Banana Cream Pie with Chocolate-lined Crust

Yep. It’s amazing. The last time I made this, I didn’t have vanilla bean. I used a crushed-bean extract and it’s just not as good. Don’t skimp! It’s all about the ingredients you use.

Banana Cream

Banana Cream pie with chocolate-lined shell on its way to set in the fridge.

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My friend E who (I thought foolishly) moved to Asheville loves pie. Lurrrrrrrrves pie. Can’t get enough of the stuff.  There’s no House of Pies here. Or Apple Pan. Or Du-par’s. What was he thinking?  What if he really needed a piece of pie at 3 in the morning?  Pie emergencies happen, people.  So, armed with a pie dish as housewarming gift, I made my way to Asheville and promised him I would make lots of pie while I was here.  I started last night.

Breakfast pie

Breakfast pie - the best kind!

Seeing as I am in the South, and so very close to Georgia, I decided to start with a Southern Peach pie with raspberries.  At the market, there were several kinds of peaches. I asked a man next to me what he thought was best for pie.  He told me he thought the ones from California looked good.  Oh.  Hmmm.  I bought the Southern Peaches anyway, and have no regrets.

Here’s what I did.

Southern Peach Pie with Raspberries

  • 5 large ripe peaches
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 1/3 cup cornstarch
  • 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • juice of one large orange
  • 3 tablespoons rum (there wasn’t any vanilla extract in E’s kitchen)
  • 1 large egg, beaten
  • 2 pie crusts (one top, one bottom – from scratch or frozen)

Cut an X in blossom end of each peach. Have ready a large bowl of ice and cold water. Fill a large pot three fourths full with water and bring to a boil. Working in batches, blanch peaches 15 seconds or so and transfer with a slotted spoon to ice water. Slip skins from peaches and, working over a large bowl to catch the juices, cut peaches into 1/2-inch-thick wedges. Gently toss peaches with sugar, cornstarch, lemon and orange juice, rum (or vanilla), and raspberries until combined well.

Southern Peach

Fill pie with fruit and it's juices to 1/4 inch below the top of the pan

Pre heat oven to 375 degrees.

Spoon filling into chilled pie crust.  Juices should come up no higher than 1/4 inch below the lip of the pan.  Brush a little beaten egg onto the edge of the pie, and place rolled out and chilled top onto the pie.  Press the edges to seal and trim the edge with a sharp knife or pastry scissors.  Any excess dough can be used for decorations on top.  Cut several vents into the top crust, about 1/2 inch each.  Brush the crust with remaining egg and sprinkle a little sugar on top.

Peach and Razz Pie, topped

Covered pie with peach decoration and sugar on top

Place pie on top of a cookie sheet (to avoid spillage) and bake for about 1 hour or until crust is golden and baked through.  If the crust starts to burn, cover edges with a crust guard or tin foil.

Allow pie to cool for 1 1/2 hours after baking so the juices set.  This is the hardest part!

I won’t lie, we cut into it a little earlier than we should have.  It was still pretty fantastic.


Oh so juicy!

The best part about baking a pie at night is that you can have some for breakfast the next day.  This morning the pie was completely set.  E and I both had some for breakfast and I walked the rest over to the neighbors.

I now have a clean slate for today’s pie: banana cream with a chocolate-lined shell.  I can’t think of a better way to celebrate my birthday.

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Out on the town

I feel like the day just stretches longer here. In a good way, of course.

I woke up early (530a LA time) and got some writing done, planned a menu and made breakfast for us. We spent the better part of the day taking care of little errands for the house. E is still getting settled in, so every day we’re making headway on unpacking, hanging art, and sussing out what needs to be gotten.  Moving stinks if for nothing else that you have to go out and buy more catsup/paper towels/salt.

We went to dinner at a vegetarian restaurant called The Laughing Seed on Wall Street.  Across the street was a 60 foot high climbing wall, complete with climbers.  I was so excited for vegetables!  After the meat and potatoes with nary a green veg the night before, I was feeling a little off-kilter.  I had steamed veggies with black beans and locally made grilled tempeh.  Delish!

Wall of copper Jello molds and Cookie's portrait

Wall of copper Jello molds and Cookie's portrait

Capped off the night at Larue’s Backdoor.  Cookie, the bartender has her fabulous portrait on the wall.  E tells me she’s decided to retire from drag queening, but she still pours a mean drink and does it with flair.

The wall is covered with kitchy copper Jello molds and has several portraits of Cookie in her finest.  There’s also a shrine of lava lamps that illuminate the wall.  It’s romantic/trashy/fantastic.

E and I stayed up late rehashing the night and sitting in the peaceful NC night catching up on months of missed conversations.  Gosh, it’s so nice to take a break from LA.

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On the Road

My dear friend E from LA decided it was time to settle down and buy a house. So he did. In Asheville, NC. It’s a little further than the Valley, but he’s worth the trip.

Upon arriving at Asheville’s cute little airport, he swept me through town to his new (old) home. There are sidewalks everywhere here and people and families and dogs walking on them. There are birds chirping and crickets humming. I haven’t heard a siren, a car crash, or a homeless man screaming into the night sky.  Stars!  I’m in heaven.

While I’m here, I intend to take advantage of the local fare and scope out the vineyards I saw flying in.  And make pies.  I packed two things my my kitchen I didn’t think I could live without: my Cuisinart immersion blender stick/whisk and the Tartine cookbook. Also,  a new pie dish as a housewarming gift for E.

Dinner out last night was an experience.  My waiter told me what I had ordered was so good “I’d dig up my grandmother and slap her!” and said it earnestly.  I’m not in Kansas, errrrr, LA anymore.  Stay tuned.

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Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory

This week’s menu was so much fun to test and assemble.  Each dish is inspired by the misstep of each child.

Menu for August 21

Veruca Salt might have been a bad egg, but my eggs are locally produced here in the LA area and are not affected by the recall.
A little PSA for you: You may have heard about a massive egg recall this week.  Check the eggs in your fridge, especially if you bought the store brand of egg.  You can read more here.
As ever, baskets are local, organic and sustainable. Everything you need is packed into a milk crate that becomes your table. All you have to do is show up!
Baskets are $30 per person and include everything. Please place your orders by phone or email by 8pm on Friday.  I look forward to seeing you at the cemetery!
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Cinespia Menu for The Sting, Saturday August 14

Exciting news here in the foodloveswine kitchen. New website is up, blog attached, and a new menu for this week’s Cinespia screening of The Sting. And you can follow me on Twitter, if you’re interested with my obsession for good food and beverage.

Cinespia Menu for August 14

Cinespia Menu for Saturday, August 14

The Sting stars Paul Newman and Robert Redford, and is directed by George Roy Hill, who previously directed the pair in Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. Both are classics, but I think The Sting is more fun. Newman and Redford play a pair of professional con men in 1936, angling to grift a mob boss. With a Scott Joplin ragtime score, what could be more fun?

This week’s menu is inspired by the film and features a few items that debuted in 1936. The comic Blondie first introduced Dagwood Bumstead’s amazing sandwich in 1936. My variation is full of locally-sourced meats and cheeses, with some farmers market veggies in there to keep things balanced.

Another 1936 newbie is Orangina. This week, mine is fresh squeezed and has a little something to take the sting out of your day. Sting Salad includes spicy greens like radicchio, arugula and watercress. Tossed with fresh pears and Manchego cheese and a whole grain mustard dressing.

Also available are several nibbly items a la carte. Caramel corn, hummus and chips, and a few sweet treats. Everything is made fresh from scratch with local and organic ingredients. Mix and match your favorites!

As ever, baskets are local, organic and sustainable. Everything you need is packed into a milk crate that becomes your table. All you have to do is show up!

Baskets are $30 per person and include everything. A la carte items are priced as listed on the menu and are available in addition to picnic baskets or on their own. Please place your orders by phone or email by 8pm on Friday.

I look forward to seeing you at the cemetery!

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August is National Sandwich Month

I didn’t really like sandwiches as a kid. Only when I was first living on my own in Los Angeles did I realize their merit.  So many options!

This summer I started doing picnics for the Cinespia series at Hollywood Forever on Saturdays. My menus play with the film that is screening and use what’s freshest at the market that week.  I included this for the Casablanca menu and paired it with a spicy orange salad recipe I found in the New York Times archives.  This sandwich sounds crazy, but you’ll love it.  It was a hit with my guests.

Trust me. So fresh and delicious!

Moroccan carrot and goat cheese sandwiches

  • 3 tablespoons agave nectar
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 2 teaspoons sweet paprika
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup olive oil, plus 2 tablespoons
  • 8 carrots
  • 6 oz pitted calamata olives
  • 1/8 cup chopped Italian parsley
  • 3/4 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup soft goat cheese
  • mini pita breads

Whisk together agave, lemon, spices, salt and oil in a large bowl until all is incorporated.

Halve carrots into two lengths, and using a slicer cut into 1/16-inch-thick pieces. Cook carrots in a large pot of well-salted water until crisp-tender, about 45 seconds. Drain and immediately toss in spice marinade.  Allow to cool to room temperature, stirring occasionally.  Marinate carrots covered and refrigerated for at least 6 hours, tossing gently every so often.  Carrots can marinate for 2 days.

Coarsely chop olives, parsely, and lemon juice in a food processor.  Scrape down the sides, and then slowly add remaining olive oil in a slow stream until finely chopped. Do not puree, a little texture is important here.  You can skip this and do the quick cheat by buying a jar of tapenade and just upgrading it a little with the lemon and parsley.

Slice open 1/3 of each side of the pitas.  Spread olive tapenade and goat cheese inside of each pita.  Fill each pocket with a few carrots.  This part is a little messy, I won’t lie.  I’ve tried using tongs or a fork, but fingers are best for evenly placing carrots in the sandwich.  Leftover carrots are great on a bed of greens.

Serves 6

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