Posts in Recipes
Kumquat-Cardamon Tea Bread
Kumquat-Cardamon Tea Bread, Perfect for a  Gift

Kumquat-Cardamon Tea Bread, Perfect for a  Gift


If you are lucky to have a kumquat tree, you must have this recipe, Kumquat-Cardamon Tea Bread from Bon Appétit November 2005. The secret ingredient is 2 cups of kumquat puree and maybe another secret ingredient, crushed pineapple in its own juice. Wow! Such a moist and delicious tea bread. This recipe makes 2 large loaves, or several mini gift loaves. Topping each tea bread with a citrus glaze and slices of kumquat makes this a beautiful presentation! Enjoy!

Kumquats are very versatile and can be used in meat sauces, salads, and sweets. Kumquats can easily jump between sweet and savory, and beckons you to use your imagination. 

Kumquat Trees Can Be Grown in a Container

Kumquat Trees Can Be Grown in a Container


Digging into my archives here is my post on Knock-Out Kumquats, from November 2008, for more information about growing kumquats in your garden. Do you have a kumquat in your garden?



Legend, Lunch & Lemon Dressing
Outside Chez Panisse Restaurant in Berkeley, California

Outside Chez Panisse Restaurant in Berkeley, California

Last August 2016, I finally found myself outside the hallowed Chez Panisse Restaurant and Cafe in Berkeley, California. Founded in 1971 by Alice Waters and a few other like-minded friends, the food principles that perpetuate this eating establishment have changed our food culture forever in this country.

Alice Waters, food activist and food icon, has taught has us the value and pleasure of eating locally, supporting our artisan farmers, eating seasonally, supporting food sustainability, and igniting the concept of school gardens for our children.

I meet Alice Waters at Chinos Farms, part of their Good Food, Great Chefs events for the celebration of her latest cookbook, The Art of Simple Food II. 

Meeting Alice Waters at Chinos Farm, Rancho Santa Fe, December 2013

Meeting Alice Waters at Chinos Farm, Rancho Santa Fe, December 2013

Over the years, Alice Waters has mentored many talented floral designers, talented chefs, and cookbook authors such as David Liebowitz and Joanne Weir who worked, trained, and enhanced their careers at Chez Panisse.

Alice Waters has influenced me. She has that gift to inspire and motivate others. When I read food books about Paris and Provence, occasionally I run across her name and presence. The week after I visited Thomas Jefferson's Monticello, Alice Waters was actually cooking in Thomas Jefferson's kitchen for an event. She has inspired me to grow as much of my own food as possible, be sustainable, and eat seasonally.

Cafe Water Carafe Etched "Chez Panisse"

Cafe Water Carafe Etched "Chez Panisse"

Lunch was delightful and delicious, needless to say. The entire time I kept savoring details of lunch, the table, the clientele, and the setting. I share with you now Alice Water's Creamy Meyer Lemon Dressing I had that special day over bright green billowy bibb lettuce .

Creamy Meyer Lemon Dressing

Makes about 1/2 cup. This is a creamy dressing that coats lettuce in a luscious way. The flavor is light and sprightly filled with lemon juice and zest. Alice Waters especially likes it on sweet lettuces such as butterhead or romaine or a mix of small chicories and radicchio.

Stir together in a large bowl: 1 Tbsp. Meyer lemon juice, 1 Tbsp. white wine vinegar, grated zest of 1 Meyer lemon, salt, and fresh-ground black pepper.

Taste and adjust as needed. Whisk in: 3 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil, and 3 Tbsp. heavy cream. Taste for salt and acid and adjust as needed.


Lunch in Provence Cooking Classes!

I Have a Place Setting for You and Friends!

I Have a Place Setting for You and Friends!

Many thanks for everyone's interest and enthusiasm in the "Lunch in Provence" Cooking Classes. Perfect to treat yourself, a special friend, or loved one for a birthday, milestone, or to just experience a relaxing day in South France.

There are still a few place settings available for the Thursday, October 6, 2016 "Autumn in Provence" cooking class and the Thursday, November 10, 2016 "Que Syrah, Syrah" cooking class, see FALL CLASS SCHEDULE DETAILS.


A Summer of Tomatoes
Luscious Cherry Tomatoes From the Garden

Luscious Cherry Tomatoes From the Garden

It has been a splendid tomato summer! Volunteer cherry tomatoes from last summer's plants joyfully returned without a nudge. I had the sweetest cherry tomatoes from May through July. The best recipes are the simplest. I washed the tomatoes, halved them, tossed them with fresh Basil Temecula Olive Oil, dried basil for further basil flavor layering and extra intense flavor, freshly ground Tellicherry black pepper, and kosher salt. I roasted them in the oven at 400 degrees F. for a half hour. At this point the cherry tomatoes caramelize and are ready to be tossed over my favorite pasta or zucchini-spiraled sauteed pasta. It doesn't get any better than this!

"Dressed to Thrill" Cherry Tomatoes

"Dressed to Thrill" Cherry Tomatoes

In July, the beefy big boys started making an appearance, Cherokee Purple, Lemon Boy, and Renee's Garden Crimson Carmello, a top flavor "French tomato variety renowned for exquisite flavor." I used these tomatoes for summer sandwiches and sumptuous salads.

Cherokee Purple and Renee's Garden Dark Green Raven Zucchini

Cherokee Purple and Renee's Garden Dark Green Raven Zucchini

In August, the Italian San Marzano tomatoes and Inca Jewels Container Roma tomatoes (seeds from Renee's Garden) start ripening. I want to use the roma tomatoes for rich, flavorful tomato sauces. I sliced and froze the roma tomatoes for recipes for my fall upcoming "Lunch in Provence" Cooking Classes.

Jeweled Roma Tomatoes and Italian San Marzano Tomatoes

Jeweled Roma Tomatoes and Italian San Marzano Tomatoes

To have tomatoes all summer long, plant different varieties for different uses. Always plant a few new varieties to experiment with. Although I sent away for tomato seed varieties from Renee's Seeds, Home Depot had a good selection of different tomato seedling varieties such as Cherokee Purple, Indie Rose, and Lemon Boy.

"Life is endlessly delicious," treat yourself, a friend, or loved one to a fall "Lunch in Provence" Cooking Class! For more information, please visit, Cooking Classes.


VintageGardenGal Turns Seven!

It is hard to believe my blog, VintageGardenGal is celebrating seven years! I started writing VintageGardenGal on September 4, 2008. With over 253 posts under my belt, it has been a wonderful experience to share with all of you. Thank you for your continued interest and support!

How does one celebrate a blog milestone? How about with a celebration "Grape Harvest Cake!" Ever since I read the book, We've Always Had Paris and Provence, A Scrapbook of Our Life in France, by Patricia and Walter Wells, I've always wanted to make Patricia Well's "Grape Harvest Cake" from Chapter 23. She makes this cake often May to September at her Provence Farmhouse, using various seasonal fruit, and grapes from their vineyard in the fall.

My husband, John, and I too, have a vineyard in which we grow Syrah grapes. Well, it is a bit of "lemons to lemonade" story. We did not have a good grape-growing year, low yield, and not even our traditional harvest event. Normally, I am so busy with the harvest, winemaking, family and friends in town that a "Grape Harvest Cake" is nearly out of the question. This year I took our "petite" yield of good fruit, and said, "I am going to make this harvest cake for my blog anniversary, and share it with all of you."

Grape Harvest Cake

Recipe Type:  Dessert
Cuisine: Provence
Author: Patricia Wells
Cook time: 55 mins
Serves: 12

A simple Provence cake that uses seasonal fruit, and grapes in particular in the fall. If you don't grow grapes, use fresh purple grapes such as Champagne grapes. This cake is made with olive oil, typical of Provence, creating a cake that is moist and light. You will need a 9 inch springform pan and an electric mixer fitted with a whisk. Lightly sprinkle powdered sugar over the finished cake as an optional garnish before cutting and serving.


  • 2 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/3 cup nonfat milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla paste ( vanilla extract)
  • 1-1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 tsp baking powder
  • Pinch of sea salt
  • Grated zest of 1 lemon, and 1 orange, preferably organic
  • 2 pounds small fresh purple grapes (which have to be carefully seeded if they have seeds)


  1. Olive oil and flour a springform cake pan. Tap out an excess flour.
  2. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
  3. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a whisk, beat the eggs and sugar at high speed until thick and lemon-colored, about 3 minutes. Add the olive oil, milk, vanilla, and mix just to blend.
  4. Combine the flour, baking powder, and salt into a large bowl. Add the lemon and orange zest and toss to coat the zest with flour. Spoon the flour mixture into the egg mixture and stir to blend. Let this mixture sit for 10 minutes, to allow the flour to absorb the liquids. Stir three-fourths of the fruit into the batter. Spoon the batter into the prepared cake pan, smoothing over the top with a spatula.
  5. Place the pan in the center of the oven and bake for 15 minutes. Remove from the oven and scatter the remaining grapes on top of the cake. Bake until the top is a deep golden brown and the cake feels firm, about 40 minutes more, for a total baking time of 55 minutes.
  6. Remove to a rack to cool. After 10 minutes, run a knife along the side of the pan. Release and remove the side of the springform pan, leaving the cake on the pan base. Serve at room temperature, cutting into thin wedges.
Welcoming Appetizers

DSC_0497 When I have guests visiting, I like to serve them two special house appetizers because they are so good and easy to make. Both appetizers can be partially made ahead of time, and then quickly assembled before serving.  Enjoy!


Goat Cheese with Marinated Olives
Recipe Type: Appetizer
Cuisine: Mediterranean
Author: Chef Jenn
Prep time:
Total time:
Serves: 4-6
A simple to make tapenade that is a crowd pleaser. I always double the recipe.
  • 1/2 cup assorted olives (such as Kalamata, Gaeta, and Picholine)
  • 2 cloves garlic, sliced thin
  • 1/2 tbsp fresh rosemary leaves
  • 1 tbsp orange zest
  • 1 tbsp lemon zest
  • 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tsp lemon juice
  • 4 oz goat cheese
  1. Drain olives if in brine.
  2. If olives still have pits; with the back of the knife, lightly crush the olives and remove pits.
  3. Combine all ingredients for marinated olives and mix well.
  4. Cover and refrigerate for 2 days, turning and shaking several times.
  5. To serve place goat cheese onto a plate and pour marinated olives over the top.
  6. Serve with warm pita bread cut into wedges or rustic crackers.
  7. *Can be made 5 days ahead. Keep refrigerated until ready to use. Let olive mixture come to room temperature and pour over goat cheese.



Six-Layer Bombay Cheese Spread
Recipe Type: Appetizer
Cuisine: Indian
Author: Janet Leutel
Serves: 6-8
  • 8 oz cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 4 oz sharp cheddar cheese, grated
  • 1/4 tsp curry powder
  • 1/3 cup mango chutney
  • 2 tbsp shredded coconut
  • 2 tbsp scallions
  • 1/4 cup toasted pecans
  • 1 1/2 tbsp currants
  • 2-3 apples, cut in thin wedges
  1. Combine cream cheese, cheddar cheese, and curry powder in the bowl of an electric mixer. (A food processor works as well)
  2. Mix until well blended.
  3. Shape the mixture into a disk 5-1/2 inches in diameter and one inch high.
  4. Refrigerate until firm, at least 45 minutes or overnight.
  5. To assemble, place cheese on serving tray.
  6. Spread mango chutney on top.
  7. Sprinkle with coconut flakes, nuts, scallions, and currants over the chutney.
  8. Arrange apple slices and crackers around the cheese to serve.



White Bean, Pasta and Swiss Chard Soup

DSC_0368 "China tea, the scent of hyacinths, wood fires and bowls of violets--that is my mental picture of an agreeable February afternoon." --Constance Spry I agree, Constance, and what about soup to take the chill out of you, such as one of my favorites, White Bean, Pasta, and Swiss Chard Soup. I saw this recipe in a Williams-Sonoma catalog years ago. It is adapted from Williams-Sonoma Collection Series, Soup, by Diane Rossen Worthington.

It is a nice hearty soup laden with carrots, greens, and thick egg noodles. I use Swiss Chard or kale, interchangeably or combined for this recipe, straight out of my kitchen garden this time of year, carefully rinsed, and cut into julienne strips. So good for you, and tasty is this soup. Garnish it with freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano Cheese, and a thick slice of toasted whole grain bread. It is so easy to make, it is a perfect winter soup to keep you going and glowing.

Please share if you have a favorite winter soup. Please comment if you are a fan of Diane Rossen Worthington and her cookbooks.

Beet & Goat Cheese Arugula Salad

According to Carlsbad seed pioneer, Charles B. Ledgerwood, in Southern California we can grow beets, carrots, radish, and Swiss chard throughout the year. Ever since I learned that, I've been growing all kinds of beets. Pictured here is Bull's Blood Beet, just pulled from my potager. There are many wonderful beets to grow like the Italian heirloom, Chioggia, with its pretty red and white ring, and another favorite of mine, Golden Beets.

I don't know why, but the beets that I grow in my garden do not bleed as much on my hands and cutting board, as those bought from the store. I recommend growing beets in your garden, and using them in this fabulous recipe of Giada de Laurentiiis. This is a perfect recipe for the holidays with the red beets, dried cherries, and green avocado. Enjoy!

Beet and Goat Cheese Arugula Salad

Recipe from Giada De Laurentiis, slightly adapted. This salad can be made with any type of beet. Red beets, avocado, and dried cherries make for a festive salad for the holidays. A nice spring adaptation is golden beets, avocado, and golden raisins. Warning, red beets are extremely messy and will bleed. Golden and Chioggia beets tend to be less messy.

Makes 4 servings.


¼ cup balsamic vinegar
3 tablespoons shallots, thinly sliced
1 tablespoon honey
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
salt and freshly ground black pepper
6 medium beets, peeled and quartered
6 cups fresh arugula
½ cup walnuts, toasted, coarsely chopped
¼ cup dried cranberries or dried cherries
½ avocado, peeled, pitted, and cubed
3 ounces soft fresh goat cheese, coarsely crumbed


Line a baking sheet with foil. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F.

Whisk the vinegar, shallots, and honey in a medium bowl to blend. Gradually whisk in the oil. Season the vinaigrette, to taste, with salt and pepper. Toss the beets in a small bowl with enough dressing to coat. Place the beets on the prepared baking sheet and roast about 40-45 minutes until the beets are just tender and slightly caramelized, stirring occasionally. Set aside and cool.

Toss the arugula, walnuts, and dried cherries in a large bowl with enough vinaigrette to coat. Season the salad, to taste with salt and pepper. Mound the salad atop 4 plates. Arrange the beets around the salad. Sprinkle with the avocado and goat cheese, and serve.

Classic Basil Pesto

Classic Basil Pesto With an abundance of ripe heirloom tomatoes and Italian basil this month, the two flavors are naturals to be enjoyed together. Doesn't this pesto look like green gold? I started my basil from planted rows of basil seed tape. This was a new method, which looking back worked out well. It took a while for the seedlings to rev up, but with our recent heat, all the basil took off.

I had an abundance of vine-ripened Sun Gold and Sweet 100 cherry tomatoes from the garden. The vibrant color alone is so beautiful.  These tomatoes are  ripe, sweet and ready to eat. I halved the cherry tomatoes, and added a little coarse sea salt and pepper. I then set the tomatoes aside, until the pasta was cooked.

I made the Classic Basil Pesto recipe out of the new The Sunset Edible Garden Cookbook: Fresh, Healthy Cooking from the GardenSunset mentions that they originally published this recipe in 1959, and back them suggested serving it over sliced fresh mozzarella slices. When I made this recipe, I doubled it. I would not suggest doubling the garlic amount, when doubling the recipe.

I have really enjoyed this new edible cookbook, and would highly recommend it. It is a great natural step for the gardener, and how to best use one's harvest. I like the recipes, the format, and the photos. There are many more tempting pesto recipes to try, too. Parsley-Mint Pistachio Pesto, Swiss Chard Pesto Pasta, Arugula Pesto Farfalle anyone?

Please share  your favorite pesto recipe from the garden.