Baking Chez Moi: Recipes from My Paris Home to Your Home Anywhere

For the truly sinful, not to be missed are such classic cookbooks as Dorie Greenspan’s Baking Chez Moi: Recipes from My Paris Home to Your Home Anywhere (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt; $26.99 Amazon price), a huge, brilliantly illustrated cookbook of the most delicious looking desserts. Greenspan, selected by Julia Child to write the New York Times bestseller Baking with Julia, also authored the James Beard award winning Baking: From My Home to Yours and Around My French Table named the Cookbook of the Year by the International Association of Culinary Professionals. She spends part of each year at her home in Paris (it would be so easy to hate her for this wonderful sounding lifestyle if she wasn’t so friendly and nice) and also in New York City and Westbrook, Connecticut.

Though France is known for its fabulous pastry shops, in “Chez Moi” Greenspan shares recipes created by home chefs.

“In France you can get all the butter puff pastry you want in the grocery store and buy the most extravagant cakes at patisseries,” says Greenspan. “But it was really a revelation to me that the patisserie desserts are not the same desserts you get in French homes. These are charming, uncomplicated, satisfying, and delicious but they’re not fussy at all.”

Intrigued by what her friends baked at home, Greenspan, who has spent nearly two decades living in France, traveled across the country collecting their recipes—from Alsace she includes both a Christmas Cake and because of the area’s beautiful plump cherries, a cherry crumble tart, Tart Tropezienne comes from Saint-Tropez, Olive Oil and Wine cookies from Languedoc-Roussillon and the Soft Salted-Butter Caramels (be still my beating heart) is often found in Brittany.

It took Greenspan some five years to test all the recipes for this, her 11th cookbook, because it was important to her to bring these desserts to America. That involved testing and re-testing with both American and French flours and even traveling from her home in the U.S. carrying five pound bags of flour—one can only imagine the panic at the airport if the flour containers had busted open. Each recipe begins with a story of how she discovered it and where it comes from.

“The stories make the food more personal,” she says.

Surprising, there are several recipes calling for cream cheese including one titled The Rugelach That Won Over France. Before, says Greenspan, the French thought of cream cheese only to be used to make cheesecakes and spread on bagels.

That was before about a decade ago when cream cheese came to France “big time,” says Greenspan noting the French call it Philadelphia rather than cream cheese. And, of course, there’s Nutella which Greenspan describes as being the peanut butter of France.

She also includes a recipe for Crackle Cream Puffs (along with other cream puff recipes including one filled with mascarpone) noting that just as we have our cupcake shops, right now in Paris there are shops selling nothing but cream puffs and that they can be filled to order while you wait.

For those new to French dessert making, Greenspan recommends starting off with her Custardy Apple Squares and then Laurent’s Slow-Roasted Pineapple. As for me, I’m moving straight on to the Soft Salted-Butter Caramels and the macarons.

Brown Butter-Peach Torte

Makes 8 servings

For the filling

  • 2 pounds, ripe but firm peaches
  • 3 tablespoons (1½ ounces) unsalted butter
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
  • Tiny pinch of fine sea salt
  • ¼ teaspoon pure vanilla extract (or a drop of pure almond extract)
  • Juice of ¼ lemon (or to taste)

For the crust

  • 1 partially baked 9- to 9½-inch tart crust made with Sweet Tart Dough, cooled
  • 1 recipe Sweet Tart Dough (recipe below), rolled into a 12-inch circle and refrigerated
  • Sugar, for dusting (sanding sugar, if you’d prefer)

Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat.

To make the filling: Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Have a large bowl of ice cubes and cold water nearby.

Cut a small X in the base of each peach. Drop a few peaches at a time into the boiling water, leave them there for 30 seconds and then lift them out with a slotted spoon and drop them into the ice water. When they are cool enough to handle, slip off the skins. If you’ve got some hard-to-peel peaches, you can boil them for a few seconds more or just remove the remaining skin with a paring knife.

Dry the peaches, cut them in half, remove the pits and cut each peach into about a dozen chunks. If the peaches are small, cut fewer chunks; the torte is best when the pieces are about an inch on a side. Put the peaches in a bowl.

Put the butter in a small saucepan over medium heat and allow it to melt and then bubble. Stay close to the butter as it boils, and when it reaches a light caramel color, pull the pan from the heat. You may see some small dark brown spots on the bottom of the pan, and that’s fine; for sure you’ll catch the whiff of warm nuts. Wait a minute or two, then pour the butter over the peaches. Add the sugar, flour, salt and vanilla and gently stir everything together. Finish with the lemon juice, tasting as you go. I prefer the juice to be a background flavor, but you might want it to be more prominent, and, of course, the amount will depend on the sweetness of your fruit.

To assemble the torte: Put the tart pan on the lined baking sheet. Give the filling another stir and scrape it into the tart shell, smoothing the top. You should have just enough filling to come level with the edges of the crust.

Remove the circle of dough from the refrigerator and let it rest for a couple of minutes, just until it’s soft enough to maneuver without cracking. Brush the edges of the tart shell with water, then position the circle of dough over the crust. Press the rim of the torte with your fingers to glue the two pieces together and then, pressing on the rim as you go, cut the top circle even with the edges of the pan.

Use a knife, the wide end of a piping tip or a small cookie cutter to remove a circle of dough from the center of the torte—this is your steam vent. Brush the surface of the torte lightly with cold water and sprinkle it generously with sugar.

Bake the torte for 40 to 50 minutes, or until the crust is deeply golden brown and, most important, the butter is bubbling. If you think the crust is browning too quickly—the thick rim has a tendency to get dark—cover the torte lightly with a foil tent. Transfer the torte, still on its baking sheet, to a rack and allow it to cool until it’s only just warm or at room temperature before serving. As it cools, the buttery syrup will be reabsorbed by the peaches, which is just what you want—so don’t be impatient.

Serving: Whatever you serve with the torte—vanilla ice cream or frozen yogurt (I like the tang of yogurt with the sweet peaches), softly whipped cream or even more softly whipped crème fraîche—don’t let it cover the top of the torte – it’s too pretty to hide.

Storing: You can partially bake the bottom crust up to 8 hours ahead and you can have the top crust rolled out and ready to go ahead of time, but the filling shouldn’t be prepared ahead. The baked torte is really best served that day. If you’ve got leftovers, refrigerate them. The crust will lose its delicateness, but the torte will still be satisfying.

Sweet Tart Dough (Pâte Sablée)

  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup confectioner’s sugar (powdered sugar)
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1 stick plus 1 tablespoon (9 tablespoons) very cold (or frozen) unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
  • 1 large egg yolk

Put the flour, confectioners’ sugar and salt in a food processor and pulse a couple of times to combine.

Stir the yolk, just to break it up, and add it a little at a time, pulsing after each addition. When the egg is in, process in long pulses–about 10 seconds each–until the dough, whisk will look granular soon after the egg is added, forms clumps and curds.

Turn the dough out onto a work surface and very lightly and sparingly, knead the dough just to incorporate any dry ingredients that might have escaped mixing.

To press the dough into the pan: Butter a 9-inch fluted tart pan with a removable bottom. Press the dough evenly over the bottom and up the sides of the pan, using all but one little piece of dough, which you should save in the refrigerator to patch any cracks after the crust is baked.

Don’t be too heavy-handed–press the crust in so that the edges of the pieces cling to one another, but not so hard that the crust loses its crumbly texture. Freeze the crust for at least 30 minutes, preferably longer, before baking.

To partially or fully bake the crust: Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

Butter the shiny side of a piece of aluminum foil and fit the foil, buttered side down, tightly against the crust.

Put the tart pan on a baking sheet to bake the crust for 25 minutes. Carefully remove the foil. If the crust has puffed, press it down gently with the back of a spoon. For a partially baked crust, patch the crust if necessary, then transfer the crust to a coking rack (keep it in is pan).

To fully bake the crust: Bake for another 8 minutes or so, or until it is firm and golden brown. (Keep a close eye on the crust’s progress–it can go from golden to way too dark in a flash). Transfer the tart pan to a rack and cool the crust to room temperature before filling.

To patch a partially or fully baked crust, if necessary: If there are any cracks in the baked crust, patch them with some of the reserved raw dough as soon as you remove the foil. Slice off a thin piece of the dough, place it over the crack, moisten the edges and very gently smooth the edges into the baked crust. If the tart will not be baked again with its filling, bake for another 2 minutes or so, just to that the rawness off the patch.

Storing: Well wrapped, the dough can be kept in the refrigerator for up to 5 days or frozen up to 2 months. While the fully baked crust can be packed airtight and frozen for up to 2 months I (Dorie), prefer to freeze the unbaked crust in the pan and bake it directly from the freezer–it has the fresher flavor. Just add about 5 minutes to the baking time.

Excerpted from BAKING CHEZ MOI, (c) 2014 by Dorie Greenspan. Reproduced by permission of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.

The South’s Best Butts: Pitmaster Secrets for Southern Barbecue Perfection

Several years ago I talked to Matt Moore about his cookbook, The South’s Best Butts:
Pitmaster Secrets for Southern Barbecue Perfection
. Moore, who lives in Nashville, Tennessee, hit the
road, chronicling how barbecue differs in the 12 southern states he calls the Barbecue Belt.

Now luckily, in a time when going out to dinner means firing up the grill, Matt’s been busy
driving and flying (he owns a small airplane) again. Covering 10,000 miles in three months, he’s gathered
special recipes and tips from the eateries of Southern grillmasters and restaurants owned by such well-known chefs as Michael Solomonov, owner of Zahav in Philadelphia and Ashley Christensen’s Death &
Taxes in Raleigh
, North Carolina. He’s put all this together in his latest book, Serial Griller: Grillmaster
Secrets for Flame-Cooked Perfection.

Matt Moore, on his way to check out more barbecue places throughout the South.

“It’s an All-American guide to grilling,” Moore tells me. “I think we’re really fortunate to live in a
country where people come from someplace else and we can pull from all those different countries. I
wanted to make sure the recipes were diverse.”

Indeed the multi-ethnicity of grilling comes out with recipes like Athenian Chicken and Sweet
Potatoes Rescoldo, which he describes as melding Louisiana and South America flavors. Al rescoldo is a
popular South American technique where foods like potatoes are cooked in the dying brasas, or embers
of a fire.

Moore also wanted to make sure Serial Griller was instructive and easy to use, no matter what
type of grill or foods you use.

“We spend a lot of time talking about the different meats, vegetables, even fruit as well as
fuels,” he says. “We give instructions for using both gas and charcoal instructions for each of the

Moore had to use persuasion to get some to reveal their secret recipes.

“There’s a little more secrecy in barbecue, there ae recipes they don’t want to give out,” says

He also includes his own includes his own, like one for Grilled Watermelon.

“The concentrated sweetness and hint of smoke that juicy melon gets from a brief rest on a hot
grill adds surprising pizzazz to a refreshing dessert that is big on flavor and short on hassle,” he writes in
the recipe’s introduction. “Sweeten things up, in a healthy way, by adding a rich, creamy dollop of
vanilla Greek yogurt. The best desserts are all about sensory balance—here, hot meets cold, and creamy
and juicy counter crunchy and chewy.”

The following recipes excerpted from Serial Griller © 2020 by Matt Moore. Photography © by Andrea
Behrends and Helen Dujardin. Reprinted by permission of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. All rights reserved.

Sweet Potatoes Al Rescoldo
HANDS-ON:25 minutes
TOTAL:1 hour 35 minutes

4 sweet potatoes
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 cup packed light brown sugar
1 cup roughly chopped pecans
1 teaspoon Mexican cinnamon (canela)
½ teaspoon guajillo chile powder
Finely chopped fresh parsley

Prepare a fire of live red oak coals or two chimneys full of charcoal. If you do not have two chimneys,
work in batches to produce enough coals. After the coals have gone from glowing red-hot to gray, pour
the coals onto a grilling surface and use tongs to carefully submerge the sweet potatoes completely
beneath the coals.

Allow the potatoes to sit in the coals until completely cooked, about 1 hour. Remove the potatoes from
the coals and let cool to the touch. Brush clean and cut in half.

Meanwhile, melt the butter in a saucepan over medium-high heat on the stovetop or over direct heat
on the grill. Add the sugar, pecans, cinnamon, and chile powder and mix until thoroughly combined.
Generously spoon the butter on top of the cut potatoes. Place the potatoes, cut-side up, back on the
grill over direct heat (500°F), cover, and cook for 5 minutes to allow the potatoes to firm. (You can also
place the potatoes under a broiler for 2 to 3 minutes to set.)

Athenian Chicken
HANDS-ON: 50 minutes
TOTAL: 26 hours, including 24 hours marinating

1 (3- to 4-pound) whole chicken
1 tablespoon dried oregano
1½ teaspoons paprika
½ teaspoon ground cumin
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Honey-Lemon Sauce:

⅓ cup lemon juice
¼ cup yellow mustard
¼ cup honey
¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
1½ teaspoons dried oregano
1 teaspoon fresh cracked pepper
1 teaspoon kosher salt
Minced fresh parsley

For the chicken: Remove and discard the giblets from the chicken. Wash the chicken thoroughly and pat dry. In a small bowl, mix the oregano, paprika, cumin, salt, and pepper together. Using your hands, rub
the spice mixture all over the bird, including inside the cavity. Place the chicken in a shallow dish, cover, and marinate in the refrigerator for 24 hours or overnight.
Open the bottom vent of a charcoal grill completely. Light a charcoal chimney starter filled with charcoal. When the coals are covered with gray ash, pour them onto the bottom grate of the grill, and then push to one side of the grill. Adjust the vents as needed to maintain an internal temperature of 300° to 350°F. Coat the top grate with oil, place on the grill. (If using a gas grill, preheat to medium-high [300° to 350°F] on one side.)
Place the chicken, preferably on a rotisserie or rack, over indirect heat and cook, grill covered, for about 1 hour, until the internal temperature reaches 165°F. The chicken can be served whole, or you can remove the backbone and serve in halves or quarter it by removing the thighs from the breasts.
For the sauce: Mix together all the sauce ingredients in a small bowl. Generously drizzle the sauce over the cooked chicken and garnish with parsley.

The sauce can be made in advance and kept for up to 2 weeks in the fridge, covered. Bring to room temperature and shake vigorously prior to serving.

Grilled Watermelon

HANDS-ON: 10 minutes
TOTAL: 10 minutes

8 (1-inch-thick) seedless watermelon wedges with rinds
½ cup vanilla whole-milk Greek yogurt
¼ cup roasted salted pistachios, roughly chopped
2 teaspoons crystallized ginger, finely chopped
½ teaspoon grated orange zest (from 1 orange)
Freshly ground black pepper

Open the bottom and top vents of a charcoal grill completely. Light a charcoal chimney starter filled halfway with charcoal. When the coals are covered with gray ash, pour them onto the bottom grate of the grill. Adjust the vents as needed to maintain an internal temperature of 450° to 500°F. Coat the top grate with oil, place on the grill. (If using a gas grill, preheat to high [450° to 500°F].)

Place the watermelon wedges on the oiled grates; grill, uncovered, until grill marks appear, 1 to 2 minutes per side.

Place a grilled watermelon wedge on each of eight serving plates. Top the wedges evenly with the yogurt, pistachios, ginger, and orange zest. Garnish with pepper.

No Crumbs Left: Whole30 Endorsed, Recipes for Everyday Food Made Marvelous

              When Teri Turner’s mother returned home and saw her daughter running what she thought was a lemonade stand after telling her not to do so, the 3-year-old said she wasn’t selling lemonade, she was selling water.

“By nature, I am a salesperson, and the same excitement I had when I was three years old still fuels me. It is the exact same passion and drive I have now,” says Turner, who writes the super successful blog, No Crumbs Left, has hundreds of thousands following her daily Instagram stories and instructional videos filmed from her home kitchen in Chicago and just recently released her cookbook,

No Crumbs Left: Whole30 Endorsed, Recipes for Everyday Food Made Marvelous (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt 2019; $19.49 Amazon price).

Knowing I love her recipes, I told Teri that I wasn’t sure what the Whole30 concept was and asked her to explain it. What I learned is that Whole30 is a 30-day reset dedicated to eating real foods by avoiding eating certain food groups (like sugar, grains, dairy and legumes) that might have a negative impact on your health and fitness without you even realizing it.

“You eliminate certain foods for 30 days in order to develop some new habits,” said Turner who was on the road for her multi-city book tour. “Then you have a chance to slowly add foods back into your diet, which teaches you what works for you in your body.”

So, in other words, the recipes you find on her blog, Instagram account and in her cookbook are perfect for those who are resetting or have reset what works best for their bodies. For those just starting this approach, Turner recommends such dishes from her book as Spicy Pepperoncini Beef, Shrimp Pad Thai, Hurley’s Special Iowa Spice Rub Pork Roast, and Roy’s Chicken and Cheese Potato Stack. She also offers recipes for what she calls her Magic Elixirs such as Pistachio Pesto and Garlic Confit. The name comes from the concept that Magic Elixirs can transform a dish from ordinary to extraordinary.

“Frankly, I’m a gal who loves to eat and loves to cook, so it’s a winning combination for developing Magic Elixirs,” Turner said. “The book has some magnificent ones, including 999 Island Dressing, Golden Onion Sauce, Tahini Dressing, and Gomasio. I make new ones up all the time, but let’s not forget that homemade chicken stock, as well as the juices from your chicken and beef after they’re cooked, are the original Magic Elixirs.”

              Turner, who lives in Chicago, also spends about three-and-a-half months in Northern California each year.

              “I am one of those crazy people who stays in Chicago all winter—I love everything about Chicago,” she said. “The people are the heart of the city. I love their kindness. I love the energy of the city, and it has so much to offer.”

              Because she inspired so many people to get in the kitchen and cook, I asked who inspired her.

“I launched my love of cooking and entertaining in the 80s with Martha Stewart, and I love Ina Garten, but my partner Roy, who is a brilliant hack in the kitchen, is who inspires me daily,” she replied. “And interestingly enough, my mother hated to cook, but loved music, and I took a note from each of those and knew early on that if I was going to have to cook every day, I wanted to be as inspired about it as she was about music.”

              I had one last question for Turner, one that I’ve decided I’m going to ask every chef I talk to—noisy as it is. If I were to peek in your refrigerator (and of course I would), what would I find? 

“I always have Spindrift, a few of my Magic Elixirs, feta cheese, Icelandic Provisions Skyr, giardiniera, broccolini, and eggs—as well as some Heroine Chicken marinating in my refrigerator,” she said.

The following recipes are courtesy of No Crumbs Left: Whole30 Endorsed, Recipes for Everyday Food Made Marvelous © 2019 by Teri Turner.

Greek Lemon Chicken is excerpted from Photography © 2019 by Tim Turner. Reproduced by permission of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. All rights reserved.

Greek Lemon Chicken

The Athenian Room in Chicago makes the most fabulous chicken, served with thick Greek fries. Their dish got me wondering if I could create something like it and inspired me to develop my own. My smoke detector goes off nearly every time I make this, and we all run around turning on the fans and opening the windows, but it’s absolutely worth it, and even kind of fun. Nothing can replace their original version, which you should absolutely seek out if you’re in Chicago, but this healthful version is soul-satisfying.



½ cup fresh lemon juice
½ cup extra-virgin olive oil
2½ tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 garlic clove, pressed
1 teaspoon dried oregano
¾ teaspoon kosher salt
½ teaspoon Dijon mustard (check label for compliance if you’re doing Whole30)

¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper


1 (4-pound) whole chicken, cut in half
1 teaspoon kosher salt

½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1½ teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil

4 Yukon Gold potatoes, sliced into ¼-inch-thick rounds

1 lemon, sliced into ¼-inch-thick rounds

Chopped fresh parsley, for garnish

Adjust the oven rack to 6 inches below the broiler. Preheat the oven to broil. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.

FOR THE SAUCE: In a large bowl, add the lemon juice and using a whisk, slowly add the olive oil. Then add the vinegar, garlic, oregano, salt, mustard, and black pepper, stirring well. Set aside.

FOR THE CHICKEN: Thoroughly season each chicken half with the salt and black pepper, then generously rub every crevice with the olive oil. Put the chicken skin-side down on the lined baking sheet and put the pan on the adjusted rack in the oven. Broil for 15 minutes, until beginning to turn golden.

Remove the baking sheet from the oven and flip the chicken over to the other side. Return to the oven and broil for 20 minutes more, or until cooked through, golden brown, and bubbling. Remove the pan from the oven and set the chicken aside. Once cool enough to handle, cut each half into 3 pieces: legs, thighs, and breasts with wings attached. Arrange the sliced potatoes and lemons on the baking sheet. Return to the oven and cook for 10 to 12 minutes, or until the potatoes and lemons begin to brown. Remove the baking sheet from the oven, put the chicken on top of the potatoes and lemons, and pour ½ cup of the Lemon and Garlic Sauce evenly over the top.

Return to the oven and broil until the chicken is further browned and crispy, about 5 minutes. Remove the chicken from the pan and drain off any excess liquid from the pan (so that the potatoes can cook to a crisp). Return the potatoes to the oven and broil until crisped and cooked through, 10 to 15 minutes more. Serve the potatoes and lemons with the chicken and the remaining Lemon and Garlic Sauce, either poured over the top or as a dipping sauce.

Skillet-Seared Sirloin

There is nothing more delightful than fresh asparagus in the spring. As a gal who likes to eat seasonally, I enjoy it with a fervor, from the beginning of the season to the end. Here I’ve chosen sirloin, which is an amazing, underappreciated cut of beef. It’s lean, flavorful, beefy, and a good value. The mix of crisp spring vegetables in a sauce made from a combination of steak and mushroom jus and coconut aminos is delectable. A truly wonderful Magic Elixir!


1 pound asparagus

1 pound sirloin steak

2 teaspoons kosher salt

½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

5 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil

1 pound brown mushrooms, trimmed and quartered lengthwise

2 teaspoons coconut aminos (a soy-free seasoning alternative for use like soy sauce in salad dressings, marinades and sautés which is available at grocery stores and also online)

Preheat the oven to 400°F.

Cut off the woody stems of the asparagus. Peel the rough ends and, with your knife at a 45-degree angle to the cutting board, cut each stalk into thirds. Set aside.

Thoroughly season the steak with 1 teaspoon of the salt and the pepper.

Heat a large oven-safe skillet (I use heavy-duty cast iron) over high heat. Add 2 tablespoons of the olive oil, being sure to coat the bottom of the pan. Reduce the heat to medium-high and add the steak to the skillet. Cook until well browned on the first side, about 3 minutes. Flip and brown the other side for 1 minute.

Transfer the skillet to the oven and cook the steak until medium-rare, about 4 minutes (or 3 to 4 minutes longer, if you prefer medium). Remove the skillet from the oven and transfer the steak to a wooden board, reserving the juice from the skillet. Partially tent the steak with aluminum foil and let rest for 15 minutes.

Return the skillet to medium-high heat. Add half the mushrooms, season with ⅛ teaspoon of the salt, and add 1 tablespoon of the olive oil, if needed. Cook, stirring, for 2 minutes, then cover and cook until they have released liquid and look shiny, about 2 minutes more. Transfer the mushrooms, along with all the juices from the skillet, to a bowl and set aside. Add 1 tablespoon of the olive oil, the remaining mushrooms, and ⅛ teaspoon of the salt to the pan and cook the same way as the first batch.

In the same skillet, heat 1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons of the olive oil over medium heat. Add the asparagus and ½ teaspoon of the salt and cook for 4 minutes, stirring once halfway through. Stir again, cover, and cook for 2 minutes more. Stir again and cook, uncovered, until the asparagus is soft and cooked through, about 4 minutes more.

Turn off the heat and add the steak jus, mushrooms and all their juices, and the coconut aminos to the skillet with the asparagus. Stir to combine well.

Cut the steak into ¼ -inch-thick slices and serve on top of the mushrooms and asparagus, with creamy leek slaw alongside, if desired.

TERI’S TIPS: This is also delicious served with cauliflower rice.

Jane Ammeson can be contacted via email at or by writing to Focus, The Herald Palladium, P.O. Box 128, St. Joseph, MI 49085.

Tiffani Thiessen Pull Up a Chair


Honey-Ginger Chicken Wings (c) Rebecca Sanabria
Photography © 2018 by Rebecca Sanabria. Reproduced by permission of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. All rights reserved.

Only six or so when she started helping out in the kitchen, Tiffani Thiessen grew up in a family where dinners were a gathering time to enjoy great cooking and conversations. She upped her game from traditional American fare when she and other stars from “Saved by the Bell” toured in Europe.

“It definitely impacted me,” says Thiessen who played Kelly Kapowski on the hit TV show and was 16 at the time. “I learned all about wine, cheese and all types of different foods when we traveled in France, Italy and Holland.”

This love of food and conviviality was so intense that though Thiessen continued with her acting career (she was Valerie Malone on “Beverly Hills 90210” and currently stars in “Alexa & Katie”) she also segued into cooking,  hosting the long running “Dinner at Tiffani’s” on the Cooking Channel. As if that wasn’t enough to keep any mom of two young children busy enough, Thiessen has spent the last three years writing Pull Up a Chair: Recipes from My Family to Yours (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt $30), which will be released on October 2.

Describing cooking as therapeutic as well as artistic and creative, Thiessen’s recipes include new dishes, those she collected through the years and family favorites, some that she tweaked including her mom’s beef stroganoff which the family ate once a week when she was young.

“I wasn’t a big fan,” says Thiessen, adding that her mom’s stroganoff was very traditional and included stirring sour cream in at the end so that it took on the appearance of dog food—her words not ours, Mrs. Thiessen. Tiffani’s tweaked it into a beef and mushroom Stroganoff with creamy polenta, spinach and a touch of brandy. The sour cream is served on the side.

Did that hurt you mom’s feelings? I ask.

“No, I have one of the most supportive families,” she says.

Tiffani & Mom Making Mom's Cream Cheese Pie (c) Rebecca Sanabria
Tiffani and her mother making cheesecake Photography © 2018 by Rebecca Sanabria. Reproduced by permission of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. All rights reserved.

There’s also a cowboy twang to some of her dishes such as the short rib beef enchiladas and three cheese queso, since husband Brady Smith is a meat-loving Texas boy. Her son Holt gobbles up her mac and cheese and Thiessen says Harper her eight-year-old daughter loves to decorate pizzas.

“I don’t think of myself as anything but a home cook and my recipes are easy but everything I cook is with love and passion and that’s what Pull Up a Chair is all about,” says Thiessen, who, during our phone interview, calls me sweetheart and dear.

That friendliness as well as the sumptuousness of her cookbook—125 recipes and lots of full page color photos of both luscious-looking food and family (and yes, her husband is handsome and her children adorable), makes me long to get an invitation to dine at her house.

Pickle & Potato Salad (c) Rebecca Sanabria
Photography © 2018 by Rebecca Sanabria. Reproduced by permission of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. All rights reserved.

Since that won’t be happening, I did a little pre-interview stalking watching videos of Thiessen cooking in her kitchen and then displaying part of her cookbook collection.

“I love cookbooks, I love the look, the aesthetics of them” she says when I mention my sleuthing. “Most people I’m close to would say I have a problem.  I don’t use some of them that much, as my husband points out, but there’s just something I like about having them around.”

I can identify with that having heard similar comments from both my husband and daughter. Another reason to get that dinner invitation. But until then, I have the cookbook and can create the recipes in my own home.

Pickle & Potato Salad

Serves 6

1½ pounds tricolored small potatoes

1½ teaspoons kosher salt, plus more for the potatoes

½ cup mayonnaise

¼ cup chopped sweet pickles

3 tablespoons pickle juice (from the jar)

1 tablespoon yellow mustard

¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more to taste

5 hard-boiled eggs, peeled and chopped

½ medium red onion, thinly sliced

2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley, for garnish

Paprika, for garnish

Place the potatoes in a large pot and add enough cold water to cover them by 1 inch and a generous pinch of salt. Bring the water to a boil over medium-high heat and cook until the potatoes are fork-tender, 20 to 25 minutes. Drain the potatoes and let them rest until they’re cool enough to handle. Cut each one in half.

In a small bowl, mix together the mayonnaise, sweet pickles, pickle juice, mustard, salt, and pepper.

In a separate large bowl, combine the halved potatoes, eggs, and red onion and toss with the dressing. Taste, adjust the seasoning, and garnish with the parsley and paprika.

Honey-Ginger Chicken Wings

Serves 6 to 8

½ cup honey (preferably wildflower or mesquite)

¼ cup tamari or soy sauce

3 tablespoons toasted sesame oil

2 tablespoons grated fresh ginger

2 scallions, thinly sliced, plus more for garnish

3 garlic cloves, minced

Grated zest and juice of 1 lime, plus more zest for garnish

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

16 chicken wings (about 4 pounds), tips removed, drumettes and flats separated

In a medium bowl, whisk together the honey, tamari, sesame oil, ginger, scallions, garlic, lime zest, lime juice, ¼ teaspoon salt, and ¼ teaspoon pepper. Reserve ¾ cup of the mixture in the fridge.

Pour the remaining marinade into a 2-gallon zip-top bag. Add the chicken and seal the bag, pressing out as much air as possible. Massage the marinade into the wings. Refrigerate for at least 6 hours, preferably overnight. Before cooking, let the wings stand at room temperature for about 2 hours

When ready to cook the wings, preheat the oven to 400°F. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.

Remove the wings from the marinade, reserving the marinade. Season the wings with salt and pepper and place them skin-side down in a single layer on a large rimmed baking sheet. Spoon some of the marinade over them; discard the remaining marinade. Bake for 20 minutes. Remove from the oven and flip the wings, basting with the pan drippings. Rotate the pan and bake for another 20 to 25 minutes, until the honey has caramelized and the skin is a dark amber color.

In a small saucepan, bring the reserved ¾ cup marinade (from the fridge) to a boil over medium-high heat. Cook until the liquid turns into a thick, syrupy glaze, about 4 minutes.

Coat the wings with the glaze, arrange them on a serving platter, and garnish with scallions and lime zest.

These recipes are excerpted from Pull Up a Chair © 2018 by Tiffani Thiessen. Photography © 2018 by Rebecca Sanabria. Reproduced by permission of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. All rights reserved.


What: Tiffani Thiessen will be at two Chicago locations signing copies of her debut cookbook, Pull Up a Chair.

When: Thursday, October 4 at 8 pm (EST)

Where: Anderson’s Bookshop, 123 W. Jefferson Ave., Naperville, IL

Cost: $33 includes copy of the book, a place in the signing line, a chance to meet Thiessen and have you photo taken.

FYI: 630) 355-2665;

When: Friday, October 5th at 7 pm (EST)

Where: Williams-Sonoma, Lincoln Park

1550 N. Fremont St., Chicago, IL

Cost: $31.89 includes copy of book

FYI: (312) 255-0643;

You can follow Thiessen at

Excerpted from Pull Up a Chair © 2018 by Tiffani Thiessen. Photography © 2018 by Rebecca Sanabria. Reproduced by permission of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. All rights reserved.

Justin Chapple Interactive Cooking Demonstration at KitchenAide Sr. PGA

“I’ve always been a people person,” Justin Chapple tells me almost immediately after he calls for the scheduled interview.

Within minutes, I totally believe him. It’s like we’ve been best friends forever.

“I love to hear from people,” he says, adding that he almost always answers people who contact him via his many social media outlets such as Facebook and Instagram. “I tell people if they pre-order my new book through my website,, I’ll send them a note and an autographed bookplate. I spend most mornings writing notes.”

Yes, he does. Even though Chapple has the high prestige job of Culinary Director at Food & Wine magazine, was nominated for a James Beard Award for “Mad Genius,” the weekly morning show he hosts, does the magazine’s video series “Mad Genius Tips” and is the author of two cookbooks, Mad Genius Tips (Broadmoor House 2016) and the soon to be released Just Cook It! 145 Built-To-Be-Easy Recipes That Are Totally Delicious (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2018; $30), he’s all about you.

“It means a lot to me to have people’s support,” says Chapple, who regularly appears on NBC’s “Today.” “And if they have a question about one of my recipes or cooking, I always try to answer it.”

He’s also all about recipes, cooking tips and making it simple. As part of his job as culinary director, he not only has developed and tested thousands of recipes but also converts esoteric recipes from famous chefs—the kind most of us would look at and shake our heads in despair—and makes them accessible for our own kitchens. Watch a few episodes from his “Mad Genius LIVE and “Mad Genius Tips” shows and you’re first thought is, I can use that followed by where does he get all those ideas.

“Sometimes they pop up in my head and I’ll say ‘omigoodness’,” says Chapple who really doesn’t sound like someone who trained at the prestigious French Culinary Institute. “Other times it’s what people ask of me—they want to know how to do something like peel a mango and I’m happy they asked and come up with ideas.”

Though his classical French cooking background is important, he says he learned much of his kitchen know-how from his grandmother.

“She had to make do with whatever she had and she always made the food taste wonderful,” he says.

Describing Just Cook It as low-concept, he says it’s about everyday simple easy recipes. For example, when you have a hankering for lasagna but there’s not enough time to pull it all together, he suggests Ravioli Lasagna with Arugula. It’s good, fast approximation for busy weeknights. Just buy some cheese ravioli, parboil it, drain, place in a casserole and then add fresh mozzarella. Open a jar of good marinara sauce, sauté it with ground beef or fresh veggies or just add it plain to the ravioli. There you have it.

Like gnocchi or other types of dumplings but don’t want to mess with rolling each one out and shaping them by hand?  Never fear, there’s a secret to that as well. Using a food processor, he mixes the ingredients for his Ricotta Gnudi (gnocchi are dumplings made with potatoes and gnudi are made with ricotta cheese), but the next step is much more unusual. Taking an ice cream scoop, he spoons small balls of the dough directly from the food processor and dumps them into hot water.

“Simmer them until they pillowy and just firm,” he says. “I then sauté them until they’re browned and coated with the butter mixture.”

He sprinkles the cook gnuda with pistachio-almond dukka, an Arabic dish (you often also see a bowl of it at Indian restaurants near where you pay your bill). It’s a mixture of spices, seeds and nuts including cumin, coriander, sesame and caraway seeds, pistachios and almonds and cayenne and black peppers.

Dukka is another example of the recipes in his new cookbook. There are a plethora of global offerings such as Thai Skillet Corn, Shumai Stew with Shiitake & Mustard Greens, Rice & Pork Congee with Chiles, Crispy Garlic & Ginger, several types of curry and Catalan-Style Mussels with Green Olives & Fried Almonds. In other words, you can create international meals effortlessly and without fuss.

As for the cooking demonstration at the KitchenAid Fairway Club during the KitchenAid Senior PGA Championship, Chapple says he’s very excited as he’s heard southwest Michigan is beautiful.

“I’m going to demonstrate a few different very simple and fun recipes including a golden tomato gazpacho,” he says.

Though his background in French cooking would seem to call for rich creams and butter, Chapple says he ‘d rather add flavors with such ingredients as good quality olive oil that creates a “silky taste.”

“Another one of the secrets I like to share is using smoked almonds,” he says. “They’re so delicious and so easy and they impart a lot of flavor.”

Chapple talks about his “secrets” and I ask, jokingly, how they can be secrets since he tells them to everyone.

“That’s the fun of secrets,” he says. “Telling them to people.”


What: Interactive Cooking Demonstration with Justin Chapple

When: Noon CST/ 1 p.m. EST on Saturday, May 26

Where: KitchenAid Fairway Club near the main entrance, Harbor Shores, Benton Harbor, Michigan

FYI: For more information about the KitchenAid Senior PGA Championship, or to buy tickets, visit or call 269-487-3200.


Follow Justin on Twitter and Instagram at: @justinchapple and Facebook at