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Happy Birthday Little Blog!

Onions and Chocolate turns 1 today!  That’s pretty old for a little project that came out of a dare.

(photo courtesy of Patchwork Harmony)

So…1 year down…who knows how many more to go.  There were some 63 posts, 56 categories and 265 tags.  I look back on all this blogging…and think quite a bit about all the posts that didn’t go up…and all the dishes that weren’t photographed.  Sometimes, it was due to lack of time, or lack of energy…but other times it was due to the company present.  It is hard to pause it the midst of entertaining…and take a hundred photos of what your guests would really like to be eating…while it is still warm.  I’m hoping to continue to work on this little project…learning more bits and pieces of digital food photography…figuring out lighting tricks, collecting some more dishware and tablecloths and napkins, but mainly….I’m really hoping to post more…which is just a sneaky way of saying…all I want to do is cook more, bake more, learn more and of course eat more.

I have a small obsession with salt…so much so…I’ve earned myself the nickname Old Salty when I worked in the field as a wilderness guide as well as having my brothers kindly name a home-brew beer after me for my 30th birthday – Old Salty’s Halfway to Sixty Extra Special Bitter. Such genuinely sweet brothers!  I have been known to carry my own stash of kosher salt around with me, and had many a joke for it as well.  Which is why I was so pleased to stumble upon this post on a site I was drawn to immediately from the name alone…Not Without Salt.  And yes, I realize carrying around my own small container of various salts is somewhat precocious…but I can’t agree with the author more when she writes “A few flakes of Maldon and your dinner is saved.”

So here is to anniversaries, birthdays, celebrations, momentous occasions., and traveling with small containers of delicious salts…just in case!  Cheers!  I can’t wait to see what year two has in store!

Rosemary Cashew Brittle

There are a few sweets that I crave…some are seasonal and this brittle happens to be one of them.  It’s sweet, complex, crunchy and herbal.

Rosemary cashew brittle is one of my favorite things to make during the holidays and give away in small boxes tied with ribbon…however, candy making is fickle.  Many attempts later…I’ve learned to not bother trying when the humidity is high…and if the humidity is high in Southern California…then generally, it is pouring rain outside…and generally, when it is pouring rain outside, it is December or January…so making brittle in December of January is hit or miss.

This years batch wasn’t made until just after New Year’s…when we finally caught a few solid days of sun and dry weather.  If you are going to make candy…do it when it is dry out…or you’ll end up with a sticky mess.

I’m not sure I can part with the recipe yet…it’s one of the few secrets I keep.  But enjoy the photos for now…and let me know next holiday season if you want to try it…I’ll send some your way.

Cashews and Rosemary as far as the eye can see.  Til’ next year…

Roasted Butternut Squash Pizza with Goat Cheese, Shallots, Bacon & Thyme

Dinner last week…

There is not one thing on this delicious piece of crust that was a disappointment.  The crust was great and even better on the next day when it rolled out thinner and crispier!

Woody’s Weeknight Hamburger Casserole

aka – gourmet homemade hamburger helper!

Dinner Last Week

Woody knows all the details…cause this was all him.  Here’s the cast of characters:

  • free range ground beef
  • onion
  • campanelle pasta
  • mascarpone
  • tomato sauce
  • and a little parmesan and mozzarella

Perfectly delicious, simple and homey! (note the melty stringy cheese – I’m telling you…it’s exactly what you want on a chilly night mid-winter!


Pear Clafoutis

Perfectly ripe pears are like gold…(think Harry and David fruit packed in foam delivered to wintry doorsteps).  Pears rarely need much to improve them…and this dish is simply a different vessel to deliver pear goodness!

This recipe is originally from my training at Le Cordon Bleu in Paris (hence the metric measurements).  A traditional clafoutis is made only with cherries, using any other fruit (including pears or berries) the dish is called a flaugnarde.  I still call it a clafoutis…as it has been a family favorite for 10 years now.

Pear (Flaugnarde) Clafoutis

  • 100 grams (2/3 cup ±) Sugar
  • 120 grams (1/2 cup ±) Flour
  • 3 eggs
  • 200 ml (1 cup ±) milk, lukewarm
  • 50 ml (1/4 cup ±) cream
  • 5 grams (1 tsp.) baking powder

Butter and lightly sugar a heavy tart pan, or similar shallow baking dish.  Chill.

Place fruit in a single layer in the chilled dish.  Quantity is up to you, but pieces of fruit should not touch.

Mix all other ingredients for batter.  Pour into dish without displacing fruit.  Bake at 160°C (350°F) for 40 minutes until just beginning to brown.

Serve warm or at room temperature, plain or garnished with powdered sugar, cream or a fruit coulis.



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