Archive for March, 2010

My first experience with profiteroles was during my second trip to Italy.  (I LOVE Italy!)  I was in Venice with a bunch of girlfriends.  My friend Danielle ordered profiteroles for dessert … and we were all hooked!

As I mentioned earlier, our daughter celebrated her 11th birthday a week ago.  We have a family tradition that the birthday person gets to choose a special birthday meal and of course … a special favorite dessert.  I was going through a bunch of recipes asking her what she would like.  I suggested profiteroles … and she thought they sounded great.

Well … the profiteroles were a hit with our extended family at her celebration.  I used the recipe from Barefoot Contessa — with just a simple tweak.  They are very easy.  I hope you enjoy!



  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 1 stick unsalted butter
  • Pinch of kosher salt
  • 1 cup flour
  • 4 extra-large eggs
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 12 ounces semisweet chocolate chips
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 2 tablespoons prepared coffee
  • Good vanilla ice cream (we love Trader Joe’s vanilla ice cream)


1.  Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.

2.  Heat the milk, butter, and salt over medium heat until scalded. When the butter is melted, add the flour all at once and beat it with a wooden spoon until the mixture comes together and forms a dough. Cook, stirring constantly, over low heat for 2 minutes.  The flour will from a light coating on the bottom of the pan.

3.  Dump the hot mixture into the bowl of a food processor fitted with the steel blade. If you don’t have a food processor, you may use an electric hand mixer on low speed.  Add the eggs and pulse (or beat) until the eggs are incorporated into the dough and the mixture is thick.

4.  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.  Use 2 spoons to scoop the mixture into 1 1/2 inch wide by 1 inch high puffs.   You should be able to make about 18 puffs, shaping with damp fingers.  Use your damp fingers to smooth out the puffs.

5.  Bake for 20 minutes, or until lightly browned, then turn off the oven and allow them to sit for another 10 minutes.  Puffs should sound hollow when tapped on the bottom. Make a small slit in the side of each puff to allow the steam to escape. Set aside to cool.

6.  For the chocolate sauce, place the cream and chocolate chips in a bowl set over simmering water and stir just until the chocolate melts. Add the honey and coffee and stir until smooth. Set aside.  (I can set my stove very low, so I usually melt directly in a saucepan while stirring constantly.)  The sauce can be made ahead and stored in the refrigerator.

7.  When serving, cut each profiterole in half crosswise, fill with a small scoop of ice cream, replace the top, and drizzle with slightly warm chocolate sauce.

Serves 6 (3 puffs each) — we served 2 each, which was plenty!

NOTE: For a dinner party, I make the puffs a day ahead.  Puffs can be stored in an airtight container or ziplock bag.  I also pre-scoop the ice cream (into small balls).  This makes assembly much faster when serving for a crowd.  For those of you that love eclairs, you can also fill the puffs with whipped cream.  For eclairs, you don’t cut the puffs in half.  You pipe the cream (pastry bag) into the puff through the slit.


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I didn’t get this posted before my knee surgery.  This was supposed to post on Saturday, March 20, 2010.  So sorry …

Last Friday I spent the afternoon with my mom in San Juan Capistrano (SJC).  My parents had come up for our daughter’s birthday the day before. My dad drove home and my mom and I got to shop all day before she took the evening train home to San Diego.  (Taking Amtrak to San Diego from Orange County is a great way to see the beautiful coastline — and avoid a lot of traffic!)

Our all-time favorite store in SJC is Whim. It’s a magical place where you can spend hours.  It’s an interior design, furnishings, accessories and gift store that is located in an old adobe building (1833).  They have the most unique gifts, garden art & furniture, jewelry, furniture, original art, and custom interior design services. I never leave the store without making a purchase.  Although it is a bit pricey, it’s a great place to find birthday gifts for girlfriends or hostess gifts.

Whim is located a block south of the SJC Mission.  A few years ago, they expanded the store — so there are more rooms to explore.  And, they recently opened Studio Pink, a couple of doors down, which houses their design studio and a small furnishings and accessories store — all coordinating with the color pink.

You enter Whim through the garden atrium.  There are beautiful flowers and trees, birdhouses and birdbaths, iron tables and chairs — so much to see.  The peach trees had just started to bloom the day before we were there.  The atrium was in full bloom with wonderful floral scents.

As you weave your way from room to room, you can’t wait to see what vignettes will be displayed.  (I honored the store owners’ request of not taking pictures inside the store.)  Each room of the store has been painted a different beautiful color.  If you ask, they will give you the “cheat sheet” of Benjamin Moore paint colors they have used.  In my opinion, this in itself is worth a trip to Whim.  The Woodstock Tan and Gray Horse are incredible neutral colors for any home.  Personally, I would love to use the Jalapeno somewhere in our home!

My words don’t do it justice.  If you’re in the San Juan Capistrano area, make sure you spend some time in Whim.

31831 Camino Capistrano • San Juan Capistrano, CA 92675 • (949) 388-9600

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I found a great spring dessert recipe!  I’ve made it twice within the last couple of weeks.  Next time I make it, I promise I will post some pictures.  It’s a modified version of Cook’s Illustrated recipe.  My husband and I thought it needed a bit more lemon juice and zest.   The dessert is served best at room temperature.

Lemon Pudding Cake

1/4 cup Flour

2 tsp. Cornstarch

1  1/4 cups Sugar

5 Tbs. Unsalted Butter, softened

2 Tbs. plus 1 tsp. Grated Lemon Zest

1/2 cup plus 1 Tbs. Lemon Juice (3 – 4 lemons)

5 large Eggs (separated)

1  1/4 cups Whole Milk (room temperature)

2 quarts boiling Water

Confectioner’s Sugar (to dust cake before serving)

Adjust the oven rack to the lowest position.  Preheat oven to 325.  Spray 8-inch square baking dish with cooking spray.

Whisk the flour and cornstarch in small bowl.

Beat 1/2 cup sugar, butter and lemon zest in large bowl on medium high speed.  Beat until light and fluffy (about 2 minutes).  Beat in yolks, one at a time.  (As you separate eggs, put egg white into a medium-large bowl.)  Reduce speed to medium-low and add the flour mixture.  Slowly add the the milk and lemon juice, mixing until just combined.

Beat the egg whites on medium-high until soft peaks form (about 2 minutes).  With mixer running, slowly add remaining 3/4 cup sugar.  Beat about 1 minute until egg whites are firm and glossy.

Whisk 1/3 of egg whites into the batter.  Gently fold in the remaining egg whites one scoop at a time, until well combined.

Place kitchen towel in the bottom of a roasting pan and set the prepared baking disk on the towel.  Spoon the batter into the dish.  Carefully place pan on oven rack and pour the boiling water into the roasting pan until water comes halfway up the sides of the baking dish.

Bake until the surface is golden brown (55 – 60 minutes).  The edges should be set and the center should jiggle slightly when gently shaken.  Transfer to wire rack and let cool for at least 1 hour.

Dust cake with confectioner’s sugar before serving.  Cake should be served within 3 hours of being made.

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Happy St. Patrick’s Day!!!

Did you remember to wear green today?  We had to scramble this morning to find something green for our son to wear to school, so I had to skip making green pancakes for the kids.

I had planned to make a traditional Irish dinner from scratch for St. Patrick’s Day, but I ran out of time.  And, we have our son’s baseball game tonight.  So I bought an uncured Corn Beef Brisket (with Seasonings) from Trader Joe’s.  (Trader Joe’s is a big-time favorite of mine!)

This morning I put the brisket in my crock pot, covered it with water and put the setting on low.  The kids and I just got home this afternoon and the brisket smells wonderful!!!  No one in my family likes cooked cabbage, so we’re having potatoes.  Still Irish, right?

If the corned beef is great … I’ll include some notes.  I hope you all enjoyed St. Patty’s Day!

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Decorating for the holidays is a fun way to display collections.  I have been collecting holiday decorations for over 20 years. Although my tastes have changed through the years, I find that you can’t go wrong with vintage and traditional decorations. There are always ways to update — especially by adding some inexpensive items or new color(s) from places like Target, HomeGoods, Tuesday Morning or Marshal’s. I have collections of vintage Santas, snowmen, mercury ornaments, Easter bunnies, hand painted eggs, Valentine/heart ornaments, and Halloween ghosts & goblins — to name a few.

I love to create vignettes that showcase my collections. Fireplace mantels, entry tables, bookcase shelves, occasional tables and buffets all make wonderful places to create your holiday vignettes.

I have a small collection of Nicol Sayre bunnies … several of which I found at places like TJMaxx and Marshal’s.  Roger’s Gardens always has beautiful displays of Nicol Sayre folk art for Christmas, Easter and Halloween.

I found the hand painted eggs at Roger’s Garden’s many years ago.

I generally use the “odd number” rule of thumb when displaying items.  At times, I like to create vignettes using a monochromatic theme. Have fun with your own creations!

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I started pulling out my Easter decorations this week.  I always look forward to decorating for Spring and the Easter holiday!  As you will see, I am a big fan of apothecary jars and use them for most holidays.  This year, I was inspired by the cherry blossom branches in the Spring Pottery Barn catalog.  I picked up a few branches at Shinoda’s Design Center and had everything else in my boxes of Easter decorations.

The vintage Easter postcards are from the Irvine Flea Market many years ago.  The oldest postcard is from 1909.

Stay tuned … I will share more ideas and inspiration for Easter decorating in the next few days…

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While I’m not a big fan of egg salad, this is by far the best egg salad I’ve ever had.  My husband LOVES it!  We thank my sister Kristen for the recipe, as she hunted down the recipe after eating egg salad in a restaurant on Orcas Island, Washington.  Enjoy!

8 Large Eggs (hard boiled)

1/4 Cup Mayonnaise

3 Tbs. Shallots (finely chopped)

1 1/2 Tbs. finely chopped Tarragon

2 tsp. Tarragon Vinegar

1/4 tsp. Salt

1/4 tsp. freshly ground Pepper

Challah Bread (Egg bread) – Can be found at Trader Joe’s

Butter, softened (optional)

Micro Greens, Pea Shoots or Arugula (your preference)

Preheat oven broiler.  Peel eggs and chop finely.   Stir together eggs and remaining ingredients in a bowl using a fork.  You may choose to season with more/less salt, pepper and tarragon.   Slice the bread into 8 slices.  Butter one side of each slice and broil until lightly browned.

Spread egg salad on non-broiled side of 4 slices of bread.  Sprinkle with micro greens (or your choice of greens) and top with remaining bread slices.  Makes 4 sandwiches.

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