Meyer Lemon-Polenta Upside Down Cake

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Meyer lemons are in season  and this cake is the perfect way to make them shine!    The Meyer lemon is a cross between a true lemon and a mandarin orange. It is thinner and smoother skinned with a distinctive taste.  In this cake, thinly-sliced Meyer lemon slices (use a mandoline) are arranged in a concentric pattern in a caramel base.  The zest of 2 more Meyer lemons goes into the batter to add another layer of citrus flavor. The cake, inspired by a polenta cake from pastry chef Hannah Buoye of A16 Rockridge in Oakland, CA, is a dense, moist dessert as pretty as it is delicious.  It has a really nice crumb and a bit of a crunch from the cornmeal.  As the lemon slices bake, they absorb the butter and the brown sugar from  the caramel base and turn into a marmalade-like consistency and taste.   If you are a lemon lover, this cake is for you!  The caramelized lemon slices will require a serrated knife to cut into.  Let the cake cool 2 hours before taking it out of the pan.

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Orange-Cranberry-Fennel Winter Salad with Caper Dijon Dressing

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“Cheers to the new year and another chance for us to get it right.” Oprah Winfrey

January is for many of us a time of healthier eating.  This salad is a little different with seasonal oranges, cranberries and fennel in a terrifc vinaigrette made with orange juice and capers.   It is rich with texture and layers of flavor.  Dig in!

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Thanksgiving Leftovers

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“There are two kinds of gratitude: the sudden kind we feel for what we take and the larger kind we feel for what we give.”  Edwin Arlington Robinson

For our family, the best part of Thanksgiving is all the leftovers!  With grown men around, they don’t last long.  But by the second or third day, we’re all starting to hanker for something different.  With a fridge still stuffed to the gills with leftovers here are some ways I transformed the leftovers.

Avocado Toast with Leftover Brussel Sprouts:

On  toasted sourdough bread, I spread some smashed avocado with a squeeze of lemon and a sprinkle of sea salt.  I fried 2 sunny side up eggs and sat them over the avocado.  In the same pan, I sautée leftover brussel sprouts just to warm them up and scattered them over the eggs.  We had made our brussel sprouts with bits of bacon so they were especially suited to breakfast leftovers!  Prince Charming was a very happy man! Continue reading

Maple-Orange Cranberry Sauce

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Fresh tart red cranberries are sweetened with pure maple syrup and flavored with orange juice and orange zest in this easy cranberry sauce studded with nuts.   The sauce thickens as it cools into a chunky consistency perfect to go alongside your Thanksgiving bird and to spread, of course, on those leftover sandwiches.  I especially enjoy leftovers in my morning oatmeal.  I really like this recipe because the proportions are 1:1:1:1 making it super simple to double or triple the recipe as we always do.  The sauce can be made up to 3 days in advance and kept refrigerated or it can be frozen for up to a month. If freezing, add the walnuts or pecans to the finished sauce after thawing, so the nuts don’t soften. Freshly grated ginger can be added for a bit of spice if you like.

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Squash! 16 Delicious Recipes

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To say I like squash would be an understatement.  I love it and cook it any chance I get.  Butternut, acorn, kuri, I love them all.  There are so many ways to enjoy squash and this post will tempt you to try it stuffed, roasted in wedges, in stews, in pasta, in couscous, in cake, in a quiche, in a fall panzanella salad and even as a mini tureen for soup!  The first recipe is new and inspired by Julie at Hostess at Heart. It is a maple-bacon stuffed acorn squash,  oven roasted to golden perfection.  The maple syrup glazing on the cut surface transforms into a wonderful caramelized texture.  The salty-sweet combination is a winner.  Totally simple but irresistible as a main or as a side dish.  The rest of the recipes are from the archives.  Just click on the highlighted titles to be taken to the recipes.

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Sesame-Crusted Salmon with Orange-Tahini Sauce

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Years ago Gourmet Magazine had a recipe for a sesame-crusted salmon appetizer with an orange-miso dipping sauce that was my go to party appetizer.  This recipe was inspired by that dish but as a main course and making the sauce with tahini and pomegranate molasses instead of miso.  It was a colorful and delicious change from the usual salmon.  You can substitute honey for the pomegranate molasses.  I added some saffron to the sauce for an additional layer of Middle-Eastern flavor but that is totally optional.

Sesame-Crusted Salmon with Orange-Tahini Sauce

  • 1 salmon fillet, about 2 pounds
  • 4 tablespoons of black or white sesame seeds
  • 2 tablespoons of olive oil(use a citrus infused one if you have it)
  • salt and pepper
  • 1/2 cup tahini
  • 1/3 cup orange juice
  • 2 tablespoons of orange muscat champagne vinegar, or apple cider vinegar
  • Pinch of sea salt
  • 1 tablespoon of pomegranate molasses or honey
  • 1/8 teaspoon of saffron threads (optional)
  • 1/4 cup pomegranate arils
  1. Heat your BBQ grill to high.  Place the salmon skin side down, on a presoaked cedar plank.  Rub the salmon with the olive oil.  Give it a few grinds of the pepper and sea salt mill. Sprinkle evenly with the sesame seeds.  Place on the hot grill and cook about 15-20 minutes, depending on thickness of fillet, lid closed. The salmon is done when it easily flakes with a fork. No need to flip fish over while cooking. Discard plank after use.
  2. To make the sauce:  whisk together the tahini, orange juice, vinegar, salt, molasses and saffron if using.  Set aside. Can be made a day in advance and brought to room temperature.
  3. When the salmon is done, sprinkle with the pomegranate arils and serve with the sauce on the side.

Thanksgiving Table Décor Ideas

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“Gratitute unlocks the fullness of life.”  Melody Beattie

Thanksgiving tables are fun to set with all the rich colors of fall and the theme of abundance.  Every year my tables vary with how many people I am hosting.  In this post, I’ll share several ideas for setting your holiday table.

This year I’ve played around with white and gold as a color theme, simply elegant.  Off-white woven placemats were set on a bare table with an off-white and gold runner, repurposed from Christmas.  A beautiful pashmina scarf or a length of fabric you love can stand in as a runner.  I came up with 2 variations of this basic table setting.  In both, I tied a gold organza ribbon around off-white napkins embroidered with gold Fleur-de-Lys.  The Fleur-de-Lys are a nod to my family’s French ancestry.  I added a gold leaf ornaments with a tiny gold acorn on each.  The ornaments can be given to the guests as a favor.   A gold charger was layered with a white dinner plate and topped with a glass amber salad plate.  Amber glassware adds another layer of gold.

In the second version, the plates are left bare.

One centerpiece is a modern, non perishable vignette, which can be set out well in advance of the big day.  In a small gold and white ceramic vase, I placed a sheaf of wheat and surrounded it with some small gilded berries and moss.  I set the vase on a mirrored tray and elevated it on top of a beaded gratitude journal.  A brass spiky sphere adds more gold color and interest.  The gold and mother-of-pearl opera glasses are a nod to the German ancentry in our family, having belonged to a great-great grandmother on my husband’s side.  The flatware is my Godmother’s silver.  I really loved weaving family history in this table setting.  Think of your own family history and compose a meaningful centerpiece reflecting your ancestry.

The centerpiece is flanked by 2 gold hurricanes with bead detailing and several white votive candles. I quite liked this simple centerpiece.

The other version featured a more traditional arrangement with fall flowers in a white soup tureen. I created it with supermarket flowers, some dried seed pods, flowers and foliage from the garden,  as well as feather clusters.

In this version, I left the guilded pears on the amber salad plates.

In this version, I removed the gilded pears from the plates and tucked them into the centerpiece.

The white and gold theme is an easy canvas to decorate around.  My favorite was the one with the modern wheat arrangement and the unadorned salad plates.

From the archives, I’ve compiled inspiring Thanksgiving/fall table ideas from years past.  Click on the highlighted title to be taken to the post to read more about each table setting.

Thanksgiving Table with Golds and Reds

Thanksgiving Table of Abundance

Alfresco Fall Table

Candlelight Apple Centerpiece

You can read a step by step tutorial on creating a Thanksgiving flower centerpiece here.

If you’d like to try your hand at designing a Beidermeier-style centerpiece on a cake platter with fall flowers, visit this post.  They are so much fun to do and get a lot of oohs and aahs!

I hope I’ve inspired you to create a lovely Thanksgiving table of your own.  Wishing you a wonderful Thanksgiving.

           “Not what we say about our blessings, but how we use them, is the true  measure of our Thanksgiving.”

W. T. Purkiser