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. Like clockwork. I am the daughter of my Dad, after all.

I like to start by sharing gifts, and this time I have A LOT to be grateful for.

From my friend Caro…

A set of 10 (!!!!) Sugarflair gel food colors. If you are into cookies, macarons, buttercream, you’ve definitely heard of this brand. It is the “creme de la creme” in food coloring. Tricky to find in the US, unless you are ready to pay a great deal of cash for them. Until now, I had just flirted with them online. Not anymore. They are amazing. Thank you so much, Caro!

From my friends Val and Steve…

The most perfect mask ever! And contrary to most I get, this one fits me perfectly. Thank you so so much! Buck seems a little unhappy with it, but I said it is nothing personal against his breed.

From our grad student, Taihao…

My very favorite chocolate treat, which he offered me as a Birthday gift. Since I had no idea he even knew it was my Birthday, the surprise was even sweeter. Thank you, Taihao!

Another Birthday gift, from our friend Heather from sunny CA, Meyer lemons from her backyard.

I already put many of them to use, in macarons, and sandwich cookies. And, of course also in our regular cooking. Thank you, Heather!

From our friend Tanya, tent-baker extraordinaire, a very special cookie cutter that she designed and produced.

Tanya makes and sells cookie cutters in her etsy store. Visit with a click here. And marvel as what she created with this very cutter by reading her blog post on the subject.

A Birthday gift from the coolest couple in NYC, Courtnie and Alex…

I could not believe my eyes when I opened the package! You can set the puzzle as one very large cookie, or make a slightly smaller version removing some of the pieces. It is cool beyond description… I have already put it to use, and you will see the results soon.

From my beloved husband….

As usual, he finds the most amazing plates on ebay. These three were all from Anthropologie, and I cannot pick a favorite, even considering my intense love for elephants. I adore the three of them.

And finally, a most special gift, combination of wedding anniversary and Birthday…. (drum roll)

A mini-projector! Mine is AKASIO, and the only complaint I have is not being able to pair it with the computer via bluetooth. It was a Nightmare on Elm Street trying to make it work, finally we just decided to live with the cable and call it a day. It does pair with the cell phone. Go figure it out. But I love it. It truly opens up the horizons for cookie decorating. So. Much. Fun. On the photo, you can see the big puzzle cookie getting ready for some drawing.

In our kitchen…

Asafetida, a very unique spice used in Indian recipes. I see it as the cousin of fish sauce. You don’t want to sniff it, just trust that the taste it imparts to the food has nothing to do with its fragrance… It is used in tiny amounts, but it will definitely bring a touch of authenticity to your table.

In our kitchen…

This pan, with a triangular shape, was found by Phil in a visit to Marshall’s. I cannot tell you how much we both love it. It has the perfect shape to stir-fry small amounts of mushrooms or veggies. You know that trick that chefs love to do, sending food in the air as they stir-fry? This pan makes it super easy to do. Perfect size for cooking for two, I don’ t know why it’s not far more popular.

In our kitchen…

Chestnut flour. This is a very nice brand, with a delicate flavor and perfect texture. It works especially well in some vegan pastry recipes. Don’t run away, I promise they taste just like the “real thing.” Stay tuned.

In our kitchen…

A patterned silicone mat. It is a tool designed mainly for fondant and marzipan, but I used it to make a chocolate topping for cookies. I promise a blog post about the whole technique, which is surprisingly simple.

In our kitchen…

Speaking of patterned mats, I share also a patterned rolling pin. You can find countless types in shops at with a simple search “embossed rolling pin.” I was not sure this tiny one would work well, but I am very impressed. Works like a dream. Still available here.

In our kitchen…

Sakura blossom green tea. This is caffeinated, so I use a little trick to reduce the caffeine a bit, as I like to enjoy tea after dinner. I boil water, put into the cup halfway up, add the tea bag, swirl it a bit for about 20 seconds, discard that water and proceed to make the tea with fresh hot water. Caffeine is very soluble and quite a bit of it is removed in the first brewing. I don’t detect much loss in overall taste of the tea, and it seems to work well for me. This is a green tea with a floral component that adds a lot to it. Order info here.

Speaking of tea, how could I resist this one?

I find it smooth, elegant, mysterious. Unpredictable, dramatic, way too intense, says the opposition. Jury still out.

Do you want to know one of Sally’s secrets?

She is totally obsessed with Audrey… Stencil from

In our kitchen…

Cookie cutter & stencil combo. Another slippery slope in… So many possibilities. You use the cookie cutter, bake the cookie, ice it, and let it set overnight. Then comes the stencil part, that you can either use an air-brush to get the overall design transferred to the surface, or use thick Royal icing scrubbed over it. I like to air-brush in dark grey or black, and once the ink dries I paint with food pens or luster dust. Check this store, one of my favorite sources.

In our kitchen…

A big bottle of Americolor white gel color. It is the only brand that works well for a cracked design on cookies. So easy to achieve! Cut the cookie shapes you like, brush a light coating of Americolor white (or any other color) and bake. It works best in recipes with a small amount of baking powder so that there is more lift during baking. Other brands do not work the same way, so keep that in mind. The dye does all the work, and the effect is really quite beautiful and elegant.

In our kitchen…

My little treasure chest of Royal icing flowers, ready and waiting to be added to cookies or cupcakes. I still need to work on the rose buds, there is a lot of room for improvement in those, but little by little I’m going to get there.

In our kitchen…

I know, a lot of cookie-oriented things, but that is the path I’ve been following lately. This set of hexagonal cookie cutters is one of my favorites. The shape is unusual and fun to play with.

All cookies except Thumper were made using the projector. Thumper was quite likely the most involved cookie I’ve made so far, following a tutorial online. I might compose a blog post about it at some point. The drawing is in fact a Royal icing transfer.

In our kitchen…

A very unusual cookbook. No recipes, just ideas. One thousand ideas, to be precise. As you flip through the pages, you’ll see photos of beautiful cakes, cupcakes, cookies, with a number and the name of the bakery where they were made. The final pages of the book list all the numbers and the techniques used.

For instance, if you look at this particular page, you will see a picture with three flower-shaped cookies, number #589. Going on the list I saw they were sugar cookies decorated with with Royal icing, so I created my version of one of those cookies. Some people left pretty negative reviews for the book on amazon, complaining that “there are no recipes or instructions”, but I think they totally missed the point. It is more an inspirational type of book, not a guide. Order info here.

Well, I toyed with the idea of pulling an April 1st on the dogs, telling them it is a no-no for their five minutes of fame in MY blog. Because, let’s make it clear. It is MY blog. And, for reasons that shall become clear as I disclose their filthy ways, I am being VERY kind for allowing two of the three derelicts to bark their piece.

So, here’s what they’ve been up to in the past three months…

Oscar undoubtedly sees himself as the King of the World

Buck is definitely the Emperor of the Backyard….

No matter the weather, he patrols every square inch of the backyard when we put him outside, and only comes back when satisfied that things are how they are supposed to be in every single little spot. He always follows the same path, a very methodical pup.

and then, of course, we have the Photobomber of the Jungle…

Great composition, courtesy of my friend Steve…

and when he is not in his virtual jungle, he is best known as the Keeper of the Couch…

Oscar believes sofas and couches are for sissies. In fact, he never ceases to amaze us with his odd ways to get comfy.

Although in rare occasions, he will act like a more “normal” pup…

You would think that these two get along great, right? Well, not exactly, as my poor left ankle will prove to you.

Innocent? Not so fast, Black-Dotted Hero… On a Saturday night, as I sat down on a comfy arm chair to talk to my sexy husband, Oscar and Bogey approached the chair, and stood one on each side. All of a sudden I noticed Bogey growling at Oscar, showing him some major gums. In seconds, Oscar went for his leg but got my foot instead. Twice. The pain was something, as his bite definitely hit a nerve (literally). So, as I publish this post, I will be on day 4 of a 10-day course of antibiotics, and unable to wear closed shoes, as my ankle is very swollen.

They were charged and tried with a felony offense and sentenced to 14 days with no flesh of the steer. And had to sit through a long lecture on proper canine behavior, new rules and regulations set forth by His Highness, The Alpha Human.

Obviously, such turn of events truly pleased the oldest, most distinguished member of the pack…

The good boy is in fact the only one allowed to bond with his favorite human on her favorite couch…

Let’s make it abundantly clear: we did not feed him egg shells. He STOLE a shell that fell on the floor, ran away through the house with it, and then decided it was too nasty to consume. Those are the facts. His sentence has therefore been altered to 18 days without the flesh of the steer.

That’s all folks! I shiver to think what they will come up with for the next installment of IMK. See you (if I am still alive) on July 1st (clockwork, remember?).

To see what is happening in kitchens of other food bloggers around the world,

visit Sherry’s site with a click here.

ONE YEAR AGO: In My Kitchen, April 2020

TWO YEARS AGO:  In My Kitchen, April 2019

THREE YEARS AGO: In My Kitchen, April 2018

FOUR YEARS AGO: First Monday Favorite

FIVE YEARS AGO: In My Kitchen, April 2016

SIX YEARS AGO: Spring has Sprung with Suzanne Goin

SEVEN YEARS AGO: Chai Brownies

EIGHT YEARS AGO: Pomegranate-Molasses Glazed Carrots

NINE YEARS AGO: Braised Brisket with Bourbon-Peach Glaze

TEN YEARS AGO: The Real Vodka Sauce

ELEVEN YEARS AGO: Spring Rolls on a Spring Day