Sweet Potato Chipotle Salad


vegan, gluten free, southewestern salad

Even though the weather here in Los Angeles is currently in the triple digits, the fall produce is starting to push many of the summer favorites to the side at the markets. Yams are taking center stage right now so it is an optimal time to prepare them in a way that will let them shine and get the attention they truly deserve.

Warm Tarragon Potato Salad



Although I do my very best to avoid night shade vegetables (potatoes, tomatoes, peppers, and eggplants), there are times that I cannot resist creamy potatoes. When my children ask me what my favorite food is, my response is almost always potatoes. The rest of the time its pizza in case you were wondering.

Chocolate Buttermilk Blackout Cake (with vegan adaptation)


It’s not healthy nor is it gluten-free, but it is the best chocolate cake you can make with the least amount of fuss. Yes, there are recipes that I prefer to this one for a velvety rich crumb, but this recipe is practically mindless to assemble with consistently good results.

Poached Chicken Salad with White Nectarines


Even though we are entering into Labor Day weekend, Summer stone fruit is still quite abundant and delicious. At the moment, we cannot seem to get our fill of sweet and juicy white nectarines. Since I am buying 8-12 at a time, I am left with a few to play with for other things other than just gobbling them up. Adding nectarines, peaches, or plums to any late Summer salad would be great. They are fantastic paired with a variety of nuts and cheeses as well as meat and poultry as I have chosen to do with this recipe. Served on its own or over your favorite greens, this salad will make a healthy, flavorful, and satisfying lunch or light dinner to serve during those hot days of the Indian Summer.

Fig and Bresaola Salad


The end of the summer always brings us the most delectable fresh figs. They are among the things that I will make a special trip to the farmer’s market to seek out this time of year. My daughter and I both like the green colored Calimyrna figs, but the black mission and brown turkey figs are equally delicious when they are soft and ripe.  The sweet figs, salty bresaola, and peppery bite of wild arugula come together in this beautiful salad. You may also wish to add shaved Parmigiano Reggiano to further round out the flavors. Regardless, it will make a perfect beginning or ending to any meal.

Zesty Grilled Shrimp and Vegetables


Even though it has been a remarkably warm winter here in Southern California, the immanent arrival of summer inspires one to think about grilling more frequently. This flavorful grilled shrimp is super easy to prepare and would be fantastic to serve for a small family dinner or a large crowd.

Polenta Stuffed Chiles Rellenos with Mushroom Hash


I was recently diagnosed with being gluten intolerant. It is a very hard thing to come to terms with since I am a gluten junkie. A few years ago, when I was diagnosed with Rheumatoid Arthritis I gave up gluten for nearly a year and felt great. Even then, I attributed my well being more to the removal of gluten from my diet than following a plant based diet. Being vegan and gluten-free was a challenge that interfered with my lifestyle and that of my family so I started to reintroduce it to my diet. The arthritis seemed to stay under control with the aid of medications, and life went on as I happily indulged in my favorite sourdough breads, durum wheat pastas, and baked goods. It all seemed just fine for quite awhile until last summer when I started to not feel so well and unbeknownst to me, the role gluten was playing in my lackluster health was furthest from my mind.

Creamy Polenta


Polenta is among my favorite sides dishes or components to any main dish. Served soft and creamy when it is freshly prepared or set in a pan and used for a casserole, grilling, or Chiles Rellenos, it is a yummy and satisfying dish to have in your repertoire. Polenta is also a fun and excellent dish to serve with a variety of toppings for a party. You can serve it in a large bowl or pour it out onto a large stone or cutting board for your guests to serve themselves from. Serve with cheeses, tomatoes, sauces or pestos, olives, prepared meats, grilled vegetables, or anything else you can think of.

Pasilla Corn Waffles with Smoked Salmon and Creme Fraiche


I learned this recipe this when I worked at Mustard’s Grill in Oakville, California where I was fortunate enough to have one of my first restaurant jobs. My first job in the Mustard’s kitchen was working in the pantry. The pantry cook plates or takes part in the preparation of salads, appetizers, various side dishes, and desserts. It is the basic starter position on the cooking line where there are cooks working the grill, saute, and otherwise. Making the batter for and griddling the  very tasty Pasilla Corncakes was one of the many jobs I undertook while on pantry duty, and the recipe is imprinted on my brain to this day.

Valrhona Chocolate Shortbread Cookies


This recipe for Bittersweet Chocolate Shortbread is one the very best that I have hidden away in my arsenal. They are incredibly easy to make and perfect every time. How perfect your end result will depend entirely on the quality of the ingredients you choose to use.  It WILL make a difference. So just trust me and use the pricier Valrhona cocoa powder instead of the standard Dutch processed. I have been making this recipe for almost 20 years and know for a fact from testing it out every which way that using the Valrhona chocolate and high quality butter make a far superior cookie.

Ginger Beer


I know its not very exciting, but my thirst quencher of choice would have to be purified water, served flat and at room temperature. But every now and then I go a little crazy and indulge in fresh lemonade or iced tea, even an occasional root beer. On a recent visit to a Los Angeles restaurant I had a house made ginger beer that was a crisp, cool, and refreshing libation that left me with cravings for more. I set out to perfect a recipe of my own that would be simple to prepare and a little better for me that the one I had. Made with fresh raw ginger root, this formula for homemade spicy ginger beer is just what I was after.

Judy’s Special Exotic Green Salad and Reflections on Inspiration


An Insalata Tre Colori is an Italian salad composed of ingredients that bring three colors to your plate. There are limitless varieties of such salads on restaurant menus, but my favorite version is probably the one most commonly made with radicchio, endive, and arugula. The flavors are spicy and a little bitter while being complimented by their crunchy texture. It is a delicious salad to enjoy at either the beginning or ending of a meal as it is refreshing and palate cleansing. Insalata Tre Colori made with these bitter greens is particularly delicious topped with shaved Parmigiano-Reggiano and a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil. The version of this salad that I am sharing with you today was created by my mother and brings back oodles of memories of growing up in a home filled with good food and culinary curiosity. I would like to share a story which is more of a rambling about how parmesan cheese influenced and inspired my interest in cooking.