This Dame Cooks A Collection of Recipes from Alaska to the South Pacific and Caribbean

Quick Chocolate Hazelnut Tart with Frangelico

08.16.2013 · Posted in Pies, Cakes & Cookies

_nutella-tart_07-01-31_09This super-simple cream pie has rich chocolate flavor with hazelnut tones enhanced with a shot of Frangelico (hazelnut liqueur).  Rather than an Oreo crumb crust, you can use a blind-baked paté brisee crust.   For a really decadent dessert, top with whipped cream and fresh raspberries.

Nutella, chocolate hazelnut spread, has been on the market since 1963 though the actual Ferrero recipe, from Italy,  has been around since the 1940s.  The American Nutella is hazelnut/cocoa flavored sugar, not a quality product, but still okay for Nutella nuts … enthusiasts.  I’m a purist about some things and chocolate hazelnut spread (more of a butter) is one of them.

The recipe follows for making your own Nutella.  It is very simple and you can adjust the sugar content to personal preference.  There is no milk, wheat or other fillers in this recipe, just roasted hazelnuts, cocoa powder and sugar.  It’s important to roast the hazelnuts before grinding because any water left in them will produce a mush rather than a butter. Roasting also helps to remove the skins of the nuts.  No need to add vegetable oil because the hazelnuts will make  their own oil when processed.  It’s just like making peanut butter.  Hazelnut oil is fragile and will breakdown at room temperature within a couple months so its best to refrigerate as soon as made (will keep up to 6 months refrigerated).  You may substitute melted bittersweet or semi-sweet chocolate chips for the cocoa powder.    Start with 1/4 cup melted chocolate and add more if needed.    For more information just Google:  Freddy Guys Hazelnut Farm of Willamette Valley, Oregon.  This recipe is adapted from a recipe of Barb Foulke’s, owner of Freddy Guys.


Cream Pie with Chocolate Hazelnut


  • 16 Oreo cookies
  • 1/3 cup melted butter
  • 1 can (14 oz) sweetened condensed milk
  • 4 eggs, beaten
  • 1 shot (1 oz) Frangelico
  • 1/2 cup Homemade Chocolate Hazelnut Spread

Crush cookies and combine with butter.  Press cookie crumbs into the bottom and up the sides of a tart pan or shallow pie plate, refrigerate.  Beat condensed milk with frangelico in a food processor on low, add eggs and whirl until combined, add Homemade Chocolate Hazelnut Spread and whirl until combined.  Pour into prepared Oreo crust.  Top with a few more roasted hazelnuts.  Bake for 20-25 minutes.  The center should be slightly undone.  Cool completely.  To serve, top pie with whipped cream, berries, or more hazelnuts.

Homemade Chocolate Hazelnut Spread

Roast 2 cups of hazelnuts on a baking sheet in a 350° F. oven for 12-15 minutes or until skins crack.  Transfer to a towel and rub skins off nuts.  Place nuts in a blender and grind until it is the consistency of smooth peanut butter.  The longer the nuts are ground, the thinner and smoother the consistency.  Add 2 Tbsp. cocoa powder and 2 Tbsp powdered sugar.  Check for taste and adjust cocoa and sugar if necessary.  Pour into a glass jar for storage.

Watermelon Batida de Coco

08.09.2013 · Posted in Beverages, Recipes

watermelon smoothieBatida is Portuguese for shaken or milkshake.  de Coco is coconut milk and watermelon with coconut milk is a cool drink on a hot summer’s day.  In Tonga they call this ‘Otai (oh-tie).  Its low in calories, high in nutrition and can be made with mango, quava, peach, pineapple, papaya, soursop or a combination of fruit like strawberries, watermelon and red grapes.   Garnish with little umbrellas and fruit for a festive look.

If you add cachaca, Brazilian sugarcane liquor which is distilled sugarcane syrup, you’ll have a Brazilian cocktail.  Cachaca should not be confused with rum which is made from sugarcane molasses.

Ingredients for 2 servings:

  • 1 cup of watermelon flesh, seeded
  • 1 cup of coconut milk (Coco Lopez brand sweetened)
  • 1 Tbsp lime juice (or Roses Lime)
  • cup of ice


  1. Place watermelon, coconut milk and lime juice in a blender and whirl for 30 seconds.
  2. Add ice and whirl until smooth.
  3. Pour over ice in tall glasses and garnish.

Liver and Onions Italian Style

08.02.2013 · Posted in Main Dishes

Liver & OnionsIn the 1970s there was a terrific diner in the hard-hat area of San Francisco that served grilled calves liver steaks about 3/4 inch thick with gobs of sautéed onions, horseradish sauce and mashed potatoes.  I still remember the succulent caramelized flavor on the outside and the moist, tenderness on the inside of that medium-rare liver steak.  This was he-man food for construction crews.  It definitely wasn’t that shoe-leather that Mom cooked with heavy gravy that could only be masked with lots of French’s mustard.  But after all, liver is a good source of protein and iron and easy on the pocketbook so back in the day liver for dinner once or twice a month was not uncommon.

Over the years I’ve developed this flash method of sautéing liver and onions with a bit of lemon juice, a splash of Worcestershire sauce and some sage. It’s very similar to the Tuscan and Venetian style of preparing liver.  The acid of the lemon removes the gaminess of the liver and the Worcestershire sauce adds a little kick.  Served with polenta and garnished with garlic chives this is lighter in calories yet still filling.  The secret to tender liver is thin slices, flash-fried and rested while the onions sauté and you make polenta.  Dinner is ready in 30 minutes easily.

You don’t have to be a liver oficionado to like enjoy this dish.  Try this cheap meal.

Ingredients for 4 servings:

  • 1 lb. calves liver, rinsed and sliced 3/8-inches thin, 3-4 inches long
  • salt and pepper
  • 2 medium onions, sliced thin
  • 2 Tbsp. olive oil
  • juice of 1 lemon or 1/4 cup dry white wine
  • 1 Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tsp. dried sage or marjoram
  • parsley or chives for garnish
  • 4 servings polenta prepared according to package directions


  1. Heat a large skillet over medium high heat, add oil.
  2. Salt and pepper liver slices and place in one layer in skillet.  Don’t crowd the slices.  As soon as the last slice is in the skillet start turning the first slices.  Cook no more than 30 seconds to 1 minutes on both sides.  Remove the liver slices to a plate.
  3. Saute the onions in the same skillet until fragrant, salt and pepper to taste, cover, turn onions every 5 minutes until caramelized, about 20 minutes total.  Remove the onions to the plate of liver.
  4. Add lemon juice, Worcestershire and sage to the skillet to stir to deglaze.  Return the liver and onions to the skillet and stir to distribute the lemon sauce.  Heat just until warmed through about 3 minutes, remove from heat and serve over polenta or mashed potatoes.




Update on Container Herb Garden

07.02.2013 · Posted in What's New with This Dame

DSCF0912All the herbs I planted are lush with foliage.  The self-watering containers made from milk jugs and vinegar bottles did their job.  They’re sitting on the side of house that gets full afternoon sun – just enough direct sun to keep them green.  The mint has absolutely gone crazy even with the leaves I pinched off for drinks and cooking and a couple starts I gave to friends.  We love mojitos here.

The thyme, tarragon and sage is ready to thin out also.  I’ll  bundle and dry some for my spice cupboard and maintain the rest in the containers for cooking.

DSCF0913DSCF0917  The cherry tomatoes are producing really sweet juicy orbs and the Roma tomato is loaded with blossoms so it shouldn’t be too long now to see those on the vine.  I have a new dehydrator that a friend of mine built and I’m looking forward to some sun- dried tomatoes in olive oil.






The basal is healthy and the beef-steak tomatoes finally have a few blossoms.  I have a mosquito net ready to cover the tomatoes if the birds get too rambunctious.  DSCF0916

Lettuce and scallions will grow year round here so next up is making more containers for greens.









This is pretty easy stuff and low maintenance once set up.  I encourage everyone to grow something you can eat…