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


I wish I could say that 2018 was a great year, but it was not the case. I am happy to see it go and hope that 2019 will be lighter and better on many levels.  Today, on the first day of this new year, I invite you for a virtual walk around our kitchen, a tradition started by Celia and now hosted by Sherry, from  Sherry’s Pickings. It’s been three months since my last IMK post, so there’s a lot to share. Ready? Let’s go!

Starting with gifts…

From our dear friend Denise, shipped all the way from England, a great environment-friendly and personalized coffee cup. Isn’t it adorable? Made from bamboo wood, it’s light and keeps beverages hot for a while. She also gave me a hot cocoa mix that is absolutely divine, albeit dangerously addictive. I like to add one (or two) teaspoons right into my morning cappuccino, but only on Sunday mornings. You know, that moderation thing…

From our dear friends from Oklahoma, Marijo & Vlad, the world’s tastiest pears, from Harry & David.  You cannot have better pears. Ever. Last year they gifted us with amazing bottles of balsamic vinegar, and we just opened the second one not too long ago.

From our dear friend Cindy, also from Oklahoma, a collection of wonderful goodies, proving she knows us very well. Because… sprinkles?  I am addicted. A very colorful plate? That has my name all over it. And an oyster knife? We inhale oysters in obscene amounts from September until the weather warms up. Thank you so much, Cindy! Oyster knife tried the very day we got your package, and approved by the resident Oyster Shucker.

From our friend Ines, straight from New York… A cookbook that could not be a better fit for me! Thank you so much, he is absolutely great, his recipes always work. I’ve been a follower of his blog for a long time… Thank you!

My turn to give a gift… This was a gift for Phil, could not resist having this cup special ordered for him. Isn’t it adorable?

I cannot believe that even the mark on the back of the Jack Russell resembles Buck, although his is a little lower, right on his butt. Oh, well – close enough. To order one, click here. (free advertisement, I get nothing back if you order, just sharing the love).

In our kitchen…

A batter dispenser, that was featured in a recent dessert post. In this picture you can see it has three different nozzles (two hanging from the handle, one installed) that twist on and off the bottom. Each has a slightly different diameter, so  that depending on the fluidity of the batter you can decide which one to use. I love it. It would also work to make perfectly shaped pancakes, if you are into that sort of thing…

In our kitchen…

Organization time! We got some sturdy shells for the basement, so I could finally organize all my baking items. A second shelf – to be assembled soon – will hold baking pans and glassware, hopefully I’ll be able to show it on my next IMK post.

Still in organization mode, my stencils are now much easier to find and choose. I placed them inside plastic folders with sturdy color paper inside so the pattern is clearly visible.  Have I mentioned I’m a bit obsessed with stencils?

These are a little bigger, each is a 6-inch square. Perfect for cakes or breads, but some might also work for macarons with the help of the air-brush.

In our kitchen…

My gorgeous bread lame holder, sold by Elaine from foodbodsourdough.com.  You have no idea how light it is, a pleasure to work with. No two holders look the same, each is a unique piece of art. She ships worldwide, in case you are tempted.

In our kitchen…

Mycryo, a fantastic product that I had to order online, but if you are lucky enough to live in a big city with a specialized baking store, you might be able to find it more easily. It is cocoa butter in powdered form. Not only you can add to custards and mousses, but apparently it makes the job of tempering chocolate a lot easier. I haven’t tried it for tempering yet, but once I do, I’ll report back. One great use for it, is sprinkling on sweet pie crusts after blind baking. Not only it provides a subtle flavor, but it helps sealing the crust.

In our kitchen…

Elderflower is one of my (many) passions. The cordial is lovely added to carbonated water and a few ice cubes. Recently I got introduced to elderflower tea. It is Zen in liquid form, my favorite way to end the day.

In our kitchen…

A sourdough boule with decorative scoring… I am having a blast with different patterns, baking at a pace of two loaves per month. Even at that pace it is more bread than we can consume, but some slices end up as croutons, they elevate some salads to Hail Caesar level.

In our kitchen…

Some festive serving platters, all found at Marshalls for very cheap. I love the golden one, which you will have an opportunity to see very soon, holding a batch of macarons. Side note, can you imagine I have not one, not two, but FIVE macaron posts waiting patiently to show up on the blog?

In our kitchen…

My very first attempt at cookie decorating. These are not sugar cookies, they were made from leftover sable dough from one of my entremet type cakes. My plan was to just cut them in round shape and be done with it, but the man I married insisted that “you need to practice a new skill, look at all the cookie cutters we have, go for it”.  The cutters are actually his, he used to do a lot of Christmas cookie decorating back when the kids were young. As far as taste is concerned, I like them even better than sugar cookies. On the subject of looks, all I can tell you is that the Road to Hell is Paved with Royal Icing, and it will take me a while to face that nightmarish flowing substance again. Enough said.

In our kitchen…

Direct consequence of the above. Just in case I get crazy enough to attempt cookie decorating in this life, I will try it with an icing pen. It cannot possibly make things worse than they were on a certain Sunday morning.

In our kitchen…

A set of 9 star-shaped piping tips, to give me the incentive to get better at all things buttercream. Also very nice to fill macarons, as you will see before this month is over.

In our kitchen…

Where we live, frozen açaí pulp is not available. Buying the stuff online seems reasonable until you move the product to the shopping cart and add shipping charges. They insist on FedEx overnight, only option. Yeah, sure. All of a sudden açaí pulp costs about the same as platinum. Thanks, but no thanks. I will give this powder a try, my goal is to make açaí mousse. If anyone has advice, leave me a comment, will you? And just to make sure all my readers are on top of it, here’s how you say the word as a native (any other way makes Brazilians cringe and run away screaming).

In our kitchen…

I am in complete awe of this one…It’s a micro-scale to weigh less than 15 grams with great precision. The first picture shows my hand next to it, giving you an idea of how small it is, so cute. The balance, not my hand. Obviously. In many patisserie recipes this gadget comes in handy. Think gelatin, pectin, but also salt in bread baking, I prefer to measure it with more precision. In the central picture you see the balance in action, measuring 0.5g of osmo-tolerant yeast. I know. Posh to the limit. This baby came with a standard for 50g weight, which was immediately used to check accuracy of my other, regular-size balance, several years old. Spot on!

In our kitchen…

A nut cracker, recommended by America’s Test Kitchen as their top choice. I dislike chopping nuts, and this gadget does a beautiful job. Uniform pieces, fast and without the mess I normally do all over the countertop. In fact, the moment I start chopping nuts, Bogey QT™ and Buck approach the area, waiting for catapulted goodies. Full disclosure: they did not approve the acquisition of this gadget.

In our kitchen…

I caved and bought peeled hazelnuts from Nuts.com.  They are worth every penny, in my opinion. The road to hell might be paved with Royal Icing, but then when you get there, your job is to peel hazelnuts. For. Eternity.

But, what the heck?
Why is Bogey Quit That™ so upset?
And why is that Jack Russel telling me to talk to the tail?

Well, it looks like I hurt their delicate feelings. I better let them have their five minutes of blog glory.

The weather has been pretty tough on the pups lately, which means staying inside the whole morning, going out a little bit at lunch time, then back inside until we come home from work.

But, they seem to make the best of it…

Even though it is so cold outside, Oscar manages to get in trouble. Our resident Burr Boy.

Of course, he has to whine and howl as if he’s being skinned alive while we work hard to get the nasty burrs off his face.  Fun times.

He is not the only one giving us grievances. Bogey Quit That™ decided to treat his fur to a nice mud rub, 24 hours after he arrived squeaky clean from a visit to Petsmart for special shampoo and brushing. I was not exactly thrilled. The stuff had already dried up by the time we arrived home. He seemed quite pleased with himself.

Here we are, ready to help Dad get that roast chicken ready for dinner. He is making Mexican-style chicken fajitas. We like chicken fajitas. We like chicken. Any chicken.

You might have some chicken tomorrow, for the time being we have some dog treats for you, but first you need to answer us… have you been naughty or nice?

Dog food bag: another great find at Marshalls… love that store!

Actually, their Mom has a different opinion. She hopes to get a bit more respect in the New Year. Here’s what happens when she asks the pups to sit for a picture…

And here’s what happens when Dad is the one asking…

Maybe we could behave a little better with Mom, but I still think I don’t deserve this type of treatment. My personal scent was at its best to receive the New Year with paws up. Now, I am gonna smell like a bag of clementines.

We’ll feel sorry for you when we wake up, brother… Right now we are too comfy to care…

Naughty or not, we find them impossibly cute. Osky and Bogey QT can wink, and no one does a head twist as cute as Bucky Boy…

We might wink, but don’t ever expect us to see eye to eye…. HA!

To close this post, the pups offer a few bits of wisdom
for your New Year!

Oscar says….
Always show affection to the ones you love!

Bogey says…
Enjoy to the fullest each good moment of your day…

Buck says…
Play hard, but take the time to relax too. It’s important.


I hope you enjoyed the first tour of the year through the Bewitching Kitchen… My plan for 2019 is to focus even more on baking, but still keep the blog as varied as possible, with “regular” recipes posted weekly.  It is hard to believe, but in a few months the BK completes 10 years of life!




ONE YEAR AGO: Happy New Year In My Kitchen!

TWO YEARS AGO: Happy New Year In My Kitchen!

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

FOUR YEARS AGO: And another year starts…

FIVE YEARS AGO: In My Kitchen: January 2014

SIX YEARS AGO: Tacos with Pork in Green Sauce

SEVEN YEARS AGO:  Maui New Year!

EIGHT YEARS AGO: Natural Beauty

NINE YEARS AGO: Sunflower Seed Rye



And another year starts!  I am feeling more energetic than ever, so be ready for a lot of cooking, a lot of baking, maybe some more daring culinary projects coming from this bewitched spot.  I start 2018 inviting you for a virtual stroll around our kitchen, a tradition started by Celia and now hosted by Sherry, from  Sherry’s Pickings. Stop by their virtual spots to say hello, will you?

And now, grab my hand and let’s get this party started!

Gift… So many gifts to show you, I feel I could almost do a full IMK post just with the goodies we’ve received for the past three months.

From Ms. A & Dr. S, our grad student & post-doc couple in the lab…

Addictive in a delicious way: Dry Samosas. You probably know too well how amazing samosas are?  Well, in India they turned them into snacks you buy ready to enjoy. This particular kind is super spicy, which is good, because one or two are satisfying, no need to go on until you reach the bottom of the bag…

Straight from India, from our student Mr. A, very nice sweets, the round, orange ones are made with besan flour, and are called Besan Ka Laddoo.  Sweet, exotic, wonderful, but my favorite is the other one, Kaju Katli made with ground cashews and milk, The edible silver leaf decoration makes it so elegant… It is simply divine!

From Uzbekistan, a beautiful tea set offered by the parents of our student, Dr. Y.  In my ignorance, I knew nothing about the sophisticated way tea is enjoyed in that country. Apparently, these authentic sets are hard to find, so I am forever grateful for having received them as a gift. You can read all about it here. And a very similar tea set is shown in the article. It made me feel on top of the world!

From our friend Cindy, the most colorful spreaders known to mankind. Don’t you think they have my name written all over? I knew you would agree… And do you see the green plate they are laying on? That was a gift from Cindy when I started my blog! How cool is that? Almost 9 years ago…

Still from Cindy, the latest cookbook by Christopher Kimball, in his new phase after leaving America’s Test Kitchen. The book is simply great. If you don’t have it, you need it.

My friends definitely know me well… another colorful offering, coming all the way from England! Our friend Denise sent me this planner, perfect for the list-maniac I am. Pages and pages to make lists, notes to self, stickers… I adore it! Confess to inaugurating it a couple of weeks before Christmas (sorry, Denise!).

From Phil, a new coffee mug from our favorite British ceramic artist, Mary Rose Young. Full disclosure: I broke one of our old ones, and almost had a fit, because Phil had given it to me years ago. He immediately went to work at ebay and within a few days, surprise surprise!  I know, I am a very lucky wife…

From a very dear friend Heather, from California, persimmons from her own backyard! She and her husband are amazing gardeners, you cannot imagine how many tomato plants they harvest every year in sunny California, and all sorts of veggies. These persimmons were the best we’ve ever tried.

From one dear departmental colleague at KSU, Ms. B…. sweets she made herself. Does she know I am crazy about white chocolate? Perhaps… I tell you, these are (ahem… were) amazing!

From our dear friends Marijo and Vlad, two – count them two – bottles of a balsamic vinegar that will make you go weak in the knees.  I swear I want to make a filling for macarons involving roasted strawberries and balsamic vinegar. I must go to work on this very important endeavor.

From Phil, the most amazing early Christmas gift (it was delivered a few days early)… an electric smoker!  We had enjoyed great smoked food during a visit to one of our friends in Michigan, and flirted with the idea of getting one. Well, there it is, sitting in our patio, a brand new Cookshack, great match for our home, aka The Love Shack..   (wink, wink). We’ve already enjoyed a couple of recipes and soon I’ll be sharing them with you.

And that wraps up the gifts we got since my last virtual tour through the Bewitching Kitchen… didn’t I tell you I could pretty much do a full post with them?  But, let’s move on…

In Our Kitchen…

Before the great meteorological disaster of 2017 (aka arrival of winter), we managed to harvest all the basil and the peppers produced in our backyard, thanks to the gardening efforts of my beloved husband.  I processed all the basil (trust me, it was a lot, the photo doesn’t show all of it), and made little portions of basil with olive oil, a touch of vitamin C to keep it nice and green. Then, when we need to use basil for a salad dressing, a sauce, or to turn it into real pesto, we are pretty much ready.

In our kitchen….

Phil’s new obsession… Jams from Maury Island Farm… he’s found it for the first time at a Trader Joe’s in Portland, OR. It was a single-flavor type, strawberry jam. The moment he took his first taste, he was completely obsessed by it. Went online, bought some more flavors, and ended up offering it as a gift for several of our friends. Even though I don’t care at all for jams, I had to try it because he would not take no for an answer – “Sally, you HAVE to try this, you will love it… trust me…C’mon, just a tiny bit”  And so I did. Indeed, it IS very nice.  I could macaron-it at some point…  (sorry, I have my own obsessions, as you may have noticed). If you are interested in getting some  – and I urge you to do it, you won’t be disappointed – jump to the company website with a click here.  They have an amazing amount of goodies!

In our kitchen…


Two items to add interesting flavors to desserts… such as macarons, maybe? You’d think? A pumpkin spice extract (which I already used for macs a couple of months ago), and bergamot essential oil. Apparently it is a wonderful match for blueberries, so you can predict what will happen in our kitchen at some point. Essential oils are very strong, one or two drops will be more than enough to flavor a buttercream, a ganache,  a custard. Fun ingredients to play with, which I learned from a great cookbook called The Sweet Spot.

In our kitchen…

A new cookbook, very beautiful, it comes in a box wrapped in thin paper like a special sweet boxed in a store in Paris… I suppose you won’t be surprised that it comes from Ladurée, the legendary macaron maker, but the book covers quite a few other French delicacies…

In our kitchen….

I guess you can call us easily obsessed? We were watching old episodes of The Great British Bake Off on youtube and in those early years they offered little tours around UK. In one particular show they focused on Scottish shortbread. Phil remembered seeing boxes of those at our local Marshall’s. To make a long story short, he stopped by and grabbed one box. Then another. Then I stopped by and bought one “for him.”  Yeah, we’ve been enjoying those very very much. In small doses, but with certain regularity, I must admit. They melt in the mouth. They make me happy. I like being happy. End of story.

In our kitchen….

Talk about an exotic ingredient!  This is it. Poha,  a flattened rice from India. Have you ever heard of it? Thanks to our graduate student Ms. A, I bought a bag. And have been researching recipes. Stay tuned…

In our kitchen…

I blame my obsession (there we go again) with The Great British Bake Off on many of the items in this post. One more for you, stem ginger. Apparently very common in the UK, it is ginger cooked in a simple syrup and gives unique flavor to desserts. I was wondering how to obtain it in the US, until one day I saw one bottle (yes, just one) at our Marshall’s. Gotta love that store… shortbread cookies, stem ginger, exotic extracts, it’s a cook’s dream! My first recipe using it will be a lemon tart that got amazing reviews by Paul Hollywood and Mary Berry, when one of the contestants made it.

In our kitchen….

A bag of candied orange peel. This is one very important ingredient for panettone, and one that can make or kill the recipe. I know that it’s possible to make my own, but having a good product available makes it a lot easier. This one is really nice, the taste is fresh and bright and the texture perfect.


In our kitchen….

Another ingredient I am looking forward to using soon… chestnut puree… yeah, sounds very special and of course could even be geared towards the making of a certain French delicacy made with almonds and egg whites…

In our kitchen…

A special, sturdy wooden spoon, simple but mandatory tool to make choux pastry.

In our kitchen…

Talking of choux pastry… Some éclairs did happen… but I need a little more practice before sharing my adventures with you. Still, they turned out quite mesmerizing to some….

In our kitchen…

A little single-function gadget, which normally I would not be too wild about. But this one is a green bean slicer. We eat green beans with almonds quite often, and Phil loves the texture they get when prepped this way. We found it at ebay.  If you’d like to see it in action, here is an 11 second video featuring the resident George Clooney. Better than the original, obviously.

In our kitchen…

Could not resist bringing this home.. purple, one of my favorite colors, and the message? Perfect!  Well, the only way to make it better would be with “children” instead of “child.”  But I am not too picky…

And since the word dog just popped up…

I am forced to allow our pups to bark their piece… Without further ado,  let’s see what the Magnificent Trio has been up to in the past three months…

Bogey continues to feed his reputation of The Greatest Destroyer of Balls and Dog Toys

Although Oscar thinks his methods are better, and he does it with a lot more sex-appeal….

Whereas others? Others have class and dignity. Much needed in this world, if you ask me.

Bogey is always ready to play (photo taken at 6:05 am)…

and, truth be told, there is one toy he never managed to destroy, a back massager that was never born to be a dog toy, but I highly recommend it if you have a pup with excessive enthusiasm around…

The pups have been through many great moments… like the anticipation of Turkey Day

and its unavoidable consequences….

Exercising their fast reflexes…

Chilling out with Mom…

Being immortalized on a plate…
(we are still searching for one for Osky, so far no luck!)

But he doesn’t let that bring him down. He’s
The Bad Ass Who Shall Not Be Bothered

As it is often the case, into every life a little rain must fall… and for the pups, that also applies… we’ve had a few trips…


Yes, the kennel happened, more than once…

But they know we always come back to rescue them to their forever loving home….


That is all for now, folks… We hope you enjoyed this sort of long virtual tour through the Bewitching Kitchen…



ONE YEAR AGO: Happy New Year In My Kitchen!

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

THREE YEARS AGO: And another year starts…

FOUR YEARS AGO: In My Kitchen: January 2014

FIVE YEARS AGO: Tacos with Pork in Green Sauce

SIX YEARS AGO:  Maui New Year!

SEVEN YEARS AGO: Natural Beauty

EIGHT YEARS AGO: Sunflower Seed Rye









































It’s been three long months since I last invited you for a virtual tour of our kitchen, the event initiated by Celia and now hosted by Lizzy from Bizzy Lizzy Good Things. So, tighten your seat belts, because there are lots of goodies to talk about…

Starting with gifts…

I am not sure this qualifies as a gift, but I will go with it. I entered a drawing over at Lisa is Cooking a couple of months ago, and to my absolute delight, I won!  It is a gorgeous, oval-shaped All-Clad pan, perfect to sear and cook fish.  It is so beautiful, I smile every time I look at it…  Not only it works great for its intended purpose, but I’ve used it to sear halloumi cheese. O.M.G. Wait for a blog post on that one…

panThank you so much, Lisa!  Love the pan….

From our dear friend Ines…


A classic cookbook from the one and only Dorie Greenspan… A must-have for sure, I know I would be getting it at some point. Resistance would be futile. But now I don’t need to. HA!

From our friends Denise and Hélio, shipped all the way from England…

The best chocolate in the world! Valrhona, in different levels of cocoa, to match your mood… or your recipe!  Such a thoughtful gift… The only problem is preventing “someone” from devouring one bar or two when I’m not paying attention.

From C & C, the coolest couple in L.A.


A set of soapstone vodka drinking glasses. Phil loves Chopin vodka, and they also sent a huge bottle. The glasses are from a company I like a lot, Uncommon Goods. Check them out, they have very unique things.

From my sister Norma, back in Brazil….


A gourmet mustard, infused with a very special Brazilian fruit, called “jabuticaba.”  I love the fruit, and the mustard is superb!  It has a delicate touch of sweetness, and the taste is quite unique.


From my niece Raquel back in Brazil…


A beautifully crafted box for my teas!  The top mimics the pattern of the sidewalks in Rio de Janeiro, every Brazilian recognizes that pattern… Looks like waves…  And now my teas are in perfect order!

From my perfect match…

Two more coffee mugs from our favorite pottery artist, Mary Rose Young…  He keeps searching on ebay, and I keep welcoming them in our kitchen…

My Christmas gift to myself… just because….

This little teapot has a thermometer on the lid, and you can brew each type of tea (green, herbal, black) at the optimal temperature. It is very stylish, and works like a charm…. I am in love!



In our kitchen…


A few exotic ingredients I got over at the Oriental market we have in town. For the most part inspired by a couple of cookbooks I am in love with: The Saffron Tales and Taste of Persia. I got black chickpeas, culinary grade rose petals (swoon), pomegranate seeds powder (how could I resist?) and a couple of spices that are very important in Middle Eastern cuisine: angelica powder and advieh (Persian spice mix). Can hardly wait to play with them all…

In our kitchen…

‘ve heard a lot of good things about this store called “The Spice Lab.” But their stuff is very expensive. The other day I stopped at Tuesday Morning in town, and was surprised to find this big bottle of Himalayan salt for sale, very cheap. It has black pepper in it. Sprinkled on top of flank steak cooked medium-rare it is to die for.

In our kitchen…


These are some tasty crackers! Served with home-made hummus it is a garbanzo bean feast for your taste buds… Love it. I think they have several kinds, I’ve seen it plain and this one with black olives. Salty, quite addictive. If you have a chance to grab a bag, go for it.

In our kitchen…


A new (to me) grain that I bought after my friend Elaine raved about it. Still waiting to try my first recipe for it, I am sure it’s something I’ll love. You can use it as you would farro, for instance, in stews, as a risotto type prep, or even cold in salads. Stay tuned.

In our kitchen…


Holiday napkins… How could I resist these? Look at that doggie! Poise and elegance, just like our pups… Well, maybe not quite…

In our kitchen…


A red platter found at Marshalls. It was love at first sight. They had it with a reduced price tag, I paid 5 bucks for it, if you can believe it. It is so festive, perfect for the holiday season, but I will be of course using it all year-long.

In our kitchen…

Butterscotch extract. Yes, you read it correctly. This heaven in a bottle exists. One word for you, macarons. Are you smiling yet?

In our kitchen…


Four perfectly round low-carb Ricotta, Lemon & Lavender pancakes, a recipe I was very excited to try on a Saturday after a nice, albeit a bit chilly morning run. Oh, you only see an empty plate? What’s up with that, you may ask?

Full disclosure: Said pancakes were left unattended for 3 and a half minutes while I went upstairs to grab my phone to take a picture of them. I should add they were in the center of the island, a spot that we considered safe from canine paws. We were proven wrong. A certain dalmatian that attends by the name of Bogey Quit That managed to push the plate with his nose (at least that’s what we think), all the way to the edge of the countertop, to very efficiently wolf them down.  And then you wonder why my hair gets a bit more gray each month (sigh).

Finally, very recently in our kitchen…


Great friends reunited, even if only for a few hours…


Due to a lengthy series of canine-induced grievances, I seriously considered banning the four-legged creatures from showing up in this segment of In My Kitchen. But then…

oskypeter11Sir, you seem like such a nice man…
Could you please convince Mom to let us say hello to her readers? 

Reluctantly, then… I complied.


I have nothing to add. Still hurts me to remember.

Oscar cannot reach countertops and to be honest, he doesn’t care that much about food, which is pretty odd. But he causes grievances in other ways… like trying to dig his way to China from our backyard, forcing his humans to halt dinner preparation and deal with the muddy mess.



Now, THAT’S what I’m talking about!

Buck managed to hurt his front paw helping his brother in his path to China, so we put some booties on his paws to prevent him from licking the antibiotic ointment off. He was not thrilled.


His first attempts at walking with those booties were hilarious, poor thing, but he got used to them in a few minutes. Check it out here.

Giving Bogey a bath is a workout in itself, because to dry him, you gotta catch him first. Sounds a lot easier than it is… Glad I was not the one in charge!
bogeybathHe does look great once he is squeaky clean!

Oscar insists that he cleans up better than his brother.


But Buck is putting up a fight for the pole position…

I will let you be the judge of it, not taking sides!

Bogey has been bad lately. Really bad. From eating a bar of soap, to snatching my special pancakes, but the worst, the worst I shall tell you later. Never in a million years, we could imagine… well, I’ll stop here. You will have to wait for it.



Now, if you want to see three dogs on their very best behavior, all it takes is a sirloin steak, cooked medium rare, and Phil going at it with a knife.


That’s all, folks!  We all wish you a wonderful 2017!

We promise to be back with more cooking, more bread baking, more canine grievances, and throw in some cake baking to keep the adrenaline high…


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ONE YEAR AGO: In My Kitchen: Happy New Year!

TWO YEARS AGO: And another year starts…

THREE YEARS AGO: In My Kitchen: January 2014

FOUR YEARS AGO: Tacos with Pork in Green Sauce

FIVE YEARS AGO:  Maui New Year!

SIX YEARS AGO: Natural Beauty

SEVEN YEARS AGO: Sunflower Seed Rye


To begin, begin…
(William Wordsworth)

Many food bloggers will list their most popular posts for the year that just ended. Many will talk about resolutions for the New Year that starts, or blog about healthy recipes. Nothing wrong with that. I actually look forward to reading these types of posts, even if I don’t always follow the trend.

So, what’s my take on a new year that starts?  I am not too big on resolutions or setting a particular starting point to change behaviors and attitudes,  but it is almost impossible not to get into a self-analyzing mode when a new year is about to say hello. I think if I had to offer a motto to go by, it would be: strive to become the best person you can be, in all aspects of your life. Leave a space in better shape than it was when  you arrived. Maybe all it takes is a smile, a compliment to someone, or doing some extra task you are not required to do. Pursue a personal goal you’ve been neglecting for too long. Volunteer for a cause you believe to be important, such as gun control. There will be a ton of stuff to be sad, upset, frustrated about, and you won’t be able to do anything about 90% of it.

Truth is, we are all impotent to deal with the horrors, the incredible level of cruelty that human beings can do to each other in the name of things often defined as sacred. We also feel helpless to deal with tragedy or serious illnesses hitting people we care deeply about. Obviously as we get older, we witness more and more of it. A feeling of impotence and despair can hit pretty hard sometimes. But that little space surrounding your body and your mind, you can have an impact on. Make it a positive one.

Anyway, another year starts. Quoting Tony Horton:

“Do your best, and forget the rest.”

and of course, no more cookbooks for me in 2015!


future(image from Wikimedia Commons)

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