Minny’s Chocolate Pie from “The Help”

Here is the recipe for the famous pie seen in the film “The Help” …minus the special ingredient! This was super simple to make and really delicious with just the right amount of chocolate. Make it for your Oscar party this weekend and you will be WINNING!

Recipe link
Food & Wine Mag/ Aug 2011


Coconut Macaroons

For holiday gifts this year I chose to make the 2011 Food & Wine magazine coconut macaroons because I thought it was going to be quick and easy. I was wrong. My first batch was a disaster. I tried to half the recipe because it said it made 40 and I only needed 20. What resulted was a bunch of coconut pancake-like cookies.

Round 1 = EPIC FAIL

I tried again and made the full amount because it was obvious I didn’t have enough coconut. Whoever “tested and perfected” this recipe at F&W mag didn’t do a good job.

Reason 1 – The recipe doesn’t come close to making 40 macaroons as stated, it was more like 25.
Reason 2 -Don’t bake for 25 minutes! If you don’t want badly burnt cookies watch them carefully once they hit 10 minutes in the oven …anything over 15 and you are in trouble.
Reason 3 – There was no mention that the macaroons may run during baking so if you want them to look like what you see in a store (round balls) then you will have to trim the edges.
Reason 4 – They say to stick the finished product in the fridge for about 5 minutes for the chocolate to set. It takes a good 20 min.

In the end they still tasted killer but in order to not have to doctor them up to look presentable they need either more coconut or less sweetened condensed milk.

Recipe link
Food & Wine magazine, Dec. 2011

Delicata Squash Soup

I’d never seen or tasted a delicata squash until it arrived in our CSA delivery. After some research I found out that it is sweet and most commonly prepared by simply roasting it in the oven, but I decided to take it a step further and make it into a soup.

You know it's a delicata squash by the cool green stripes

When they said it was sweet I expected flavors similar to a butternut squash but it was much more subtle. This tasted like a potato soup with a touch of sweetness. I’ve made many squash soups and sometimes they turn out bland but this, although mild, I found uniquely delicious.

Recipe link
Food & Wine magazine / Feb 1999

For more winter squash recipes check out other bloggers participating in the Food Network’s Fall Fest (a season long franchise where Food Network editors team up with blogs to share tips and recipes about seasonal produce every week)…



And Love It Too: Warm Winter Chili
The Sensitive Epicure: Roasted Butternut Squash Soup
Cooking Channel: Kabocha Squash Pasta
CIA Dropout: Stuffed Winter Squash
What’s Gaby Cooking: Quinoa Stuffed Acorn Squash
Dishin and Dishes: Butternut Squash Bisque With Sage Cream
FN Dish: Simply Roasted Winter Squash
Napa Farmhouse 1885:
Pomme d’or With Wild Mushroom Risotto

Potato, Leek and Broccoli Soup with Pancetta Crumbs

It’s all about the bacon crumbs (we didn’t have pancetta)! Really nice creamy soup with a crunchy, salty, herby crumble on top.

Recipe link
Food & Wine Magazine| Nov 2010

Gale Gand’s Vanilla Bean Rice Pudding

Rice pudding was a lot easier to make then I thought. The vanilla beans looked so pretty and the flavor was outstanding. We used an entire vanilla bean instead of half  — what a waste not to. We served it with strawberries as suggested the first time but the next we used ripe banana slices and I gotta say I liked it even better. Tasted like a banana cream pie. The consistency was thick and creamy, not at all runny like grocery store pudding can be. A wonderful, fast, easy treat.

Tips: This was sweet even by my standards so I would recommend adding the sugar slowly and tasting to see how much you like.

The rice also could have been a little softer so I would leave it on the stove for 30 minutes instead of 20.

Recipe link
Food & Wine magazine /Sept. 2004

Nutella Pound Cake

When I saw this recipe I knew I had to make it. It looked sooooo good. The end product was more bread-like then the usual moist buttery pound cake consistency but still wonderful. When nutella is cooked the potent flavor of hazelnut transforms into a lovely light chocolate. As suggested we served this with homemade coffee ice cream that Mike made. Scrumptious!

Note: The recipe says use the entire container of nutella… it will seem like a lot but it really isn’t.

Recipe link
Food & Wine magazine /Oct 2009

Farm-to-Table Lunch, Pebble Beach Food & Wine 2009


Mike and I arrived at The Lodge at Pebble Beach ready for an extraordinary 4 course lunch prepared by celebrity Chefs: Ressul Rassallat (Club XIX), Traci Des Jardins (Jardiniere), Richard Reddington (REDD) and Nicole Plue (REDD). The meal would be served in the historic Club XIX restaurant which overlooks the 18th green at Pebble Beach Golf course. Our 2.5 hour culinary adventure began with a champagne reception outside on the grass with stunning views of Carmel bay. After some small bites and many refills of bubbly we were finally seated inside.

Our MC for the afternoon was Food & Wine Magazine Deputy Wine Editor Ray Isle (he was actually seated next to us and Mike had a field day talking about all kinds of wine stuff with him. For a wine writer he was very down to earth and super nice). As an added bonus to the meal before each course Ray (we are on a first name basis now…) would introduce the winemaker and/or rep from the winery that produced the wine that was paired with each dish. They would give a little info about the winery and the wine. The food was served immediately after the wine was poured. Enough talk! Here is a photo tour..

Hors d’oeuvre reception (Chef Rassallat)
Duck Nuggets w/ Honey Mustard &
Thai Lobster Shooters w/Avocado,Broccoli & Mango
MV, Champagne Louis Roederer, Brut Premier

Comments: The Lobster shooter was a perfect bite, one of the best of the day. The Champagne was light, fruity and refreshing.


each course was prepared by a different chef


Amuse Bouche (Chef Rassallat)
Foie Gras Parfait w/ Port Wine & Parmesan “Air”


This alone has made me want to come back to Club XIX

Comments: What a surprising and fantastic way to start the lunch. Mike and I had not eaten Foie Gras before and others at the table that had said it never tasted like this. It was sweet, warm and creamy with a flavor close to caramel. Simply Amazing.

1st Course (Chef Des Jardins)
Devil’s Gulch Rabbit Escabeche w/ Chantenay Carrots, Fava beans, Cara Cara Oranges & Fingerling Potato Chips
wine: 2007 Davis Family Vineyards, Chardonnay, Russian River Valley


This also had fried rabbit skin which tasted like bacon!

Comments: The rabbit was poached and marinated in an acidic mixture. A very light and fresh salad. The paired Chardonnay was complex, full bodied with nice citrus and mineral flavors and a hint of oak. Davis gets his complexity in his wine by fermenting a third of the grapes in stainless and two-thirds in Oak (divided evenly between new, one year and two year old barrels). This attention to detail produces one of the best California Chardonnays we have had in a long time. The wine with the orange was a perfect match. This was Mike’s favorite wine.

2nd Course (Chef Reddington)
Alaskan Halibut Saltimbocca w/ Spring Onion Fondue & Confit-Giblet Jus
wine: 2006 MacPhail, Pinot Noir, Goodin Vineyard, Sonoma Coast, CA


Sorry... I took a bite before I took a picture...

Comments: The perfectly cooked halibut wrapped in salty prosciutto was superb with the non giblet tasting Jus. The talk of the table was how the giblet flavor was unrecognizable. I thought they were mushrooms. When it comes to Pinot the MacPhail family are pros. In 2007 they released nine different pinots and in 2006, seven. The wine had a cherry and plum nose with wonderful, spicy fruit up front and a smooth and slightly bold finish. The prosciutto brought out the complexity of the wine.

3rd Course (Chef Des Jardins)
Prather Ranch Lamb, Housemade Ravioli w/ Braised Morels, Spring Garlic Puree & Baby Fennel
wine: 2005 Highlands Estate, Cab Sauvignon, Trace Ridge, Knight’s Valley, CA


I'm not sure what those little crispy nuggets were on top but they made the dish.

Comments: The lamb was good but the handmade ravioli’s stole the show. The accompanying Cab was a big, bold wine that stood up but did not dwarf the meat. Tons of currants and blackberries up front, full bodied and a slight hint of vanilla on the finish. The tannins suggest that the wine will cellar well for at least a decade but it’s outstanding now. This was my favorite wine.

4th Course (Pastry Chef Nicole Plue)
Strawberry Pain Perdu
wine: 2007 M. Chapoutier, Banyuls, Rhone Valley, France


I have renamed this to "pure bliss"

Comments: What you see is a slice of buttery french toast with a bread pudding consistency topped with sliced strawberries, vanilla ice cream and whipped cream. Let’s just say I can’t wait to go to Redd. So, we learned there was something before Port! It seems Napolean loved Banyuls so much he banned it from being exported and then the World turned to Portugal for its after dinner wines. This was incredible as it was not too sweet but had a strong alcoholic nose (bit too strong for Mike’s liking) but the prune/chocolate finish balanced out the sweetness of the dessert.

The Chefs
Reddington, Des Jardins & Plue


The chefs came out of the kitchen at the very end just to say a quick hello. Unfortunately the event had run late so they didn’t get the opportunity to go into any detail about how each dish was prepared. I guess you can’t have everything…

In Conclusion: Our meal started and ended with a bang. The setting, company, food and wine were magnificent. This was an experience Mike and I will forever remember and cherish. Thank you Foodbuzz!

Additional note from Mike – Go visit these wineries! Call ahead as they are small and require reservations.

Pebble Beach Food & Wine 2009

Our friends over at FoodBuzz were extremely generous and gave Mike and I tickets to the second annual Pebble Beach Food & Wine extravaganza. This is one of the premiere culinary events in the Country with over 60 celebrity chefs and 250 Wineries. It is the ultimate Foodie weekend and we had a fabulous time!

We went to the following events:

  • Thomas Keller Cooking Demo
  • VĂ©ritĂ© Winery Bordeaux Blends Wine Tasting
  • Farm-to-Table Lunch
  • Lexus Grand Tasting – Saturday

We will blog in detail about all of these soon, but in the meantime here is a little taste of what’s to come…

*to turn the music off, click on the speaker in the top left corner

Collard Greens with Fennel and Orange Butter


If you think the taste of collard greens is too bitter, this recipe is for you. Orange and greens are an inspirational combo. I had no idea how this recipe would turn out when I found it on the Food & Wine magazine website. All I knew was that it would use 3 items from our recent produce shipment:  collard greens, fennel and oranges! Yippee! The orange juice coats the collards and transforms into a sweet glaze. Mike breaded and lightly pan fried some sole filets to go along side. This will grace our table again in the near future.

Recipe link

Scallops with Brussels Sprouts and Lemon-Chive Crème FraĂ®che


You say you don’t like brussel sprouts…I say you haven’t had them like this! I had to find an interesting way to prepare the brussel sprouts that arrived in our produce delivery because Mike is not a fan. In this recipe instead of leaving the sprouts whole you slice them up and sautĂ© with BACON. While I made the sprouts Mike seared our scallops like a pro. When topped with the lemon creme fraĂ®che the citrus combo was out of this world.

Recipe link

Food & Wine magazine /Feb. 2006

Port-Glazed Walnuts with Stilton


Take a look at my new favorite appetizer! This received rave reviews at my sisters’ surprise birthday party last weekend. Simply magnificent.

Tasty Tip: Stilton is insanely expensive so I substituted Gorgonzola. Serve with a side of the port syrup and sliced baguette.

Recipe link

Dutch Apple Pie


Mike made this all by himself… the Liberty apples from our produce delivery worked wonderfully. Serve with a big dollop of ice cream!


applepie dutchpie

Recipe link

Tasty Tip: Mike used this pie crust mix from Williams-Sonoma. It worked perfect.

Caramelized Black Pepper Chicken

I was excited to see a recipe from Charles Phan of the Slanted Door in the Sept. issue of Food & Wine. I love Asian cuisine but I usually find it difficult to prepare at home. This dish on the other hand was extremely easy to make. One of the main ingredients was fish sauce. When Mike cracked open the bottle he made a funny face. This was our first time cooking with fish sauce and we were a bit worried about its pungent smell but it ended up tasting fantastic. After we finished eating Mike said, “I would make this again in a heartbeat.” It was that good. The sauce was sweet yet peppery and the cilantro gave it a fresh punch. Next time we fix this I might throw in some bean sprouts.

Tasty Tip: Make a little extra sauce – Mike and I had to duel over who would get the last spoonful!

Recipe link

Penne with Triple Tomato Sauce

This was the first pasta sauce I have made where you throw everything in a Cuisinart — no stove top cooking involved. When finished it looked like a cream sauce, yet no dairy was added. It was simple and flavorful. Perfect for a hot summer night. This was one of the “30 best fast recipes” featured in the Sept. issue of Food & Wine mag.

Recipe link

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