Pine Nut Tart

fin2This is April’s take on a treacle tart, a favorite English dessert. The magic ingredient is Lyle’s Golden Syrup…’s Happy and Glorious, says so right on the can…love it.LylesWhen I started this project, I had a crazy list of items to be on the lookout for, things not normally found in American grocery stores. Lyle’s was on that list of course. My girl LoLo found me some and I scored some up in Seattle. Fun story about trying to get “a liquid filled cylindrical can” through security…totally spaced that it was in my carry on. It took about 5 “bosses” to realize that it was just a can of sugar, they were kind about it…thankfully.

Here is what you will need

Crust is same one used for the Banoffee Pie, click here to see it again. Bake the tart shell in a 9″ fluted tart pan with parchment paper and pie weights or dried beans for 15 to 25 minutes or until light golden brown in a 350° oven.  No need to bake further after weights are removed.


1/2 cup of pine nuts

2 large eggs, lightly beaten

1/4 cup coarse bread crumbs, I cheated and used panko

one 454 gram can Lyle’s Golden Syrup

2 tablespoons heavy cream

finely grated zest of 4 large lemons

1/4 cup fino sherry, I used whatever sherry I had in the cupboard

1/2 teaspoon Maldon salttartfixinsToast the pine nuts in a small saute pan.toastnutsUntil golden browned edges appear, careful these toast up fast. Do not walk away from them. Transfer to a medium mixing bowl and let them cool. syrupAdd the remaining filling ingredients and whisk until really combined. zestnutsbeforeRight before you pour the filling into the shell, stir it up and pour in evenly. Bake at 350° for 25 to 35 minutes or until center is slightly jiggly. afterLet it cool a bit then slice and enjoy. Serve with vanilla ice cream, clotted cream or whoop cream aka whipped cream.yumbite

The mix of the lemon zest with the sherry and the sweet of the syrup and the soft richness of the pine nuts is glorious and it will make you happy…..just like the Lyle’s can says.

Lamb Meatballs with Yogurt, Eggs and Mint

fin2Look at that! Rich tangy tomato sauce, tender perfect meatballs, creamy egg yolk, cool plain yogurt and refreshing mint. I figured this dish would be fun to make with a team of friends, so I enlisted some of my fav foodies. What a blast we had cooking, sipping wine and laughing. They were all amazing helpers, which allowed me to get some good photos. Thanks to Lauren, Cathie and Stuart for all your help. You all are welcome to come cook with me anytime!

Here is what you will need.


2 1/2 pounds boneless lamb shoulder, cut into 1″ pieces

2 1/2 tablespoons maldon salt

1/2 pound (about 2 cups) fine bread crumbs

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil


1 large spanish onion, finely chopped

5 garlic cloves, thinly sliced

1/2 teaspoon maldon salt

2 teaspoons coriander seeds, toasted and ground

2 teaspoons cumin seeds, toasted and ground

2 dutch or other spicy long red chilies, pierced with a sharp knife

One 28 ounce can of whole peeled tomatoes, drained, trimmed and squished with your hands….San Marzano’s are the best.

1/2 cup or more of whole milk greek yogurt

4 large eggs


small handful of mint

small handful of delicate cilantro sprigs

extra virgin olive oil

You will also need a meat grinder, the attachment for the kitchen aid stand mixer works perfectly. April says grinding the meat yourself will produce a light, airy and delicate ground meat. Commercially ground meat is over worked, sticky and paste like. She was right, the meatballs came out amazingly tender and light. I will forever grind my own meat:)

First step – place cubed lamb meat into a bowl and set in freezer for an hour or so until the edges get crunchy and slightly frozen.lambcoldToss the cubed meat with salt and the bread crumbs. Grind the meat through the medium dielambgrind1Run it through again on the same medium die. Nice job Cathie! Raw meat never really photographs well, but this looks cool.lambgrind3Before you start rolling out your meatballs, sear one off to check for seasoning. At this point you could add more salt if needed. Once you’re comfortable with the seasoning, start shaping your balls.balls1Perfectly shaped balls by Stuartballs3Now its time to brown the balls. Sear them on all side, do not cook them through. Let them rest to the side while you make the sauce.spice1Toast the cumin and corianderspice2Grind in a mortar and pestle or a spice grinderspice3Grind to a fine powder, some larger bits are ok for texturesauce1Over a high heat saute the onions and garlic for about 5 minutes, then add the ground spices . Add pierced chilies (I couldn’t find long red chilies so I used green ones) and the squished tomatoes. Simmer for 10 minutes then add 4 cups of water, bring to boil, turn down to a low simmer for 5 minutes.sauce2

Cathie loved squishing the tomatoes 🙂sauce3Add the seared meatballs into sauce and simmer slowly for 30 minutes.sauce4After 30 minutes, add blobs of yogurt and the eggs. Simmer on low for about 10 more minutes, this will poach the eggs and leave them with firm whites and runny yolks. Check the eggs at 5 minutes to see how they’re coming along, strain them out when the eggs are the way you like them, cooked soft or hard, your choice. I like runny yolks. Sprinkle the cilantro and mint torn in small pieces over the whole stew. Finish with a good drizzle of extra virgin olive oil.fin1Check out the eggs cooked, hard white runny yolks. perfect!fin3Make yourself a bowl and eat immediately. The recipe made a ton, easily enough for 6 people, I had doubled it so everyone got balls to take home. I had so much fun making this with my friends, its a great group effort dish. Grab your family/friends and settle in for an afternoon of cooking and great eating.cheersCheers!!!

Where have I been….?

I was on a good roll there for the month of February…..and then things changed, more on that later. In early March my darling Son and I met in Seattle to visit family, cook, blog and have fun. I had a plan to bust out several of the seafood recipes in April’s book. Seattle is teaming with the best from the ocean. My beautiful and wickedly smart sister works in Pike Place Market so I knew she could guide me to the best of the best for ingredients. She has a very keen sense for seeking out the best places to eat. Every single spot she has every recommended has been special, unique and amazing in some way. kidnsisThis is my Kid and my Sister, aren’t they amazingly gorgeous people? This day started out a bit blurry for the three of us. To sooth our fuzzy heads we had breakfast at Le Pichet, a lovely little french bistro near the market.amforchampsPate and wine for breakfast?? YES! The kid had the baked eggs, see them all blurry in the back of the photo? The first time I had them I was hooked, came home and blogged my own version. I later created another version that was mentioned in a New York Times article last summer via my contribution to the summer 2012 Casa Laguna Inn breakfast menu. octoMy Sister toured me around to all her favorite vendors at the market to search out the items I had planned to cook/blog for April’s book.crabcrowd My plans suddenly came to a halt. The first day I arrived, my brother came by the family home looking very sick, he had been struggling with something for a while. Not having health insurance he didn’t seek care thinking he would overcome whatever bug had grabbed him and taken him down. His appearance was a shock to us all and we urged him to see a doctor right away. He was in pain, had lost weight and looked worn down and tired. Within the four days that we were in town, he saw a doctor at a clinic in his neighborhood, was rushed in an ambulance to the hospital downtown and admitted to the  oncology floor…….wtf?!?!rainer

This is the view from his hospital room on the first day he was admitted. That is Mount Rainer off in the distance, clear blue skies in Seattle…rare. So we wait and wait to find out what is going on. Tests and more tests… so many questions? no answers. waiting…..

This is me and my Brother. I love him dearly. He is currently in the fight of his life, he has been diagnosed with Acute Myeloid Leukemia. It all happened so fast, on a Friday he was admitted to the hospital and on Monday he started his first round of chemo.

Why are we still pumping cancer patients with toxic poison?

When I returned home and started to rethink some things in my life, as most do when served up news like this, more change came along. I have left Casa Laguna Inn and I am now working at the Montage Laguna Beach in the Loft as a line cook doing dinner. This new job is pushing me further and faster in my experience and education. So as for blogging April’s book, I still am but a much slower pace. The cooking and photo taking is still going on but posting has been slowed by my new schedule. Working nights is quit the adjustment for me. I rarely see my husband, family or friends, but it feels right, I’m busy…learning tons everyday. It’s good to be busy. I need to be busy now.

My brother is going through treatments and we wait and wait for good news. Send your white light, good vibes and all your positive energy out into the universe for him please.

Next up Lamb Meatballs with Yogurt, Eggs and Mint…….