Moving On: New Blog & New Cookbook

Saturday, August 12, 2017

So it's been a while since I've posted here. My apologies for that. But, then again, it's because I've been blogging elsewhere and working harder than a gogo boy with one leg.

I started Vanilla Garlic one day ten years ago when I wanted to practice my writing. I had no idea what I was in store for. Vanilla Garlic has been my home, opened innumerable opportunities for me, helped me start a career in food writing and recipe development (something has become a second full time gig that absorbs much of my time these days), pushed me to write two cookbooks, and introduced me to people I now consider family.

Sometimes, however, you outgrow your home and you find yourself consumed with the overwhelming need to move.

Coupe de Grâce is that move. I wanted a place to be a bit less reserved in my words (I've warned my mother never to read it should the words she sees make her go spontaneously blind and riddled with disappointment in me) and where I could simultaneously explore the craft cocktail world a bit more.

Vanilla Garlic will still exist and I will on occasion post here when I can. I encourage you to check out Coupe de Grâce. It's fun. Light. It's certainly me.

In addition, you can see the revamped, which still has some tinkering going on but, hey, it's up and that's pretty darn nifty.

So this isn't goodbye and this isn't a farewell post. It's, "Hey, come check out my new place! I made martinis!"





P.S. That new cookbook I mentioned a year ago? Yeah, it's here. Stewards of Spirits: A Collection of Sacramento Cocktails and the People Who Make Them is ready for you. Learn more here.

Thoughts About Turkish Delight

Monday, June 20, 2016

"The Queen let another drop fall from her bottle on to the snow, and instantly there appeared a round box, tied with green silk ribbon, which, when opened, turned out to contain several pounds of the best Turkish Delight. Each piece was sweet and light to the very centre and Edmund had never tasted anything more delicious. … At first Edmund tried to remember that it is rude to speak with one's mouth full, but soon he forgot about this and thought only of trying to shovel down as much Turkish Delight as he could, and the more he ate the more he wanted to eat … .

At last the Turkish Delight was all finished and Edmund was looking very hard at the empty box and wishing that she would ask him whether he would like some more. Probably the Queen knew quite well what he was thinking; for she knew, though Edmund did not, that this was enchanted Turkish Delight and that anyone who had once tasted it would want more and more of it, and would even, if they were allowed, go on eating it till they killed themselves."

-The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe

I devoured the Narnia books as a child as much as Edmund devoured this now legendary Middle Eastern candy. Growing up the only Turkish Delight I had ever encountered were those terrible stale squares that became oddly popular gifts in the nineties. Everyone loved to give them, but god forbid you receive. Crunchy exteriors with far too gummy interiors enrobing stale nuts and fruit in sugary prisons.

Still, I was always curious to try the real thing, and for a recent Lebanese-themed dinner party I figured that now was a fine time to try.

They're easy to make, but the result is somewhat dichotomous...

Fresh Turkish Delight is definitely an acquired taste. Somewhere between jell-o and marshmallow sit the wobbly, brightly colored candy. If the texture doesn't appeal than the rose water flavoring might not either. Recipes require heavy pours of the stuff. In addition, the only ingredients are cornstarch, sugar, gelatin, and water. Not exactly a miracle pill.

The result is an incredibly sweet, overtly perfumed candy with a rather odd chew. I found it lovely, but after two pieces I had had my fill for the year, which seemed to be the total judgment from the table. One piece is dandy. A second a dare. A third is unthinkable.

Still, Edmund eventually betrays his siblings upon hearing from the White Queen that, "there are whole rooms full of Turkish Delight" at her castle, so perhaps TD is just the sweetie for you.

Just remember that if you do get a taste for it, that Turkish Delight may become a rather nasty habit. Remember Edmund…

"He had eaten his share of the dinner, but he hadn't really enjoyed it because he was thinking all the time about Turkish Delight—and there's nothing that spoils the taste of good ordinary food half so much as the memory of bad magic food."

Excerpts From Steamy Romance Novels for Food Writers: Pluot & Vanilla Jam

Saturday, June 4, 2016

He began to stand on his chair. Stalwart. Strong. Almost as quick as his flash she reached out to him and pleaded. "If you don't sit down they'll know we're writing a Yelp review." Yet, she knew he cared nothing for her reviews, regardless of how witty they were. All that mattered was his food porn.


He gazed longingly at her as she paraded the coconut cake with homemade, organic Meyer lemon curd and Italian buttercream frosting made with fair trade Tahitian vanilla beans to the table. She had shaved the coconut herself; a dedication that only made her more desirable. He would have to chain back his lust before leaping upon her and the cake until she had a good shot for her Pinterest board.


They couldn't understand why someone would call that question into The Splendid Table when a Google search would have been more efficient.

I am Loki. God of war: Peach & Almond Crumb Cake

Friday, June 3, 2016

 -I know, he's the Trickster God. Just keep reading before you correct me in the comments.-

Today I saw one of the most hilarious things ever.

A little girl and her brother were playing around. She was about five, I guess. Short blond hair, little pink sandals, a nondescript sundress that came from someplace like Target or Walmart. A very average little girl. Her brother, also blond, was about six. He was in jeans and a t-shirt.

He was keeping himself occupied with whatever Nintendo's newest portable not-a-Gameboy is and she was sort of getting all kung-fu. Seriously, while he was entranced she was running around the room, air kicking hostile ninjas through the air, battling space aliens, fighting evil robots, and all and all kicking a lot of imaginary butt. She had dual sword, at least fifty laser guns, unparalleled martial arts skills, and I think she could shoot fireballs from her eyes.

All the sudden she stopped and caught me watching her. She suddenly called a ceasefire with the ninja alien robots and walked up to me.

Talking Trash: Blackberry and Buckwheat Scones

Thursday, May 19, 2016


Scones are sort of a brunch band-aid for when you and someone in your group has been involved in a shadowy game of throwing shade. A peace offering, of sorts. They're an edible version of, “I’m sorry I called you a dirty hooker behind your back to all of our friends, even though I totally caught you giving head on the stairwell at the club to that Slavic drug dealer. Here’s some scones.”

And, then, peace fell upon the land.

At least, until the hooker leaves the room and you start that slam talk up again.

Ah well… at least these scones should assist in a temporary truce. Just sweet enough with the tart, juicy flavor of fresh blackberries suspended in a nutty buckwheat dough. Utterly irresistible, and if these little flavor bombs don’t help you move forward then simply salt the earth of that former friendship and move on because nothing will.

1 ¼ cups bread flour
1 cup buckwheat flour
½ cup sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon cinnamon
1 stick unsalted butter, cubed
1 cup heavy cream
1 cup blackberries
1 egg, beaten
crystalline or sanding sugar (optional)

1. Whisk together the bread flour, buckwheat flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon in a bowl.

2. Cut in the butter using a pastry cutter, a pair of forks, or your fingers until the mixture is sandy with a few pea-sized bits of butter here and there.

3. Add the heavy cream and blackberries. Take off your rings and be prepared to get your hands dirtier that the rumors you’ve heard. Fold the mixture together with your hands until the cream is incorporated. Drizzle in a bit more cream if you need to.

4. Turn the whole mess out onto a lightly floured surface and knead together three or four good turns. You don’t want to overwork it, but buckwheat needs extra attention that wheat flour. Shape the dough into a square and cut into 16 pieces.

5. Preheat oven to 375F. Place the scones on two parchment-lined baking sheets and chill in the fridge for 30 minutes. Have a shot or two while you wait and ponder the best way to text your frenemy an invite to brunch. Pleasantly tipsy, take the scones out of the fridge and brush them with egg. Give them a bit of sparkle with sanding sugar if using.

6. Bake for 25 minutes, give or take, until lightly golden brown along the edges. Cool on a wire rack. Best served warm or with butter and no drama.

Blueberry Lavender: A teaspoon of culinary lavender and substituting the blackberries for blueberries makes for a fragrant and pleasantly purple scone.

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