A Valentine Treat from Google

This recipe pairs well with Roederer Estate, Anderson Valley Brut sparkling wine for a Valentine's day treat for two.


Yields about 4 cakes

1 tbsp. butter (You may substitute olive oil.)
4 shallots, minced
¼ cup mayonnaise
1 fuji apple, peeled and grated on a cheese grater, juice reserved
1 tsp. lemon juice, fresh
2 tsp. tarragon, minced
2 tbsp. parsley, minced
1 cup Dungeness crab meat, picked free of shells
¼ cup breadcrumbs, finely ground
Tabasco sauce
kosher salt

cooking oil (rice bran, canola, vegetable, etc.)
metal heart shaped cookie cutter, large size (About 4-6 oz)

Roast Pepper Sauce:

8 oz. pimento peppers in the jar (You may substitute with Spanish piquillo peppers,
or 3 each red bell peppers roasted over an open flame, peeled and seeded), chopped into 1-inch pieces
2 tbsp. sherry vinegar (You may substitute with any vinegar)
2 tbsp. water
2 tbsp. butter (Optional)


In a sauté pan, sweat the shallots in butter over medium-low heat until sweet, but with no color forming. This will take about 5 minutes. When sweet, allow the shallots to cool in a medium-sized mixing bowl. Add the mayonnaise, grated apple with juice, lemon juice, herbs, and picked crab to the mixing bowl.

With a spatula, gently fold the mixture together, so as not to break up any whole crab meat. This will give the cakes a better texture. Fold the mixture just until evenly mixed. Add enough breadcrumbs to bind the cakes. You might need more or less breadcrumbs than stated,
depending on the moisture of the crab. Season the cakes with salt and Tabasco to taste. Using a teaspoon, spoon crab mixture into a metal, heart-shaped cookie cutter. Gently press the crab into the mold. Repeat this process until all cakes are molded. Keep the crab cakes refrigerated until ready for service. Prepare the sauce.

To prepare the sauce, place the prepared peppers into a small non-reactive sauce pan with the vinegar and water. Bring contents to a simmer and transfer to a bar blender. Add the butter to the blender, cover and puree the sauce until it is smooth. Season with salt and pepper.

To finish the crab cake, heat a sauté pan over medium-high heat, add a teaspoon of cooking oil, and sear the crab cake over medium heat until golden brown. This will take 1-2 minutes. Using a spatula, flip the crab cake over and repeat for 1-2 minutes until the crab cake is golden brown on both sides and warm in the center. Piercing the center of the crab cake with a toothpick and feeling the temperature of the toothpick under your lip will give you a good idea how warm
the cake's center is.

To plate the crab cake, pour about two heaping spoonfuls of warm pepper sauce over a warmed plate. Place the warm crab cake over the sauce and garnish with baby mixed greens (mâche, upland cress) and/or freshly picked herbs (Italian parsley, chervil, tarragon, chives…). Enjoy!

Holiday baking fun

Nothing evokes the spirit of the holidays more than the traditional foods that mark the season. Whether your holiday include latkes, a delicious butternut squash souffle, or even a deathless fruitcake, Googlers love to commemorate the occasion with food.

Last week I spent the afternoon baking Christmas cookies with a group of culinary-minded Googlers. Traditionally, this cookie is not just a festive holiday snack; it also makes a great homemade gift and an absorbing arts and crafts project. Our little get-together not only resulted in some melt-in-your mouth treats, but also allowed us to roll up our sleeves and get creative. Check out the photo album from our baking session, and try my recipe for buttery shortbread cookies.

Buttery Shortbread Cookies

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

Mix the following ingredients until smooth:
1-½ sticks unsalted butter (must be soft)
2-3/4 cups sugar
1 teaspoon Kosher salt

Then add the following ingredients and mix until smooth:
8 egg yolks
1/4 cup heavy cream
1 Tablespoon +1-1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

8 cups all-purpose flour.

Mix everything thoroughly until dough comes together. Gather to a ball and flatten to a disc.

Chill the dough until firm. You might want to prepare the dough in the evening before you plan on baking and chill it overnight.

When chilled, roll to ¼-inch thickness, and cut into shapes with cookie cutters. Sprinkle tops with assorted sugars, jimmies and sprinkles.

Bake at 325 degrees F for 10-12 minutes on either a sheet greased with vegetable oil spray or a cookie sheet pan with parchment paper. Edges will be golden when they are done.

You may also bake the cookies plain, cool them, and then brush with icing sugar. Cover the whole surface of the cookie.

Serves: 4 dozen.

A taste of fall

For an ambitious addition to your holiday feast, try my buttercup squash soufflé. The flavors are simple enough that you can serve it as an appetizer, plate it up with a small salad, or just present it to the crowd family style.

Happy cooking, and happy Thanksgiving!

Buttercup Squash Soufflé
with aged balsamic, hazelnuts, and Parmesan

What you'll need:
2 buttercup squash (2 1/2 lbs.)
(I prefer buttercup for its creaminess, but you can substitute butternut squash)
1 egg yolk
3 whole eggs
1/4 cup Parmesan, freshly grated
1/4 cup mascarpone cheese
1/4 tsp nutmeg, freshly grated
3/4 tsp kosher salt
2 egg whites
1 cup chopped hazelnuts, toasted
1/4 cup aged balsamic vinegar
1 cup Parmesan, freshly shaved
1 cup extra virgin olive oil
8-10 ceramic soufflé cups
1 baking pan (large enough to hold the soufflé cups)
parchment paper

1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

2. Halve each squash through the stem to create 2 identical pieces. Coat each piece with olive oil and place face down on a cookie sheet lined with parchment. Bake for about an hour or until the flesh of the squash is completely soft. Allow to cool. (This step can be done a day in advance.)

3. Peel the cooled squash and dice the flesh. Place the skinless squash in a food processor and puree until smooth.

4. In a large bowl, combine the squash, whole eggs, egg yolk, mascarpone, salt, nutmeg and grated Parmesan. Stir until the mixture is completely combined and smooth. In a separate bowl, beat the egg whites to medium or soft peaks. Gently fold egg whites into squash mixture, taking care not to over mix and deflate the whites.

5. Spray soufflé cups with cooking spray. Carefully divide mixture into 8 to 10 ceramic soufflé cups (number of cups depends on the size of the squash), but don't fill the cup over halfway. Place filled cups in the baking pan and fill the pan with warm water, taking care not to drip any water in the filled cups. The water level should be about halfway up the cups. Cover with aluminum foil and bake for 30 to 40 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Allow to cool slightly.

6. Place the soufflé upside down on plate and remove ceramic cup. It should pop out cleanly. Garnish with shaved Parmesan, aged balsamic and toasted hazelnuts.

7. Enjoy!