Call Us: (212) 517-8514

A few of my favorite things

As seen in The Seasonal Chef. Column 48, December 5, 2013. SAFFRON SHORTBREAD STARS, MORNING GLORY MUFFINS. I am borrowing a phrase from The Sound of Music; these are a “FEW OF MY FAVORITE THINGS” (a.k.a. tools) that I use in my kitchen! If there’s a cook on your gift list, they will love one of them.

As seen in The Seasonal Chef. Column 48, December 5, 2013

I am borrowing a phrase from The Sound of Music; these are a “FEW OF MY FAVORITE THINGS” (a.k.a. tools) that I use in my kitchen! If there’s a cook on your gift list, they will love one of them.

A few of my favorite things

  • 1. A stainless steel “harp shaped” vegetable peeler that so sharp that it peels the vegetables with very little pressure from your hand. It is good for both southpaws and right handed cooks. You can find Crosswise Peeler by Rosle about $26.00 at
  • 2. A tiny stainless steel whisk that’s perfect for slurry of cornstarch, whisking a dressing or sauce, and it fits into narrow tall jars or glasses. It’s found in the “bar tool” section at Crate and Barrel ($4.95.)
  • 3. For getting the last bit of mustard or jam out of a narrow mouth jar or scraping out the last bit of a delicious sauce from a pan, these small rubber scrapers are very handy indeed. Some are available in holiday motif while others are in solid colors that can match the décor of the kitchen. Assorted shapes are also available both at Williams Sonoma ($16.95 for 4) and Crate and Barrel ($4.95 for 2.)
  • 4. My favorite metal spatula measures two-and-one-half-inches by three-inches square with a wooden handle. It’s the perfect size for lifting out a serving-sized portion of a brownie, cake, or fruit dessert. It’s difficult to find but it’s well worth the sleuthing effort. When I find it I buy an extra one or two have on hand (about $7.95 at some kitchenware stores.)

Here are two gifts straight from your kitchen: Holiday cookies made with a pinch of turmeric and saffron flavor to flavor these decorative bright shortbread stars with a unique taste that’s discovered after the second swallow.

Muffins are always a welcome gift, especially nutritious healthy ones. This recipe is an updated version of the classic Morning Glory Muffins. They are delicious with a cup of healthy green tea. Bon appetit!
Back to top


About four dozen (2 1/2 inch cookies)

  • 2 sticks unsalted butter (1 cup)
  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon saffron threads, crushed or minced (if using powder, only a pinch)
  • 1/8 teaspoon turmeric
  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • Icing: 1 cup powdered sugar
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 to 2 teaspoons heavy cream or more if necessary
  • About 1/2 cup white sparkling sugar or gold sugar

To prepare:

Working in the food processor bowl fitted with the stainless steel blade, add butter, powdered and granulated sugars, salt, and process until smooth. Add the vanilla, saffron and turmeric and mix well. Add flour and process until blended. Transfer the dough to a gallon sized zip-lock bag. Roll the dough until flat and even, seal, and refrigerate until the dough is firm, at least one hour or up to one week.

Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F.

Remove the top of the zip-lock bag, cut star shaped cookies out and place them on an ungreased cookie sheet, prick each cookie once or twice with a table fork. Place the tray in the refrigerator and chill dough for ten minutes. Bake in center rack until cookies are set and light brown on the edges, about twenty minutes. Remove from oven, cool on the cookie sheet, and transfer to a rack when cookies are firm. Store in airtight containers.

To decorate: In a small bowl, whisk powdered sugar and heavy cream together until it becomes a frosting consistency. Transfer the icing into a pastry bag, and pipe an outline on the edges of the stars. Dip or sprinkle sparkling sugar on the icing and set cookies on a rack until the icing is dry before packing the cookies into boxes.
Back to top


Dozen regular muffins or two dozen mini muffins

  • 1 large egg
  • 2 egg whites
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup almond (or canola) oil
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 2 teaspoons pure almond extract
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 1/2 cup whole wheat flour, sifted
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg or more to taste
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups grated carrots
  • 1 apple peeled, cored, and finely chopped
  • 1 cup raisins
  • 1/2 cup natural shredded coconut

For the topping:

  • 1/4 cup chopped roasted walnuts
  • 2 tablespoons toasted wheat germ

To prepare:

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Generously grease the twelve regular size or twenty-four mini muffin pans tins with butter or spray muffin tins with non-stick spray. Or line the muffin tins with seasonal paper liners.

In an electric mixer bowl beat egg and egg whites until frothy; add sugar and beat until thick and creamy. Beat in oil, vanilla and almond extracts, and applesauce. Meanwhile, in a large mixing bowl, sift all the dry ingredients together and make a well in the center. Pour egg/oil mixture into the well and stir until well mixed. Add carrots, apples, raisins, and coconut to the batter and stir to blend (it will be thick.)

Spoon batter into prepared muffin cups, filling each cup about three-quarters full.

Combine walnuts and wheat germ. Sprinkle the mixture on top the batter.

Bake until the tops are golden and spring back when lightly pressed and a toothpick comes out clean, about ten (for mini) or twenty (for regular) minutes. Top of Form
Back to top