As I mentioned earlier, we hosted a very important event in our home: a reception to honor Dr. Randy Schekman, winner of the 2013 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine. I actually have a little gift for my readers. If you want to listen to one of his seminars, click on this link. Randy opened this talk with amusing stories about his life and how he first became interested in science. This particular seminar was open to the public and will appeal to anyone. He is not only a great speaker, but also very personable. It was one of the best scientific visits we had in our department.


Since the reception took place on a Monday evening, I could do most of the work in the weekend. Apart from store-bought items (crackers, cheeses,  charcuterie items, black olive tapenade, and fresh fruits), here is the list of what I prepared.

Cheddar Cheese Coins
(from America’s Test Kitchen)

Cream Cheese Mini-Pancakes with Dill Cream and Smoked Salmon
(from Evil Shenanigans)

Bacon-wrapped Dates stuffed with Parmigiano Cheese
(from Suzanne Goin)

Smoky Eggplant Dip
(from Fine Cooking)

Moroccan Carrot Dip 
(inspired by this recipe)

Herbed Overnight Focaccia
(adapted from Fine Cooking)

Warm Spiced Almonds
(from America’s Test Kitchen)

Meyer Lemon Baked Ricotta
(from Food Fanatic)

Chocolate Truffles
(from America’s Test Kitchen)

Fresh Strawberries with Cannoli Cream
(adapted from Baked Bree)


I spread the preparation over the two preceding days, freezing focaccia (cut in squares), cheddar crackers, and mini-pancakes on Saturday.  That worked very well, I removed them all from the freezer at lunch time on Monday and refreshed them briefly in a 250 F oven a couple of hours before serving, or in the case of the mini-pancakes, before assembling them with the dill cream and the salmon. One hour before the reception started I baked the Bacon-wrapped dates and the Meyer Lemon Ricotta.


Saturday afternoon… We are headed to the freezer!

 Of all things I made, the carrot dip was my favorite. I served it over cucumber slices and the contrast of colors and flavors was exactly what I aimed for.  A detailed report about this dish will be on the blog soon.  I also loved the baked ricotta, and the cheddar crackers.  The only disappointment was the smoky eggplant dip. That was the first time I had a Fine Cooking recipe fail me, and let’s say it was a major fail. I should have stuck with a regular hummus.  Oh, well…

Suzanne Goin’s bacon-wrapped dates: delicious! In fact one of the guests told Phil that he would like to stand by the platter and inhale them all as dinner.  They were a perfect mixture of sweet and savory, with the sharp bite on Parmigiano to crown it all.

Stay tuned for some Nobel Reception recipes coming soon to a food blog near you…



ONE YEAR AGO: Fennel Soup with Almonds and Mint 

TWO YEARS AGO: Green Curry Pork Tenderloin

THREE YEARS AGO: Farfalle with Zucchini and Ricotta

FOUR YEARS AGO: Slow-baked Salmon with Lemon and Thyme

FIVE YEARS AGO: Hoisin Explosion Chicken


    • He, he, he… that is exactly it! I had taken the focaccia out of the oven when the brilliant idea of taking Buck with me to the recycling center popped into my mind. THat was QUITE a morning! As I mentioned in Facebook, do not leave a dog in the car with the engine running…. those little paws can easily hit the lock thingie at the door, and you are in deep, deep trouble


  1. Thank you for your fascinating ‘little gift’ first of all: have listened to your husband’s introduction and the first five minutes of an obviously very interesting guy’s seminar. Can’t wait to find time to hear all of it. And go thru’ your menu with a pad and pencil in hand making notes of all the links and inspirations! Do hope you managed to have a lot of fun yourself: from what your husband said Dr Schekman wasn’t exactly a stranger . . .


    • Yes, it was a long talk, and the end part had more to do with his new scientific journal and this thoughts on the problems with big journals such as Science and Nature, where it is so hard to get published these days.

      Phil of course interacted with Randy for many years in Berkeley during his PhD, I had just a few interactions before, once listened to a talk at a Gordon Conference and a couple of times during brief visits to Berkeley. ALso, one of our very best PhD students from the University of Oklahoma ended up as a post doc in his lab before moving on with his career.


      • Waiting for my nighttime Giro d’Italia ‘fix’ to begin [bless living Down Under, and shall do it all again with Tour de France six weeks down the track: but oh what scenery and fun 🙂 !] , have been thru’ your menu and I am going to try that eggplant dip that failed: in print it sounds so appetizing. And the bacon-wrapped dates are so easy . . . so they are on the to do list too with the carrot dip . . . .


    • Joanne, if you like, drop me an email and I will send you the link to his scientific talk from the morning session…. the whole thing is online, you can share with your lab colleagues and of course your boss if he wants to check it out


  2. I knew you would do up a wonderful spread!! This sounds Nobel worthy itself. How great you had the weekend to prepare. That’s the best possible scenario. I’m sure it was all delicious, but no doubt I would have inhaled those dates! Job well done Sally!


  3. Sounds like you had a very successful academic and culinary event!

    I’ve made dates-wrapped-in-bacon, without the cheese, many times. They’re always a crowd-pleaser. I’ll have to try with the cheese (I’ve also seen manchego recommended as a stuffing).


  4. I’ve been awaiting your after-action report. It sounds lovely.
    I too have had a few duds from Fine Cooking recipes and it always baffles me. How could pork chops with three types of mustard be bland? Then there was the dish that was so salty.
    Lesson learned about using one’s instincts when making recipes for the first time.


    • So true! I really struggled with the decision of the eggplant dip – I was so close from doing hummus in the Vitamix, because I heard it turns out spectacular, very smooth. Lesson learned.


  5. I’m listening – to Phil! Eventually my new pal Randy will speak.

    He would have been very pleased with this menu, Sally. You are such a kind person to put all this together.


    • I know, Phil tends to steal the show… at least for me he does… I love his voice and he always comes through as a thoughtful and serene person. Love that. I am more of a bomb ready to explode and hard to control… he he he… perfect match? You think?


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