New food columnist shares some favorite recipes |

New food columnist shares some favorite recipes

Fellow “Foodies,” we are beginning a new adventure! What exactly IS a “foodie?” you may ask. A “foodie” is a person enamored with all things edible. They might like to eat simply, but if they do, they still think food is glorious. They might be home- cooking experts feeding a family and looking for quick and easy – but also nutritious and yummy – food to put on the table three times a day.

They might be amateur gourmets who have taken many culinary classes and love to surprise and amaze their friends with delightful and exotic meals.

And then there are the gourmands who love all good food and want lots of it! All of the above are “foodies.” I am one (I refuse to tell you WHICH one!) and you are one, too, as you are reading this food page.

How did I become a “foodie”? Rich Somerville wrote a bit about me in his July 10 column, but in case you missed that, here’s a quick recap: Having been a police officer in the Bay Area for many years, I retired in 1993 and went immediately to the California Culinary Academy in San Francisco, from which I emerged as a certified pastry chef.

I worked in restaurants for a while and discovered the kitchen of a bustling restaurant was not for me. I then catered for a while, had a short-lived gingerbread house business, and then found my culinary home in teaching. I taught weekend classes at the California Culinary Academy and for a group of upscale cooking stores that offered lovely classes to their customers. Upon moving here, the culinary teaching was difficult to replicate, and I fell into the quilting community most contentedly.

Now this new job has come into my world, and you and I will share the fun of it. I am looking for a FEW GOOD COOKS! If you or someone you know is an excellent cook, I want to know that person! They need not be gourmet chefs, although those are wonderful sources for me, also. It could be your grandmother, who has been amazing you with her cinnamon rolls all your life, or your daughter, who went to school in Berkeley and came home with a tofu recipe so delicious even grandpa likes it!

Maybe you know someone from Chile or Thailand who will share recipes from their country with us. In other words, good cooks come from everywhere and bring all kinds of incredible food to – if you will excuse the pun – the table. With food, I am always ready to be pleased and surprised. You will find my e-mail address and phone number listed at the end of this column, and I am eagerly waiting to see who you will bring me!!

So, off we go to the root of this matter – recipes! Since I AM a pastry chef, it follows that this first offering should be bread and pastries. Later, I’ll share recipes from other categories.

Apricot Cream Scones

Have you had a less than satisfactory taste/texture experience with scones? Here’s a recipe that will make even a confirmed scone-scoffer sit up and take notice.

1 tablespoon baking powder

2 large eggs

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup whipping cream

1/2 cup chopped dried apricots

2 cups flour

1/2 cup chopped nuts

1/2 cup butter

Sift together first four ingredients. Cut in the butter as for a pie crust. Add the eggs and cream and stir lightly to blend. Add apricots and nuts, stirring lightly. Turn onto a lightly floured board and knead lightly three or four times. Divide in two parts and roll each part into a circle. Cut circles into wedges (quarters are good) and place on greased baking sheets. Brush tops with an egg yolk mixed with a small amount of cream. Sprinkle with raw or regular granulated sugar. Bake in a 450 F oven about 15-to-20 minutes. The raw dough from this recipe freezes extremely well. Make the circles, wrap in plastic and freeze, and they are ready to bake for unexpected company.

Kiwi-Lime-Champagne Sorbet

This isn’t pastry, but it’s one of my all-time favorite desserts. This light summer sorbet with the added benefit of a partial bottle of champagne to finish at your leisure is a wonderful end to any dinner. Serve with crispy, not-too-sweet cookies.

2 pounds kiwis (approx. 10)

4 limes

3/4 cup superfine sugar

2/3 cup champagne

Peel kiwis and remove white center at stem end. Cut in half and place in food processor. Juice limes into food processor and puree with kiwis. Add sugar to processor and process until sugar is dissolved (rub the puree between your fingertips – it should have no “grainy” feeling). Stir in champagne, place in bowl and chill well. Freeze according to your ice cream freezer’s directions. Chill several hours prior to serving.

Tart ‘Short’ Dough

(Shortbread Dough)

If you use no other recipe on this page, at LEAST save this one! This dough is extremely versatile and can be used for tart shells, bases for fancy cookies and many other things. Don’t over-mix the dough. A long mixing process is not necessary.

1 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar

14 ounces butter (31/2 cubes), softened

1 egg

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

33/4 cups bread flour

Place first four ingredients in mixing bowl and mix on medium only until well blended. Add flour and mix until smooth. If over-mixed, it will be much harder to roll out!

On lightly-floured board, divide dough into three portions (for large tart shells) or four portions (for small tart shells). It can be frozen at this point. If it is to be used right away, wrap in plastic wrap and chill first. To bake: Take chilled dough and on lightly floured board, knead a few seconds until cold dough is slightly more yielding to the touch. Roll and quickly place in tart pan with removable sides. You do not want the dough to reach room temperature as it is easier to roll when still chilled. Bake “blind” (without filling, to be filled later) or fill and bake. Chill rolled dough in tart pan before filling and baking.

Apple Frangipane Tart

This tart is very European and the fruit can be easily varied, depending on what fresh fruits are in season. Try blueberries, peach or apricot slices. The “frangipane” filling substitutes almond paste for the traditional ground almonds.

1 portion short dough for tart pan with removable sides


1 cup almond paste (8 ounces)

1/2 cup sugar (room temperature)

3 ounces butter (3Ú4 cube)

2 well beaten eggs

1 teaspoon flour

2 or 3 Granny Smith apples

Mix almond paste, sugar and softened butter well with mixer. When mixture is smooth, add eggs one at a time. Then mix in flour. This mixture can be stored in the refrigerator for up to four days.

To bake: Roll short dough, place in tart shell and chill. Peel, core and slice apples into thick slices. Spread half the filling in the chilled tart shell. Fan apple slices across the filling in the shell. Spread the rest of the filling over the apples. Bake at 375 F for one hour or until golden brown. Serve with whipped cream or ice cream.

Crunchy English Toffee Cookies

I thought I’d throw in this easy one, which my kids loved when they were little. I had to bake two pans because one would be gone the first day!

1 cup butter (or margarine)

1 cup sugar

1 egg, separated

2 cups flour

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1 cup chopped pecans (or any nut)

1 package milk chocolate chips (optional)

Cream the butter and sugar together until smooth and fluffy. Add egg yolk and mix thoroughly. Sift flour with cinnamon. Add to creamed mixture, blending lightly but thoroughly. Spread in an even layer over the entire cookie sheet (11-by-18″ with sides), flattening to an even layer.

Beat egg white slightly until frothy. Spread completely over dough on sheet. Sprinkle chopped nuts over entire sheet, pressing them into dough with your hands. Bake in very slow oven, 275 F, for one hour.

Cut into squares or rectangles while very hot. After cutting, these can be dipped into or spread individually with the melted chocolate chips. They’re great either way!!

Hope you enjoy these. Bon appetite!!


“Sweet” Georgia Brown, my friend from the Curves Workout Center, laments that she lost her favorite cranberry muffin recipe. It was in The Union about two years ago and contained fresh cranberries and yogurt. If any of you remember this goody, send it to me and I’ll make sure Georgia gets it!


Since it is “pit fruit” season, please share with me your most beloved recipe with any of these fruits in it – plums, peaches, nectarines, apricots or cherries. It may be, but doesn’t have to be, a dessert. Many savory (nondessert type) dishes incorporate sweet ingredients.


I think a page with main dish salads would be a good one for us to have this summer. Anyone with a killer main dish salad to share can send the recipe to me or call me with it.


In conclusion, please remember this section is for you, the reader. I only put it together. With your input, it can be great!


To contact Jo Names, call 272-6727 or reach her by e-mail at

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