oregano, salt, and pepper, and stir thoroughly. Lightly coat the chicken breast halves in the seasoned flour mixture, shaking to remove any excess flour.

Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat, then add the oil and heat until very hot but not smoking. Add 1 tablespoon of the butter and allow it to melt and mix with oil.

Place the chicken breasts in the pan and cook the breasts until golden brown on both sides, about 3 minutes per side. Transfer to a plate and set aside.

Add 1 tablespoon of the remaining butter to the pan and add the mushrooms. Coat them well with the butter and remaining oil.

Cook, stirring frequently, until mushrooms are golden brown around the edges and have given off their liquid.

Add the chicken stock and the Marsala wine and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for about 5 minutes.

Lower the heat to medium and return the chicken breasts to the pan and continue to cook until they are cooked through and the sauce has thickened, about 10 to 15 minutes.

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  Homemade Caesar Salad


There are several stories around the origin of Caesar salad. The most popular one is that Caesar Cardini, an Italian-born Mexican who lived in San Diego and who owned several restaurants in Mexico, including one in Tijuana, where it is said the salad was invented in the early 1920s. Legend has it that Cardini wanted to eat a unique salad that would remind him of Italy, and his chef came up with one that had combined great tasting Italian ingredients – garlic, Parmesan cheese, anchovies, and olive oil.

My mother and grandmother put the following recipe together with invaluable help from my father who had tasted the original salad in Mexico.  My father was the only one who liked anchovy filets so my mother always tossed a couple with his salad, and only his.



2 hearts of romaine lettuce (discard the rest of the head of romaine) – for 4 servings

2 dashes of Worcestershire sauce

½ teaspoon of mustard

1-4 garlic cloves crushed (use less if you don’t like so much garlic – I like it with lots of garlic)

½ teaspoon of anchovy paste

1 egg, coddled

½ of a lime, juiced

4 – 6 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil (you can add more if the dressing is too thick)

¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese

2-6 canned anchovy fillets (optional)

European Croutons – 8-10 thin slices of a French baguette, toasted, and cooled till they harden.



Take the egg out of the refrigerator and let sit at room temperature for a few minutes.

Clean lettuce thoroughly and wrap in paper towels to absorb moisture. Refrigerate until crisp.

Cut 8-10 thin slices of French baguette bread and toast it. Once done set it aside to cool off.

In a large salad bowl combine anchovy paste, the mustard, the crushed garlic, and the Worcestershire sauce. Using a fork, mix thoroughly until well blended.

Coddle the egg by heating 1 cup of water to boiling. Drop in egg (still in shell) and let stand for 1 minute. Remove egg from water and let cool. Once cooled, crack open, and whisk egg into dressing. Whisk until thoroughly blended.

Add the oil and the lime to the dressing. Mix it well.

Slowly add the grated Parmesan cheese and mix well with the fork until it reaches a thick but smooth dressing.

Dip the European croutons and set aside.

Add the lettuce leaves to the dressing and toss lightly.

You can place the European croutons on top and serve, or serve the croutons in a separate serving dish so that you guests can chose however many they wish.

Serve the anchovy fillets also on a separate serving dish for your guests to choose. 

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 Conrad and Sarah’s Fun Brunch

The brunch Sarah and Conrad fixed for Tom, Alyana, and the children was simple and fun. They loved the food and the children got a kick eating food “wrapped in blankets”. Conrad and Sarah enjoyed the preparation of the different dishes as much as actually eating them.


 Eggs in a Blanket


Eggs (however many you wish to make)

Bread (as many slices as you have eggs)

Butter (as much as you wish to cook the eggs and bread)


Butter both sides of a piece of thick bread. Cut a hole in the middle, using a cookie cutter or a glass.

Drop a small bit of butter into a skillet on low heat and place the bread in the skillet.

Drop a small bit of butter into the middle of the hole in the bread, and crack an egg into it. When the egg begins to set, flip the bread with the egg to cook the top. Keep flipping until the egg is done the way you want it on both sides. Keep the heat on low so that it doesn’t burn.

To make more eggs follow the same steps. I recommend wiping the pan with a paper towel after each egg so that you don’t have burnt leftover butter.

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 Pigs in a Blanket with Bacon



2 packages (1lb) cocktail wieners or small sausages

2 packages of bacon (you may not need as much, it’ll all depend on the size of the sausages)



Preheat the oven to 350°F (175°C).

Wrap each cocktail wiener with bacon.

Arrange them in a row on top of a flat baking pan.  Place them in the oven for 30 minutes or until the bacon is nice and crisp.


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 Hash Browns


6 peeled potatoes

1 onion, finely chopped

1 clove of garlic, chopped

½ teaspoon of seasoned salt

¼ teaspoon pepper

3 tablespoons of butter

Extra virgin olive oil for frying


Peel potatoes and coarsely shred them.

Place the potatoes in a bowl and add the onion, garlic, salt, and pepper. Mix well.

Pour oil into a frying pan or skillet and add the butter. Heat over medium heat until hot.

Drop as many potatoes into the oil that can fit into your pan, flattening them so they’ll cook evenly.

Fry for 5 minutes; flip and continue frying for another 5 minutes, until nicely-browned and fully cooked.

Drain the potatoes on paper towels.

Repeat the same process with all the potatoes.

As oil gets low, you may need to add a little and a bit of butter.


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 Sarah and Conrad’s Mexican Dinner


Conrad made some delicious Margaritas and Sarah prepared a guacamole dip that they enjoyed while they cooked. Hope you enjoy this delicious Mexican dinner as much as they did.


 Conrad’s Margarita on the Rocks

Mexican Margaritas, when first invented, were always served on the rocks, and much later came the blended Margaritas. It turned out that both Conrad and Sarah preferred the Margaritas on the rocks and not blended. They also prefer them with Triple Sec instead of Cointreau (less bitter). Sarah's parents added Tuaca an Italian liquor often used in Mexico to “soften” the bitterness of the limes. Delicious!


Ingredients (for 1 margarita)

1½oz of Tequila 100% agave

Note: Sarah prefers white tequila since it’s more pure and doesn’t have the residue of the wooden crate that gold Tequilas have as they age in them. Whichever Tequila you use, make sure it is 100% agave.

1oz of lime juice (keep the lime to wet the rim of the glass)

1oz of Triple Sec

Optional: 1oz of Tuaca 

Rock salt for the rim of rimming glass (I prefer my Margarita without salt but Conrad likes them with salt)



Combine tequila, lime juice, Triple Sec, and Tuaca. Stir or shake together.

Rim a glass with salt (optional) by pressing the lime all around it, then dipping it into a plate of salt.  Serve on the rocks.


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6 ripe avocados, peeled, seeded

1 teaspoon of cumin

1 large firm tomato, diced

1 cup of minced white onion

1 cup of chopped cilantro

2 jalapeños, seeded and minced (you can also use canned jalapeños)

Juice of 2-4 limes

Salt to taste.



Cut the avocados in large chunks and mash coarsely in large bowl with a fork.

Add remaining ingredients and blend. Taste and adjust seasoning as desired.

Serve with tortilla chips.

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 Chicken Enchiladas in Tomatillo Sauce


Enchiladas in tomatillo sauce were one of Sarah's father’s favorites, and her mother and grandmother perfected their recipe over numerous different attempts while her father happily volunteered as their official tester.

Sarah's family didn’t like to cover the flavor of the enchiladas with cheese so they never added cheese to melt over the dishes they prepared. In Mexico enchiladas are served sprinkled with fresh chopped red onion and fresh (not melted) crumbled Cotija cheese.

If you wish to add melted cheese to this recipe, I suggest you use shredded Monterrey Jack cheese. You can sprinkle a tablespoon of cheese inside the tortilla before you roll it and then sprinkle the rest over the 12 enchiladas and bake them till the cheese melts. Make sure to keep an eye as you bake them to not burn the cheese.

You can also have a bit of sour cream on the side as you serve the enchiladas for those guests who wish to add it, just as Conrad did. Enjoy!


This recipe calls for a 2-step process, first the tomatillo sauce, then the enchiladas.


The Tomatillo Sauce


2 pounds tomatillos, husked

2 white onions, peeled, quartered

4 garlic cloves

2 jalapeños, seeded and minced (if you like it more spicy, add more jalapeños)

2 tablespoons of virgin olive oil

1½ cups of chicken stock

2 ½ teaspoons ground cumin

1 cup chopped cilantro leaves

Juice of 1 lime

Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste



Preheat the oven to 400°F (200°C).

In a mixing bowl, toss the tomatillos with the olive oil, onion, garlic, and jalapeños. Place on a baking sheet and roast for about 15 minutes.

Remove from the oven and place the vegetables in a saucepan. Add the chicken stock, cilantro, lime juice, cumin, and season with salt and pepper. Bring the liquid up to a boil and reduce to a simmer for 8 minutes. Pour the contents into a blender and pulse until the sauce is blended thick and somewhat chunky.

Let it sit while you prepare the enchiladas.


The Enchiladas


5 skinless chicken breasts

5 skinless chicken thighs

4 cups of chicken stock

1 medium onion quartered (to boil with the chicken)

2 cloves of garlic (to boil with the chicken)

Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

1 cup of chopped cilantro leaves

12 large corn tortillas

Cilantro leaves, for garnish

Sour cream served on the side



Place the chicken, garlic and onion in a pot along with the 4 cups of chicken stock, and a dash of salt and pepper. Once it boils, simmer till the chicken is nice and tender.

Remove the chicken, shred it, and combine the breast and the thighs together, add the onion and garlic that were boiled with the chicken.

Add 1/3 of the roasted tomatillo sauce and 1 cup of additional fresh chopped cilantro and fold in the shredded chicken meat. Simmer for 5 to 10 minutes stirring often to mix all the flavors well. Season, to taste, with salt and freshly ground pepper if needed.

Now you have completed the enchilada mix that will go inside the tortillas.


Final Touches

Take the corn tortillas and briefly place one at a time over the stovetop flame (or put the lot briefly under the broiler if using an electric stove), just enough to brown them a bit.

Place a scoop of the shredded chicken enchilada mix on top of a corn tortilla. Fold the tortilla over the filling and roll like a cigar to enclose it.  Place the tortilla in a serving dish and continue to do the same with all the tortillas.

Finally, pour some of the warm tomatillo sauce over the enchiladas. 

Garnish with cilantro leaves and place the remaining sauce in a serving dish to one side of the enchiladas so that your guests will be able to scoop more salsa on their enchiladas if they wish to.


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 Black Beans

Whole black beans were a favorite of Sarah's family since they didn’t contain any lard which refried beans normally do. Sarah's mother’s cookbook also had a recipe for refried beans without lard, but Sarah was always more comfortable eating her family's Mexican dishes with black beans so she chose that route.

If you are planning on making the black beans, remember that they need to be soaked overnight. You should prepare the beans before you start the enchiladas and they will be ready at the same time.

If you like spicy beans, you can add a couple of jalapeños and combine them with the garlic and onion in the olive oil. Sarah's family preferred not to spice the beans with jalapeños because the beans help diminish the spice in the tomatillo sauce and therefore are more digestible.



2 cups (about 1 pound) dried black beans, picked over, soaked overnight

3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

½ medium onion, diced

2 cloves of garlic, chopped

1 bay leaf

Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste



In a large bowl, soak beans overnight covered in water by 2 inches. Drain and set aside.

In a large pot, heat the olive oil and add the onion, garlic, salt and pepper, and bay leaf and cook until the vegetables begin to soften. Do not caramelize the onion. This should not take more than 5 minutes.

Add the beans and cover them with water. There should be 1-2 inches of water above the beans. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat, cover, and simmer for 1½ hours, or until the beans are tender.

Remove the bay leaf and discard.

Taste the beans and season with more salt and/or pepper if needed.

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 Mexican Rice



2 tablespoons of virgin olive oil

1 cup of long grain rice

1 onion, minced

2 garlic cloves, crushed

1 teaspoon of cumin

Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

1 cup of water (or the leftover chicken stock – it gives it more flavor)

1 cup of beer

1 tablespoon of tomato paste

1 8½oz can of peas and chopped carrots



Heat skillet, and once it’s hot add the olive oil.

Add the onion, garlic, the cumin, the long grain rice, salt and pepper, and sauté over medium heat just until “blond.”

Dissolve the tomato paste in a cup of hot water (the leftover chicken stock from the enchiladas is preferable) and add to the rice mix, along with the cup of beer. Add the peas and carrots and stir.

Bring to a boil.  Cover and simmer over low heat for about 20 minutes.


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Sarah’s Christmas Eve Dinner


 Marinated Leg of Lamb


The key to the flavor of this dish is in the marinade, and the amount of time you have to marinate it. If you can marinate it for 48 hours then the meat will be exquisitely tender. It does require that you “bathe” the meat periodically by turning it and making sure all sides get marinated enough. If you don’t have 48 hours, it also works well with 24 hours. When Sarah made it, she only marinated it for 24 hours and it was superb. Enjoy!



1 5-6 pound leg of lamb, de-boned and tied

4 large cloves of garlic (2 to insert in the meat, the other 2 for the sauce)

1 small onion, thinly sliced

A dash of Rosemary or tarragon

Salt and ground black pepper to taste

2-4 tablespoons of virgin olive oil

1 bay leaf

A few sprigs of parsley

3 cups of milk (2% reduced fat)

1 cup of red wine

½ cup of heavy cream

4-5 Rosemary twigs to adorn the meat when served



Cut 2 cloves of garlic into slivers. Cut small incisions throughout the meat and insert the garlic slivers.

Pour 2 tablespoons of virgin olive oil and rub the meat thoroughly.

Sprinkle the meat with the dash of rosemary, salt, and ground pepper.

Place the leg of lamb in a deep baking dish and add the chopped garlic, the sliced onion, the parsley, the red wine, and enough milk to cover half the meat.

Marinate in refrigerator for at least 24 hours (preferable 48), turning leg several times to bathe it evenly.

Preheat the oven to 375°F (150°C).

Take out the meat from the refrigerator and make sure its well covered in the marinate before you brown it. Heat a frying pan and once it’s hot pour a couple of tablespoons of virgin olive oil. Place the side of the leg of lamb that has the most fat down and brown it. Then turn the leg of lamb and brown it on all sides. Don’t overcook the meat—just brown it.

Place the leg of lamb in roasting pan fat side down, pour the drippings from the frying pan over it, and roast it, basting it as it roasts. Allow 15 minutes per pound for rare lamb, about 20 minutes per pound for medium rare, or 30 minutes for well done. You can also use a meat thermometer.

While the leg of lamb roasts, you’ll need to prepare the sauce.

Remove the bay leaf from the marinade and discard it.

Pour the contents of the marinade into a blender and puree it.

Pour the contents into a pot, skim the foam, and discarding it. Cook the remainder of the marinade over slow heat till the milk boils. Simmer for 5 minutes so that the spices mix well.

As the lamb roasts in the oven, baste it occasionally by adding some of the cooked marinade as well.

Take the meat out of the oven, remove it from the roasting pan, and place it on a plate to let it rest for at least 15 minutes. It will continue to cook as it rests. As it continues to cook you’ll notice that the meat will release meat juices, particularly if you’ve chosen to cook it rare to medium rare. You should not use these juices so discard them after you move the leg of lamb to the cutting board where you will carve the meat.

While the meat rests, place the pan where the leg of lamb cooked in the oven, on the stove over low heat, add the marinade to it and mix it well with the drippings remaining in the pan. Slowly add the ½ cup of heavy cream, stirring it constantly till it all is well blended.

Once the leg of lamb has rested, place the meat on a cutting board, and with kitchen scissors cut the string and discard it. Carve the meat in rounds, and place them on your serving dish. Bathe it with the marinade to serve. Add a few Rosemary twigs to adorn the leg of lamb.


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 Mashed Potatoes


This is a very simple recipe and it comes out perfect every time, even when someone like me, with little experience in the kitchen, prepares it. It serves 10 so you can cut in half to make less.



6 pounds of Idaho potatoes (or one medium to large potato per person)

Salt and ground pepper to taste

8 tablespoons butter, room temperature

1 cup of milk

Note: Sarah's mother had a note stating that for “creamier” potatoes you could use ½ cup of water with ½ cup of heavy cream instead of the milk. Decrease the butter by 2 tablespoons.

Water to cover the potatoes as you boil them.



Peel potatoes and cut into large pieces. 

Note: Sarah's mother had written on this recipe that she preferred to leave some of the skin of the potatoes to give them some texture. If you choose to do this, please wash the potatoes and skin very well before boiling.

Place the potatoes in chilled water once you cut them so they don’t oxidize while the water boils.

Fill a large pan with water (enough to cover the potatoes) and salt. Bring the water to a boil and add the potatoes. Boil them for 15 to 20 minutes, or until potatoes are tender. I suggest you cover the boiling pan to avoid unnecessary splashing.

Drain potatoes then mash them in a large mixing bowl until no lumps remain. 

Note: Sarah's mother suggested using an electric mixer instead of a fork to ensure the potatoes are truly mashed and adding the butter at this time so you can mash it together with the warm potatoes and therefore distribute it more evenly.

Add milk a little at a time, beating after each addition, until desired consistency is reached. Add salt and freshly ground pepper to taste and continue beating until mashed potatoes are light and fluffy.

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 Christmas Eve Salad


This is a very simple salad, but when put together it captures the colors of Christmas, and its fresh crunchy style goes well with the softness of the meat and the potatoes.


Ingredients for the Salad

2 cups of cherry tomatoes

4 cucumbers, peeled, halved, and sliced to bite size

Greek olives, drained, halved

1 large white onion thinly sliced


Ingredients for the Dressing

2 tablespoons red wine vinegar (you may need a bit more if you want it zestier)

2oz of extra virgin olive oil

4 tablespoons of lemon juice

Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste


Directions To Prepare Dressing

Whisk together all ingredients until combined, season with salt and pepper to taste. Refrigerate until ready to serve the salad.

Directions To Prepare the Salad

Wash the cherry tomatoes, dry and toss in a large salad bowl.

Peel the cucumbers, halve them, and slice them into small squares (bite size).         

Add the cucumbers to the tomatoes in the salad bowl.

Drain the liquid from the Greek olives, and cut them in half and add them to the salad.

Slice the onion and add to the salad.

Gently mix all the ingredients.

Drizzle with dressing, one spoonful at a time. The salad tastes better if the dressing doesn’t overwhelm its ingredients.


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 Sarah’s Christmas Day Breakfast Pastries


Sarah made several batches of pastries and muffins knowing that we would eat them not only on Christmas morning but also the next couple of days as we moved Tom and Alyana’s family into their Twin House.

Each batch described below makes 12 servings


 Almond, Walnut, Pecan Creamy Cheese Puffs

The pastry is the basic ingredient for each of these pastries and to which you add the almonds, walnuts, or pecans, or a combination of two or three.

Pastry Ingredients

1 (4 oz) package of cream cheese (you can use low fat if you wish)

 ½ cup of butter

1 cup of flour


At least a couple of hours before you bake, soften the cream cheese and butter at room temperature.

Once softened, blend them and then slowly stir in the flour.

Chill in the refrigerator for 1 hour.

Shape into two-dozen 1-inch balls. Place each ball in un-greased muffin tins, and press the dough to cover the bottom and sides of the tins.

You will be adding the different nut mixes into the muffin-hollowed-shaped dough.


Almond - or - Pecan Filling Ingredients

1 egg

¾ cup of brown sugar

1 tablespoon of vanilla

1 tablespoon of butter

1 cup of chopped almonds – or –walnuts - or – pecans - or a combination of all three

Dash salt



Beat the eggs, and then add sugar, one tablespoon of butter, the vanilla and salt until smooth. Add 2/3 of a cup of almonds or walnuts or pecans or a combination to the mix.

Pour mix into the pastry lining the tins. Top with remaining almonds/pecans/walnuts.

Bake in oven 325°F (150°C) for 30 minutes or until filling is set. Let them cool at room temperature before removing from the baking tins.


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 Blueberry and/or Raspberry Muffins or Raisins and Walnuts Muffins


You can make twelve muffins with one berry or split the batch by following the same directions and using two different types of berry.

You can also follow this recipe and instead of fresh berries you can use raisins and walnuts. If you choose raisins and walnuts mix them well before you place them in the dough, and only use 1 cup of the combinations of both ingredients. Add an additional ½ cup of milk to substitute for the lack of the liquid released by the fresh berries.



2 cups of flour

½ cup of sugar (organic pure sugarcane is the best)

3 teaspoons of baking powder

½ teaspoon of salt

¼ cup of butter, melted

1 egg

1 cup of milk (I used 2% reduced fat)

1½ cups of fresh blueberries (or raspberries, or you can also use half and half to make 6 raspberry muffins and 2 blueberry muffins)


2 Tablespoons butter, melted

3 Tablespoons of granulated sugar

½ teaspoon of ground cinnamon



Preheat oven to 400°F (200°C).

In a bowl, mix together the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt.

Add the melted butter, egg, and milk, and stir.

Slowly fold in the fresh berries. You can make 6 muffins with blueberries and 6 with raspberries, or 12 with the same type of berry.

Line a muffin pan with 12 paper muffin cups. Spoon the mix into the muffin cups only to about ¾ full. 

Bake at 400°F (200°C) for 20 to 25 minutes, or just until lightly browned.

Brush tops with melted butter and sprinkle with the sugar-cinnamon mixture, I suggest you do one at a time so that the wetness of the butter helps absorb the sugar and cinnamon mixture.

Remove the muffins from the baking dish and let them cool off at room temperature.


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 Chocolate and Walnut Muffins



2 cups of flour

½ cup of sugar (organic pure sugarcane is the best)

3 teaspoons of baking powder

½ teaspoon of cinnamon

¼ teaspoon of nutmeg

½ teaspoon of salt

¼ cup of butter, melted

1 egg

¾ cup of applesauce

1 cup of milk (I used 2% reduced fat)

¼ cup of baking chocolates (I prefer semi-sweet but you can also use dark chocolate)

?½ cup of crushed walnuts

12 whole walnuts to garnish



Preheat oven to 400°F (200°C).

Line a muffin pan with 12 paper muffin cups.

In a large bowl mix well all of the dry ingredients.

In separate bowl, blend the melted butter, applesauce, egg slightly beaten, chocolates, and walnuts. Once well blended, pour the mix over the dry ingredients.

Blend all of the ingredients well.

Spoon into paper lined muffin cups filling each about half full. Place a whole walnut in the middle of each muffin.

Bake for 20 minutes or until muffin springs back when gently touched with finger.

Remove the muffins from the baking dish and let them cool off at room temperature.

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 Snowball Cookies (Mexican Wedding Cookies)



1 cup of unsalted butter

¾ cup of powdered sugar

1 teaspoon of vanilla extract

2 cups of flour

½ teaspoon of salt

½ cup or ¾ of a cup of powdered sugar to coat the cookies once baked



Preheat the oven to 350°F (175°C).

Let the butter sit at room temperature for about 20 minutes. Then, mix the butter, salt, vanilla, and powdered sugar together.

Add the flour and mix well.

Make balls that are about 1 inch and place them in a well-greased cookie sheet.

Bake the cookies for 10 to 15 minutes or until the bottoms are slightly firm.

Pour the remaining powdered sugar in a plastic bag. While the cookies are still warm, gently shake them (3-4 at a time) in the bag to coat them with the powdered sugar.

Let them cool at room temperature before serving.

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 The Commission


 Sarah’s Paella 


Paella has gained great popularity throughout the world because of its variety of ingredients, all of which are combined with rice. It originated in Valencia in the southeastern part of Spain. As with most regional dishes its ingredients are those found in the region, and in this part of Spain, fresh vegetables, a variety meats, and seafood are plentiful.

For a paella to cook well it is preferable to use a paella-pan that nowadays is called a paellera, although originally a paella was the word used for both the dish itself and the pan. A paella-pan/paellera is a shallow round cooking pan. These days you can order paelleras online, but if you do not wish to have a paellera, just find a large shallow round pan.

In Spain, particularly in the hot months of the year, paellas are cooked in the open air over an open fire. It’s fun to gather a party of friends and cook a paella outdoors. There are special paellera grills that can also be ordered online if you wish to cook a paella outdoors. You can also use a round grill. It’s loads of fun!

Sarah's grandmother and mother developed this recipe over the years, and it does not contain one of the most typical ingredients of paella, saffron. Saffron is a spice that gives the rice both color and flavor, and Sarah's family preferred the paella without it. If you wish to add saffron just put a pinch in the broth and mix well before you pour it. A little bit goes a long, long way.

Seafood paellas are very popular and you can make one just by following the same directions, omitting the meats, and including several types of fish and shellfish. It is recommended to use firm fish.

In Spain, and around Sarah's family’s kitchen, the fun of preparing a paella begins when everyone gathers around the cook, watches its preparation, visits, and enjoys a nice Spanish wine with a handful of small tapas such as olives or nuts.  


Ingredients (for 8 good-size servings)

2-4 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil

1½ pounds of chicken cut into chunks—a combination of drumsticks, breasts, and thighs—I prefer skinless breast and thighs.

1½ pounds of tenderloin, cut into square chunks

½ pound sliced Spanish chorizo or spicy Spanish sausage (I like “Linguica,” a hickory smoked Portuguese sausage that you can find in any regular grocery store)

1 large onion, finely chopped (about 1 cup)

2 cloves garlic, minced or pressed

2 cups uncooked white rice (I prefer to use long grain but Arborio is more traditional)

2 cups of chicken broth

2 tablespoons of tomato paste dissolved in 2 cups of hot water

Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

1 pound of medium raw shrimp (I prefer them with the shell which enhances the flavor)

1 dozen of fresh mussels, scrubbed

1 dozen of clams, scrubbed

1 can (8 ½oz) of peas (fully drained)

1 can (8 ½oz) of artichoke hearts – not marinated (fully drained)

12 fresh asparagus



Before you begin cooking make sure you have all of your ingredients, scrubbed, chopped, and ready to be added to the paellera.

Heat the paellera and add the tenderloin to quickly brown it on all sides. Don’t cook it just briefly brown it. Remove and set aside.

 Add 2 tablespoons oil to the paellera and let heat up. Add the chorizo or sausage and cook. Remove and set aside. Sarah's mother suggested you place it on top of some paper to towels so they’ll absorb the excess of oil

Keep the oil in the pan, now with the flavoring of the sausage and add the shrimp. Quickly toss till slightly pink. Remove and set aside.

Add the remaining 1-2 tablespoons of oil as needed, and the chicken. Brown on all sides. Remove and set aside.

Add the onion and garlic and sauté them until tender.

Add the rice and stir with the onion and garlic, salt and freshly ground pepper.

Stir in the 2 cups of chicken broth, the 2 cups of hot water with the dissolved tomato paste, and mix well.

Add the chicken and chorizo or sausage. Bring to a boil.

Cover and simmer 20 minutes.

Add the meat, shrimp, mussels, and clams.

Sprinkle the peas on top of the rice mixture. 

Arrange the 12 asparagus and artichoke hearts in a circle on top of the rice mixture.

Cover and simmer 10 to 20 minutes or until the rice is done and the clams and mussels open.

Note: Make sure you discard any of clams or mussels that have not opened before you serve the paella.


Serve with fresh baked baguettes.

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 Wedding Appetizers

By the time the wedding came around, everyone knew of Sarah's mother’s cookbook and the many French, Spanish, and Mexican recipes it contained. So Sarah obliged by preparing a couple of appetizers from each country. These appetizers plus those Alyana was known for, presented a bright and fun table that was complemented by the many dishes their friends and neighbors brought in.

 From Spain

 Spanish Shrimp in Garlic Sauce (Gambas al Ajillo)


This appetizer can be served at room temperature or warm, either way it has a strong flavor. It is a typical Spanish Tapa, found in most restaurants in Spain. You can serve it with French or Sour Dough baguettes sliced in small rounds so the guests can place a shrimp on top of the bread and pour a bit of the garlic oil on top.



½ cup extra virgin olive oil

8 garlic cloves, sliced

1 teaspoon of red pepper flakes (you can add more to make it more spicy)

2 pounds shelled small/medium shrimp

2 teaspoons paprika

½ cup medium-dry sherry

½ cup minced fresh parsley leaves

Fresh lemon juice, to taste

Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste



Heat a large heavy skillet over moderately high heat. Once the skillet is hot pour in the olive oil and let it get hot.

Add the sliced garlic and cook, stirring, until it is slightly golden.

Add the shrimp, the red pepper flakes, salt and ground pepper and cook the mixture, stirring, for 1 minute, or until the shrimp are pink and just firm to the touch.

Sprinkle the shrimp with the paprika and cook the mixture, stirring for 30 seconds.

Add the sherry, boil the mixture for 30 seconds, and sprinkle with parsley.

Season the mixture with the lemon juice and salt and pepper, to taste, and transfer it to a serving bowl.

The shrimp can be prepared one day in advance and kept covered tightly and chilled.

Serve the shrimp at room temperature.

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 Spanish Tortilla (Tortilla Española)


This appetizer can be served cold or warm, either way it is delicious. It is also a typical Spanish Tapa, found in most restaurants in Spain. Serve it with French baguettes sliced in small rounds. The recipe is for one Tortilla but you can make two just by doubling the ingredients.



2 large potatoes

4 -6 tablespoons of extra-virgin olive oil

2 medium onions, thinly sliced

8 large eggs

Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste



Peel and thinly slice the potatoes in uneven shapes. Soak slices in cold water for 10 minutes to release the bitterness of the starch so they don’t oxidize while you cook the onions. Drain and dry completely.

Heat a large skillet (10 inch) over medium heat. Once it’s hot, pour enough olive oil to coat the bottom and let it get hot. Add the onions and sauté, stirring occasionally until just nice and soft (do not caramelize).

Add the potatoes, and fry until lightly golden and a little puffy, about 10 to 15 minutes. You may need to add oil if necessary. You don’t want the potatoes to get sticky.

Turn off the fire and remove the potatoes and onion onto a paper towel to drain while you prepare the rest.

Break the eggs into a large bowl. Whisk just enough to combine and season with salt and pepper.  Add the potatoes and onions and mix well.

Turn the fire back on and re-heat the remaining oil on the pan and add two additional tablespoons of olive oil.

Pour the mixture into the oil and stir, making sure the potatoes and onions are distributed evenly. Stop stirring and reduce the heat to low, cover and cook until the eggs are set on the sides and bottom of the pan, but still pretty loose on top, about 5-7 minutes.

Run a spatula all along the edge of the pan to separate the egg and potatoes mixture.

Lay a flat pan lid or a plate on top and invert the mixture.

Add more oil to the pan if needed, and slide the inverted mixture back into the pan so that the uncooked eggs are now on the bottom, cover and finish cooking until set and lightly brown, about 3-5 minutes more.

Slide the Tortilla Española out of the pan to a serving plate to cool. It will look like a nice thick egg and potatoes pie. Cut into thin pie wedges and serve.

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 From Mexico

In preparing the Mexican dishes they wished to take advantage of natural resources offered coastal waters of the Northwest, so they chose two dishes that highlighted delicious fish and shellfish.

 Mexican Fish Cocktail (Ceviche de Pescado)

This appetizer is very common in Mexico, particularly in the areas near the coast. It can be made with any type of firm fish or shellfish.

Typically in Mexico, the fish is cooked by marinating it overnight in lime juice. Many people do not trust this method for cooking the fish so if you wish you can briefly boil the fish. Make sure you don't overcook it.

You can also add your favorite shellfish, and/or octopus, clams, and mussels to this dish if you want to create more complex flavors. This type of ceviche is called a Campechana and is also very popular in Mexico. Depending on how many shellfish or mollusks you add, increase the other ingredients accordingly.  

Sarah's ceviche contained only the fish given that some people do not like (or are allergic) to shellfish or mollusks.


Ingredients (Serves 16)

2 pounds of fresh firm fish (such as Halibut, Red Snapper, Orange Roughy, etc.)

8 firm tomatoes, finely diced

1 large onion, chopped

1½ cup of fresh cilantro, chopped

Juice of 8-10 fresh limes or as many as needed if they are not juicy

Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

2 fresh jalapeño peppers, deseeded and chopped (only if you wish it spicy. You can omit the jalapeño peppers altogether and serve them on the side for those who venture into spicy foods)

4 avocados



Place the fish in a deep dish that you can refrigerate overnight. Squeeze as many limes as necessary over the fish to cover it. Let it marinate overnight in the refrigerator to ensure the fish absorbs the lime. The fish will be fully cooked by the next day.

Optional: take the fish out of the refrigerator and boil it in salted water, stirring occasionally, less than 2 minutes (remember that the fish already cooked overnight in the lemon juice).  Drain and fully chill in the refrigerator before you proceed.

In a serving bowl, stir together tomatoes, onion, and cilantro. Squeeze 4-5 lemons and add, salt, and pepper. You can add the jalapeño peppers at this time if you wish to add spice.

Once the fish is chilled, chop it, and add to the mixture and stir. Place back in the refrigerator until ready to serve.

Just before serving, finely dice avocado and stir into the mix. It can be presented in either small bowls or as a “dip” with round tortilla chips.

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 Mexican Crab Salad (Salpicón de Cangrejo)


This dish can either be served as an appetizer or as main dish salad. If you can’t find fresh crab, you can substitute with any type of shellfish or firm fish.


Crab Salad Ingredients (Serves 16)

2 pounds of cooked crabmeat

3 cups of red onion, chopped

Juice of 3 fresh limes

4 tablespoons of cider vinegar

1 cup of fresh chopped cilantro

4 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil


Ingredients for the Garnish

Leaves of 4 butter-head lettuces

4 avocados

Juice of 2 limes

4 ripe tomatoes, diced

10 radishes

Jalapeño peppers, chopped



Combine the onion with the lime juice, vinegar, fresh cilantro, and olive oil.

Add the crabmeat and toss lightly together. Chill in the refrigerator.

To make the garnish cut the avocado in quarters. Toss gently in lime juice to prevent discoloration.

To serve, arrange the crab salad in the middle of a large serving dish on a bed of butter-head lettuce leaves. Garnish the crab salad by arranging the other ingredients in individual bunches all around it - slices of avocado, chopped tomatoes, jalapeño peppers, and radishes.  With this presentation the guests can pick their own combination of ingredients to add to their salad dip.

Present this dish also with round tortilla chips.


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 From France

They decided that two different types of pâtés - one rustic and one mousse - would represent France quite well.

 Rustic Chicken Liver Pâté with Pistachios (Pâté Rustique de Poulet au Pistache)

A “rustic” pâté is a full texture pâté made up of the variety of flavors that are mixed and not pureed, therefore creating a crunchy taste.


Ingredients (Yields 8-10 servings)

Beef gelatin:  1 cube of beef bouillon and 1 package of unflavored gelatin

3 tablespoons of virgin olive oil

1 celery stalk, finely chopped

2 garlic cloves, smashed and peeled

1 green onion (scallion), chopped

8oz chicken livers, chopped

1 teaspoon chopped fresh sage

¼ cup Marsala wine (or sherry or Madeira)

1 tablespoon of drained capers

¼ cup shelled pistachios chopped to include in the pâté

 2 tablespoons whole or halve pistachios for top layer

Salt and fresh ground pepper to taste



Prepare the beef gelatin first, by dissolving the beef bouillon in 1 cup of warm water, then bring the water to a boil and add the gelatin and stir until fully dissolved. Pour ½ a cup in your serving dish and place it in the refrigerator to gel. Keep the other ½ cup aside and let it cool down at room temperature while you fix the pate.

Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat, add the celery, scallion, and garlic and cook two minutes.

While it cooks, chop the livers.

Note: Use caution and make sure you thoroughly wash in very hot water all the utensils and the plate used to chop the livers. An alternative is using a paper plate you can then discard.

Turn the flame up to high and add the chopped chicken livers. Cook, stirring occasionally with a wooden spoon, until the livers are crisp outside but still a bit pink inside, about 3 minutes.

Stir in the sage, capers, and the Marsala wine and cook for 30 seconds. 

Cool the mixture.

Pour mixture into a blender or food processor and blend until fairly smooth, but not puréed.

Pour mixture into a bowl and add pistachios and mix well. Taste and adjust the seasoning.

Remove your serving dish from the refrigerator. Spoon the pâté on top of the congealed beef gelatin making sure you spread it all around and not leave any spaces on the sides of dish. Pour the remaining ½ cup of beef gelatin over the pâté. Cover the dish with saran wrap without touching the gelatin.

Refrigerate overnight.

Serve the pâté with thinly sliced French baguette rounds or water crackers.

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 Oysters and Mushrooms Pâte (Pâte de Huître et Champignon)

A mousse pâté is silky smooth and spreads easily on a cracker or a toasted bread slice.


Ingredients (Yields 8-10 servings)

1 cup of butter

1 medium leek (white only) chopped

1 garlic clove, chopped

2 cups of coarsely chopped mushrooms

1 jar/bottle of fresh oysters in their own liquid (If you can find in your grocery’s fish department the bottled fresh oysters from Washington’s Puget Sound, I highly recommend them)

4 tablespoons of chopped parsley

1 teaspoon of dried thyme

1 teaspoon of Worcestershire sauce

Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

½ cup of dry sherry

½ cup of Cognac

Optional: white caviar to top the pate (or black if white is not available)



Melt butter in a large skillet.

Add leek and garlic. Sauté until leek is tender, about 5 minutes. Stir in mushrooms, parsley, and thyme. Add the Worcestershire sauce, salt and pepper to taste. Sauté until mushrooms give off their juices, about 10 minutes.

Add the oysters and their liquid, and cut them in chunks as you stir them (easy to do with the spoon you’re using to stir). Stir in sherry and Cognac. Cook, stirring occasionally, until liquid is reduced and thickened, about 10 minutes. Taste it and season it to taste if it needs more salt or ground black pepper.

Cool mixture. You will notice that as it cools the mushrooms will reabsorb much of the liquid.

Once it has cooled down, puree in blender until smooth.

Place mixture in serving dish and cover the pâté itself by gently pressing saran wrap onto it so that it does not develop a skin while in the fridge. Refrigerate for several hours or overnight.

Serve it by placing a thin layer of black caviar on top. Provide a small cocktail knife to serve the pâté on thin baguette slices or water crackers.

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 Alyana's Contributions

 Alyana’s Brie in Puff Wheels

Alyana was well known for her Brie pastry wheels. They are so easy to make that you’ll love not only the taste but also the ease of its preparation.


Ingredients (Makes 2 wheels of Brie)

2 sheets of puff pastry

2 tablespoons of butter

1 cup of chopped pecans, almonds, and walnuts (½ cup per wheel)

2 8oz wheels of Brie

1 cup of cranberry sauce (½ cup per wheel)




Preheat oven to 375°F (150°C).

It is easier to make both wheels at once if you have enough space in your oven. If not make one then follow with the second.

If frozen, defrost the 2 sheets of puff pastry for approximately 15 to 20 minutes. Once they are unfrozen, unfold each sheet.

Melt butter in two separate saucepans over medium heat (one per wheel).

Sauté the nuts in butter until golden brown, approximately 5 minutes in each saucepan.

Gently roll pastry with a rolling pin to increase the size of the sheet by 1 to 2 inches in each direction. 

In a bowl, beat the eggs and add a little cold water.

Brush both sides of the sheet with the egg. It will help brown the pastry.

Center each wheel of Brie on top of each pastry sheet.

Cover the wheel of Brie with the nuts and the cranberry sauce.

Bring all four corners of the sheet together above Brie and twist slightly to cover it all up. Pinch the pastry together arranging pastry until you are satisfied with a nice shape.

Place the Brie wheels on un-greased cookie sheets and bake for 10 to 15 minutes until pastry is golden brown.


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 Alyana's Cranberry Champagne Cocktail or Sparkling Cider Cocktail


A bottle of Champagne, or sparkling cider, and ½ a cup of cranberry juice make 8 servings.



1 bottle (750 ml) cold Champagne (or 1 bottle of sparkling cider)

½ cup of cranberry juice

1 teaspoon of Angostura bitters

½ cup of frozen cherries, for garnish



Pour the Champagne (or the apple cider) into a glass pitcher, and then add the cranberry juice and Angostura bitters. Stir lightly.

Garnish with frozen cherries and serve immediately.

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