Saturday, October 25, 2014

May 27, 2013

My nephew and Godson, Brad celebrated his 40th birthday last May.  I'm a day late and a dollar short adding this to my blog, but better late than never so they say.  Time sure flies when life is happening.  Well, of course Auntie Puma would make his cake. Two of them.  And two dozen cupcakes.  So now, the theme. Brad is a wonderful artist, so I decided to stick with that, but keep it somewhat whimsical.  As I was modeling the fondant "supplies" for the decorations on his Pina Colada cake, thoughts of other favorites of Brad's ran through my head, and I realized I'd need more than one cake.  A second, chocolate cake was now in order decorated with some fondant "signature" items.  This is what I came up with.  Brad loved both cakes, but I think the most fun was watching his daughter, Nikole, 7 at the time, and the other kids ripping the cakes apart, enjoying an edible paintbrush, sketch pad, and everything else.  Hours in the making; decimated in seconds.  

Sunday, February 23, 2014


I'm pretty old-fashioned when it comes to desserts.  I love the traditional favorites, adding my own twist, sometimes combining two flavors into one. 
Serve with fresh fruit of your choice...I've chosen blackberries, since I love the dark, contrasting color and the crunch of the seeds. 

This tart was featured in ENCompass Magazine, Naples, FL
Summer 2014

1 cup sifted all-purpose flour (sift before measuring)
1/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon grated lemon peel
1/2 teaspoon lemon extract
1 egg yolk
1/4 cup softened, unsalted butter
2 teaspoons ice-cold water

Preheat oven to 400˚F. 
In the bowl of a food processor, place flour, sugar, lemon peel, and extract.  Process until combined.  Add egg yolk and butter; pulse until butter is incorporated, but still shows pieces.  Add water, and again process just until dough forms. 
Place dough on floured counter or floured wax paper; cover with another piece of wax paper.  Roll gently into a 10" round, sprinkling with more flour if dough begins to stick.  Carefully transfer dough to a 10" tart pan with removable bottom, pressing gently to the edges of just the bottom of pan.  Prick generously all over the bottom with the tines of a fork.  Freeze for 15 minutes.
Bake for about 10 minutes or until lightly golden.  Remove to rack to cool. 

Lemon Curd:
2 teaspoons finely grated fresh lemon zest
  1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
  1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
   2 large eggs
   7 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into pieces

  Whisk together zest, lemon juice, sugar, and eggs in a 2-quart heavy   saucepan.
  Add butter all at once, and cook over moderately low heat, whisking constantly, until
  curd is thick enough to hold marks of whisk and bubbles begin to appear on surface,  
  about 10 minutes. Immediately pour curd through a fine sieve
  into a bowl. Cover and chill.

1/2 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 egg yolk
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups whole milk
1 1/2 cups sweetened flaked coconut
1/2 teaspoon rum extract
1/2 teaspoon coconut extract

In a medium bowl, whisk sugar, eggs, yolk, and flour until smooth.  Set aside.  In a medium saucepan, bring milk and coconut to a simmer over medium heat.  Gradually add hot milk mixture to egg mixture whisking constantly.  You don't want to add it all at once, or the eggs will cook.  Return mixture to saucepan, and continuing to whisk constantly, cook for about 4 to 5 minutes or until the cream thickens and begins to boil.  Pour into a stainless steel bowl, and press a sheet of plastic wrap directly onto the mixture to prevent a skin forming.  Chill for at least 2 hours and up to a day.  

Spread about 1/2 cup lemon curd on top of tart shell; spread gently and evenly.  Spoon coconut cream filling on top of lemon layer.  Cover and chill overnight. 
Top with whipped cream before serving; sprinkle with toasted coconut.  Remove tart from pan sides right before serving.
To toast coconut:  Spread desired amount on a heavy baking sheet.  Place in center of preheated 350˚F. oven for about 5 minutes.  Watch closely...coconut burns quickly!

Makes 8 servings.

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Chez Puma

For those who don't know, my nickname happens to be Puma.  No...not the implication of "Cougar," but a name given to me about 39 years ago when my nephew, Brad, began to talk.  My name sounded like, "Auntie Poomla," so it was shortened to Auntie Puma.  I've been Puma ever since, and I love it.

Back to the kitchen.  I LOVE a great burger.  And if there's cheese and sauteed onions involved, well...what can I say?  So, I had the urge tonight.  Went to Trader Joe's; picked up a million or so items to include ground beef, arugula, a brilliant cheese: Cheddar with Italian Truffles.  Really?  There IS such a thing?  Honestly, I love truffles...truffle oil...just the name.  I once had a Parakeet named Truffles.  But, as I always do....I digress.

Eric and Moireen sent me an incredible sampler gift they purchased at a great place they visited called, "O & Co."  Check it out at ""

My menu tonight:

Arugula Salad with a Fresh Lemon Juice, Honey, and Olive & Basil Oil
Beef Burger with Sauteed Onions and Cheddar and Italian Truffles Cheese...OMG
Accompanied by a modestly priced Amarone.

What can I say?  It was super yummy.  

Here's the photographic proof.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

C Level Wine Bar

I really must brag about this place.  But first, a thing or two.  Adam and I went to the movies tonight...saw "Saving Mr. Banks."  Well, as Disney lovers...taking our pilgrimage to the land of mouse ears and goofy dogs many times over the past years, I was thrilled that my 28-year-old son would indulge his mother and see this flick.  Well, it was nostalgic, sentimental (is that redundant?), and funny.  We enjoyed  the movie, even the guy snoring in the seat next to us.  What can I say?  We're odd that way.  So, post movie, where to go?  Well, I hadn't seen John at C Level in quite a while (shame on me!), so, we headed to Bonita.

Never a disappointment, John was out among his adoring fans when we arrived, and gave us a warm welcome.  We sat at the bar; ordered a drink or two; then studied the menu.  Adam decided on the Grouper; I chose the Sea Scallops.  Well.........can I say, "Yum, yum, and yum?"  Yes, I can, and I did.  Not only did these plates look like works of art, they tasted SPECTACULAR!  

If you haven't visited this gem of an eatery, please add it to your list!  I'm seriously upset that we didn't take a selfie.  I think the glorious food completely sidetracked us......

Saturday, October 26, 2013


I love curry and ginger and think this broth adds such an exotic flavor to chicken soup even though I'm usually the first to say, "Make your own stock for soups...don't use processed, etc., etc."  But I love this product!  The cream adds richness...the leeks add an additional depth of flavor.  Of course the beauty of making your own soup is that you can create your own signature flavors.  

4 boneless chicken breasts, cut into 1/2-inch pieces, keep refrigerated until ready to use
6 tablespoons butter, divided
2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
2 leeks, cleaned well; sliced thin (mostly white part only--discard tougher green)
1 yellow onion, chopped
6 tablespoons flour
32 oz. Swanson Thai ginger broth
2 cups skim milk 
2 large russet potatoes, peeled and chopped into 1/2-inch pieces
2 large carrots, cut into 1/4-inch pieces (about 1 cup chopped)
1/4 cup freshly chopped parsley
1/2 teaspoon ground celery seed
1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
1/4 teaspoon dried, crushed rosemary
1 bay leaf
Salt (I use sea salt) & freshly ground black pepper
1 cup frozen peas, thawed
1/2 cup heavy cream
2 teaspoons lemon juice
Crushed red pepper to taste, optional

In a large stockpot, melt 4 tablespoons butter and one tablespoon olive oil over medium heat.  Add onion, leeks, carrots, and onions, turning heat to medium-high and saute' until vegetables begin to tenderize, about 3-5 minutes being careful not to burn.  Lower heat if necessary.  Stir in flour, and combine well, stirring constantly, about a minute and a half.  Slowly pour in broth and milk while continuing to stir or whisk until liquid incorporates the flour smoothly.  Add potatoes, carrots, parsley, celery seed, thyme, rosemary, bay leaf, salt and pepper to taste.  Bring mixture to a gentle boil, stirring constantly, then reduce heat to medium-low.  Cover and simmer until potatoes and carrots are tender; about 10-15 minutes.

In the meantime, melt remaining butter with olive oil in a large saute' pan; add chicken pieces, and saute' until nicely browned.  Add lemon juice to deglaze pan.  Remove from heat.

When potatoes and carrots are tender, add peas and heavy cream; stir to combine all, then add cooked chicken and crushed red pepper if desired.  Cover and simmer for 5 minutes.  

Serve with biscuits or crusty bread.  

Sunday, September 1, 2013


  • 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon dried ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon grated lemon peel
  • 11 tablespoons chilled unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
  • 3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons heavy cream
  • 2/3 cup diced dried apricots
  • 1/4 diced crystallized ginger
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.  Place a piece of parchment paper on baking sheet.  Blend flour, sugar, baking powder, ginger, and lemon peel in a large bowl.  Add butter and blend with fingers until mixture resembles coarse meal.  Add 3/4 cup heavy cream, and mix with pastry blender just until moist.  Mix in apricots and crystallized ginger.  Blend until incorporated. Transfer mixture to floured countertop, and divide in half.  Pat each half into a 3/4-inch round.  Cut each into 6 wedges, and transfer to parchment-lined sheet.  Brush with remaining 2 tablespoons heavy cream; sprinkle with sugar.  

Bake until lightly browned, about 18 minutes.  Cool completely.  Store in an airtight tin. Rewarm in 350 degree oven.

Cinnnamon & Spice Scones
  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup golden brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
  • 1/8 teaspoon alspice
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) chilled unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1 egg white, beaten to blend with 2 teaspoons water (for glaze)
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

Preheat oven to 425°F. Combine flour, brown sugar, baking powder, spices, baking soda, and salt in processor; blend 10 seconds. Using on/off turns, cut in butter until mixture resembles coarse meal. Add sour cream. Using on/off turns, blend until moist clumps form. Turn dough out onto floured work surface. Knead gently, and. pat out dough to 8-inch square (about 3/4 inch thick). Cut square into 8 wedges. Brush with egg-white glaze; sprinkle with combined 2 teaspoons sugar and 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon. Transfer to baking sheet, spacing 2 inches apart.
Bake scones until tops are golden brown and tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 20 minutes. Transfer scones to rack and cool slightly. Store scones airtight at room temperature. Rewarm in 350°F oven 10 minutes, if desired.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

BASIL FRITTATA, c., November 1999

Several years ago, Bon Appetit was featuring a contest for Undurraga wine called, "Undurraga over Lunch."  Contestants were to submit a suitable recipe to be paired with their choice of red or white, and the winners (there would be three) would have their recipes and photos of themselves printed for all to see.  
I was one of those lucky winners, and though I'd definitely rethink the hair style (you'll have to find that issue), the frittata stands the test of time.  Someone just asked about a recipe, and though I have another on here, I thought I'd share my winning creation...I can thank my mom for this, although she never used the basil.  

1 teaspoon butter
1 Tablespoon olive oil
1 small onion, chopped
6 large leaves fresh basil, rinsed and patted dry, chopped
6 large eggs
4 tablespoons ricotta
Salt & freshly ground black pepper

Heat butter and oil in a 9-inch skillet over medium-low heat; swirl pan to coat bottom and halfway up sides.  Add onion, and cook until slightly transparent. If onion starts to brown, lower heat.  While onion is cooking, scramble eggs in mixing bowl.  Add chopped basil, ricotta, and salt and pepper.   Add to onion in skillet.  Increase heat to medium for one minute, then bring back to medium-low.  Using wooden spoon, push uncooked portions to the bottom, keeping frittata whole.  When only a small portion remains uncooked, cover skillet, and turn heat to low.  This should only require another minute or two. When frittata is cooked, you may invert the whole piece onto a serving platter, or cut into wedges and serve in individual dishes.  Garnish as desired; perhaps using whole basil leaves and thinly sliced tomatoes.  

Serves 2