Mini Tomato Tarts


Mini Tomato Tart

Mini Tomato Tart


I first tasted a tomato pie at a favorite southern diner. With a party on the horizon, I started to experiment with making this pie. My husband said that it was really good and when one of my daughters tried it, I had her seal of approval. I knew I had a winner.

For the upcoming party I needed to convert my recipe to appetizer size and so I developed a mini tomato tart. It was simple enough after buying a ready made box of pie dough


  • 1 box prepared pie dough (prefer Pillsbury)
  • 6 slices cooked crisp bacon strips crumbled
  • 1 bunch fresh basil strips
  • 1 C chopped tomatoes
  • 1 C sharp Cheddar cheese shredded
  • 1 C Provolone cheese shredded



  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Cut and place prepared dough in mini muffin pans.
  3. Prebake dough until light brown and cool.
  4. Layer ingredients in order given.
  5. Place in oven until cheese is fully melted and gooey.






Black and White Cookies

Black and White Cookies

Black and White Cookies

I haven’t baked in a while; but, on a recent holiday I was itching to make a dessert I had never made before. My husband has loved black and white cookies since he was a little boy and on this occasion I chose to surprise him.

I must say I found many good recipes; but I settled on one adapted from the fabulous New York food emporium, Zabar’s.

The cookies are large and I placed them in an airtight container after they were completely cool. I planned on icing them the next day. They got a wee bit too soft for me, so I re-baked them for another ten minutes to crisp them up a tad. The cookie is not a hard crisp cookie to begin with: it is more like a semi hard cake; but hard, soft or in-between they were a hit!

Cookie Recipe

  • 1 cup unsalted butter at room temperature
  • 1 3/4 cups white sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon lemon extract
  • 2 -2 1/4 cups cake flour
  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt


  • 4 cups confectioners’ sugar
  • 1/3 cup boiling water
  • 1 ounce bittersweet chocolate, chopped

Preheat oven to 350.Cover two baking sheets with parchment paper.In a medium bowl, cream together butter and sugar until smooth.

Beat in eggs one at a time, then stir in the milk, vanilla and, lemon extract.

Combine cake flour and all-purpose flour, baking powder, and salt; gradually blend into the creamed mixture.

Drop tablespoons of the dough at least 2 inches apart on prepared sheet.

Bake until edges begin to brown; checking in 10 minutes.

Cool completely.


To make icing:

Place confectioners’ sugar in a large bowl.

Mix in boiling water one tablespoon at a time until mixture is thick and spreadable.

Transfer half of the frosting to the top of a double boiler set over simmering water.

Stir in chocolate.

Warm mixture, stirring frequently, until chocolate melts.

Remove from heat.

Let both the chocolate and the white icing set up, before using to get the proper spreading consistency.

With a small spatula or the back of a small spoon,, coat half the cookie with chocolate frosting and the other half with white frosting.

Set on wax paper until frosting hardens.


Redford or DiCaprio?

This weekend we are going to see the Great Gatsby. I’m wondering how different DiCaprio will play Gatsby versus Robert Redford. Redford is close to eighty; so this remake is a long time coming.

My daughter Lilly saw it the other night at a special screening and she emailed me the following about her evening. Wish I had been invited!  She wrote, “As an elite member of “The Gilt Groupe” I was treated as a V.I.P. this past Wednesday evening at a premiere screening of “The Great Gatsby.” If you don’t know what The Gilt Groupe is, you are in for a treat.

Gilt provides their members with today’s top designer labels at up to a 60% off retail. Becoming a member is free and you are notified daily of deals on apparel and accessories for women, men, kids and home goods as well as exclusive local happenings and events and one-of-a-kind travel packages.

Gilt is currently expanding their market and trying to establish a more visible presence in the Atlanta area. I was one of the lucky ones and was treated to a ticket to an exclusive advance screening of “The Great Gatsby”. It was a private pre-screening preceded by a wine and beer reception.  I was instructed to wear a Gatsby themed costume and maybe win a prize.

Unfortunately, I came straight from work, so didn’t have the opportunity to get a costume together; but many people went all out! First, second and third place winners all received prizes which I believe included a gift certificate to a local spa. It was an all-around wonderful experience. The screening took place at one of my favorite theaters ( lazy boy recliners) and the movie was in 3D.  Between the movie, a little libation and sitting and visiting with a great friend, the event was a great ‘hump day treat”. Thank you to the Gilt Groupe.

To find out more information about The Gilt Groupe, visit their website at:




My Father’s Favorite Passover Dish

As we approach Passover I can’t help but think about my wonderful father and how much he is missed. It has been over ten years since he passed away and every time Passover rolls around I am reminded of his favorite dish.

My father did not cook. I do not remember him in the kitchen ever, except during this eight day holiday where he only made one dish. He made it every day for breakfast and all four of his children couldn’t wait till it was ready. I served it to my kids growing up and they loved it as well.

The health conscious world that we live in may not appreciate it; but I was raised with it and it is delicious.

The Fried Matzo Sandwich

  • 9 pieces of Matzo
  • Container of Whipped Cream Cheese
  • 1 stick butter
  • 4 Eggs
  1. Carefully break each piece of matzo into 3 equal pieces.
  2. Spread a thick layer (1/8 to ¼ inch) of cream cheese on three pieces and cover each with three more pieces making a sandwich.
  3. Break these into two pieces.
  4. Spread and cover the remaining matzo and break into pieces.
  5. Beat the eggs into a wide bowl.
  6. Dip the sandwich pieces in the egg and soak and cover both sides.
  7. Melt enough butter in a wide skillet to cover the entire skillet area.
  8. Cook the cream cheese sandwiches on both sides until outside matzo is browned and cream cheese is melted and hot.
  9. Drain on paper towel and enjoy while hot. 

Erotic Foods for Valentine’s Day

Valentine's table setting

For the most sensuous foods to serve this coming Valentine’s Day, think those that incorporate all five senses in your menu and by all means pick those you can eat with your fingers.  Valentine’s Day is for love and lovers; think sound, sight, touch, smell and of course taste. The goal is to increase relaxation and promote sociability if you catch the flow.

Start by opening a bottle of champagne. Whatever your pocketbook can afford determines what you buy. Just make sure, the spirit is effervescent and feels good in the mouth when imbibed. Offer a bite of chocolate to drink with the bubbly and savor the two together.

Oysters on the half shell come next. A few years back a team of American and Italian researchers analyzed bivalve mollusks – a group of shellfish that includes oysters – and found they were rich in rare amino acids that trigger increased levels of sex hormones. That is what you are looking for.

Your next course is a medley of raw fruits and vegetables known for their aphrodisiac qualities. Present each side by side on a large platter and let the eyes luxuriate on the feast while the mouth juices excite at the prospect of taste.

Include the following: the avocado is a silky, mild fruit that has a reputation as an aphrodisiac extending back to ancient Aztec times; figs have long been a symbol of love and fertility; add asparagus whose shape contributes to the belief in this vegetable’s aphrodisiac properties and is both tactile and delicious; include a pomegranate. It has 613 seeds and can be fun watching your partner savor each seed-one at a time; almonds are an ancient symbol of fertility extending back to Biblical times. Their sweet fragrance may also serve as a sexual attractant.

And then there is chocolate again, the most sensual of all on your menu. The creamy sweet taste left on the palate makes for a grand finale and sets the stage for the rest of the evening.


It’s a Sweet Old Fashioned

Sweet Old Fashioned

I sometimes order a cocktail or a glass of wine when out to dinner. Depending on my mood, if it’s a  cocktail it is often a “sweet old fashioned”. The ingredients call for rye, brandy or bourbon; but my favorite liquor of choice is bourbon. Jack Daniels is the brand I use and I won’t kid you, this is a very strong drink….not for the weak!  It is also  a delicious alternative from another of my favorite cocktails, the Sazarac.

My husband and I were out to dinner recently at one of Atlanta’s finest restaurants and before being seated, I checked with the bartender and asked if he knew how to make this drink. He assured me he did, but I guess I must wait to get back to New Orleans for my girlfriend to make me a great one. Joe Ann, look for me real soon.


  1. Place 1/2 t of loose sugar in the bottom of an Old-Fashioned glass or a tablespoon of  simple syrup.
  2. Add two or three dashes of Angostura bitters and one t of water.
  3. Muddle (mash), 3 Maraschino cherries, stems removed, into the  sugar bitter mixture.
  4. Add ice cubes to the rocks glass
  5. Stir and then add 2 oz. of bourbon and stir again.
  6. Add a slice of orange and serve.

Chanukah, the Festival of Lights

Chanukah Table 2012

Every year when Chanukah rolls around the excitement builds for a Jewish holiday that is traditionally celebrated with family.

In Judaism, Chanukah is a holiday celebrating the re-dedication of the Second Temple of Jerusalem in 164 BC, after its desecration three years earlier by order of Antiochus the IV. The Maccabees recaptured Jerusalem and re-consecrated the Temple after leading a successful revolt against Syrian rule. The lighting of the menorah recalls the story that a one-day supply of oil burned miraculously in the Temple for eight days until new oil could be obtained. Sometimes called the Feast of Dedication or Festival of Lights, it is celebrated for eight days in December, during which time the ceremonial candles are lit and children play games and receive gifts. The Jewish holiday of Purim is the holiday when gifts are usually exchanged, but as a result of its proximity to Christmas Chanukah, originally a minor holiday has become more lavishly celebrated.

A few weeks prior to Chanukah our family meets together to draw names for gifts for the annual Chanukah party. The party begins with the lighting of menorahs and a blessing. If multiple families are in attendance each family can light their own menorah. On the first night one candle is lit and, on each subsequent night of the holiday another candle is lit, until the holiday ends on the eighth day.

Lighting the Chanukah lights

Dinner is usually served next and fried foods are the star of the menu. Potato pancakes called latkes are served with sour cream and applesauce. At our house this year we served potato latkes and parsley latkes as well as zucchini latkes.  We served bowls of sour cream, applesauce and cinnamon sugar to go with them and everyone was happy.Every family member brought a dish and the party was one of the best Chanukah’s ever.

Right before everyone opened presents we served dessert. This year dessert was very special. We brought the carnival to our house and made banana split funnel cakes…… and then the paper started flying, as the older grandchildren started passing out the gifts. We had a ball!

Grand kids having fun!

It is not too late to try any of the following recipes: You won’t be disappointed. Potato pancakes are a great side with any meal and the funnel cakes were delicious and so much fun!

LATKE Recipe

  •  3 C russet potatoes or chopped curly parsley or zucchini, peeled and shredded
  •  1 ½ white onion grated
  •  3 eggs
  •  2 to 3 T flour or matzo meal if needed
  • Salt to taste
  • 3 inches Vegetable or Canola oil
  1. Shred and  place in a large bowl.
  2. Grate the onion and add all ingredients together with enough flour or matzo meal to bind the mixture together.
  3. Heat the vegetable over medium high heat.
  4. Place two tablespoons of mixture into the oil and pat down with a spoon to form a round pancake. Fry on both sides until golden brown and drain on paper towel.
  5. If you need to keep the latkes warm, place them in a warm oven while you finish making the rest of the mixture.
  6. Serve with sour cream, cinnamon sugar and/or applesauce.


Funnel cake

  • 2 C all-purpose flour
  • 1 t baking powder
  • ½ t salt
  • 1 ¼ C milk
  • 2 eggs
  • Vegetable oil, for frying
  • Powdered sugar, for dusting.
  • 4 C vanilla ice cream
  • 2 C strawberries, sliced
  • 4 bananas, sliced 1/4-inch thick
  • Chocolate sauce, for drizzling
  • 1 C heavy cream, whipped and sweetened with 1 tablespoon powdered sugar
  • ½ C chopped pecans, optional
  • 8 maraschino cherries, with stems
  • 1 C fresh strawberries, chopped


  1. Whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt in a large bowl. Whisk together the milk,  and eggs in a medium bowl.
  2. Make a well in the flour mixture, and then pour in the egg mixture and whisk until well combined. Let the mixture rest for 10 minutes.
  3. Heat 1 inch of oil in a medium straight-sided skillet to 375 degrees F.
  4. Spoon 3/4 cup of the batter into a funnel with a 1/2-inch tip, keeping the opening at the bottom closed with your finger. Place the funnel over the skillet, release your finger and pour the batter through the funnel, moving to create a round, lacy funnel cake no bigger than 7 inches in diameter (or as big or small as you want!), creating thick, even strands so the cake cooks evenly.
  5.  Fry the cake until beginning to brown and crisp, 2 minutes, and then flip and cook until done, another 1 to 2 minutes.
  6. To serve, place 1 funnel cake on each plate and dust with powdered sugar. Top each with 2 scoops of ice cream, some strawberries and bananas and drizzle with chocolate sauce.
  7. Finish with the sweetened whipped cream and pecans.

Happy Chanukah and Happy Holidays to all!



8 Ingredient Salad

8 Ingredient Salad

I had friends for lunch recently and served a salad that I literally created from memory. I originally had ordered this salad at a nearby diner and had enjoyed it so much that I wanted to re-create it. It was dressed with balsamic vinaigrette that had been whipped in a blender.

The salad reminded me of the Club Salad served at Houston’s restaurant I have been enjoying for many years; so, when I spied it on the menu, I ordered it.  Actually the only similarity was the fried chicken bits on the top of the salad, as this salad would be considered a chopped variety. Anyway, the bottom line is that it is different and very good.

Adapted Recipe

  • 1 C cannellini beans (white kidney beans)
  • 1 C canned chickpeas (drain liquid)
  • 1 C hearts of palm chopped
  • 1 c sun-dried tomatoes chopped
  • 1 C artichoke hearts chopped
  • 1 C roasted yellow pepper chopped
  • 1 C fried chicken breasts chunks
  • 2 C mixed lettuces chopped


  1. 1/3 C   Balsamic vinegar
  2. ¾ C extra virgin olive oil
  3. 1 t kosher salt
  4. 1 t garlic powder
  5. 1 t fresh ground pepper

Mix ingredients using a blender.



Kalamata Olive Tapenade

Kalamata Olive Tapenade and Cheese Appetizers

When guests drop in I always put something out to nibble on. It is usually cheese and crackers; but often I like to add a spread or two. The easiest and one of the fastest spreads to make is this recipe for an olive spread. A blender and some olives and in ten minutes it is ready. Talk about tasty, if you luv olives, garlic and a little citrus, you’ll be making this one over and over.

  • 3 cloves garlic peeled
  • 1 C Kalamata olives
  • 2 T capers
  • 3 T chopped fresh parsley
  • 2 T lemon juice
  • 2 T olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste
  1.   Place the garlic cloves into a blender or food processor. Pulse to mince.
  2. Add the olives, capers, parsley, lemon juice, and olive oil Blend until everything is finely chopped.
  3. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
If you want to add other delicious items to your cheese board, include dried apricots and peaches and a bunch of walnuts. Check out the picture which includes a jar of  hot and sweet  pepper jelly. Love this jelly! It is delicious with hard and soft cheeses and also makes a really interesting vinaigrette dressing for salads when added to vinegar and oil.

Rosh Hashanah Luncheon

Atlantic salmon over fresh corn, haircot vert and radishes with cucumber sauce

So many things are a tradition in my Jewish faith and lunch after services on the first day of Rosh Hashanah is one of them. As the family grows, so do the numbers attending; and this year the table held twenty five. Friends are included too; and in-laws and friends alike, bring toys for all the children to play with.

Joely, Sophia and Zoe decorating their new umbrellas

My family is a blended one, like many. The best part of that equation is that everyone gets along. In fact, I can honestly say that all enjoy being together as everyone lingers over coffee and dessert and don’t leave until the idea of a long nap enters their mind.
I enjoy planning the menu as much as the shopping and preparation. I try to make every meal different so that my creative side gets a turn on the dance floor. One of my friends brings chop liver which is definitely a traditional dish in a Jewish home and this was the appetizer served with water crackers.

Seasonal tomatoes with feta and fresh thyme

Although everyone sat together in the dining room, the meal was served as a buffet. The island in the kitchen is seven feet long and  perfect for presentation. Wine, liquor and soft drinks were set up in another room  to make self service convenient.

The menu included: a large side of salmon, layered over a combo of fresh yellow corn, string beans and radishes and served with a cucumber sauce. a platter of seasoned chicken breast sliced was placed alongside a salad of greens that included endive, radicchio and Mache lettuces with cucumber, artichokes and hearts of palm and dressed in lemon vinaigrette; a potato gratin; a mushroom pudding and a platter of different colors and varieties of tomatoes sprinkled with feta and fresh thyme. 
For dessert I made meringue baskets filled with chocolate mousse and topped withstrawberries and kiwi fruit, as well as seven layer bars.  Guests brought a tiramisu cake and an assortment of every known cookie known to man. With steaming chicory coffee in the pump pot, every one’s sweet tooth was satisfied.

Mushroom pudding

As our guests left I surmised it had been a good day. My cousin screamed out as she entered her car that it definitely ranked in the top five.  I told my husband later what she had said and he said no, definitely the top four. I laughed and went to take my own nap!

Tiramisu cake, seven layer bars and a mountain of cookies