Sweet and tangy tropical goodness…

passion fruit bars dusted with powdered sugar

I was the happy beneficiary of some fresh passion fruit from one of my co-workers about a week or so ago. Well, they finally ripened up enough for me to use so I decided to make passion fruit bars. Passion fruit, is a somewhat sour acidic tropical fruit which lends itself very well to this application as well as being turned into curds as discussed in previous post or really anything that you’d use citrus.

There’s two parts to this recipe, first is the shortbread base and then the curd that goes on top. You’ll need to bake and completely and allow to fully cool to room temperature before working on the curd topping. We have quite a few Vietnamese markets here that sell frozen passionfruit juice and its also available at our local Whole Foods. Look for one that doesn’t have sugar added, if you can’t find unsweetened, reduce the sugar in the filling by a couple of tablespoons. If you’re not able to locate passion fruit, use any combination of citrus juice you have available. You’ll need a 9×9 brownie pan to make this recipe. I’d suggest using a metal pan versus glass so the sides of the bars do not brown too much.

Shortbread Base

½ cup unsalted butter at room temperature

1 cup All Purpose Flour

¼ tsp salt

3 TBS granulated sugar

3 TBS powdered sugar

Preheat oven to 325F

In a large bowl mix all the ingredients by hand until it is a sand like texture.

Shortbread dough mixed to a sand like texture

Press into a 9×9 brownie pan that’s been lined with parchment paper and spayed with cooking spray or greased with butter.

Pressing shortbread dough into a brownie pan lined with parchment

Dock the dough a few times to prevent the crust from rising/bubbling up.

docking the shortbread crust.

Bake crust in an oven preheated 325F and bake for 30 minutes or until shortbread turns a light golden brown along the edges.


3 large eggs

½ cup passion fruit juice

1 tsp fresh lemon zest

2 TBS lemon juice

½ tsp baking soda

1 ½ cups granulated sugar

pinch of salt

3 TBS All Purpose flour

Powdered Sugar for dusting

Mix all the ingredients except for the flour together until well mixed. Slowly mix in the flour a tablespoon at a time until mix is free of lumps and the flour has been thoroughly incorporated. Pour filling mixture into the baked and cooled crust. Bake in an oven preheated to 350F for 35-40 minutes or until filling is set.  Dust with powdered sugar and cut into squares to serve.

Sweet Meets Savory…

Half a Cornish Game Hen fills in for chicken thighs and drumsticks over a cornbread waffle for a play on traditional chicken and waffles

So last week we celebrated Valentine’s Day.  Invariably one of us winds up sick on Valentine’s Day so we don’t have a good track record of actually being able to complete any of the plans that we make. This year I decided to forego any attempt at making reservations or any elaborate surprises and shenanigans and decided to cook at home and to make one of my wife’s favorite meals, Chicken and Waffles.

We’re fortunate enough to live a scant 2 miles from the Mecca of Chicken and Waffles, Roscoe’s (get the Obama Special). Roscoe’s does an amazing traditional Southern-inspired Chicken and Waffles along with all the traditional Southern sides. I love their Chicken and Waffles and wouldn’t dream of trying to emulate their recipes. But I will gladly use their recipe for inspiration.

My flavor inspiration came from the Southwest and Mexico. I made a corn and jalapeño waffle and marinaded Cornish Game Hens overnight with buttermilk seasoned with Chulula Hot Sauce, cinnamon, allspice, nutmeg, oregano, cracked black pepper, salt and ground ancho chile. I dredged the game hens in seasoned flour and crushed up cornflakes before frying. For the syrup, I used a dark agave with melted butter, cinnamon and a bit of Doña Maria Mole in it.

I wanted my waffle to have a strong corn flavor, so I used creamed corn, cornmeal and ground freeze dried corn to play up the corniness. Here’s the recipe:

Jalapeño Corn Bread Waffle

  • 1  ¼ cup corn meal
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 Tbsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 1 14.75oz can creamed corn
  • 4 TBS melted butter (slightly cooled)
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten
  • 1 jalapeno diced
  • 2 TBS ground freeze dried corn (optional)

In a large bowl, combine cornmeal, baking powder, salt, dried corn, sugar and flour and mix a few times with a whisk to combine. In a blender, combine, the jalapeño, egg, corn, and creamed corn and blend until the mixture is smooth. Slowly mix the wet ingredients into the dry until blended then add the melted butter and blend until well combined. The batter will be grainy looking but try to work out the bigger lumps of cornmeal and flour. Set batter aside. Oil and heat waffle iron according to manufactures directions. Place a wire cooling rack on a baking sheet and heat oven to 250F. Place cooked waffles in oven to keep warm.

Buttermilk Chicken Marinade

  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 2 cloves of crushed garlic
  • 2 TBS you favorite Mexican style Hot Sauce
  • 1/4 tsp ground clove
  • ¼ tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • ¼ ground allspice
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp fresh ground black pepper
  • ½ ground ancho chili

Place all the ingredients in a 2 gal sized zip top bag add the chicken and marinade in the fridge overnight or for at least 4 hours.


  • 1/4 tsp ground clove
  • ¼ tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • ¼ ground allspice
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 TBS salt
  • 1 tsp fresh ground black pepper
  • ½ ground ancho chili
  • 1 cup A/P flour
  • 2 cups crushed cornflakes

Fill a cast iron skillet of dutch oven to half full with cooking oil and heat cooking oil to 360F. Place ingredients into a paper grocery bag, Remove chicken from the marinade and remove excess marinade. Toss into the season flour and knock off the excess.


Cornish game hens dredged in seasoned flour an crushed cornflakes.

Place on cookie sheet with a wire rack and continue to dredge all the pieces of chicken. Fry until internal temperature of chicken reads 165F on an instant read thermometer.





Here there be dragons…..

Homemade fortune cookies decorated for Valentine’s Day.

Every once and a while as I’m wandering around Pinterest and Instagram I see an idea that I find inspiring and I try to reproduce it or riff off of it and usually it works out how I imagined it in my head. So, with it being Lunar New Year (’cause I tend to write posts a week ahead) and with Valentine’s Day coming up I thought I’d try my hand at making fortune cookies from scratch. I love the idea of being able to customize the fortunes as well as the cookie itself being an interesting package to hide surprises. Seems perfect for Valentine’s Day, right?

I can deal with doing a lot of seemingly tedious culinary tasks. I can spend hours decorating cookies and using tweezers to apply sugar pearls and such to cakes and cookies. But I have to admit these fortune cookies are a little too tedious for me. The recipe I’m going to share will make 2 dozen fortune cookies. But I actually made 10 and called it quits. The batter is super easy but the tedium comes into play with baking them 2 at a time. Then putting the fortune into the hot from the oven cookie before the cookie cools too much and starts to crack. And off course accomplishing this without burning your fingers. Turns out this is much easier said than actually done. So cool idea but a bit of a PITA. Good luck and may the odds be in your favor.


  • 2 large egg whites
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • ½ tsp orange extract (or whatever other flavor you’d like)
  • 6 TBS melted butter
  • ⅔ cup AP flour
  • 24 precut sayings or fortunes

Preheat oven to 375F.

In a large mixing bowl, mix the eggs and sugar with a wire whisk until the sugar is dissolved. Then mix in, salt, extracts and flour. The batter will be really thick and that’s ok. Slowly drizzle in the melted butter and continue to stir until the batter is the consistency of instant pudding.

Using a silicone mat, spread 1 TBS of the batter into a 3 ½ round.

Try to spread the batter as evenly as possible. Bake the cookies at 375F for 5-8 minutes or until they start to brown around the edges. Remove them from the oven and place onto a cooling rack. Immediately use a metal spatula to loosen the cookies from the mat and place the fortunes in the middle.

Slowly press the edges of the cookie together (the cookies will still be hot to the touch) and fold over the edge of a cookie sheet or glass. I used a metal ruler I had laying around.

Allow to cool and decorate as you like. These should be eaten same day. Since there are no preservatives in them, they a susceptible to humidity.

Making Whoopie…Pies that is..

Rich choccolatey whoopie pie with cream cheese cherry filling

There’s a few regional treats and foods that we just can’t seem to find out here in California and my wife as a born and bred East Coaster, loves California but sometimes she just really has a hankering for some Taylor Ham (it’s like Spam but better), decent pierogi (amazing Polish dumplings similar to ravioli), good bagels and whoopie pies. I think the whoopie pie is really the thing she misses the most.

If an Oreo Cookie and a Chocolate cupcake had a baby, it’d be a whoopie pie. They’re this wonderful combination of rich, chocolatey cakiness and fluffy (super sweet) filling and they’re super easy to make. Not really sure why its called a whoopee pie because there’s nothing pie like about them but here’s my recipe


2 cups AP flour

1/2 cup cocoa powder

pinch of salt

1 stick of butter (softened and at room temperature)

1 egg

1 tsp vanilla extract

1 ¼ tsp baking soda

1 cup brown sugar

1 cup plain yogurt (you can sub sour cream, kaffir or buttermilk)

Preheat oven to 350F

In a large bowl, combine flour, cocoa, salt and baking soda and set aside In another large mixing bowl, cream butter and sugar together until fluffy. Add the vanilla extract, egg, and yogurt and mix until combined. Gradually add in the dry ingredients until they are well incorporated. Batter should be the consistency of brownie mix. Grease a baking sheet or line with parchment paper or a silicone mat. Spray a ice cream scoop with cooking spray and form batter into balls and place on the cookie sheet leaving a 2″ gap between cookies. To make the traditional smoothed topped whoopie pies, lightly wet your hands with water and shake off the excess. Run your fingers across the tops of the cookies and sides to smooth over any craggy points. I opt to leave them in their craggy jaggy state. Bake the cookies at 350 for 10-15 minutes. The cookies should puff up and a toothpick should come out clean when the cookies are done. Set on a wire rack to cool. Let the cookies cool completely before filling.


1 stick softened room temperature butter

1 8oz package of softened cream cheese

1 cup marshmallow fluff

1 cup powdered sugar

½ cup chopped candied cherries (optional)

1 tsp vanilla extract

Cream butter, marshmallow, cream cheese and vanilla together until well combined and fluffy. gradually add the powder sugar, if filling is still loose, continue to add powder sugar until filing is the consistency of cake frosting.