Tickled Pink!

Mama's Gotta Bake

To me, cupcakes are like a party in your mouth. I like that you can get three distinct flavors and textures all in one bite. The cake, the filling and the icing. It’s the perfect little package.  A friend of mine asked me if I would make some cupcakes for her “tween-agers” birthday party.  I thought the girls would enjoy a rich, eggy yellow cake topped off by a vanilla buttercream icing.  Just to kick it up a notch, I thought I would add the raspberry preserves for an unexpected surprise.

And, if you’re talking “tween-agers”, the accent color HAD to be pink, which is also my favorite color.

Recipe for Yellow Cupcakes with Raspberry Filling and Vanilla Buttercream Icing

Adapted from The Well-Decorated Cake

Makes about 30 cupcakes

Moist Yellow Cake

2 cups cake flour

1 cup all purpose flour

1 tablespoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon table salt

1…

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Raphael Restaurant…You Had Me At Hello

Mama's Gotta Bake

The sign on the front of Raphael Restaurant, on Ventura Boulevard in Studio City, said lunch from 11:30 until 2. When we opened the front door to the restaurant at 1:55 looking to be fed, we expected owner Arnon Raphael to send us packing. Instead, we were greeted with a very warm and welcoming hello, and told we could absolutely get a table.

I was looking forward to coming here as I had read that Adam Horton, formerly of The Saddle Peak Lodge, one of my favorite restaurants, was the executive chef. When you enter the restaurant you are immediately charmed by its sleek and sophisticated decor. Owner Raphael told us that his wife had designed the interior that boasts warm woods, stone, and stunning lighting fixtures that add to the overall dining experience. One side is the elegant but casual dining area, and the other side is a…

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You’re In A No-Fry Zone…Oven-Baked, Parmesan Fries

Mama's Gotta Bake

The potato gets a bum rap. In the colorful world of vibrant green, red, orange and yellow vegetables the potato is like a poor, little hobo. All dirty and dusty, drab in color, with pock marks all over him. But oh, the glorious things you can do with a potato. I would have to say he gets the vote as my favorite vegetable. You can mash him, fry him, bake, roast or scallop him. He can be stuffed, made into a chip or even a salad. He’s a versatile little fellow.

But mama loves her fries. There, I’ve said it, I’m coming clean. French fried potatoes are my absolute favorite food. That being said, I don’t find cooking anything in a vat of oil all that appetizing. So, when I’m at home I like to make my fries in the oven, and they’re  just as good. No, actually better. These…

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Farm Fresh Fruited Pancakes

Mama's Gotta Bake

As we head north on the 101 freeway leaving Los Angeles for Santa Barbara, the temperature drops five degrees every 10 miles or so, until we reach our destination where it’s a balmy 72. Our morning begins with a trip to the local farmer’s market in Santa Barbara. We’ve driven up here today to spend the weekend with my good friend Lauren, and her husband Larry. During the week he’s a corporate CEO with a passion for the bottom line, but on the weekends it’s all about his passion for food.  He’s as savvy in the kitchen as he is in the boardroom. It’s only fresh ingredients for him. As we dart from vendor to vendor, sampling the fresh herbs, vegetables and fruits that were picked right off the tree only this morning, I can’t wait to get back to the house to see what Larry will whip up.

The…

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Salmon Burgers with Fresh Dill Sauce

Mama's Gotta Bake

Some foods just bring back memories of childhood. I am very fortunate that the memories I have of those times are warm and happy ones. Every night, my parents and me and my two brothers sat around our red kitchen table and had dinner together. One of the things that my mother made every week was salmon croquettes. It’s not something you would think kids would have liked necessarily, but oddly my brothers and I loved them. At least I think they did. I’ll have to ask them.

Anyway, I’ll take a salmon burger over a beef burger any day. Hamburgers are so 29 seconds ago. These aquatic burgers are filled with so many different ingredients they just exude flavor. I love to pair it with the fresh dill sauce which is the perfect creamy and lemony partner for the fish. Then you top the burger with the peppery arugula…

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Watermelon Cooler

Mama's Gotta Bake

For me, watermelon always signaled the on-set of summer. No school, sleeping late and backyard barbecues. I can’t think of any other food that evokes such positive emotions in me. Well, maybe chocolate cake, but watermelon is a close second.

I recently had the whole family over, and son #1 who is a professional chef, was doing the cooking. I was relegated to prepare dessert and beverages. I knew of course that I had to serve these watermelon coolers. It’s the only way to say, kick off those shoes and don the flip flops, summer’s here! Anyway, I kid you not, this is a most refreshing treat. The cucumber and mint in the drink temper the watermelon’s sweetness, and the lime juice adds just a bit of tartness. The mason jars and pink striped straws just make it so darn cute. And who doesn’t like cute.

Watermelon Cooler 

  • 4-5…

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Vanilla Bean Ice Cream with Fresh Strawberry Sauce

Mama's Gotta Bake

It’s already the end of July and the ice cream maker has yet to make an appearance. Sure, when I first got it, it was my best friend.  Every week last summer I’d be churning out a different frozen treat for the family. What’s happened, have I gotten lazy. Is a freezer full of  commercial ice cream laced with propylene glycol and ethyl acetate suddenly acceptable. I think not!

I am a lover of classic comfort food, and to me nothing is more classic than strawberries and cream. One of my favorite ice cream recipes, is the Williams-Sonoma Vanilla Bean.  C’mon people, no chemical additives here, just sugar, eggs and cream.   Pure and simple. I like to top the ice cream with a fresh strawberry sauce and some chopped pistachios, and call it a day.

Vanilla Bean Ice Cream

From Williams-Sonoma “Ice Cream”

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups whole…

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My Burger Bible

Mama's Gotta Bake

By now you all know that Mama’s Gotta Bake, and oftentimes Mama’s Gotta Cook, but now that the warm weather has rolled into Southern California…Mama’s Gotta Grill. If you’ve read this blog for any length of time you would think that I live on nothing but cake, cookies and the occasional scoop of ice cream.  But if the truth be told, what I’m totally obsessed with is burgers. Oh please, spare me with your turkey, chicken, lamb, salmon and veggie burgers, I’m a purist and it’s nothing but good ‘ol beef burgers for me.

For years I’ve kept a tiny, tattered notebook in the over-stuffed utility drawer in my kitchen. I call it My Burger Bible. Every time I see a tip in the newspaper, the internet, a cookbook, YouTube or the television on how to make a better burger, I write it down in this notebook…

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White Wine Kiwi-Apple Sangria

Mama's Gotta Bake

T’aint nothing better on a scorching summer’s day here in the San Fernando Valley than a couple of your closest girlfriends and a big pitcher of sangria. Because what else do women like to do but talk and drink lots of wine. We will, of course be discussing many pertinent political and social issues, but I felt we needed something cool and refreshing to aide in our verbal discourse.

As most of my buddies know, Mama isn’t much of a drinker. I will tell you this though, my favorite drink back in the day was called a Tom Collins. Those of you born after 1978 will have no idea what that is, but it was quite popular  back in the days of Donna Summer and disco.

Sangria however, is a fruit punch that has its roots in Spain and is served in those warm summer months as a cooling refreshment. …

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Grilled Shrimp Kebabs

Mama's Gotta Bake

I know I haven’t posted a new recipe in awhile, but Mama took a little vacation. I’m funny when it comes to leaving home, and that’s why I hardly ever leave. I find the whole traveling process very stressful, especially when there’s airline travel involved.  But, little did I know that a lovely little paradise existed 22 miles off the coast of Los Angeles.

A group of my friends (Cindy, Roberta, Wendy and Lauren) go to Catalina for a week every summer.  I’ve been invited to go in the past, but I had envisioned Catalina to be nothing special, so I always declined. But for some reason my husband, and I and son #2 decided to give it a try. Well, Mama was pleasantly surprised. Actually more than just pleasantly.

Catalina is very easy to reach, no muss, no fuss. One hour on the Catalina Express and you arrive in…

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