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vinegar-free vinaigrette

Last week, Chef Kevin Binkley of Binkley’s, Café Bink, Bink’s Midtown, and Bink’s Scottsdale, was the guest teacher at Les Gourmettes. Kevin is once again up for the James Beard Award for the Best Chef: Southwest. Fingers are crossed!

Everything he made was, of course, amazing! The thing that I really enjoyed though was a simple, thick, tangy, creamy vinaigrette made without any vinegar. Strange but true and truly delicious.

strawberry arugula salad

Kevin served the vinaigrette over a salad of arugula, strawberry slices, goat cheese and pistachios. I’ll be serving the same salad for our Easter dinner on Sunday.

Speaking of Easter Sunday, if you haven’t colored your eggs yet, hold off one more day because tomorrow I’m posting a new way to decorate eggs and a bunch of Easter Menu ideas.

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April 16, 2014   1 Comment

Frico with Smoked Paprika Aioli and a birthday wish


Chef/Restauranteur and longtime friend, Mark Tarbell of Tarbell’s Restaurant, was the guest teacher at Les Gourmettes on Monday and Tuesday nights. His menu was inspired, fun, and delicious. The first course was Frico with Smoked Paprika Aioli.

frico round

Frico, is an Italian savory food, typical of Friuli, in the northeastern tip of Italy, which consists of a thin crisp wafer of shredded cheese, baked or fried until crisp. The customary cheeses used include Montasio, Parmesan or mozzarella. Mark used Montasio cheese, but Parmesan is easier to find and works just as well.

I’ve sung the praises of smoked paprika or pimentón many times here before. I don’t know why I didn’t think of making a pimentón mayonnaise – brilliant!

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February 26, 2014   4 Comments

Orgeat and Zsa Zsa Gabor

We don’t enjoy going out to dinner on Valentine’s Day.

queens affinity at the swim up bar

It’s overcrowded, the service isn’t always the best and working in the food industry, I can not relax and enjoy myself knowing that the restaurant is desperate for you to finish and leave so they can sit their next reservation.

Since Valentine’s was on a Friday this year, it made it easy to go out for our Valentine’s celebration on Saturday night instead. We wisely chose Bink’s Scottsdale.

binks scottsdale


Bink’s Scottsdale is the newest more casual and relaxed venture for Kevin and Amy Binkley, chef-owners of the best restaurant in the Valley, Binkley’s Restaurant in Cave Creek.

There is also Bink’s Cafe in Cave Creek and Bink’s Midtown in Phoenix.

the queens affinity

Dinner was, of course, fantastic. The one thing I had that I thought I might be able to recreate was the Queen’s Affinity Cocktail. The menu said that it was made with Bombay Sapphire, Orgeat, and muddled Lemon and Mint.

Before I made the cocktail at home, I had to figure out what the heck orgeat is and then find out where to buy it or how to make it.


Orgeat is pronounced “or-zsa” – “zsa” as in Zsa Zsa Gabor.

After some research, it appeared that orgeat should be easy enough to find at any liquor store. I also learned that homemade orgeat is far superior to store-bought. As a result, I made my own.

First I shall share with you a recipe for my Queen’s Affinity Cocktail Knockoff and then for the Homemade Orgeat.

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February 24, 2014   2 Comments

The Burma Cookbook

rich semolina cake

On Tuesday night at Les Gourmettes Cooking School, we had two very charming gentlemen teach a class on Burmese cooking. Robert Carmack and Morrison Polkinghorne also happen to be the authors of The Burma Cookbook – Recipes from the Land of a Million Pagodas.

the burma cookbook

The class was not only informative and delicious but really fun – thanks to Robert and Morrison and their exceptionally outgoing and fun personalities.

For dessert they made one of the most popular of all Burmese desserts, a semolina cake.  Semolina is the coarse, purified wheat middlings of durum wheat used in making pasta, breakfast cereals, puddings and couscous.

The book is beautiful, the guys were great and the cake was sublime.

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February 20, 2014   No Comments

Valentine’s dessert

chocolate tacos with bananas

Valentine’s Day is Friday. Are you ready? Maybe this decadent chocolate dessert will get you in the mood.

Barbara Fenzl taught this recipe during the last semester of classes at Les Gourmettes Cooking School. It is too creative, beautiful and delicious to not share with you. <3

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February 10, 2014   2 Comments

polenta croutons

Yesterday I told you that I’d give you some ideas on what to do with those leftover polenta trimmings you accumulated when you made the Polenta Pesto Bruschetta.


Idea numero uno is these “easier than easy” polenta croutons.

After you look at the recipe, be sure to go to the end of the post to see some of the delicious food I enjoyed at my Les Dames d’Escoffier meeting yesterday. Oh my!

salad with polenta croutons

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September 10, 2013   3 Comments

Happy (belated) Birthday, Barb

My mentor, boss, and sweet friend of nearly 25 years, Barbara Fenzl, celebrated her birthday last Saturday. She was traveling at the time, so I celebrated with her yesterday.

barb linda and jacques

We didn’t take a photo together, so I’m posting this vintage picture of Barb, Jacques Pepin, and me… one of my all time favorites. And it is the perfect picture to post since I bought her a vintage item as her gift.


Do you know what it is?

cheese safe

Does “les fromages de la ferme” or “Aux bons Fromages” give you a clue?

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August 9, 2013   6 Comments

Patriotic Trifle

Berry Trifle

This is the dessert I made for the last class of my 3-week cooking series at Les Gourmettes Cooking School. The semester ended last night – it is officially summer for me. No more classes until September.

Since I made this during class, I don’t have any step-by-step photos for you, but the recipe is straight forward.

Flag Trifle

This is the perfect dessert for Memorial Day, Fourth of July, Labor Day, or honestly for any day of the week this summer. Enjoy!

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May 16, 2013   5 Comments

squash blossom quesadillas

When Chef Beau MacMillan was teaching at Les Gourmettes last week, Duncan Family Farms sent over a huge box of squash blossoms.

The lucky students received the added bonus of Barbara Fenzl’s delicious Squash Blossom Quesadillas at the start of the class.

baby squash blossoms

Once again, I was on the happy receiving end of a basket full of goodies! I brought them home and made Ricotta Stuffed Squash Blossoms, intending to share the recipe here.

ricotta stuffed squash blossoms

Then I discovered that I’ve already posted the recipe, nearly to the day, two years ago. CLICK HERE to see.

Of course, with that many squash blossoms, I also had to make Barb’s fabulous and super easy quesadillas!

zucchini squash blossoms

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May 6, 2013   2 Comments

BeauMac’s Polenta-Pistachio Cake

Polenta-Pistachio Cake with Zinfandel Syrup

On Monday, Chef Beau MacMillan from Sanctuary on Camelback Mountain was the guest instructor at Les Gourmettes. The class and the menu were outstanding. This dessert was the crowning glory. Beau made a dense, not too sweet, polenta-pistachio cake, topped with olive oil cured strawberries and drizzled with a winning zinfandel-dried cherry syrup. Out of this world!

Since he brought pre-made individual cakes, I was the happy recipient of the cake batter he demonstrated for the class. My boys will be so happy with their dessert this coming weekend!

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May 1, 2013   1 Comment