Cooking and Chef Recipes

Chocolate Cake with Salted Caramel Icing a Dad's Day Treat

Diva chocolate cake

For dads who love sweets, there’s nothing quite like a chocolate cake baked from scratch – the pure, rich flavors of dark cocoa beat a box mix any day.  Except for the measuring, it’s doesn’t take any longer to create your own masterpiece, the perfect gift of love for Father’s Day.

Add this golden caramel frosting with a flourish of sea salt and you’ve got flavors that sing. Our newest “divas in training,” teen-age twins named Juliet and Olivia, created this masterpiece that we just had to share. And if 13-year-olds can do it, so can you. 

African Fruit Fool a Mother's Day Treat from the Divas of Dish

Divas fruit fool

Ahhh, Mother’s Day – the only day of the year when you’ve got an excuse to stay in bed and let the kids (and hubby) bring you breakfast with the paper and a steamy latte. 

Instead of a messy repast of bacon and eggs (and a messy kitchen for you to face), show them this sweet, easy recipe that we think is just right for nibbling in bed, and a nice counterpoint to a cup of coffee. We sampled it years ago on a Disney trip at Boma – Flavors of Africa restaurant at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge. 

A little bowl of sweetness that’s perfect for sharing. Happy Mother’s Day from the divas. 

Diva Coctel de Camarones

mex shrimp cocktail3 copy

There are dozens of ways to celebrate Cinco de Mayo. Beyond boxed taco shells heaped with beef and melted cheese, we envision a lighter and más auténtico menu.

Pulled from sparkling Mexican waters (or your grocer's freezer), nibble succulent wild shrimp, chilled for hours in a tangy sauce spiked with fresh herbs, tomatoes and chipotle chilies. The Mexican shrimp cocktail is all about the sauce, thicker and sweeter than ceviche, with an unexpected splash of orange soda.  Scoop it up with crunchy corn tostadas or lettuce cups. For sipping, mix up a batch of lusciously light wine margaritas. Cool, bubbly and sans tequila (after all, “seis de Mayo” is a workday. 

Crunchy Creamy Chopped Southwestern Salad from the Divas of Dish

southwestern chopped salad1 copy

As temps and hemlines rise, the divas rally 'round the green stuff. Gone are the days when unwieldy cuts of iceberg, tomato and cucumber ruled the bowl, today we are tossing in all things edible: cooked, raw, blanched or toasted with creamy and non-creamy dressings, preferably fresh. 

We love this chopped salad for its crunchy texture. Cabbage replaces softer lettuces, along with sweet-crisp jicama, scallions, peppers, chilies, lots of fresh cilantro and pepitas (toasted pumpkin seeds). Substitute the chicken breast for lime-marinated grilled shrimp, or serve the salad simply, as a side dish or veggie entree. 

To go with, we're whisking up a from-scratch creamy cilantro dressing. As with any dish, we encourage your creativity. Inspired add-ons might include a drizzle of low-sugar barbecue sauce, corn relish, tortilla strips or crumbled cotija cheese.

Sweet Slow-Roasted Tomatoes

Ah, tomato season in Florida, such a joy to find the sweet, juicy orbs ahead of the Northern imports. We have a back yard full and love them straight off the vine. But nothing beats a slow-roasted tomato – so sweet you’ll swear that someone snuck in some sugar. 

Divas roasted tomatoesRomas are good, but any tomato will do, especially those that are starting to get a little too soft. A slow roast brings out the best, so that even second-rate tomatoes turn into something special.  We use them in pasta, chopped on fish, on sandwiches, warm in a cool, crisp salad for a little pizazz.  They make a satisfying snack right out of the fridge – but be careful, we guarantee you won’t eat just one. 

The Other Red Sauce

the other red sauce1 copyConsider this the other red sauce: naturally sweet red bell peppers, preferably organic, roasted with garlic until nicely charred, whirred in a blender until smooth, then married with a dollop or two of creamy, decadent butter. Caramelizing the ruby red beauties renders them even sweeter, creating the perfect complement for pasta, roasted veggies or just about anything grilled. 

As you probably already know, red bells are one of the most healthful veggies one could lust after. Swoon for vitamins A, C, and B-6, along with lycopene and all those free-radical-fighting antioxidants. A bit of roasted garlic and extra-virgin olive oil make the super sauce a super food.

As we couldn't go wrong, we're pairing the sauce with blissfully buttery sea bass. To go with, try grilled asparagus or just-wilted spinach tossed with feta.

Savory Breakfast Oatmeal from the Divas of Dish

We grew up eating oatmeal with a giant spoonful of brown sugar and a pile of fresh berries, topped off with a splash of milk.  But some mornings, the divas feel like a savory start to the day – and why not keep heart-healthy oatmeal at the bottom of the bowl?

Divas Oatmeal Instead of sugar and berries, our favorite combo is a crispy shitake mushrooms, onions and garlic with a drizzle of sesame oil and a splash of soy sauce.  With a handful of chopped arugula and dash of hot pepper flakes, we’re set. But this is one you can make your own: bacon, diced tomatoes or a poached or fried egg, whatever suits you fancy.  Cook up a batch of oatmeal and keep in the fridge, then thin with a little warm chicken or veggie broth to create a satisfying meal that helps keep the dreaded cholesterol in check. 

We love hearty, steel-cut oatmeal, though it takes a tad longer to cook.  But if your preference is instant oatmeal and you’re out the door, that works too. This is one of those recipes you simply can’t mess up. 

Grab a Piece of Thalipeeth from the Divas of Dish

thalipeeth copyWhat in the world is thalipeeth? 

Thalipeeth (tal-i-peeth) is a crispy skillet bread that comes together in a single bowl without all the neediness of kneading. With staff-of-life goodness and Mother India's exotic allure, the 100 percent whole-wheat bread is bejeweled with veggies, seeds and spices. Sort of like a savory muffin in the shape of a thick pancake. 

There are myriad versions of thalipeeth, but in the name of convenience and instant gratification, we're keeping things simple with ingredients that easily are found in the grocery store. 

Pair with savory tomato jam and or raita (yogurt salad), or serve as an alongside for your favorite dal or hearty bean curry. Make a double batch and brown-bag the leftovers (it keeps well for several days). And did we mention it comes together in under 30 minutes? Add it to your growing list of menu inspirations and knead nothing further.

Sugar High Shortcakes With Mascarpone Cream from the Divas of Dish

Divas shortcakeThis Valentines’ Day, skip the boring box of truffles and  indulge with warm-from-the-oven chocolate shortcake nuzzling with fragrant, heart-shaped strawberries at the peak of their Florida season. A dollop of rich mascarpone cream is the proverbial icing on the cake.    

For grown-up palates, the sweetened mascarpone pairs perfectly with the dark chocolate and ripe berries. The smooth, mellow Italian cheese is on most grocery store shelves near the specialty cheeses.   

Share these calories with someone you love for a tasty Valentine’s Day.   

Tomato Papaya Salad

Papaya saladAh, for the divas, the New Year starts out with lots of promises – and lots of salads. But we don’t always start with lettuce, sometimes a sunny bowl the color of the tropics can be more satisfying. 

This super-easy salad combines sweet-tart papaya with juicy tomatoes, both in season in Florida.  The buttery texture of the papaya mingles with the ripe tomato, both rich in antioxidants and vitamins, especially vitamin C. 

With nothing more than a splash of olive oil and balsamic vinegar, this chic and easy duo is dressed for slimming success.