Archive for the 'Edible Inspirations' Category

Published by Patianne on 07 Apr 2013

Nuts About Doughnuts

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Sweet, fried dough? Made to conveniently fit in you hand?  There are so many reasons to love this treat. And we in the US are not the only lovers of this decadent, delicious deep fried dough. From Zeppole in Southern Italy to Paczki in Poland, it’s really an international favorite.

Just when I think I will never paint another doughnut, one comes along that  I can’t seem to resist. It’s not only that very memorable flavor, doughnuts also possess a powerful and compelling art allure.  They are commonly “round”, one of the building block shapes of drawing.  You can hold them, like a brush or pencil.  Plus they can be any color represented on the color wheel, and are often multi-colored.  After all, from my perspective, sprinkles and coconut are just small pieces of color.


Come to think of it, I wonder why I even considered I may never paint another doughnut…..I’m sure there will be many more doughnuts on my canvas, panel or paper in the future. I’ll just have to have this conversation with myself all over again.



Published by Patianne on 01 Mar 2013

Petite Baking

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I am practicing small. Small is my new temporary approach to all activities, including kitchen happenings. Just as I am fitting into my “petite making” space, so I am adjusting to my new petite baking space.

My temporary kitchen is 10 feet long by 2 feet deep. The appliances, storage, and work surface form a complete unit on one wall.  So when I finally decide to take on the challenge of baking, I begin small with ‘melt-a-ways’. These little  butter cookies not only melt in your mouth as the name promises, but they are easy to make and require few ingredients while offering great reward, which is they are delicious.

I finished mine with icing tinted pink, and used a sprinkle of sanding sugar for a little sparkle. But these little buttery bites are a blank canvas for your choice of icing and color, and perfect for the small space kitchen.



Heat oven to 325º.


3/4 cup butter, softened (if using unsalted add 3/4 tsp salt)
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1/2 cup cornstarch
1 cup unbleached flour


In a large bowl, combine butter and powdered sugar. Blend thoroughly without over mixing.

Stir in cornstarch and flour, without over mixing. If dough is soft, chill for 30 minutes for easier handling.

Shape dough into 3/4″ balls.

Place 2 inches apart on ungreased and unlined cookie sheet.

Bake 10-15  minutes or until very lightly browned around edges.

Cool completely.


3/4 cup powdered sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla
1/2 tablespoon butter, softened (if using unsalted, add a pinch of salt to taste)
1  1/2 tablespoons milk
food coloring -optional


In a small bowl combine all icing ingredients except food coloring. If needed add a few more drops of milk to make a desired consistency.

After combined, tint as desired with food coloring.

Dip the tops of the cookies in the icing, or spoon over the cookie.

Allow icing to set before storing.

These freeze well, although they rarely last that long……

Published by Patianne on 28 Jan 2013

Finding Your Feet

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Hasn’t it been a long hiatus? It feels as if I have been floating above ground and there have been no feet with which to land.

After finishing a 15 year restoration on the bungalow where Art On The Menu lived, cooked and created, the time had come to get the very last project off the list. I should add this was the very biggest project: the kitchen. Then the long term goals of finishing the restoration, selling the house, and moving could be completed. And the destination? A Northwest city with a thriving art and food culture.



So here we are. Art On The Menu is currently in an apartment while looking for a house to call home. The apartment is compact, but efficient, as is the current studio space. The ‘studio’ is on one 10ft wall, with rotating bins of cardboard lining the second wall. The office is on the opposite wall, and a shelf of miscellaneous studio equipment on the last wall of this small room. It’s working as long as the work itself is of a certain modest size! But I will save that for another post.


Now that the studio is organized I will begin to complete my promised commissions, and thank all my dear clients that graciously wanted me to wait on completing their commissions while the move was in progress. And, I can begin some new work I have been thinking about for months.

And landing on your feet? I can see mine again.


Published by Patianne on 19 Jan 2012

Summer In Winter

When I want a diversion from the kale and roasted veggie salads of winter, I start rummaging in my freezer.  I love the brilliance that Autumn gives us. It’s that last bright burst of color before the low gray sky and cold days of December through March. Yet I find Autumn bittersweet, because I know it offers the last local tomatoes of the year.

It’s my tradition to come home from the Farmers Market  at the end of Autumn carrying flats brimming with over ripe, slightly bruised, and imperfect end of season plum and heirloom tomatoes. I then dedicate a day to extracting that concentrated late summer flavor by roasting them. Although an all day commitment, it is so worth the hours! The roasted tomatoes then get parceled into portions and popped into the freezer.


It makes me so happy to be able to enjoy that bright, sweet, intense and slightly acidic flavor during the winter months.  I use my roasted tomatoes in every way possible: pasta sauces; on bruschetta as pictured below with my pesto, which I also make during basil season and freeze, and in soups.

Or I simply just plate this bright, delicious freezer find and finish with a drizzle of olive oil, a crumble of a good salty cheese like ricotta salata, and a sprinkle of fresh frozen parsley or the dried herbs we all turn to during winter.


On days like this, its no wonder roasting tomatoes for the long winter days ahead is a custom I always look forward to.

Late Summer Roasted Tomatoes

This recipe makes about 3 pounds.

Make as many or as few as you like and adjust the recipe accordingly.  I generally make 25 pounds of tomatoes and increase the other ingredients to taste.

On a baking sheet toss together:

3 lbs tomatoes washed, halved or quartered depending on the size of the tomatoes.
2 tblsp olive oil
2 cloves minced garlic
1-2 tsps balsamic vinegar

Bake at 425 for 15 min or until tomatoes are brown and starting to caramelize.

Remove skins after baking. They slip right off.


Published by Patianne on 22 Dec 2011

For The Love Of Holiday Cookies

What is it about Holiday baking?

It’s the indefinable scent of sugar, butter and spices wafting from the oven and falling like a soft cloud of sweetness, covering every nook and cranny of your home. And, it’s the childhood memory of anticipating that first buttery bite as the object of fondness finds its way through the creative cycle of mixing, baking and decorating.

Growing up I always found the intersection of art and food so thrilling this time of year. And that magic of transforming ingredients into beautiful, edible works of art continues to inform my baking. Every year I pour over hundreds of cookie recipes, carefully choosing the year’s selection by balancing flavors, shapes and colors to create a final canvas of artfully assembled sweet delicacies, always hoping to reflect the magic of Season.

My theme  this year was fruit and nuts, and I have included a delicious cranberry cookie recipe below. The dried cranberries and coconut make this a welcomed gift anytime of year.

Wishing You All A Happy, Joyous Holiday Season.


Coconut Cranberry Cookies

Makes 6 doz cookies

Preheat oven to 350℉

1 1/2 cups butter room temp (3/4 lb)
2 cups sugar
1 tablespoon grated orange peel
2 teaspoons vanilla

In a large bowl with a mixer on medium speed, beat butter, sugar, orange peel, and vanilla until smooth.


3 1/4 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 tsp salt

In a medium bowl, mix flour, baking powder, and salt.


Add flour mixture to butter mixture, stir to mix by hand, then beat on low speed until dough comes together in a smooth mass, about 5 minutes. (The mixture will look dry until it comes together as a dough. If it is too crumbly to form into balls, the dough needs to be mixed longer).


1 1/2 cup dried cranberries
1 1/2 cup sweetened flaked dried coconut

Mix in cranberries and coconut.


Shape dough into 1 inch balls and place about 2″ apart on  lightly sprayed baking sheet (do not use parchment).

Bake at 350℉ until cookie edges begin to brown, 8-11 minutes. Shorter baking time will yield chewier cookie.

If baking  2 sheets at once in one oven, switch their positions halfway through the baking.

Cool on sheets for 5 minutes, then transfer to cooling racks.

Dust with powdered sugar (optional).

From Sunset Magazine published sometime during the last decade!



Published by Patianne on 11 Nov 2011

The Personal Palette

We all have a personal palette.  Fashionistas say all colors are a go. But there are those colors that make us want to sink right in, and relax. Although my painting palette is a rainbow of color, my personal palette is earth tones, accentuated  with the warm side of the color wheel: reds, oranges and grays.

My palette also includes the color that contains all color, black, and the absence (so-called) of color, white.  Just look in your closet and around your interior spaces. You will  immediately recognize your personal palette.


I know that my fondness for cardboard grew from my personal palette: it’s the color.  I even see my palette in culinary choices. I love bringing as much color as possible to the food I prepare. But once in a while it startles me when I recognize the subtle overlay of my personal palette settling in, even in the kitchen!

These bars are a good example. An old fashioned cookie translated into a  simple, comfortable sweet treat in my personal palette. Perfect!

Snickerdoodle Bars

2 1/3 cups flour
1 1/4 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp salt
3/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 1/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
3 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla


Cinnamon Filling

1 tablespoon sugar
2 tablespoons cinnamon



1 cup powdered sugar
1-2 tablespoons milk
1/4 teaspoon vanilla


Preheat oven to 350˚.
Spray the bottom only of a 9 x 13 pan.


Combine flour, baking powder, and salt in a small bowl. Whisk slightly to mix. Set aside.

Beat butter on high speed until creamy.
Beat in sugars.
Gradually beat in eggs and vanilla until combined.
Add dry ingredients and beat on low speed until combined.

Spoon 2/3 of the batter into the pan, and spread evenly.

Sprinkle evenly with the Cinnamon Filling.

Dollop teaspoons of the remaining batter evenly over the cinnamon filling. Gaps will show, but the batter spreads to form a marbled appearance with the filling showing through.
Bake 20-25 min, until golden and a tester inserted in the center comes outclean. Try not to overbake these.  Cool completely for 1 hour. Cut before glazing, but leave in pan.

Prepare glaze in a small bowl, stirring ingredients until smooth and adding more or less liquid as necessary to creat a consistancy that will drizzle.
Drizzle over bars, and let the glaze set.

Can be frozen with glazed.



Published by Patianne on 06 Jul 2011


The lovely lemon has a recorded history dating back to ancient Egypt and Rome. It was brought to the new world in the 16th Century. Aren’t we lucky! We use it not only for brightening flavors but also medicinal purposes. It even has an artist’s paint color named after it:  Lemon Yellow. All cooks are crazy about this magical pantry staple.

I love lemons to enliven flavors; as a stand alone dessert filling; candied; and zested or peeled for that explosive punch of color on a plate. And it’s the only pantry item I can think of that has this association: squeezed.

This is why it’s been front and center in my mind. We all know the pressure of being squeezed: time; space; ideas; both real and virtual. I have been carefully navigating  the shoals of studio work and readying the house for a move in the future. It’s no wonder this word popped into my mind.

It’s fitting that it has taken me 8 months to finish this piece:  “Lemon Meringue Pie Slice”.  True, part of this delay was locating the right cardboard. Another was placing my non-commissioned pieces on the back burner while waiting for “time” that had been squeezed out of my schedule, to appear.

As I watched the little streams of juice trickle between my clenched fingers to pool  in my bowl, it suddenly became my visualization.  The perfect image of a certain kind of pressure for the kitchen inclined.

Squeezing lemons clearly illustrated that the current pressures would yield exactly what I needed in the future. Drop by drop the juice would meld together the flavors of the lemon cilantro pesto I was preparing. Being squeezed by these crazy constraints  will extract just what is needed for the move to go forward.

Lemon Cilantro Pesto

Zest and juice of 2 small lemons
1/2 cup toasted almonds
4 cups fresh cilantro leaves loosely packed
1/2 cup fresh mint leaves
3/4 cup freshly grated pecorino

1 cup olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste

In a food processor fitted with steel blade attachment, blend first 5 ingredients until coarsely chopped.

Drizzle in the olive oil in a slow stream while the processor is running, until finely chopped.  Season with salt and pepper.

Makes approx 2 cups.

This pesto is very stiff.  Set aside a little pasta water after draining your pasta, to loosen the sauce.

Published by Patianne on 09 Jun 2011

The Orange Messenger

It was late May,  really not that long ago.  The low gray sky and heavy clouds were barely filtering the sun on a cold wet Saturday morning. It was another dreary visit to the Farmers Market on the wettest recorded Spring in 70 years.

I love potatoes and turnips, and I arrived expecting to see their broad palette of browns, muted reds, and pale yellows which always follow a drawn out winter and cold Spring. But this visit gave me my first  hint of color, and with it the fruit and veggies yet to come. The artist’s hope can reside in color!  On this visit, the color was orange, and the produce was baby carrots.

Spring, although late, had finally arrived.  Soon I would be able to slather butter on my radish baguettes and anticipate that first bite of my fresh tomato tart.

I scooped up several bunches of baby carrots.  I love the incredible sweetness, the tenderness with just a little crunch, and the versatility of this earliest Spring veggie. You can eat it raw as a snack or in salads, or barely cook it as an addition to any dish.

I wanted to celebrate these carrots as the harbinger of a long awaited Spring with a simple recipe.  I have made this so often I no longer use a recipe: a splash here and a pinch there. This preparation lets the carrots shine in color and flavor. I sauteed them gently in butter, and when barely tender stir in a little sugar and balsamic vinegar to taste. For an added contrast in flavor and color I toss in chopped chives at the end, and viola! A delicious Spring welcome.

Balsamic Glazed Baby Carrots

1 lb baby carrots, washed and trimmed
1 1/2 Tablespoons butter
1 Tablespoons sugar ( or to taste)
1 1/2 Tablespoons Balsamic (or to taste)
2 Tablespoons chopped chives or sauteed  shallots

Melt butter in heavy saucepan over medium heat.

Add carrots.

Saute until tender-crisp.

Stir in remaining ingredients.


I have substituted honey for sugar, shallots or onions for chives, and apple cider vinegar for Balsamic and it’s always delicious! Also good cold in salads!

Published by Patianne on 07 May 2011

Cheese Chat

From the perfect selection on a trolley that’s wheeled around ‘fine dining’ establishments, to the orange day- glow product extruded from an aerosol can, when it comes to cheese there is something for everyone.

Be it artisanal or lowbrow, melting creaminess or plastic wrapped slices, the variety of  choices is seemingly endless. And most astonishing of all: it originates from the same product, milk.

For the artist, all the usual descriptive qualities are present: color, texture and shape. If I then mix in the interpretive characteristics, such as creamy; sweet; complex; rich; sharp; etc.,  this ancient food that crosses all cultures becomes a still life subject of infinite exploration, deserving of canvas and paint.

The cheese, as they say, stands alone.

Published by Patianne on 05 Mar 2011

Peace In A Cookie? Part 2

I still write my initial blog notes with pen and paper. And sometimes, I just can’t pick up that pen. The words just aren’t there. During the last ‘pen-less’ three weeks I also watched as a human rights revolution, and celebration, spread across the Mid-East and North Africa.

I thought I had nothing to say, but it was now obvious to me that this was the perfect time to re-visit, and bake, my Peace Cookies.

I explored the Peace Cookie in a recent post, and after researching options on the internet, I complied a list of variations. Since many blogs have been written about the Dorie Greenspan chocolate sable Peace Cookie, I decide to bake the Croatian Peace Cookie. This cookie was a cream cheese pastry with a jam filling. While staying in the spirit of the original, I did find myself redesigning this recipe.

I began by substituting my own cream cheese pastry for the original cookie pastry when I discovered the original recipe was incomplete. After making one batch I  changed the size of the original cookie, a 3″ square was just a mouthful of pastry, trimming it down to a  2″ square which was the perfect two bite size.

But the most important change of all, and in solidarity with our Mid- Eastern/North African sisters and brothers, I changed the filling to a mixture of fig preserves, dates and almonds.

I rounded out this little cookie with a brush of egg glaze and sprinkle of sugar to hold it together, and give it shine after baking. A much prettier finish than just a dusting of powdered sugar, which is what the original recipe called for.

The original cookie was a Croatian family recipe. It was published along with the following notation: “Each cookie is a prayer for peace for all people living in war torn and repressed nations.”

I’m so happy I decided to double the recipe. Double the Peace!

‘Redesigned’ Croatian Peace Cookie

Makes 4-5 doz

Pastry: ( can be carefully rerolled  two times)

1 cup unsalted butter, room temp
1 8- oz package cream cheese, room temp
1/2 cup sugar
1 tsp salt
2 3/4 cups all purpose flour

Whisk salt and flour together.

Using stand or electric mixer, beat butter and cheese until light.

Beat in sugar until mixture is fluffy.

Mix in flour/salt until dough can be gathered together. It will be soft.

Divide the dough, forming into 2 equal square shapes, wrap in plastic wrap and chill for an hour, or can be made a day ahead and chilled overnight.

If chilling overnight leave out until soft enough to roll.


1 cup pitted chopped dates
2/3 cup fig jam
2/3 cup  chopped roasted, unsalted almonds
2 tablespoons melted butter

Mix above together in a medium size bowl

1 egg, beaten
additional sugar


Preheat oven to 350°

Flour your rolling surface.  I roll out this pastry on wide plastic wrap dusted with flour.

Roll out one chilled square of pastry  to 1/8″. If pastry was chilled more than one hour, leave out to soften until it is soft enough to roll.

Cut pastry into 2″ squares. ‘Gently’ re-knead and re-roll scraps to prevent dough from getting tough.

Lay out the 2″ squares so you can fill them assembly line style. See photo below.

Place one scant teaspoon of filling in the center of each square.

Bring opposite corners of the square to the middle, pressing the first corner down sightly onto the base, and overlapping the second corner.

Brush with egg and sprinkle with sugar.

Repeat process with second square of rested pastry.

Bake on an unlined, ungreased baking sheet for 20-25 min, or until bottoms and edges are golden brown.

Think Peace!

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