Taste of Mexico City: Smoky Fire-Roasted Tomato Salsa

Salsa Rojo

Don’t let the simple ingredient list fool you. This flavor-packed salsa – courtesy of Beto and Jorge of Casa Jacaranda, featured in “A ‘Muy Especial’ Cooking Party and Garden Lunch at Casa Jacaranda in Mexico City” – is sure to impress. The secret is to forego the blender and hand-blend the salsa in a Mexican molcajete. This traditional method preserves the chunky texture of the salsa while perfectly incorporating the ingredients.

  •  5 ripe tomatoes, cored and sliced in half
  • Large slice of white onion, about 3” x 1.5”
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 1 dried chipotle chile (smoke-dried jalapeño)
  • sea salt

Salsa Rojo

Heat a heavy cast iron skillet on medium heat. Add the whole chipotle chile to the skillet, turning occasionally until it puffs up; remove. Add the tomatoes (slice side down), onion and garlic to the skillet and let cook until a nice char forms. Flip the tomatoes, onion and garlic and continue to cook on the other side until charred. Place half of the tomatoes, onion and garlic into the molcajete and crush until nicely incorporated. Add the remaining ingredients, including the chipotle chile (you can pre-chop the chipotle into smaller pieces for easy grinding, depending on your arm strength), and crush to desired consistency. Season with sea salt to taste and serve immediately.

Taste of Adventure

Taste of Sonoma: Gaige House French Bread Custard

French Bread Custard

Featured in the Top 3 Boutique Hotels in Sonoma for Foodies and adapted from The Kitchen at Four Sisters Inns cookbook, this French Bread Custard is the perfect dish to serve at your next brunch.

  • 1 loaf sweet French bread – cut into 1″ slices
  • 2 ounces butter, melted
  • 4 whole eggs
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 3 cups milk
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1 Tablespoon vanilla
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Brush both sides of the bread with melted butter. Arrange the bread in a 9″ x 13″ baking dish. Beat the eggs and yolks together, then add the remaining ingredients. Pour over the bread. Place the baking dish in a large pan and pour enough very hot water into the pan to come about halfway up the side of the baking dish. Bake until light brown and puffy, about 45-50 minutes. Dust with powdered sugar and serve with warm maple syrup and fresh berries.

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Taste of Sonoma: Farmhouse Inn Scones

Blackberry Scones

This recipe for the Farmhouse Inn’s famous scones, featured in the Top 3 Boutique Hotels in Sonoma for Foodies, can be easily modified to incorporate seasonal ingredients like dried or fresh fruit, nuts, chocolate and spices; just mix in when you add the cream.  You can also dress them up by brushing them with cream and sprinkling them with sugar before baking, or drizzling them with a simple glaze of powdered sugar mixed with cream, citrus or spices after baking.   Makes 12.

  • 2 1/4 cups flour
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1 Tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 1/2 sticks chilled unsalted butter, cut into cubes
  • 3/4 cups heavy cream

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Combine all dry ingredients into an electric mixer or food processor. Pulse until just combined. Add in butter, mixing or pulsing on low until resembling a fine meal. Add the cream in the same method. (The trick to these scones is to never over mix them. You want the dough very crumbly). Turn out onto parchment paper or lightly floured surface. Gently form into a round disk approximately 1 1/2 inch thick. Cut disk into half and then cut each half into 6 wedges for a total of 12 scones. Bake scones on parchment lined baking sheet in center of oven for 12-16 minutes until the bottoms of the scones are golden brown.  Serve warm with fresh butter, lemon curd and piping hot organic single origin coffee from Taylor Maid Farms.

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Taste of Italy: Authentic Tuscan Biscotti (Cantuccini)

Homemade Tuscan Biscotti, Florence, Italy 2013© Credit: Krystal M. Hauserman @MsTravelicious

Homemade Tuscan Biscotti, Florence, Italy 2013© Credit: Krystal M. Hauserman @MsTravelicious

Featured in Five Must-Try Food and Wine Experiences in Florence (And a Shopping Detour), biscotti — also known as cantuccini — are a traditional after-dinner dessert hailing from the Tuscan city of Prato.  Serve these twice-baked treats with vin santo (an Italian dessert wine) for dunking.

  • 3 cups of cake flower
  • 1 cup sugar + extra for sprinkling
  • 1 cup of whole almonds
  • 3 whole eggs + 2 egg yolks
  • 1 egg, beaten, for brushing
  • 2 teaspoons of baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon of sea salt
  • 1 Tablespoon of finely grated orange zest
  • 2 teaspoons vin santo

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Place almonds on a cookie sheet and toast in oven for 3-4 minutes. Remove.  In a large bowl, mix the 3 whole eggs, 2 yolks, vin santo, 1 cup of sugar, orange zest and sea salt.  Add flour and baking powder gradually.  Kneed dough on a lightly floured surface and work in almonds.  Divide the dough into three parts and form each into a log (approx. 12″ x 1.5″). Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a nonstick baking mat.   Place logs well apart from each other, brush with beaten egg and sprinkle with sugar.  Bake in the center of the oven for 25 minutes or until golden and slightly firm.  Cool for about 30 minutes on the baking sheet.  While still warm, transfer the logs to a cutting board and cut crosswise into 1/3-inch slices with a serrated knife.  Arrange on two parchment paper or baking mat-lined baking sheets, cut side down, and return to oven to bake for 25 minutes, turning once.  Cool and serve with vin santo.

Taste of Adventure

Taste of England: Honey Roasted Parsnips

Honey Roasted Parsnips 2014© Credit: Krystal M. Hauserman @MsTravelicious

Honey Roasted Parsnips 2014© Credit: Krystal M. Hauserman @MsTravelicious

Fall is peak season for these sweet cream-colored beauties. An essential part of a traditional English Christmas dinner, these earthy, honeyed gems become everyday fare with this simple recipe. When roasted, parsnips develop a deep, rich nutty flavor. Look for medium parsnips with beige skin at your local farmers market. Serve with roasted pork loin and a glass of pinot noir.

  • 5-6 medium parsnips, peeled, quartered lengthwise and cut into 2 inch strips
  • 1.5 tablespoons of olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon of honey
  • 1/2 teaspoon of sea salt
  • 6 grinds of fresh black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon
  • squeeze of fresh lemon juice

Heat the oven to 425 degrees. Line a roasting pan with parchment paper or a nonstick baking mat. In a large bowl toss the parsnips and the rest of the ingredients until well combined. Transfer the parsnips to the roasting pan and spread into a single layer. Roast for 35 minutes. Remove from oven and toss to ensure even browning. Return to oven and continue roasting until golden brown (about 10-15 minutes), being careful not to overcook. Season with sea salt to taste before serving.

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Taste of Tuscany: The Best Italian Lemon and Rosemary Chicken Ever


Italian Lemon and Rosemary Chicken, Chianti, Italy 2013© Credit: Krystal M. Hauserman @MsTravelicious

Don’t let the simple ingredient list fool you. As Mimma might say, this chicken keeps marriages together. Adapted from the Tutti a Tavola cookbook, and featured in A Soul-Satisfying Sojourn to a Tuscan Kitchen. Serve with oven roasted potatoes, sautéed zucchini and a glass of Chianti Classico.

  • 1 small chicken, whole
  • 2 tablespoons very finely minced lemon zest
  • 2 tablespoons very finely minced fresh rosemary leaves
  • 2 tablespoons of sea salt
  • several grinds of black pepper
  • 3 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 rosemary sprigs
  • lemons cut into large wedges (enough to almost overstuff the chicken)

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Remove the chicken giblets. Rinse the chicken inside and out and pat dry with paper towels. Combine the lemon zest, minced rosemary leaves, sea salt and black pepper. Massage the chicken with the olive oil and the seasoned sea salt mixture. Stuff the chicken with the rosemary sprigs and lemon wedges (no need to truss). Place the chicken on the rack of a roasting pan and roast for 70 to 90 minutes, or until the juices run clear when the thigh is pierced. Let rest before carving.

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Taste of Bali: Jamu Kunyit (Turmeric and Tamarind Drink)

Jamu Kunyit

This refreshing tonic will immediately transport you to Bali. Adapted from the Lebong Culinary Experience cook book, and featured in Top Three Cooking Experiences in Ubud

  • 5 ounces of tamarind paste, smashed
  • 5 ounces of fresh turmeric, peeled and sliced
  • 5 ounces of palm sugar syrup
  • juice of 1 lime
  • 17 ounces of water

Mix all ingredients, except lime juice, and simmer for 20 minutes. Allow to cool. Add lime juice, then strain with a fine sieve. Serve over ice.

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Taste of Bali: Base Gede (Basic Spice Sauce)

Base Gede

Although assembling this sauce can be quite labor intensive (especially if you hand-grind the mixture in a lesung in the traditional fashion), Base Gede is the quintessential ingredient in most Balinese dishes. Mix it into minced chicken or beef for sate, incorporate into soups for an exotic boost, or stir into basic curries. Most ingredients can be sourced in your local Asian market. Adapted from the Paon Bali cook book, and featured in Top Three Cooking Experiences in Ubud.

  • 5 small shallots
  • 6 cloves of garlic
  • 2 thumb-sized pieces of lesser galangal
  • 2 thumb-sized pieces of galangal (aromatic ginger)
  • 2 thumb-sized pieces of ginger
  • 2 thumb-sized pieces of turmeric
  • 2 small chilis (hot)
  • 3 large red chilies (mild)
  • 4 candlenuts or macadamia nuts
  • 1 teaspoon coriander seeds
  • 1 teaspoon whole black peppercorns
  • 1 teaspoon white pepper
  • 2 cloves
  • ¼ teaspoon nutmeg powder
  • 1 tablespoon palm sugar
  • 1 stalk of lemon grass, trimmed and crushed
  • 2 salam leaves or bay leaves
  • 2 teaspoons of shrimp paste (Indonesian shrimp paste, Terasi, if possible)
  • 3 tablespoons of coconut oil
  1. Clean and wash all ingredients. Slice and remove seeds from the hot and red chilis. Finely chop the shallots, garlic, lesser galangal, galangal, ginger, turmeric, candlenuts, red chilis and hot chilis.
  2. Blend the chopped ingredients, coriander seeds, nutmeg and cloves in a Balinese lesung, or in a conventional blender, until they form a fine paste.
  3. Sauté the paste in the coconut oil. Crush the lemongrass stalk then add salt, pepper, palm sugar, salam leaves and the lemongrass to the paste. Sauté for about seven minutes on low heat.

The sauce will last 1-2 weeks in the refrigerator, and up to 6 months in the freezer.

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Paleo: Avocado Chocolate Mousse with Orange Zest

chocolate mousse









One of the most popular treats at Wildfitness (Four Fitness Getaways That Will Change Your Life), this ingenious marriage of rich avocados with high-quality cacao will have you saying “au revoir” to the cream, sugar and butter-laden original.

  • 1 large ripe avocado, peeled and pitted
  • juice of 1 lime
  • 2 tablespoons of high-quality cacao powder
  • 1/2 tablespoon raw honey
  • orange zest for garnish

Add all ingredients to a blender and process until mixture is a thick mousse consistency.  Adjust the cacao and honey levels to taste.  If you’d like, toss in some cinnamon, vanilla, or whatever other spice inspires you.  Divide among four small glasses, and chill for at least 2 hours.  Garnish with fresh orange zest before serving.

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Taste of Kenya: Pan Roasted Chicken in Whole African Spices








Savor this fragrant dish featuring African spices like ginger, turmeric, cardamom and cinnamon with a simple green salad and a glass of crisp sauvignon blanc.  Adapted from the Wildfitness Cook Book, and featured in Four Fitness Getaways That Will Change Your Life.

  • 6 chicken drumsticks or 4 chicken breasts, skin on
  • 4 tablespoons of butter, divided
  • 2 teaspoons of ground turmeric
  • 1/4 teaspoon of ground ginger
  • 4 cardamom pods, seeded
  • 1 cinnamon stick, split to release the flavor
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • pinch of ground mace
  • pinch of cayenne pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/2 bay leaf, crumbled
  • 1 teaspoon mustard seeds, crushed
  • 2 fresh garlic cloves, crushed
  • 5 small onions, sliced

1. Lightly fry the chicken pieces in 2 tablespoons of butter over medium-high heat in a cast iron or heavy aluminum pan (not a non-stick) along with the turmeric and ginger, skin side down, until it turns golden brown.

2. Crush the cardamom seeds and add them to the pan along with the cinnamon stick, cloves, mace, cayenne pepper, black pepper, bay leaf and mustard seeds.  Sautee until the spices become aromatic, about 1 to 2 minutes.

3. Add the garlic, onion and remaining butter to the pan and toss to coat.  Cover and cook over low heat until chicken is cooked through (15-20 minutes for legs, 30 minutes or more for chicken breasts).

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