Nectarine Tart with Frangipane

Placing the fruit in a Nectarine Tart with Frangipane

Almond Joy
My great-grandmother was a big fan of marzipan. And, as a kid, I struggled to understand why. I do not like the consistency of marzipan nor the flavor even though I can appreciate the artistry of the master confectioners who use all sorts of colors and shapes to make beautiful pieces. Marzipan candy can be absolutely stunning to look at, but you will never see me eating it.

The funny thing is I love frangipane which has the same basic flavor profile as marzipan. It is also made with almonds, though frangipane has a more delicate flavor. The two are wildly different—but it still makes no sense. You would think if you liked one you would like the other, right? That would be a no for me. Who knows? Maybe I was just mentally scared by the abundance of marzipan available around Christmas and the decided lack of chocolate…

Frangipane can be used in so many ways. A personal favorite is to use it in fruit tarts, especially during the summer months when the fruit is at its peak. (Though I would never refuse an almond croissant. Hint Hint.)

You could use any fruit you like—but the almond flavor of frangipane is a natural complement to any stone fruit, especially cherries, apricots, and nectarines.

This Nectarine Tart with Frangipane is my adapted version of a recipe from David Lebovitz of Chez Panisse fame. The tart shell recipe he uses is unconventional but worth a try if only for that reason…the results are superb.

Nectarine Tart with Frangipane Recipe
Adapted from David Lebovitz
Yields 8 servings Read more…


Loukoumades—Greek pastries—on a blue plate

Loco for Loukoumades
When asked to name a Greek dessert, nine out of ten people polled will answer baklava. That one person out of ten that gives you a different answer is probably Greek. And, their answer would most likely be loukoumades.

I have several friends who go crazy for these little guys (and not just while attending the Greek Festival). Of course, all of them are of Greek heritage, and given their level of reverence for these crispy golden bites of awesomeness, you would think that loukoumades would have a bigger presence outside of a Greek restaurant. But, alas baklava is still king.

Loukoumades are without question comfort food. They are essentially Greek donuts. Their yeasted dough is rolled into little balls and then fried in oil. When finished they are doused with honey and sprinkled with nuts and sometimes cinnamon. It is also not unheard of to see them served with chocolate sauce. Walnuts are traditional but I, myself, am not a walnut fan. I prefer my loukoumades with chopped almonds or pistachios…but that’s just me.

Fair warning, they are sweet. They are also addictive so proceed with caution.

Loukoumades Recipe
Adapted from My Greek Dish
Yields approximately 5 dozen

Loukoumades are bite-sized fluffy honey balls, the Greek version of donuts. They are deep-fried until golden and crispy. Loukoumades are traditionally served soaked in hot honey syrup, sprinkled with cinnamon, and garnished with chopped nuts. Read more…

Molasses Spice Cookies

Viking Christmas
According to, I am 84% Scandinavian. This is no great revelation because I grew up amongst of a bunch of very tall, sometimes grumpy, frequently loud, frustratingly stubborn, hard-partying Vikings on both sides of the family.

Holidays with this crowd as a kid were a lot of fun because no one loves barely controlled chaos more than a kid. The adults had different views. I thought it was great.

My grandmother was one of nine kids born to a couple of Danes who found themselves in California at the turn of the 20th century. Though they embraced their new country and refused to speak in their native tongue once they arrived, they did manage to keep a few of their traditions going.

We still have Ebleskiver every Christmas morning, though how my great-grandmother managed to feed that many people with one pan that only makes 7 at a time boggles my mind. (We continue to use her pan but have added a couple more.) And we still enjoy treats with a lot of the traditional warming spices of winter: cinnamon, nutmeg, anise, cardamom, and, of course, ginger.

I love a good chewy ginger cookie. But, I really only eat them around Christmas time, so they are, in fact, a treat. In all honesty, these wouldn’t qualify as a traditional Danish cookie except for the spices, though I don’t think Julemandon (Santa Claus) would object to these being left for his midnight snack.

Glӕdelig Jul!

Molasses Spice Cookies Recipe
Adapted from America’s Test Kitchen
Yields about 22 cookies

These Molasses Spice Cookies have a nice crisp edge and soft interior. The warming spices and molasses flavor make them perfect for your holiday cookie tray. Read more…

Peppermint Meringue Kisses

Red and green Peppermint Meringue Kisses on a marble tabletop

Holiday Kisses
When I was a kid, a family friend would always make us a Christmas cookie assortment. I looked forward to them every year—mainly because there were a lot of spritz cookies in the mix. I love anything with that much butter.

I was always fascinated though by the separate container that accompanied the main box. This container had the meringue cookies. I thought it was weird that these particular cookies got their own container. Now that I have made them myself, I get it. You don’t put the time in to make the meringues only to have them shatter in a box full of sturdier cookies.

Meringues are a delight for the mouth. They are light as air and melt on your tongue. They can come in so many different flavors. My daughter is partial to espresso-flavored meringues. Personally, I like all versions. But, for a holiday box, I like to go with Peppermint Meringue Kisses as a change from all of the chocolate and nut flavors in the box. A palate cleanser of sorts.

The kisses below were included in my cookie boxes this year. Streaking the piping bags with food coloring is a fun way to add color and also signal the flavor.

Something to keep in mind when making these: just like French macarons and bread making, the weather outside matters. If the air has a lot of humidity, the meringues can take a little longer to dry and when the air is too dry, they can crack pretty easily. Read more…