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Print Tuesday

Napa-Morimoto – I’m going back!!!


We have been fortunate enough to dine at Morimoto in downtown Napa twice now with our friend Nicki… it is always a special treat because she knows the best things to order!  The award winning chef, Morimoto has become a star with a formula that’s fresh, flavorful and utterly fantastic!  My favorites are the Toro Tartare (above) and the Rock Shrimp Tempura (below). The Toro (a high grade fatty tuna) is chopped into a paste and placed into a shallow wooden tray and served with six condiments – Nori Paste, Wasabi, Sour Cream, Chives, Guacamole and Rice Crackers. Everyone gets to create their special combinations with their very own little “shovel”… it feels very ceremonial! With so many perfect flavors,  it never seems like enough… I’ll just have to go back for more!!!


And then there is the Rock Shrimp Tempura!  The two shrimp choices are prepared the same but with two different sauces – a mildly spicy Kochujan Sauce (red) and a Wasabi Aioli (green).  I think I like the Wasabi the best… well actually… umm… I’m not sure… I need to go back!


Yummy!… Get the Sticky Ribs (above)!


And…Gyoza with Bacon Foam!!!


The atmosphere is really fun and lively with an open kitchen!



And I definitely want to go back for more of these yummy cocktails!




I think this wise dragon is calling me back!


Yep…we’re going back!!!!

Print Saturday

APRICOTS are ripe at Novacovich Orchards!!!

You have to make a stop to the Novacovich Orchards in the next few weeks, the apricot season is very short and these are the best cots you’ll find anywhere.  The Blenheim Apricot was once widely grown in the Santa Clara Valley, now the orchards are all but gone, except for a rare treasure called Novacovich Orchards.

An outstanding family owned orchard in the heart of Saratoga, California.


Blenheim apricots are delicate and don’t ship well so they are hard to come by unless you grow a tree in your garden or find them at the farmers market.


They are prized for canning, drying and eating fresh. They are both sweet and tart with a delicious aroma of honeysuckle.


Every year in June or early July, I go to this beautiful 11 acre farm that has been in Saratoga from 1925 and buy blenheim apricots and make jam.


12 cups processed apricots
4 cups sugar
4 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 package of Sure Jell


Novacovich Orchards
14251 Fruitvale Ave Saratoga, CA 95070‎
(408) 741-5144

Print Thursday

Chateau CharMarron Peony Gardens


I think peonies are just about my favorite flower in the whole world and in just a few weeks, mine will be in bloom!!!  My plants are covered in buds and I can’t wait to fill my house with their beauty!!!  Every year I go to Chateau CharMarron Peony Gardens and treat myself to a few new plants.  If you have never been, and you love peonies, it’s a must!  Or if you have gone, this is a reminder that the tree peonies are just about to go into full bloom and the herbaceous shrubs, that’s my favorite, will be in full bloom in two weeks.  The property has hundreds and hundreds of beautiful, fragrant peony plants of every variety.  This farm is really a sight to see.


Chateau CharMarron Peony Farms is in the foothills in East San Jose – kind of a long windy road to get up there but well worth it.  Peonies have an extremely short blooming period, so there is a small window of opportunity to see all the flowers and splurge on a few plants.  The prices for a shrub start around $25 which is great compared to the nurseries.  You can also purchase cut flowers, $2. a stem.


Mark your calendar!

Chateau CharMarron Peony Gardens
5335 Sierra Road
San Jose, CA  95132



Print Monday

Salted Chocolate Toffee Pretzel Bark

This sinful bark must be shared!!!  Or not…it’s highly addictive and I should actually never make it again!  My friend Sarah brought this to a party at my house the other night and now I’m hooked! It’s so easy, five ingredients and you don’t even use a candy thermometer.


Salted Chocolate Toffee Pretzel Bark



About 8 ounces, (half a 1-pund bag) of mini pretzels, broken into smaller pieces-gluten free or not
1 cup Plugra salted butter
1 cup packed light brown sugar
2 cups (one 12- ounce bag) semi sweet chocolate chips-(I like Guittard.)
Sea Salt


1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.  Cover with broken mini pretzels and set aside. (I used Gluten Free Pretzels and that made the bark extra crunchy, but it was delicious the first time I tried it without using gluten free.)


2. In medium saucepan over medium heat, combine Plugra butter and brown sugar.  When the mixture gently starts to simmer and bubble, let it cook for 3 minutes without stirring. (No thermometer needed)


Immediately pour the hot caramel mixture over the pretzels in a back and forth motion  cover most of the pretzels (a few empty dry spots are ok as the caramel will fuse together during baking).

Bake for 5 minutes.  Remove pan from oven and sprinkle chocolate chips, let sit for 2-3 minutes to melt.  Use spatula to spread chocolate evenly.  Lightly sprinkle with sea salt.


Let the toffee cool completely at room temperature, then refrigerate if needed to help the chocolate set up.  Break the toffee in to pieces and try not to eat the whole batch!!!


If you need to break into pieces right away, put in freezer after it comes to room temperature. I was in a hurry, fancy that, and I broke it too soon so it didn’t break evenly.


A perfect gift!!!!

Recipe found on internet on Mel’s Kitchen Cafe-also referred to as “Crack  Bark” by Ezra’s Pound Cake sight.




Print Tuesday

Chelsea’s Easy Crockpot Tortilla Enchilada Soup

Chelsea was given a crock pot when she went away to college and then found this easy tortilla soup recipe that she always makes for her friends.  I made it the other night and everyone wanted the recipe. Here it is!


Tortilla Enchilada Soup

1 can (15 oz) Black Beans
1 can (15 oz) Diced Tomatoes with Garlic and Onion
1 can (20 oz.) Enchilada Sauce
1 box Chicken Broth
1 can (7 0z.) Ortega Diced Green Chiles-Mild
1 bag (12 oz.) Frozen Corn
4 skinless Chicken Breasts
2 t. Garlic Salt
2 t. Chili Powder
2 t. Cumin

Put all ingredients in the crock pot and cook on low for 10 hours or high for 6 hours.  Remove chicken, shred meat and return to pot.  Serve with cilantro, sour cream, jalapenos, guacamole and tortilla strips.

Print Saturday

The Thriller, Spiller and Filler


I was introduced to the concept of “thriller, spiller and filler” by my good friend, Vicky, of the beautiful and inspirational home and garden blog, The Creeping Fig.  It’s an easy way to  tidy up your urns or containers anytime. At the bottom of this post I have a link that will take you to a video Vicky made demonstrating the concept.


I was having a little get together and realized  that spring had sprung and my urns needed a little attention, so I stopped by my nursery and picked up some “thriller” (the planter focal point), “spiller” (the cascading feature), and “filler” (a subtle highlight for the eye).  So easy! Here I used ivy to spill, white alyssum to fill and a boxwood ball to thrill! (In the first photo at top I used ivy, fern and a hydrangea)


Simple and elegant!!!

Go to https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?v=437180849674152&set=vb.167057573353149&type=3&theaterincluded to see Vicky’s video!!!

Print Monday


Wow, what a whirlwind December was… I bowed and tied and tied and tied until my fingers were not looking so very lady-like. I laughed and giggled, drank and bounced from one event to the next. Now I’m thoroughly exhausted and ready to reflect and enjoy all the beautiful gifts I received from my loving family and friends.  My new lifestyle  books are especially wonderful, like my signed copy of Jeffrey Alan Marks’ new book, The Meaning of Home and the beautiful and lavish, Veranda, The Art of Outdoor Living.  I love the inspiring Beauty at Home  by Aerin Lauder, and Alice Waters’ new book, The Art of Simple Food II with recipes and advice for the home gardener.  So now that Christmas has been boxed up and put away I am very ready to relax, curl up with these books and take bubble baths and soaks. I am loving U.S Apothecary Rose Water Bath Salt, (above).

Why do we do it?  We love to give….

Dining Room 1

Fun girlie lunch. Thanks to Hector for making it so beautiful!

… parties!!!


Yummy Enchiladas! more parties! Dave’s Enchilada Night, Go to The Water Is Smiling (here) for the lovely story and recipe.

… and more parties


lulu Pom after we decorated for days and days to be ready for our annual holiday party!

… and yet more parties

Harriet & Scarlet

Mommy and Scarlett!

… and to give the gift of love that we hold so dear! But now it’s back to reality and another exciting new year!  I’ll have to figure out how to make it a little less “exciting” next Christmas season!!!  But it sure is lots of fun! Thank you all my dear friends and family for all the thoughtful gifts and for supporting my new venture, “Pamela Says”, xoxo with all my heart!!!


Even Scarlett is exhausted!

Print Monday

Egg Nog and Cookies

Just in time for Christmas!  My delicious egg nog recipe that can be made in advance and the recipe for Kimber’s delicious sweet and salty Sable Cookie!!!


Pamela’s Egg Nog

6 cups whole milk
8 large egg yolks
1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
2/3 cup sugar
2 cups heavy whipping cream
2 t. vanilla
1/8 cup superfine sugar
2 t. pumpkin pie spice
nutmeg for garnish

Place milk in heavy large saucepan.  Scrape in seeds from vanilla bean; add bean.  Bring to a simmer. Remove from heat.  Cover, steep 15 minutes.  Discard vanilla bean.  Whisk yolks and sugar in large bowl to blend.  Gradually whisk in hot milk mixture.  Return mixture to saucepan.  Using rubber spatula, stir mixture over low heat until bubbles subside and mixture thickens slightly (do not boil), about 12 minutes.  Cool.  Cover and refrigerate until cold.  (At this point, egg nog can be made 1 day ahead.  Keep refrigerated.  In large bowl using an electric mixer, beat whipping cream until stiff peaks are just about to form.  Beat in vanilla and superfine sugar until peaks form.  Be sure not to over-beat.  Fold whipped cream into eggnog mixture just until blended. Stir in pumpkin pie spice. (Now at this point, eggnog can be make 8 hours ahead.  Cover and refrigerate.) Ladle over a shot of Meyer’s Dark Rum or Brandy or enjoy it without alcohol.  Finish with a sprinkle of nutmeg. (Based on recipe in Indie Week.com)


Kimber’s Chocolate Pistachio Sables

* 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
* 1 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
* 3 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
* 1 1/4teaspoon baking soda
* 1 1/4 cups (21Ž2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
* 1 1/4 cups (lightly packed) light brown sugar
* 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
* 1 large egg white
* 5 oz. bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, chopped
* 1 cup unsalted, shelled raw pistachios, coarsely chopped
* Flaky sea salt (such as Maldon)

* Whisk flour, cocoa powder, kosher salt, and baking soda in a medium
bowl. Using an electric mixer on high speed, beat butter, brown sugar, and
vanilla until light and fluffy, about 4 minutes. Reduce speed to low and
gradually add dry ingredients; mix just to combine, then mix in egg white.
Fold in chocolate and pistachios.

* Divide dough into 4 pieces. Roll each piece into an 8²-long log about
1 1/2 in diameter, pushing dough together if it feels crumbly. Wrap tightly
in parchment paper and chill until firm, at least 4 hours. (The colder
your dough, the easier it will be to slice.)

* Place racks in lower and upper thirds of oven; preheat to 350°. Working
with 1 log of dough at a time and using a serrated knife, cut logs into
1 1/4-thick rounds and transfer to 2 parchment-lined baking sheets, spacing
1 1/2 apart.

* Sprinkle cookies with sea salt and bake, rotating baking sheets halfway
through, until set around edges and centers look dry, 10­12 minutes.
Transfer to wire racks and let cool.

* DO AHEAD: Cookie dough can be made 1 month ahead; freeze instead of
chilling. Slice frozen logs into rounds just before baking.

Bon Appetit /December 2013


Print Saturday

Chelsea’s Shortbread


This is Chelsea’s go to recipe and she has become associated with this delicious and simple shortbread.  Everyone always asks for the recipe!

Chelsea’s Shortbread

1/2 cup Sugar
1 cup butter-1 bar of Plugra or other high quality European style butter
1 teaspoon Vanilla-Nielsen-Massey Vanillas
2 cups sifted flour
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon baking powder

Mix sugar and butter then add remaining ingredients and work until just mixed, not too much. (Chelsea likes to use her hands!)  Bake in a 9 x 12 glass pan for 20-25 minutes at 375 degrees. Dust with superfine sugar while cooling.  Cut into squares and serve.  You can add nuts, or chocolate chips, but it’s best plain.


Print Friday

Linda’s Pumpkin Soup


I made this delicious pumpkin soup and served it as a little appetizer before Thanksgiving dinner!  The recipe is from The Water Is Smiling, my friend Cynthia’s blog that has great recipes and a story about each dish!  Everything I’ve made from her blog has been wonderful and her writing is fantastic! This soup was a big hit with all my guests  and it was so easy to make.  You’ll love it!

Linda’s Pumpkin Soup

1/4 cup butter
1 cup chopped yellow onion
1 garlic clove, crushed
1 tsp (or more) curry powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/8 to 1/4 tsp ground coriander
1/8 tsp crushed red pepper
3 cups chicken broth
1-3/4 cups pumpkin (14 oz.)
1 cup 1/2 & 1/2
creme fraiche (or sour cream) and chives for garnish

In a large saucepan, melt butter and saute onion and garlic over med/low heat until soft (about 3-5 minutes).  Take care not to burn the garlic!
Add curry, salt, coriander and red pepper flakes.  Cook 1 minute.
Add chicken broth and boil gently uncovered 15-20 minutes.
Stir in pumpkin, add 1/2 & 1/2 and cook 5 minutes.
Pour into blender and blend until smooth.
Return to pot to heat through.
Serve sprinkled with chopped chives and a dollop of creme fraiche.

Note:  A super-fun treat, especially for kids, is to serve this in a pumpkin.  Scrape clean a pumpkin and fill it with the warm soup.  Put the pumpkin on a baking sheet in the oven and heat at 325 degrees for about 15-20 minutes.


Print Thursday

Tuesdays with Laurie


When Chelsea was younger, I used to take her to soccer practice on Tuesdays around 5:00.  Chris was still at work so he’d be left to fend for himself for dinner.  Chelsea and I would be headed home around seven and often times I would call my friend Laurie on the way to see what she was making for dinner!  Laurie is a truly amazing chef…a home chef, mind you, but nonetheless amazing!


On more than one occasion, Chelsea and I were invited by Laurie and her husband Dave for dinner, although most of the time I think we tended to invite ourselves!  So one night when Chelsea and I had stopped over on a Tuesday and been fed a lovely dinner, we were asked the next day by Chris what Laurie had served us.  I told him Filet Mignon with Bearnaise.  “What???”, he asked, “Dave gets Filet and Bearnaise Sauce on a Tuesday??”  Well yes, these are the kinds of meals she serves on a daily basis.  Over the years, we have been served so many wonderful meals by Laurie, that I knew I wanted to include some of her recipes in my blog!


Recently, Laurie had us over for one of her “saucy” dinners, this time Filet Mignon with a Peppercorn Sauce.  I presented the idea of featuring some of her recipes, including her wonderful Filet and Bearnaise dish.  She quickly came up with the name, “Tuesdays with Laurie.”  I love it!!!  I’m including both of her recipes for Filet and Bearnaise and Filet with Peppercorn Sauce, they are both equally delicious.


Above, Laurie served Steak with Peppercorn Sauce, Green Beans and Potato Gratin in individual ramekins.  The Potato Gratin was a perfect pairing, I’ll be sure to include that recipe next time!!!


Dave, you are a lucky man.  Jeffrey (husband to Ina Garten aka The Barefoot Contessa) has nothing on you!!!


Look at the text I got last week..Steak and Bearnaise on a Tuesday!!!

Here are the two sauce recipes:

Bearnaise Sauce

1 T. lemon juice

 3 egg yolks

1T. dry white wine

 ½ cup firm butter

 1 T. fresh tarragon or ½ t. dried leaves

 Stir egg yolks, lemon juice and wine vigorously in a double broiler.  Add ¼ cup of the butter.  Heat over very low heat, stirring constantly with wire whisk, until butter is melted.  Stir in remaining butter in pats, whisk over low heat until thick, about 15-20 minutes.  (Be sure butter melts slowly as this gives eggs time to cook and thicken sauce without curdling.)  After sauce thickens, stir in tarragon. Serve hot with filet mignon.

This fool proof sauce is based on a Betty Crocker Recipe.  It always turns out perfect!


Peppercorn Sauce

1 ¾ cups beef broth

3 T. butter

4- 6 to 8 ounce filet mignon steaks

¼ cup shallots

1 cup whipping cream

3 T. Cognac or Brandy

2 T. drained green peppercorns in bine

Boil stock in small saucepan until reduced to ¾ cup, about 7 minutes.  Meanwhile, melt butter in large skillet over medium-high heat.  Season steaks with salt and pepper.  Cook steaks to desired doneness, about 4 minutes per side.  Transfer steaks to plate.

Add chopped shallots to same skillet and sauté 2 minutes.   Remove from heat.  Add reduced beef stock, 1 cup whipping cream, 3 T. Cognac and green peppercorns.  Boil until mixture thickens to sauce consistency, about 6 minutes.  Season sauce to taste with pepper.  Spoon sauce over steaks and serve.

Bon Apetit/November 1998




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