Chanterelle soup

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I discovered this thick, creamy typical German summer and autumn season soup on the other day in a little Bavarian village called Bernried. I asked the recipe from the chef of the Three Roses restaurant and I prepared it at home! It was a big hit.

I like biking, my goal was to make a tour around the lake Starnberg which is unfortunatelly famous for Ludwig’s the king of Bavaria’s death (he was drowned in the lake about 125 years ago) but that’s an other story. So I was very proud of myself because only with two stops I achieved the 100 kilometres in five hours! So I really deserved to eat in the evening this very rich German chanterelle soup.


3 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
8 oz. (about 4 cups) fresh chanterelles,
trimmed and thinly sliced
1 teaspoon parsley, 1 teaspoon thyme
1/2 red onion, peeled and chopped
2 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 sprig fresh oregano, leaves chopped
100 ml cream, 1 tablaspoon of cornstarch, 100 ml sour cream or créme fraiche
5 cups hot chicken stock, freshly grated parmesan cheese (optional)

1. Try not to wash mushroom just clean with a paintbrush in order to get rid of the soil. Heat oil in a medium pot over medium heat. Add mushrooms and cook, stirring often, until tender and slightly browned, 5-10 minutes.

2. Reduce heat to medium-low, add greens, onions, and garlic, and season to taste with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring often, until onions are soft and greens have wilted, about 5 minutes. Ticken the soup adding the one spoon of cornstarch. Stir it well until it absorb totally. Add oregano and thyme, and cook for 2 minutes more.

3. Add stock and simmer for 10 minutes. Adjust seasonings. Mix the cream and sour cream well and add to soup reserve some for the serving. Toss some chopped parsley and eat with ravenous appetite!

Japanese chlorophyll bomb

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Here in Europe everybody is frustrated by the nasty weather, we’d need the sunshine, for the chlorophyll but there is no sign of spring not a thiny bud and what is more it has been snowing for 2 days and the weather forecast is not so optimistic for Easter as well!
We will be for lots of rain and the temperature will remain bellow zero (during the nights) which is not normal for the time of the season.
But anyway….to fulfil my hunger for green this delicate green tea matcha layer cake occured to me what I ate last time in Japan and loved it very much. Here it is the recipe from my Japanese sister- in-law:

Green tea layer cake

Ingredients: 1 cup all purpose flour, 1 cup flour, 1 teaspoon baking soda, 1 teaspoon salt, 4 teaspoons powdered green tea, 1 1/4 cups white sugar, 1 cup vegetable oli, 3 eggs, 1 cup plain joghurt, 11/2 teaspoon of vanilla extractm 11/4 cups confectioners sugar, 2 teaspoons of powdered green tea, 2 knobs butter, softened, 1 package cream cheese, softened, 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract, 11/2 teaspoons milk

Preheat oven to 350 F (175 degrees) Grease and flour 2-9 inch round pans.

Sift together the all purpose flour, cake flour, baking soda, salt, green tea powder, set aside. In a large bowl beat together sugar, oil, and eggs until smooth.

Stir in 11/2 teaspoon vanilla.

Beat in the flour mixture alternatively with the joghurt, mixing just until incorporated. Pour batter into prepared pans. Bake in the oven for 30-40 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into center of the cake comes put clean. Cool on wire rack for 30 minutes before turning out of the pans.

539128_10150673692139219_685199218_9515336_1836667882_nTo make the green tea frosting: sift together confectioner sugar and green tea powder. In a medium bowl, combine tea powder mixture with butter, cream cheese, vanilla, milk. If it necessary beat ingredients with an electric mixeruntil smooth. to assemble the cakes: when the cakes are completely cooled put one layer on a flat serving plate. Spread a thin layer of frosting over it. Place the other layer of cake on top, and spread frosting to cover the top and sides of cake. Dust with green tea powder if desired. Serve cold or at room temperature.

Other version for the icing: sift the powdered suger with the green tea powder in a bowl. In a second bowl mix the sugar with butter, cream cheese or joghurt, vanilla extract and milk. Beat until smooth with an electric mixer. Spread icing on the cooled cakes, distributing evenly. To enhance the appearance you could sprinkle small amount of the green tea powder on top.

Max and Moritz bread

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I have just discovered recently a new kind of bread in the German bakeries. I noticed it first of the witty name: Max & Moritz (A Story of Seven Boyish Pranks) which is a well known German illustrated story in verse. This highly inventive, blackly humorous tale, told entirely in rhymed couplets, was written and illustrated by Wilhelm Busch (published in 1865).

Busch’s classic tale of the terrible duo has since become a proud part of the culture in the German-speaking countries. Even today, parents usually read these tales to their not-yet-literate children. To this day in Germany, Austria, and Switzerland, a certain familiarity with the story and its rhymes is still presumed, as it is often referenced in mass communication. The two leering faces are synonymous with mischief, and appear almost logo-like in advertising and even graffiti. It even occurs that young German couples name their boy twins Max and Moritz respectively, depending on their individual sense of humor and the intended parenting.

I don’t want to tell all seven stories now, only the last two (shortly), which are connected to the bread baking:

The sixth tricks: The baker

The boys invade a bakery which they believe is closed. Attempting to steal pretzels, they fall into a vat of dough. The baker returns, catches the breaded pair, and bakes them. But they survive, and escape by gnawing through their crusts.images

Final Trick: The Farmer

Hiding out in the grain storage area of a farmer, Bauer Mecke, the boys slit some grain sacks. Carrying away one of the sacks, Bauer Mecke immediately notices the problem. He puts the boys in the sack instead, then takes it to the mill. The boys are ground to bits and devoured by the miller’s ducks. Later, no one expresses regret! (The mill really exists in Ebergötzen, in Germany, and can be visited)

So knowing the terrible end of the story it was rather morbid or very smart naming the bread after the 2 rascals. But I have to admit the bread is not at all terrible just the opposite it’s divine.


Max & Moritz 9 seeds bread (500 gs 2,29 Euros)

How can I describe the bread: it is tasty with “tons” of different seeds but despite the many seeds they don’t make the bread heavy at all. Not forget to mention its shape which is very attractive, the half of the bread is dark the other half is white but both part is light and easy to digest.

Ingredients: rye flour, rye cut, wheat flour, water, soya bean groats, flax seed, oat, potato flour, sunflower yields a seed, yeast, wheat bran, spelled groats, salt (uniodinated), wheat germinates, E270, E262ii, rye spring flour, pinch of sugar and cumin seed.

Directions: Place ingredients into the pan of the bread machine in the order suggested by the manufacturer. Select Whole Wheat cycle, and Start. After the first rise, remove dough from the machine. Shape, and place into a lightly oiled 9×5 inch loaf pan. Cover, and let rise for 1 hour. Bake at 350 degrees C (175 degrees C) for 45 minutes. Remove from oven, and let cool before slicing.

Berliner, Hungarian doughnut and oil ball

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That the carnival season has set in it’s possible to notice from the tons of doughnuts in the shop windows of the German bakeries,-called Berliner- while Berliners are traditionally eaten to celebrate the carnival holidays (Mardi Gras).

A Berliner or Pfannkuchen (also called Krapfen, fánk in Hungary, Bola de Berlim in Portugal, berliininmunkki in Finland, sufganiyah in Israel, kobliha in the Czech Republic, šiška in Slovakia, pączek in Poland,berlinesas in Mexico, berlinerbolle in Norway bola de fraile in Argentina, bombolone in Italy, Berlinerbol in the Netherlands, and bismark in Canada and parts of the United States) is a predominantly German and Central European doughnut (without a central hole) made from sweet yeast dough fried in fat or oil, with a marmalade or jam filling and usually icing, powdered sugar or conventional sugar on top. They are sometimes made with chocolate, champagne, custard, mocha, or advocaat filling, or with no filling at all. The filling is injected with a large syringe after the pastry is fried.

The traditional Pfannkuchen made in Berlin are fried in grease. The filling is related to the topping: for plum-butter, powdered sugar; for raspberry, strawberry and cherry jam, sugar; for all other fillings, sugar icing. A common German practical joke is to secretly fill some Berliners with mustard instead of jam and serve them together with regular Berliners without telling anyone.

The terminology used to refer to this delicacy differs in various areas of Germany. While most areas call it Berliner (Ballen), the Berliners themselves and residents of Brandenburg, Western Pomerania, Saxony-Anhalt but Saxony knows them as Pfannkuchen, which in the rest of Germany generally means pancakes. In Bavaria, as well as in much of Austria, they are a variety of Krapfen (derived from Old High German kraffo and furthermore related to Gothic language krappa). In Hessen they are referred to as Kräppel or Kreppel. Residents of the Palatinate call them Fastnachtsküchelchen (“little carnival cakes”), hence the English term for a pastry called “Fasnacht”; however further south, the Swabians use the equivalent term in their distinctive dialect: Fasnetskiachla. In South Tyrol and Triveneto (part of northern Italy), the donut is called krafen or krapfen, while in the southern parts it can be referred as bomba or bombolone. In Slovenia, it is krof; in Croatia krafni; in Bosnia, and Serbia krofne. In Poland they are known as pączki, in the Czech Republic as kobliha. In Hungary, it is called fánk. All of these are essentially identical preparations.

Masks 006In English-speaking countries, Berliners are called doughnuts and are usually filled with jam, jelly, custard or whipped cream. However, in South Australia, the Kitchener bun is a Berliner cut on the side for the filling of jam and cream. In Anglophone North America, the most common term for the jam- or jelly-filled pastry is “jelly doughnut”. The name is somewhat misleading, since the jam or jelly used is specially made with less pectin, so that it does not “set” like jams and jellies manufactured for table use but has a consistency comparable to Bavarian cream.

The cream or custard-filled variety usually also feature chocolate icing and are sometimes called Bavarian cream or Boston cream doughnuts (the latter name from its resemblance to Boston cream pie)

In Ontario and the prairie western provinces of Canada, as well as parts of the Midwest in the US, such a round jelly- or custard-filled doughnut is commonly called a “bismark,” while a filled bar doughnut is called a “long john“, and usually contains pastry cream, custard or whipped cream but can contain a jelly filling. Other Canadian terms include “jambuster” in Manitoba, and “Burlington bun” in Nova Scotia.

Berlin balls in Portugal

In Portugal, berliners are slightly bigger than their German counterparts. They are known as bolas de Berlim (Berlin ball) and the filling is always an egg-yolk based yellow cream called creme pasteleiro (lit. confectioner’s cream). The filling is inserted after a half length cut and is always visible. Regular sugar is used to sprinkle it. They can be found in almost every pastry shop in the country.

Such versions are also found in Latin America, in Chile, Uruguay and Argentina, where it’s not only filled with custard (called “Crema pastelera”), but with jam (especially red ones) or manjar blanco. In Brazil, berliners are called sonhos (dreams) and traditionally filled with yellow cream (called simply creme). Some modern variants filled with milk jam or a mix of chocolate and milk jam can be found in Rio de Janeiro’s bakeries.

In Hungary there is a traditional sweet delicacy similar to doughnut and called fánk. The most commonly used ingredients are: flour, yeast, butter, egg yolk, a little bit of rum, salt, milk and oil to deep fry with. After the pastry has risen for approximately 30 minutes the result is an extreme light doughnut-like pastry. Fánk is mostly served with powdered sugar and lekvar.

Masks 011Dutchies in Belgium

An oliebol-lard ball is a traditional Dutch sweet and are traditionally eaten at funfairs. In wintertime, they are also sold in the street at mobile stalls. In the Flanders part of Belgium and Brussels they are called smoutebollen (literally lard balls although the real “smout” is fried in rapeseed oil instead of animal fat). In English they are more commonly known as Dutch Doughnuts or Dutchies.

Oliebollen are a variety of dumpling made by using an ice-scooper or two spoons to scoop a certain amount of dough and dropping the dough into a deep fryer filled with hot oil. In this way, a sphere-shaped oliebol emerges.

The dough is made from flour, eggs, yeast, some salt, milk, baking powder and usually sultanas, currants, raisins and sometimes zest or succade. A notable variety is the appelbeignet which contains only a slice of apple, but different from oliebollen, the dough should not rise for at least an hour. Oliebollen are usually served with powdered sugar. 

They are said to have been first eaten by Germanic tribes in the Netherlands during the Yule tide, the period between December 26 and January 6. The Germanic goddess Perchta, together with evil spirits, would fly through the mid-winter sky. To appease these spirits, food was offered, much of which contained deep-fried dough. It was said Perchta would try to cut open the bellies of all she came across, but because of the fat in the oliebollen, her sword would slide off the body of whoever ate them. A very similar type of doughnut can also be found in the Walloon part of Belgium as well as the northern part of France. The croustillons are deep fried dough balls served hot and liberally sprinkled with powdered sugar. They are usually served in a paper cone with a little plastic fork to eat them with. They are typically found at fairgrounds in Belgium and in Lille, France.

Urban legend about the doughnut

Ich bin ein Berliner- “I am a Berliner” is a quotation from a June 26, 1963, speech by U.S. President John F. Kennedy in West Berlin. An urban legend has it that due to his use of the indefinite article ein, Berliner is translated as jelly doughnut, and that the population of Berlin was amused by the supposed mistake. The normal convention when stating a nationality or, for instance, saying one is from Berlin, would be to leave out the indefinite article ein. However, Kennedy used the indefinite article here correctly to emphasize his relation to Berlin. Additionally, the word Berliner is not used in Berlin to refer to the Berliner Pfannkuchen. These are simply called Pfannkuchen there and therefore no one from Berlin would mistake Berliner for a pastry.

A Sun cake and a Mooncake for the Chinese New Year

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Tour operators say Chinese visitors are choosing Australia for their Lunar New Year holidays in increasing numbers. (Image courtesy City of Perth)

Chinese New Year is due next weekend on the 10th of February. People are already excited because Chinese new year is the longest and most important festival in the Chinese calendar (it is also known as the Spring Festival). Within China, regional customs and traditions concerning the celebration of the Chinese new year vary widely. People will pour out their money to buy presents, decoration, material, food, and clothing. It is also traditional for every family to thoroughly cleanse the house, in order to sweep away any ill-fortune and to make way for good incoming luck. Windows and doors will be decorated with red colour paper-cuts and couplets with popular themes of “good fortune” or “happiness” “wealth”, and “longevity.” On the Eve of Chinese New Year, supper is a feast with families. Food will include such items as pigs, ducks, chicken and sweet delicacies, the Moon cake and the Sun cake. The family will end the night with firecrackers. Early the next morning, children will greet their parents by wishing them a healthy and happy new year, and receive money in red paper envelopes.

In the Chinese zodiac, 2013 the year of the snake, but its place and its significance as a symbol of worship is far less than was the last year’s powerful animal the Dragon. The snake carries the meanings of malevolence, cattiness and mystery, as well as acumen, divination and the ability to distinguish herbs. In some places, people believe that a snake found in their court can bring delight.

The story of the Moon cake and the Sun cake

Moon cake (pinyin) was originally prepared for Mid-Autumn Festival for lunar worship and moon watching, when moon cakes were regarded as an indispensable delicacy. Today Moon cakes are the major ingredients of the Chinese new years offered between friends or on family gatherings while celebrating the festival.

Typical moon cakes are round or rectangular pastries, measuring about 10 cm in diameter and 4–5 cm thick. This is the Cantonese moon cake, eaten in southern China (Guangdong, Hong Kong). A rich thick filling usually made from red bean or lotus seed paste is surrounded by a thin (2–3 mm) crust and may contain yolks from salted duck eggs. Moon cakes are usually eaten in small wedges accompanied by Chinese tea. Today, it is customary for businessmen and families to present them to their clients or relatives as presents, helping to fuel a demand for high-end moon cake styles. The caloric content of a moon cake is approximately 1,000 calories.

The festival is intricately linked to the legends of Chang E, the mythical Moon Goddess of Immortality. According to “Li-Ji”, an ancient Chinese book recording customs and ceremonies, the Chinese Emperor should offer sacrifices to the sun in spring and the moon in autumn. The 15th day of the 8th lunar month is the day called “Mid-Autumn”. The night on the 15th of the 8th lunar month is also called “Night of the Moon”. Under the Song Dynasty (420), the day was officially declared the Mid-Autumn Festival.

An important part of the festival celebration is moon worship. The ancient Chinese believed in rejuvenation being associated with the moon and water, and connected this concept to the menses of women, calling it “monthly water”. The Zhuang people, for example, have an ancient fable saying the sun and moon are a couple and the stars are their children, and when the moon is pregnant, it becomes round, and then becomes crescent after giving birth to a child. These beliefs made it popular among women to worship and give offerings to the moon on this evening. In some areas of China, there are still customs in which “men don’t worship the moon and the women don’t offer sacrifices to the kitchen gods.”

Offerings are also made to a more well-known lunar deity, Chang’e, known as the Moon Goddess of Immortality. The myths associated with Chang’e explain the origin of moon worship during this day. One version of the story is as follows, as described in Lihui Yang’s Handbook of Chinese Mythology

In the ancient past, there was a hero named [Hou] Yi who was excellent at shooting. His wife was Chang’e. One year, the ten suns rose in the sky together, causing great disaster to people. Yi shot down nine of the suns and left only one to provide light. An immortal admired Yi and sent him the elixir of immortality. Yi did not want to leave Chang’e and be immortal without her, so he let Chang’e keep the elixir. But Feng Meng, one of his apprentices, knew this secret. So, on the fifteenth of August in the lunar calendar, when Yi went hunting, Feng Meng broke into Yi’s house and forced Chang’e to give the elixir to him. Chang’e refused to do so. Instead, she swallowed it and flew into the sky. Since she loved her husband very much and hoped to live nearby, she chose the moon for her residence. When Yi came back and learned what had happened, he felt so sad that he displayed the fruits and cakes Chang’e liked in the yard and gave sacrifices to his wife. People soon learned about these activities, and since they also were sympathetic to Chang’e they participated in these sacrifices with Yi.

Yang describes another version of the tale which provides a different reason for Chang’e ascending to the moon:

After the hero Houyi shot sown nine of the ten suns, he was pronounced king by the thankful people. However, he soon became a conceited and tyrannical ruler. In order to live long without death, he asked for the elixir from Xiwangmu. But his wife, Chang’e, stole it on the fifteenth of August because she did not want the cruel king to live long and hurt more people. She took the magic potion to prevent her husband from becoming immortal. Houyi was so angry when discovered that Chang’e took the elixir, he shot at his wife as she flew toward the moon, though he missed. Chang’e fled to the moon and became the spirit of the moon. Houyi died soon because he was overcome with great anger. Thereafter, people offer a sacrifice to Chang’e on every lunar fifteenth of August to commemorate Chang’e’s action.

Because of its central role in the Mid-Autumn festival, moon cakes remained popular even in recent years. For many, they form a central part of the Mid-Autumn festival experience such that it is now commonly known as ‘Moon cake Festival’.

There is a folk tale about the overthrow of Mongol rule facilitated by messages smuggled in moon cakes. Moon cakes were used as a medium by the Ming revolutionaries in their espionage effort to secretly distribute letters to overthrow the Mongolian rulers of China in the Yuan dynasty. The idea is said to have been conceived by Zhu Yuanzhang and his advisor Liu Bowen who circulated a rumor that a deadly plague was spreading, and the only way to prevent it was to eat special moon cakes. This prompted the quick distribution of moon cakes, which were used to hide a secret message coordinating the Han Chinese revolt on the 15th day of the eighth lunar month. Another method of hiding the message was printed in the surface of moon cakes as a simple puzzle or mosaic. To read the encrypted message, each of the four moon cakes packaged together must be cut into four parts each. The 16 pieces of moon cake, must then be pieced together in such a fashion that the secret messages can be read. The pieces of moon cake are then eaten to destroy the message. Many types of fillings can be found in traditional moon cakes according to the region’s culture:

Lotus seed paste: Considered to be the original and most luxurious moon cake filling, lotus paste filling is found in all types of moon cakes. Due to the high price of lotus paste, white kidney bean paste is sometimes used as a filling.

Sweet bean paste: A number of pastes are common fillings found in Chinese desserts. Although red bean paste, made from azuki beans, is the most common worldwide, there are regional and original preferences for bean paste made from mung beans, as well as black beans, known throughout history.

Jujube paste: A sweet paste is made from the ripe fruits of the jujube (date) plant. The paste is dark red in color, a little fruity/smoky in flavor, and slightly sour in taste. Depending on the quality of the paste, jujube paste may be confused with red bean paste, which is sometimes used as a filling.


Five kernel: A filling consisting of 5 types of nuts and seeds, coarsely chopped, is held together with maltose syrup. Recipes differ from region to region, but commonly used nuts and seeds include: walnuts, pumpkin seeds, watermelon seeds, peanuts, sesame seeds, or almonds. In addition, the mixture will usually contain candied winter melon, jinhua ham, or pieces of rock sugar as additional flavoring.

The suncake

The suncake (tàiyáng bĭng) is a popular Taiwanese dessert originally from the city of Taichung in Taiwan. The typical fillings consist of maltose (condensed malt sugar), and they are usually sold in special gift boxes as souvenirs for visitors. Some famous sun cake pastry shops always have long lines of people waiting to buy boxed sun cakes.

The shape of sun cakes is round, of varied sizes. They are characterized by Flaky crusts. Most people eat them with Chinese tea, and some people dissolve them in hot water to make a porridge-like dessert

The first sun cakes were made by the Lin family in the She-Ko Taichung. The Lin family used condensed malt sugar as a filling for cake pastries. Later on, pastry maker Wei Qing-hai modified the cakes to their current form. Though not originally called “sun cakes”, they were given the name by the owner of “Sun Booth”, one of the most famous pastry shops that sells them. The name was not trademarked, and other pastry shops used the same name for their own sun cakes.

The three kings cake

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The 3 kings day or Epiphany Eve falls on the January 6 which is a public holiday in the German-speaking lands, when groups of young people called “Sternsinger” –Star singers travel from door to door. They are dressed as the three Wise Men, plus the leader carrying a star, usually of painted wood attached to a broom handle. Often these groups are four girls, or two boys and two girls for the benefit of singing their songs in four-part harmony, not necessarily three wise men at all. (They sing: “If the eve of Epiphany is bright and clear, it fortells a good wine year.”). The star singers will be offered treats at the homes they visit, but they also solicit donations for worthy causes. As a sign of gratitude, the young people then perform the traditional house blessing, by marking the year over the doorway with chalk. The special treat of the day is the Three Kings cake which may be a golden pastry ring filled with orange and spice representing gold, frankincense and myrrh.

Most often studded with citron, and baked as seven large buns in a round rather than square pan (picture), forming a crown. Or they may be made of typical rich Christmas bread dough with cardamom and pearl sugar in the same seven bun crown shape. These varieties are most typically purchased in supermarkets with the trinket, and gold paper crown included. In Germany as in other countries, the person who receives the piece or bun containing the trinket or whole almond/bean/small porcelain figurine becomes the king or queen for a day.

However in Eastern countries such as Iran, Israel this day is considered the first day of the New Year, when people look back once again to the old year and greet the new one with a modest feast in a festive atmosphere.   

In Cyprus and in Greece the feast is colloquially called the “Phōta“- Light and customs revolve around the Great Blessing of the Waters. It marks the end of the traditional ban on sailing, as the tumultuous winter seas are cleansed of the mischief-prone the goblins that try to torment God-fearing Christians through the festive season. At this ceremony, a cross is thrown into the water, and the men clamour to retrieve it for good luck.

In Italy the word “Epiphania” was transformed into Befana, and on that day there is a great fair, when sigillaria of terracotta or baked pastry are being sold. (In popular folklore, Befana visits the children of parts of Italy on the eve of January 6 to fill their socks with candy and presents them if they had been good or a lump of coal or dark if they have been bad). 

In Romania and Moldova, Epiphany is called Boboteaza, and the celebrations take on a unique tone. Following religious services, men participate in winter horse races. Before the race, the men line up with their horses before the priest who will bless them by sprinkling them with green branches that have been dipped into Epiphany holy water.

In parts of southern India, Epiphany is called the Three Kings Festival and is celebrated in front of the local church like a fair. Families come together and cook sweet rice porridge called Pongal. This day marks the close of the Advent and Christmas season and people remove the cribs and nativity sets at home.

Recipes for Epiphany from Iran and Israel

On 6th of January the Jews and the Arabs dress the table with lots of pomegranates, because the flowering pomegranate is the symbol of prosperity. Well after the great damask tablecloths are laid, the golden candles are lit they can start to prepare the menu, which contains a spicy vegetable terrine, followed the traditional cinnamon chicken ragu (with sesame seeds and with figs, mint tea and red wine yammy), but the highlight of the evening is undoubtedly when the 3 kings cake, is placed on the table with a crown on top.  

Recipes: Vegetable terrine

Ingredients: 200 g spinach, 250 g broccoli, 1 onion, 2-3 tablespoons of olive, 150 g ground hazelnuts or almonds, 3 eggs, bread crumbs, salt, pepper, cayenne, nutmeg, cashew nuts, butter, blueberry jam, yoghurt 250 g

Preheat oven to 180 degrees. Cut the broccoli into bite-size pieces, wash the fresh spinach (or use the frozen one), and throw it into the boiling salted water. Cook the vegetables for 6-7 minutes. Then sieve them and make purée. Simmer the onion in 2 tablespoons of olive oil, add the vegetables, along with the seeds. Beat the eggs and pour over the vegetables, then toss 6 tablespoons of bread crumbs on top. Season with salt and pepper, and also scatter the cayenne and nutmeg. Finally, sprinkle the coarsely crushed cashew nuts on it. Pour the vegetable mixture in the usual paté form, then place it in the oven, and cook in Bain Marie bath for 1 hour. When serving, stir in the yogurt the cranberry or blueberry jam and offer the vegetable slices with this.

Cinnamon Chicken

Ingredients: 4 chicken breast (130 g / person), salt, pepper, 16 with cinnamon, 20 dried figs, 10 mini onion, 3 celery stalks, 3 tablespoons peanut oil, half teaspoon cumin, 1 tsp coriander 200 ml of dry red wine, 200 ml chicken stock, 2 tablespoons honey, 2 tablespoons of sesame seeds and fresh cilantro for garnish

Wash the chicken breasts and wipe dry with a kitchen paper. Salt and pepper, place one or two cinnamon stick in each chicken breast (on the middle) and roll them, if necessary tie them with a string. Cut the figs in half, chop the onion, and celery into fine slices. Heat the peanut oil in a pan simmer the chicken for 2-3 minutes on each side. Add the chopped onion, celery to chicken season with salt and pepper, sprinkle with cumin and coriander. Add the figs, then pour over the red wine and the chicken broth. Simmer everything together for 15 minutes without stirring. Then removed the chicken breasts and set aside, then add the honey to the juice (chicken’s) and sesame seeds. Return the fillets and bring to a boil  everything together once more (on low heat). Serve with fresh cilantro.

Three kings cake

This is a kind of cake, with a trinket (usually a porcelain figurine) or a bean hidden inside. The person who gets the piece of cake with the trinket becomes “king” or “queen” for a day.

Ingredients: 125 gr butter 100 gr almonds, 40 gr pistachios, 125 g sugar, 2 eggs, 2 tablespoons of almond extract, 2 tablespoons orange flower water, 2 puff pastry or other ready to bake dough, 1 egg, 2 tablespoons milk, peanuts, pine nuts for garnish

Preheat the oven to 200 degrees. Mix the butter with the minced almonds and pistachios and sugar. Beat the eggs with the addition of bitter almond extract, and with the orange water. First roll the out and lay on the waxed paper, and then smear the cold almond cream and butter on it from the center to the edge (half-inch far). Then placed on top the cream and cover with the second dough. Mix the egg yolks with 2 tablespoons of milk then smear it on top of the cake. Before baking the cake sprinkle it with plenty of almonds, hazelnuts and pine nuts pieces, and then insert into the oven and bake for 20-25 minutes.

Cupcake the backup dancer to cakes

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My favorite TV serie is the Cupcake wars in which 4 bakers compete to make cupcakes with best taste and presentation. 3 rounds eliminate a contestant. The 2 finalists create a 1000 cupcake display. The winner gets to showcase their cupcake presentation for a major event and win $10,000. That’s what the show about but now I would like to talk about one of the very sympathetic jury member, Candace Nelson, the owner of the Sprinkles cupcake shop.

The creation of the Sprinkles

In 2002 Candace Nelson then 33, and her husband Charles Nelson (from Oklahoma, 38), both investment bankers, visited Candace’s sister in New York and tried the cupcakes at Magnolia Bakery(Sex and the city made them famous). Candace believed that it was “time for cupcakes to stop being the backup dancer to cakes” while Nelson remembered, “I get the cupcake thing; cupcakes are awesome. But we were like, ‘The cupcakes aren’t that great. They could be so much better and really could taste a lot better'”. They took it upon themselves to create a better cupcake; over the next two years, they developed over 20 cupcake recipes. Although starting a cupcake bakery was a “high-risk venture” and the bakery business was in a four-year no carb decline, the Nelsons pursued their dream. Their “sleek, minimalistic” store was designed by an architect from Vienna and the logo and packaging were created by a former Martha Stewart employee.

On April 13, 2005, they opened Sprinkles Cupcakes, the world’s first cupcake bakery, at Santa Monica Boulevard in Beverly Hills, California. The first day, the cupcakes sold out in three hours, and 2,000 cupcakes were sold the first week.

Since Sprinkles has 10 locations throughout the United States, with plans to open in 15 more cities including London and Tokyo. The Nelsons also started a traveling “Sprinkles mobile“, a Mercedes Sprinter van designed by Sprinkles architect Andrea Lenardin and built by “Pimp My Ride’s” West Coast Customs. In 2007 the company developed a line of cupcake mixes sold exclusively through Sprinkles and Williams-Sonoma stores in the United States and Canada. In February 2011 Sprinkles released an iPhone app that features free cupcakes and virtual gifting.

Celebrity endorsement

Sprinkles has gained many celebrity endorsements. Oprah Winfrey, Barbra Streisand, Tyra Banks, Katie Holmes, Paris Hilton, Blake Lively, Ryan Seacrest, Tom Cruise and Jake Gyllenhaal are among its customers.

Barbra Streisand was one of Sprinkles’ first customers and introduced Oprah Winfrey to the brand by sending her a box of cupcakes. Only eight months after opening Sprinkles, Charles and Candace received a call from Harpo Studios that Oprah needed 300 cupcakes for her studio audience in Chicago the next morning for Breakfast with Oprah, wherein she showcases her favorite delicacies. The couple managed to catch an overnight flight, and the cupcakes were featured on Oprah’s show. Soon after, sales in their Beverly Hills location increased 50%, to 1,500 cupcakes daily. Sprinkles played a role in Tom Cruise’s courtship of Katie Holmes (well). During the Christmas of 2007, the Cruises sent out boxes of holiday-themed Sprinkles cupcakes to their close friends and associates.


Candace is described as having a “sophisticated” take on the classic cupcake, using ingredients like sweet buttercream, pure Nielsen-Massey Madagascar Bourbon vanilla, and Callebaut chocolate. She also creates offbeat offerings like vegan and gluten-free cupcakes and even dog-food cupcakes (with joghurt). The cupcakes are baked daily and are free from preservatives, trans fats and artificial flavors..

My favorites

My choice might fall on these cakes because of my patriot feelings toward Belgium since most of the major ingredients of Candace’s cupcakes are the Belgian chocolates.

Black and white cupcakes

Sprinkles Black and White cupcakes create a harmonious balance between Belgian dark chocolate cake and creamy vanilla frosting. As the proverb goes, two parts united together give rise to something better!

Chai Latte

You’ve been saving up for an exotic escapade to the Far East where you plan to gaze upon the Taj Mahal while sipping traditional Masala Chai tea. Until your travels take you to India, enjoy a Sprinkles Chai Latte cupcake! This aromatic cake is spiced with a warm blend of cardamom, cloves, anise, ginger and cinnamon and topped with sweet Chai frosting. So colorful and breathtaking, you may have stumbled upon the 8th Wonder of the World!

Chocolate Coconut

Angels add their touch to devil’s food with Sprinkles Chocolate Coconut cupcakes! This sinfully tempting Belgian dark chocolate cake is topped with divine coconut cream cheese frosting and fluffy coconut shreds. A match made in heaven, you’ll travel to the ends of the earth to find one!

Carrot cake

Children may run upon hearing a vegetable has made its way into their cupcake, but do you know the secret? Carrots’ hidden sugar content make them a baker’s ally! This cupcake recipe blends fragrant spices with freshly grated carrots and toasted walnuts. Coated with a generous heap of cinnamon cream cheese frosting, you might even convince the kids to eat their vegetables!

Christmas is a great opportunity to give a try for them! Enjoy!

A family style’s meal or a typical Italian Christmas treatments

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The Italian Celini family owns the restaurant Da Lidia in Maasmechelen, in Belgium. Last year one week before Christmas when I called to schedule an appointment with Signor Marco Celini, after talking about shopping I also expressed my interest in the menu and he responded that it would be a typical, savoury Italian dinner with lots of pasta, birds and of course alongside a selection of vibrant wines.

After our conversation I could hardly wait to see his restaurant not only because the menu aroused my interest, but also because he promised me to reveal some secret of their „backstage” (connection with the cooking). When I entered the Da Lidia’s I immediately felt in Italy. Divine Mediterranean fragrance was floating in the air, and instead the oil and orange tree a huge Christmas tree was standing in the center of the dining room. Silver garland ran over the fireplace, shiny silver candles made the tables more sophisticated. Savoury Italian snacks were already placed on the 5 storey plates, on the bottom level chocolates, then nuts, oranges, tangerines, and mini panettones, finally, fresh fruits, dried fruits winked at me. Wine bottles and some fragrant rosemary centerpieces transported me immediately to the Tuscan countryside. The background music song was some Americaruso Lucio Dalla vivo performance. -“Have you ever heard singing Lucio Dalla?- asked signor Marco Celini after the formal greetings. -No, I have not. Actually I was really surprised by that fact myself, since my Italian babysitter, Mimmi had a rich Italian record collection, but she was always made us to listen Benjamino Gigli’s song La Mamma. So I see I have a lack of musical erudition, at least in the field of Italian music.- and before finishing my sentence an army of children plunged into the room (Gianmarco, Francesca, Leonardo, Carlotta and Valentina) driving my attention away. First they invaded the buffet table, collected some parmesan cheese from the top of parmahams then scattered quickly fearing that Donna Elvira, (Marco’s wife) would catch them in the act. “Fearing of the devil” she arrived with an authentic Italian cake, the Noga Panettone in her hand. She placed it next to the dried fruits, and tangerine bowl.-These things we nibble between courses-she explaned and offered me a mini panettone slice with lemon cream on top then steered me toward the kitchen. On my way I admired again the tastefully dressed table with dominating silver, green and white colours, (but on each napkin a rosemary sprig and a piece of dried red paprika was slipped into, whereof people immediately associated to the Italian flag colors). – We have a lot to do!- exclaimed Elvira apologetic and as if she had wanted to demonstrate, a female voice called after Marco- Scusami tanto, signora, but my mother needs me- told us Marco and ran to the kitchen. We women followed him. In the kitchen Elvira’s oldest teenage daughter, Maddalena was already busy with helping her grandma. I got an apron too and Lidia started the demonstration of how to make the traditional stuffed quinea fowl. -We have the same menu for Christmas dinner every year (at least for 100 years) begun the 75-years old Lidia. -We Tuscans eat lots of beef and game. One of the most famous steak prep is bistecca alla Fiorentina, a T-bone that is grilled plain, sprinkled with salt and pepper, sliced at the table, and served with olive oil and a simple arugula salad. -And we serve with lemon wedges because the juice cuts the richness of the meat! -took over the lead Marco. – And we don’t celebrate Xmas with supper on the 24th but always on the 25th on the day of San Stephano! Then we prepare ravioli, but on New Year’s lentil dish is a must, because legend has it that the more a person eats, will be luckier. -continued Lidia. -But mamma what about the guinea fowl!-interrupted her Marco again and then she went back to the point and made a marvellous demonstration…

Italian Christmas menu at Da Lidia’s

Stuffed olives with parmesan, Italian meat plate, (Parmaham, San Daniele salami, Chicken broth, Stracciatella (pigeons), Vincis grazie lasagna, Maccheroni alla Chitara con Piccione frappe (noodle wreaths), Zeppole (Italian donuts) in Ciccerchiara (sweets), Quail in grape sauce, Guinea fowl filled with black puding sausage and rosemary, sage, garlic

Starters: (in Italy pasta is usually served as a first course in smaller portions in order to leave room for the main course)

Olives all’ascolana (stuffed olives) Ingredients: 3 slices of bread, 100ml of broth, 100g speck, 2 tablespoons oil, 100gr ground beef, 100g chicken liver, 1 tablespoon tomato paste, 50g chicken, 50g parmesan cheese, 1 teaspoon cinnamon, 1 teaspoon nutmeg, salt, pepper, 50g green olives, 2 tablespoons flour, 3 eggs, breadcrumbs, oil for frying.

Soak the bread slices in the broth. Bake the speck in the oil, add the two types of minced meat, and the chicken liver. Season with tomato sauce. Pour some water and steam everything together about 5 minutes. Then place it into a mixer, add 1 egg and the grated parmesan, season with cinnamon, salt, pepper and nutmeg. If you take olives with core, unpit them and fill it with the pureed meat mixture. Rotate the stuffed olives in flour, egg and breadcrumbs and fry them in hot oil. Wine suggestion: Franciacorta Brut Wine Annamaria Clementi from 1994 ..

Stracciatella Soup with eggs Ingredients: 1 chicken, 1 celery, 1 carrot, 1 onion, 4 eggs, cheese, salt and pepper

Cook the chicken broth as usual. Strain and let it simmer again, beat the eggs and season with salt and pepper. Add the parmesan to egg and poach in the boiling soup.

Maccheroni con Piccione Ingredients: 400 g spaghetti, 1 tablespoon oil, 1 quail thigh for each persons one, 3 ripe tomatoes, 40 g pecorino cheese, salt and pepper

Bake the quail in oil. Cut of the tomatoes into quarters and add to quail. Cook on low heat for 2 hours. Cook the pasta, distribute and place the dish on the side of the quail thighs. Sprinkle with plenty of pecorino cheese. Boris Maurizio Zanella 1996, Rosso dei Sebino

Vincis Grazia Lasagna Ingredients: 400 g noodles, butter, 40 gr, 75 gr parmesan cheese, 50 gr mozzarella

for the sauce: 3 tablespoons oil, 40 g butter, 1 small onion, 250 gr ground beef, ham or speck, half a liter of red wine, 3 tomatoes, nutmeg, salt and pepper

Make the lasagna on the usual way..

Farona ripiena (stuffed quail) Ingredients: 1 large beautiful guinea fowl, 2 ps black puddings, three branches of rosemary, 3 cloves of garlic, 1 tablespoon juniper, 4 tbsp oil, 1 glass of white wine, salt and pepper

Clean thoroughly fowl, then dry with a kitchen paper towel. Peel off the skin of the black pudding, add 1 clove of garlic, and crushed juniper berries, and put into the mixer. Season with salt and pepper and fill the fowls with that. Rub the outside of the bird with oil (or butter), salt and pepper, flavour with rosemary and sage. Bake in the oven at 200 degrees for 45 minutes. 15 minutes before the cooking is finished, pour the white wine and add to the remaining two (grated) garlic to it and bake for another 10 minutes. When serving, garnish with lemon slices, tomatoes and lettuce. Verdicchio dei Castelli White Wine Tip of San Michele di Jesi 2000

The Italians rarely serve elaborate dessert. At the end of the meal, it’s common to serve a bottle of wine (vin santo- dessert wine) which has a musty, honey flavour, and cantuccini which guests drunk into the wine to soften before eating. But this Zeppole is a traditional Christmas donut.

Zeppole Italian donut Ingredients: half a kg of flour, 125 g butter, 1 tablespoon sugar, 300 ml milk, 40 g yeast, oil, corn oil and sugar

Add sugar to the milk, add butter and mixed everything well. Add the flour, stir in with the developed yeast. Mix them well and then make round donuts, (make a hole in the middle). Fry them in hot oil. Before serving, sprinkle with powdered sugar.

Brigitte Bardot and Catherine Deneuve in the kitchen

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The two great personalities of the French cinema who were  both married to the Ukranian film director Roger Vadim and  have had many love affairs also share the passion for excellent food.

“Le Bardot”

She was the sex symbol of the 60-s, brought up in a rich family but at age of 17 thanks to (later no thanks) her first husband, Roger Vadim, she turned her back on the life of the aristocrats and became a movie star. While it enabled her to become internationally famous, it also carried with it annoyances. It was not anything for her to have “fans” enter her house or wander around the grounds of her home in St Tropez (Cote D’Azur), the hopes of getting a glimpse of her or to take something that belonged to her. Paparazzi constantly hounded her with their cameras. People even have taken advantage of her generosity but in exchange for that they became openly agressive, (threw snowballs in her face, a nurse in a hospital attacked her with a fork, she still keeps the scars), so no wonder when at age of forthy she couldn’t stand the vexations anymore (committed suicides several times) left the spotlight and went on to become a leading spokesperson for animal rights. She started the “Foundation Brigitte Bardot” dedicated solely to that cause. She even donated her property in St. Tropez the “La Madrague” to the purpose. Her work in that realm is, perhaps, far greater than any film she could have made.

As far as the food is concerned BB still likes cooking for herself, (at age of 78), and eats with great pleasure. In September when I tried to follow the footsteps of BB in St- Tropez I popped in her favourite restaurant, La Ponche in order to make pictures of the interieur and of the menu. Alongside the Mediterranean cuisine I found an amazing diversity of dishes from India, Thailand, Lebanon, Japan and Morocco as well but nobody could tell me what was or is BB’s favorite food. But later, in the tourist office I discovered an interesting issue of the local St-Tropez magazine and for my great joy the September issue was devoted to celebrities who have ever put their feet in the streets of St Tropez. Among others I’ve also found Brigitte Bardot’s favorite dish the Tabbouleh Salad. According to the paper the recipe and story was told by celebrity chef Frédéric van Coppernolle, whose grandmother cared and cooked for Bardot at her home in St.-Tropez.

 In 1980 at age 15, Van Coppernolle (Belgian) was sent to live with his grandmother on Bardot’s estate while his parents were battling a terrible divorce. Bardot had already been a staunch animal rights advocate so she had been a vegetarian for long time. Van Coppernolle became his grandmother’s sous chef and helped her prep various vegetarian dishes such as onion tarts, ratatouille, pizzas and vegetable-and-cheese quiches for Bardot as well as feed Bardot’s 13 dogs and 40 cats special home cooked meals. His grandmother’s tabbouleh was a favorite of Bardot’s. They never corrected her by explaining it was actually a couscous because she was supposedly a bit feisty. Instead, they kept the peace and just let her call it tabbouleh! (Couscous is made of pasta, while tabbouleh is cracked bulgur wheat).

Since its ingredients are very similar to a traditional tabbouleh salad, I’m certain you could substitute bulgur for the couscous if you’d prefer not to eat pasta. Last week I tried out the salad at home and it was delicious!


Ingredients: 2 cups fine bulgur, 2 cups boiling water, 1 bunch green onion, sliced finely, 1 medium onion, chopped finely, 1 bunch parsley, stems removed, chopped finely, 1 bunch fresh mint leaves, chopped finely, 2 large tomatoes, chopped or 2 cups cherry tomatoes, quartered, 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil, 1/4 cup red wine vinegar, 2 lemons, juice of, 1 tablespoon tamari soy sauce, salt and pepper, 1 dash cayenne pepper (optional)

Directions: Place bulgur in a large mixing bowl. Cover with boiling water and let stand 5 to 10 minutes, then fluff grains with a wooden spoon. Add onions, parsley, mint, and tomatoes and mix well. Finally, add the rest of the ingredients one at a time. Mix thoroughly. Chill in the refrigerator and toss once again before serving.

Catherine Deneuve, “the most lovely woman in the world”

When BB met her ex-husband’s new girlfriend on the set of “La Bride Sur Le Cou” directed by him, the personality of Catherine Deneuve had also captured her:” …behind Vadim lingered a 17-year-old brunette who dressed like me had her hair made like me. Her name was Catherine Deneuve. She had a certain air of a namby-pamby, that was back then unbearable”.

Although raised Catholic, Catherine Deneuve began to defy convention at an early age. In 1961, the 17-year-old starlet, left home and moved in with Ukranian director Roger Vadim, who at 33 was twice divorced and almost twice her age. He was also her mentor, and directed her in Le vice et la vertu (1963). On June 18, 1963, she gave birth to their son, Christian Vadim, she was only 19. Within a month after that, the relationship was over and they broke off contact (he had five wives included Jane Fonda and four children, and died in 2000). After an other failure marriage to a British photographer Catherine Deneuve has shunned the idea of marriage ever since. But this didn’t mean that she got no tangled up in love affairs. Meanwhile she played a married woman who works as a part-time prostitute every afternoon in Luis Buñuel’s masterpiece (La belle de jour) she began an intense relationship with the world famous Italian actor Marcello Mastroianni. On May 28, 1972, she gave birth to the daughter of his (Chiara), at the age of 28. However the relationship with Mastroianni ended in 1975, but the two remained friends up until his death (from pancreatic cancer on December 19, 1996), with Deneuve present at his bedside.

Deneuve has had many magnificent works: Truffaut’s Last metro (1980), as a stage actress in Nazi-occupied Paris, was a career milestone and won her a César Award for Best Actress. Deneuve’s third foray into Hollywood came in 1983, when she starred in Tony Scott’s The hunger (1983) as a stylish, seductive bisexual vampire living in Manhattan who sets out in search of new blood. The film became a cult classic, and her erotic love scene with Susan Sarandon unintentionally made Deneuve a lesbian icon, so much that she would later have to threaten legal action to stop the lesbian magazine Curve from using “Deneuve” as the original title. In 1985, her status as a beauty icon was cemented when her profile was chosen as the model for Marianne, (BB was also) the symbol of the French Republic seen on French coins and stamps.
In private life the Grand Dame of French cinema prefers the French cuisine and eating well: “I could have never been a model in the way actresses today are expected to be; I have never been thin enough because I love a wonderful meal at the end of the day with a good burgundy. I try to be careful but I am not American- she told in an interview- so that I am not always worrying about calories and working out. I have no fear of aging until I am able to work. My mother turned 100 this year (in 2012). She lives alone in Paris; very independent and she is quite incredible. She has a very good head; she still plays bridge, she still wins. So longevity may be in my genes but I don’t know if I will live to be 100 because I have not had the same lifestyle as my mother (she has never smoked but I do)”. Catherine’s favorite:

Carbonnade with olives

This beef stew is known for its Mediterranean touch, combination of olives, onions and bay leaves. Any olives would be a good choice here. As with most stews, the dish will taste even better a day after it’s made.

Ingredients: 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, 3 pounds beef flatiron or blade steaks, cut into 1/3-inch-thick slices, about 3 inches wide, Salt and freshly ground pepper, 3 cups thickly sliced onions, 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme, 2 bay leaves, chopped parsley, for garnish croquette, 12 black or green olives (be careful with the salt)

In an enameled cast-iron casserole, melt 2 tablespoons of the butter. Season the beef with salt and pepper and add one-third of it to the casserole. Cook over moderate heat until lightly browned, (3 minutes per side). Transfer to a bowl. Repeat with 2 more batches of meat, using the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter.

Add the onions to the casserole, cover and cook over low heat, stirring, until browned, 8 minutes. Stir in the flour until the onions are well-coated. Return the meat to the casserole along with any accumulated juices. Add the thyme and bay leaves, cover and simmer over low heat, stirring, until the beef is tender. Uncover and transfer the meat to a bowl. Simmer the sauce over moderate heat until thickened slightly. Discard the bay leaves. Return the meat to the casserole and season with salt and pepper. Sprinkle with parsley and serve with boiled carrots and croquette or pommes duchesse. 
























How will my Halloween coctail buffet look like?

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Don’t let the junior set have all the fun on All Hallow’s Eve. Grown-ups should have a wicked good time too. With that in mind, I ‘ll skip the tricks and ‘ll go straight for the treats with a sophisticated party for 20. As a macabre twist on the usual costume attire, why not ask guests to come in the outfit they’d like to be buried in? Then strategically I’ll scatter some rubber spiders and snakes and ‘ll serve up orange satin cosmos and devilishly tasty buffet. I hope my guests will be positively bewitched.

The menu

Orange snacks: toasted orange pecans, black and orange caviar toasts, sweet potato chips

Coctail buffet: mustard-crusted mini lamb chops, autumn salad, wild rice with almonds, artichokes and grapes

Dessert: mini carrot cupcakes and of course funny Halloween candies

Setting the scene- the décor: of course orange palette. Near the front door, I’ll create a lantern garden to welcome guests by dangling paper lanterns on fishing line at multiple levels. I ‘ll clear away unnecessary furniture. I’ll make bouquets of rust and mango coloured calla lilies for instance, the stems with raffia, I will scatter orange votive holders.

The menu: I’ll set out bowls of chocolate espresso beans, orange M&M, candied mango, orange pecans, sweet potato chips, and a tray of toasts points with créme fraiche and black and red caviar. I’l set up a self serve bar. The buffet menu will include ready-made tamales, so that guests can simply untie the husks and eat the filling topped with some ready made salsa. I think my mini lamb chops, wild rice and the autumn salad will be also easy to eat.

The music: Michael Jackson Thriller CD, Siouxsie&the Banshees, the Cramps and Bauhaus (Bela Lugosi’s Dead) The Monster Mash, I put a spell on you (my fav film was Beth Middler, Sarah Jessica Parker from the Hocus pocus) Dusty Springfield’s Spooky

Recipes-Mustard crusted mini lamb chops for 20

Ingredients: 5 cups fresh bread crumbs, 1/2 cup mixed chopped parsley, thyme, oregano, 5 large cloves of garlic, minced, 10 racks (6-7 bones) baby lamb chops, trimmed, salt and pepper, 5 tbsp olive oil, 5 tbsp unsalted butter, 10 tbsp mustard

Heat oven 450 F. In bowl combine bread crumbs, herbs, garlic. Season lamb with salt and pepper. Heat 1 tbsp oil and 1 tbsp butter in skillet over medium heat. Workingin batches add oil and butter as necessary, sear racks on all sides, let sit 4-5 min. Spread 1 tbsp mustard on each, press bread crumb coating over meaty side of lamb. Roast on baking sheet 15-18 min. for medium -rare. Let sit 5-10 min. before carving.

Wild rice with almonds, atrichokes and grapes

10 tbsp unsalted butter, divided, 4 1/2 cups wild rice, 6 1/4 cups chicken broth, 3 cans artichoke hearts, drained and diced, 3 cups small, seedless, green grapes, 1 1/2 cups toasted silvered almonds, salt and pepper to taste

In large skillet melt 5 tbs butter over medium-high heat. Add rice, toss to coat. Add broth, increase heat and bring to oil. Reduce heat, simmer, covered, 50 min. or until rice is cooked through and liquid is gone. Meanwhile heat remaining butter in separate large skillet over medium-high heat. Add artichokes and grapes, sauté until hot. Add to rice along with almonds. Season with salt and pepper, stir well.

Mini carrot cupcakes for 12

Ingredients: 2 oz white chocolate, 1 pkg cream cheesem 1/2 cup unsalted butter, 2 tbsp vanilla extract, 1/2 tbsp orange extract, 4 cups confectioner sugar, 2 tbsp heavy cream, 2 eggs, 11/2 cups white sugar, 1/2 cup brown sugar, 1/2 cup vegetable oil, 2 cups shredded carrots, (pineapple) 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour, 1 1/4 tsp baking soda, salt, ground cinnamon, ground nutmeg, ginger

Heat oven to 350 F. In small saucepan melt white chocolate over low heat. Stir until smooth. Cool to room temperature. In bowl beat together cream cheese and butter. mix in white chocolate, 1 tsp vanilla extract and all orange extract. Gradually beat in confectioners sugar. mix in heavy cream. In large bowl, beat together eggs and sugar and mix in oil and 1 tsp of vanilla. fold in carrots and pineapple. In separate bowl mix flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg  and ginger. Mix flour mixture into carrot mixture. transfer to greased muffin cups and bake 25 min. Cool completely before topping with icing. Garnish with plastic spiders.