Tangerine Sorbet

Be sure to grate the zest before juicing the fruit.


4 cups fresh tangerine juice
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons grated tangerine zest


In a small saucepan over medium heat, combine 2 cups of the tangerine juice and the sugar. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the sugar dissolves and the mixture is clear. Remove from the heat and let cool.

Stir in the remaining 2 cups tangerine juice and the lemon juice. Add the zest. Transfer the mixture to an ice cream maker and freeze according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Makes about 1 quart.

Spicy Glazed Pecans

Serve candied pecans with a festive wine for a holiday appetizer or sprinkle a few into salads. For a delightful homemade gift, make up a few batches and place in airtight jars.


1/2 cup powdered sugar
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
4 teaspoons water
2 cups pecans


Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

In a medium bowl, whisk together powdered sugar, kosher salt and cayenne pepper.

Add the pecans to the powdered sugar mixture with 4 teaspoons of water. Gently stir until the powdered sugar mixture dissolves into a sticky glaze and coats the pecans. If mixture is too dry, add another drop or two of water.

Pour the pecans onto the parchment lined baking sheet and spread nuts out in a single layer. Drizzle any remaining glaze over the nuts. Bake for 10-12 minutes, until the pecans are crusty on top and caramelized and golden on the bottom. Immediately remove the pecans from the baking sheet by lifting the parchment off of the hot baking sheet. Allow pecans to cool completely on the countertop. Once cooled, remove the pecans from the parchment, breaking apart any clusters if necessary, and store in an airtight container.

YIELD: Makes 2 cups

SOURCE: Adapted from recipe by Chef Jennifer Segal, Once Upon A Chef

Chocolate Almond Lavender Cookies

These chocolate cookies are sublime finished with a sprinkle of flaky sea salt. They can be made vegan by replacing the dairy butter with Earth Balance ‘butter.’


1/2 cup (1 stick) sweet butter melted and cooled to room temperature (for vegan cookies, use Earth Balance butter)
1/2 almond milk room temperature
1/3 cup sugar
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 1/2 cups light spelt pastry flour (such as Bob’s Red Mill)
1 cup lightly toasted almond slivers
1 teaspoon organic culinary lavender flowers
Flaky sea salt (optional, but lovely with chocolate!)


In a food processor mix almond milk, melted butter and sugar. Let it stand for about 10 minutes for the sugar to dissolve, then pulse a few more times.

In a bowl mix flour, lavender flowers and cocoa powder. Then, gradually add to the mixture in the food processor and pulse a few times, until they form a coarse mixture. Do not over mix because it makes the dough tough and cookies will come out dense.

Add almonds and pulse 4 times.

Empty the mixture on a lightly floured surface (kitchen counter works just fine, not the titled kitchen counter though, it has to be a flat surface).

Gather up the dough and knead 2 or 3 times. Next, flatten the dough into a disk, wrap in plastic and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 375°F.

Remove the cookie dough from the fridge and roll it out on a lightly floured surface (1/2 inch thick), cut out cookies with a 2 inch round mold and place them on a parchment lined cookie sheet. Sprinkle with a tiny amount of sea salt. (This is optional, but I do that because it makes these cookies even more heavenly!)

Bake for 12-15 minutes.

Remove cookies to a cooling rack and allow to cool for an hour before eating, serving, or packaging.

YIELD: About 30 cookies

SOURCE: Ellie Lavender, Vegan Mediterranean Personal Chef & Culinary Instructor. Please visit Lavender Design + Cuisine for more delicious vegan recipes!


Rustic Pluot Galette


1 1/2 pounds pluots, sliced into eighths*
1/2 cup sugar (or less, depending on sweetness of pluots)
1/3 cup apricot or plum preserves
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice, optional
1 homemade pie crust or 1/2 package (15-oz.) refrigerated pie crust
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
1 large egg
1 tablespoon sugar
Yogurt or Creme Fraiche


Line baking sheet with parchment paper; spray parchment paper with cooking spray.

Preheat oven to 350°. Combine pluots, preserves, vanilla extract, and allspice (if using) in a large bowl. Let stand 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Combine pluots, preserves, vanilla extract, and allspice (if using) in a large bowl. Let stand 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Place piecrust on prepared baking sheet. Roll into a 12-inch circle.

Drain pluot mixture, reserving liquid. Toss plums in flour.

Mound pluot mixture in center of piecrust, leaving a 3-inch border. Fold over pie crust border up and over pluots, pleating crust as you go, leaving an opening about 5 inches wide in center.

Stir together egg and 1 tablespoon water. Brush piecrust with egg mixture, and sprinkle with 1 tablespoon sugar.

Bake at 350° for 45 minutes or until filling is bubbly and crust is golden. Transfer tart on parchment paper to a wire rack; cool 20 minutes.

Bring reserved fruit mixture liquid to a boil in a small saucepan over medium heat and cook 1 to 2 minutes to reduce until slightly thickened. Let cool slightly. Brush or drizzle 1 – 2 tablespoons of hot plum liquid over exposed fruit in center of tart. Serve immediately with remaining fruit syrup, and  if desired, a dollop of yogurt or creme fraiche.


Other fruits can be substituted for pluots – apricots, plums, peaches, nectarines.


Gluten-Free Coconut Chocolate Chewies

Kind of a cross between a macaroon and a drop cookie, these gluten-free treats are delicious.


2 oz. unsweetened cocoa powder, about 1/2 cup plus 3 tablespoons
11 oz. powdered sugar, about 2 3/4 cups
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 egg whites, at room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup dried, unsweetened coconut


Preheat oven to 350°. Line baking sheets with parchment paper.

Combine cocoa powder, powdered sugar, and salt together in a stand mixer bowl fitted with a whisk attachment.

On low speed and add egg whites one at a time. Add vanilla extract and turn mixer on high for about 2 minutes, until the batter has thickened. Gently fold in the coconut — don’t mix it in completely.

Drop batter (about the size of a rounded measuring tablespoon) onto baking sheet. Bake for 13-15 minutes. Cookie should be puffed and cracked. Allow the cookies cool on the cookie sheet or remove them and let cool on a wire rack.

Creamy Pumpkin Flan with Caramel

It’s almost un-American to admit this – I’ve never cared for pumpkin pie. And for someone who has baked thousands of desserts, I can count on one hand the number of times I’ve baked pumpkin pies for my own family. However, it didn’t take me long to create an acceptable pumpkin dessert that would please even the most die-hard pumpkin pie fan. Using my favorite Cuban flan recipe as the base, I added freshly roasted Kabocha pumpkin purée and a few pinches of sweet spices. The result was the perfect make-ahead dessert for holidays. P.S. I’ve not been asked to bake a pumpkin pie since!


For Caramel
1 1/2 cups sugar

For Custard
8 oz. cream cheese, room temperature
1 can sweetened condensed milk
1 cup pumpkin purée (fresh or canned)*
3/4 cup sugar
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 can evaporated milk (or heavy cream)
5 extra large eggs
1 tablespoon pure Mexican vanilla extract**
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
Optional: 1/2 cup toasted pepitas (pumpkin seeds) or toasted sliced almonds

If using homemade purée, use a drier pumpkin, such as roasted kabocha.  If using a fresh pie pumpkin, let the purée drain for half an hour before using. Homemade pumpkin purée tends to have a wetter consistency than canned pumpkin.

**Use only pure Mexican vanilla from a reliable source, such as The Vanilla Company. Bourbon vanilla extract can be substituted, but the real magic of this dessert is the rich Mexican vanilla flavor that stands up to the caramel and earthy pumpkin flavors.


For caramel:
Place sugar in the bottom of a heavy skillet over medium heat. When sugar starts to melt slightly, begin stirring. Continue stirring until sugar is completely melted and a rich golden brown, about 10 minutes or so. DO NOT BURN! Immediately pour hot syrup into flan pan or mold of your choice. Tilt the pan carefully to evenly coat the bottom and sides of your flan pan with the caramel. Set aside.

For Custard:
Preheat oven to 350°F.

Place the softened cream cheese in the bowl of a food processor. Process until cheese is creamy. Add condensed milk, pumpkin purée, sugar, cornstarch, eggs, vanilla, and spices. Process until mixture is thoroughly combined and smooth. Scrape down sides of processor bowl, and process briefly.

Pour the mixture through a strainer positioned directly over the flan pan. (Alternately, you can also strain mixture into a large quart measuring cup, and then pour into the flan pan, if this is easier for you.)

Place the filled flan pan in a large shallow roasting pan, and fill the pan with boiling water until it reaches about halfway up the sides of the flan plan. Place pan on the lower center rack of your oven and bake for 50-60 minutes, or until the center is firm, but still jiggles slightly.

Cool for one hour. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 24 hours.

To unmold, run a thin-bladed knife around the edges of the flan mold, and shake gently to loosen. Place a serving plate on top of mold, and then invert mold.

Garnish with toasted pepitas or sliced almonds, if desired.

Festive Fruit and Nut Snowballs


A no-bake, gluten-free, make-ahead holiday treat, this combination of dried fruit and nuts is both nutritious and delicious. Rolling them in shredded coconut gives them their festive “snowball” appearance.


3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1/2 cup pitted and snipped dates
2 large eggs, beaten
1/3 cup chopped pistachios, preferably unsalted
1/3 cup chopped walnuts
1/3 cup chopped pecans
1 teaspoon rum extract
3/4 cup shredded coconut


Combine sugar, cranberries, dates and eggs in a medium saucepan. Cook over medium-low heat, stirring constantly, until the mixture thickens, is pale yellow in color, registers at least 170°F on an instant-read thermometer and when a spoon is pulled through it, it leaves a clear trail.

Remove from heat; stir in pistachios, walnuts, pecans, and rum extract. Let stand until cool enough to handle, about 45 minutes.

With damp or lightly oiled hands, form the mixture into 1-inch balls (about 1 generous teaspoon each). Roll each ball in coconut. Place the finished balls on a baking sheet lined with wax paper and store in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. Or, freeze for up to 1 month.

YIELD: Approximately 3 dozen cookies

SOURCE: Recipe courtesy of Eating Well

Rhubarb Dessert Bars

These bars have a delightful meringue-like crust and are easy to make for a weeknight dessert.

1 1/2 cups all-purpose
3/4 cup confectioners’ sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup (4 ounces) butter, cold, cut into 1/2 inch chunks
2 tablespoons lemon zest
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice

4 large eggs
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 cups granulated sugar
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
4 cups (1 pound) packed diced rhubarb (about 1 1/2 pounds of rhubarb stalks)

For the Crust:
Preheat oven to 350°.

Place flour, sugar, and salt in the bowl of food processor. Pulse to combine. Add the butter and pulse until the mixture is crumbly. Add the lemon zest and juice and give the mixture a final pulse or two. Pour the mixture into the bottom of a lightly greased 9 x 13-inch baking pan and press the mixture evenly into the bottom.

Bake the crust for 10 to 15 minutes, until it’s lightly browned. Remove it from the oven (leave the oven on) and allow it to cool slightly.

For the Filling:
In large mixing bowl, beat the eggs and salt until foamy. Gradually add the sugar, and continue beating until the mixture is thick and light yellow. Blend in the flour, then fold in the rhubarb.

Pour the rhubarb mixture over the crust, return the pan to the oven, and bake for 40 to 45 minutes, until lightly browned.

Vanilla Amaretto Figs


12 fresh California Mission figs, washed and dried
vanilla bean, split and opened
1 cup Amaretto
1 cup filtered water
1 cup sugar


Cut figs in half, lengthwise. Fill a large, wide mouth canning jar with the fig halves. Place vanilla bean on top. Set aside.

In a large saucepan, combine amaretto, water, and sugar and bring to a boil. Boil gently for 5 minutes or until mixtures reduces slightly and becomes syrupy. Remove from heat and allow to cool 10 minutes.

Place jar with figs on a kitchen towel. Pour warm syrup over figs. Seal the jar with lid, allow to cool completely, and place in the refrigerator overnight before using. Figs will keep 4-5 days.

Serving Suggestions

  • Spoon the figs and syrup over ice cream.
  • Serve with a dollop of mascarpone cheese.
  • Spoon figs and syrup over whole milk Greek yogurt.
  • Serve a fig or two with your favorite pound cake with a little syrup drizzled over the cake.

Spiced Port Poached Figs with Honeyed Cream



12 fresh, ripe medium figs
1/4 cup honey
4 cups port wine
pinch of salt
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
2 lemons, zested
2 oranges, zested
2 whole cloves
2 cinnamon sticks
3 star anise
8 peppercorns

Honeyed Cream
½ cup heavy cream
½ cup sour cream
1 tablespoon honey
mint leaves, for garnish


Trim thin slice from bottoms of figs, set aside.

Combine honey, port, salt, vinegar, lemon and orange zests, cloves, cinnamon, anise, and peppercorns in large saucepan. Heat to boiling; reduce heat. Add figs and simmer for 5 minutes. Set aside to cool.

Meanwhile, whip creams and honey together until fluffy. Divide and spoon onto 6 individual serving plates. Arrange figs on top and drizzle with poaching liquid and garnish with mint leaves.

YIELD: 6 servings, 2 figs each

SOURCE: Recipe from Max’s Bistro, Fresno, California, CaliforniaFigs.com