I cannot think of a better way to start 2021 than inviting my readers for a virtual tour of our kitchen. In My Kitchen posts are hosted by Sherry, from  Sherry’s Pickings. At the end of this post you will find a link to jump to her site and see what everybody else is sharing this month. I join four times each year, with a new post on the first day of January, April, July and October.

Starting with gifts…

A little crocheted elephant with a magnet, super cute gift made and sent by my friend Jennifer, from California. Elephant is my favorite animal, and purple one of my favorite colors. She hit that one out of the park! Thank you!

From our graduate student, Taihao, a savory snack from China. Addictive to say the least. Dried green peas with a delicious mixture of spices.  It comes in a large bag with small portions that ensure the product stays fresh for a long time. I confess to finding unusual ways to enjoy it… like sprinkled over white rice with my dinner… 

From Phil, a new Springerle mold! It is amazing how he was able to find a style I don’t have, when I’ve been accumulating quite a few over the past couple of years. Made by hand in Switzerland! I love it and cannot wait to mold some cookie dough into it. For the photo it is laying on my leggings, I thought that they happened to match the mold quite well… Serendipity at work…

A new acquisition for our family, which is not exactly a kitchen gadget, but it does wonders on the kitchen floor…

A Roomba vacuum! We used to have one of the first models many years ago in Oklahoma but ended up leaving it behind. It had too many little issues with steps and corners, and we did not feel it was worth the trouble. Well, the technology behind these newer models is nothing short of amazing… we are totally in love with it. It avoids steps, it goes back to charge when cleaning is done, and goes underneath all the furniture, which in itself is pretty awesome. We are still learning all the features, but I highly recommend it. Every single room of our house is spotless clean, including the basement. We release the roomba at night, one area at a time. HEAVEN! 

In our kitchen….

I am normally not too fond of a single-use gadget, but this is so great that I don’t want to be without it anymore. A ginger grater. It pretty much juices the ginger root into a nice pulp with zero effort. I love this baby!

In our kitchen….

A set of citric oils: lemon, orange and lime. These pack a ton of flavor, and are particularly nice to add to ganaches in bonbons and macaron fillings because all you need is a tiny amount. I learned about the oils in a cookbook dedicated to chocolate confections, but find myself using them quite often, even in salad dressings, or whisked into olive oil to dip a slice of sourdough bread.

In our kitchen….

Rose Petal Jam… Stay tuned for this one, which will show up in a certain cookie of French origin. Rose, violet and lavender are strong flavors that need to be used with caution, but when you hit that right amount, they are heavenly, in my opinion.  I found it at Marshalls for a very nice price, but it is available on amazon.

In our kitchen….

New wooden molds. The left one is traditional Springerle type, the right set (a double duty mold) is more appropriate for filled cookies, as they are very deep. Instead of rolling the dough and pressing the mold on it, you fill the mold with dough, press it in, fill, and add more dough to close the top (which will be then the bottom of the baked cookie). I have used the first mold to make White Chocolate Lime Molded Cookies…. The other mold is waiting patiently to play.


In our kitchen….

A very nice balsamic vinegar infused with blood orange. It is thick, and very delicious. Not only for savory uses like marinades, but also excellent in chocolate ganache.

In our kitchen….

A tip for dealing with macarons that end up with a little bump in the center. If that happens to you, a Microplane can fix it, as you can see in the composite below.

Just be gentle and work the blade until the bump is fully smooth. Although it will be good even if you serve the shells plain, a little decoration will hide all signs of your sneaky maneuver. 

In our kitchen….

As you may have noticed, I baked a lot of sugar cookies in December. They were sent to family members, friends, neighbors, and also shared in homeless meals. Three products related to cookie decoration are worth sharing. 

The black pearls by PME are excellent to use as eyes or buttons for decoration, as they do not “melt”  like other black products will do. By melting I mean release the color into the surrounding icing over time. Tulip Red is a red dye that does not have a sour taste. I had no idea but most red gel dyes have a taste that just like cilantro, some people are very sensitive to. If you are using red as a small detail on the cookie, no big deal, but if you are flooding a large extension of the cookie with red, consider getting this product.  Finally, my favorite of this trio: Diamond Dust from SugarArt. I love it so much!  You can buy already in a pump, it does wonders to cookies, like I showed you in my previous macaron post

You cannot select a portion of the cookie to be covered, it will stick even on dry icing, but it looks quite amazing with just a tiny spray. 

In our kitchen….

A super fine tip edible marker.  Another product I fell in love with, because for very delicate details, I am not skilled enough to work with royal icing.  One example is this little Santa I made last month.

The eyes needed to be as thin and delicate as possible. Only that type of marker will do. 

In our kitchen….

I use luster dust quite often, but this is different because it is water-soluble. From SweetSticks. You get a small bowl with water, wet the brush and swirl it around the surface. There is essentially no waste of product. And it does work quite well, as you can see in this little Christmas tree. 


In our kitchen….

This really is a life-changer gadget if you are into air-brushing: a Stencil Genie. Placing the stencil over a cookie and trying to steady it with one hand, spraying with the other, is simply a disaster waiting to happen. Plus, the edges of the design get all blurry. This simple plastic set shuts the stencil in place with magnets on the corners. You place it flat over the cookie and spray on. So clever and easy to use!  You can also see how I cover the surface of the countertop with plastic wrap, so that mess is kept at a minimum. Yes, there will be some waste of plastic, but the neat-freak in me prefers to live with that type of guilt. 

In our kitchen….

A feeble attempt at organizing my Sprinkle Entropy Corner. I label the tops so there is some hope of finding what I need. SS stands for Sanding Sugar. NP for Non-pareils. This is one box. It is not the only one. Enough said. Freud would have a blast with me.


So, that’s all for now, my friends.
New Year, New Rules.
The pups have had their share of fame in MY BLOG over the years,
and they’ve been putting on airs.
Enough is enough…..

Can they shame me in to it? How could they? Am I really that weak? 

Truth is, I have the unsettling feeling that if I remove them from these posts, my readership will drop to near zero. And they seem to know that too well (sigh). 

So what are these derelicts up to? 

Buck might be tremendously cute indeed, but he’s learned some nasty tricks from his bigger brother, the Black-Spotted-Capeless-Hero who attends by the name of BogeyQT. 

For many years he had never considered eating paper, but now we have to be very vigilant. Any piece of paper (or a big roll that finds itself on the floor) is immediately claimed and consumed. He did learn that from Bogey, but as a good student, he has definitely surpassed the teacher. 

In fact, he now seems to think that ANYTHING found on the floor is a chewing toy. He’s ruined my wooden scoop a couple of months ago, and for this installment of IMK, he made sure to destroy my favorite silicone spatula, the one that was perfect for macaronage (sigh). 

I guess my point is proven. 

I suppose this picture captures the very essence of our Black-Spotted-Capeless-Hero. I should thank my friends Jill and Astrid for jointly coining the term, which I suppose fits him well. But the mere sound of a knife leaving the drawer, a plastic wrap being ripped open, a wooden board laying on the countertop will wake up the beast from the arms of Morpheus to assume his very important function in our home. 

He’s had his share of Karma last month.  Somehow he cut his back leg and needed to go see a vet, which in pandemic times is even worse than normal. Phil could not go into the building with him, the vet came to the car and took a very scared BogeyQT away. 

He got a lot of attention and loving care, and was nursed back to health.  

His brothers were a bit concerned that socks-on-paws would become a thing. 

From Oscar: Since we are on the subject of “no way”,  let me remind you of my stance on tortillas. I don’t care how carefully you pass them over a fire, it might be appealing to you, but it disgusts me. I hope it is the last time I need to endure this type of offering. 

And to prove that 2020 was a very odd year, events with close to zero probability materialized as reality. 


The bottomline is that the only one who has absolutely no issues with any type of food is Bucky Boy. We constantly fight to keep his weight down, as it will definitely help him live longer. Plus, he seems a bit self-conscious at times…

No, Buck. You are just stocky and strong and powerful and I love you to pieces!

That’s all for now, my friends!  We start the year with high hopes that things will improve all over our planet. We know that the first semester will be still pretty dark, but as people get vaccinated in larger and larger numbers, we should be able to turn this page and recover as a society. Let’s do our part, get the vaccine when is our turn, and help end lingering doubts about it.  For my views on vaccination, you can read (and share) an article I wrote a few years ago. 

Oh, wait…. Oscar seems to have some wishes for 2021….


If you’d like to see what other food bloggers shared to start 2021 on a good note, read this post by Sherry and check out the link party at the end.   

from our home to yours!


ONE YEAR AGO: Happy 2020 In My Kitchen!

TWO YEARS AGO: Happy 2019 In My Kitchen!

THREE YEARS AGO: Happy New Year In My Kitchen!

FOUR YEARS AGO: Happy New Year In My Kitchen!

FIVE YEARS AGO: In My Kitchen: Happy New Year!

SIX YEARS AGO: And another year starts…

SEVEN YEARS AGO: In My Kitchen: January 2014

EIGHT YEARS AGO: Tacos with Pork in Green Sauce

NINE YEARS AGO:  Maui New Year!

TEN YEARS AGO: Natural Beauty

ELEVEN YEARS AGO: Sunflower Seed Rye


It is that time of the year… I invite my readers for a walk around our kitchen. In My Kitchen posts started many years ago with Celia and is now hosted by Sherry, from  Sherry’s Pickings. The idea is to share whatever you feel like. New gadgets, new ingredients, new cookbooks. Perhaps a few kitchen boo-boos (read on). Make sure to visit Sherry’s site, so you can check what is happening in kitchens all over the world.  And, if you are a food blogger, why not join this virtual fun? I’d love to see what’s happening in your kitchen too…

In our kitchen….

I never get tired of these Japanese fermented drinks! In fact, they transport  me straight to my childhood in Brazil. They were sold door to door by beautiful Japanese women carrying them in some type of insulated bag, and my Mom used to buy enough to last us until the next visit. Not very easy with me around. For decades I lost track of Yakult, but a few years ago our main grocery store in town started to sell them. And the best part is that I “converted” Phil into a Yakult-lover too.

In our kitchen….

My new tea-passion (it seems I keep finding teas to fall in love with on a regular basis). I’ve always known and enjoyed the regular type, red rooibos, but my friend Heather gave me the heads up on the green version which is not roasted. Oh, my! The flavor! It is so subtle and mellow, I highly recommend you try it if you just know the more common type.

In our kitchen…

Speaking of tea, I got a little Japanese tea cup that I found online. However, although I love the pattern, it is a bit too small, so I will use it instead to serve nuts and crackers.  But it is so whimsical, I intend to somehow mimic the pattern in a certain cookie made with almond flour and meringue. Can you guess which?

In our kitchen….

A few cookie cutters, the spider web is pretty cute, makes it a lot easier to decorate a spooky sugar cookie. The triangular coupled with mini-cookie cutters came in pretty handy to make some chocolate sandwich cookies that at some point shall be blogged about. I share a little sneak preview of both cookies…

In our kitchen…

I cannot believe that it took me years to figure out that a huge container for powdered sugar is the best way to deal with it. It holds several bags, and makes life so much easier!

In our kitchen….

This is my favorite light brown sugar, straight from the UK, but I found at amazon for a pretty good price, and of course, could not resist ordering some.

In our kitchen….

Fondant mats, also work great for marzipan, as you can see in the little lemon cupcake at the center.  You simply roll the marzipan on top of the mat and gently pull it with the nice impression formed on it.  Etsy is a great place to find them, although the first one is from Nycake.com. and to be honest, their stuff is a bit pricey. But very high quality.

In our kitchen….

This is the labor of my beloved husband to his braces-wearing wife. Every time he cooks corn on the cob, he shaves the kernels off for me, season with salt, pepper, and lime, the way I like it…  And it just melts my heart.  It is still a bit of an ordeal to brush the teeth later, but totally worth it.  You guys have no idea how much I miss eating corn on the cob with gusto.

In our kitchen….

Springerle molds, which are slowly turning into an obsession of mine. It is the type of baking that brings me peace and serenity. Some molds work better than others, and I am still figuring things out in terms of dough recipes, flavors, decorations.

In our kitchen….

A new runner rug, as the old one got all stained and ugly as the years went by.  I love the colors, and some of the flowers  will definitely inspire cookie decorations…

In our kitchen….

Speaking of cookie decorations… Painted Macarons… Yes, I know there is room for improvement, but I still have a lot of fun channeling my inner Monet.  Painting cookies, oddly enough, relaxes me. I don’t think about politics, I don’t think about Covid, I get into a soothing Zen-mode instead.

In our kitchen…

A work in progress… my first attempt at hand-dipped bonbons, these are filled with pistachio and strawberry, but I had issues with the decoration. They were supposed to be decorated with two circles, one red, one green, but I was barely able to add one ring in some. I ended up using transfer sheets for many of them instead, the famous Plan B. I am gathering my strength to try again, it is quite a bit of work, but also a ton of fun!

In our kitchen…

A truly spectacular cinnamon raisin bread, which was part of a bake-along organized by my friends Caroline and Robyn, associated with a Facegroup Fan Page for the Great British Bake Off. If you want to see a very detailed tutorial to bake it, click here.  I made half the recipe for one loaf only.

Speaking of Caroline….

In our kitchen….

The clash between dream and reality….

This fun picture was a gift from my friend Caroline, who runs a fantastic baking blog that I urge you to visit (click here). Her son made this composite shot, with the mixer of my dreams, a beauty I saw face to face (rather… face to machine) in London last year (for a picture of the real meeting, go to last year’s IMK).  Yes, allow me to dream…

Because reality is quite a bit harsher as far as mixers are concerned….

Bread dough was happening. As I added a bit more flour with the machine still running, the hook hit the measuring cup, catapulting it up and… well, the picture is worth a thousand words.  It did not bring me joy.

And do you want to know what else did not bring me joy?

My favorite flour scoop, that I’ve had for years and years, somehow found its way to Buck’s bed, and again, the rest is history.  I’ve been searching for one like it, so far, no luck. If anybody knows where to get it, please leave me a comment.

And along the non-joy movement…. (RESPECT: something I seem unable to obtain in the sanctity of my own home)

Well, I guess the pups made their way into my post, once again. Come to think of it, this round up of In My Kitchen did not start with gifts, as I did not get any lately. Proving that the pups are way more popular than the food blogger, they got a gift in the mail, from my friend Jennifer…. Thank you, Jennifer!!!!

Life in pandemic times seem to suit them well. They are rarely outside, and “vacations” at the kennel are now nothing but a distant memory. Their main concern? Protect their humans and their property.

They will take breaks from snoring away anytime their help in the kitchen is needed.’

And are always happy to bond with one of their favorite humans…

So much sleeping and hanging around the house gets Buck a bit worried about his waistline, so he decided to drop us some hints….

Which prompted me to take him for walks, where love at first sight was waiting just a few houses down the street….

That female Jack Russell is a firecracker indeed!  She is just one year old, and patrols her front yard like nobody’s business… barks, barks, and runs around the tree in circles (they keep a long leash tied to the tree).  But that day, they both froze, staring at each other as if struck by Cupid’s arrow.  It was very sweet to witness…

Unfortunately, his sex appeal is a bit diminished after he and Oscar got into a little fight. Not over the attention of a female pup, but over an EMPTY food bowl that Oscar decided to protect as if it contained medium-rare T-bone steak. Go figure that one out. He is fully recovered by now, just a small scar and a bald spot where the cut was.

What can I say? Oscar is a special boy…

With very odd ways to get comfortable around the house. This is by far his new favorite spot now, wedged in between the leg of an armchair and the leg of the table. It hurts my ribs to look at it.

If you remember from my last In My Kitchen, Phil worked hard to build us a little outside patio, and I am thrilled to inform that the project is finished and was a total success!  Every evening we have a cup of tea together sitting outside. We are thinking of getting one of those stand up propane heaters so we can still enjoy our patio as the weather gets colder (sigh).

So that’s all for now, folks. I hope you liked this little tour around the Bewitching Kitchen… see you for another one on the first day of 2021!  And may 2021 be A LOT better than 2020. Right? Right?



ONE YEAR AGO: In My Kitchen (and Beyond), October 2019

TWO YEAR AGO: In My Kitchen, October 2018

THREE YEARS AGO: In My Kitchen, October 2017

FOUR YEARS AGO: Little Bites of Paradise

FIVE YEARS AGO: Coxinha de Galinha: A Brazilian Delicacy

SIX YEARS AGO: Prosciutto-Wrapped Shrimp Skewers

SEVEN YEARS AGO: A Simple Dinner

EIGHT YEARS AGO: Brown Butter Tomato Salad

NINE YEARS AGO:  Spelt and Cornmeal Rolls

TEN YEARS AGO: Roasted Potato and Olive Focaccia

ELEVEN YEARS AGO: Multigrain Bread Extraordinaire



It is time to invite you all for a walk around our kitchen. In My Kitchen posts started many years ago with Celia and is now hosted by Sherry, from  Sherry’s Pickings. The idea is to share whatever you feel like. Things you’ve bought, gifts you’ve received, new gadgets, new ingredients, new cookbooks. And if you feel particularly generous, you could potentially share the post with your resident pups. It’s up to you. So, let me start with some gifts…

From my dear friend Heather, straight from her backyard in California

A huge box of Meyer Lemons!  She never even told me she was sending them and wow, it was a real sweet surprise…  I made a ton of stuff from these lemons, including a batch of preserved lemons (I have two still left).  Thank you, Heather!

From my friend Courtnie, straight from her New York kitchen….

Fermented hot sauces!  I had never even heard of fermenting ingredients to make a condiment and was blown away by the complexity of flavors. Even though the red one contains habaneros, the heat level is perfect, no need to call the firemen. I added them to marinades, made Shrimp Moqueca with the red one, and shake them over turkey burgers and many other food items right on my plate. Thank you, Courtnie!

From my forever husband….

A coffee cup from his favorite artist, Mary Rose Young. The pups were not amused, but we both got a kick out of it.

Still from my forever husband…. a labor of love

My Kitchen Aid was making horrific noises and jumping around as if possessed by The Devil Himself if I set a speed higher than 2. We went to Youtube University and found out there was quite likely a loose screw inside. My beloved fixed it for me. It is a messy job. You have no idea how much oil sits inside that machine.  But it now behaves as brand new!

From Rumi Spices….

As you may know, I never accept products to review, and this was no exception. I was contacted by Rumi Spices  because they wanted to use one of my recipes (a sourdough made with saffron) in their website, and I gave them permission. They sent me these two beautiful jars of spices as a thank you gift, and first I fell in love with their elegant design, but shortly after, the spices found a place in my heart also. Black Cumin and Berbere, I’ve been using them quite a bit lately. You can check their store here, if you are interested.

And now, let me show you a few things that I could not resist bringing into the Bewitching Kitchen since we last chatted about it.

In our kitchen…

A set of 12 special molds that work wonderfully well for things such as financiers. They are non-stick, very sturdy and well-made. I got them at amazon, click here for details.

In our kitchen…

A cast-iron loaf pan, which I used recently to make Nadiya’s Chicken Shawarma. I coated it with a little oil, had no issues using it. Have also used it for a loaf of bread with great results.  Available at amazon with a click here.

In our kitchen…

You win some, you lose some.  Never ordering again from this seller at amazon. I ordered this high quality white chocolate before the weather got too hot, and they guaranteed it would ship protected from heat. It arrived almost completely melted. I exchanged a couple of messages, they said that I should have ordered overnight delivery in dry ice because it was available as an option, but of course no one told me that would be a requirement to get the chocolate in good shape. I also tried to contact Caillebaut for help trying to temper it, and never got a single reply back.  Not. Happy. At. All.

In our kitchen…

One of the things that being in a certain tent did for me was develop a complete obsession with Mason Cash pottery. I found this one at ebay for a very good price, and could not resist it. It is amazing how they feel at the same time light and sturdy. Love it.

In our kitchen…

This might very well be my new passion. It is sweet, salty, and funky in equal amounts Funky in the best possible meaning of the term. You know, umami-like. I’ve been baking with it, and sometimes, late at night, when no one is paying attention, I might sneak a little taste, straight from the package.

In our kitchen…

Truly an impulse buy. I should not have. I am embarrassed, ashamed, I have no idea why I am smiling in the picture, braces and all. SHAME on BAKER. (But isn’t this rolling pin swoon-worthy?). Found this gem at etsy.com (search for embossed rolling pins and be ready to dream).

In our kitchen…

A few ceramic cupcake and cake stands (the pink one I’ve had for months), the others I found at Marshall’s, including the square stand which I’ve been flirting with for a while. What won’t I do for this blog?

In our kitchen…

This is really a life-saver for me. Since the beginning of this pandemic, Common Table meals changed their approach. No more sit-down dinner, they just distribute food for take-out delivery. So my contributions cannot be a single large cake or pie, or cookies in a box. I need to wrap each item individually. It means quite a bit of plastic wrap each week. This large roll works like a dream, the quality of the wrap is excellent, and the cutting mechanism perfect.  I am so glad I got it.

In our kitchen…

A very nice, relaxing tea, that was recommended in a post by my friend Karen. I love the inclusion of butterfly pea flower, as I can change the color of the tea from purple to slightly blue using a touch of lemon juice.

In our kitchen…

A set of simple syrups that you can use for drinks (alcoholic or not), as well as to flavor buttercream. I first heard about them from tent-baker Tanya, and placed my first order not too long ago. I have used the ginger-lime, still have to try the other two. They smell amazing! If you are interested, here is the link to the company.

In our kitchen…

I don’t remember sweet cherries and strawberries being as tasty as this year. Compensation of the universe for a certain plague? Who knows? But we’ve been enjoying them on a regular basis, and storing strawberries in the freezer for the future. The husband made those chocolate-covered strawberries to surprise me on Mother’s Day, and he is also the Resident Strawberry Sorbet Maker.  Yeah, I am just a very lucky woman.

Just outside of our kitchen….

We’ve started a project to build a little outdoor patio, and the husband put 99% of the effort into it, I am just helping a little bit (although shoveling rocks into a wheel barrel can take a toll on the human body).  We hope to have it ready around the 4th of July holiday. No, no get together with friends, but it will be nice to sit there the two of us enjoying a morning coffee.

Sooo, that is it for this month. As I mentioned before, In My Kitchen posts may or may not be shared with resident pups. The fact that they were very disrespectful to the layer of rocks that we had carefully constructed and leveled, made me put them in time out. I will spare you of the details, but it was a dirty business.
No blog post for any of you this month, pups!

Well, Bogey is not worried for good reason…

Yes, my friends… I could not possibly let the pups out of their five minutes of fame this month. Because it turns out today is a very special day.

My little forever puppy, Bucky Boy, turns 13 years young today! When I think that for the first five years of his life he had no name, he was tied to a tree outside almost permanently, had no toys, no idea of what it was to walk on a leash, how to walk through an open door, or up and down stairs… it just breaks my heart. We rescued him from hell, and I just wish that it could have happened when he was still a little puppy. But, better late than never. Happy Birthday, Buck!

For Birthday celebrations, we believe that elegance is key.
Bogey and Buck are naturals in that department.

Oscar? Well, let’s say Social Isolation came with issues….

We had no choice but to take matters into our own hands…

No worries, Bogey… You are un-trimmable!

And also very lovable…  although don’t let my sweet demeanor fool you….

Indeed, the pups sometimes don’t see eye to eye and they always make their feelings clear. A recent example comes to mind…

Well, that’s all for now… The pups want to wrap it up with a final message for their millions (cough, cough) of fans.

Stay positive, my friends!   

and don’t take yourself too seriously…

ONE YEAR AGO: In My Kitchen, June 2019

TWO YEARS AGO: In My Kitchen – July 2018

THREE YEARS AGO: In My Kitchen, July 2017

FOUR YEARS AGO: Secret Recipe Club: Falafel and a Bonus Recipe

FIVE YEARS AGO: Chocolate Toffee Banana Bread

SIX YEARS AGO: In My Kitchen, June 2014

SEVEN YEARS AGO:  Strawberry Frozen Yogurt

EIGHT YEARS AGO: Baked Coconut and “The Brazilian Kitchen”

NINE YEARS AGO: Honey-Glazed Chicken Legs

TEN YEARS AGO: French-Style Rolls

ELEVEN YEARS AGO: Chicken Breasts, Coffee, and Serendipity


Staying safe in Corona virus time: read the guest blog post by Phillip Klebba here. A video summarizing important tips can be found here

It is time to invite you all for a walk around our kitchen. In My Kitchen posts started many years ago with Celia and is now hosted by Sherry, from  Sherry’s Pickings. If you read my blog regularly, you know that I like to start this type of post with gifts, and there are quite a few to share (including the orchid from the picture, a gift from our good friends Lorne and Wasu, the last people we had over at our home before social isolation).

And now to the many gifts that landed in my kitchen in the past three months

From our dear friends from California, Marie Louise and Rocky, dried persimmon slices from a farmers market they visit weekly. These are just amazing, soft, sweet but not overly so. We loved them… diced and served with yogurt and some cereal or even to nibble before going to bed with a cup of tea. Delicious

From my friend Nancy, a fantastic patissier from Canada, a double gift: a pyramid-shaped silicone mold and a miracle-cloth that does wonders to clean countertops. She knows me well… The mold is so cool, I envision plenty of desserts using it.


From my friend Margie, who also coached me when I made Springerlee cookies for the first time (still need to blog about that!), these gorgeous wooden molds, carefully crafted. Aren’t they works of art?  I can tell you one thing, I won’t be waiting for the holiday season to bake a batch.

From Phil, the Ebay Scavenger Extraordinaire, two plates from Anthropologie, which I believe have my name all over them…  He always surprises me with the coolest stuff.

From Carlos, my tent-baker friend… a gorgeous Bundt pan. Carlos recently moved and decided to reduce his number of baking gadgets, so I gladly took this beauty out of his hands. I love the design, and already have one particular cake in my mind to put this baby to use.  Thank you, Carlos!

Now, let me go over a few things that you might enjoy and were recent acquisitions to the Bewitching Kitchen

In our kitchen…

A little cookie cutter set with a bit of an unusual shape, I have a specific bake in mind for them, but it will have to wait until this coronavirus nightmare passes by.

In our kitchen…

A herb-stripper. At first I was not sure if I would like it and use it, but I tell you, it’s pretty amazing, particularly for thyme, but also works very well for parsley. You just get the proper opening size and run them through. Leaves get nicely removed, and you are left with the stem to discard, compost or save to use in stocks.

In our kitchen…

Pistachio butter. This stuff is very very good. I know I can make my own, and have done so for bakes in the past, but this saves a lot of extra work and it’s by far the best I’ve tasted of all commercial products I tried.

In our kitchen…

Speaking of pistachios… I show you one typical lunch from the man I married. He calls it a gourmet toast. I call it the reason why I need to buy pistachio paste, because no matter how many bags of pistachios I buy, they are always almost empty when I need them (sigh).

In our kitchen…

I put Nancy’s gift to use, in a very simple way, just tempered white chocolate, dyed it pink and poured into the mold, which I painted with gold luster dust.  Instead of a complicated filling, I just mixed slightly warmed up Nutella with some sprinkles and added a tiny amount to each cavity. Of course this was not a real bonbon, the chocolate shell is very thick, it was more like a bar of chocolate with filling, but I must say it turned out very delicious.

In our kitchen…

Virginia Gourmet peanuts… My gosh, these are amazing!  Phil found them at Marshalls, and he immediately went back to the store and bought one more can (they are huge). They are the best peanuts ever.  Not sure what they mean by “hand cooked”, but whatever they did, I embrace it.

In our kitchen…

or should I say in our basement?

A lot of organization took place. We have the same metal shelves in our lab, they are sturdy and neat. I got a lot of plastic containers to store stuff and also made a complete inventory of what we have. Feels good.

I have now lists of baking gadgets, baking ingredients, silicone molds in a document in the computer. Oddly enough, it all started before the coronavirus hit.

In our kitchen…

We win some, we lose some. I fell in love with this teacup and bought it. Yes, it looks beautiful, and it does work wonders to brew using loose tea. However, the design makes it pretty obvious why classic tea cups have…. handles!  It is simply impossible to hold the cup because it gets unbearably hot. So it’s frustrating that if I use it to brew tea, I then need to pour the tea into a proper tea cup so I can sip it. No bueno.

In our kitchen…

On the subject of tea, this White Ambrosia a recent passion of mine. I learned about it not too long ago in a magazine called Tea Time, and ordered some to try. I love it, and intend to use it in baking in the near future.

In our kitchen…

We made Fiori di Sicilia flavored sugar cookies for our grand daughter’s 5th Bday… and included a few that depicted some of the pups… BogeyQuitThat, Buck and Fendi (one of their pups).

In our kitchen…

Polycarbonate chocolate molds. As  we face isolation, one of the things I decided was to learn a new skill, and making bonbons seemed like a good idea. I will share my adventures with you soon.

This pandemic is turning everyone’s life upside down. We are all scared and with good reason. Staying at home is what we can and must do to contain the spread of this nasty virus. Home we are, and some furry friends seem quite ok with this Sunday-Day that never ends. Let’s see what they’ve been up to….

The year started with the celebration of BogeyQT™ 11th Bday. He got special goodies and a festive hat, which we think complemented well his elegantly black spotted handsomeness…

As we were admiring the photos and deciding which one should be kept to share with his huge crowd of fans (I know nobody reads this piece because of my chocolate molds), Oscar had different ideas.

So you got a sissy hat for the Big Annoying One. Pitiful. Here, get a load of my displeasure with it. First I stole it, then I dealt with it properly. And since we are talking about annoying situations…. me and brother have another grievance to share with OUR readers…

FAKE NEWS!!!! These accusations have no basis in reality. I do love sushi and may or may not have inhaled a couple of pieces, but prefer concoctions with a higher amount of sugar, like freshly baked banana bread.

We have to admit that this big boy enjoys food. Any food. His tombstone could read: “He died doing what he loved most, wolfing down a bowl of chow”

Both Oscar and Buck think they got a lot more class and beauty….

Although we all know some sides of Osky’s persona that leave a lot to be desired as far as beauty is concerned….

That is his personal favorite position to sleep, just looking at him my neck hurts.

The pups have a final message for all of you….

And above all…

This too shall pass…. 

I hope to see you in 3 months for another In My Kitchen tour. I hope the world will be a better place then. I hope nights in which I wake up afraid of dying will be fewer and fewer. I hope we don’t lose loved ones. I hope you don’t either. I hope. I will always hope for the light in the end of the tunnel.  Until then, be vigilant. Be safe. Stay home.

ONE YEAR AGO:  In My Kitchen, April 2019

TWO YEARS AGO: In My Kitchen, April 2018

THREE YEARS AGO: First Monday Favorite

FOUR YEARS AGO: In My Kitchen, April 2016

FIVE YEARS AGO: Spring has Sprung with Suzanne Goin

SIX YEARS AGO: Chai Brownies

SEVEN YEARS AGO: Pomegranate-Molasses Glazed Carrots

EIGHT YEARS AGO: Braised Brisket with Bourbon-Peach Glaze

NINE YEARS AGO: The Real Vodka Sauce

TEN YEARS AGO: Spring Rolls on a Spring Day




It is time to invite you all for a walk around our kitchen. In My Kitchen posts started many years ago with Celia and is now hosted by Sherry, from  Sherry’s Pickings.   As you now know, I lied to you in my last IMK post. I did not have a professional trip to the UK, my trip was to take part of one of the greatest adventures of my life. If you read my blog regularly, you know that I like to start this type of post with gifts. And I would have to list here the cards, the messages, posts, the support, the love, that I’ve received from so many people (most never met me in real life) ever since the show aired last month. You know who you are, and I say thank you so much!

And now to the many gifts that landed in my kitchen in the past three months

From our dear friends Virginia and Karl, the coolest bowl in the universe, colorful the way I love!

From Phil, one more coffee cup for our collection, again… color, color, color!

From Vy, a former graduate student from our Oklahoma days…   a set of measuring spoons… do you see a pattern? My friends all know of my passion for colorful things….

From Ines, a former graduate student and forever friend who lives in New York, a kitchen cloth with the map of her city. She knows I am the most orientation-challenged person in the planet. That goes in my luggage on my next trip to New York.

From my niece Raquel, a shirt sent all the way from Brazil… I have no words. It is just perfect…. do you notice COLORS?

From our dear friend Peying, a gift for the pups, special dog treats that they adored. Made in our town by a baker who is actually the girlfriend of one of our faculty members. Small world. The pups love them!

From the moderators of a Facebook group “Great British Bake Off Fans”, I got a series of gifts for bread baking, that included this unique triangular banetton, a baguette couche, lame for scoring bread. It turns out they have a contest every month and I won the month of October with a certain Halloween cake.  I was still dealing (in secret) with the sadness of my sub-par performance in the tent, and getting the best bake of the month in that very group (when no one even imagined I was a contestant in the American show), was pretty nice. I think in many ways it started my recovery from serving a tornado-hit house to Paul and Sherry… 

From Christine, a dear virtual friend from the UK…. I never got Star Baker in the tent, but this spoon will be with me 4ever… thank you, Christine, such a sweet gesture! And she included a beautiful card with drawings of the 12 days of Christmas. Just adorable…

From Steven, a virtual friend of more than 20 years… he got together with a bunch of other virtual and “real life” friends and sent me this adorable little witch. I had flirted with her online but decided against buying it.  I almost passed out when I opened the box. Her name is Philomena, and she is my twin.  I intend to dress like her in our next Halloween party.

From Sophie, at Love Productions UK, a printout of my headshot from the Great American Baking Show… will save that forever, and how it does make me look forward to getting my braces off for good!  (end of Summer, that’s what I heard…)

From Phil, a Christmas gift that took my breath away….  A small chocolate tempering machine, that works with up to 1 pound of chocolate. Perfect! I put it to use the following day, of course, making my beloved husband a Birthday cake that turned out really nice (stay tuned).

And now, let’s move on with the Bewitching Kitchen tour…

In our kitchen…

Some goodies from a special grocery store in New York, called Kalustyan’s.  I’ve always dreamed of going there, and finally paid them a visit with Courtnie, my stepson’s girlfriend who knew I would have a great time in there. We spent hours exploring every little corner of the store, and those are the things I could not resist bringing home.

In our kitchen…

Passionfruit pulp, portioned in large muffin cups, ready for the freezer. It should last the whole winter, and of course I have plenty of culinary projects for them. Entremets? You bet.

In our kitchen…

I could not resist trying this little gadget that I found at Marshall’s. I really like the way it worked for soft-boiled eggs, the only drawback is that you need a lot of water to start with, but it made perfectly shaped and perfectly cooked eggs.  I like it a lot.

In our kitchen…

My first springerlee mold. I’ve always been fascinated by these cookies that have been around since the 1600’s.  Thanks to a lot of help from my friend Margie, I managed to make my first batch and they turned out delicious, even if some of them exploded a bit, which is apparently very common in the first 100 batches you bake.  A post about them will be on the blog soon.

In our kitchen…

A cameraman to interview yours truly for a news segment in our local news. They aired the news on the morning and evening of premiere, Dec 12th. Of course, they had no idea of the outcome, and it was fun to play star for a day… He left with a very big platter of cookies, by the way.

In our kitchen…

Feeble attempt at dealing with entropy and definitely owning too many baking gadgets. Icing tips and cookie cutters were organized in our basement. I try, my friends, I try.

In our kitchen…

My way of showing you why getting a scale matters. The other day I was making some cookies and the recipe called for 3 cups of flour. I grabbed the measuring cup shown in the third picture, and started adding flour, scraping the top, adding to my bowl. It so happened that I had the bowl on my scale, and was a bit shocked by how much flour went in with the first cup. Way too much. I know that 1 cup of flour is between 120 and 130g (depending on which source of info you trust, but that’s the ballpark). So I decided to measure their volume using water, that has a density of 1.  One cup of water weight 237.5 g.  Only the measuring cup by Hudson Essentials was really accurate.  So, my friend, if you don’t want to ruin your bakes, start using a scale. If recipes call for cups, convert them to grams or ounces or whatever you feel comfortable with. Get a scale that will work with different units of weigh, and you won’t ever have to worry about anything.

In our kitchen…

My first attempt at a macadonut! Pretty tricky to pipe neat circles, but as Sherry Yard would probably state, a little drizzle and sprinkles cover a multitude of sins. Flavor is Almond Buttercream. These were, by the way, the last macarons of this decade. Wow.

In our kitchen…

Cookies galore. I think in December Phil and I baked and decorated more cookies than we ever imagined we would. It was fun to do it together, he is getting pretty good at it, I  must say. The Santa is one of his many productions.


But, but… what is happening?

Oscar is not happy and quite vocal about it. Bogey left the kitchen with disgust. Oh, I see they are jealous because “Short Stuff” was featured. Short Stuff is the way they refer to their brother, who definitely deserves a lot more respect, being the Senior Dog he is.  Ok, ok, you can come out and play also…

I actually do not mind Short Stuff being in your fancy blog (insert canine eye-roll), ’cause I am badass. I am the Alpha Dog who rests his face on hard surfaces and takes burrs as Medals of Honor. I AM BAD ASS.

And this Bad Ass happened to find the tomato you tried to sneak by in my bowl of food. Am I a joke to you, Karen? How many times do I have to let you know I disapprove of tomatoes in any shape or form?  And since we are on the subject of annoying things…

Well, I might be slightly out of focus, but at least I don’t look like a Wookiee. Like “certain pups” in the vicinity…

And, I am the one who inspires Mom’s outfits…

Buck firmly  believes  that  matching  outfits  is  over-rated…. He  prefers  to  just snuggle…

I agree, let’s just play, no matter the outfit!

Although I would really like to play with “other toys”…

Because this one? I am done with…

That’s all for now, my friends!  I hope you enjoyed the first tour of the Bewitching Kitchen for 2020!  It’s been an amazing year, with many ups and many downs, I look forward to what this year will bring. My main goal is to improve my skills on areas of baking I am still not too comfortable with, including things I’ve never attempted like chocolate bonbons. The messiness of the process bothers me, but life is messy, right? So why not make bonbons?

Participating of the show, the whole process of getting ready for it made me realize anything is doable, especially if you can take your time and not be discouraged by failures. They are part of the learning process, and usually taste pretty darn good! We are our own worse critics. Although Paul Hollywood takes a close second!  HA!

ONE YEAR AGO: Happy 2019 In My Kitchen!

TWO YEARS AGO: Happy New Year In My Kitchen!

THREE YEARS AGO: Happy New Year In My Kitchen!

FOUR YEARS AGO: In My Kitchen: Happy New Year!

FIVE YEARS AGO: And another year starts…

SIX YEARS AGO: In My Kitchen: January 2014

SEVEN YEARS AGO: Tacos with Pork in Green Sauce

EIGHT YEARS AGO:  Maui New Year!

NINE YEARS AGO: Natural Beauty

TEN YEARS AGO: Sunflower Seed Rye