Sometimes you just feel like a....burger!

black pepper encrusted 85% lean beef double patty
spanish onion
sunflower sprouts
peter luger sauce
toasted sesame bun


Dumpling Central: Pelmeni and Vareniki

A friend coming over for lunch requested Cherry Dumplings (vareniki) so I had to oblige. Of course, I couldn't just leave it at that. I wanted to make some Pelmeni (meat dumplings) as well, so I ended up with both.


1/3 lb ground pork
1/4 lb ground veal
1/2 fresh onion, pureed
1 tsp water

Mix and beat until the mass sticks together. Drop teaspoon size portions into dough (circles or squares). Close off the dumplings by pinching sides together with a little water. Play with the shape of the final dumpling based on the initial shape of your dough. Squares become envelopes, circles become semi-circles with "ears" pinched together...or invent a shape of your own.

Pickled Watermelon Radish

My answer to my dad's pickled watermelon :)

1 watermelon radish, sliced thinly into rounds
1 head of cauliflower, separated into "trees"
1 package of baby corn
1 red jalapeno pepper
1 head of garlic, peeled
Pickling Liquid
1/2 cup white vinegar
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup water
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon green peppercorns
1/4 teaspoon whole coriander seed
1/4 teaspoon whole black peppercorns
1 fresh bay leaf
Combine the ingredients in the pickling liquid. In a glass container, layer the vegetables and pour the pickling liquid over them. They should be just covered. Close, refrigerate for about a week, and then enjoy!

Veal Osso Bucco in Strawberry Lambic and Maple Sauce

A little trip to Whole Foods and Trader Joe's and I ran out of refrigerator space. As any creative cook, I cleaned out by creating a dish that rid me of extra bottles / jars in exchange for the much needed space. In this case, a can of Calimyrna figs, remains of maple syrup, half a bottle of strawberry lambic opened the night prior and freshly purchased, gorgeous slice of veal osso bucco.
I pan roasted the tied, seasoned (with salt and pepper) veal to brown on all sides. Rested it on a bed of sliced onions in a baking pan. Drizzled with pan drippings, strawberry lambic (1/2 bottle), and maple syrup (about 4 tbsp). Threw in the tiny dry figs and covered with tin foil. After roasting covered at 375F for 1.5 hrs, I uncovered, drained the sauce, added seasoned potato wedges and sprayed them with olive oil. Another 25 minutes and we inhaled the very late dinner.

Dessert Pasta: Lime and Mint Linguine with Cara Cara Oranges and Parm

I took a chance with a sweet pasta. This German brand was prepared with specks of lime zest and mint within. I simply boiled in sweetened water, tossed with butter when ready and served with Cara Cara orange sections and Parmesan cheese on top.

Cara Cara Oranges

What could be better then a perfectly tart and sweet combination in an orange, complimented by a pink toned flesh?! If you haven't tried a Cara Cara orange, change that immediately. I first tried these last year, and am thrilled they are in season again. These are a "mutation" of the navel orange grown in Argentina.


Jean Philippe | Las Vegas

Little needs to be added to describe the pictures in this post. Jean Philippe Patisserie at the Bellagio was our stop (several times) for a quick snack and coffee. Though it can be challenging to find a seat, especially from late morning to early afternoon, it's worth the challenge.

Mon Ami Gabi | Las Vegas

Per advice from a friend, we decided to include a french bistro restaurant in our adventures. Located at the front of the Paris hotel, right across from the Bellagio fountains, Mon Ami Gabi, was an amazing brunch experience. This was the day after we ventured out for brunch at Bouchon, and I have to admit that I found it no less delectable then Thomas Keller's creation. It was a combination of great food, wonderful service by Jean Claude (also known as Keith after hours), and the quintessential French bistro atmosphere. We sat in a glass-covered veranda, sun lit and warm. The wine carts, tile floors, and the general comfortable feeling of the bistro was perfect. I had a great pinot, recommended by Keith and inhaled the warm french baguette left on our table in about 2 minutes (with butter of course)!

Our brunch selections: Country Style Pâté - cornichons, whole grain mustard, country toast;
Sea Scallops Gratinées - caramelized fennel, onion marmalade, mussel cream and Mussels Marinière served with frites.

Yes, these were bathed in butter! But read that in a positive way, this is the way French bistro food was intended to be. So good were the mussels, I requested the recipe from Chef Terry Lynch, and to my surprise received the recipe in email today! I will check if I am permitted to share with my readers and if I am, you too can benefit from this amazing dish, so amazing in fact that I needed a second baguette to soak up all the sauce.

Update! ...with permission from Terry Lynch, here's the recipe:

Garlic, slivered 1/4 cup
Parsley, stems and leaves 1 sprig
Spanish Onion, medium dice 1 cup
Leek, washed and cut into medium dice 1 cup
Unsalted Butter 2 oz
Mussels 1 lb
White Wine 1.5 qt
Heavy Cream 1 qt

Over medium high heat, add the butter and sweat the garlic, onions and leeks. Add parsley. Add mussels. Add white wine and reduce by half. Add cream, reduce by ¼ . Bring to a boil then simmer for 20 minutes. Strain thru a china cap. Strain through a chinois. Cool over ice. Label, date and refrigerate.


Alex | Las Vegas

After much research to assure a perfect place for a special occasion, we decided on Alex. Joel Robuchon was an equally worthy contender, if not more so, however the luxe atmosphere of Alex won it the top spot for the day. Where else could one eat in such close proximity to David Copperfield? (or so my husband swears...)

We ordered the Tasting Menu paired with wines, which was a great decision, as we tasted wines which we may not have chosen for ourselves and thoroughly enjoyed them. Our waiter was very knowledgeable, which I love. However, I did find him very formal and a bit impersonal. The dishes that stood out for us: butter poached lobster and foie. Both dishes were perfectly cooked and married the ingredients and flavors in creative and unexpected ways. The lobster was served with sea urchin linguine, baby Brussels sprouts and uni. The foie...it was a cloud of goodness, with baby turnips made two different ways, steamed and marinated. Oh, so very, very perfect. The other dishes I found good, but not amazing. The turbot was perhaps a bit overcooked for my taste and I didn't get the relationship between its flavors and the caper salad. The waguy beef was okay. Actually surprisingly chewy on my plate, but my husband had a different experience. The parsnip pannacotta on the same plate was amazing, as was the deep fried bone marrow on top. I would have enjoyed a bit more seasoning on the marrow, as it would have been a good contrast from the parsnip. Warm Madeleines at the end of the meal with the other petite fours were delicious. I especially enjoyed the berry tulle filled cigar. We were sent home happy nonetheless with a box of tiny french lemon-flavored maroons.

If I were to compare this meal to my perhaps small set of culinary adventures, it would be a close second to the one at chef's table at L'Espalier. I do apologize since the following photo account of our experience was taken with a phone camera...

A set of amuse bouche

Butter Poached Maine Lobster with Sea Urchin Linguine and Baby Brussels Sprouts

Pan Seared Foie Gras with Baby Turnips

Waguy Beef


Coconut Tapioca

Stewed Apple Brioche

Warm Madelienes

Petite Four

Happy Birthday Baby!