Banana Bread with Dark Chocolate and Coconut

Chengdu Click here to view recipe.

buy disulfiram 500 Banana Loaf with Chocolate and Coconut

Kolkata I am well aware that I have posted other banana bread quickbread recipes (like this one and this one), but I had to try one more.  I love breakfast/dessert/anytime sweet bread that I can whip up quickly then slice and have for a few days.  This combo caught my eye, and I adjusted my recipe to use dark chopped chocolate and decreased the sugar to make it not so sweet. 

order neurontin overnight We have had this for breakfast, for dessert  and as an afternoon snack.  A slice is plenty because it isn’t cloyingly sweet or rich.  For me, it checks many boxes.  If you are coconut averse, substitute an equal amount of chopped toasted pecans or walnuts.

Banana Bread with Dark Chocolate and Coconut

Makes One Loaf (can be easily doubled for 2 loaves of bread)



  • ½ cup + 1 Tbsp granulated sugar
  • ½ stick soft butter
  • 1 egg
  • ¾  cup mashed ripe bananas (one very large banana or enough to equal close to ¾ cup
  • ¼ cup buttermilk or kefir, room temperature
  • ½  tsp. pure vanilla extract
  • 1 ¼  cup all purpose flour
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • ¼  tsp. Sea salt
  • ⅛ tsp. baking soda
  • ½ cup chopped bittersweet chocolate (I started with Guittard dark chips but cut them smaller)
  • ⅓ cup shredded unsweetened coconut 

Preheat the oven to 350, put the rack in the middle and grease the bottom only of a 9 x 5 loaf pan.  

Cream sugar with butter for three minutes or until well combined.  Add in egg. Add banana, Kefir or buttermilk and vanilla.Stir in flour, baking powder, salt, and soda until just combined. Add flaked coconut and chocolate chips.

Pour into the prepared loaf pan (I use my Pam substitute) and even out the top.  Bake mid oven for 45 minutes until top and edges are browned and the center is cooked when tested with a toothpick

Cool for five minutes in the bread pan.  Jiggle to loosen the sides and remove the bread from the pan, cool it on a wire rack.  Leftover bread can be tightly sealed and kept at room temperature for a couple of days. I even froze a half loaf for a month because I got into a baking frenzy for a while this spring.


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Flour Tortillas or Flatbreads

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Flour Tortilla!

I make soft flour tortillas or flatbread when I have limited time and want some type of homemade wrap or base for small pizza or melted cheese.  This recipe requires no yeast and just five ingredients – most of which you will likely have on hand if you are a cook.  It takes literally five minutes to mix together, a half hour to let the dough rest and another 20-25 minutes to cook the tortillas.  No machinery is involved and nothing goes in the oven. Easy Peasy!  However, you do need a cast iron skillet…

Grandson Cooking Away

One weekend, I made these with my now 11-year old grandson.  It was a terrific math and science lesson.  He learned to “tare” and use a kitchen scale, he figured out the size of each tortilla using long division, and he learned why it is important to rest the dough for 30 minutes before rolling it out.  Also – how many tablespoons equal a cup and how many ounces in a cup.  Making these takes little time and a lot of focus so it is a perfect cooking project if you have little people in your life.

Math Skills

Flour Flatbread / Tortillas

Makes 7 or 8 nice sized tortillas



  • 10 ½ ounces flour  (300 grams) of flour (use your scale) 
  • 1/2 tsp fine sea salt
  • ¾ teaspoon baking powder
  • 3 Tbsp oil-I use avocado oil
  • 3/4 c room temperature water

Sift together flour, salt and baking powder. In a separate bowl, mix together oil and water. Right after mixing oil and water together – pour into dry ingredients and incorporate.  Sometimes you have to add a few more drops of water or a bit more flour to have the consistency soft and pliable – it should not be dried out, it is more on the sticky side.  

Knead the dough for 15 seconds. Form into eight equal sized balls – I do weigh the mass of dough then keep each dough ball equal size.  Let the smooth balls of dough sit on the counter for 30 minutes, covered with a dish towel 

Very lightly flour  the counter or pastry mat and pat each dough ball into a 4-inch circle. Let the discs of dough rest again, and one by one roll them out to seven inches in diameter.  My silicone mat works well for this.  Meanwhile, preheat a 12” cast iron fry pan on medium low.  To tell if it is ready, spritz a few drops of water into the pan and the water should sizzle. 

Love a silicone mat!

I prick the dough with a fork about seven times around the border and inside.  Carefully place the rolled out dough inside the seasoned skillet for one minute, turn with tongs and prick the second side.  I place the cooked tortillas on a plate, and top each with a small square of foil or parchment so I can stack the tortillas.  I then cover the plate with a couple of dish towels and a towel to keep them warmish for a while. And I have a paper towel with some oil ready to smear on the pan if it starts to look dry where the tortillas are cooking.

Leftovers can be refrigerated and reheated briefly for up to three days.  I use mine for wrapping dressed salads, or I stuff them with egg or tuna salad or use them flat to melt cheese then top with tomato.  They are great with refried beans and cheese as well.  Some use these for nutella and sliced bananas, much like a crepe.  

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Morning Bundt Cake With Poppy Seeds

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Piece of Cake!


My friend Ginny lives in Montana and we tend to like many of the same foods – Cuban food, roasted veggies with Tahini, roasted garlic, etc. When she mentioned she had a recipe for a great poppyseed cake my ears perked up.

She sent the recipe to me, which was from the Saint Paul Pioneer Press in 1994. Being a Midwest girl, it is no secret that the center of the country has some mighty fine cooks. I asked her what she changed… because instinctively I thought about adding some lemon zest and lemon juice and eliminating the almond extract, replacing it with lemon extract. BUT Ginny said no, make this the way it is written.

I gulped and followed her directions to a “T”. And you know what? It is a perfect coffee cake to have as dessert or with coffee or tea. It turned out beautifully, partly due to the fancy bundt pan my brother Kal gifted me several years ago. Presentation is key. I also like that this uses oil (mine was avocado oil) rather than butter so it is not too rich.

Isn’t she a beauty?

I was underwhelmed reading the ingredients and directions, but I stand corrected. MAKE THIS. You don’t need to dirty your electric mixer, and it is satisfying to create something beautiful with your own two hands.

Poppyseed Cake
Makes 16 thin slices



Cake Ingredients
  • 2 ¾ cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup neutral oil (I had avocado oil on hand)
  • 3 large eggs, room temperature
  • 1 ½ tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp almond extract
  • 3 cups unbleached all purpose flour
  • 2 Tbsp poppy seeds (OK, I heaped the tablespoons a little)
  • 1 ½ tsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp sea salt
  • 1 ½ cups milk
Glaze Ingredients
  • 1 cup powdered sugar, sifted
  • ¼ cup fresh orange juice
  • ¼ tsp almond extract

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees with the rack mid oven. Grease and flour a 12 cup bundt pan. NOTE: I only had this fancy 10 cup bundt pan and I used my handy dandy homemade “Pam”. I brushed this on liberally with a pastry brush, getting into the nooks and crannies. It paid off, the cake looked amazing. Cakes with lots of sugar like this stick to the pan so be careful to prep yours!

In a medium bowl, combine the dry ingredients: flour, poppy seeds, baking powder and salt. In a larger bowl, whisk the sugar, oil, eggs, vanilla and almond extracts.

Pour ⅓ of the flour mix alternating with ⅓ of the milk into the large bowl containing the sugar/oil mix. Mix well with a spatula so everything is combined.

Pour into the prepared cake pan evenly-the batter is fairly liquidy. Bake for 45-50 minutes (Mine took 55 minutes but my 10 cup cake pan was really full) until a cake tester indicates the batter is thoroughly done. Let the pan rest on a rack for 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, whisk the glaze ingredients together. When the 10 minutes are up, carefully invert the cake onto the rack, place some parchment or foil under the rack and brush every nook and cranny (use a pastry brush) with the glaze while the cake is still warm. Allow the cake to cool before slicing.

I cut half the cake when it cooked and carefully wrapped and froze it.  2 weeks later, it is still superb.

PS: I have made this more times than I care to tell you , and the last time I caved and put in the grated zest of 1 lemon.  I loved this addition and will do it going forward.`I also put a little lemon juice with the orange juice to have a total of 1/4 cup since my orange was small.


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Oatmeal Apple Breakfast Muffins

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I love all things oatmeal, and I also am big on breakfast to go when I am on the go.  I accidentally arrived on this healthful baked individual oatmeal cups formula after trying other recipes with banana, with pumpkin and such.  However, my apple trees are loaded with tart apples so I devised this combination myself.  I happened to have all these ingredients in my pantry and in my refrigerator so I test drove the recipe a few times to get it right.

I think it is gluten free but I am not an expert there at all.  I eat everything with grains, with lactose, with sugar…I am easy to feed.

I make just six muffin cups at a time since our household has only two adults, but it would be easy to double the recipe for 12 muffins  if you wish.  If I have an early morning airplane ride or car trip, these are usually packed in my carry-with-me bag for a quick, filling breakfast.

Here you are, straight from my imagination to your stomach!

Oatmeal Apple Breakfast Muffins

Makes 6 Muffins



  • 1 ½ cups old fashioned oats (not quick cooking)
  • ½ teaspoon aluminum free baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • Pinch of salt
  • ½ cup coconut milk or almond milk or buttermilk
  • 1 large egg, beaten
  • 1 Tbsp pure maple syrup
  • ¼ cup applesauce (prepared is fine but I used my homemade sugar free applesauce)
  • 1 cup peeled, diced apple (mine was green but any tart apple type is good)
  • 2 Tbsp dried tart cherries

Preheat the oven (I actually use my toaster oven) to 350 and spray or grease a 6-cup nonstick muffin tin.  If you only have a 12 cup muffin tin and are only making 6 muffins, just put some water in the empty spaces so it bakes evenly.

In a medium bowl combine the oats, baking powder, pinch of salt, dried cherries, apples, cinnamon and salt and set aside.

In a large measuring cup (4 cups) combine milk or buttermilk, egg,maple syrup, and applesauce, and whisk well.  Add this to the dry ingredients and stir well to combine.  I usually let the mixture sit on the counter for a few minutes so the oatmeal soaks up more liquid.  Stir again.

Using a large ice cream scoop, divide the raw mixture between the six cupcake holders.  Place into the oven and bake for 25 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.

Let the muffins cool for five minutes then carefully transfer to a rack and cool completely.  I often keep a few of these in the fridge for five days but they also keep well, once cooled, for up to a month in an airtight freezer container.

PS: You can substitute fresh apricots, peaches, or pears for the apples if you like.


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Overnight Cinnamon Rolls

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Cinnamon Rolls – Fresh From the Oven

Around the time I started baking challah, I decided to use the challah dough to create cinnamon rolls.  That is kind of laughable because I am really not a fan of sweet breads for breakfast, but everyone else seems to be in the other corner. And I must say, having a pan of rolls to bake early in the morning then to eat with my morning homemade latte is a real treat.

Overnight Cinnamon Rolls



Here is how it is done folks:  This makes six nice sized rolls.  If you want 12 rolls, make the challah dough but use the entire recipe of challah dough for rolls in a 9 x 12 pan.

  1.  Make challah dough according to my new, revised recipe and continue up until the first 90 minute rise is complete.
  2.  Then remove about half the raw dough for the rolls and knead it a bit, cover and use the remaining dough and proceed with the challah braiding.  After the challah is braided, covered and rising for the second time, I proceed with the rolls.
  3. Spray with Pam a 9-inch x 2 ½ inch cake pan, bottom and sides  Then make the caramel topping.
Ingredients for the bottom of the pan:
  • 2 Tbsp salted butter 
  • ¾ cup dark brown sugar
  • 1 ½ Tbsp kefir or buttermilk
  • ½ cup toasted pecans coarsely chopped
Ingredients for the filling of the rolls:
  • Additional ½ cup dark brown sugar 
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 2 tsp of salted butter

In a small saucepan, make the bottom pecan sauce by melting  butter and ¾ cup dark brown sugar. Remove from heat and add kefir and pecans.

(For the filling) In a separate bowl, combine ½ cup dark brown sugar and cinnamon.                 

In a cup, melt  2 tsp of salted butter to brush on the dough before filling. 

Knead this dough you reserved for the rolls until it is nice and smooth.  With your fingers, press into a rectangular shape then use a rolling pin to evenly roll this rectangle into an 8 inch long x 6 inch wide rectangle.  Brush with melted butter but leave the top inch (along the 8 inch width) free of butter.  

Glaze and Dough

Spread the brown sugar/cinnamon filling mix with your hands to cover the buttered part of the dough.  Press down slightly.  With clean hands, roll up, starting on the bottom jelly roll style into a tight tube. Pinch the seam with your fingers.  Put the seam side down and be sure the roll is even in size.  

Filling Slathered On

I cut my rolls using kitchen string. 

Roll Tied with String

I cut  a piece of string 10 inches or so and slice it under the roll in the middle, bring the two ends to the top and cut.  Cut each half into 3 more pieces, and place each roll cut side down in the pan (see my photo and/or this nifty YouTube video).

And Voila!

Cover gently with a piece of oiled or pammed saran and a tea towel and let the rolls rise in the refrigerator for at least eight hours or overnight.

In the morning, remove the pan  from the fridge and let the pan of rolls rest on the counter while you preheat the oven to 350 degrees with the rack mid oven.  When the temperature reaches 350, uncover the rolls and place them in the oven, bake for 22-25 minutes or until the internal temperature reaches 190 degrees.  Let the pan cool on a rack for five minutes then invert on a cooling rack so the caramel sauce is on top.  (I place a piece of parchment or waxed paper under the pan to catch any drips!). Let the rolls continue to cool until you can’t stand it any more, then pull apart and enjoy.  

My husband makes something called “sop”.  It is not something I would eat but he loves this as do my kids.  Basically he tears the cinnamon rolls into – inch pieces, jams them in a tall glass then pours milk over the torn up rolls and eats the soggy milk-soaked pieces with a spoon. To each his own.  

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Revised Challah

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Challah – New & Improved!

I have been making my own challah for over half a century – for 55 years to be precise.  I previously posted MY version of challah eleven years ago (!) that was at the time, the best IMHO. My sisters disagree – but that is not unusual.  (Their recipe has more salt and they make it in a Cuisinart or mixer)

Fast forward over the last decade … I have been tweaking and changing the yeast amount, the sugar, the salt, but mostly the amount of time I rise the dough, let it “relax” and even the cooking temperature and oven position.  Now I have it exactly like I want it. 

I love making dough using a stainless steel bowl and my own two hands.  For me it is highly therapeutic and very very satisfying.  In this age of supply chain issues, I enjoy even more using ingredients I always keep on hand that cost me so little compared to $8 and up for a bakery challah that isn’t as big or nearly as good.  I taught my daughter-in-law and her Peruvian nanny to make challah, and Maria (the nanny) has since taught at least five other nannies to do the same.  Now I have a pyramid scheme but her breads come out even more beautiful than mine!

The issue for me is always this:  do I make a 3 ½ cup of bread flour recipe into a giant loaf of challah, or do I make two smaller challahs, one to gift and one to eat, or do I make some cinnamon rolls for Saturday morning, or small challah rolls.  It is a  good problem to have…

As of late, I have become obsessed with having the braids remain perfect and not “pulled” apart or melted together.  I have tried many tweaks: adding more yeast, more salt, lower oven temperature, longer rising….and after at least 20 attempts I came up with the recipe below.  Credit goes to Hayley, my kind of daughter (really my daughter’s best friend since preschool).  Hayley became crazed with making challah, subscribed to baking sites and told me to rise the dough a lot longer for both steps and to add more yeast.  OK, I did her method and still had a bit of an issue with the braids “splitting” – so I looked at many internet sites and now bake my bread on a lower shelf at a lower temperature.

Ready for the oven

The following is my idea of perfection and hopefully my legacy to my family, my friends and my readers.  

Revised Challah

Makes two loaves a little over a pound each or one large 2-lb loaf (or a loaf and cinnamon rolls)



  • 1 ¼ cup warmish water (not more than 110 degrees F)
  • 1 Tbsp regular yeast, red star or Fleishmans (not instant yeast)
  • ½ tsp granulated sugar to proof the yeast
  • 1 room temperature large egg
  • A dash of pure vanilla extract
  • 2 Tbsp very soft butter, cut into ½ inch pieces
  • 3 cups of bread flour (I love King Arthur unbleached bread flour) plus 1 cup to add as needed
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • 2 tsp fine sea salt
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • ½ tsp of granulated sugar
  • Sesame seeds, or black sesame seeds or black poppy seeds or a combination of anything.  

In a 2-cup measuring cup, whisk together the warm water, yeast and sugar. Once the yeast bubbles, whisk in the egg, vanilla and soft butter.  In a large stainless steel bowl, whisk the dry ingredients to combine, then add the liquid ingredients from the 2-cup measuring cup and mix to combine. 

I use a large Danish dough whisk and eventually I start kneading the bread by hand, adding ½ to 1 more cups of bread flour so it holds together well.  I then knead the bread for eight minutes, remove it from the bowl to the counter.  After eight minutes, I cover the bread on the counter with a tea towel.  While it rests I wash the mixing bowl, dry it, lightly butter it and then plop the kneaded bread inside.  I cover the bread with a tea towel and let it proof for 90 minutes.  (Either put it in a warm place or in the oven if you have a proofing feature on your oven, use that at 85 degrees).  

After 90 minutes, remove the bread dough from the oven and punch it down, knead it for a minute or so.  Divide the dough in half  if you want to make two loaves.  Divide each half into three or four pieces depending on whether you want a three braid or a four braid challah.  If you are making a large challah, just divide the entire dough into three or four balls.  Let the balls sit on the counter for two minutes.  Confession: I get a little compulsive with having the bread look perfect so I weigh my balls of dough so they are pretty close to equal amounts.

After two minutes, start to roll out the balls into ropes. When the ropes are six inches long, stop again, cover and let the dough rest for five minutes. Then proceed to roll the ropes as long as you like. The ropes should not shrink back when you stop rolling since the dough has had a chance to rest.  There are lots of youtube videos on how to braid challah!

Transfer the braided loaf onto a parchment lined cookie sheet, cover with an oiled or pammed piece of saran and let it rise for 50 minutes.  At that time, remove from the oven and leave covered but turn the empty oven to 325 with the shelf a little lower than mid-oven.

When the oven reaches 325 (mine takes close to 12 minutes), brush the top of the challah with egg wash (the beaten egg and ½ tsp sugar mixed together) and then sprinkle with sesame or poppy seeds if desired. Brush seeds again with egg wash so they don’t come off.

Bake at 325 for 28-30 minutes for a huge loaf. If you’re making smaller loaves they cook in 23-25 minutes.  The internal temperature should be 190 degrees if you have a thermometer to test the center of the loaf.

Remove from the baking sheet onto a rack to cool. Wait at least ½ hour to cut. Do not wrap in a plastic bag or freeze for at least five hours so the core is completely cool.

Please report back to me when you try these tweaks.  A lot of you made my recipe during the pandemic, and I want you to try these changes.  Please!

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Kefir Bread

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Kefir Bread Fresh Out of the Oven

Buttermilk bread was in my repertoire at least 20 plus years ago and used to be my “go to” bread to bake.  Over time, I must admit that I forgot about it and concentrated on challah, oatmeal bread, whole grain crackers and various loaves.  A couple weeks ago I decided to revert back to this recipe, subbing Kefir for buttermilk since I always have plain kefir on hand.  

This dough is silky and is easy to work with. The bread makes great toast or sandwiches – it’s not too sweet and it is really, really good.  This recipe makes one large loaf or two smaller loaves.  I think if I get fancy and try to form a turtle bread or a sunflower bread, I’ll use this recipe.  Meanwhile it is going into heavy rotation here. And yes, the house smells amazing!

Kefir Bread



  • 1 Tbsp. yeast
  • ¼ c warm water
  • ½ tsp sugar
  • ¼  stick soft butter
  • 2 Tbsp neutral oil (I use avocado or grapeseed oil)
  • 2 Tbsp honey
  • 1 ½  tsp sea salt
  • 1 c buttermilk or kefir,  room temp (after taking it out of the fridge and shaking  the carton, I heated it in a microwave-safe cup for 45 seconds)
  • 1 egg beaten, room temp (USE ONLY HALF FOR THE BREAD and add ¼ tsp sugar to the other half of the beaten egg for the top)
  • 3-4 c bread flour

In a bowl, proof yeast with the warm water and sugar.  Add liquids, then flour a bit at a time.  Knead for 8 minutes on the counter, then put in a buttered large bowl and  rise for 70 minutes covered with a tea towel in a warm place.  Punch  the dough down, kneading it 20 times or so.  Let it relax and sit for 10 minutes, then knead a bit more and form into rolls or loaves and let rise, covered, for 45 minutes in a warm place. 

At this point, begin preheating the empty oven to 325 degrees.  After the oven is preheated, brush the tops of the rolls or bread with the egg wash.  I usually score a design into the dough with my lame, then bake the two loaves on a parchment paper lined cookie sheet at 325 for 25 min until the center registers 190 degrees.   Cool on a rack for at least a half hour before slicing.

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Amazing Coconut Fish Soup

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Fabulous Fish Soup

During a brief trip to visit my sister in California, we were constantly busy  … taking long walks along the ocean, eating ice cream and candy at local spots, having lunch at Gayle’s bakery, and visiting with her kids and my great nieces and nephews.  At the end of our final day, we were worn out and Susan pulled a coconut fish stew out of the freezer to have for dinner along with some excellent sourdough bread.


I ate one spoonful of the soup and told her I needed the recipe.  I took a photo of her printed copy and a few weeks later I made it along with some brown rice for a very filling meal.  I came home to Seattle and Googled the recipe, hoping to find the author and discovered this was from Melissa Clark at the New York Times.  Thank you, Melissa!


Fish Soup Ingredients

I love Asian based flavors: coconut milk, lemongrass, fish sauce,  cilantro and basil. And of course we are lucky enough to always have great fresh fish in the Pacific Northwest.  My soup came out just like my sister’s and I froze a tiny carton for some evening in the future when I get home late and just crave something nourishing and warming.  An added plus here is that it takes no time at all to put all of this together.  The hardest part is gathering the ingredients!

Amazing Coconut Fish Soup*

Serves 4




  • 1 Tbsp avocado oil
  • 3 Tbsp thinly sliced shallots
  • 1 small clove garlic, peeled and minced
  • 2 ½ cups chicken stock (I used Better than Bouillon)
  • 2 lemongrass stalks, peeled and cut into 2-inch segments then pounded and sliced very thin.
  • 13.5 oz can coconut milk
  • 1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and thinly sliced.  (I used a little less due to my husband’s taste buds.)
  • 2 Tbsp unseasoned rice vinegar
  • 1 Tbsp dark brown sugar
  • ½ tsp salt (You can add more at the end to taste)
  • Grated zest of 1 lime
  • 1 lb snapper filet or other firm fish, cut into 1 ½ inch chunks-shrimp (or scallops work too)
  • 2 Tbsp chopped cilantro
  • 2 Tbsp fresh chopped basil
  • ½ lime, juiced (save the other half and slice into wedges to serve the soup)
  • Cooked rice or quinoa to serve

 Place a 5-quart saucepan over medium-low heat.  Add the oil and let it warm, then put in the shallots and garlic, stir until everything is softened but not burnt.  Add the stock, lemongrass, coconut milk and jalapeno, vinegar, brown sugar, salt and lime zest.  Simmer for 10 minutes, uncovered.


Stir in the lime juice, seafood and herbs.  I turn off the heat at this point and let the rest steep in the liquid for five minutes.


Ladle over rice or quinoa and serve with lime wedges.  

*Tweaked from Melissa Clark’s NYTimes recipe

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Broccoli Pecan Salad

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Bright & Beautiful Broccoli Salad

You know me.  Whenever I stumble upon a soup or a salad or a dessert I love, I immediately want to try to make it in my own kitchen.  Recently I was visiting my middle sister in Santa Cruz and we stopped for lunch at Gayles – my favorite bakery.  Don’t tell anyone but on the way home we ate a mid-afternoon snack there too.  

In the display case were a multitude of amazing looking salads!  We shared a few things and ordered a pint of this broccoli salad which blew me out of the water.  It was so so good: crispy, sweet from the apples, tangy from the vinegar, crunchy from toasted pecans and salty with Gruyère cheese. The dressing was barely there and added just a little richness with specks of poppyseed to the salad. I jotted down what we could identify, looked at the listed ingredients and when I returned to Seattle I went to work.

I made this twice in the matter of one week and I will probably make it a third time. The only thing I would change would be to use a red skinned apple for color.  The second go around I lightly blanched the broccoli so it would be more vibrant.  Done. And – everything can be mixed or chopped by hand.  

As an aside (also called flight of ideas) I have some previous trauma surrounding broccoli.  When my middle son was young he only loved “brown” foods.  Meat, fish, bagels, potatoes, no vegetables. I think he did this to put a knife in my heart since he realized I loved vegetables, and a variety to boot.   Broccoli was an exception to his general disdain of all things green – so I served broccoli more times than you want to know when I was young.  I still love it but it does give me pause.

Enough about me. 

Broccoli Pecan Salad

Serves 6 



Salad Ingredients
  • 6 cups broccoli flowerets  
  • 1 cup grated good quality Gruyère cheese
  • 1 ½ cups apple (IMHO – an apple with some red on the skin would be prettiest) (my photo is with a green apple because that is what I had)
  • 1 cup toasted pecans, coarsely chopped
Dressing Ingredients
  • ½ cup mayonnaise 
  • 1 ½ Tbsp  apple cider vinegar
  • 2 Tbsp avocado oil or another neutral oil
  • 2 tsp honey
  • 3 Tbsp Poppy Seeds

Chop broccoli into smallish, ½ inch pieces. Drop into about 2 inches of boiling water in a pot, stir it around and leave it with the lid off for no more than 1minute, stirring constantly.  Remove the broccoli with a strainer and immediately put the flowerettes into an ice water bath.  After they cool down, remove any excess water by drining well then rolling the broccoli in a dry towel.  By the way, this makes the broccoli vibrant green and even a day later it maintains its color.

Prepare the apple by removing the core and dicing into ¼ inch pieces.  

Combine all dressing ingredients in a bowl – whisk and taste, add more vinegar or honey to your taste.

Lightly fold most of the dressing into the ingredients listed above.  The dressing will seem to disappear.  The salad can be refrigerated, covered, for a few hours before eating.  Before eating, add the remaining dressing to moisten it up. The next day I will say that the salad held up just fine.  Day 3, not so much.

And you know what?  I am making this for our family Thanksgiving.  I sent this photo of my salad to my sister and she said “Oh, are you going to write that on your blog, a hack?”  Yes, I answered.  You better believe it!  She also told me that my broccoli was a little more chunky than Gayles.  So be it!


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Basil Walnut Pesto

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I started out this summer with a couple of basil plants in a garden space that my neighbor let me use this summer.  The plot of land is basically shaded by bushes and trees and is backed up to a green belt, hence it gets very little sun.  The basil grew but did not flourish so mid-summer I bought another plant and put it in a large container in my front flower beds.  Wow! The new plant grew like nobody’s business and produced lots and lots of beautiful basil.  This September, after using bits here and there in my cooking, I decided to make pesto.  I lacked the traditional pine nuts so substituted walnuts.

On my first try I covered the pesto with a layer of olive oil, but it still turned brown at the top.  A few days later I briefly blanched the basil, squeezed out the water and then proceeded.  I love the final result and now I have a large jar in the freezer for this winter when I want to pretend it is spring.

To me, pesto is one of the finer things in life.  It takes me literally 10 minutes to prepare.  I love it tossed with hot pasta and some freshly chopped tomatoes and a splash of cream. I also love it mixed with homemade mayo or on top of soft cream cheese as a dip or a spread for crackers.  

I think a person could really use any type of nut here, and I plan to try fresh raw macadamia nuts from Guatemala the next time I visit.

Basil Walnut Pesto

Makes about a cup of pesto



  • 3 cups fresh basil leaves, packed
  • ⅓ cup grated fresh Parmesan cheese 
  • ⅓ cup walnuts, raw or lightly toasted and cooled 
  • 1 large peeled clove garlic 
  • ⅓ cup extra virgin olive oil (mine is from Italy!)
  • ½ tsp salt 
  •  ¼ tsp freshly ground black pepper

First you are going to blanch the basil.  This extra step prevents it from turning brown!

Remove the basil leaves from the stems, and drop them into a saucepan of boiling water.  Stir basil for 30 seconds then quickly remove the leaves to an ice water bath.  After a few minutes, put the blanched leaves in a dish towel and dry them well.

In a food processor add blanched basil, grated parmesan cheese, walnuts, and garlic. Pulse until coarsely chopped, about 10 pulses.

With the motor continuously running, slowly drizzle in the olive oil and process until smooth. Stop halfway and scrape the sides so everything gets processed.  Finally, season to taste with salt and pepper.  Your kitchen will smell unbelievable!

Put the pesto into a glass jar with a lid.  It will stay fresh in the refrigerator for a week or it can be frozen for up to 6 months.  To defrost, remove from the freezer and put into the fridge overnight.


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