Candy Melt Water Lilies

Photo credit: ©Debra M Kirsch 2020

I offered to make a cake for my brother’s birthday, who doesn’t want a homemade cake?! So, I asked him what flavors were his favorite and the winner was chocolate cake with chocolate frosting, a fine choice.

I haven’t made a homemade chocolate cake in years, and I forgot how rich it was, but since there was some leftover batter, I do have some chocolate cupcakes to keep me going too. The chocolate frosting was light and easy to work with, I think I should have let it sit a bit then whipped it again, just to get it truly smooth.

I had the idea to make flowers out of candy melts brewing in my head for awhile. Somewhere I saw a video about using the back of a spoon to create the petal shape and I would say that was a great idea. Since the cake was for my brother, and I know he loves fishing, I thought water lilies would be a good choice.

Photo credit: ©Debra M Kirsch 2020

I used several spoons of slightly different shapes to create the petals, and I’ve even thought of some other ways to stream line the process for a larger batch. For the centers I used a Russian Tip with vanilla buttercream to shape the inside petals and little stamen, then sprinkled a little yellow petal dust for definition. The chocolate petals were stuck into the buttercream mound in staggered layers to create the open bloom.

All in all, this was a fun project. I think I could even make some other flowers using this technique. The 3-D effect of the blooms is quite dramatic and really makes a statement! so give it a try, the good part is if you don’t like the petals, or a bunch break while in molding, you can just remelt them and try again. Win-win!

“Better Together Fruit Tart” from @thebakefeed

Photo credit: ©Debra M. Kirsch 2020

I saw this beautiful fruit tart as I scrolled through my Instagram feed the other day. The beautiful picture grabbed my attention, but the story from @thebakefeed was even better, so I thought I would give it a try. I think that with the current climate, it is good to remember that what makes things shine is diversity, and both food and people are more interesting with variety! I have to admit, I thought I had peaches & strawberries at home, so I walked on by, but I guess the “home office worker” had gotten to them for breakfast, and they were out of kiwis. So my diversity got sideswiped, argh. But alas, it gives me a chance and reason to make this again, and dive into the bounty of the season. I need to take my time and open my eyes, even at the grocery store, to see those items and people around me, making my world delicious.

I ended up making 3 small 4.5 inch tarts instead of the single 9 inch. There was plenty of dough for the crusts and more than enough filling. I brushed them with some melted apple jelly to preserve them in the fridge, these will take us a day or two to work through, one is enough for us to share. Below is the link to the recipe I used, enjoy and remember the world is better together, just like a fruit tart!

I’m more than just food!

Photo credit: Debra M Kirsch ©️2020

Tip to Tail Gourmet came to me because I like all the aspects of a great meal. Setting a beautiful table, finding the right wine (it helps that my husband is a total wine geek!), and creating meals from start to finish that flow well, and use fresh ingredients. It’s the whole experience that I’m chasing, all the way from the tip of the ears down to the tail, and all parts in between!

These beauties grace our front garden every year. Originally, they were my Great Aunt Gin’s, and when she passed away I dug up a bunch and replanted them at our house. They were part of a large garden I put together in our backyard, it was my pride and joy. I learned so much about gardens with that one. A few years later, when we sold that house, I dug them up and brought them here, they have always seemed to offer a connection to the past. An old fashioned flower, that’s been in the family a long time, an heirloom.

We decided to redo the garage after about 15 years and peonies were going to need to be relocated so they weren’t crushed, out to the front they went and they have thrived in the sun and welcomed visitors with their bobbing blooms.

Photo credit: Debra M Kirsch ©️2020

It sets such a welcoming table to have fresh flowers, and those loose and informal bunches make a weeknight dinner special or welcome guests with beguiling aroma. Putting together floral arraignments is always one of the most fun parts of hosting friends for dinner, in my opinion.

Colorful peonies always make beautiful full bouquets, so when the time presents itself I grab the snippers and go to town. There are still buds and blooms out front, so hopefully I’ll get a second wave after the weather breaks. Until then, I have to think of what I’ll make for dinner so we can enjoy these beauties on the dining room table.

Pappardelle with Rosemary Portobello Mushroom Ragu

Photo credit: ©Debra M. Kirsch 2020

This dinner was actual winner and it wane together in about 30 minutes start to plate. I used some fresh pappardelle, which cooked up wonderfully tender, you can usually find it in the refrigerator section of the grocery store. The fresh rosemary gives a wonderful pine-like flavor, and the chili flakes give just a bit of heat and dimension to the dish.

I had some asparagus to use up, and a little green on the plate always dresses things up. It was a tasty pairing.

Photo credit: ©Debra M. Kirsch 2020

My husband generously brought up a half bottle of burgundy to compliment the meal. The 2015 Nuits Saint Georges, Premier Cru, was a treat! The Pinot Noir wine paired perfectly with the mushrooms, the rosemary, and the sauce. Lovely!

Here is the link to this wonderful recipe from @familystylefood, I think it’s definitely one for the recipe file!

Focaccia Art

This was my first time trying focaccia art, well, it was only my second time making focaccia, tbh. I would chalk it up to a learning experience since it wasn’t really as cute as I would have liked. However, the bread tastes great, so it was a win there!

Photo credit: ©️Debra M. Kirsch

I was going for some delicate flowers, and not too much going on. Several of the focaccia that I’ve seen, I feel as though they have been over decorated, and might be a bit much on the taste front. I used cherry tomatoes, red onion, and chives for the flowers & stems, and some rosemary leaves and thyme for the leaves and green touches.

Photo credit: ©️Debra M. Kirsch

More olive oil and pressing the herbs into the dough more might have helped them adhere better. After baking, the herbs were pretty delicate, though the tomatoes held up very well.

I think it’s fun to get a little color going, so the yellow and red tomatoes helped with that, perhaps a bit more red onion would have been cuter, too, and definitely more green!

Photo credit: ©️Debra M. Kirsch

The final product, after a light brush with some garlic butter, was delicious. This will pair well with dinner and make up some lovely sandwiches, I’m already thinking of fresh mozzarella, basil, and tomatoes, they are all in the fridge so a caprese sandwich is definitely in store.

Bon Appetit!!

Oatmeal Raisin Cookies

From The Silver Palate Cookbook

In the early 1980s, my mom discovered The Silver Palate Cookbook, with a strong background of culinary adventures, she was always looking for new and inspiring resources. She introduced me to The Silver Palate, and together, we made lots of great dishes and baked goods.

It must have been 1986, when I was sent to NYC for my job at Dean Witter Reynolds, that I set out to find The Silver Palate, a darling gem of a shop, located at Columbus Avenue and 73rd Street. It was an adventure, not exactly on the way to LaGuardia from the World Trade Center, but that was my window, and it all felt like a celebrity sighting!

Inside, I picked out a big tin, that looked like the famous shop, and filled it with all kinds of gourmet and specialty items unique to The Silver Palate. Back then, there was no issue with carry on items, so I proudly carried my prize home to Mom.

With that background, you can understand why The Silver Palate Cookbook is a favorite go to, it’s never let me down. So give these cookies a try, they are fab!!

Photo credit: ©Debra M Kirsch 2020
  • 12 T sweet butter
  • 1/2 C granulated Sugar
  • 1 C brown sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 2 T water
  • 1 t vanilla extract
  • 2/3 C unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1 t ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 t salt
  • 1/2 t baking soda
  • 3 C quick cooking oats
  • 1 C raisins

1. Preheat oven to 350°F and grease two cookie sheets (I used silpats and they worked great)

2. Cream butter and both sugars until fluffy. Add the egg and beat thoroughly. Mix in water and vanilla.

3. Sift together flour, cinnamon, salt, and baking soda; add to the egg & butter mixture and mix well. Add the oats and raisins, and mix well.

4. Form the cookies into large balls, or use an ice cream scoop, and place on cookie sheet, about 6 should fit on each sheet. With a wet hand, or the bottom of a glass, smash the ball into a large round.

5. Bake for 15 to 17 minutes (mine cooked up in 12-13 min.), until edges are done but centers are still soft. Remove to a rack and cool

Yields about 2 dozen large cookies 😋

Pantry Salmon

Photo: ©Debra M Kirsch 2020

This is an easy one! No real specifics, kind of what you have on hand, it makes up to an easy one dish meal.

  • 2 6oz. Salmon fillets
  • Dippity Dill or any mixed herb blend seasoning
  • 1/2 medium onion sliced
  • 1 T olive oil
  • 1 can diced tomatoes (with basil, oregano, garlic or plain is fine, just throw in some dried herbs)
  • 1 can white cannellini or great northern beans
  • 1/4 C chicken broth, white wine, or water
  • Lemon

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Remove skin from salmon and place in a baking dish sprayed with Pam, top with a sprinkling of herb blend.

In a medium sauce pan, sauté sliced onion in olive oil about 2-3 minutes. Add can of tomatoes and then beans. Stir in broth, or other liquid, and bring to a simmer.

Pour tomato mixture in baking dish around salmon, it should just about cover the fillets. Bake in center of oven for about 20 minutes. Enjoy!

No Knead Focaccia

Photo credit: ©Debra M. Kirsch 2020

This wonderful pillowy bread is versatile and delicious. I used the Bon Appetite recipe and loved the results. Maybe next time I’ll add a little “art” made of herbs on the top just for fun. Find the link to the recipe and video below. Enjoy.

Banana Bread

This is a family favorite! I make this into three loaves, but it is easily halved to make one large loaf.

Banana Bread (makes 3 med. loaves)

  • 1/2 pound (2sticks) unsalted butter
  • 2C sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 3C flour
  • 2 t baking soda
  • 2 t salt
  • 2C mashed banana (about 5)
  • 1C sour cream
  • 2 t vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 F, butter 3 8×4 loaf pans (I use the aluminum ones that come in a 3-pack from the store)

Cream butter and sugar until light. Add eggs beating well. 

Sift dry ingredients together and combine with butter mix and blend well. Add bananas, sour cream, vanilla and stir until combined. 

Pour into pans and bake for 50-55 minutes, until tester comes out clean. Cool on rack and enjoy!!

Photo Credit: ©Debra M. Kirsch 2020