Red Wine Braised Pork and Chestnut Stew

At this time of year, I find joy in putting some great ingredients together and letting them braise slowly in the oven. This is inspired by a dish I had once in a London restaurant. When I returned from my trip, I worked on recreating my meal. Over the years I have tweaked the ingredients. I believe this version is actually better than the original! I attribute it to the final ingredient added in this last version the juniper berries, it adds a nice herbal under note to the favor of the stew. On the next cold wintry night fill your kitchen with the warmth and fragrance of this delicate stew.

From by the bay wishing you warm food memories!


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Red Wine Braised Pork and Chestnut Stew

Serves 4-6

2 ½ lbs cubed pork loin

¼ cup flour

1 teaspoon kosher salt

½ teaspoon ground black pepper

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

2 cloves garlic, chopped

1 bottle red wine

2 bay leaves

4 juniper berries

1 tablespoon fresh sage, chopped

15 oz whole roasted chestnuts from jar


Preheat oven to 350F. Mix flour together flour with salt and pepper in bowl. Add pork cubes and coat well. In dutch oven heat both oil and butter, sauté pork cubes until browned on all sides. Add garlic and sauté another minute. Next add the red wine, bay leaves, juniper berries, sage and chestnuts. Bring to a boil, then turn off flame. Cover and place into the oven for 2 ½ hours, stirring occasionally. Serve with noodles, rice or steamed spinach.



Cranberry Pecan Tassies

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Cranberry Pecan Tassies
makes 24 cups
1 3oz. package cream cheese, softened
½ cup (1 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
1 cup flour
¼ teaspoon kosher salt
1 egg, lightly beaten
¾ cup light brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
½ teaspoon orange zest
¼ teaspoon cinnamon
1 tablespoon butter, melted
1/3 cup fresh cranberries
1/3 cup pecans, chopped
Make the crust by blending cream cheese, butter and flour in a bowl. Cover and refrigerate for 1 hour. To make filling mix together using a spoon beat together  egg, sugar , vanilla, zest and cinnamon. Add melted butter to the mixture slowly, stirring constantly. Stir in the cranberries and pecans. Preheat oven to 350F. Divide the dough for crust into 24 small balls, approximately the size of an acorn. Place each ball into a small muffin tin and press down to line bottom and side of the tin. Spoon filling into each cup. Make sure that there is cranberries in each cup. Be sure not to over fill the cups. Bake in the oven for 30 minutes. Remove pans from oven and cool on a rack for 20 minutes. Carefully, remove tassies from the pan using a knife or small spatula. Will last one week in an air tight container or four weeks in the freezer.

Very Cherry Chocolate Cake


When Neil Diamond released his Cherry Cherry Christmas song, I embraced that message with my cooking. I enhanced a recipe I had kept over the years from Bon Appetit Magazine. The recipe is for a dense Chocolate cake topped with a rich chocolate ganache, which I often  included during my holiday entertaining. This cake, though really became special  for that Cherry Cherry Christmas, by amping up the cherry flavors by using dried cherries and kirsch along with a little excessive decorating over the chocolate ganache. I think the desserts served at the end of your Christmas meal , should look spectacular and feel like magic. I have an arsenal of edible decorations I collect during the year to give that magic factor to my desserts. One of my favorites is edible glitter in multi colors. It’s so much fun to sprinkle this on top of your desserts. Why not try this terrific cake and create your own dessert magic this Christmas! 
From by the bay …………..
Just a very merry, cherry cherry Christmas.And if all of those who love you gather near,you’ll have a very merry, cherry cherry, holly holy,rock and rolly Christmas this year
Copied from

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This recipe is adapted from a recipe by Rich Rodgers , originally printed in Bon Appetit  Magazine Dec 2003.   

Very Cherry Chocolate Cake

Serves 8-10


1 cup dried cherries

1/3 cup Kirsch ( cherry liquor)

1 cup ( sticks) unsalted butter, cut into pieces

12 oz. semisweet chocolate, chopped

1 ½ cup sugar

6 eggs, room temperature

2/3 cup flour

½ teaspoon salt


1 cup heavy cream

10 oz semisweet chocolate, chopped

¼ cup Kirsch


Edible glitter

Edible sugar flowers

Silver dragees

Directions for cake

Preheat oven to 350F. Butter and flour a 9 inch spring form pan. Line the bottom of the pan with a piece of parchment paper. In a small sauce pan add the dried cherries and kirsch. Bring to a low simmer for about 1 minute. Remove from heat and cool. Drain the cherries and keep the liquor  and cherries both in bowls separate to be used later. In another sauce pan melt the butter and then remove from heat. Add the chocolate pieces and let sit one minute. Whisk the chocolate until melted and smooth. Whisk in the sugar and then the eggs one at a time. Whisk in the reserved liquor.  Add the flour and salt and whisk again until blended. Stir in the dried cherries and then pour into the spring form pan. Place in the oven onto the center rack and bake for 1 hour. Use tester to make sure the center of the cake is done. Tester should come out moist but with no batter attached. Remove from oven and cool completely on a wire rack. ( Can be made one day ahead and kept covered at room temperature.)

Directions for glaze

Place cream in medium saucepan and bring to a simmer. Remove from heat and add chocolate. Whisk until chocolate is melted and smooth. Add Kirsch and whisk again until smooth. Allow glaze to cool and thicken for about two hours in saucepan stirring occasionally. At this point the glaze should be thick yet pourable. While glaze is thickening, turn cake out onto the wire rack and remove the bottom of the spring form pan as well as the parchment paper. Place cake with rack into a baking sheet lined with aluminum foil. When glaze is ready, pour half of the glaze onto the cake and use a spatula to smooth over the top and the sides of the cake. Place into the freezer to set for about ten minutes. Remove from freezer and pour the remaining glaze over the cake and smooth evenly again with the spatula. Place again in the freezer for another 15 minutes . Remove from freezer and decorate with edible sugar and sugar flowers. Keep in the refrigerator until 1 hour before serving. Cut into wedges and serve.



Cranberry Glazed Ham

I started entertaining over the Christmas holidays, when I moved into my first apartment. I had moved from my parents home on Long Island and into a small apartment in Queens. That first year,  I had a small Christmas party so that my parents could come and pick up all the Christmas presents and drive them back to Long Island so I didn’t have to carry them home on the train. So I started in a very small way something that has become an elaborate tradition. I was not a very accomplished cook and I didn’t have alot of extra cash, so the menu was simple and economic – baked ham,deviled eggs, mimosas and cookies. It was an easy brunch and everyone had a great time and I’ve been entertaining for the holidays ever since. I still like to make  a baked ham, it’s easy , delicious and looks like alot more effort than it really is. This cranberry glazed ham is one of my favorites – whether it’s for Christmas Day, Christmas Eve or any other Holiday meal you have a lot of guests to feed. It’s great for get togethers with children accompanied with macaroni and cheese or for adults served with cornbread and cranberries, like the recipe below. I find that most guests are excited to see a festive holiday baked ham on the table. Start your own holiday traditions using this recipe, it’s a perfect one to prepare!
From by the bay wishing you the berriest Christmas memories!
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Cranberry Glazed Ham

Serves 12 Dinner

Serves 18 Buffet

1 6-7 lbs fully cooked spiral-cut bone in half smoked ham

4 oz cranberry jelly

¼ cup brown sugar

¼ cup dijon mustard

¼ cup cranberry juice

1 tablespoon bourbon

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

¼ teaspoon allspice


Preheat over to 350F. Place ham in an aluminum foil lined baking pan. In a bowl combine remaining ingredients and whisk together, Brush on to the ham and between the slices. Bake for one hour, until the ham is fully heated. Serve warm or at room temperature.


Bloody Mary Cocktail Sauce

When I was a little girl, my parents would entertain on New Year’s Eve at our home. The celebration only included my parent best friends along with us kids. We would be giddy with excitement as my mother made the preparations. I remember feeling very grown up at six year old being allowed to stay up past my bedtime, although for sure it was not very late. My mom would make an assortment of appetizers and hands down my favorite was the shrimp cocktail. Now when I entertain on New Year’s Eve, I wouldn’t think of not including shrimp cocktail. Today, my mom needs to follow a low sodium and low sugar diet. After reading the ingredients on prepared cocktail sauce, I decided to create my own. My sauce uses the ingredients for a bloody mary – save the vodka, although on New Year’s Eve I have been known to include a splash of vodka in this sauce as well. It’s a perfect twist on my Bloody Mary and it’s also perfect for my mom’s dietary restrictions. We all love it! This will be the best cocktail sauce you have ever had. 

From by the bay wishing you a very Happy New Year and may your 2012 be filled with happy food memories!
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Bloody Mary Cocktail Sauce
3/4 cup organic low sodium ketchup
3 tablespoons grated horseradish
1/4 teaspoon tabasco sauce
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon vodka, optional
Mix all ingredients in a bowl and chill until ready to use. Serve with shrimp, crab or lobster.

Butter Cookie Recipe

It’s Christmas time and who doesn’t love to have  a platter of cookies at the ready? Whether you are preparing for guests or just trimming the tree alone – it’s nice to have cookies around the house. This is really the only time of year that I would have containers of different types of cookies around the house. It’s one of my favorite excesses at Christmas. A great cookie to try is this french butter cookie. It’s easy to make and I like having a recipe that doesn’t require a lot of work to add to my cookie assortment. This is my version of a cookie I ate in Paris that was topped with a little pillow of chocolate ganache. It was bliss. I also, make some of these topped with jam, since my sister Nancy is not a big chocolate lover. I suggest doing half of the recipe with jam and the other half with the ganache. Even if you don’t consider yourself a baker, this is an easy recipe to try. Enjoy!
From by the bay wishing you the sweetest memories of cookies and Christmas!
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Butter Cookie Recipe
Makes 4 dozen cookies
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
3/4 cup light brown sugar, packed
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 large egg
2 cups all – purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
extra granulated sugar to roll dough
jam to fill cookies
In a large bowl add the butter, sugar and vanilla. Use an electric mixer and beat ingredients until light and fluffy. Add the egg and beat in well. In another bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder and salt. Add to the butter mixture slowly and mix at a low speed. Once blended turn out into a sheet of plastic wrap , flatten and wrap. Place in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes. Preheat over to 350 degrees F. Place extra granulated sugar onto a plate. Roll dough into acorn size balls and then roll in the sugar. Place each ball onto an ungreased cookie sheets. Use your finger to flatten each ball. Take your thumb and make a small well in the center of the flatten dough. If you are making jam filled cookies, take a small spoon and fill well with about 1/2 teaspoon of your favorite jam. I like to use apricot, raspberry or red currant jam. If you plan to fill with chocolate ganache ( recipe below) bake as is. Bake cookies for about 10 minutes, until lightly browned. Cool on wire racks. Store in air tight containers.
Chocolate Ganache
Makes 1 cup
1/3 cup honey
1/3 cup heavy cream
2 teaspoons vanilla
4 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
Combine all ingredients into a saucepan and place on medium heat, stirring until the chocolate melts and everything is well combined. Pour into a bowl, cover and place in the refrigerator until you can spoon and shape into small pillow of chocolate to place on top of plain french butter cookies and serve. Don’t stack this cookie on your tray.

Naughty and Nice Gazpacho


I am a big fan of the music of Chris Isaak. When I’m creating recipes in my kitchen by the bay, I’m often rocking and dancing around the kitchen listening to his music. If you are not familiar with Chris Isaak, do yourself a favor and check it out.  Chris has just released a great new album called “Beyond the Sun”- recorded at the famous Sun Studios in Memphis. It’s filled with music originally recorded by Elvis, Jerry Lee Lewis, Johnny Cash, Roy Orbison and Carl Perkins to name a few. Last year I had the opportunity to meet Chris. I was so worried about what I could possibly speak to him about- and go figure food was a common interest. Chris is a fan of a certain gazpacho soup – one with a little kick in it. This is my version of that recipe. I happen to love to serve shot glasses of cold soups when entertaining and Christmas is no exception. I renamed my soup after Chris – Naughty and Nice Gazpacho and if you have ever seen him perform you’ll know why this is the perfect name!
From by the bay wishing you naughty AND nice food memories!

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Naughty and Nice Gazpacho

Serves 6



1 28 ounce can whole fire roasted tomatoes ( if you can’t find fire roasted use canned whole plum tomatoes)

1 large roasted red pepper , from a jar packed in olive oil

1 clove garlic, chopped

1 jalapeno pepper , seeded and chopped

1/2 white onion, coarsely chopped

1 medium cucumber, peeled, seeded and chopped

2 celery stalks, chopped

1 tablespoon tomato paste

2 tablespoons red wine vinegar

2 teaspoons sea salt

1 teaspoon coarse ground pepper



Place all the ingredients into food processor and process until pureed. Chill for at least 2 hours before serving.

Curried Cashews

It’s winter and there is a definite chill that comes across the water by the bay , so when I entertain guests on those cold chilly evenings, I love to serve something warming along with that cocktail. My curried cashews just do the trick . The heat of the curry in these wonderful nuts is the perfect welcoming to guests coming in from the cold. Home roasted nuts are so easy but it makes your guests feel that you took some extra time to prepare to welcome them into your home. Additionally, you can’t buy anything ready made to taste as good as these warm nuts do. Try it the next time you entertain and you’re be receiving all kinds of praise!

From by the bay, wishing you the warmest food memories!


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Curried Cashews

3 tablespoons olive oil

1 tablespoon curry powder

¾ teaspoon sea salt

¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper

2 cups raw whole cashews

Additional coarse sea salt to taste



Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Line baking sheet with aluminum foil. Heat olive oil in pan add curry powder, salt, cayenne pepper and cook until fragrant – approximately 1 min.

Add cashews and coat nuts for one to two minutes. Remove from heat and place on baking sheet in one layer. Bake for 12-15 minutes, stirring once. Remove from oven, sprinkle with additional sea salt. Serve warm or at room temperature.

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Very Berry Cranberry Sauce

I know that cranberry sauce is a Thanksgiving staple , but I love serving it through out the holiday season. I grew up eating canned cranberry sauce. In fact my Uncle Tom, owned a canning factory in Egg Harbor, New Jersey. This was the family’s source for most of our cranberry needs. We had cases of cranberry sauce and loved it!  When my Uncle Tom decided to close his plant and move onto other ventures we were ready to buy our sauce at the supermarket, but instead my Uncle Tom brought to the house some fresh cranberries and taught me how to make my own cranberry sauce. It tasted terrific and was so easy to make!  There was no going back and I’ve been making some version of his cranberry sauce ever since! This is a favorite of mine for Christmas celebrations, I love the mix of all the berries , as well as that little kick of kirsch. The kirsch, reminds me of  Christmases when I was a little girl watching my grandfather pour a shots of this wonderful cherry smelling liquid to celebrate with his friends and family!  The sauce is the perfect compliment to all your holiday foods –  smoked ham, pork loin, turkey or even beef! You are guaranteed to create some happy food memories with this very berry sauce!

From By the Bay wishing you the berriest food memories!

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Very Berry Cranberry Sauce
Serves Six


½ cup cranberry juice cocktail

1 cup fine sugar

1 12oz, package whole fresh cranberries

½ cup dried cranberries

¼ cup dried cherries

¼ cup cherry brandy (Kirsch)

¼ teaspoon ground allspice



Combine cranberry juice, brandy and sugar in a medium sauce pan. Bring to a boil, stirring to dissolve sugar. Add cranberries, dried cranberries, dried cherries and allspice. Return to a boil, reduce heat and simmer approximately 10 minutes until the cranberries start to burst. Remove from heat. Cool completely and then chill in refrigerator. Cranberry sauce will thicken. Serve chilled.

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Spritz Cookies


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Definition: Spritz Cookies are make with a cookie press. A cookie press allows the baker to shape dough into uniform shapes quickly. Cookie presses come in a variety of shapes but this is especially wonderful for Christmas entertaining. Cookies can be made into wreaths, trees, stars etc. These butter cookies are really a holiday staple.


My fondest Christmas cooking memory is making cookies with my mother. When I was a little girl, our Christmas tradition was making these wonderful little spritz butter cookies and decorating them. We made them only  at Christmas and we would enjoy them through out the holidays. An equally wonderful memory was when my mother handed over to me the official role of baking these cookies for the holidays along with her cookie press. She came over to my house and taught me exactly what to do. I was not so great at making the shapes when we first started so don’t get discouraged when you first attempt these little cookies. If you don’t like how they look just grab up that dough and throw it back into the cookie press and try again. I had to do that a few times before I finally got the hang of it. I was under close supervision by my mother when she taught me how to make these cookies. The way I knew that I had succeeded in my baking was at the end of the afternoon, mom said to me, why don’t I leave the cookie press here with you now.  You’ll love these cookies and will want to make it part of your Christmas traditions!


Come back for more Christmas food ideas!

From by the bay wishing you the warmest Christmas food memories!




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Spritz Sugar Cookies

5 dozen cookies

1 lb unsalted butter

1 ½ cup fine sugar

2 eggs

1 tablespoon vanilla

5 cups all purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

¼ teaspoon salt

Optional: sprinkles, colored sugar, candied cherries, chocolate to decorate

Requires : cookie press or spritz


Preheat oven to 400F. In a bowl add dry ingredients, flour, baking powder and salt. Mix and keep to the side. Using an electric mixer, beat together butter until fluffy. Add sugar gradually and beat well. Add eggs one at a time until well combined. Add vanilla until blended. Add dry ingredients: flour, baking powder and salt. Mix well until the dough is smooth. Using a spoon put dough into cookie press. Press shaped cookies onto an non stick baking sheet. You can decorate the cookies with colored sugar or sprinkles or candied cherries depending on the shape. Bake in oven for 7 minutes. If using two trays, after 3 minutes rotate baking sheets on oven rack and then bake another 4 minutes until the bottoms of the cookies start to brown. Store cookies in an air tight container.

Holiday decorating

Wreaths: decorate before baking with candied cherry pieces and green sugar.

Trees : with multicolor chocolate sprinkles.

Stars: pressed into a long log and cut into 2 inch pieces. Dip the ends in melted chocolate and then dip into sprinkles