My Favorite Fruit!


I was a lucky duck when I lived in California. Avocados trees were a plenty. I'd just pick one and eat it. We used to just cut them in half and put some vinegar or olive oil on it and scoop it out. Now I used them in smoothies, salads, as well as sandwiches and the most famous; guacamole.

If you've always been unsure of how to choose or take care of an avocado, well here are some tips:


What to Look For:

      Choose heavy, undamaged fruit. An avocado that yields slightly to pressure is best for slicing and dicing; if pressure leaves a small indentation, the avocado is best mashed. Avoid very soft avocados, as they will be overripe and unusable.


How to Store: 

       Keep unripe avocados at room temperature. To speed ripening, place in a paper bag with an apple or banana; to stop ripening, refrigerate for up to two days.

Try these:

Grilled Avocado on Toast

Brush 1/2 avocado (pitted and peeled) with fresh lime juice and olive oil. Grill, cut side down, for 1 to 2 minutes, creating grill marks. Turn to create crosshatch marks, and grill for 1 minute more. Meanwhile, brush 1 side of a slice of bread with olive oil, and grill, about 30 seconds per side. Top bread with thin slices of parmesan and the grilled avocado. Mash with a fork, brush with olive oil and salt.

Avocado-Pear Smoothie

    • 1 ripe Hass avocado (about 7 ounces)
    • 1/2 cup silken tofu drained
    • 1 cup pear juice
    • 2 tablespoons honey
    • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
    • 2 cups ice


Quarter, pit, and peel avocado. Process avocado, tofu, juice, honey, and vanilla in a blender until smooth. Add ice; blend until smooth. Divide among 4 glasses.

Avocado Smoothie

    • 2/3 cup avocado
    • Lemon juice
    • Honey
    • Ginger
    • 1 cup ripe mango
    • 1 cup ice
    • Soaked chia seeds (optional)


For a lusciously creamy smoothie, blend avocado (full of healthy fats and potassium) with lemon juice, honey, ginger, mango and ice. Extra credit: Stir in soaked chia seeds for an omega-3 boost.

Lemon Tuna Avocado Snack


    • 1 ripe avocado
    • Zest and juice of 1 lemon
    • 1 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil
    • 1 six-ounce solid albacore tuna, in spring water
    • 1 tablespoon sunflower seeds
    • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
    • Fresh basil leaves, for garnish (optional)


  1. Halve avocado lengthwise, and remove the pit. Scoop out 2 tablespoons avocado flesh from each half, and leave the shells with the remaining flesh intact.
  2. Mash the 4 tablespoons avocado with lemon juice and olive oil until smooth. Toss with tuna, sunflower seeds, half the lemon zest, and salt and pepper to taste. Fill halves with tuna mixture, and garnish with remaining lemon zest and basil, if desired. Serve immediately with a spoon.

Mango Guacamole


    • 2 garlic cloves, minced
    • 1/4 cup packed fresh cilantro leaves, chopped
    • 1/4 cup freshly squeezed lime juice, (about 2 limes)
    • 1 serrano chile, minced (ribs and seeds removed for less heat, if desired)
    • 2 ripe avocados, pitted, peeled, and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
    • 1 mango, peeled, pitted, and cut into 1/4-inch pieces (below)
    • Coarse salt


  1. To prepare mango: Hold mango with a paper towel (to avoid slippage). Using a vegetable peeler, remove skin and discard.
  2. With a knife, slice off wide, flat part of fruit on both sides of pit. Trim flesh from pit (discard pit).
  3. Place parts cut side down; slice in half horizontally. Cut crosswise into thin strips; cut strips lengthwise into pieces.
  4. To make guacamole: In a medium bowl, combine avocados, mango, garlic, cilantro, lime juice, and serrano chile; season with 1/2 teaspoon salt. Fold gently, leaving texture chunky.

To get more delicious recipes, go to: http://www.marthastewart.com/274790/avocado-recipes/@center/276955/seasonal-produce-recipe-guide#31832


The Kochhaus Serves Up!

photo from kochhaus.de:  Straight to your door!

There are some serious challenges living in another country, where english is not the main language, and even still not everyone speaks it.   Sure most people do a bit, but not everyone.  English is a difficult language... but not as difficult as German.  So little things like grocery shopping sometimes just throws me off my game.  Not to mention, I don't like grocery shopping in the first place.  Or cooking.  Cooking to me is like a project.  I'm game if I have a fun recipe, or something fun to bake.   So that's why when I was told about this store called Kochhaus here in Hamburg my curiosity was peaked.

What's that?  A store where you buy a recipe that comes with all the ingredients you need?   You don't have to buy a whole bunch of one herb that you won't use and will rot?  You don't have to search all over the market for that one item that's out?  You don't have to write it all down, or guess?  Hey that sounds like it was made for me!   But wait, there's more?   They have a website where you can order online!  Sold! To the girl with the lazy ass and cooking phobia.  Yea I know. Your wondering why I have a blog that has to do with food.   Hey! This is Tarts and Whiskey!  All else is just fluff.

So the deal is, you can order 3 to 5 meals a week. They deliver the food once a week all at once (Monday or Thursday) to your door, nice and neatly arranged in a box. It comes with fabulous step by step instructions, full color and great pictures.  It's delivered in the evening (mine came around 6:30/7), so your more likely to be home (hello UPS figure it out!)   Also, you can select portion size.   The minimum is for 2 persons. And if you want, you can go online and change the amount.. say you'll have a friend visiting. The price will go up a bit. But the cost is great.   $28-32 euros. That includes the delivery.  If we went out 3 times a week and had the same amazing meal, it would me more than 32 euros for one night.  Okay okay, so you have to cook it.  But that's why it is cheaper. Duh.  Still, even if I bought all these ingredients, it wouldn't come too short of that price.   Besides.. it is a service. It's kind of like they are my personal shopper.

Okay so the catch?  The website is only in German.  I have to translate it myself.  But I'm a fast typer.  I google translate, then rearrange the translation to something that makes sense.   German verbs tend to fall at the end of a sentence, which makes for an awkward english translation.   I'm thinking they should hire me to do a english version of all their recipes.

So tonight I bring you the second recipe I did. Last night was a mushroom risotto. And this is not out of a box. It's from scratch.  It's just the portions are controlled.  It was dizzying. Not that easy. But I managed.

Tonight I'm making:

Fusilli mit Ricotta und frischem Babyspinat - vegetarisch
Fusilli with Ricotta and fresh Baby Spinach - vegetarian

You can make this too, but you have to get your own junk.  Below is the plan.  I might take some photos to show you how my version looks.  Bon Appetit!


For 2 persons: 250 g Fusilli Avellinesi, 300 g Baby Spinach (washed), 100g sun dried tomatoes, 250 g Ricotta, 1 bouillon cube, 75 ml white wine (water), salt, pepper.

photo from kochhaus.de:  a sample from the ingredient card; your ingredients laid out for you.

Wasser für die fusilli in einem großen Topf zum Kochen bringen.
Die getrockneten Tomaten abtropfen lassen, das Öl auffangen und die Tomaten in feine Streifen schneiden.

Put the fusilli in In a large pot, add water and bring to a boil.
Drain the sun-dried tomatoes and collect the oil in a small bowl.  Cut the tomatoes into thin strips.

In einem großen Topf das aufgefangene Tomatenöl erwärmen und die klein geschnittenen Tomaten bei mittlerer Hitze 2 Minuten anbraten.

In the meantime....    In another large pot, heat the oil collected from the tomatoes and add the chopped tomatoes. Sauté over medium heat for 2 minutes.

Wenn das Wasser kocht, 1 EL Salz hinzufügen und die Fusilli im kochenden Wasser ca. 8 Minuten bissfest kochen.

When the water boils, add 1 tablespoon  of salt and cook the fusilli in boiling water for about 8 minutes until al dente.

Den gewaschenen Spinat zu den Tomaten in den Topf geben, vorsichtig umrühren und bei mittlerer Hitze zusammenfallen lassen (ca. 2 Minuten).

Put the washed spinach into the pan with the tomatoes. Stir carefully (gently?) over medium heat (about 2 minutes).

Tomaten und Spinat mit 75 ml Weißwein (oder wasser) ablöschen, Brühwürfel hinzufügen und kurz aufkochen.  Ricotta unterheben und vom Herd nehmen. Nach geschmack mit ca. 1 TL Salz und ausreichend Pfeffer würzen.

Deglaze the tomatoes and spinach with 75 ml white wine (or water).  Add the bouillon cube and bring it to a boil.   Fold in the ricotta cheese and remove from heat. 
Season to taste with about 1 teaspoon salt and pepper.

Die bissfest gekochten Fusilli abgießen, mit der Ricotta-spinat-Soße vermengen und in tiefen Tellern servieren.

Cool the fusilli till al dente. Drain and mix with the ricotta-spinach-sauce and serve in deep bowls.

Moin, Moin!!!

If you happen to be reading this and you live in Hamburg or Berlin, go check it out: http://www.kochhaus.de/

photo from kochhaus.de:  The store in Eimsbüttle Hamburg.


A little Puttan Goes a Long Way!

You can thank my good friends Victoria and Daniela for getting me hooked on Puttanesca! This summer I was treated to both versions.

Now that I'm back home (Hamburg, Germany) these days, I thought I'd get my fingers moving and do some dishes I've never tried.  Dipping into the iPad with Paprika, and rocking' some tunes, I set forth.

About summer... Well it's chilly and sunny with occasional downpours donut already feels like fall. And with school starting August 14th it really does feel like the end of summer is approaching fast!

So back to my version of Puttanesca.

I've combined two recipes. One with more olives and a few sundries tomatoes, with one with traditional anchovies. By the way, anchovies in German are Sardellen. So not to confuse with sardines, which is sardinen.

Using the second one to actually cook, timing and all I set forth with my adventure in Puttanesca.  One thing to note, however, is that my husband doesn't like tomato sauce based pastas, one sone doesn't like spaghetti, and the other doesn't like spicy. So going into this I know I'm being completely selfish as I'm the only one who will enjoy this meal.  But one must press on.

Results in, Delicious I say.  Grumbling from the clan, but a nod with respect to the tastiness of it, even if their tongues couldn't handle it.

If your up for trying, here's how it was made:

Here's the ingredients I used:

  • 40ml (2 tbs) olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1/2 T red chilli flakes
  • 75g pitted green olives, sliced
  • 75g pitted black olives, sliced
  • 6 semi-dried tomatoes, cut into thin strips
  • 6 anchovies, sliced
  • 2 tbs salted capers, rinsed
  • 425g can diced tomatoes
  • 400g spaghetti
  • fresh basil leaves, shredded for garnish
  • Grated parmesan, to serve


1. Heat oil in a frypan. Add garlic, chilli and anchovies and warm over medium heat until anchovies break a part. Then turn up the heat and add the tomato sauce and sun dried tomatoes and cook for about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Bring pasta pan to boil, and cook pasta for 9 minutes, while simultaneously, adding the olives and capers to sauce. Season with pepper. 

2. Drain Pasta and return to pan. Add sauce and toss together (or not). Serve sprinkled with parmesan and basil.


Post Easter Re-Cap & Deviled Eggs

Easter is a lovely splash of color to wash away the dreary months of Winter.  Although, it's been pretty darn sunny of late, with a few more odd cold and rainy days thrown in.  But over all a nice time of year.

SO this year, as we just moved to Hamburg, Germany, I had to figure out how easter eggs are done here. Germans love Easter. It's one of their top Holidays. They have Easter Festivals, Egg hunts, and they even have (in Northern Germany) the bonfires. A tradition coming from Pagan days, where they build huge bonfires to chase away the winter, and encourage spring. 

I notice that the Germans hang eggs from branches... oh and they love their bunnies.  In fact, easter decorations are still out, and it's a week past.   Well, here below is my Easter "attempt".

I found a pack of Die.   Grabbed some eggs. Set up shop, and the boys dipped in.

SO, the results, above.(top of page), the amazing eggs.  It recommended rubbing oil or butter on them to get the shine!  So I did.  

I realized when I put the stuffing in the baskets, it's not the fake paper we get in the states, but REAL hay!!   Smelly too!  There are so many wonderful chocolate shops here, the kids have been eating like royalty!

What to do with those easter eggs??? Well, make some deviled eggs!  Why not!!

 There's a trick to boiling eggs, that's very easy to peel, and keeps the whits supple and smooth. And even a day old!  Put the eggs in a bot of water, with about 1 inch of water over them, then bring them slowly to a gentle boil!   After , set a side, and leave alone for 12 minutes in that "just-boiled water".

Anther trick, is to use week-old eggs instead of fresh ones.  The eggshells just fall away.

After decapitating them, push the egg yolks through a sieve.  You don't have to do this, you can just mash, or use a mixer... but this really creams them up nice.

So now, the secret ingredient (not so secret anymore), add butter, just a tad.   Helps it round and smooth over the more acidic ingredients, and renders the filling creamy without overdoing it.

I then added, mayo, dijon, and hot pepper.   Chives is the bit of garnish.

So, it doesn't look that glam with my iPhone photos. But I have to say, they tasted amazing.   I can't wait to try it out on eggs that aren't stained with easter colors.   And maybe I won't use that plastic icing bag, because I don't like the way it looks.  But in the end, pretty well used easter eggs that usually get tossed!  Half the eggs, I garnished with smoked salmon, creme fraiche and a caper.

Happy Easter!


Brooklyn Review: Mile End Delicatessen

a good beer adds to the flavor - presented by Victoria

Nothing quite cuts it like a delicious egg and smoked fish sandwich on a Christmas shopping excursion. Or if you prefer meat, the likes of a brisket on top of fries and cheese.

Where: Mile End Delicatessen


The Manor at Garrison

the menu

This was our third thanksgiving in Garrison New York with our friends from Brooklyn.  It's really fun to share a little old American tradition with our friends, who are all  expat Brits, Dutch and German.   And even better, it's fun to share the kitchen with them.  Everyone seems to be a cook in some way or another. And some really different dishes get thrown in from the customary Thanksgiving meal, to create a more worldly thanksgiving feast.  There was red cabbage from German, Brussel sprouts from the Dutch, Devil on Horseback and Cauliflower Cheese from the Brits, and of course Turkey, roasted carrots and cranberry from the Americans.  The desert didn't miss a beat either.  We skipped the traditional Pecan and Pumkin Pie for a more gourmet set up of an Apple Strudel Pie with mystery spice and Cranberry cheesecake from the Dutch lady, and amazing chocolate soufflé from the Brit.   

We shopped, we cooked, we baked, we laughed, we photographed the event, we sat, we ate, we lay down, we ate more, we lay down more, we played ping pong, guitar hero, and backgammon.

It was an event to remember.   As I get ready for my move abroad to Germany, I will have so many fond things to remember from this past year.   I'm so thankful to all my friends and family.   I hope they take a leap of adventure and come visit me when I'm abroad.

Cooks in the Kitchen
everybody chips in

roasted carrots, with an eager customer at the shrimp

the boys chop while listening to tunes

Success is only 5 minutes to boiling

checking on Turkey Tim

The Details

The mash with carmelized onions and cream cheese, cheese brocoli, brussle sprouts

salad, grilled shrimp, stuffing and cranberry

apple surprise

the ol' lemon tart

Cuing Up

the children wait eagerly

the adults await patiently

winding down...
even the horse get's a treat

the mistress and mister of the manor

*Black and White Photography by Mark Warfield.  Colored photos (besides the apple surprise and lemon tart) by Jelle Wagenaar.


Pupcakes for Tiki!

Well just a week ago (has it been that long?) Tiki, our miniature dachshund turned 13! So to commemorate the occasion, I decided to have a real Birthday party for her, and invite all her friends!

So I made some pup cakes... really crazy recipe (see below), that is edible, but strange. And went and bought some kids cakes from One Girl Cookies.

Pupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting (Adapted from http://desertculinary.blogspot.com)

Cupcake Batter
1 granny smith apple, minced
1 1/2 cups wheat flour
1/4 cup rolled oats
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cup plain yogurt
1/2 cup water
1/4 cup canola oil
2 tablespoons honey
2 large eggs
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese

8 tablespoons 1/3 less fat cream cheese, softened
2 tablespoons plain yogurt
2 tablespoons honey
2-3 tablespoons whole wheat flour
1/2 cup shredded carrots

Preheat oven to 400

To make the cupcake batter

In a large bowl, whisk flour, oatmeal, baking powder, and baking soda until combined.

In a medium bowl, whisk together yogurt, water, oil, honey and eggs. Mix in the apple and cheese. Pour into the dry ingredients and stir just until combined.

Evenly distribute the batter between 14 to 16 muffin cups lightly brushed with canola oil. Bake until the muffins spring back when lightly touched in the center - about 15-20 minutes. Remove from the oven and place pans on a wire rack for 5 minutes. Carefully remove the muffins and let cool completely.

To make the frosting

In a medium mixing bowl, cream together cream cheese, honey and yogurt until smooth. Sprinkle in the flour, a tablespoon at a time, until it is thick and easy to spread. Top with the shredded carrots and serve as a extra special treat to your pups!