Category Archives: Fruit

Who Can Resist A Sunny Slice of Tahitian Pineapple Pie?

A taste of Hawaii in a pie.
A taste of Hawaii in a pie.

What do two Centers for Disease Control scientists know about making pies?

Apparently, a whole heck of a lot.

Married couple, Chris Taylor, an epidemiologist specializing in Alzheimer’s and aging, and Paul Arguin, retired head of the CDC’s domestic malaria unit, are avid home bakers. After meeting, they began entering amateur baking contests together — and winning them like crazy. To date, they’ve won more than 600 awards, trophies, ribbons and certificates for their glorious pies.

Now, they’re showcasing their fanciful creations in their first cookbook,

“The New Pie: Modern Techniques for the Classic American Dessert: A Baking Book” (Clarkson Potter), of which I received a review copy.

There are pies for every occasion and for every baking level, from the “Mocha Mystery” and “Guavaberry Apple” to “Strawberry Margarita with Salted Rim” and the one that garnered them “Best of Show Winner” at the National Pie Championships, the jaw-dropping “Peanut Butter Checkerboard.”

As befitting two scientists, this is a very technical book, which means the recipes are quite long because they are extremely detailed. So, don’t freak out when you scroll down at the one below.

Their “Tahitian Pineapple” pie is the one I tackled. While I’ve made my share of pineapple upside-down cakes, I’d never made a pie with fresh pineapple at its heart.

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No-Cook Tomato Sauce Pasta For The Scorching Days of Summer

Beat the heat with this fresh, no-cook tomato sauce with basil and mozzarella over pasta.
Beat the heat with this fresh, no-cook tomato sauce with basil and mozzarella over pasta.

When it’s way too hot to contemplate cooking most anything, and your gardening-goddess friend Annie gifts you a bushel of home-grown tomatoes, what do you do?

You make “No-Cook Tomato Sauce Pasta.” And thank the stars that you did.

This recipe comes from Bon Appetit magazine. But I tweaked it a little by making enough sauce to coat not 12 ounces of spaghetti, but 1 pound, so it can serve four easily. I also added in a generous handful of diced whole-milk mozzarella to go with all the fresh, torn basil leaves.

Thanks to my friend Annie with the super green thumb.
Thanks to my friend Annie with the super green thumb.

The result is a fresh, bright tasting pasta that comes together in a cinch and tastes every bit like a Caprese salad with noodles.

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Churn a Batch of Salt & Straw’s Imperial Stout Milk Sorbet with Blackberry-Fig Jam

This sorbet is made with stout, as well as jam loaded with dried Mission figs and fresh blackberries.
This sorbet is made with stout, as well as jam loaded with dried Mission figs and fresh blackberries.

It’s not that I set out to confound my husband.

But when it comes to ice cream, I often can’t help it.

You see, I am married to someone who wants to eat vanilla ice cream — and only vanilla ice cream.

But who wants to live in a world of only vanilla?

Not I, for one.

So when a review copy of the new “Salt & Straw Ice Cream Cookbook” (Clarkson Potter) arrived in the mail, I couldn’t wait to tear into to make something especially fun and inventive.

After all, the ice cream company founded in 2011 in Portland, OR by cousins Tyler and Malek with locations in the Bay Area now, is famed for its zany flavors. Salt & Straw unabashedly does its best to “Keep Portland Weird.”

But that’s not to say that this ice cream maker gives precedence to wacky over excellence. Not at all. Its innovative flavors may have you scratching your head at first, but once you try them, you will marvel at their execution. Don’t just take my word for it. All it takes is to stop by a Salt & Straw ice cream shop to see the lines at all hours of legions of fans who can’t get enough of ice cream flavors you won’t find anywhere else. Best of all, Salt & Straw often incorporates specialty ingredients local to each of its stores.

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Going With the Grain Part I: Fig, Walnut & Freekeh Salad

The two F's: figs and freekeh.

The two F’s: figs and freekeh.



As in what the freekeh?

If you don’t know this ancient grain, summer is the perfect time to give it a try.

It’s a lot like bulgur, except that freekeh is roasted young green whole wheat kernels, while the former is cracked, hulled parboiled whole wheat kernels. As such, bulgur cooks in a flash, while freekeh takes about 20 minutes or so. The tiny grains of both are packed with fiber and protein, and cook up with with a slight chewy texture. I think freekeh tastes just a little toastier.

Grains like these, which are staples of Middle Eastern cuisines, make incredible summer salads or side dishes. You’re probably already familiar with bulgar in tabbouleh salads. Freekeh can be used in the same way.

Enjoy it in this tasty, texture-tantalizing “Fig, Walnut & Freekeh Salad.”


The recipe is from the new cookbook, “Saffron in the Souks: Vibrant recipes from the heart of Lebanon” (Kyle), of which I received a review copy. It’s by John Gregory-Smith, a food and travel writer who specializes in Middle Eastern and North African cuisine.

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One-Pan-Wonder: Chicken In Plums and Sweet Spice

Plums and Pluots color this one-pan chicken dish a dazzling color.

Plums and Pluots color this one-pan chicken dish a dazzling color.


For the past couple of years, Middle Eastern cuisine has been having a major moment.

And we are all luckier for it.

No longer does the spice mixture of ras el hanout prompt a quizzical look. We now talk knowledgeably about the best brand of tahini. And we think nothing of whipping up our own hummus at home.

The new “Honey & Co. at Home: Middle Eastern recipes from our kitchen” (Pavilion), of which I received a review copy, adds to that narrative by providing a wealth of tempting accessible recipes. The book is by husband and wife chefs, Sarit Packer and Itamar Srulovich, who own the Israeli-influenced cafe, Honey & Co. in London.


As alums of Yotam Ottolenghi’s renowned London restaurants, their recipes spotlight seasonal ingredients, but are even easier to make at home. Try your hand at everything from “Yemeni Lentil Meatballs” and “Cold Yogurt and Pomegranate Soup” to “Lamb Chops with Rocket, Figs and Walnuts” and “Tahini Cake with Lemon and White Chocolate.”

“Chicken in Plums and Sweet Spice” is a Middle Eastern version of a tray bake.

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