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Chocolate Bourbon Tart

A Real Crowd Pleaser!
This Extremely Rich
& Decadent Tart
Serves 16 !



Tart Shell:
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup Confectioners sugar
2 Tablespoons Granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1 stick (1/2 cup) 1/4" diced butter.  Very cold
1 egg yolk, very cold
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
4 Tablespoons very cold water

Alternately for Chocolate Tart Crust: ADD
1/4 cup Cocoa Powder, I use Hershey's Special Dark
1/2 teaspoon espresso powder

1 1/4 cups Heavy cream
9 ounces dark chocolate ( i use Bakers) Chopped
1 teaspoon instant espresso powder
3 large eggs, room temperature
1 Tablespoon Honey
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
3 Tablespoons Bourbon

2 Tablespoons Heavy cream
1 3/4 ounces dark Chocolate, Chopped fine
1/4 teaspoon instant espresso powder
1 teaspoon honey
1 Tablespoon Bourbon Whiskey, warmed



As with any Tart crust, i prefer to make them one day ahead, and have them room temperature and ready to fill.  This makes the process shorter, and insures that your tart will have a firm crisp bottom !
NO Soggy Bottoms please !

You may use a food processor, however i find most people over process the ingredients and the tart shell is not flakey !  I prefer to use the rubbing method with my fingers!
Place the flour, sugars,salt, and cubed butter in a large bowl.  Using your finger tips, rub the butter into the flour mixture until you have a sandy texture with varied pieces of butter visible.  Add the Egg yolk and the vanilla extract, and one tablespoon of very cold water.  Using a rubber spatula, fold the ingredients to incorporate.  You need a nice soft pliable dough.  you may add up to three more tablespoons of water, but do it slowly.

Butter your Tart pan.  Unlike pie crust, I do not rest first, i place directly in the pan, and freeze. 

On a well floured surface, roll the dough out to extend 1" over the tart pan edge.
Fold the dough over into quarters to pick up and place in the pan.  Unfold and gently press into the fluted sides of your pan, leaving some overhang so your tart shell doesn't shrink back.

Freeze for 30 minutes while your oven preheats to 400 degrees.
Place one rack in the center of the oven.
Place your tart pan on a cookie sheet, line with parchment paper, and pie weights or dried beans.

Blind bake for 20 minutes at 400 degrees
Remove the paper and the weights and bake another 8-10 minutes until you have a even golden color.
Tart shell can be stored airtight on the counter for up to three days !

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Place one rack in the center of the oven.
In a 2 quart saucepan over medium low heat bring the cream  and the espresso powder to a simmer.
Pour the Hot cream over the chocolate and let sit for 5 minutes to soften.
Stir until smooth and all the chocolate is melted.
Whisk together the eggs, bourbon, honey, vanilla, and the salt until well combined.
Fold the egg mixture into the melted chocolate and fold gently to combine.
Pour into your prepared tart crust.

Bake for 25 minutes until the filling is just set and the center is still a little jiggly.

While the filling is baking, heat the cream for the glaze and stir in the remaining Chocolate and espresso powder.  Add the Honey and the bourbon and stir until smooth. 

Pour the glaze over the still warm tart and spread gently and evenly, an offset spatula works great here !

Let come to room temperature before refrigerating!  A warm tart in a cold refrigerator will cause condensation and the tart will become watery !!

I prefer to make mine 24 hours before, the flavor really develops.  for ease of cutting cut the tart while it is very cold.  The tart is very rich, so it can be cut into 16 pieces !  Serve with Chilled whipped cream!

As with any tart with Alcohol, you may choose your favorite.
I often use Cointreau.

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Chocolate Bourbon Tart

Apple Tatin

Gluten Free!
Easy, Elegant,
Perfectly Fall !



2- Lbs Granny Smith Apples
2 -tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 -cup brown sugar
2 -tablespoons granulated sugar
1/2 -teaspoon kosher salt
1 -tablespoon pumpkin pie spice
1 -teaspoon fresh root ginger
1 -lemon zested & juiced
1 -teaspoon lemon zest (from lemon)
2 -tablespoons corn starch
2 -tablespoons cold water
1/2 -cup raisins
2 -tablespoons Rum



Pour the two tablespoons rum over the raisins and macerate for 30 minutes.
Zest & juice the lemon, mince the zest for the filling.  Place the juice in a large bowl of cold water to keep the apples crisp and clear while you are peeling and cubing them.

Melt the butter in a large saute' pan, add the drained apples, brown sugar, granulated sugar, lemon zest, kosher salt, pumpkin pie spice, root ginger, and saute' for five minutes.

Add the raisins and any remaining rum.  Mix the corn starch and water and drizzle over the mixture, cook for two minutes to thicken and combine.

Remove from the heat and cool apple mixture to room temperature.

Generously butter a 10" round cake pan.  Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. 
Place one rack in the center of the oven.

Evenly spread the apple mixture into the pan, and using an offset spatula even out and lightly press down to edge.

Prepare the cake mix according to manufactures directions adding one additional egg.

Immediately spread the batter over the apple mixture and bake, 45-50 until the cake is set and cooked through.  A pick inserted into the "cake batter" will pull out clean.  The cake should pull slightly away from the edge of the pan when done.

Remove the pan to a cooling rack and cool ten minutes.  Run a spatula around the edge of the pan to loosen, then invert onto a rimmed serving platter.

Img 1081

Gluten Free Apple Tatin

Mexican Taco Tart

The Elevated Version
of Taco Pie !


Mexican Spice Mix:
1 -teaspoon Mexican Chili Powder
2 -teaspoons Cumin
2 -teaspoons Paprika (i use 1 smoked/1 regular
1/4 -teaspoon onion powder
1/4 -teaspoon garlic powder (not garlic salt!)
1/2 -teaspoon dried Oregano
1/2 -teaspoon Kosher salt
1/4 -teaspoon Cinnamon
1/8 -teaspoon ground cloves

One 12" tart shell

2 LBS ground Beef
1/2 -cup diced onion
1/2 -cup diced Red Bell Pepper
1 10 ounce container fresh Pico De Gallo (drained)
1 Bag 2- cups Mexican Style Cheese ( i used Sargento)
1 medium Jalapeno Pepper seeded, and diced small
5 -extra-large eggs
1 box Jiffy cron muffin mix (prepare according to package directions)


I prefer to make my own tart shell. I also like that the tart is lower than the traditional pie and slices better.  Especially for a buffet !
Alternately you can use a store purchased traditional deep dish pie crust !
The tart shell can be pre-baked the day before, always assemble your ingredients room temperature and not hot !

Saute' the onion and bell pepper and allow to cool.  Saute' the Beef and allow to cool.  These steps may also be done the day before.  If prepping the day before, remove all refrigerated ingredients and allow to come to room temperature before assembling.

Make sure that your oven is preheated to 375 degrees for at least a full 15 minutes. 

After your ingredients are evenly in the shell, mix the corn muffin mix and distribute evenly over the top.  Bake immediately !

Img 1034

Mexican Taco Tart

Honey-Mustard Chicken Thighs

Garlicky & Sweet
Packed with Flavor


4 - bone-in, skin-on Chicken thighs
2 - Tablespoons finely chopped onion
2 - Tablespoons finely chopped garlic
2 - Tablespoons good mustard, most people use dijon, I use Inglehoffer Sweet Hot!
2 - Tablespoons honey
1 - Tablespoon Good White Wine, something you drink ! No cooking wine!
1/2 - teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 - teaspoon Paprika
1/2 - teaspoon Dry mustard (Colemans)
1/4 - teaspoon fresh black pepper
1/4 - cup apricot preserves


Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.  Place one rack in the center of the oven.  Line a baking sheet with foil.

Loosen the skin on the thigh creating a loose pocket, peel back one corner.

Mix together the onion,garlic,mustard,honey,white wine,kosher salt,black pepper, paprika,and dry mustard.

Place one tablespoon of the apricot preserves on to each thigh and spread, top each with a tablespoon of the honey-mustard mixture. Cover the mixture with the skin, spray the skin lightly with EVOO and season with kosher salt & pepper.

Roast for 30 minutes, remove the sheet from the oven, top the thighs with the remaining honey-mustard mixture, return for 20-25 minutes, depending on the size of the thighs, until juices run clear.

Let rest five minutes before serving.


Honey - Mustard
Chicken Thighs

Fresh Cranberry & Orange Sauce

Tart fresh cranberries
bright orange citrus


1 - 12oz bag fresh cranberries
1 - large naval orange zested & juiced(you should have about 1 tablespoon of zest)
1/2 - cup brown sugar
1/4 - teaspoon kosher salt
The juice from the orange, plus orange juice or water to make 1/2 cup


When you cook cranberries they pop !  use a larger size saucepan to avoid splatter!

Rinse the cranberries thoroughly, and pick out any mushy berries.

Combine all the ingredient in the saucepan and place over medium heat until simmering.  Simmer 15 minutes and remove form the heat to cool.
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Cranberry - Orange

German Apple Raisin Walnut Strata

Lebucherugnusse the traditional spice mix used in Pfeffernusse cookies gives this Strata it's exceptional flavor !

I like making free form Strata's
They are rustic, and there is no structured shell !


2 pounds granny smith apples
peeled,cored,cut into 1" chunks
1 -cup raisins macerated with 2 tablespoons dark rum
room temperature for 1 hour
1/2 -cup dark brown sugar
1/4 -cup granulated sugar
1/2 -teaspoon Kosher salt
2 -teaspoons Lebucherugewurz spice (or)
(1 teaspoon cinnamon 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves 1/4 teaspoon white pepper)
2 -Tablespoons unsalted butter
1/4 -cup flour (i use whole wheat)
1/3 -cup walnut pieces
1 -extra-large egg

Strata Pastry:
2 -cups all-purpose flour
10 Tablespoons very cold diced butter. 1/4"dice
1/4 -cup confectioners sugar
1/4 -cup granulated sugar
1/2 -teaspoon kosher salt
1 -extra-large egg yolk
1 -teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 -Tablespoon Cold water

Alternative filling:
2 pounds peeled and cubed peaches
1 -cup fresh blueberries

I make the filling exactly the same, substituting Peaches and blueberries for the apples and raisins.  Omit the rum !


In a large skillet over medium heat, melt the butter.  Add the apples,brown sugar,granulated sugar,spice and salt, and saute for three minutes.

Add the raisins and any rum they have not absorbed.  stir together and sprinkle over the flour to mix.  Saute for three more minutes until thick and bubbly.

Remove from the heat and allow to cool

The filling may be made ahead.  If refrigerated, remove and let come to room temperature before proceeding.

Strata Pastry:

In a large bowl whisk together the flour,confectioners sugar,granulated sugar, and salt.  Add the cold diced butter, and using your fingers rub the butter in, until you have a coarse and sandy texture.  It does not have to be perfect!

Add the egg yolk,vanilla, and water, and work into a soft dough.  Do not knead or overwork.  If the dough is dry, you may add water one teaspoon at a time!

Form into a large flat disk.  Unlike pie pastry, you can roll out Strata immediately.  If you making ahead, wrap tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate.  Remove from the refrigerator at least 15 minutes before rolling out.

I roll my Strata pastry directly onto a parchment sheet into a 10" x 16" rectangle.
you can also do a 16" round!

Slide the parchment paper onto a baking shet.

Beat the egg and using a pastry brush, brush the dough thoroughly to seal.

Lay your room temperature filling down the center leaving a 3" border all around.

Sprinkle the walnuts over the top.  Fold the edges up all the way around using your fingers to mold it.  It should be very simple and rustic looking !

Brush with the beaten egg all around the pastry.

Bake at 375 degrees for 30 minutes until the pastry is golden.

Img 0918

Apple, Raisin,

Cubanelle Peppers
with Eggplant Stuffing

Broiled Cubanelle's
You can use Eggplant, or your choice
of roasted Vegetables !


6 -large Cubanelle peppers, tops removed and seeds and veins removed.
Dice your pepper tops into 1/8" dice
1/2 -cup finely diced onion
1 1/2 -cups diced roasted eggplant, or vegetables of your choice
(zucchini & portobello mushroom are another favorite !)
1/3 -cup plain bread crumbs
1/4 -cup fresh parmesan cheese
1/4 -cup small diced fresh mozzarella cheese
1 extra-large egg
Kosher salt
fresh black pepper



In a medium size skillet saute' the diced pepper and onion in EVOO with a pinch of kosher salt & pepper.  Saute' about three minutes until just softened.  Cool.

In a bowl combine the eggplant,saute' mixture,cheese's,bread crumbs, and the egg, and mix lightly.

Stuff the peppers, packing them tightly.

Lightly spray with EVOO and broil the peppers 6" from the heat source.
I turn the peppers as they become charred and blistered.  After turning several times they should be cooked through.  Remove from the oven and cover and let rest five minutes.

They are great on their own, or served with some spicy red sauce !



Stuffed Cubanelle

Roasted Vegetable

Make this your own by adding favorite vegetables, cheese, & Herbs


Fresh roasted vegetables
Caramelized Onions
Goat Cheese
Fresh basil leaves
Black pepper

Fresh Pesto works great in this !


I use a standard loaf pan.  Line with several layers of plastic wrap leaving a generous overhang for sealing and removing.

There is no absolute about making a terrine.  I like several thin layers of vegetables,onion,cheese & herbs.  If i have fresh pesto, i usually do, i add small dollops.
since the vegetables are already seasoned, i usually just use fresh black pepper to season the layers.

Start with something colorful, as the bottom will become the visual top.
Sometimes i cut shapes and create a pattern on top !

Your second layer should be a solid layer of vegetable, such as eggplant.
Press down firmly with your fingers to pack and create a smooth even loaf.

Cover with the plastic wrap overhang, place something very heavy on the top to compress, and refrigerate overnight!

Un-mold onto a serving platter or cutting board, Slice the very ends off for a fresh look.  You can garnish with fresh basil leaves !

Perfect for a Charcuterie board !

Img 0952

Roasted Vegetable

Crab Stuffing

This is not only excellent Crab Stuffing
It makes the "Best" Crab Cakes !!


1 pound Claw Crab Meat ( or your choice !)
1/2 -cup plain bread crumbs

1/4 -cup finely diced onion
1/4 -cup finely diced red bell pepper
1/4 -cup finely diced celery (with a least a tablespoon of celery leaves if you have them !)
1 -Tablespoon capers
2 Tablespoons unsalted butter
1/4 -teaspoon kosher salt
1/8 -teaspoon fresh black pepper
1 -teaspoon Old Bay Seasoning
1 -teaspoon worcestershire sauce

1 extra-large egg
1/3 -cup good mayonnaise (Hellmans)
1 -Tablespoon Dijon mustard
1/4 -teaspoon fresh black pepper
1/8 -teaspoon kosher salt



In a medium size skillet melt the butter.  Saute' the onion,pepper,celery,salt,pepper and old bay for five minutes until just tender.  Remove from the heat and add the capers and the worcestershire.  Cool the mixture.

In a large bowl toss the crab meat and the bread crumbs together.

In a small bowl whisk together the mayonnaise,egg,dijon,kosher salt, and pepper.

Lightly fold the Saute' mixture into the Crab & bread crumbs.
Using a spatula, fold the wet ingredients into the crab mixture.

At this point you stuffing/cake mixture is done.  I like to refrigerate at least 3-4 hours for the flavor to meld !  Overnight works perfectly!

If making crab cakes, i use 1/2 cup of mixture, sprayed lightly with EVOO and broil for about 4 minutes each side, 6" from the heat source!

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Crab Stuffed Flounder

Perfect Roasted Asparagus

The Hack for perfect uniform Roasting


Fresh Asparagus
Salt & Pepper

Parmesan Cheese

Tip for storing Asparagus:

much like fresh flowers, trim the bottom of the stems
and stand in clear cold water in the refrigerator !
They stay fresh and chrisp!



I like to peel the lower end of the Asparagus stalk.
trim off the very bottom
Drizzle with EVOO and generously salt & pepper

Arrange the Asparagus tips in
thick ends out

This ensures even roasting and not overcook tips !

Roast on high 425 degrees for 13-15 minutes

A sprinkle of Parmesan after they come out of the oven is
perfect !


Roasted Asparagus

Spicy Chicken Sausage Balls
with Pignoli Nuts & Raisins

Over String Beans

Quick Red Sauce
With Pepper & Onion


1 pound Sausage (i use organic chicken)
2 -Tablespoons Pignoli Nuts
2 -Tablespoons Golden Raisins
2 -Tablespoons chopped onion
2 -Large cloves garlic
1/4 -cup fresh parsley leaves
1/3 -cup plain bread crumbs
2 -Tablespoons chicken stock (or milk or water)
2 -Tablespoons Tomato paste
1 -Tablespoon fresh grated Parmesan (I use Pecorino Romano)
1 extra-large egg

1 pound fresh green beans (trimmed & rinsed)

For the sauce:

1/4 -cup chopped onion
1/4 -cup chopped red bell pepper
1/2 -teaspoon Peperonchino
1 1/2 -cups tomato sauce (Gravy)
Pinch of Kosher salt

Grated Cheese for finishing & Serving



This is my basic meatball mix !
I use organic Turkey, traditionally you can use beef,
or the classic beef, pork, veal

I find that two tablespoons of mixture make the perfect finished balls
you can go larger if you prefer.

Bake at 325 degrees for 15 minutes,
turn the balls and rotate the pan and bake another 13-15 minutes
depending on the heat of your oven.

When the balls are done, remove from the oven,
place another baking sheet inverted onto the balls
to cover and keep moist.


Img 0962

Spicy Sausage Balls

String Beans
& Gravy

Vanilla Sugar

"A Bakers Secret"


Granulated Sugar
Vanilla Beans

New Plastic Container



Always start with a new and clean plastic container with a tight sealing lid!
Half Vanilla Pods length wise and scrape out all the seeds.
I start a new container with five Pods.
Add Granulated Sugar to fill the container,
Scrape in the seeds and add the Pod skins.
Seal and shake the container to distribute.
Allow one week to set & cure.

The Sugar will have a very strong Pure Vanilla Flavor & Scent,
This gives your baking that extra added layer of
Pure Vanilla !

As you use the Sugar, refill the container.
Since i use fresh Vanilla Seeds constantly,
after removing the seeds i place all the
Pods in the sugar container.

As the Pods get older, they dry out.
Once all the scent is gone, you can remove those and
continue to place new Pods in!


Img 1002

Vanilla Sugar

Roasted Shrimp

The simple Hack to retain
Perfect Shrimp Flavor


1 -LB Fresh Shrimp
(I used Jumbo 14-16 per pound)
1 -Tablespoon EVOO
1/2 -teaspoon Kosher Salt
1/4 -teaspoon fresh Black Pepper



Preheat the oven to 400 Degrees
Place one rack in the center of the oven

Peel & devein the shrimp,
for Shrimp Cocktail I leave the tails on,
For all other dishes I usually remove.

Toss the Shrimp,EVOO,Kosher Salt, and Pepper on
a baking sheet.
Arrange the shrimp in rows, with the thicker head end facing
out, and the tails toward the center.

Roast for 7 minutes.

For smaller shrimp, as the sizes go down, cut the time down.
The average small shrimp usually go 5 minutes.


Img 0976

Perfect Roasted Shrimp