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Ganache Ingredients:

8 oz. dark chocolate, broken into small pieces

¼ C of light brown sugar

1 C heavy whipping cream

Optional ingredients: Cinnamon stick, herbs, chili powder, liquor, orange zest, sea salt

Dipping Treat Ingredients:

Seasonal Fruits and Berries

Mini Cookies

Dried Fruits

Brownies cut into cubes


Place the cream and sugar in a small saucepan and bring to a boil.  Simmer for 1 minute. Add flavoring of choice and allow to infuse for 2 minutes. Add the chopped chocolate to a bowl and pour the warm cream over the chocolate.  Whisk until the mixture is silky, smooth and shiny. Pour the ganache into a bowl and serve with dipping treats of your choice. 

Ganache may be made ahead of time and refrigerate until needed.  To reheat, warm on low power in microwave.



2 C pineapple, peeled, cored and cut into ½” chunks

2 T olive oil

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 t  Worcestershire sauce

1 t granulated sugar

1-2 T Siracha (more or less to your taste) *Siracha is a smooth & spicy red chili paste in  

the squeeze bottle with the rooster label and green top found in all grocery stores

1 clove            garlic

3 T cilantro, chopped

Juice of 1 lime

1 # shrimp, peeled and deveined

6 corn tortillas, warmed

Avocado, red onion, cilantro, lime and sour cream for serving

Special Equipment – 1 heavy duty rimmed sheet pan


Heat broiler with oven rack in position for broiling.

Toss pineapple in 1 T olive oil on sheet pan and arrange in a single layer on half of rimmed baking pan. Broil until lightly charred around the edges, 6-8 minutes.

Meanwhile, combine shrimp with remaining 2T olive oil, Worcestershire, sugar, garlic, and Siracha. Toss until shrimp are evenly coated. Remove sheet pan from broiler and turn pineapple chunks over using a metal spatula.  Drain marinade from shrimp and place in a single layer on the empty half of the baking sheet. Broil until shrimp are cooked through and lightly charred, 1-2 minutes. Take care not to overcook the shrimp.  The sheet pan will be smoking hot when you add the shrimp, so they will cook from the bottom as well as from the broiler heat above.  It should only take a minute or two.

Remove from broiler and top with a squeeze of lime juice and chopped cilantro.  Serve with avocado, cilantro, lime wedges, and warmed corn tortillas.  Additional toppings – pickled red onion, sour cream and pico de gallo may also be used if desired.

Serves 2 generously



4  16 – 20 count shrimp, peeled and deveined

2 oz. spicy sausage

8 littleneck clams

¼ C green peas, frozen

½ red bell pepper, diced        

1 T olive oil

¼ # vermicelli pasta

½ onion, minced

2 cloves garlic, minced

¼ C scallion, minced

1 tomato, diced

2T tomato paste

4 oz.  Bottled clam juice

1 ½ C chicken or vegetable stock

¼ C white wine (optional) or equivalent amount of water

1 t saffron threads, crushed

¼ C parsley, chopped                             

Lemon wedges and minced parsley for serving


Break pasta into 2” lengths by wrapping in plastic film and breaking against the edge of a counter.

Heat 1T of olive oil in pan over medium high heat.  Add sausage and cook until lightly browned and cooked through.  Transfer sausage to a paper towel lined plate and set aside.  Reduce heat to medium. 

In the same skillet, toast broken vermicelli, stirring frequently, until lightly browned and toasted.  Watch carefully as the vermicelli can burn quickly.  Transfer vermicelli to a plate and set aside.

Using the same skillet, add the onion and cook until the onion has softened slightly.  Add garlic, tomato paste and scallions, and cook until fragrant.  Stir in diced tomatoes, clam juice, stock, wine and crushed saffron.   Bring to a low boil.

Return the toasted vermicelli and the sausage to the skillet.  Cook for 6-8 minutes.  Arrange clams, hinged side down, into the vermicelli.  Cover and simmer for 6 minutes.  Add shrimp to pan, cover again and cook until clams have opened and shrimp is cooked through. Depending on how much liquid the clams release you may need to add a little more water to prevent sticking.

When most of the liquid had been absorbed, sprinkle the peas and diced red pepper over the top of the fideos. 

Sprinkle with minced parsley.   Serve with lemon wedges

Serves 2

*Chef notes – If you are using bivalves like mussels or clams be sure to clean them with a stiff brush under running water before adding them to the dish. Any that are not closed – or don’t close when tapped – need to be discarded. When adding them to the pan, nestle them in the simmering noodles hinged side down. Once added, cover the pan with a tight fitting lid. Bivalves cook when the hot steam produced from the simmering liquid is trapped in the pan, so do your best not to remove the lid too frequently.  I usually check progress once after about 7-8 minutes. When cooked, they should be open – unopened ones should be discarded – they are duds. (I know this is the exact opposite of what you did before you cooked them.) Finally, I add clam juice in the recipe to enhance the briny flavor of the seafood. You don’t have to use it, but if you’d like to, it can be found in most grocery stores near the canned tuna fish. Costco carries a reasonably priced saffron or reasonable quality in their baking/spice section.



1 T extra virgin olive oil

2 T unsalted butter

1 C yellow onion, chopped fine

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 6oz can tomato paste  

½ t crushed red pepper flakes (or to taste)

2 t brown sugar

3 oz. vodka

1 C vegetable or chicken stock

½ C heavy cream

1 # tubular pasta (penne, rigatoni, casarecce)

3 oz. parmesan cheese, finely grated  plus more for serving

Garnish – freshly ground black pepper, olive oil and fresh basil leaves


Bring a large pot of water to boil over high heat.

Melt butter in a large saucepan over medium high heat.  When melted, add olive oil, chopped onions and garlic.  Stir frequently until onions are softened and garlic is fragrant.  Add tomato paste, brown sugar and red chili flakes (if using.) Cook, stirring constantly until the paste is dark red and browning nicely, 5-7 minutes.  

Add vodka, scraping up any browned bits from the bottom of the pan. Reduce heat to low.

Using a heat proof measuring cup warm stock in microwave until hot but not boiling.  When heated, add heavy cream –heating the stock ensures the dairy won’t break when you add it to the hot pan. Gradually pour cream mixture into tomato paste in sauce pan stirring vigorously until a smooth consistency is achieved.

Cook pasta in boiling salted water until al dente. Drain pasta, reserving 1 C starchy pasta cooking liquid.

Add cooked pasta to sauce pan and stir in ½ C of reserved pasta cooking water. Add parmesan and stir until cheese is melted and well combined.  If needed, add reserved pasta water to sauce in small increments until sauce is smooth and coats pasta.  Season with additional salt and pepper.

Divide pasta between bowls and top with additional parmesan cheese, fresh basil and a light drizzle of olive oil.

Serves 2 generously with leftovers



1 T extra virgin olive oil

1 C yellow onion, chopped

2 cloves garlic, minced

¼ t minced fresh ginger

½ -1 t high quality curry powder

1 16oz can diced tomatoes in juice

½ C dry white wine

2 ½  C chicken or vegetable stock

¼  t crushed red pepper flakes (or to taste)

2 slices crusty bread

2 eggs

Garnish – freshly ground black pepper, olive  oil and minced parsley or chives


In a stock pot heat the olive oil over medium heat until shimmering.  Add the onions and sweat briefly.  Add garlic, ginger and curry powder and sauté until softened and lightly browned, about 5 minutes. Deglaze with wine.

Add crushed red pepper (if using), canned tomatoes and their juices, plus stock and bring to boil.  Reduce heat to low and simmer for 20 minutes.

Carefully transfer soup to a blender (or use an immersion blender) and puree soup until smooth. Pour the pureed soup through a strainer, pressing on the solids with a rubber spatula, discard the solids.  Taste soup and season with salt and pepper. The soup may be prepared to this point and stored in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.

For service, return soup to saucepan and reheat on medium low until hot. Meanwhile, lightly brush bread with olive oil. For added flavor you may also rub with the cut side of a clove of garlic. Toast or grill the bread and set aside.

Place 2” water in a deep skillet. Heat water to a simmer. Crack eggs and gently lower into simmering water. Turn off heat and cover skillet with tight fitting lid.  Poach eggs for 3-5 minutes. Carefully remove eggs from water and blot on paper toweling.

To serve, place a slice of grilled bread in the bottom of a warmed soup bowl. Place an egg on the bread and ladle the hot soup over. Top with a drizzle of olive oil, freshly ground black pepper and minced herbs.

Serve 2 generously



2 T unsalted butter, melted

2 4-6 oz cod fillet

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

2 C zucchini, julienned

½ basket grape tomatoes, halved

2 T oil-cured black olives, chopped (Kalamata or other olives may be used)

1 ½ t capers, chopped

¼ C  dill, parsley, and chives, chopped

½ lemon, zested

2 T feta cheese, crumble


Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Brush ovenproof baking dish with melted butter, reserving extra. Season the fish lightly with salt and pepper.

Combine zucchini, tomatoes, olives, and capers with 2 T of minced fresh herbs and the remaining butter. Season with salt and pepper. Place vegetable mixture in prepared baking dish and make a nest or indentation for each piece of fish. (For a more elegant presentation you can use individual gratin dishes.)

Place seasoned fish in the center of each nest. Drizzle white wine over vegetables and fish. Toss remaining herbs with breadcrumbs, lemon zest and crumbled feta cheese. Pat bread crumb mixture on top of fish to form a crust when the fish is cooked. Bake for 13-16 minutes or until fish is opaque throughout. Remove fish from oven and Increase oven temperature to broil. Place fish briefly under broiler to brown the crumbs.

Serves 2


We hosted our first online cooking class in December. For the first time the Virtual Dinner Party  was able to bake together as a group in real time through the magic of Zoom.  I have to confess, there was a steep learning curve for me. The internet time lag and impersonal nature of zooming was a bit weird, but attendees cheerily persevered through my missteps. They took it in stride that I forgot to mention what mixer attachment to use when making a meringue, and they totally had my back when I left them unattended to search my cupboards for ingredients I had forgotten to set out. But even with the glitches, I am extremely thankful for the experience.  Zooming is no substitute for face to face gathering, but in these very unusual times, it was miraculous to be able spend time with our community of chefs and diners for just one night.  For me the best part was the spirited text volley between participants that occurred after the class. I am smiling still at how our group continued to inspire and share their creativity with one another.

For the class we prepared a Holiday Meringue Cake with Chocolate and Rosemary.  Sheree Giesenhaggen and Christy Lueders turned out stunning creations while John Reed provided very insightful and spot on baking recommendations.  His thoughtful contribution solved the uneven baking conundrum for the group.  In order to ring in the New Year with style, Katy Petersen and Colette Szczensy held off on assembling their cakes until the 31st.  I am certain champagne was the perfect accompaniment to complement their handiwork. And, always delightful Kristin and John Hunt were there too, cheering the group on with their humor and good spirits. It truly was a party!

Please know how grateful I am for the opportunity to continue to cook with you. The activity and your participation continue to boost my spirits. I know that no amount of cooking will fill the void of missing actual contact with our community, but I do hope that this activity and these recipes will help build a bridge to connect us in some way.

All good things to you and yours in 2021 – Victoria

If you were unable to make it to the class, I encourage you to try the recipe.



6 ea                                      egg whites

1 ¼ C                                    granulated sugar, divided

1 T                                         cornstarch

splash                                  white wine vinegar

2 T                                         rosemary leaves

1 ea                                      orange zest

2 T                                         confectioners’ sugar

2 C                                         heavy whipping cream

¼ C                                        sour cream

1 ea                                      high quality bittersweet chocolate bar (such as Lindt)

                                                Fresh rosemary, for garnish


Preheat oven to 300 degrees.

Prepare rosemary orange sugar:  Combine ¼ granulated sugar, rosemary leaves, and orange zest in food processor.  Process vigorously until rosemary and orange are finely chopped and combined well with sugar.  Set aside.

Prepare baking sheets: On a sheet of parchment paper, draw three 8” circles.  I use a salad plate as a guide and trace around it with a pencil.  Place parchment on a baking sheet and set aside.

Prepare cake:  Using an electric mixer, whisk egg whites on medium low speed until foamy (about 1 minute).  Increase speed to medium high and slowly add the remaining 1 C sugar.  Continue whipping until eggs become soft and fluffy.  Gently sift cornstarch over meringue and mix gently.   Fold in vinegar and 3T of rosemary orange sugar.


Here’s what you need to know to get started…..

RSVP to join the class by messaging me through Nextdoor or emailing me at by December 26h.

Once you are registered, purchase the ingredients, gather your equipment, and get ready to bake!

On Sunday, December 27th, you’ll receive an email with the complete recipe instructions and a link to join the class online on Monday the 28th.

At 4 PM MT on Monday, December 28th, join Victoria and all your VDP friends on Zoom to celebrate the season by making a Holiday Meringue Cake with Orange, Chocolate and Rosemary.

Everyone is invited but only a limited number of spaces are available, and they’re expected to fill up quickly. Reserve your spot today!

Ingredient shopping  list:

  • 6 ea     egg whites
  • 1 ¼ C   granulated sugar, divided
  • 1 T       cornstarch
  • splash white wine vinegar
  • 2 T       rosemary leaves, **creeping rosemary found in your yard will work here as long as it has not been sprayed with chemicals.
  • 1 ea     orange zest
  • 2 T       confectioners’ sugar
  • 2 C       heavy whipping cream
  • ¼ C      sour cream
  • 1 ea     high quality bittersweet chocolate bar (such as Lindt, Callebaut or Scharffen Berger)
  • Fresh rosemary, for garnish

Equipment list:

  • Ho ho ho attitude
  • Oven
  • Food processor or sharp chef knife and cutting board
  • Baking sheet
  • Parchment paper
  • Pencil
  • Spatula
  • Citrus zester (optional)
  • Serrated knife (helpful but not required)

Day of Event Pre-Class Directions

  • Gather all ingredients and equipment needed.
  • Pre-heat your oven to 300 degrees.
  • Grab your eggnog and sign on to the Zoom link provided. Sign in starts at 3:45PM. Class starts at 4PM.

Hope you can join us!



 2 ½ sticks unsalted butter, chilled and cut into 1” cubes

 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar, plus more for rolling cookies

  Pinch salt

  2 t pure vanilla extract

  2 ¼ C all-purpose flour

  2 t cinnamon

  1 T ginger

  1 t cloves

  2 T molasses

  1 ¼ C toasted pecans, chopped

*TIPS – measure nut after chopping and cool completely after toasting before proceeding with the recipe. Any other nuts may be substituted for the pecans.


 Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line 2 cookie sheets with parchment paper.

Pulse the toasted pecans in the work bowl of your food processor using short quick bursts.  *it is important to pulse the nuts rather than pureeing them – you don’t want to end up with nut butter.  Some chefs like to add a bit of sugar to the nuts to help facilitate easy movement in the food processor. Set aside.

Place powdered sugar, flour and spices in food processor.  Add cold butter pieces and pulse until mixture resembles a coarse meal.

Add cooled, chopped pecans and molasses. Pulse again until blended. Continue to pulse until dough comes together and can be shaped into balls.

While cookies are baking, place 1-1 ½ cups of additional powdered sugar in a shallow mixing bowl and set aside.

Portion dough into 1 ½” pieces and roll into balls.  Place 2” apart on prepared sheet pans and bake 14-18 minutes until cookies are slightly browned and firm to the touch.



12 oz.     bag spinach (or mixture of spinach and heartier greens)

 2 T          unsalted butter                   

2 t           cumin seeds (or 1 t ground)

2 t           whole coriander (or 1 t ground)

3 t           cardamom pods (or ½ t ground)

½” pc.    cinnamon bark (or ½ t ground)

2 t         curry powder

1 ea.       onion, minced

3 ea.       garlic cloves, minced

½ “          ginger, grated

½ ea.       jalapeno, minced fine (or to taste)

1 ea.       basket grape tomatoes, halved

1 ea.       sweet potato, peeled and cut into ½” cubes

¼ C          cashews, coarsely chopped

1 C          divided, chicken or vegetable stock (or more if needed)

½ C          buttermilk (or sub ½ C milk mixed with 2 T sour cream)

¼ C          cilantro, chopped

Basmati rice and naan for serving


Prepare Spices:  Place all spices in a dry skillet over medium heat and gently shake the pan to ensure even cooking.  Once the spices start to release their aroma pop and (if you’re toasting whole spices,) quickly remove from the heat and empty the spices onto a dinner plate to cool. If you are using whole spices, grind spices to a fine powder with mortar and pestle or spice/coffee grinder. Set aside

Prepare spinach:  Rinse spinach and shake dry.  Place in a microwave safe bowl and cover with plastic film.  Microwave on high for 1-2 minutes or until spinach is wilted.  Remove from microwave and carefully poke a hole in plastic film to allow steam to escape.  When cool, drain well in colander and coarsely chop. Set aside.

Prepare sauce:  Melt butter in a skillet over medium high heat. Add cooled spices and cook, stirring constantly, 45 seconds or until fragrant.  Add onion, and cook until onion is well browned. You want to cook the onions until they turn a deep golden brown and become extremely fragrant (this is key to curry’s intense flavor.) – It should take about 10 minutes on medium heat. Add garlic, ginger and jalapeno and cook, stirring frequently, until lightly browned. Stir in chopped tomatoes and chopped sweet potatoes with ½ C stock or water. Cook until potatoes are cooked through 7-9 minutes. You may need to add a bit of stock or water if tomatoes do not put out sufficient liquid.

Transfer half of onion/tomato mixture and half of reserved spinach to blender or food processor and process briefly. Add remaining ½ C stock and cashews and puree until smooth. You may need to add more stock or water to get a smooth puree. Return pureed mixture to skillet.

Finish sauce:  Return skillet to medium high heat and add remaining chopped spinach and buttermilk to sauce.  Bring to a simmer and then reduce heat to low. Cover and cook until heated through and very flavorful. Sprinkle with chopped cilantro and serve over basmati rice with naan if desired.

Serves 2 generously