Skip to main content


Showing posts from April, 2014

Cheers: Why wedding toasts matter

Okay. I'll admit it, I'm a wedding toast junkie. But then, I love pretty much anything that includes celebratory bubbles...

This week, I got to write about why I think toasts matter for the Los Altos Town Crier.

I’ve been to formal church weddings, sand-beneath-my-feet ceremonies, rainy-afternoon nuptials and dancing-under-the-stars celebrations. But regardless of the style of the union, the toast is always the centerpiece of the reception.

Wedding toasts are a major highlight of the day. Sure, I’ve heard some stinkers. I’ve cringed once or twice and I’ve been bored to yawns, but I always look to the toast portion of the reception with great anticipation. Toasts are an opportunity for a close friend or family member of the bridal couple to express the communal hopes and best wishes of all the guests in attendance.

The toast can generate great angst, but there are plenty of resources for those with pre-toast jitters. Most toasters know to introduce themselves, thank the parents of …

A wine for Passover and one for Easter too

Looking for some spring holiday wines? Here are two to try. A bottle of 2012 Hagafen Oak Knoll Chardonnay is a great kosher choice for a Passover party. The wine’s “yellow apple” attributes give it the softness and ripeness needed to compliment the savory and sweet dishes featured on a Passover table. Stock up on 2012 Dry Creek Vineyard’s Chenin Blanc because it will be all the rage served beside an Easter ham. Crisp on the palate and flowery on the nose, it is bound to please.

Italian lesson

Today, April 15, would have been Marcella Hazan's 90th birthday. In honor of all she taught us with her passionate and inspirational cooking, I'm reposting what I wrote when she passed away.


Earlier this week, Marcella Hazan died. She was 89 years old. A biologist turned cookbook writer and educator, she can be credited with introducing Americans to authentic Italian cooking.

Her food was simple but executed with the attention of an intense perfectionist. Reading her recipes provide as much critical information about techniques as they do ingredients.

Of her many repeat-worthy quotes, I love in particular that she said: The best ingredient in the kitchen is common sense.

Yesterday, I made her bolognese. It's a five-hour sauce of uncomplicated ingredients.

Her original recipe includes cooking tips, such as:

The meat must be sautéed just barely long enough to lose its raw color. It must not brown or it will lose delicacy.

Use a fork to break the meat into crumbs.

The meat m…

Lemons, Madeleines and Prosecco

When it comes to baking, I'm utterly inconsistent. Nonsensical jags of baking, such as my "banana bread: 10 ways in 20 days" journey, will be followed by months of not baking a loaf. 

Some years ago I went about perfecting a Madeleine recipe only to abandon the cause just as I was getting it right. 

So, when this week's spring cleaning unearthed my once beloved Madeleine pan with its 12 dainty shell shaped cups, my tentative Madeleine quest was renewed.

What's more, my lemon tree is covered in a confetti of blossoms -- my garden filled with their tender fragrance. Under these conditions, how could I not bake my Lemon Madeleine recipe in celebration of all things Spring? 

Lemon Madeleines
Makes 48 Madeleines, which = plenty to share or freeze


1 1/3 cup all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 cup butter, melted and cooled
4 farm fresh eggs 
1 teaspoon lemon zest
1 teaspoon lemon extract
2 cups powdered sugar

Special equipment: Madeleine pan

Preheat o…

You CAN judge a wine by its label... And spring party wine thoughts

(written for the Los Altos Town Crier)

They catch your eye from across the crowded store. Intrigued, you move closer to see what they’re all about. But somehow, the nearer you get to the wine section, the more confusing the process of selecting a bottle becomes.
Friends have told me that if they want a “good” wine, they will buy the most expensive bottle they can afford. But a fantastic wine doesn’t have to cost a fortune. Knowing how to use the label to make your choice will give you the power to purchase using more than just price as your guide. With the spring entertaining season off and running, wine-label wisdom will help you select a bottle you’d be proud to introduce to your mom’s Easter ham, serve for Passover brunch or even bring to a discerning boss’ spring barbecue. For the rest of the story, head over to the Los Altos Town Crier.


Inner peace and Albarino

Last year, several close friends and I went on a somewhat unintentional grand food tour. I say unintentional because wallowing in local, ambrosial food was the joyful fringe benefit of our mini(*desperate-for-a-break*)-staycation in Northern California. 

After a gluttonous and sun-drenched few days in the town of Healdsburg, we headed to Marshall, where we had rented Coal and Feed (and, yes, this place is just as special as it looks in the photos). 

If you're not familiar with Marshall and the surrounding towns, you should get to know all of it. There is incredible food to be found: cheese; oysters;beer; meat; even cooking gear

All this is to say it was a GREAT trip. The kind that gives you happy memories to float on for months, even years to come. 

So, last week as I toiled away on an especially unpleasant task, I found myself daydreaming about our days of epicurial pleasure. 

In particular, I played over in my mind a wine and a plate of oysters. The wi…