Pineapple Upside-Down Cake

Ever since living in Germany and befriending a few Swedes who showed me the value of celebrating midsommer, I’ve tried to celebrate or have a party to mark some of the longest days of the year. This year, the event was a Tiki Party! I mainly decided on this months ago because I found this super cute dress on etsy, and after thinking through all potential, I decided it was a go.

Once I was set on this theme, I got excited about the mai thai’s and kitchy tropical foods that would help set the scene. I bought some tiki torches, tons of rum and landed on tropical chicken skewers, coconut ice cream and pineapple upside-down cake for the snacks.

I have been saving this recipe for over 10 years! A friend made it around the time we graduated from college, and when I was having a hard time finding a recipe online that really struck me, I went back through the depths of my email to find the recipe she’d sent me.

The cornmeal and almond extract really set this apart for me. I LOVE almond extract and the cornmeal adds great texture and a little density that makes this not your every day cake. The fruit and caramel are sweet, but the cake batter itself isn’t over the top, so it ends up being a nice balance. Seeing as that I don’t think you can say pineapple upside-down cake without thinking of kitchy 1950’s I didn’t want to stray from tradition and went circular pan, maraschino cherries and all.

It helped set the perfect scene for the part and cake was definitely the star food served (along with the ice cream, which I’ll share at some point too!).



Apple Cream Torte

I’ve subscribed to magazines for years now. It all started with Bon Appetit (which started my original blog) and while I was a faithful reader for many years, I’ve now switched over to Food & Wine to mix it up. I’ve also gotten Sunset for a while and throw in 5280 (formerly a 7×7 in San Francisco), The Sunday New York Times and my book of the moment and I am at no shortage for reading material. After so many years I’ve gotten pretty good about tearing out or taking photos of material I want to remember, so I don’t have to keep the entire publication – but that just means instead of having a pile of magazines in my house, I have a pile of torn out pages.

Every now and then I go through and weed out the recipes that no longer look interesting, or that I’ll never really make, but rarely do I actually choose one to take action against. This weekend I was ruthless in tossing out these pages AND I managed to actually make one of the recipes!

I have many times written about how I love fruit cakes. The really simple kind where there is fruit, batter and maybe just a sprinkling of powdered sugar over the top when it’s done. I love the simplicity and not overly sweet flavor. So obviously this cake caught my eye. I had a slew of apples that were past my prime for eating raw, and figured all things were adding up to me finally trying this torte.

It was great! Just what I like. Not too sweet, a tiny bit of savoriness coming through with the apple and some variety in texture as well. The apples sink to the bottom and the cream batter (there is no butter!) creates this custard-y layer at the bottom. The recipe also starts with whipping the eggs and sugar, which give a slightly crunchy, meringue-like crust on the top.

It was a huge hit with my friends and colleagues and would be a great brunch addition or a just because cake. Isn’t it time you made a cake just because?

Apple Cream Torte – from Sunset September 2016 Continue reading

Grapefruit Cake & A Trip to Boonville

One of the many things that I love about the bay area is that it doesn’t snow. Don’t get me wrong, there is something magical about a white winter BUT the realities of living in it are something else. I’ve never had to actually endure weeks on end of life in snow, but from the short while that we had snow on the ground in Germany, I can tell you it is a nuisance. Also, when it gets unbearably cold and wet outside, the chances of being able to camp in October go down dramatically.

So yes, I went camping in October. It was absolutely wonderful. Cold at night, gorgeous during the day, and just the right time of year to get some fall colors. We were outside of Boonville, which is a couple of hours north of SF, and home to many a winery, apple orchards and the Anderson Valley Brewing company. We hiked during the day, beer tasted by afternoon, and campfired by night. The perfect weekend. Boonville is a cute little stretch of HWY 128 that is home to just as equally cute antique shops and cafes. In one of these stores, I spotted the most adorable Wedgwood china dessert plates, that I just had to have… turning what was supposed to be a nice cheap weekend, into a spendy vacation. But they are SO cute!

So obviously when I made grapefruit pound cake to have at dinner a few weeks later, I had to display it on these super cute plates. This cake is really tasty. It’s a Thomas Keller recipe, of which I was a little weary after I made a soup from Ad Hoc at Home and it had me using every pot, pan and dish in my kitchen. However, this recipe is MUCH simpler and to my surprised, used very normal ingredients and processes to yield a wonderfully moist pound cake. I’m sure it would have been amazing straight out of the oven, but then you let a grapefruit syrup soak in and top with glaze that is not only visually stunning but also really flavorful. It was a huge win with my friends and with the pinkness of the grapefruits right now, you’d be silly not to try it.


Grapefruit Cake from Ad Hoc at Home by Thomas Keller


  • 2 Cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 3/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 3/4 cup canola oil
  • 1 tbsp grated pink grapefruit zest
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

Grapefruit Syrup

  • 1 cup strained fresh pink grapefruit juice
  • 2/3 cup granulated sugar

Grapefruit Icing

  • 3/4 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 tbsp plus 1 tsp fresh pink grapefruit juice

Preheat oven to 350 F. Spray a 10×4 inch loaf pan with non-stick spray.

Sift the flour, baking powder and salt together. Set aside.

In a stand mixer with the whisk attachment combine the eggs and sugar. Beat at medium speed for a bout 3 min until mixture is thickened and the whisk leaves a trail. Beat in the milk, then oil, grapefruit zest and vanilla. Reduce speed to low and add flour mixture, mixing just to incorporate, scrape down the sides of the bowl.

Spread the batter in the pan. Lightly oil a paring knife and run the knife lengthwise down the center of the batter, about 1/2 in deep. It will make the cake rise more evenly and not puff up in the middle.

Put the pan on a baking sheet and bake or 30 min. Turn the baking sheet and bake for another 30 min, or until a cake tester inserted in the center comes out with just a few moist crumbs on it. Trnasfer pan to cooling rack.

Meanwhile combine the 1 cup of grapefruit juice and granulated sugar in a small saucepan. Bring to a simmer, stir to dissolve sugar and simmer for 1 min.

As soon as you have removed the cake from the oven, poke deep holes every 3/4 inch or so, with a long skewer. Immediately begin brushing the syrup over the cake. You may have to wait for the syrup to soak in, but continue until you’ve used all the syrup. Let the cake cool about 10 min.

Unmold onto a cooking rack and turn up right. Let come to room temperature. Stir the powdered sugar with the 1 tbsp + 1 tsp grapefruit juice, until smooth. Then drizzle the icing over the cooled cake. Slice and serve.

Serves 8-10 and will keep well for about 2 days, loosely covered at room temperature.

Grown Up Floats: Tomato Sorbet + Champagne

I started subscribing to Sunset Magazine back in February. I signed up for it by snail mailing in a check. REALLY old school. I know. Seeing as that I send most of my mail from the office, my coworkers laughed and made fun of me as I made my way to the mail area, but you know what, is it so unreasonable to not want to be signed up for recurring charges? I don’t think so. And about the subscription itself? I was laughed at about that too, but let me tell you, it’s not just for old people. I know that’s what you’re thinking… But if you spent any time flipping through, you’d see it’s actually a celebration of living in the west, with great day and weekend trip ideas, seasonal garden ideas and seasonal recipes as well.

So far, I’ve really enjoyed the local inspirations and was taken with the recipe for Yellow Tomato Lime Sorbet in the August issue. I made it a little while ago, when tomatoes were at their peak, and book club this weekend was the perfect time to serve it up. These grown up floats were an absolutely delightful bit of summer, so appropriate to enjoy when San Francisco is experiencing its true Summer weather. The sorbet alone is sweet and tomato-y with really nice balance from the lime. The champagne in the float helps balance the sweetness and mingles so nicely with the dissolving sorbet. Book club was impressed and so was I. Not to mention, I was happy to have an excuse to use my really cute new glasses from Seattle.

With recipes like this, I could have skipped the embarrassment of mailing in a check and gone forward with the recurring subscription!


Yellow Tomato & Lime Sorbet recipe here

Floats: cover sorbet with champagne and a little bit more.

Blackberry Syrup & Then Some

I couldn’t really tell you why I haven’t been motivated to blog this year… I haven’t been nearly as diligent about going to the grocery store, cooking for one on a weeknight has be come a bit less appealing, and if I’m really honest, I’ve just been prioritizing other things. I’ve been keeping busy by having dinner with friends, pretending to eat healthy, going to the gym a bit, you know usual life things. The usual life things that I am out experiencing, rather than documenting and blogging about.

At the end of the day, I don’t think it really matters because I feel like most things in life wax and wane at some point, and there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that. I’ve still been enjoying cooking and food and as I downloading the pictures from my trip to Seattle last weekend, I realized I have a lot of things to share with you!

I believe I’ve mentioned before my dad’s epic skills in the garden. The thing that he’s been growing the longest and what we all count down to every year are blackberries. He’s continually trying new recipes and methods to make the most of the fruits of his labor – and because of his diligent efforts we’ve enjoyed some of the best pies, jams, sauces and syrups. Of course, not every recipe comes out just right the first time, but we have experienced some happy accidents, like jam not setting and becoming an equally delicious ice cream topping!

This year he gave me some delectable jam and syrup. Since I don’t usually keep ice cream in the house, I have been eating the syrup on all sorts of morning treats like french toast and pancakes – yum! He’s got this recipe just right and I am using is sparingly hoping that it will tide me over until the next blackberry season.

IMG_4577I made bread in June! Loved my pain de mie with its crisp crust and soft lofty center.

IMG_4584It also made the most delectable french toast. Slice thick. Add a splash of almond extract to the egg. Coat in almonds. Fry!photo-20mmm… fresh blackberry syrup on buttermilk pancakes

Blackberry Syrup (adapted from Joy of Cooking)

  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 cup blackberries (pureed and pressed through a fine mesh sieve)
  • 1/2 teaspoon grated lemon zest
  • 1 tablespoon port

Bring the sugar and water to a boil. Add berry puree, lemon zest and port. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer 10 minutes or until thickened.

Russell’s Tips:

  • Be sure to strain your pureed blackberries, as the seeds are not so pleasant in a smooth syrup.
  • The recipe called for a cinnamon stick, if you want more of a spiced syrup you can add the stick to the simmering or a bit of cinnamon powder
  • Most importantly – TASTE TASTE TASTE! Every batch of berries is a little different, so be sure to taste as you go and adjust to the sweetness of the fruit you are using.

Orange and Red Wine Caramel Yogurt Parfaits

Remember that Sex and the City episode, where Carrie has started dating Mr. Big and made the #1 dating mistake by neglected her girlfriends? Well, I feel like I’ve done an OK job of keeping up with my girlfriends, yet the blog is the one that has suffered in my new relationship. I must say that I have a new found respect for all those blogs I follow where the bloggers seem to effortlessly maintain their sites, significant others, and hopefully their friends too. In life, all things are bound to ebb and flow, so it’s no surprise that hobbies too wax and wane throughout  time as well. I’m still cooking, enjoying food and having fun, it’s just unfortunate that not as much has recently been done with a camera in hand or a blog post on the mind… sorry y’all.

Anyhow, this weekend I had an extra day off of work and soaked in as much home time as possible. Saturday I organized my closet, prepped for a project that I’ll be sharing shortly and strayed out only for a couple of hours for an epic trip to Target. Sunday was slightly more adventurous with watching the 49ers game with friends (SUPERBOWL!!!!), grabbing drinks with a new friend and starting my day with the below parfaits.

I saw these parfaits on the Bon Appétit site and have had them on my mind for a couple of weeks. Such a curious combination of red wine, sugar, citrus and yogurt, they are gorgeous, and pretty tasty too! The red wine flavor is much stronger than I anticipated, but somehow seems to work. I’d recommend not getting too much orange juice in your layers and using quite a bit of caramel to balance out the tart yogurt. Definitely an interesting idea that seems appropriate for dessert or breakfast – as I learned in my cook the book project, it can sometimes be a very fine line.

It always feels good to be back in the kitchen and trying new things. The knife and camera feel so right in my hands, that I promise to try to make the next post not so distant.


Orange and Red Wine Caramel Yogurt Parfaits original recipe here

  • 1 cup sugar
  • Pinch of cream of tartar
  • 1/2 cup dry, fruity red wine
  • 2 large oranges, I used a variety of Navel, Cara Cara and Tangelo
  • 1 1/2 cups low-fat plain Greek yogurt
  • 1/2 cup toasted almonds and pistachios, coarsely chopped

Stir sugar, cream of tartar and 3 tbsp of water in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat and cook, swirling occasionally (do not stir) until sugar is caramelized and the color of dark maple syrup, about 8 min – this happens FAST keep your eyes on it. Remove from heat and carefully add 1/4 cup red wine (will bubble vigorously) stir to dissolve. Add remaining 1/4 cup wine. Boil for 30  seconds stirring to make sure all sugar is dissolved. Let cool completely. Can be made 1 week ahead. Cover and chill. Rewarm slightly to loosen before using.

Using a sharp knife, remove peel and pitch from oranges. Segment between the membrane and set aside.

Layer a few pieces of orange in the bottom of small glass jars – make sure to drain or pat dry slices. drizzle with red wine caramel and top with a spoonful of yogurt. Sprinkle with nuts and continue to top of jar.

Happy New Year with Orange Marmalade

I can’t believe another year has come to a close (and that this is the 2 year blogiversary of The Bon Appétit Diaries!!) It’s been a pretty great year with one of the highlights being becoming friends with some other food bloggers and embarking on this Cook the Book project with them!

I did slack a bit with the last few chapters here, but really wanted to pull through with a win at the end, so I made Orange Marmalade from the condiments chapter of The Breakfast Book. There were so many interesting things to choose from, but this project for me was a lot of cooking basic things that I’d said I’d been wanting to try and this just gave me the push to go do it! Orange Marmalade definitely falls into that category… I became a fan of this spread when I was living in Germany of all places. The family always had it on the breakfast table and I loved putting it on top of peanut butter on my toast, rather than traditional American peanut butter and jelly.

I love how rich the flavors are and how bright marmalade is; however, this recipe is one that needs a little finessing. You use orange peels so your are really getting the most vibrant flavors of the orange, but mine came out pretty bitter. The orange peels and fruit are cooked down with some lemon as well and quite a bit of sugar, but I think I need to get less pith in my peel next time, or cook down the peels more, so they begin to breakdown. I do think this will be good baked in something though, the flavors are strong and would definitely hold up as part of a recipe!

All in all, I’m happy to have tried it, as I have with all the other recipes along this adventure. More than anything, it was fun doing a project with new friends, and seeing how everyone’s tastes, blogging styles are different and so enjoyable.

Be sure to check out Aimee, Natasha, Rachel, Claudie and Sammy’s blogs to see what they’re up to!



Orange Marmalade from The Breakfast Book

  • 3 larger oranges
  • 2 lemons
  • 1 1/2 – 2 cups sugar
  • 3 cups water

Peel the oranges and 2 of the lemons, and cut the peel into very thin strips. Remove the pith from the oranges and cut up the fruit. Put the orange fruit and all peels in the water. Bring to a boil and then simmer for 10 minutes. Let cool over night.

Measure out the fruit and water and add approximately 1/2 cup of sugar for every cup of fruit. Boil water fruit and sugar together for 30-45 min. The sugar is the jelling agent, so test for jell point by putting a bit of marmalade on a saucer and putting in the fridge freezer for a minute or two, it is ready when the liquid jams. Add more sugar and cook down a bit more, if it doesn’t jam the first time.

When the marmalade is cooked, thick and jammy, put into jars for storage.