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Karista's Kitchen Tips and Techniques VRAI Magazine

Glam Neutral Holiday Table – Guest Post from Two Purple Couches

It’s a guest post today from Emily at Two Purple Couches!  Thank you so much Emily for this lovely post on holiday table décor. I adore Emily’s lifestyle, home and DIY blog ,Two Purple Couches, so I asked her if she would write a holiday table décor post for Karista’s Kitchen.  She so graciously obliged. I know you will enjoy it as much as I have.


First off, I would like to say hello and introduce myself! My name is Emily and I blog at Two Purple Couches. I’m a color-loving girl who married a neutral-loving guy. Together, we’re learning the ins and outs of decorating and DIY as we put our own stamp on our home.

I am so honored and excited that Karista invited me to guest post here today, and we’re doing something a little different! As you may have guessed by now, I am not here to share a recipe, but some holiday home decorating ideas! I will be showing you how to create a beautiful table setting to host your holiday dinners! And if you head over to my blog, Karista is sharing a few delicious appetizers, perfect for serving to your holiday guests!

Bright Neutrals Holiday Table

Today I’m sharing a holiday tablescape, a look that I am confident you can recreate your own way! When I begin decorating my table for any holiday, I always look for simple elements that will make a stunning impression. And one of my favorite ways to do this is by using what I like to call “flashy neutrals”, meaning whites, silvers and golds with lots of sparkle and shine. Flashy neutrals are especially perfect for this time of the year, because they can easily carry your decor from Thanksgiving through New Year’s Eve!

Let’s start with the base for my table decorations: the runner and placemats. For the table runner, I wanted something with great texture. A piece of faux fur from the fabric store was the perfect touch, and maybe a bit unexpected! I paired this furry runner with sparkly gold beaded chargers and simple white porcelain plates. The salad plates have a hint of silver and gold around the edges, perfect for tying in with the flashy neutrals in my tablescape!

Gold Plate Charger

Now I’ll share how I pulled the centerpiece together. I find that breaking the length of my table into thirds works best for me, so the center section is flanked on either side by decor that mirrors each other in some way.

Gilded Milk Glass Centerpiece

For the centerpiece of my table, I focused mostly on creating it with candles: candlesticks, pillar holders, votives, tea lights, etc, all in varieties of clear glass, gilded glass, mercury glass and milk glass.

Cake Stand Display Holiday Centerpiece

I began by propping two gilded milk glass vases and a collection of votives on top of a clear cake plate. I added the white scalloped ornament and polar bear for some extra sparkle.


I anchored each end of the table with my ornament wreaths (if you’d like to learn how to DIY your own, see my tutorial post here), placed a silver pillar holder in the center of each one, and topped them with mercury glass votives.

When my candles were all arranged, I filled in the gaps with other glittery things: mercury glass ornaments, decor and accessories.

Mercury Glass Pinecone Accent

I hope you’ve enjoyed my holiday tablescape! And I hope you’ll join me over at Two Purple Couches for more holiday decorating and DIY ideas!


Karista's Kitchen Sassy Side dishes vegetarian

Brussels Sprouts Gratin

brussels sprouts gratin

Once upon a time there was a little girl who lived on a little farm with a little red barn, lots of animals, a vegetable garden, fruit trees and lush green raspberry bushes.

brussel sprouts gratin

Brussels Sprouts Gratin

Her little farm was filled with chickens, ducks, a few turkeys, rabbits, pigs, goats, a large white goose named Charlie, a naughty and stubborn Shetland pony named Sugar (not at all a sweet animal), a steer named Rex, and a fluffy white sheep named Fearless.

Often, the little girl would spend hours with her farm animals, naming each one, even though her Father said most of them were being raised for food.  You’d think she would have become a vegetarian.  Instead, she fell in love with life on a farm.  A constant circle of life, helping feed a community with beautiful, healthy and naturally raised food.

Valley View Farm, Zillah, WA

Photos by April Smith. Taken at Valley View Farm, Zillah, WA

I still remember the scent of the molasses in the mixture that helped feed and nourish the baby cow.  Mom’s hearty leftovers that were treats for the three little pigs.  Yes, there were three little pigs.

There was much love and care that went into creating healthy and happy farm animals. I wanted to be part of that care;  so I decided to call myself the farm animals supervisor.

Until the day one of the pigs, Lester was his name, decided to take a little nip out of my backside as I crawled over the pig fence.  My Father had given me warning, but I was the farm animal supervisor and I knew my pigs.  They would never bite me.

I believe Lester may have had enough of my plucking through his pig yard.  He told me, very clearly, stay out!

After that exciting event I admired my pigs from afar and took up management of our pet sheep, Fearless.

brussel sprouts

Roasted Brussel Sprouts

I’m no longer the little girl who lived on a little farm with a little red barn.  Those memories however, remain close to my heart.  I’m certain those memories are one of the many reasons I adore and appreciate our local farmers.  The hard work, the love, the care, the belief that raising fresh food is good for the body and the soul.

Supporting our local farm communities is the best ways to keep fresh, healthy, local food on our tables.  This is why I support a new online marketplace called . was founded by my good friend and colleague, Janelle Maiocco.   Janelle is an entrepreneur with an MBA, as well as a trained Chef.  An amazing woman who has dedicated her time and energy finding a way to help farmer’s bring their local goods to local consumers.

Farmstr is passionate about supporting farmers, and enabling their success by bringing them new customers and better margins. Farmstr is excited about making it possible for anyone, people like you and me, to easily find and access nearby farms, choose farmers, ranchers, and fishermen to support and to be able to buy farm fresh food for less than you would pay at the store. ~Janelle Maiocco

If you live in Western Washington, is up and running in your area.  Sign up for the weekly hot sheet to keep informed about current produce, meat and poultry for sale.  If you live in a different state, not to worry. has plans to expand to most states in the near future.  Personally, I can’t wait until they reach Oregon. 🙂

Another great way to stay informed about local produce, meat and poultry for sale, as well a when is coming to your area, check out and “like” the Farmstr Facebook page.

In honor of Brussels Sprouts season, the holidays, and our local farmers, I’ve listed my favorite Brussels Sprouts Gratin recipe, adapted from one of my favorite Italian cookbooks, The Silver Spoon.

For additional Brussels Sprouts recipes check out these fabulous farm loving food bloggers:

Our Lady of Second Helpings – Farm Fresh Gorgonzola Brussels Sprouts Hash

Seattle Seedling – Cilantro Lime Brussels Sprouts Slaw

Comfy Belly – Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Bacon

Loads of Love and Delicious Wishes,


Brussels Sprouts Gratin

One of my favorite Brussels Sprouts recipes is found in a traditional Italian Cookbook, The Silver Spoon.  I’ve adapted this recipe slightly, only using half the Béchamel sauce and using Gruyere mixed with traditional Swiss. If using 3lbs of Brussels Sprouts, the full quantity of Béchamel sauce can be used.  Buon Appetito!

Serves 4 (can be doubled)


1 ½ lbs Brussels Sprouts, trimmed and halved

1 tablespoon Butter

1-2 tablespoons Olive oil

3 ½ – 4 ounces pancetta, diced (or substitute with thick cut bacon)

1 cup shredded Swiss or Gruyere (or ½ cup of each)

1 quantity Béchamel Sauce (recipe follows)

Salt and pepper


Pre-heat the oven to 350F.  Prepare Béchamel sauce (recipe below) and set aside.

Butter an ovenproof dish.  I used a smaller baking dish for the 4 servings and used a 9×13 for a double serving.

Cook the Brussels Sprouts in salted, lightly boiling water for about 10 minutes, drain and set aside.

Heat the olive oil in a large sauté pan over medium high heat and add the diced pancetta or bacon, stirring occasionally until lightly browned.  Add the Brussels Sprouts and season with a sprinkle of salt and pepper.

Stir half the shredded cheese into the prepared Béchamel Sauce and season the sauce with salt and pepper to taste.

Place the Brussels Sprouts in the prepared dish and ladle sauce over the top.  I use only half the Béchamel for 4 servings.  Reserve the remaining Béchamel for a delicious tossed pasta.  Sprinkle the remaining cheese on top of the sauce and place the baking dish in the oven.  Bake for about 20 minutes.

Let the Brussels Sprouts Gratin cool for at least 5 minutes before serving.

Bechamel Sauce


¼ cup butter

¼ cup all purpose flour

2 ¼ cups warm whole milk

Pinch of freshly grated nutmeg

Salt and pepper.


Melt the butter in a pan over medium heat.  Take the pan off the heat and whisk in the flour.  Put the pan back on the heat and continue whisking until the flour and butter is smooth.

Slowly whisk in the warm milk and continue to whisk until the sauce begins to thicken.

Stir in the pinch of nutmeg and season to taste with salt and pepper.  The sauce should be the consistency of a white gravy, not too thin, but not too thick.  Add additional milk if the sauce is too thick and continue to cook a little longer if sauce is too thin.

This sauce is also great over your favorite pasta with peas and diced bacon.

Appetizers Grilling Karista's Kitchen Sauces, Salsas and More Seafood

Proscuitto Wrapped Scallops with a Raspberry Chipotle Glaze

I’m basking in the quiet this morning.  A rare moment.  The day will get busier and by the end, I’ll wonder where time went.

With a full daily schedule, I constantly remind myself “be present in the moment”.  Sage advice from my lovely yoga Instructor.  Advice that has allowed me to relish time, instead of passing through it at mach speed.

I walk around mumbling these words.  So often that I found myself reciting this phrase in the market yesterday.  To my embarrassment, a fellow shopper thought I was talking to her.  No, just talking to myself.

I realized how much I miss in life when I’m not present in the moment.  Little things my daughters say, a hidden smile from my husband, sadness in a friend’s voice or joy in my niece’s email telling me she got into the college of her choice.

Even the pained look on Tank’s face when I’ve forgotten to feed him.  Although he usually won’t let anyone forget to feed him.  Even though he’s sporting a little extra “husky” these days and could use a tiny reduction in his food consumption.

Being present in the moment has become more important to me as of late. The tragedy in Newtown is devastating.  I cannot imagine.

Like many, I’ve shed a thousand tears. My heart continues to grieve for those who lost their precious children and loved ones.  My heartfelt thoughts and prayers are with them.

I wish you all true joy, much love and peace this holiday season!

Loads of Love,


Proscuitto Wrapped Scallops with a Raspberry Chipotle Glaze

I love this dish as an entree with Mexican Diver Scallops or as an appetizer with smaller scallops U 20-30.   The Raspberry Chipotle Glaze is even fabulous on grilled salmon, chicken and shrimp.  A lovely and versatile sauce. 🙂


Serves 2-3

10 large dry packed scallops (for appetizer use smaller dry packed scallops U 20-30, but not Bay Scallops)

5-8 slices prosciutto (sliced in half lengthwise)

10 rosemary stalks for skewers (or pretty party picks that can withstand heat)

Salt and Pepper

2-4 tablespoons clarified butter or high heat oil

1 cup raspberry preserves (with or without seeds, although I prefer without seeds.  If you can’t find without seed, just strain the glaze before using)

1/4 – 1/3 cup white wine or port

1 chipotle chili in adobo sauce

Pinch of black pepper


To make the sauce,  in a blender or food processor, pulse the preserves, chipotle chili and wine.  Just until nicely combined.  Transfer to a small pot and heat on low.  Stir in a pinch of black pepper.  The heat thin the sauce a bit.  The sauce thickens as it cools.

To make the scallops, wrap one strip of prosciutto around the scallop and secure with a rosemary skewer.  Continue to do this with the remaining scallops.

Heat a large heavy bottom skillet over medium high heat and add a tablespoon or two of clarified butter or high heat oil.  Season the scallops lightly with salt and pepper.  When the butter is hot, brown the scallops on both sides.  About 1-2 minutes on each side depending on size of the scallop.  You may need to adjust your heat and turn it down to medium if your pan gets too hot.  You want the scallops to have a nice golden brown crust on each side.  Click on this link for a visual tutorial on how to perfectly pan sear scallops.

Drizzle sauce on plates or a platter and then place the cooked scallops on top of the sauce and serve immediately.  As well, you can plate the scallops and then drizzle the sauce on top.  Either way, it’ll taste fantastic!

Recipe inspired by my favorite fishmonger, Jim at Gemini Fish Market 🙂

Appetizers Karista's Kitchen vegetarian

All I Want For Christmas Is Bleu Cheese and Bacon

It was my birthday last week.   Although the new number is daunting, I love birthdays.  Not so much my birthday,  I love celebrating my family and friend’s birthdays.

As long as I remember the birthdays.  Thank goodness for Facebook.

Ranger Craig surprised me with the sweetest, most thoughtful of gifts.  New muck boots and a waterproof work coat.  Brought a tear to my eye.

No, not because it wasn’t a diamond, but because it’s what I really wanted.

My new muck boots :)

My new muck boots 🙂

My old boots have seen their last days and my old work coat is water-resistant, which doesn’t mean much here in Seattle.  The last time I was mucking out the chicken pen and roaming around doing various yard projects, I think my darling man must have heard me mutter a few words about my leaky boots and soaking jacket.

He even hung a beautiful brushed nickel jacket hook by the back door and a copper tray for my muddy boots.  I love that man.

Ok, enough of the mushy stuff.

It’s a five for one today.  Five fabulous starters.  One from me, and four from a few of my favorite food bloggers.   I suppose I could’ve titled this post “ Five Fabulous Starters”… but that doesn’t sound quite as catchy.

Perfect holiday starters for your perfect holiday party. 😉

Loads of Love,


Bleu Cheese and Bacon Stuffed Medjool Dates

Big thanks to my friend Gazala, who recommended a stuffed date appetizer. 🙂 Love!

Makes about 25 -30 pieces


25-30 Medjool dates

4-5 slices bacon, cooked (I usually cook more than five as my family will walk by the stove and sneak a few slices)

6-8 ounces good quality bleu cheese (I love Rogue Creamery Bleu’s), or Gorgonzola


Remove the seeds from the dates and arrange on a platter.

Finely dice the bacon or place it in a small food processor and mince.

Place the bleu cheese in a food processor or with a hand mixer, cream the bleu cheese.  Transfer the creamed bleu cheese to a pastry bag or a small ziploc bag.

Cut a small hole in one corner of the ziploc bag or a larger hole in the pastry bag.  Pipe the creamed bleu cheese into each date.

Sprinkle each date with minced bacon, gently tapping it on the cheese to keep it secure.  Serve at room temperature.


This is a lovely app that can be prepared prior to serving.  Cream the bleu cheese and hold in the frig.  Cook the bacon, mince and then hold in the frig.  Pit the dates and also hold in the frig.  Then right before guests arrive, pipe in the blue cheese and top with the bacon.  Delish!

Appetizers Karista's Kitchen Pork

Stuffed Olive and Sausage Bites

stuffed olive and sausage bites

Stuffed Olive and Sausage Bites

There is no doubt the holidays are always a busy time of year.  However, the last few years it’s become a reason to put the brakes on.  Or at least slow down long enough to savor the season.

I find myself turning off my computer earlier in the evening, leaving the iPad on my desk, losing my phone (ok… I do this year round), and hanging out by the fire watching old holiday films, sipping my new fave wine and enjoying the company of my beautiful family.

It’s amazing how something as simple as a Christmas movie and a good cup of cocoa can bring everyone into the family room.For me, the holidays are also a time of reflection.  Reflection on the unexpected blessings, the mountainous hurdles that have been jumped and long winding roads that were crossed.

The joy of being a mom of two beautiful and sassy gals, the ever present love, laughter and hilarious adventure with a man who is my best friend. Reflection on the love of family and friends, and new friendships.

Stuffed olives and sausage rolled in panko and baked

One evening at a food blogging event this past summer,  I found myself standing alone at a tall table in the corner of a large barn like building.  I was trying to look casual holding my cocktail and putting my pride in check after a disappointing moment.  I’m typically eager to meet new people and make new friends.  However, sometimes I forget others are not so eager.

So with my pride somewhat bruised and mentally giving myself a good lecture, I stood there watching the crowd as if I were on the outside looking in.

I checked the time on my phone and only half an hour had passed.  Oh well, I thought. It’s time to pack it in, go home, put on the pajamas and read a good book.  There were also three Bennett’s at home that would give me no shortage of conversation.

Just as I was fishing around my handbag for my keys, a lovely lady with a bright as a Christmas tree smile introduced herself.  I probably looked stunned.  I’m sure it took me a minute but I soon realized she was speaking to me and I should probably speak back.

Melanie is genuine. She presented me with a kindness I will never forget.  Along with a few more lovely women from the event, Melanie became a new friend.

Melanie is the author of the blog Melanie in the Middle and now her newest project, A Beautiful Bite, Where Passion and Plate Collide. Fresh, fun, beautiful and mouthwatering recipes.  And she has the best giveaways!

So, in honor of A Beautiful Bite, I thought I’d share these lovely little Stuffed Olive and Sausage Bites.  Perfect starters for your holiday table.

Or if you’re like me… you eat them for lunch. 😉

Happy Holidays and Loads of Love,


Stuffed Olive and Sausage Bites

Makes about 18-20 depending on size of the olives


1 jar (or about 20) feta or bleu cheese stuffed green olives.  Sometimes I can find orange peel stuffed olives and these are fabulous in this starter.

About ½ – ¾ panko style bread crumbs

1 pound sweet, mild or hot Italian sausage


Line a baking sheet with parchment.  Make sure you lightly paper towel the olives so the sausage will stick.

I usually place the olives in one bowl, the sausage in another and the bread crumbs in a third bowl.

Flatten out a tablespoon sized portion of sausage in your palm. Place an olive in the center, then shape the sausage around it, enclosing the olive.

Roll the sausage wrapped olive in the bread crumbs. Continue to shape it and pressing the bread crumbs into the sausage slightly.  As olives are prepared, space them apart on a baking sheet.

Repeat with the remaining olives.

The olives can be prepared a day in advance and refrigerated.  Cover tightly.

At least 20 minutes before baking, remove them from the refrigerator and pre-heat the oven to 450F.  Bake the olives for about 12-14 minutes, until the sausage is cooked and lightly browned.

Serve on a long olive tray or speared with fun picks.

Recipe slightly adapted from the fabulous Chef Kathy Casey, Sips and Apps

Chicken Karista's Kitchen Kid Friendly

Turkey, Pumpkin and Swiss Chard Enchiladas Verdes

Turkey Enchiladas Verdes

Many thanks to my Suzie Q who donned an apron and held the plate for this picture. 🙂

Enchiladas seemed the perfect dish for my leftover Thanksgiving turkey this year.  Combined with the lone pumpkin left on my kitchen counter and some fresh Swiss chard from a local farm, Turkey Enchiladas Verdes is our follow-up feast.

I know you’ll be giving thanks this post is short and sweet. I realize I’ve gone long the last few posts.  I’m terribly chatty in person but rarely on paper. 😉

Off to help decorate the family Christmas tree, while we watch Elf (one of our favorite Christmas movies) and eat Turkey Enchiladas Verdes!

Wishing you all a most delicious Holiday Season.

Loads of Love,


Turkey Enchiladas Verdes with Roasted Pumpkin and Swiss Chard

This recipe can be as simple or as complex as you’d like.  If you’re in a pinch for time use your favorite jarred Salsa Verde, about 2 cups (I completely adore Frontera Brand).  If you prefer to make your own, I’ve included the recipe.

It appears a lengthy recipe, but it’s really very simple.  I’ve been a bit wordy and tried to write the directions in stages.  To keep things as simple as possible.

This also makes a fabulous vegetarian Pumpkin and Swiss Chard Enchiladas Verdes.  If for some reason you really are tired of turkey.

Serves 4-6


For the Salsa Verde:

2 cans tomatillos

½ cup diced onions

2 cloves garlic, minced

½ cup chopped fresh cilantro

1 jalapeno, roasted and seeded

½ cup water or chicken broth if needed

Salt to taste

For the Enchilada filling:

2-3 cups chopped roasted turkey

1 sugar pie pumpkin

1 small bunch Swiss chard, washed and trimmed of stalks and coarsely chopped

1 small white onion, chopped

½ cup chopped fresh cilantro

½  teaspoon ground cumin

½  teaspoon ground coriander

Salt and pepper to taste

1-2 cups shredded Jalapeno Jack cheese

10-12 corn tortillas

Chopped green onions for garnish

For the Crema:

1 cup sour cream

1 lime juiced

¼ teaspoon ground coriander

¼ teaspoon ground cumin

1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

Salt and pepper to taste

Whisk together all ingredients and set aside.

To prepare the Salsa Verde

Place the tomatillos in a blender or food processor and puree.

Add a little oil to a medium sauce pan over medium heat and sauté the onions and garlic until wilted.

Stir in the pureed tomatillos, cilantro and jalapeno and let it simmer on low for about five minutes, adding water or chicken broth if necessary.  Set aside while preparing the enchiladas.  Reserve ½ cup to top the enchiladas.

To Roast the Pumpkin:

Preheat the oven to 400F.  Slice the stem section off the squash first and then slice the squash in half (very carefully).  Scoop out the seeds.

Brush the cut sides of the squash with a little oil. Lay the squash halves cut side down in a glass baking dish and add a little water to the pan.   Bake for about 20-30 minutes or until the squash is tender and skins are a little toasted.  You will want the pumpkin a little firmer than if you were roasting for a pie.

Once the pumpkin has cooled, peel it and slice it or crumble into pieces.

To Sauté the Swiss Chard in a large skillet over medium heat with just a bit of oil.  Once it has wilted, but not watery, transfer the wilted chard to a large bowl.  Mix in the turkey, chopped onion, chopped cilantro, cumin, coriander and 1 cup of shredded cheese.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Pre-heat the oven to 350F.

Heat the tortillas in a stove top steamer, or use the steamer function on a rice cooker or you can always pop the tortillas one or two at a time into the microwave for about 10 seconds.  You need the tortillas soft so they will roll and not tear.  Keep the tortillas covered and warm until you use them.  If they firm up, steam or microwave a little more.

Ladle a little sauce in the bottom of a 9×13 baking dish.  Take a tortilla and fill one end with a few pieces of pumpkin, a spoonful of filling and roll. Continue this until your baking dish is full or you’ve run out of tortillas.

Ladle a cup or so of Salsa Verde over the enchiladas.  Then ladle the crema over the salsa verde.  Sprinkle the remaining shredded cheese over the crema and bake for about 20 minutes or until the enchiladas are heated through.  Let them cool for a few minutes and then garnish with green onion and serve.

Karista's Kitchen Sweets vegetarian

Garam Masala Spiced Pear Galette with Dark Chocolate Sauce

pear galette

Garam Masala Spiced Pear Galette with Dark Chocolate Sauce

My culinary journey has been a winding road.  Sometimes with hairpin turns and sometimes with steep uphill jogs. (If you know me, you know I am NOT a jogger) A few downhill walks and some lovely flat, grassy roads have led me from the past to the present.

And it seems that in every phase, I gain a little more passion and a bit more vision into my culinary world.  Often scribbling words that become my foodie quotes.  Pieces of paper with the written word littering the top of my desk.  I find notes in my handbags, in my drawers,  in my files, and a few found their way into the kitchen junk drawer.  🙂

Today, I often find myself thinking of this quote.  The one that truly speaks my heart. “Food should not only satisfy our hunger, it should feed our soul and nourish our bodies while delighting our senses”.  So with every recipe I create, or cook, or teach, this is always my reminder.

Pear Galette

Delighting the senses is exactly what I had in mind when I created this dish.  I’m often asked to review new food products. Most of them I turn down.  However, a few have captured my attention.

The Spicy Gourmet company contacted me and asked if I would review their new line of organic and fair trade spices.  They had me at organic and fair trade.  But would flavor be just as impressive?  I was delighted and intrigued.

Dinesh Perera of The Spicy Gourmet sent me the Classic Garam Masala Spice Kit.  So off to testing I went.

Thinking seasonal, thinking spicy, thinking holiday parties made me think of something sweet.  Festive and just a little indulgent.  But just a little.  😉

Garam Masala Spiced Pear Galette with Dark Chocolate Sauce.  A little spicy, a little saucy and a lot of delicious.  The Classic Garam Masala is an exquisite spicy blend, perfect for all savory dishes.  But I loved the idea of this spicy blend in a sweet dish.

I did cut the black pepper in half as well as the cumin and then added in a little ginger and nutmeg.  Perfect.

I adore fresh, whole, spices, ground as needed for optimum flavor.  I was so impressed with the quality, taste and fragrance of my new spices, I chucked my old bottles of cardamom and cloves!

Many thanks to Dinesh Perera at The Spicy Gourmet for allowing me the opportunity to test their products.  This is a small company with big flavor.

Wishing you all a happy, healthy and most delicious holiday season.

Loads of Love,


Garam Masala Spiced Pear Galette with Dark Chocolate Sauce

Serves 6-8


Galette Dough

2 ½ cups all-purpose flour

1 cup cold butter, cubed

½ teaspoon salt

1 tablespoon sugar

½ cup ice-cold water


3-4 pears, sliced

1 tablespoon butter, diced

2 teaspoons Spicy Gourmet Garam Masala*

½ teaspoon Ginger

¼ teaspoon nutmeg

1/3 cup sugar (I love using Coconut Palm Sugar in this recipe)

Chocolate Drizzle

4 ounces dark chocolate

¼ cup heavy cream

2-3  tablespoons water


Prepare the dough –  In a food processor add the flour, salt, sugar and butter and pulse until the ingredients resemble coarse crumbs.

While the food processor is on slowly add ½ cup water.  The dough should form a ball to one side of the food processor bowl.  If the dough is too dry, add a little more water.

Place the dough in the center of plastic wrap and refrigerate for about 30 minutes.

Prepare the filling – Place the pears in a large bowl and toss with the diced butter, Garam Masala, ginger and nutmeg.

Pre-heat the oven to 400F.

Roll out the dough into a large circle.  Place the galette dough on a parchment lined baking sheet.

Reserve about 5-6 slices of pear.  Place the remaining pears in the center of the galette dough, leaving about a 2 inch border.  Pull up the sides to form an open face tart.  Artfully place the remaining pears on top of the other pears in the center of the galette.  Brush the galette with a little melted butter and sprinkle with a little sugar.

Place the galette into the oven and bake at 400F for about 15 minutes.  Turn down the heat to 375F and bake for another 20 minutes or until the galette is golden brown.

While the galette is baking make the chocolate sauce.

In a double boiler melt the chocolate and whisk in the heavy cream and water until smooth and glossy. Adding all the water if you’d like the sauce a bit thinner.

When the galette is done, remove from the oven and let it cool for about 5-10 minutes.  Drizzle the chocolate sauce on top, reheating the sauce if necessary.

Drizzle dessert plates with a little more chocolate sauce and then place slices on top of the sauce. Serve immediately.

*Each Garam Masala will have a different blend of spices.  I highly recommend blending your own Garam Masala with spices from the Spicy Gourmet.  However, if you have your own Garam Masala blend, or purchased a prepared Garam Masala, be sure it doesn’t include the ginger or nutmeg.  If it does, then feel free to omit the ginger and nutmeg in the recipe, or add in a little less if desired.

Appetizers Karista's Kitchen vegetarian

Cambozola and Pear Tart

karista's Kitchen

Cambozola and Pear Tart

I’m going to be a new Mama!  A chicken Mama.  My little baby chicks arrive soon and I’m over the moon excited.

Ranger Craig spent the last few weeks building my super fabulous chicken coop.  I think I nearly drove him crazy with my constant requests for additions and changes.

Two levels to roost and two lovely nesting boxes.  It’s really more like a chicken spa. 🙂

Karista's Kitchen

My new chicken coop

This all comes on the heels of building two raised beds for growing edibles, with more edibles mixed into the front yard… which is really now a garden.

I’m sure neighbors drive by my house thinking “that’s where the crazy lady lives, the one who thinks she’s a farmer”.

I have a lot more to learn about growing edibles and raising my egg laying hens.  One of my inspirations for my little urban farm is my friend and colleague, Janelle, from the most fabulous Urban Farm and Food Blog, Talk of Tomatoes.

Janelle put the farm in urban and has transformed her home into a sustainable, productive and beautiful urban farm.  If that isn’t enough, Janelle most recently earned her Master Certificate in Preservation.  Ok, so she’s really more of a Super Woman and to top it off her recipes are outstanding.  When you have a minute, head on over and check out Talk of Tomatoes.

Karista’s Kitchen

Soon, my little egg layers will provide me with dozens of beautiful eggs.  Beautiful eggs to create beautifully delicious recipes just like this Cambozola and Pear Tart.  A savory tart bursting with flavors of Fall.   You won’t be able to stop at one slice.  🙂

Cambozola and Pear Tart

I love this tart as a light lunch with a salad of baby greens, starter for a dinner party or simply as an afternoon nibble.   I typically don’t post other Chef’s recipes but this particular recipe is just too delicious not to share.  Mary Cech is the author of Savory Baking.  A brilliant little cookbook of savory baked goods that are “warm and inspiring recipes for crisp, crumbly, flaky pastries”.

Serves 6-8

Tart Dough

½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter at room temp

¾ teaspoon salt

1 egg white

1 ¼ cups all-purpose flour

1 ¼ cups walnut pieces, toasted


4 ounces Cambozola Cheese

3 egg yolks

¾ cup heavy whipping cream

½ teaspoon fresh ground black pepper

1-2 pears, firm but ripe

To prepare the Tart Dough

Put the butter and salt together in the bowl of a food processor fitted with a blade attachment and process for 30 seconds.  Scrape the bowl with a spatula, add the egg white, and process for another 30 seconds.  The egg white should be thoroughly emulsified into the butter and look smooth.

Add the flour and walnuts all at once.  Pulse until the walnuts are fine and the dough comes together into a ball, about 1 minute.  Turn the dough out on a floured surface and knead briefly.  Pres into a disc about 1 inch thick and wrap in plastic film. Refrigerate for 15 minutes while preparing the filling.

Preheat the oven to 350F and place a 9 inch fluted tart pan with a removable bottom on a flat baking sheet.

Prepare the Filling

Put the cheese, egg yolks, cream and pepper in the bowl of a food processor.  Process until smooth, about 30 seconds.  Pour the filling into a container with a spout to make it easy for pouring.

Remove the tart dough from the refrigerator and place on a well-floured surface.  Dust the top of the dough generously with flour.  Using a rolling pin, carefully roll the dough into a 12 inch circle about 1/8 inch thick.  Dust more flour under and on top of the dough to keep it from sticking to the surface while rolling, if needed.

Slide a flat, rimless baking sheet under the dough and transfer it to the tart pan. (I don’t have a rimless baking sheet so I ended up transferring as carefully as I could and then just pressed it into the tart pan) Center the dough and press it gently into the bottom and sides of the pan.  Patch any tears with dough scraps.  Trim the top edge of the crust with your fingers or a small knife.  Bake until the crust is medium golden brown, 25-30 minutes.  Set the pan on a rack to cool.

Reduce the oven temperature to 300F.  Stand the pear upright on a cutting board.  With a small paring knife, cut off one side of the pear closest to the core.  Turn the pear around to the opposite side and cut off the other side.  Then cut off the two small sides of the pear and discard the core.  Lay the cut sides on the cutting board and cut each piece of pear into ¼ inch slices.  Place the slices on the bottom of the baked shell, overlapping them like shingles.

Carefully pour the custard over the pears and return the pan to the center of the oven.  Bake until the custard is set, about 25 minutes.  The top should just start to turn golden and the filling will jiggle slightly in the center.

Remove it to a rack and let cool slightly.  Remove the ring from the tart, transfer to a serving platter, and serve warm or room temp.  Leftovers can be wrapped in plastic film and refrigerated for up to 3 days.  Remove the tart from the refrigerator, place on a baking sheet, and warm for about 15 minutes at 300F.

Recipe slightly adapted by Mary Cech

Urban Farming

Urban Farm

Karista's Kitchen Kid Friendly Sassy Side dishes vegetarian

Potatoes Dauphinoise

Potatoes Dauphinoise - potatoes in a cheese and cream sauce

There is nothing more sumptuous than a dish of Potatoes Dauphinoise sitting on a holiday table.  These cheese and cream filled potatoes are laced with fresh herbs and a garlic and baked to a soft and lush texture.  

Creamy, flavorful and indulgent, Potatoes Dauphinoise feels like a fancy 5 star dish but it’ll surprise you how simple it is to prepare.

I adore poetry and poignant quotes so I’ve jotted a few below in honor of this holiday season. Many blessings to you and yours!

My little Christmas gift to you and a few poems to brew…

I heard the bells on Christmas Day
Their old, familiar carols play,
And wild and sweet
The words repeat
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

~Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or even touched. They must be felt with the heart. Wishing you happiness.
~Helen Keller

Blessed is the season which engages the whole world in a conspiracy of love.
~ Hamilton Wright Mabie

At Christmas play and make good cheer, for Christmas comes but once a year.
~Thomas Tusser

Delicious Wishes for the Happiest of Holidays!

Loads of Love,


Potatoes Dauphinoise

Serving Size: 6

Potatoes Dauphinoise


  • 2 lbs Yukon Gold or Red Potatoes, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 2 tblsp butter, softened
  • 1 pint cream
  • 2 cloves garlic finely chopped
  • ½ Cup grated cheese, such as Gruyère or Comte if you can find it
  • Salt and fresh ground black pepper
  • 1 tblsp chopped fresh Thyme or Rosemary (Optional)


  • Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Use some of the butter to grease a shallow ovenproof dish large enough to hold the potatoes in four layers.
  • Heat the cream to just below boiling point. Make a layer of potatoes in the dish, pour on a little cream and then season with salt and pepper. Then scatter a bit of the chopped garlic, herbs and cheese. Make three more layers in the same way, and then pour on enough cream to cover the top layer of the potatoes and sprinkle with remaining cheese. Dot the top with remaining butter.
  • Cover the potatoes tightly with foil and bake for 1 hour.
  • Increase oven temperature to 400 degrees and remove the foil from the potatoes. Bake potatoes another 15 minutes or so until they are very tender and almost all the cream has been absorbed and the top of the gratin is bubbling and golden.
  • Let the potatoes sit for a few minutes before serving.
  • Options: You can make this gratin without the cheese and herbs and it tastes just as delicious. As well, substitute the garlic with caramelized onions. For a complete meal add 1-2 cups diced smoked or honey ham and ½ cup of peas.
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    Appetizers Kid Friendly Pork

    Proscuitto, Arugula and Parmesan Party Starters

    Prosciutto, Arugula and Parmesan Rolls

    I popped into my local fish market (Gemini) the other day and was greeted by one of my favorite fishmongers, Chef Dave Gibson.

    Fresh Organic Arugula

    I love chatting with Chef Dave.  I love listening to the adventurous food stories from his days as a private chef for several northwest cruise lines.  And he’s always got a great recipe or two in his back pocket, especially when it comes to seafood.


    So while I was selecting my fresh seafood for dinner, I asked Chef Dave if he had any great ideas for a chilled starter.  And snap!  There it was.  Chef Dave gave me this yummy idea of rolling up beautiful, slightly salty prosciutto with fresh aromatic arugula leaves a little shaved parmesan. Ok, what a great idea!

    Ready to roll

    So I tried it.  It’s so yummy I’m preparing this for my friends holiday party.  Then I thought, I have to share!  A simple, delicious, fresh and vibrant tasting appetizer to get the holiday parties started.

    Prosciutto, Arugula and Parmesan Rolls

    Now that my sample platter is gone, I think I’ll have to prepare a few more.  I might even have them for lunch.  🙂

    Prosciutto, Arugula and Parmesan Party Starters

    Recipe compliments of Chef Dave Gibson

    Serves 8


    1/2 lb sliced prosciutto (or two 5 oz packages)

    1 bunch arugula (larger leaves)

    4-5 oz wedge of parmesan (parmigiano-reggiano is the preferred)

    Party picks (optional)

    Drizzle of high quality olive oil and balsamic vinegar (optional)


    Place a slice of prosciutto on a flat surface, cutting board or parchment.  Layer with an arugula leaf and then top with a shaved piece (or pieces) of parmesan.  I’ve included a photo above.

    Roll tightly. The prosciutto should stick to itself but you can always toothpick with festive party picks.  Place on a platter.

    For a little extra zing, when finished rolling, lightly drizzle with high quality extra virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar.  Serve and enjoy!