Blueberry Mascarpone Tarts

Fresh summer fruit in mascarpone tarts. Reading the Game of Thrones series has whetted my appetite for capon, lemon cakes, sweet wines, freshly baked bread and fruit tarts. Baked fruit tarts, savory ones, cheesy ones and fresh ones. There will recipes from the Seven Kingdoms and beyond for the next month as the new season of Game of Thrones begins. But first is blueberry mascarpone tarts. 

I thought I’d start with a tart that is made and ready in no time. This one is good for hot days and sparkling wines. For when you don’t have hours to spend in the kitchen, but still want a delicious dessert. The kind they might eat in warm Westeros or Dorne.

A crunchy crust holds up pillowy mascarpone cheese and whipped cream blended with lemon peel. Not Without Salt has a simple, melted butter tart crust that comes together in minutes and requires no chilling or rolling. (Her caramel walnut tart recipe is also plate scrapingly good). You can make it and eat in 30 minutes, which equals more time in the sun, less time indoors. 

Blueberry Mascarpone Fruit Tart

tart shell adapted from Not Without Salt

Tart Shell

1 cup (140 grams) flour
1/4 cup (40 grams) powdered sugar
pinch of salt
1/2 cup (113 grams) butter
1/2 teaspoon vanilla

Mascarpone Filling
1/2 cup (4 ounces) mascarpone cheese
1/2 cup (4 ounces) whipped cream, whipped
splash of vanilla
zest of one lemon
1 to 2 tablespoons (10 to 20 grams) powdered sugar, to taste (I prefer less sugar to bring out the tartness of the berries)

Glaze and Toppings
Fresh berries
juice of one lemon
2 tablespoon sugar

Melt butter, stir in vanilla. Mix sugar, flour and salt together. Add to butter mixture and mix. Divide dough and press into two 5″ tart pans or one 10″. Pierce crust all over with fork. Cook at 180 C (350 F) for 20 minutes until golden. Let cool when done.

While the crust is baking, whip the whipping cream until peaks form. Fold in mascarpone cheese, powdered sugar, lemon zest, and vanilla. Beat until firm peaks form. 

When tarts have cooled, divided filling between tarts and top with berries. 

In a sauce pan heat the juice of one lemon and sugar until sugar melts and the mixture boils for 1 minute. Stir frequently to avoid burning. Using a pastry brush, coat berries with the lemon glaze. Serve and enjoy. 

Tart shells and filling can be made ahead of time and assembled just before serving. Once assembled, the tart will stay firm and crisp for one day in the refrigerator. 

Posted in Blueberry, Cheese, Desserts, Game of Thrones, Home, Lemon, Mascarpone, Strawberry, Tart, Vegetarian | 6 Comments

Fudge Brownies

The ultimate fudge brownie recipe. Gooey and chocolatey with a crispy top. Not too sweet. And definitely salty. (Use salted butter. It’s good. I promise.) Made with more butter than flour, the cocoa turns into a creamy chocolate paradise. This is it. I may not make another brownie recipe for a long time. These fudge brownies have won my heart and my taste buds. 

Discovered on Smitten Kitchen and adapted from Alice Medrich’s Bittersweet.

Shanghai Cooks: All ingredients can be found at The Avocado Lady and City Shop. Check by the tea and coffee in City Shop to find cocoa powder.

Fudge Brownies

10 tablespoon (140 grams) salted butter

1 1/4 cup (250 grams) sugar
3/4 cups plus 2 tablespoons (65 grams) cocoa powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 large eggs
1/2 cup (65 grams) flour

Combine butter, sugar and cocoa powder together in a microwavable bowl. Microwave stirring every 10 seconds until butter is melted. Mix in vanilla and salt. When mixture is warm, but not hot, stir in eggs. Add flour and mix well. 

Pour into a buttered 8 inch pan and cook at 160 C (325 F) for 15 to 20 minutes, may take a little longer. When a toothpick inserted 2 inches from the side comes out clean, they are done. Let cool and enjoy!

Posted in Brownies, Chocolate, Desserts, Home | 1 Comment

Mango Salsa

Mango Salsa. The perfect balance of four flavors. Salty. Sour. Spicy. Sweet. The ultimate salsa. Disfrútalo!

Another dip. Last post was Guactacular Guacamole. I’ve been on a dip kick. It’s Chinese New Year. The stores are closed. Shanghai has turned into a ghost town. Two of the few bars open, The Camel and Shanghai Brewery are bursting with expats. Even the Avocado Lady has taken a holiday. Tis the season to stock up and snuggle in with loads of blankets, snacks and movies. Finger food is key. Dips dominate. 

It is easy to make and calls for the same ingredients as the Guactacular Guacamole. You could make both at once and save yourself some chopping. 

This mango salsa even looks festive. With red, yellow and green, it is like edible fireworks. 

Mango Salsa

3 mangos, diced
1/4 onion, diced
5 full stalks of cilantro, chopped
1 tomato, diced
1 clove garlic, minced
2 jalapeño or serrano peppers, diced
1 lime, zested and juiced
few dashes of hot sauce
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/2 paprika


Peel and chop mango. Dice onion, cilantro, tomato, garlic, jalapeños. Combine with spices, lime and hot sauce. Enjoy with tortilla chips, quesadillas, tacos, and everything else.  

Posted in Appetizer, Dips, Home, Lime, Mango, Salsa, Tomato, Vegan, Vegetarian | Leave a comment

Guactacular Guacamole


Chinese New Year. Time for loud noises and crowded rooms full of friends.  Time for lazy days and tasty eats. Need guacamole for tacos, for dips, for sides? This is it. Takes 5 minutes to prepare and disappears in seconds. Fresh. Healthy. Packed full of omega-3s and citrus. For chips or celery. A party appetizer. A sandwich spread. A topping. A meal. For right now.  For later.

Chinese New Year FireworksChinese New Year Fireworks

When you have Chinese New Years parties to plan and fireworks to set off, this guacamole will keep you out of the kitchen and illuminating the night. Enjoy the lights. 


4 avocados
1/4 onion, diced
8 grape tomatoes or 1/2 large tomato, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 jalapeño or serrano peppers diced, optional
4 stalks cilantro, diced, about 1/2 cup
1/2 large lime juiced and zested
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/4 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground pepper
a few dashes of hot sauce

Dice onions, tomatoes, garlic, peppers, cilantro and mix together. Zest the lime and juice it, add to mixture. Add cumin, paprika, salt, pepper and hot sauce. Mash in avocados. Serve immediately or press plastic wrap directly onto the guacamole, covering it completely so air cannot get to it and refrigerate. This will prevent it from browning and keep it vibrant green. 

Posted in Appetizer, Avocados, Dips, Guacamole, Home, Onions, Salsa, Tomato, Vegan, Vegetarian | Leave a comment

Matcha Truffles with White Chocolate and Cocoa Powder

Green Tea Matcha White Chocolate Truffles

Apologies to those without ovens. I’ve been posting a number of “oven required” dishes. Knowing how many of you in Shanghai lack in the oven department, I give you a no-fuss stove top dessert that is sure to wow you and your party goers. Matcha Truffles. White chocolate, cocoa powder and matcha. Green tea and chocolate. Sophisticated flavor. Simply elegant.

Green tree white chocolate trufflesMatcha Truffles

This is easy. Really easy. Preconceived notions of intricate truffles belie their simplicity. Heated cream, melted butter, a teaspoon of matcha and melted white chocolate pieces are mixed together and refrigerated. Once chilled they are formed into petite balls and rolled in cocoa powder. An impressive dessert that you could even make in a microwave.

Green Tea White Chocolate TrufflesMatcha Truffles

Don’t like matcha? Prefer dark chocolate over white? No worries. This recipe is adaptable. Replace white chocolate with dark. Roll in coconut instead of cocoa powder. The options are endless.

Matcha Truffles 

200 g white chocolate, chopped (found at almost any grocery or convenience store)

1 tablespoon butter
1/3 cup whipping cream
1 teaspoon matcha powder
1/2 cup cocoa powder for rolling (more or less depending on if you have other toppings)

Heat cream and butter in a sauce pan until butter is melted and cream is warm. Don’t boil. Whisk in matcha powder and stir until combined. Add white chocolate pieces (the smaller the better) and turn off heat. Stir until chocolate is melted. You may need to turn on the heat to completely melt the chocolate. Make sure to stir frequently to avoid burning the chocolate. 

Pour into bowl and refrigerate for at least 2 hours or overnight. When completely cooled,  scoop out chocolate and form into tiny balls with finger tips (you can also use a melon ball scooper). Roll balls in cocoa powder or desired topping. Store in refrigerator until ready to serve.  

Topping suggestions:
cocoa powder
coconut shavings
powdered sugar mixed with a bit of matcha powder
finely chopped candy canes
finely chopped almonds, or other nuts

Posted in Desserts, Green Tea, Home, Matcha, Truffles, Vegan, Vegetarian | Leave a comment

Strawberry Vodka

strawberry vodka

Strawberry season is here. Last week I made a Strawberry Ginger Pie. We ate it for dessert, for breakfast and for lunch. Now it’s gone and soon the strawberries will disappear as well.

What better way to savor fresh strawberries all year than with strawberry vodka? It is divinely red and tastes of summer (even though it is cold January). Bursting with infused strawberry essences, you can drink it on the rocks or in a cocktail. Careful. Under that rosy frock is one kicker of drink. 

strawberry vodka strawberries strawberry vodka hulled

The best part of this recipe is that it is ridiculously easy. All you do is chop strawberries, add vodka, wait one week and that’s all. It’s ready. It tastes complicated. It’s impressive. It literally takes 5 minutes to make. Go buy strawberries before they are gone and make this. Your friends will love it.

strawberry vodka strawberry vodka infused

As you can see in the picture, after one week the vodka absorbed the strawberries’ color and flavor. You don’t want to eat those alien white strawberries…or maybe you had a bad and you really do. But, I don’t recommend it. They are very vodka-y and not strawberry-y at all. I tried.

Ideas for strawberry vodka cocktails:
Strawberry martini. (100% alcohol, but deceptively good)
Strawberry lemonade.
Strawberry screwdrivers
Strawberry vodka with rosemary lemon simple syrup and soda water.
Strawberry vodka and Mongozo Coconut beer.
Anything is possible. Experiment. Make a lot. It disappears quickly. 

strawberry vodka martini

Strawberry Vodka

5 cups fresh strawberries, hulled and quartered

5 cups vodka
1 large jar

Wash, hull and cut strawberries. Place in jar. Add vodka. Store in a dark place for one week. Shake everyday. After one week, strain vodka. Enjoy!

Posted in Cocktails, Drinks, Home, Strawberry, Vegan, Vegetarian | Leave a comment

Mushroom and Goat Cheese Frittata Recipe

Mushroom and Goat Cheese Frittata

Sunday mornings call for easy, yet toothsome breakfasts. Something quick, something satisfying. Preferably with cheese and definitely with mushrooms. Frittatas answer the call of duty. I grabbed what was in the fridge and got to work. Mushrooms, goat cheese, parsley, thyme, garlic and onion are staples in my house. If you don’t have or like some of these ingredients, throw in whatever strikes your fancy!

Mushroom and Goat Cheese Frittata

Sauté mushrooms, onion and garlic. Add to eggs beaten with milk and mustard. Flavor with fresh parley, thyme, salt, pepper, a splash of hot sauce and sprinkles of goat cheese. Pop it in the oven for 15 minutes and it’s ready. You can then crawl back into to bed to warm your toes and tummy. Careful when adding extra hot sauce. It flies all over, but nicely blends into the flower comforter. Just kidding… I most definitely washed it.

Mushroom and Goat Cheese Frittata

Mushroom and Goat Cheese Frittata

Serves 2 – double, triple or quadruple as necessary.

4 large crimini mushrooms, sliced
1/4 onion, diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 leafy stalk fresh parsley, chopped
3 stalks fresh thyme, chopped
1/4 cup goat cheese, crumbled
4 eggs
1 teaspoon dijion mustard
1/8 cup milk
hot sauce to taste

Sauté mushrooms, onion, and garlic until mushrooms have browned and onions are translucent. Cool for 2 minutes while whisking eggs.

Whisk together eggs, milk, mustard, salt, pepper and hot sauce. Add mushroom mixture, parsley, and thyme to egg mixture. Sprinkle goat cheese on top.

Pour into buttered ramekins. Cook at 180 C (350 F) for 15 minutes or until centers are done. Likewise, you can cook it on the stove.

Posted in Breakfast, Cheese, Egg, Frittata, Home, Mushroom, Onions, Parsley, Vegetarian | Leave a comment

Strawberry Ginger Pie

It’s January. Which, in Shanghai, means it is cold and wet. Incidentally, it also means that it is strawberry season. A paradox that I have yet to understand, but whole heartedly welcome.

When it’s rainy and cold and gray a little bit of summer sunshine embodied in sweet berries helps to brighten the dullest of moods. My favorite strawberry dish of all time is strawberry shortcake made with buttermilk biscuits and hand-whipped cream. The kind mom makes. That kind of strawberry manna demands sunshine to be fully enjoyed. As the sun is on holiday, Joy the Baker’s Strawberry Ginger Pie was the perfect candidate to marry the warmth of wintery ginger with summery berries. It’s strawberry-y and gingery and nutmeg-y and oozing with yummy juices. I added more ginger and nutmeg than called for and next time I will add even more. 

Strawberry Ginger Pie

Head over to your local 水果供应商. Buy a few bags of strawberries and make this. For dinner. For breakfast. For right now. For the sake of your happiness.

Strawberry Ginger Pie

Pie adapted from Joy the Bake
Crust adapted from Simply Recipes

Pie Crust
2 1/2 cups flour

1 cup (225 grams/2 sticks) unsalted butter, chilled
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon sugar
8 tablespoons ice cold water

5 cups hulled and quartered strawberries
1 teaspoon nutmeg
1 tablespoon freshly grated ginger (use more or less depending on the sweetness of the strawberries)
1/2 cup granulated sugar
3 tablespoons cornstarch
pinch of salt
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 egg, beaten to glaze over crust
1 tablespoon granulated sugar to sprinkle on crust

Make crust:
Combine flour, sugar, salt together. Grate butter, using a box grater’s small setting into flour mixture. Grate a little bit of butter at a time then mix into flour, so the butter doesn’t stick together. Once completely grated, make a well in the center of the flour mix. Add 2 tablespoons of ice water to the well. With a fork, mix flour into water. Keep adding water until the dough comes together when you pinch it. You may need more or less water. Try to use the least amount of water possible. Turn crust onto counter and press it together until it forms a ball. Separate into two disks, wrap and chill in the refrigerator for 1 hour. 

Make filling:
Wash, hull and quarter strawberries. Mix together cornstarch, nutmeg, sugar, grated ginger, and salt. Sprinkle mixture on strawberries. Add lemon juice. 

Flour counter and roll out one crust to make an 11 inch circle. Place in a 9 inch pie pan. Pour in strawberry filling. Roll out second crust and place on top of filling. Trim dough within 1/2 inch of pan’s sides.  Fold the edges of the top and bottom layers of dough together. Brush pie with egg wash and sprinkle sugar on top. Cut 4 vents into top of pie crust. 

Bake at 425 F (220 C) for 10 minutes, then turn down oven to 350 F (180 C) for 30-35 minutes more; or until crust is nicely browned and strawberry juices are bubbling. 

*If you have a tiny electric oven, like me, make sure to watch pie as it is cooking. Especially for the first 10 minutes at 220 C. It will cook faster than in a proper oven.

Posted in Desserts, Home, Pie, Pies, Strawberry, Vegetarian | 2 Comments

Chestnut and Blue Cheese Stuffed Mushrooms

Chestnut and Blue Cheese Stuffed Mushrooms

It’s cold. It’s Christmas. It’s perfect for Deliriums’s Noel Christmas Beer. Strong. Warming and Crisp. Take a break from wrapping, pour yourself a glass and admire the tree. While you’re at it, why not have some niblets? Noel’s caramel sweetness and nutty flavor complement these addictive Chestnut and Blue Cheese Stuffed Mushrooms. Super quick to make, you’ll be relaxing in no time! 

Roasted chestnuts can be found all over Shanghai right now. Grab a bag. Take advantage of another Cheers In special. Get the newest bootleg movie. And plan on not leaving your apartment for awhile. 

Stuffed Mushrooms with Noel DeliriumNoel Delirium Christmas Beer

Chestnut and Blue Cheese Stuffed Mushrooms

10 medium crimini (or whichever kind you prefer) mushrooms (or 20 small)
3 cloves minced garlic
1/2 cup roasted chestnuts, minced

1/2 cup toasted bread crumbs, finely cut
3 tablespoons minced fresh basil
1/4 cup strong blue cheese, crumbled
1 egg
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon 
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pepper
1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese

Wash mushrooms and removed stems. Mince mushroom stems and garlic. Saute until cooked. Mix garlic and mushrooms with chestnuts, basil, bread crumbs, blue cheese, egg, cinnamon, salt and pepper. 

Fill mushroom caps with stuffing and top with shredded cheddar cheese. Bake at 150 C (300 F) for 15 minutes. (If making small mushrooms they will take less time.)

Posted in Appetizer, Basil, Blue Cheese, Home, Stuffed Mushrooms | Leave a comment

Warm Spinach Dip and Baguette Soldiers

Bought with good intentions, this spinach cajoled me into renouncing a salad in favor of tantalizing dip.  Spinach has a duplicitous personality. It tricks you into thinking you are going to be nutrition conscious, when really you’ll pair it with cream cheese, cheddar cheese and milk. Warm spinach dip. Ribbons of nutrients enveloped in layers of decadence. Winter blues begone!

Shaipon, the GroupOn like Shanghai company, allured me with an offer for 50% off Cheers In beers. 10 different international beers delivered to my door. What could better than that? Beers and Spinach Dip!

If you live in Shanghai and haven’t ordered from Cheers In, I highly suggest you do so immediately. Delivery beers arrive cold and save you from lugging home ponderous bottles. If you prefer a store, there are also three locations where you can shop for beers and drink them simultaneously: BeijingXi Lu, Yongkang Lu and Daxue Lu.

While waiting for libations to magically arrive,  this spinach dip can be quickly whipped together. It is creamy, savory and cheesy. It complements beer and disappears all too quickly. Tasty bread soldiers will have this dip marching straight into you. These slices of baguette toasted with garlic and olive oil prove to be trusty dip scoopers and defenders of sticky fingers.

Warm Spinach Dip and Baguette Soliders


1 bunch spinach, washed (about one cup when cooked)
3 cloves garlic, separated (1 clove will be used with the baguette)
1 small onion, diced
1 package cream cheese, cut into 1 inch cubes
1 cup shredded aged cheddar, or cheese of preference
1 cup milk
1 teaspoon soy sauce
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1 baguette, sliced into 3 inch strips
1 teaspoon thyme
olive oil for drizzling on baguette

Warm Spinach Dip: Sauté spinach in a pan until wilted. Work in batched until all the spinach is cooked. Drain cooked spinach and press out all of the moisture. Chop into tiny pieces.

Sauté onions and 2 cloves of garlic until onions are translucent. Add milk, cream cheese, soy sauce, Dijon mustard, nutmeg and pepper. Stir over low heat until the cream cheese has melted. Add cheddar cheese and mix. Combine the spinach into the dip. Put into a buttered pan or use same cast iron skillet you cooked in to bake. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes at 180 C  or 350 F. 

Baguette Soldiers: While the dip is cooking, cut the baguette into 3 inch long strips. Toss with olive oil mixed with 1 chopped garlic clove and thyme. When dip is warm, take it out of the oven and put in the baguette slices.  Toast bread in oven for 5 minutes, or until crispy.

Warm Spinach Dip and Baguette Soldiers

Posted in Appetizer, Dips, Home, Spinach | Leave a comment