Buttered Baba Ganoush

Buttered Baba Ganoush -(Moutabal aka, baba ganoush)  is made with aubergines, tahini, pine nuts and plenty of garlic.

Beautiful and exotic — these are two words that best describe a delicate, aubergine. They come in so many varieties. Most commonly seen are the lavender to purple varieties, but what many of us didn’t know, is that ….  Aubergines are grown around the world; yet their appearance are so different based on thier geographical locations.

Many of you might be surprised they are so exotic. Aubergines grow in a variety of locations around the world just like many other vegetables. Yes, there’s more to aubergines than the purple kind. Think about how interesting that is for a moment. In Italy, a tomato looks the same as a tomato grown in China or the United States, however– this is not true for aubergine. Africa, China, France, India, Italy, Ukraine, and the USA are a few countries that produce aubergine, and all of them come in different shapes, sizes and colors.

In Thailand, they are called, Thai Yellow Eggs and they harvest as beautiful yellow fruit that are small and literally shaped like a chicken egg.

In Cambodia they cultivate, The Cambodian Green Giant. As you might have guessed, this fruit is large with skin that’s a unique light-color with green stripes.

Another international heirloom aubergines is the Rosa Bianca variety. It is from Italy, proudly flaunting a skin in shades of lavender and also blushing pinks.

From Africa, the Goyo Kumba aubergine. A stunning variety that is unusually tall and attractive.  They can be planted for their fruits or even just as ornaments. Africa produces bright red fruit that are stunningly eye-catching.

In Brazil, aubergine grows oval and orange. This variety has very attractive fruit that changes color as it matures – from green to orange to red.

Other international varieties of aubergine include Ping Tung Long from Taiwan, Japanese White Egg from Japan, Udmalbet from India and Listada de Gandia from other areas in Italy.

Popular backyard garden varieties of aubergines are Dusky varities, which takes 60 days to mature, Epics, Black Bells and Black Magics with fruits maturing at 72 days from seed to harvest.

There are so many ways to prepare aubergine but my favorite is the smokey, rich and creamy dip– hailing from areas of Mesopotamia.

Buttered Baba Ganoush

You’ll Need

2 large aubergines, slashed with a sharp knife- lengthways 4 to 5 times

2-4 large fresh garlic cloves, peeled and cleaned

2 Tablespoons tahini paste

Juice of ½ lemon (or more to your taste)

1 Tablespoon fine quality olive oil

4 oz. unsalted butter ( or Vegan Sub)

2 Tablespoons pine nuts, toasted

1½ Tablespoons finely chopped fresh parsley

2 Tablespoons fresh chives, chopped small

1 teaspoon fresh smoked paprika, for garnish

Here’s How

Wash, dry and lightly oil aubergines. Place on a hot, well oiled grill. Cook for 20-30 minutes, turning often until well charred and completely soft.

Cool, split them open lengthways and scrape the fleshy meat into a bowl, cutting as close to the skin as possible without taking any of the charred skin.

Place aubergine flesh in a food processor with garlic, tahini, lemon juice and olive oil Pulse. taste to adjust seasoning. (The tahini should be subtle and the lemon juice should not dominate). Season with sea salt to taste. Aubergines are like sponges and soak up as much flavor as you give them, so season well and bring out the flavors.

Place butter in a small pan and bring to a very low simmer. Use a spoon to disgard any white milky fat solids that rise to the top. Place the now, “Moutabal” in a beautiful shallow bowl and run the back of a spoon over the top in a spiral or a zig-zag formation–(  like frosting a cake).

Pour on the warmed clarified butter on top– taking care to leave white solids behind in the pan.

Garnish by sprinkling with toasted pine nuts, chopped parsley, chopped chives and dust with smoked paprika.

*Serve with Flatbreads and a variety of freshly cut raw vegetables. Also delicious on roasted meats.  

Bourbon Maple Meatballs for Cocktail Time! Oooohh yeah! 

These little appetizer meatballs are a delicious start to kick off your party ! 


1 pound ground meatloaf mix, (ground beef, pork and veal)

1/3 cup seasoned bread crumbs

1 large egg

2 clove garlic, minced fine

1 tablespoon good quality olive oil

1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika

1/2 teaspoon ground cumin

1/4 teaspoon white pepper 

1/4 teaspoon chipotle chili powder

Salt and fresh ground black pepper

1 batch bourbon BBQ sauce ( recipe below) 

Chopped parsley for garnish 


Preheat the oven to 350’F degrees. Prepare a high sided baking sheet with parchment, or a silicon baking mat. 

In a large bowl, add all the listed ingredients and with gloved hands, mix together until fully incorporated. 

Roll 1 -inch sized balls and place onto prepared baking sheet. Bake for about 15-20 minutes until one is cut open and no longer pink in the center. Remove from the oven and set aside. 

Make the sauce.Add the meatballs to the sauce. Simmer for about 10 minutes, turning meatballs to coat. Serve warm. 

Maple Bourbon BBQ Sauce 


2 cups good quality ketchup

1/2 -3/4 cup, good quality bourbon

1/4 cup chicken or vegetable stock

2-3 Tablespoons dark brown sugar

3 Tablespoons apple cider vinegar

2 -3 Tablespoons good quality maple syrup 

2-3 Tablespoon good quality mustard 

1 Tablespoons honey

1 teaspoon garlic powder

1 teapoon smoked paprika

1/2 teaspoon chipotle chili powder

 Pinch kosher salt


In a large skillet, over medium heat add all of the listed sauce ingredients. Whisk well to combine. 

On medium low heat bring the sauce to a simmer and warm all the ingredients through. 

Classic French Profiteroles with Vanilla Bean Ice Cream and Chocolate Sauce 


A profiterole is a classic tiny filled ball made from the French Pâte à choux dough. ( the only dough cooked twice) typically sweet, but can also be savory. This pastry is used to also make, croquenbouches, éclairs French crullersbeignetsSt. Honoré cake, Parisian gnocchi, and gougères to name a few of my favorites.

Dessert profiteroles are usually filled with whipped cream, custard, pastry cream, or as in the USA, vanilla bean ice cream. These cute little puff balls may be decorated, left plain or garnished with warm chocolate sauce, caramel, or a dusting of powdered sugar. They can be made ahead of time and frozen until ready to serve. So delicious you can’t eat just one!


1 cup whole milk

6 Tablespoons unsalted butter

1 teaspoon sugar

Pinch salt

3/4 cup all-purpose flour, sifted

5 large eggs, at room temperature

1 teaspoon water

Vanilla Ice Cream, ( only need 1/2) recipe follows

Powdered sugar, for garnish

Chocolate Sauce, recipe below


Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Line two high sided baking sheets with parchment paper or a silicon baking mat and set aside.

In a heavy bottomed, medium sized saucepan, combine the milk, butter, sugar, and salt. Bring to a slow boil over medium heat and cook until the butter is melted.

Remove from the heat and add the flour all at once, stir vigorously with a large wooden spoon until all the flour is incorporated. Return the pan to medium-low heat and stir briskly until the mixture becomes a smooth paste and pulls away from the sides of the pan in a ball. 1 to 2 minutes. ( Steam will be coming off the dough very quickly while the flour cooks and evaporation occurs.) 

Once the flour is cooked, about 2-3 minutes–remove from the heat. Mash the dough ball open and allow it to cool slightly. 

Place the dough ball in the bowl of your standing mixer, or a medium mixing bowl and mix on medium high speed. Begin to add 4 eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Always make sure the dough is smooth before the next addition. At first the dough will look as though it is separating, but just continue to beat until it comes together. After all the eggs have been thoroughly mixed in— allow the dough cool.
Beat the remaining egg with the water in a small bowl to make an egg wash add a pinch of salt. Set aside.

Transfer the dough to a pastry bag fitted with a large plain 3/4-inch tip and pipe out 16 golf ball-sized rounds, 2 inches apart onto the baking sheets. If you don’t have a parchment bag with a tip, use a gallon sized food storage bag and snip off a corner. With a wet finger tip, press down any points on top of the balls or they will burn.

Lightly brush the egg wash on the tops and sides of the dough using a pastry brush and bake until doubled in size about 15-18 minutes.

Reduce the temperature of the oven to 375’ F degrees and bake until the balls are golden brown, puffed and firm to the touch— and hollow inside. About 8 to 10 minutes, depending on your oven. Turn off the oven and leave the oven door ajar for 10 minutes for the puffs to dry.

Cool puff balls completely on a wire rack for an additional hour. Cut each profiterole leaving 2/3 at the bottom and cutting off 1/3 at the top. Scoop out the doughy centers with a small spoon and discard.

To serve, fill the bottom halves with a small scoop about 1-ounce of vanilla bean ice cream and cover with the top. Place 2 to 4 profiteroles on each dessert plate and sift the confectioners’ sugar over the profiteroles and decoratively onto the plate or drizzle each profiterole with warm chocolate sauce and serve immediately.

Vanilla Ice Cream


2 cups heavy cream

2 cups milk

3/4 cup sugar

1 vanilla bean, split in 1/2 lengthwise and seeds scraped

6 large egg yolks


In a heavy bottomed, medium sized saucepan, combine the cream, milk, sugar, and vanilla seeds and pod. Bring to a gentle boil over medium heat. Set aside.

In a medium sized bowl, beat the egg yolks until creamy and lemon colored, about 2-4 minutes. Whisk 1 cup of the hot cream into the egg yolks in a slow, steady stream. This is called tempering. ( brining the egg yields up in temperature to the milk, this step helps prevent the eggs from scrambling ) once the egg mixture has been tempered with the hot cream, gradually add all the egg mixture to the hot cream in the pan, whisking constantly. Continue to cook over medium-low heat, stirring, occasionally, until the mixture thickens enough to coat the back of a spoon, about 5 minutes. Do not walk away, it can burn easily or scramble.

Remove from the heat and strain through a fine-mesh strainer into a clean bowl. Cover with plastic wrap, pressing the plastic directly against the surface of the custard to keep a skin from forming. Refrigerate until well chilled, about 2 hours.

Pour mixture into an ice cream maker and freeze according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Transfer to an airtight container and freeze until ready to serve.

Makes Approximately 1 quart

Chocolate Sauce


3/4 cup heavy cream

1 Tablespoon unsalted butter

1/2 pound good quality 60 – 70% semisweet chocolate, in chips or cut into chunks about 1 1/3 cups

1/4 teaspoon good quality pure vanilla extract


In a medium sized sauce pan with high sides bring the cream to a boil and remove from the heat. ( Careful cream does not boil over).

Add the chocolate and vanilla to the cream and let sit for 2-3 minutes, then whisk until smooth. Serve slightly warm. The sauce can be kept refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 3 days; rewarm gently before serving.

Makes Approximately 1 1/2 cups

Variation: Add a Tablespoon of Framboise liquor for a Raspberry finish or Grand Mariner Liquor for a Orange finish. Both flavors are a great pairing with chocolate.

Green Monster Muffins! 

My stance on getting sneaky in the kitchen is very simple. I don’t like to lie about food, especially to children. I also know how hard it can be to get little ones to eat green. Fun holidays like, Halloween or St. Patricks Day and year end holiday are a great time to get green. Or flex your parental power and establish a “green food “ day of the week and introduce new green foods on that day.


2 1/2 cups all purpose or gluten-free flour

1 cup cane or coconut sugar

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon allspice

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

4 cups raw baby spinach

3 eggs

1 1/2 cups butter

3 over ripe bananas

2 teaspoons good quality vanilla

1. Preheat oven to 350’F degrees and prepare 2 regular sized muffin tins with non-stick, organic cooking spray. Or cupcake liners. Or, prepare 2 loaf pans

2.In a blender, combine spinach and bananas. Blend until spinach changed to a liquid state.
3. In a medium sized mixing bowl, combine the flour, cinnamon, baking powder, baking soda, salt and allspice. Mix well. Set aside.
4. In the bowl of your stand mixer or a large mixing bowl, add the sugar and butter, mix on high speed until creamy and sugar crystals begin to dissolve- about three to five minutes. Add eggs, one at a time mixing well in between each addition.


5. Slowly beat in the spinach – banana mixture. Add vanilla.


6. Add the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients. Mix well to combine.


7. Scoop batter into prepared muffin tins or two prepared loaf pans.


8. Bake for approximately 30-45 minutes or until muffins spring back to the touch and are slightly browned on edges. 60-90 minutes if baking loafs.
Test for doneness by running a toothpick in the center. If if pulls out clean, loafs are done. Makes approximately 2 dozen medium muffins, 1 1/2 large and 3-4 dozen mini muffins or 2 loafs.

Loaded – Jalapeno Popper Potato Skins!



3-4 jalapeños

2 pounds small round baby potatoes, about 2 inches in size.

2 Tablespoons organic canola or vegetable oil, divided

1/2 teaspoon garlic salt

8 ounces cream cheese, softened

1 cup grated sharp cheddar cheese

1/2 pound pancetta or center cut strip bacon, cooked crisp, drained of excess fat, and crumbled

Garnish Toppings

1 cup sour cream

1 bunch chives, chopped fine

1 tomato, small diced

10 black olives, chopped fine

Lime wedges


1-Place oven rack to top position and preheat your broiler to high.

2-Place the jalapeños onto a foil-lined baking sheet and broil,turning occasionally. Broil until skins are black and blistered on all sides. Or place on your outdoor grill for the same affect. Once skins are blisters and blackened,remove peppers to a brown paper lunch bag, or a plastic gallon- sized food storage bag. Seal.

3-When peppers are cool enough to handle, peel away skin with the sharp part of a paring knife scraping away from you onto a paper towel. Slice open and remove seeds. Discard skin and seeds. ( I wear gloves when handling peppers and seeds- do not touch your face. If you get caption on your skin and it is burning, wash with whole milk or anything high in fat. )

4-Dice peppers fine, and add to a small mixing bowl. Add cream cheese and mix well. Set aside at room temperature.

5-Place an oven rack to center portion of your oven. Adjust temperature to 400′ F degrees.

6-While oven is warming. Wash and dry potatoes. Place into a large food storage bag or bowl and drizzle with 1 tablespoon of the oil and the garlic salt. Toss to coat all sides.

7-Place potatoes on a foil lined, high-sided baking sheet and bake for 30 minutes, or until a knife inserted into the center goes in easily. Remove from the oven and set to cool.Turn oven heat up to 450’F degrees.

8-When potatoes are cool enough to handle, cut in half lengthwise. With a teaspoon gently scoop out warm potato flesh, leaving 1/8″ potato inside the skin — ( save potato flesh, and use for mashed potatoes  during another mealtime)

9-Brush the inside of each halved potato with remaining oil then sprinkle with salt and pepper and place facing up on the foiled lined high sided baking sheet again and place back into the hot over for an additional 10 minutes until dry and edges are getting crispy. Remove and cool slightly.

10- Fill each potato skin with 1 teaspoon roasted jalapeño cream cheese mixture, top with pancetta or bacon and grated cheddar cheese.

11-Broil for an additional 1-2 minutes, or until cheese is melted.

12-Remove from oven, and serve with sides of sour cream, chopped chives, diced tomatoes, black olives and lime wedges

Serve warm and crispy!

*Make variations by adding grilled and finely chopped, Carne Asade steak or ground taco seasoned cooked ground hamburger to the bottom of the potato skin before filing with cream cheese mixture.

Fun P B & J Sushi Rolls The Littles Can Make Themselves!

Kids should be in the kitchen as little as 2-3 years old with supervision! Teaching them and getting them get tactile is so important in so many ways. Here is a good introductory  lunchtime activity to get them involved. Keep in mind, kids are more likely to eat what they prepare! 



Nut Butter and Preserve Sushi Rolls


2 Tablespoons homemade nut butter, creamy
2 Tablespoons your favorite preserves
2 slices per person of sliced sandwich bread


With a sharp knife remove the crust from the bread.
Using a rolling pin, completely flatten the bread while carefully keeping the integrity of its shape.
Spread the nut butter and preserves across the bread
carefully role each slice into a tiny little spiral and cut into four evenly sized pieces. serve standing up to reveal the swirls of the PB&J.

Spicy Gingered Chicken Bites, with Honey-Orange Glaze! 

These bite-sized appetizers own it! The flavor parings are a match made in food heaven – garlic, ginger, orange, and honey. Oooo yeah ! Perfect to carry off to a game day tailgate party! 

1/2 c local honey, warmed ever so slight 

3 teaspoons minced peeled fresh ginger 

2 Tablespoons fresh lemon juice 

1/4 cup apple cider or apple juice 

1/4 cup low-sodium soy sauce 

2 Tablespoons sesame oil 

Juice and zest of one orange  

6 garlic cloves, minced 

4 boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into 8 pieces per breast 

Cooking spray 

1 teaspoon Kosher salt 

1/4 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper 

1 teaspoon cornstarch 

1 cup fresh squeezed orange juice 

2 teaspoons orange zest

2 teaspoons local honey

1 teaspoon black sesame seeds

5 scallions cut diagonally in 1 in chucks for garnish ( optional ) 


Combine first 9 ingredients at room temperature with the warm honey in a large zip-top plastic food storage bag; seal and shake well. 

Remove 1/2 the liquid –including 1/2 the garlic and set aside in additional container. Seal and set aside.

Place the chicken pieces inside the first plastic food storage bag containing the honey marinade. Seal and toss to coat. Refrigerate a minimum of 2 hours or overnight, turning occasionally.

When ready to cook. Preheat oven to 425°F ( or outdoor grill would be optimal just make sure the chicken is cut large enough not to fall through the grill grates or use special grill equipment intended for this purpose ) remove chicken from marinade and disguard and reserved liquid. 

Cook Chicken to 160’F internal temperature about  10-12 minutes depending on the size of your pieces. 

While chicken is cooking, strain the reserved marinade through a sieve into a high sided saucepan. Discard any solids. Bring to a boil. Cook 1-3 minutes to slightly reduce. 

Combine cornstarch and orange juice in a small bowl-stir with a fork to remove any lumps. Add cornstarch mixture to pan, stirring with a whisk; cook 1 minute until sauce thickened.

Brush glaze onto chicken during final three minutes of cooing time –on the grill, or in oven -turn to coat well and brown to caramelize. 

Place on serving plate, sprinkle with black sesame seeds. Serve skewered with trendy cocktail sticks and a diagonal cut scallion ( optional ) !