California Avocado Muffins

When I was a kid, I made the most disgusting baked goods and my older brother Tom would eat them all. He didn’t want to hurt my feelings. He didn’t want to see me cry after I had slaved all afternoon, post Slip ‘n Slide, making my experimental rum extract flavored loaf cake. It was bright green, and was injected with a blue sugar syrup, making double use of a tincture my father gave us to feed a sick bird we had saved and released back into the wild suburban neighborhood we ruled. Let’s just say, I rinsed the tincture well. No matter, Tom ate the cake and reassured me it was pretty good and that I should make another one, without the rum, and maybe less food coloring? I was a fairly intuitive kid and resumed the more popular hot chocolate milk cake concoction with icing. Nestle. All of which were baked in my Easy Bake Oven.

Well, I’ve come a long way since 1979 and I can guarantee you that while my occasional unexpected ingredient may seem wrong, it is so very right. Avocado Muffins, making the best argument for itself. A heritage recipe of California dating back to, a long time ago, it is no more unusual than zucchini bread. And has elicited positive responses on my Instagram feed, proving that I, and my Californian ancestors, are not insane.

This is TuPac’d with California Love — Tehachapi Grain Project, Instagram

Tehachapi Grain Project, a farm growing heirloom grains in So Cal with a mission to “restore some of California’s rich grain-growing heritage” rounded out this California Avocado Muffin Recipe. A California girl, I always want to celebrate the Golden State, and adding Sonora Wheat from Tehachapi to this recipe was the icing on the cake, so to speak.

A Mexican Zutano Avocado, picked from my hometown neighborhood tree in Sunnyvale. Grown everywhere in California, they have a thin, vibrant green peel and are less fatty, slightly watery and very clean tasting.


Hand-milled Sonora Wheat from Tehachapi Grains. These heirloom grains date back to the 1760’s and were at one time California’s most important crop.
Avocado and sugar, not so unusual. Avocado being a fruit, after all ; )
Avocado, sugar, egg, vanilla, cinnamon, sour cream, Sonora wheat combined gently, so as not to overwork this quick bread, as muffins are known.
Muffin tin, glossy with California Olive Oil
Ready for the oven and smothered in almond streusel. I may have drowned them a bit, but they were still delicious.
Seismic Crack
Crumbly Topping… XO

California Avocado Muffins 

*This recipe is my version of Avocado-Bluebery Muffins Recipe found online at

Makes one dozen muffins

2  cups    all-purpose or Sonora wheat

2 tsp.       baking powder

1/2 tsp.    baking soda

1/2 tsp.    kosher salt

1 tsp.       cinnamon

1              ripe, avocado

3/4 cup   sugar

1             egg

1 tsp.     vanilla extract

1 cup.    sour cream or plain greek yogurt


Streusel Topping  ( as needed)

1/4 cup   flour

1/3 cup   sugar

3 Tbs.     softened unsalted butter

1 tsp.      cinnamon

1/4 cup   sliced almonds (optional)

1 tsp.      Maldon salt/Kosher Salt (optional)



1.  Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Line a muffin tin with paper liners.

2.  Using a dry whisk, in a medium bowl mix together the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt.

3.  Scrap avocado into a medium bowl with the sugar and smash and whisk until almost smooth.

4.  Add the egg and whisk to combine. Add the vanilla and the sour cream or yogurt and whisk to combine again.

5.  Gently add the flour mixture, in 3 batches, and fold with a rubber spatula into the wet ingredients, mixing until just combined (pic above).

6.  Scoop, or spoon the batter evenly into paper liners or into a greased muffin tin, as I did above. NOTE: if you are are going paperless, grease your tin with a light olive or grapeseed oil, or melted butter. Just beware that removing the muffins is tricky and you must use a paring knife to release the side of the muffins while they are still hot, in order to “scoop” them out with a spoon.

7. Streusel Topping: whisk streusel ingredients and mix with a fork or your fingers, rubbing the butter and four together into a crumble. Disperse evenly over muffins and sprinkle with crunch Maldon salt (optional).

8.  bake for 20-25 minutes. You can test with a toothpick. If it comes and clean remove from oven and let rest for 5 minutes before cooling on a rack or plate.

9.  Muffins last three days wrapped in plastic or in an airtight container on the counter.






Welcome to Middle Eastern Mezze Cooking Class with Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution Ambassador

If you’re a kid, between the ages of eight and fourteen, and want to get your knife skills on, join our Food Revolution Day, Saturday, May 27 for a morning of Middle Eastern Cooking! We will be creating a vegetarian menu of Mezze! What is Mezze? Small, vibrant first courses of hummus, tabouli, babaganouj, cheeses, and toasted pita. The class is hands on, so bring your favorite apron, some comfortable shoes and be ready to get choppin’ in the professional culinary school kitchen at St. Joseph Center, Venice. Sponsored by Gelson’s!


What is the Food Revolution, and what is an ambassador of the Food Revolution with Jamie Oliver??? Well, Jamie Oliver created a worldwide movement, through social media, to transform the way children experience food. The goal– to teach nutrition and healthy eating by teaching kids how to cook the foods they love! It’s a simple answer to a larger problem. At a time when so many of us are disconnected from where our food comes from and what it is, getting in the kitchen and making food is a very simple way to connect and enjoy food. We believe that knowing how to cook creates a happy, healthier life. And getting kids in the kitchen at a young age is the best time to start their culinary lives!

Ambassadors, such as myself, volunteer our time to create cooking events, panel discussions, cooking classes, cooking demos, and sometimes even food policy. It’s a Food Revolution! Let’s cook!

Date: May 27, 2017

Time: 10:00 AM- 1:00 PM

Where: St. Joseph Culinary Center, 204 Hampton Drive, Venice, CA. 90291

Bring: Wear comfortable clothes and shoes. Bring an apron if you have one. Wear a chefs coat if you have one! And bring a favorite knife, if you have one.

Parents: Feel free to leave your children or relax on the outside patio.

Donations: Write a check to St. Joseph Culinary Training Program, if you are feeling generous. All proceeds go to creating a cookbook library for the Culinary Training Program–CTP*

BOOKING! (310)866-7685 and email 

Limited seats!

*CTP is the only non-profit culinary school in the United States with the goal of changing the lives of those in need of a better future.

Bread Pudding for the Masses– With Apricots, Dates and Pistachio Crumble

I know a little something about puddings. My father is from England, and I grew up devouring them on our trips to Southampton to visit my grandparents, Peter and Dorothy Walker. Oh, the memories! Grandma Walker’s steaming Christmas pudding with cream; her pound cake layered trifle with custard and jam, were especially good. Not to mention her chilled summer puddings– slices of pullman bread soaked with fresh, juicy berries, molded into bright beautiful domes; sometimes served with cold pouring cream… Oh, how I love puddings! How many times can I say pudding???

And British bread pudding is right up there with the best of them.

Well, this pud, as the Brits say, was a reflex of resourcefulness. A loaf of egg bread was left for dead in my kitchen from a favorite Jewish deli in Beverly Hills– Nate and Al’s! And to have stuffed it in a freezer seemed wrong. So, in the spirit of the moment, I searched my pantry and found Turkish apricots, the best of their kind, California dates from our farmers market, the best, too, vanilla from Tahiti, you know what I’m saying, and a bag of toasted pistachios from the Middle East, you get the picture. And out of somewhere, we know where, this bread pudding seemed to be a united response to the times!

You see, the Nation’s protests have continued, and even grown worldwide. And England, the fine country that it is, stands alongside us in protest, in the name of social equality for all. The world united, will never be divided!  We chant. Because let’s be honest. It’s all we can think about…

So, I made what is to me a British sentiment– bread pudding, studded with apricots and dates, and topped with a pistachio crunch. This pud is my small thank you to all you Brits out there, making us proud… XO

Bread Pudding with Apricots, Dates and Pistachio Crumble

This is what democracy looks like! ; )


3 Cup of Cubed Egg Bread or similar kind– White Bread or Brioche

2 Cups Granulated Sugar

5  Large Eggs- beaten

2 Cups of unsweetened Almond Milk

2 Teaspoons Vanilla Extract

Large Handful of Turkish Apricots

Large Handful of Pitted Dates

1 Tsp Orange Zest- optional

Pinch of Kosher Salt

1/2 Cup of Brown Sugar

1/2 Stick Salted Butter, softened– if unsalted add a 1/4 tsp

1 Cup Shelled, Toasted Pistachio


Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees. Butter a deep dish pan. 9X9 is what I used.

Cube your bread into a large dice and put in a large mixing bowl. Chop apricots and dates and add to cubed bread.

Make your custard: combine eggs, almond milk, sugar, vanilla, orange zest and a pinch of salt. Pour over cubed bread and let let soak for 10 minutes.

Chop the pistachios.

Combine the softened butter, brown sugar and pistachios and mix until well combined– wet and crumbly.

Pour the soaked bread mixture into the buttered deep dish and evenly sprinkle the brown sugar crumble over the top.

Bake in a 350 degree oven for about 40- 50 minutes.

Enjoy hot out of the oven with cold pouring cream or scoops of vanilla ice cream.

Love not hate. Makes America great! And makes great puds too!

Cube, dice and chop …

Marry your wet ingredients: eggs, almond milk, sugar, vanilla, orange zest…

Marry your dry ingredients: bread, dried fruits…


Soak… ten minutes…

Crumble nuts and brown sugar with soft butter… and, pour pudding into buttered pan and cover with crumble… Set your timer and bake at 350 degrees for 40-50 minutes…

Almost ready. I like it dark and heaving out of the oven. You’ll see…

After it heaves like a soufflé, it rests…

What a slice… This is what democracy should look like!

“Collards” and Hot Pepper Sauce For the King


It’s Martin Luther King Jr. Day, and as I write the menu for my clients this morning I am distracted by the incredible history of this nation; in particular, the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, in 1963. Martin Luther King Jr.’s speech– I Have a Dream to “make real the promises of democracy” are as important and profound today as they were then…

On a day as meaningful as this, making a favorite food of Martin Luther King’s feel right– and sounds delicious. Southern food is steeped in America herself; a multitude of cultures and tastes stewing together in life’s big, messy ‘melting pot’.

Martin Luther King Jr. was from the South and loved Southern food, his favorites– pecan pie, fried chicken, candied sweet potatoes, and collard greens.

Let’s cook some collards!

“Collards” and Hot Pepper Sauce for the King


2 Bunches of Collard Greens

1 Large Sweet Onion

4 Garlic Cloves

1 Cup Chicken Broth

1/8 Cup Apple Cider Vinegar

1 Tsp Sugar

1/4 tsp Smoked Paprika

2 Tbs Olive Oil


1 Large Pot

1 Stovetop

Let’s go!

Wash your collard greens of all sand and grit by giving them a good soak in a bath of cold water, at least 10 minutes. Next, spread them on a kitchen towel to dry.

Remove the ribs (the center of the leaves) with a knife, or by hand. Stack the leaves and roll into giant cigar shapes and slice crosswise into fat ribbons (otherwise known as chiffonade, in French cooking). Cut crosswise into 2 inch pieces.

They should look like this!

Next– thinly slice your onion and toss into a large pot with the collard greens.

Add paprika, sugar, cider vinegar, chicken broth, and olive oil. Season with salt and pepper and put a lid on it.

Turn the flame to medium-low and set your timer to 10 minutes.

Stir your greens.

Set your timer to another 10 minutes

Stir your greens.

No, big deal if you get a little color on the bottom of the pan. It’s actually pretty good for color and flavor.

Hot Pepper Sauce!

Hot Pepper Sauce does one thing– brightens up any dish and pairs very well with stewed greens. The piquant vinegar and tender, spicy peppers spoon beautifully over “Collards”.


2 Jalapeños

1 Tsp-Tbs Chili Flakes (how hot do you want it?!)

1 Cup Apple Cider Vinegar

1 Tsp Sugar

1 Tsp Salt

1 Tsp Olive Oil


Small pot

Here’s how!

Wash and dry peppers and slice thin. Measure remaining ingredients and add everything to a small, stainless steel pot. Bring all of it to a simmer for 5 MINUTES and let cool. And you’re done.

Store in a jar for a couple of weeks and spoon over grilled and roasted meats and fish, or as condiment for fried rice (YUM). Oh, but they’re won’t be any left!

Potato Leek and Fennel Soup with Cider Vin and Hard Boiled Egg

I make soup in the shower. It’s not weird, just necessary, and I’m sure many of you can relate. When you’re out of time, you make time. And when you need soup, you make soup. A few chopped vegetables, in this case, leeks, onion, and fennel, in a pot of chicken stock with a few small potatoes, a hop in the shower, and you are toweling-off to lunch made. Here’s how.

Potato Leek and Fennel Soup with Cider Vin and Hard Boiled Egg

Ingredients — Soup for One with Leftovers

1 Leek, split lengthwise and soaked/rinsed of sand and dirt

1/2 White Onion

1/2 Fennel Bulb

2 Fennel Fronds, from the top of the fennel bulb

3 Small Potatoes, Fingerling is what I used but any potato chopped to small will suffice

2 Cups of Chicken Broth, store bought is fine

1 Tbs Cider Vinegar

1 Hard Boiled Egg, optional, but really great with the soup

Note— This recipe works best with a two-quart heavy bottomed pot with a lid. A lid is necessary.

Another Note— Using half a fennel bulb and onion sounds wasteful. I tossed the fennel into an arugula salad with parmesan. Don’t waste it. The onion can be used for anything. Or, if feeling brave, add the whole onion and whole fennel bulb, and make your own recipe.

Method and Timing

Thinly slice the leek (mostly the lighter parts), onion and fennel and add to a small pot of chicken stock. Add small potatoes, or potato chunks, and season with salt and pepper. Taste for seasoning. Add the fennel fronds and turn the heat to medium-low and cover with a lid, careful to leave the lid ajar. Heat your shower and get in. In California, we are in a drought so showers here are short and quick, but you won’t say anything if I take a few extra minutes, will you. I approximate my shower and dressing time to be about 15-20 minutes depending upon how late I am writing blogs. Check your soup when you get out. It may have spit on your stovetop, but no big deal, wipe off your stove and give the soup a stir adding a tablespoon of cider vinegar. Taste for seasoning, again, and ladle into a jar, or something with a tight lid, to get it to where you are going. Slice the hard boiled egg and lace the slices atop the soup and put a lid on it. Now, get to work.






Black-Eyed Peas for a Happy New Year!

Happy New Year!

So many of you requested this recipe after posting it on Instagram, January 1st, 2017, I decided to make a quick recipe for you. Having made it in the moment, without any notation of measurements, I can only guide you in what I remember to have done. What I can tell you is that I omitted the smokey ham hock (j’adore) for a healthier version for my clients. The addition of spinach was only because I didn’t buy collards (j’ad0re again!). When I can go healthy I do, and there is rarely the sense that something is missing. In fact, they, and I, prefer the approach on many levels. Check it out and keep me posted. Feed back is awesome.

Please Pardon typos as I am running to work soon!



Let’s go…

Black-Eyed Peas and Spinach with Smokey Paprika


4 cups of fresh black-eyed peas (ask your produce person) OR 1 16 oz bag of dried beans

1 tsp Baking Soda

Spinach Leaves cleaned and washed ( I used a half a box of washed baby spinach)

4 Cups of homemade chicken stock (store bought will work fine)

1 large White Onion dices

2 large Garlic Cloves sliced, crushed or chopped, you decide

2 Tbs Olive oil

1 Tbs Smoked Paprika

Kosher Salt and fresh cracked Black Pepper

At the stovetop…

If you have fresh beans cook them in fresh water with 1 teaspoon of baking SODA until just barely tender, but not falling apart. Low to medium heat, about 10-15 minutes.

If you have dried beans you must hot-soak them (beans covered in water, bring to a boil, rest one hour, strain). OR soak over night, and strain. The goal is to reconstitute the bean (bring it back to life) and remove some of its gasses. 

Next, soaked beans are covered with fresh, cold water and brought to a boil with baking soda, and cooked until tender. I believe this should take about 30-45 minutes. Keep an eye them, as the goal is to make them tender, not falling apart.

Sautee the onion and garlic in a large heavy bottomed pot with the olive oil until translucent (a few minutes) and season with paprika, salt and pepper. Add the chicken stock, the beans and the spinach and on low heat for about 15 minutes, until the beans are tender, and golden from the paprika, and the spinach is dark and silky. Season with salt and pepper and your done! Also, very good with some tabasco or hot sauce!


Oh, and a little jam session by Dave Sparrow, Tommy from Crash and Chris Duskin… Happy New Year, indeed!


Peppered Beef Tenderloin

What say you to a piece of beef and mustard?

William Shakespeare

Oh, Shakespeare and his rhetorical questions… I say:

Spend a small fortune and make Peppered Beef Tenderloin!

Peppered Beef Tenderloin may seem far too simple to require a recipe, but it does. In fact, it requires hand-crushed Tellicherry peppercorns, well-balanced seasoning, a well-timed rest, and paper-thin slices to get the beauty out of this pricey, tender cut of beef… Trust me.


1 pound Prime Beef Tenderloin

2 Tbs Whole Tellicherry Peppercorns

2 Tbs Kosher Salt

2 Glugs Extra Virgin Olive Oil


1 Sheet Parchment Paper

1 Small, Heavy Bottomed Pot or Skillet

1 Baking Sheet

Sturdy Cutting Board

Sharp Knife

Let’s go

First, Heat your oven to 350 degrees.

Next, get comfortable with your butcher. Explain that you are looking for a one pound roast; a center-cut of Prime Beef Tenderloin (you must purchase Prime). Tell them you are roasting it and need even-cooking throughout the loin. Request a clean “peeled” loin, with all fat and silver skin removed (unless you plan to do it yourself). Don’t forget to smile. Butchers love a smile and rarely get one… (you’re welcome, guys!).

Tellicherry are unique for one reason only– they are the largest of the peppercorns. And being that the larger peppercorns are fewer than the smaller peppercorns, they are prized for their availability. They work great for a hand-crushed preparation like this, because they crush beautifully. You can buy them at Costco. 

How To Crush Peppercorns

Make a small handful of dried peppercorns, about two tablespoons, and carefully lay them flat and close together on a clean cutting board.

With the bottom of a small heavy skillet or pot, apply pressure to the peppercorns, trying not to lose any. This step can be difficult but DO NOT GIVE UP! This, after all, is the fun part. And the very reason it tastes sublime. No substitutions! Sorry for yelling…

Continue to apply force and slowly push the pan away from you, crushing the pepper. You will hear and feel small bursts of pepper. Keep it up. You will find your groove. Crush until they are beautifully uneven, colorful and fragrant.

Combine the crushed pepper and salt in a small bowl and set aside.

Line your baking tray with parchment.

Rub the olive oil all over the tenderloin.

Spread the salt and pepper mixture on the cutting board.

Roll the tenderloin in the salt and pepper mixture being sure to coat it evenly.

One pound Beef Tenderloin and whole, deboned Turkey Breast ready for the oven…

Place the tenderloin on the parchment-lined baking sheet and roast at 350 degrees for 20 minutes.

The beef should spring back when squeezed. Depending on your oven, it could need an additional 2-5 minutes– set your timer! In other words, utilize your smart phone timer and pay close attention.

Let him rest… until room temperature, about 20 minutes.

Slice paper-thin and serve as charcuterie with accoutrements of pickles, mustards, horseradish, olives, relishes, whatever turns you on.

Charcuterie spread…

Or, sliced thin and laced over arugula dressed with lemon, olive oil, crunchy salt and shaved Parmigiano Reggiano.