Recipe: Coconut-Chai Granola with Cashews and Tropical Fruit



This hunky, not-too-sweet granola with loads of tropical fruit and nuts has all of the creamy-rich flavor and sharp, warm spice of a good cup of chai tea.

Coconut and coconut oil deliver a luxurious fragrance and mouth feel, and after a number of false starts with actual chai tea and home-made chai spice mix, the ingredients in a random off-the-shelf bottle of Frontier Co-op “Garam Masala Seasoning” turned out to be perfect.

At various points the recipe included banana chips and toasted sesame seeds to move the flavors further into South Asia – but the granola got so full of stuff that it started to resemble trail mix. Add them if you like, but a mix of tropical fruits is plenty. Check out the bulk food bins at your local supermarket (I found a great mix with diced pineapple, mango, guava, papaya, coconut and dates), or purchase individual fruits and dice them yourself.

Coconut-Chai Granola with Cashews and Tropical Fruit

Makes about 12 cups


  • 1 egg white
  • 1/3-cup/75 grams/2-2/3 ounces virgin unrefined coconut oil, melted
  • ¼-cup/5 grams/1.75 ounces firmly packed brown sugar
  • ¼-cup maple syrup
  • 2-tablespoons chai spice – this recipe used Frontier Co-Op “Garam Masala Seasoning”
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons kosher salt (or 1-teaspoon table salt)


  • 4-cups/320 grams/11-1/4 ounces old-fashioned oats (the cooks-in-5-minutes kind)
  • 2-cups/160 grams/5-2/3 ounces unsweetened flaked coconut
  • 1-cup/150-grams/5-1/3 ounces coarsely chopped raw unsalted cashews
  • 1/3-cup/43-grams/1-1/2 ounces raw unsalted pumpkin seeds
  • 1/3-cup/43-grams/1-1/2-ounces raw unsalted sunflower seeds


  • 1-1/3-cups diced, mixed tropical fruit (you may find this, ready-to-roll, in the bulk food section of your supermarket)
  • 1/3-cup small-dice candied orange peel
  • 1-3 teaspoons vanilla (depending on how vanilla-y you like your chai)
  • Optional: Banana Chips (these are kind of big for granola, you may want to break them in half), ¼-cup Toasted White Sesame Seeds (you’ll need to toast them on the stovetop before you add them – they won’t toast properly in the oven with the granola)


  1. Heat oven to 300° Line 2 10 x 15-inch rimmed baking sheets (or 1 16-x-22-inch half-sheet pan) with baking parchment. Set aside.
  2. Beat the egg white to a froth in a very large bowl. Add the brown sugar, maple syrup, melted coconut oil, chai spice and salt; whisk thoroughly.
  3. Add the old-fashioned oats, coconut, cashews, sunflower seeds and pumpkins seeds and stir until completely coated.
  4. Spread the mixture evenly in a thin layer over the baking sheets.
  5. Bake in the center of a pre-heated 300°F oven for 30 minutes, removing the granola from the oven every 10 minutes to stir so that the mixture toasts evenly.
  6. Remove the granola from the oven, returning it to the large mixing bowl, and stir in the chopped mixed fruit, vanilla and diced orange peel.
  7. Cool completely in the bowl, stirring occasionally. Store in an airtight container.

Mastering the Art of Japanese Cooking with Masaharu Morimoto


Photo © Evan Sung

You’ll recognize Masaharu Morimoto from Iron Chef, and by way of his show-stopper restaurants – Nobu in in New York, Morimoto in Philadelphia, and sushi bars all over the world. So, it’s a bit of a surprise that a book as heartfelt and down-to-earth as his new Mastering the Art of Japanese Cooking could proceed from all the dazzle.

But here it is.

Mastering the Art of Japanese Cooking – the Japanese mirror to Julia Child’s iconic Mastering the Art of French Cooking, and written for much the same reason – introduces you to the essentials of Japanese home cooking – the style, the flavors, the pantry and the techniques from the perspective of a home cook. And the cool thing about this book is that Morimoto doesn’t American-ize the dishes or talk down to you. He assumes you love Japanese food for its essential nature, and the recipes he shares are for dishes that a Japanese person would cook at home.

Making your own dashi – the classic Japanese broth – is almost too easy, although there is a trick to it which Morimoto shares with you. Then you’re on to rice, and before you know it you’re making onigiri and fried rice dishes, sushi rice and sushi, temaki (hand rolls) and donburi (rice bowls).

From there it’s a short leap to soups, then yaku (grilling), musu (steamed dishes), itame ru (stir-fry), men (noodles), age ru (to fry, as in tempura and fritters), dressings (ae ru) and pickles (tsukemono). Nothing ever seems difficult, and the excellent photography has you anticipating the dishes before you even approach the stove.

If you keep just one all-purpose Japanese cookbook on the shelf, Mastering the Art of Japanese Cooking is it.  It’s comprehensive, it’s accessible, and it’s an intimate introduction to Japanese culture and cooking through the back door of the family kitchen.


A dish you may recognize, Nitsuke – fish simmered in sake, soy sauce and sugar – is not so easy to reverse-engineer at home (if you’ve ever tried), but a snap to make from Mastering the Art of Japanese Cooking.



*Cook’s notes in italics.

Reprinted with permission from Mastering the Art of Japanese Cooking, Masaharu Morimoto, New York, Ecco, 2016


Special Equipment – A wooden otoshibuta or one made from foil (easy to make from foil; check out the photos)

  • 1½ cups Dashi (dried fish and kelp stock – recipe follows), Kombu Dashi (kelp stock), or water (photos show recipe made with water)
  • ½ cup sake (Japanese rice wine)
  • ½ cup mirin (sweet rice wine)
  • ¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons Japanese soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
  • Four ¼- inch- thick coins peeled ginger
  • Four 4-ounce skin-on fillets fatty white- fleshed fish, such as Spanish mackerel, red fish, Chilean sea bass, or black cod
  • ¼ pound drained medium-firm tofu, cut into 4 equal pieces
  1. Combine the dashi, sake, mirin, soy sauce, sugar, and ginger in a medium skillet and bring to a boil over high heat.
  2. Add the fish skin side up to the skillet in a single layer and cover with a wooden or foil otoshibuta (shown in the photos above). Reduce the heat to maintain a simmer and cook for about 12 minutes.
  3. The fish will be fully cooked after about 8 minutes; the longer cooking time is meant to infuse the fish with the flavor of the cooking liquid.
  4. Remove the otoshibuta, carefully transfer the fish to a plate, and increase the heat to high to bring the liquid to a boil. Add the tofu to the skillet and cook, flipping once, until the liquid reduces slightly and its flavor intensifies, 8 to 10 minutes.
  5. Return the fish to the skillet and continue cooking, basting constantly with a spoon, for a minute or two.
  6. Serve right away in shallow bowls with some of the cooking liquid. Or even better, remove from the heat, cover with the otoshibuta or partially with a lid, and let the fish sit for 10 to 15 minutes, so the fish absorbs even more flavor from the sauce




  • ½ ounce kombu (dried kelp)
  • 8 cups water, preferably filtered or spring water
  • 1½ ounces bonito flakes (katsuobushi), about 3-cups lightly packed
  1. Briefly and gently wipe the kombu with a damp towel to remove any dirt or grit, but do not scrub off the white stuff.
  2. Combine the water and kombu in a medium pot, set over medium heat, and heat uncovered just until you see small bubbles break the surface of the water, 10 to 12 minutes.
  3. Take the pot off the heat. Use tongs to remove and discard the kombu. Add the bonito flakes to the pot and stir gently to distribute the flakes throughout the liquid.
  4. Let the flakes steep for about 1 minute and use a spoon to skim of any white froth from the surface of the liquid. Let the flakes steep for 2 minutes more.
  5. Line a sieve or strainer with cheesecloth or sturdy paper towel, set the sieve over a large container and pour in the dashi. Very gently press the flakes and discard them.
  6. If you’re not using the dashi right away, let it cool to room temperature and store it in the fridge for up to 4 days.

Broth recipes from “Clean Soups” by Rebecca Katz


Cover photograph: copyright 2016 by Eve Kolenko

Clean Soups by Rebecca Katz is the sort of book people look to right after New Year’s to mitigate those holiday evenings filled with clam dip, too much eggnog and ten thousand teeny-tiny meatballs.

But that’s exactly why you need Clean Soups right now, to counterbalance the cheerful excess of the holiday season on those evenings when you’re not out partying.

Bonus: when the New year rolls around, your healthy alter-ego will be ready to roll – and it won’t even feel like suffering.

That’s because it’s not suffering. Katz’s basic “Magic Mineral Broth” that is the cornerstone of “clean soups,” is rich, and loaded with healthy ingredients, flavor, and nutrition. It’s versatile, too – serving as the building block of an excellent Thai coconut broth, a beef bone broth, a chicken broth and a mushroom/burdock/ginger “immune” broth. Any one of them, steaming in a cup and enjoyed as a tea, is perfectly satisfying – but as a base for soups, they’re knockouts.

The Clean Soups recipes draw from an international treasury of ingredients and spices – from Cuban Black Bean Soup to Coconut Cauliflower Soup with Ginger and Turmeric, and Tom Yum Gai to familiar classics like Smokey Split Pea, Roasted Apple and Butternut Squash, or Roasted Heirloom Tomato soup – plus an assortment of drizzles, salsas, crumbles and croutons for a snazzy finish.

The soups are integral to Katz’s detox and cleanse program – which is great – but even if you have no use for yoga and your policy is to allow your body to look after itself, you’ll still love this book. Clean Soups allows you to feel both indulgent and self-righteous at the same time.

Use Katz’s “Magic Mineral Broth” as a base for soups and other broths from the book – the book features more than 60 recipes, and they all look good – or sip it as a tea. The “Thai Coconut Broth” uses “magic Mineral Broth” as its base, and is the starting point for many of the Asian soups. Reprinted with permissions from Clean Soups, copyright 2016 by Rebecca Katz with Matt Edelstein. Published by Ten Speed Press, an imprint of Penguin Random House LLC.




makes about 6 quarts | prep time: 10 minutes | cook time: 2 to 3 hours

  • 6 unpeeled carrots, cut into thirds
  • 2 unpeeled yellow onions, quartered
  • 1 leek, white and green parts, cut into thirds
  • 1 bunch celery, including the heart, cut into thirds
  • 4 unpeeled red potatoes, quartered
  • 2 unpeeled Japanese or regular sweet potatoes, quartered
  • 1 unpeeled garnet yam (sweet potato), quartered
  • 5 unpeeled cloves garlic, halved
  • ½ bunch fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 1 (8-inch) strip kombu
  • 12 black peppercorns
  • 4 whole allspice or juniper berries
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 8 quarts cold, filtered water, plus more if needed
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt, plus more if needed
  1. Rinse all of the vegetables well, including the kombu.
  2. In a 12-quart or larger stockpot, combine the carrots, onions, leek, celery, red potatoes, sweet potatoes, yam, garlic, parsley, kombu, peppercorns, allspice berries, and bay leaves. Add the water, cover, and bring to a boil over high heat. Decrease the heat to low and simmer, partially covered, for at least 2 hours, or until the full richness of the vegetables can be tasted. As the broth simmers, some of the water will evaporate; add more if the vegetables begin to peek out.
  3. Strain the broth through a large, coarse-mesh sieve (use a heat-resistant container under­neath), and discard the solids. Stir in the salt, adding more if desired.
  4. Let cool to room tem­perature before refrigerating or freezing.
  5. Store in the refrigerator for up to 5 days or in the freezer for up to 6 months.


makes about 3 quarts | prep time: 15 minutes | cook time: 50 minutes

  • 8 cups Magic Mineral Broth
  • 2 (14.5-ounce) cans coconut milk
  • 3 (1-inch) pieces fresh ginger
  • 2 shallots, peeled and halved
  • 3 kaffir lime leaves, or 1 teaspoon lime zest
  • 1 stalk lemongrass, cut in chunks and bruised
  • ¼ teaspoon sea salt, plus more if needed
  1. In a 6-quart pot, combine the broth, coconut milk, ginger, shallots, lime leaves, lemongrass, and ¼ teaspoon salt and bring to a low boil over medium heat.
  2. Cook for about 20 minutes.
  3. Decrease the heat to low and let the broth simmer for another 30 minutes. Remove the ginger, shallots, lime leaves, and lemongrass with a slotted spoon. Taste and add more salt if desired.
  4. Let cool to room temperature before refrigerat­ing or freezing. Store in the refrigerator for up to 5 days or in the freezer for up to 6 months.

Cover photograph: copyright 2016 by Eve Kolenko

Dorie Greenspan signs “Dorie’s Cookies” Saturday, 11/12 and Sunday, 11/13


When the Betty Crocker Cooky Book is no longer enough for you, you’re ready for Dorie Greenspan’s new compendium of cookies, Dorie’s Cookies.

We love Betty because she’s predictable; it’s what made the Cooky Book a generational staple. But you love Dorie Greenspan because she’ll surprise you, and that’s why her new cookbook, Dorie’s Cookies is a must-have for everyone who loves cookies – or loves someone who loves cookies.

No one ever outgrows the need for a snickerdoodle, but who could fail to be tempted by Dorie’s “Pink Peppercorn Thumbprints,” “Cocoa-Tahini Cookies with Sesame Crunch,” or Moroccan Semolina and Almond cookies,” 10 riffs on brownies, the “Beurre and Sel collection” of recipes from Greenspan’s East Harlem cookie boutique, buckwheat based cookies, waffle cookies, bars, meringues, and an entire chapter of cocktail cookies.

Clocking in at 170 recipes, Dorie’s Cookies is more than a cookbook; it’s a treasury.

The hallmark of Greenspan’s recipes is that they’re familiar enough to keep your feet under you as you try something new, but sufficiently novel to delight you. If anything looks dicey, Dorie gets there first with coaching tips to help you get it right. You’ll be nailing these wonderful cookies and knocking people’s socks off right and left this holiday season.

Fair warning: Santa will be in line at all of the San Francisco Bay Area events, getting copies of Dorie’s Cookies inscribed for the very best girls and boys – he knows a terrific gift when he sees one. Join the Fat Man and have Dorie inscribe a book especially for your friends, too.



12:00 – 2:00 p.m.

  • A cookie pop-up, including a book signing, tastings from the book and conversation with Dorie!
  • The Market Hall Bakery with be sampling cookies from the book, and you’ll receive a free cookie with every book purchase. Also: a cookie decorating demo and samples of cookie add-in ingredients.
  • Free, except for purchases.

OMNIVORE BOOKS on FOOD – 3885a Cesar Chavez Street – San Francisco

3:00 p.m.

  • Talk and book signing at this iconic San Francisco cookbook store.
  • Free


DRAEGER’S MARKET – 222 East 4th Avenue – San Mateo

12:00 – 2:00 p.m.

  • Book signing –With proof of purchase, enjoy wine and cookie samples.

A LITERARY FEAST – Ferry Plaza Mezzanine – San Francisco

3:00 – 6:00 p.m.

  • Book signing and tasting event includes authors and chefs Teri Sandison (Eat Your Books), Paula Wolfert, Dorie Greenspan, Joyce Goldstein, Amy Guittard (The Guittard Chocolate Cookbook), Georgeanne Brennan, and many others — sipping, sampling, schmoozing, and signing.
  • Hosted by Les Dames d’Escoffier of San Francisco.
  • This is a ticketed event – but tickets are only $10; you’ll break even on the wine samples alone.

And after that…

…meet Dorie in Los Angeles, Seattle, Rhode Island, Boston, and Chicago. Use this link to Dorie’s website and follow the cookies.


Big Bad Breakfast: book review and a recipe for Bacon Onion Jam


Our in-house tasters went nuts when Big Bad Breakfast by John Currance dropped through the mail slot.

Breakfast is their favorite meal. Big is their favorite size of food. And if by “bad” you mean pork and fried foods, cat’s head biscuits (“big as a cat’s head!), butter (and plenty of it), well then, hot dog! Which is also bad for you.

And by “bad,” we mean “good.”

But before we get ahead of ourselves, you need to know that in addition to being a book, Big Bad Breakfast is a place – one of several restaurants in Oxford, Mississippi, owned and operated by Currance. And Currance is not just a guy slinging grits in the South, lest you confuse “home-style” with “careless.” He’s a James Beard “Best Chef,” and a Southern Foodways Alliance “Guardian of the Tradition” award winner. His food is the real thing, prepared with skill and imagination and served up hot and hearty on big plate.

So what can you expect in Big Bad Breakfast? Shrimp and Grits? Crawfish Etouffee? Too easy, but they’re in there. How about the Fried Chicken Cathead (no cats were harmed in the preparation of this chicken-and-egg breakfast sandwich), and the Pylon (a chili-dog /waffle extravaganza)? Or Peanut Butter and Banana Pancakes (plus chocolate chips, plus baby marshmallows plus whipping cream)? Sausage Cinnamon Rolls, which are exactly what they claim to be. Or a Falling Down Brown Cow, which if you’re old enough to know what a “Brown Cow” is (a Coca-Cola or root beer float), you’re old enough to enjoy with a shot of bourbon.

If you love breakfast, or you love someone who loves breakfast – even if you hate breakfast – you should buy this book; it’s that much fun.

And just sayin’ – if Santa were to leave this book under the tree, your family would have the best Christmas morning breakfast, ever



“…it goes just as well on grilled meat as it does on a biscuit.”

Reprinted with permission from Big Bad Breakfast by John Currence, copyright © 2016. Photography by Ed Anderson. Published by Ten Speed Press, an imprint of Penguin Random House LLC.”

Cook’s notes in italics.

Makes about 4 cups

  • 2 cups diced bacon
  • 1 gallon thinly sliced sweet yellow onions (about 3-pounds, or 7 baseball-size onions)
  • ¾-cup thinly sliced garlic cloves
  • 4 cups white wine
  • 1-cup apple cider vinegar
  • ½-cup bourbon
  • ½-cup firmly packed brown sugar
  • 5 bay leaves
  • ½-teaspoon black mustard seeds
  • 1-teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 2-teaspoons dried thyme
  1. In a large skillet cook the bacon over medium heat until soft and lightly browned, about 5 minutes.
  2. Add the onions and garlic and cook, stirring until the onions are soft and transparent, about 5 minutes.
  3. Stir in the wine and simmer until reduced by half, about 15 minutes.
  4. Add the vinegar, bourbon, brown sugar, bay leaves, black mustard seeds, red pepper flakes, and thyme, stirring to combine. Turn the heat to low and simmer until almost all of the liquid has evaporated, 15 to 20 minutes. (After 20 minutes, the mixture may still be pretty soupy; crank up the heat and cook, stirring constantly, until most of the liquid is gone. This took me another 15 minutes.)
  5. Remove from the heat and cool to room temperature.
  6. Remove the bay leaves and pour the jam into jars and refrigerate for up to 8 weeks.


The Best Easy Tomato Sauce


Late season tomatoes.

Too big, too ugly, too soft. Too many. And really, really cheap.

So: you’ve picked up 20 pounds of super-ripe tomatoes for a song. Now what?

If you like tomato preserves, lucky you – a standard recipe will set you back 10 pounds of tomatoes, and now you only have ten more pounds of tomatoes to get rid of.

If you can them or freeze them, you’ll have to peel them.

But if you have a food mill (I got mine at a yard sale for a buck) tomato sauce is quick and easy, besides being cheaper and better tasting than store-bought.

And – bonus! – you can make good use of the elderly carrots, flaccid celery, odd ends of onions and the ziplock bag of leftover crudites from your last dinner party, awaiting the long, lonely ride to the composter.


There’s no need to peel or seed anything (except the onions). After a long simmer, the food mill sorts it all out for you, leaving behind a heap of fibers, papery tomato skins, and a big pot of smooth, brilliantly red sauce.

Carrots add a little sweetness and enhance the gorgeous tomato-red color of the sauce, the tomato paste dials up the distinctive flavor of fresh tomatoes, and the remaining vegetables add depth and interest. It’s the best tomato sauce you’ll ever use.

And: don’t season the sauce – not even salt. Later you can season it for Italian, Indian, or Latin American dishes – whatever presents itself when you’re ready to cook.




You’ll need an 8-quart pot, and a food mill.

No need to be too precise with the measurements or the ingredients. As long as you start with 10-pounds of tomatoes, everything else will pretty much fall in line.

If you’re feeling especially lazy, you may skip the part where you soften the vegetables in the olive oil. Omit the olive oil and toss everything except the tomato paste into the pot, then take it from Step 6.

  • 10 pounds whole tomatoes, washed
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 onions (14 ounces/400 grams) – peeled and coarsely chopped
  • 6 cloves of garlic, peeled and smashed
  • 2 carrots (8 ounces/225 grams) – scrubbed or peeled, and coarsely chopped
  • 2 stalks of celery – scrubbed and coarsely chopped
  • 1 bell pepper (any color, any size), washed and seeded, coarsely chopped
  • 1 4-ounce can tomato paste
  1. Heat the olive oil over low heat in a large, 8-quart pot.
  2. Peel and coarsely chop the onions. Add them to the olive oil, and stir occasionally, cooking for about 5 minutes until they start to become translucent.
  3. Add the cloves of smashed garlic; stir
  4. Scrub (or peel) the vegetables and chop coarsely. Stir them into the pot with the garlic and onions.
  5. Wash and core the tomatoes; chop them into large hunks and add them to the 8-quart pot.
  6. Bring the tomato-vegetable mixture to a simmer; cover and cook until everything is very, very soft – about an hour.
  7. Run the tomato mixture through a food mill – the sauce will be watery – then return it to the pot. Stir in the tomato paste.
  8. Bring the sauce to a boil and cook, uncovered, until it is reduced to a consistency you like.
  9. Pour into containers, label and freeze.


Tomato Preserves recipe


DSCN6526 preserves done

Until I met my husband, I’d never heard of tomato preserves. Were they savory? Were they sweet? What did a person do with them?

They’re sweet; Nebraskans eat them on pancakes.

In fact, I learned, it is not possible to enjoy pancakes without them. To that end, when he moved to California, his mother sent along two pints of tomato preserves for the pancakes she assumed (correctly) that he would be making for himself.

Indeed, when I met him he was making his own pancakes and was resupplied every few months with tomato preserves from Nebraska. It was clear that although he would eat pancakes without them, it was not optimal, and probably not even civilized.

I got this recipe – the recipe – from his mother, who got it from his grandmother, who used her mother’s recipe. I gave it to our daughter.

I have brought the measurements up to date, and also converted them to weights (as opposed to volume) to make the process a little more straightforward. And just so you’ll know, the recipe really does take three hours; you can’t cheat on the time.

My annotations are included in italics.


tomato collageReady, set…  one hour… two hours… three hours.

Grandma’s Tomato Preserves

makes about 10 pints

  • 6 quarts (10 pounds) chopped peeled, but not seeded tomatoes.

Cook down and drain off the juice – about 5 pints of juice. This is done before the sugar is added.


  • 10 cups of sugar (4 pounds, 6 ounces – or 2 kilograms)
  • 2 t. whole cloves
  • 1 t. ground cloves
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 2 lemons – remove the peel and pith, then remove the seeds and puree the whole lemons in a blender and stir them into the chopped tomatoes. This adds a little pectin to the preserves – they’re very loose – and helps retain a bright, red color.
  • Vanilla bean husks – if you save the husks after you’ve scraped out vanilla beans for other recipes, this is a good use for them. Stir the husks into the tomato mixture after the sugar is added, and cook them with the preserves. Pull them out before you ladle the finished preserves into jars.
  • The marmalade route – this is completely unsanctioned. Use a vegetable peeler to peel two oranges, two lemons or two tangerines, then slice the peel crosswise into tiny – 1/16-inch – strips. Remove the pith and seeds from the remaining fruit, and thoroughly grind the remaining whole fruit in a blender. Add the ground fruit and strips of peel to the tomato mixture at the beginning of the cooking process, and cook as directed.

Cook on low stirring often for approximately 3-1/2 hrs.

Pour into sterilized jars and process as directed. Use this link to the Ball/Kerr canning website for detailed processing instructions.


Georges’ “Peach Wonderful”

DSCN2637 pie on plate

This is such a great peach pie recipe. It has the real no-foolin’ flavor of a fresh peach pie that you just can’t fake. It’s custard-y, but has no eggs. It’s not tricky. And you can make it with just four or five cups of fresh peaches.

I got the recipe, the so-called “Peach Wonderful,” from my friend, Georges Spunt, who grew up wealthy in the International Settlement of 1930’s Shanghai. I met him when we both worked for the same company in San Francisco where his office was a crossroads for wit and gossip, oddballs of every stripe and bored employees. There, he held court with stories of life in Shanghai, including but not limited to social encounters with Mussolini’s son-in-law, Anna Pavlova, Douglas Fairbanks, and boatloads of  “…impoverished nobility, real and spurious.”

Georges was the author of two cookbooks – the hilarious and elegantly written Memoirs and Menus (“…the bordellos of Shanghai were run by madams of impeccable taste and judgment.”) and The Step-by-Step Chinese Cookbook – as well as  A Place in Time, a wonderful memoir about growing up in Shanghai in the years before World War II. He may or may not have developed this recipe himself, but in any case had annotated it over the years to reflect his own evolving tastes and preferences. It is reproduced here exactly as it he gave it to me. My cook’s notes follow in italics; don’t ignore them.

Georges Spunt’s books are available online through

Georges’ Peach Wonderful
one 9-inch single crust peach pie

  • 2/3-cup sugar
  • 1/3–cup flour
  • 4 to 5 cups sliced fresh peaches (only fresh will do)
  • one drop only almond extract
  • one unbaked 9-inch pie crust
  1. Mix all ingredients together*
  2. Pour 1/2-pint heavy cream over all
  3. BAKE in a 350F oven until done, 30-40 minutes
  4. CHILL

*Cook’s notes:

pie collage

  • Slice the peaches into two tablespoons of lemon juice to keep them from turning brown.
  • Stir the peaches and the sugar/flour mixture plus two teaspoons of cornstarch together in a large, microwaveable bowl until smooth and completely combined; then stir in one cup of heavy cream.
  • Microwave the mixture, stirring at 2-minute intervals until it begins to thicken, about 8 minutes. This may also be done in a pan on a stove top. Without this step, the baking time is not long enough to properly thicken the custard and cook the peaches.
  • Pour into a pie shell – you may add a streusel topping at your discretion – and bake as directed.
  • This pie continues to thicken as it cools; you won’t be able to slice it until it is completely chilled, about two hours.
  • pie collage 2