Saturday, September 28, 2013

Sweets For My Sweets

OMG I had no idea this was a vegan recipe. My friend Rachel used hazelnuts instead of cashews, thus insuring a taste of Nutella goodness. She also didn't have any soy margarine so skipped that ingredient. I will most likely use butter. She used Ghiradelli chocolate, semi sweet and added almond and whole wheat flour to the white flour. So clearly I didn't eat this particular tart at all, but Rachel's riff on it, being a cook and not a baker I'm glad to know you can mess with this recipe but you can't mess it up.

Chocolate Ganache Tart ( from
This chocolate tart is one of the most impressive desserts, yet it is not difficult to make and it doesn't require a lot of ingredients. While I prefer to prepare my tart in a tart pan, for bigger parties I've doubled the recipe and used a large casserole dish.
Makes one 9" tart

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Cook Time: 30 minutes

Total Time: 50 minutes


  • For the Cashew Cookie Crust:
  • 1 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup organic dark brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup finely ground raw cashews
  • 1/4 t. salt
  • 6 T. dairy-free soy margarine
  • 1 T. lemon juice
  • For the Dark Chocolate Ganache
  • 16 ounces dark dairy-free chocolate, coarsely chopped
  • 1 15-ounce can lite coconut milk
  • 1/2 t. vanilla extract


1. Preheat the oven to 350 F. Lightly oil a 9" tart pan and set aside.
2. In a food processor, combine the flour, brown sugar, ground cashews, and salt. Add the soy margarine and pulse until the mixture resembles a coarse meal. Add the lemon juice and pulse until combined. The mixture should be clumpy. Using your fingers, press the crust mixture into the prepared tart pan, covering the bottom and as much of the sides as possible. Bake for 18-20 minutes, or until golden brown. Transfer to a wire cooling rack to cool completely.
3. Make the ganache filling. Place the dairy-free dark chocolate in a heat safe bowl. Set aside. In a small saucepan over medium-high heat, heat the coconut milk until it just starts to boil. Pour the hot coconut milk over the chopped chocolate, and let sit for 5 minutes without stirring. After 5 minutes, add the vanilla extract and stir the mixture using a wooden spoon until smooth and glossy. (This will take about 1-2 minutes of continuous stirring.) Pour the ganache over the prepared crust and allow the filling to cool completely. Cover with plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator for at least 3 hours or until set. Serve cold.

I have no pictures of the cake to show you. I could have an MRI and then you could see the final crumbs I have just eaten.
But don't take my word for its deliciousness. Make it and let me hear what you think.
 Wait, I do have a berry crumble here with vanilla bean ice cream. Will this do?

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Feeling Groovy

Hi, whew. I was leaving a comment on An Urban Cottage blog when suddenly I got locked out of my blog and had to change the password to get back in. Freaky, no?

I was just trying to play catch up and see what you all were up to.

I guess a birthday lasts a good week. Tonight we had a slice of a chocolate tart my friend and fellow Zumba addict Rachel, brought to dinner on Sunday and my senses are reeling. She says it's a very easy recipe and will email it to me. I shall post it for you all immediately. I think even a non baker like myself can do it.

But after the cake and before the lockout I had a flash of wonder that it has been 7 months since the breakup with GG and I'm feeling good again.

Good as in happy, self confident, grateful for each and every beautiful sunny September day and cool night, so cool the kittens cats are back in bed with me again. My vacation gave me a necessary punch of confidence. Thank you again to you hosts and hostesses.

I'm venturing into the kitchen again and enjoying every chop and stir. Work has gotten busy but I love the colors and textures of this season's flowers. When you're elbow deep in berries and leaves and artichokes, cayenne roses and chili peppers, it's hard not to have a smile on your face. Even if your smiling mouth is cursing.

Superman is in rare form, inventing marinades, grilling, whizzing up smoothies and brewing the perfect pot of coffee in his new French press.

It occurred to me that I will miss his presence come December when he reunites with his family, He is a just loaner husband after all....

So I decided to give internet dating a try. S-man calls it window shopping. It seems kind of silly to me with all the computer generated questions and facile answers. But it does help you sharpen your focus on what you might want in another relationship. And definitely what you don't want.

We all know I will meet the person of my dreams someday in Trader Joes as both of us reach for the same ripe mango.

But in the meantime there's no harm in looking, right?

Thursday, September 19, 2013

And The Winner(s) Is

 A day late....

Did I actually think I would be writing a post on my birthday?

Apparently. But when you get taken out for sushi by Mr. Big Baby, there's no time for random number generators. There's a bottle of spilled soy sauce to clean up, and soy sauce stained chairs to switch out and, well you get the picture...

Before I tell you the winners I want to thank you all for commenting. So many readers I hadn't met before and so fitting that so many found me through Marie's blog.

A lovely follower of both Marie and myself is Donatello. After she read the giveaway post and the comments, she sent me an email saying she would like to purchase a second book and have it given to " mmtajib", a woman who is the sole support of her family and caretaker of her husband who has stage 4 lung cancer. Thank you Donatello. Your caring heart is one of the reasons I keep blogging, to meet people like you.

And the random number generator winner? After I subtracted the comments by people who already have the book and were just writing to say how much they love me, and my own comments, number 16 was selected.

And that is my very own dog loving, cooking fool of a amiga, Amelia of Musing with Max.

I will send you both an email and you can send me your addresses. I'm only sorry I didn't have enough books to send one to Poland and one to Ireland and one to each and every one of you.

But thank you again for joining in.

I know you will enjoy every page. Don't drool.

xo Jane

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Thanks For The Memories

Don't ask me why after the finish of a chicken and chickpea tangine I had to rush to the computer and now I seem to have honey all over the keyboard. This will be a very sticky post to write indeed.

I have a paper towel and a bottle of Windex at my elbow and I'm using it in between typing.

Though this doesn't appear to be working. Any suggestions?

What I wanted to write about was my trip to Boston and Maine, not the mess before me but the memories behind me.

I had never spent any time in Boston. What a beautiful city. Hard to walk in though, lots of little cobblestoned alleys that begged to be explored, window boxes exploding with flowers and many charming stores, my head was a swivel.

And several restaurants that begged to be eaten in. An Urban Cottage was my Boston guide. He showed me beautiful parks, swan boats, an unbelievable grocery store that stocked everything from raisins on the vine, an entire room of cheese and charcuterie to teas that ran $250.00 a pound. We didn't have a cuppa.

 I did sample a raisin though.

Sunday, in the midst of lightening and rain, we hooked up with Shelley from BowStreet Flowers and after the inevitable stop at Starbucks headed off to Maine.

Where Maine became, the way life should be. Sunshine, coastal towns with brightly painted buildings, antique shops sparingly arranged with nautical pieces and at the end of the road, in Cape Porpoise was lobster roll I have been looking for all my life.

On the way back we stopped at their favorite nursery, Snug Harbor, where we took many pictures, posted them to Instagram, then "liked" each others' offerings. Very satisfactory hanging with other social media types. Though I blush to disclose I have no pictures of the food, or beautiful Boston or even the colors of coastal Maine. I was too busy talking and enjoying spending time with people I had already grown to love through their writings.

I did get a few shots of the nursery though. Greenhouses filled with forests of topiaries, stacks of gently mossed pots, and overhead an assortment of old Chinese lanterns.

 Outside were cages full of peacocks in full molt and one yellow golden pheasant, alone in all its grandeur.

Talk about making memories. Thank you Steve and Shelley, I loved every moment.

Next up, DC?
Mi casa is su casa.

xo Jane

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

A Delicious Giveaway

I have never done a giveaway. I could never think of anything I possessed that someone else might want.

Well, excepting the cats and now S-Man. But none are mine to give away.  Just to feed on occasion.

So assuming there might be a person out there who hasn't bought a copy of "66 SquareFeet: A Delicious Life" by the goddess of field and stream Marie Viljoen, and would love to hold her terrace and her recipes in their hands, I offer a copy.

And how do you get lucky? You can either leave a comment with your link or email address if you're not a blogger, or you can send me the inside cardboard flap from your favorite cereal box.

No, don't do that. Just leave a comment.

You'll drool over the pictures, read her poetic prose with an occasional lump in your throat and create some magic in the kitchen on a cool September Sunday by cooking her bouillabaisse.

Marie was my first blogging inspiration. I had read an article about her and the terrace in the NYT and when I went to visit I was enchanted. The spell still holds firm. I got to have lunch with her in  New York last week and trust me, she lives up to the legend.

I'll leave this open till September 18th. It's my birthday and seems a good day to give away something of value.This amazing offer is available world wide. I have received books from New York, Massachusetts, France and England via the wonderland of blogs.

My turn to return the favor.

xo Jane

Monday, September 9, 2013

Flowers In The House Of Heat And Humility: September 2013

I'm finding it very humbling to try and get an arrangement or two out of my garden.

Note to self: plant more for September blooms.

Usually I can cheat and bring home a few special flowers from the shop. But I haven't been to the shop for two weeks.So no cheating dammit.

At work I love when I get an order that requests a wildflower bouquet. I swan around the shop picking sunflowers from one bucket, corepsis from another, a handful of grasses here, some berries there. Maybe some lysimachia, asclepias, asters, it all comes together easily.

Don't try this at home. My garden epitomizes shabby chic at the moment. Sedum, Autumn Joy and Black Jack, South African foxgloves, rudbeckia seed pods, phlox, grasses, fennel, allium, persecaria, artemesia, some faded roses and a tangle of autumn blooming clematis are all slightly the worse for wear.

I had enough left to fill a little blue vase from Belgium with with unopened anemones, liriope flowers, a sprig of chokecherry tree, phlox, more of the tattered rose, herbs and seedpods, posed I see next to my equally tattered copy of " Mastering The Art Of French Cooking".

  Speaking of mastery, I now give you the moment you'll all been waiting for:
 an arrangement from S-Man.

He said if I picked some flowers he'd put them in a vase.

I gave him these.

He grabbed the clippers and went out to forage around.

Then in 5 minutes he gave me this.

In answer to your question,"is there anything he can't do", I have the answer.

No, clearly, there is nothing he cannot do.

I am now clad in sackcloth and ashes.

Gus was  the only one in the house not impressed by any of this, he slept through the whole thing.

But he'll be awake in the morning when we'll all be coming by to see what you managed to salvage from your gardens.

Please have Fancy Feast in gravy, it's their favorite.

Friday, September 6, 2013

It's A Jungle Out There

I'm just about to go out and wangle me some weeds.

The garden isn't as scary as it usually is when I return from a trip.

Superman, or Supertent as it's been suggested I call him, kept the pots and vegetables watered, mowed and edged the same day I returned home and rearranged the scary hoarder mess I call the attic. The cats were fat and sassy and the house looked like the housekeeper had just been here.

Oh, and he picked me up at the train station. Sample text: I'm in front of the station, look for the kayak??? Thankfully the kayak was on the roof of the car......

He is very nice to come home to.

But the bindweed is up to me. And the eternal morning glories are fighting for space with the bind weed.

If I can salvage a bloom or two I'm proposing Flowers In The House next Monday.

It's my last day of vacation and I can't think of a better way to wrap up these two week.

You in?

Or maybe you'd prefer to come out and lend me a hand?

Plenty of weeds to go around.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

My Life In Food

And now I'm home. Sitting at the computer, latte on the left, kittens snarfing down food in the kitchen on the right.

I have so many stories and pictures, I wondered how to compress them and hold your interest. Then I realized the common theme of my vacation is food. What I ate and who I ate it with.

 As so many good stories do, the tale begins on Cape Cod, where the houses are shingled, the gardens are full of billowing hydrangeas and everyone is tanned and healthy.

The weather channel had promised me a week of blue skies and temps in the low 80's. The weather channel lied.

But we made the best of it. We worked out at the gym, saw a movie or two, got the best massage of our lives, walked dogs, read books, drank coffee and ate.

And then cooked and ate some some. Lobster rolls, salads with vegetables from the garden, eggplant dip, roast pork marinated for hours in lemon, oil, garlic and fresh herbs, sauteed scallops in a sauce of white wine, lemon and capers, and cod topped with red onion, tomatoes, Kalamata olives and handfuls of spinach. There was Susan's homemade granola for breakfast and the ripest berries and sweetest peaches I had eaten all summer.

On the coldest day of the week, dressed as if for July, we took a ferry over to Martha's Vineyard. It was more like October on the island. We by passed the people hawking rental cars and bikes and  headed for The Black Dog, after purchasing a fleece jacket, and now looking like everyone else on the island, foraged for food.

Properly bundled and full of clam chowder we strolled off to investigate the gingerbread houses of Oak Buffs. And I found where I had come from.

Where I was now.

 And what I hope to find at the end of the yellow brick road of this trip.


Ah, well, that was then, this is now.

Back to the laundry. 

Still to come the food and friends of Boston, Maine and NYC.