Category Archives: recipes

Flourless Chocolate Cake from the Good Ole’ Days

We have a killer flourless chocolate cake recipe we served at the restaurant. It was this recipe, from the Frog Commissary Cookbook. I’ve been making it since the eighties, and it always impresses.

These are my tips: Make sure to line and grease the pan with tinfoil. The cake is super dense and sticky, and this is an essential if not irritating step.

Allow two days to make it, not because it’s hard, but because it needs time to set up properly. Allow it to cool before peeling away the tinfoil.

When it comes out of the oven it should be cracked and puffy. Level the top by pushing it down with a spatula before it cools completely. This way you can flip it for service and have a nice top by using the bottom as the top, and you don’t have to cut anything away by making it even.

For frosting we did one of two things. Either strain some heated raspberry jam and drizzle that on, or make a nice ganache  and poor it on warm to coat the cake.


Or you can always use a doily and do a powdered sugar scrim.


Last and most important, be sure to use a high quality chocolate and good strong coffee.

Good Pesach!

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Birthday Week ends with a BANG and a Recipe

My Saturday started of at the Santa Monica’s Farmer’s Market on Pico and 22nd.  I was promoting “Into the Beautiful North” for the Santa Monica Public Library.  I did a classic Tacos de Patatas with a curtido – which turned into the word of the day as I explained it as a pickled cabbage El Salvadorian style. It’s based on one of the slaw recipes in my book, and I jazzed it up with seasonal flavors or orange and fennel and it was SO GREAT!! (recipes below)


I ended it with tequila shots with all my favorite people at the shoppe for my 55th birthday celebration. bd 55

I think my Johnny had some food in his mouth, because I’m sure he meant to smile. Any birthday party that ends with whooppee pies and cherry crunch is an excellent party! cake

Now back to business!!  I’m exhausted from a week of celebrating me!

 Tacos de papas con crema & fennel curtido


1 tablespoon olive oil plus some more!
1 jalapeño, seeded and chopped

½ a bell pepper, chopped
3 cloves minced garlic

1 teaspoon ground cumin

½ teaspoon dried oregano
1  pound red potatoes, cut into small cubes
2 teaspoons kosher salt or to taste
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more to taste
1 tomato, chopped

1 tbsp. finely chopped cilantro
12 corn tortillas
½ cup oil


1. Heat pan, add oil then the peppers and garlic with the cumin and oregano. Stir to coat and add the potatoes. Keep cooking on high heat until potatoes are cooked through and golden brown. Add the tomato and the cilantro, the salt and pepper and taste.

2. Heat oil in a clean 12″ skillet over medium-high heat. Spread 1 heaping tablespoon of potato mixture over half of each tortilla, and fold over to form a taco. Working in batches, add tacos to oil and fry, turning once, until golden brown and crisp, about 3 minutes.

3. Top with fennel curtido and vegan crema.

    Fennel Curtido

1 garlic clove, minced

1/4  teaspoon sea salt

2 tablespoons cider vinegar

1 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

1/4 teaspoon ground coriander

1/2 teaspoon sugar

½ teaspoon oregano

zest and juice of 1 orange

1 large fennel bulb, core removed and shaved on a mandoline

2 cups shaved red cabbage

1 grated carrot

1 tablespoon chopped fennel fronds

1/2 cup shaved red onion

3 tablespoons minced Cilantro (about 1 bunch)

1 tablespoon capers – minced

In a medium bowl, whisk together garlic, salt, vinegar, olive oil, pepper, coriander, sugar, oregano, mustard, orange zest, and juice. Fold in shaved fennel, cabbage, carrot, fennel fronds, red onion, capers and cilantro. Toss well to distribute the dressing and serve. Preparing this a day in advance helps mellow the fennel.

Vegan Cilantro Crema

This is a great substitute for sour cream and tasty too! 

Makes 1 1/3 cups

8 ounces vegan cream cheese

1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice

1/4 cup rice milk

1/2 bunch cilantro, minced

Soften Cream cheeze and whisk all together – consider not flavoring all of it with cilantro, and divide the batch.

Mandarin and Kumquat Celebration Salad Recipe

We gathered around the table earlier this week to celebrate MIchelle’s birthday. Shelley made a delicious and amazing salad I’ve been thinking about ever since. (see below for recipe) We gals love a good birthday dinner potluck don’t we?  There have been quite a few over the past several decades, starting in the 1960′s.sc013a94d702

We moved into the eighties and favored tea parties and tiaras for a long while. sc10cfadd3

The nineties were fun too.  Girl power was strong.


On this particular occasion, The guys came along and we were so many folks we switched up the furniture and put the dining table in the living room and the kids on the front porch.


Sometimes we go out for margaritas and chips instead.  Whatever party we pick, we don’t forget to celebrate our friends with good food and fun. It’s how the best memories are made.

Citrus Celebration Salad 


thinly sliced kumquats – about 6, no seeds please

4 seedless tangerines, peeled and separated into individual sections

4 chunks of candies ginger, diced small

2 tablespoons of dried cranberries, chopped

2 tablespoons sliced or slivered almonds, toasted or raw – chef’s preference

1 -2 tablespoons of diced red onion

Dressing:  combine 2 tablespoons olive oil  with 1 teaspoon of lemon juice, season with salt and pepper

Method – combine everything and toss.

Christine made the spinach salad  from the Jerusalem Cookbook, and  I made minced vegetables with seitan in lettuce leaves. We finished up with Shelley’s hand made dark chocolate bark instead of cake. My my my, how we’ve changed.  I’m proud of our cleaner eating habits in pursuit of a healthy future. WTG girlfriends and happy birthday Michelle!  It’s going to be a beautiful year!

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Fire Cider Controversy

This company wants to trademark the name “fire cider” and this is a link to their response regarding trademarking and here’s a recipe to make your own.

I love fermented potions and it’s difficult to get my mind around someone trademarking a folk remedy, or a way of life (the urban homestead controversy comes to mind).

Can’t we all just get along and pickle together? IMG_2068

Or enjoy pictures of parade dogs in dresses? (with pointy tails)IMG_2703

And one more thing, I’d like to know who’s coming to the kraut making canning collective on the 23rd of February?

I think we should make fire cider too!

Buy the book at Indie Bound, read reviews on Amazon.

So many recipes.

Have a mentioned I wrote a cookbook, it’s in stores now, it’s fabulous and you need it?! Well, just in case you haven’t purchased your own copy yet, here is a  compilation of  a hella bunch of recipes free on the interwebs.  Getting press is really fun, selling books – funner.

Interested in a little cake pie?  KCRW Good Food blog shared  that classic Pennsylvania Dutch breakfast pie, Funny Cake.funnycake

 From the Oregonian, these  cauliflower fritters are delish, vegan and easily made gluten free,  sub ground crisped rice cereal for the breadcrumbs. 

Lest we forget, my darling chou chou…  got pickled cabbage? Thank you Edible!

Asian Miso Slaw

I have  a TON of recipes on my blogs, and this is a simple satisfying sugar rush of luscious. Peanut Butter Blondies  for the win, and they’re va va va vegan!

pbbars twinke

 There’s always room for lentil soup, Thank you Sienna (I love when the kids grow up and  get jobs and remember me… in the kitchen)


And  there are more, more MORE! Stay tuned…

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Pickle my Cranberries – Reminiscing & a Recipe

Tis the season to PARTY LIKE A ROCKSTAR!!  I always get a little giddy this time of year –  It’s like Christmas for caterers! And the family thing… always makes me shine a little brighter. I’m grateful that eating well has been a long standing, nourishing tradition. That’s my G – pa, back row, second from the right. ancestors

I love it when all the moms are in the kitchen. aunties

Especially Chef Ma (making baked beans).

mom cooking

So have fun this holiday season with all your cousins.


Or your pretend cousins.

preten∂ cousins

Here’s a little something different than the usual recipe to try with your cranberries this year.

Pickled Cranberries  - prep time 30 minutes

 4 cups cranberries

1  cups apple cider vinegar

1  cups granulated white sugar

2 cinnamon sticks – about 3 inches long

3 ginger coins – about 1/4 inch thick

1/2 teaspoon grated nutmeg

1/2 teaspoon ground clove

1/2 teaspoon coarsely cracked black peppercorns

Wash cranberries and pick over for any stems or bad berries.
Combine vinegar and sugar in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil with cinnamon sticks, ginger coins, nutmeg, clove and peppercorns.
Once brine is boiling vigorously, add the cranberries. Stir to combine and cook for 5-7 minutes, until the cranberries begin to pop and the brine has returned to a rolling boil.  This is a quick process, overcook and it quickly becomes a relish. Remove pot from heat. Allow to cool and pick out the cinnamon stick and ginger coins.  The pickled cranberries can be preserved in a water bath or kept in the refrigerator in a clean jar indefinitely. The juice is great in salad dressings.

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The first review of “Who Wants Seconds?”

And it’s wonderful! Thank you Publisher’s Weekly, I’m blushing.

Here it is, and a recipe to celebrate!

Publisher’s Weekly Review:

“This engaging and colorful book covers a lot of food and fun. The author is a long-time caterer in California and an advocate of healthy dining and fills her volume with recipes that are unfailingly delicious. She is also an artist, which is clear from the book’s spectacular presentation—each page tinted with a mix of amazing fonts, headings, notes, and photos. Jennie Cook is also a family woman, regaling the reader with anecdotes including the culinary exploits of her “Chef Ma” and tales of a family vacation discovering delicacies in Spain. Among the innovative yet approachable recipes are burgundy beef stew, lacquered chicken, and a reputedly never-fail fruit crumble that can be made in several ways. There’s a simple recipe for pickled cranberries and a “Boozy Blackberry Balsamic Reduction” that adds “pow” to everything it touches. Every dish has a story; Cook welcomes reader into her kitchen with recipes dedicated to excellent cuisine. (Oct.)”

 Recipe of the day – Waldorf Salad!

Get out there and get the last of the Arkansas Black apples, my favorites of all time.


A Waldorf is kind of like cole slaw for apples. It’s an old fashioned recipe that really needs to make a comeback. I eat this for dinner on a bed of greens, topped with a drizzle of balsamic. Delish.

Waldorf Salad

Prep time: 10 minutes
Makes 1 quart, or about 6 servings
6 apples, unpeeled, chopped in 1/2-inch pieces
2 celery stalks, sliced thin
1/2 cup toasted walnuts
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1 cup nonfat plain Greek yogurt
2 tablespoons sugar, honey, or agave
Mix everything together, chill, and enjoy!

Kitchn Advice!

Here’s a little sneak on the cookbook, with a delicious Vegan Meal Plan for the Kitchn.

And a couple of Margaritas  for you too ~ Watermelon and Pineapple…



Get out there and enjoy the last weekend of the summer.

Happy Labor Day.

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Heavenly Vegan Peanut Butter Blondies with Ganache Topper

I love blondies and I love peanut butter and I love chocolate. There’s a whole lotta love in this recipe. Your heart will open wider with your first bite of these delectable divinities.pbbars twinke
Prep time: 30 minutes
Cooking time: 40 minutes
Makes 12 large or 24 small blondies


1 1/2 cups peanut butter (crunchy or smooth)
2/3 cup neutral-tasting oil
1 1/2 tablespoons vanilla extract
2 cups brown sugar
1 teaspoon ground ginger
2 cups flour
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 cup milk (soy, rice, or almond)
2/3 cup whole unsalted peanuts
1 14-ounce can coconut milk
1 coconut-milk can’s worth (about 1 1/2 cups) of semi-sweet chocolate chips
Preheat oven to 325°.
In the bowl of an electric mixer, add peanut butter, oil, vanilla, brown sugar, and ginger. Mix at a low speed until blended. Add flour, salt, baking powder, milk, and peanuts and mix at a low speed until well blended. Spread mixture into an ungreased 9” x 13” baking dish. Bake for 20 minutes. Rotate the pan and bake until the blondies start pulling away from the sides of the pan, about 20 more minutes.
While blondies cool, make the ganache. In a small saucepan, heat coconut milk over medium-low heat until warm. Fill the coconut milk can with chocolate chips and add them to the saucepan. Give it a stir, turn off the heat, and let sit on the burner with the heat off until the chips are melted and the mixture can be stirred like an icing. Spread ganache on top of the lightly cooled blondies.
Refrigerate for 2 hours or overnight before cutting and serving.
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Vegan Sweet Potato Lasagna

Sweet potatoes are on my short list of amazing greatness in the food category. My favorite kind of sweet potato is the Japanese variety. It has a yellow flesh, a dry texture, and the flavor of Italian chestnuts. Japanese sweets are delicious in this recipe, but any sweet potato will do. The combination of sweet potatoes, marinara, and noodles is ridiculously satisfying, and shockingly surprising to omnivores in this vegan sensation of an entree. This recipe could possibly change your life and the lives of those around you.

Think ahead and if you can, roast the sweets while cooking other things in the oven to get the maximum usage of your BTUs and save time when putting the lasagna together.


Prep time: 20 to 30 minutes
Cooking time: 1 hours, 10 minutes, plus roasting sweet potatoes

Serves 8 to 10

5 tablespoons olive oil, divided

1 small onion, diced

4 garlic cloves, minced
8 ounces mushrooms (any kind), finely diced
1 large red bell pepper, seeded and diced
2 carrots, peeled and diced
3 ribs celery, diced
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme or 2 sprigs fresh
2 bay leaves
24-ounce jar marinara sauce
2 teaspoons sugar
1 teaspoon light-colored vinegar
1 cup water
3 roasted sweet potatoes, peeled and cooled 
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
16-ounce package lasagna noodles (traditional or no-boil)
roma tomatoes, thinly sliced
3 tablespoons toasted breadcrumbs or Nu Cheeze 
Preheat oven to 350°. In a large skillet on medium-high heat, add 3 tablespoons olive oil and sauté onion, garlic, mushrooms, red pepper, carrot, celery, thyme, and bay leaves until the vegetables are soft and lightly browned, about 8 minutes. Add marinara, sugar, vinegar, and water and stir to combine. Move to the back burner and simmer over low heat. While it simmers, lightly mash sweet potatoes in a large bowl. Season with salt and pepper, but don’t use more than called for.

After about 15 minutes, remove sauce from heat. Assemble lasagna by scantily covering the bottom of a 9″ x 13″ pan with 1/2 cup sauce. Next, lay out a row of noodles edge to edge in a single layer. Evenly drop about half of the mashed sweet potatoes in large spoonfuls over the noodles; do not spread. Drop 1 cup sauce in spoonfuls, add a second layer of noodles, and press down gently until sauce oozes through the noodle layer. Add remaining sweet potatoes, then 1 1/2 cups sauce and a third layer of noodles. Spread remaining 1 cup sauce over the top. Cover lasagna with thinly sliced tomatoes. Sprinkle breadcrumbs or Nu Cheeze on top and drizzle with 2 tablespoons olive oil.

Cover with foil and bake for 60 minutes, removing foil at 40 minutes to brown the top. The lasagna is done when a knife inserted in the very middle slides in and out easily, ensuring cooked noodles. Let cool 10 to 15 minutes before slicing.

Enjoy and think about what your life was like before sweet potato lasagna.

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