Asparagus Ribbon Salad with Lemon, Parmesan & Pine Nuts

I think a well known Manhattan restaurant was the first to introduce ribbon salads; it was either, Union Square Cafe or Gramercy Tavern, I’m not completely sure, but it certainly is a sign of Spring when local asparagus turned into ribbons, start to show up on tables and menus. Let me share my adapted version with you. ©Joyce Hays, Target Health Inc.





2/3 cup pine nuts, toasted, plus extra (toasted) for garnish

1 pound fresh, (organic) locally grown fat asparagus, rinsed

1 lemon, halved

1.5 Tablespoons fresh lemon juice

Zest of 1/2 lemon

Lemon circles, for garnish

2.5 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1 or 2 fresh garlic clove, juiced (squeezed)

1 Tablespoon fresh chives, minced

Pinch turmeric (that comes with black pepper, already mixed in)

Pinch black mustard seeds, toasted

Pinch chili flakes

Pinch, black pepper

1 cup freshly grated Parmesan


When I think of Spring, from a cooking perspective, I always think of fresh shoots of asparagus, coming up through mulched garden soil. Since, they’re grown everywhere, buy your fresh ingredients, grown locally . ©Joyce Hays, Target Health Inc.





1. Rinse the chives, then chop and set aside.


Chopping chives. ©Joyce Hays, Target Health Inc.



2. Toast the pine nuts and the black mustard seeds together. Keep your eye on them and stir constantly so they don’t burn. You’ll have to do them over if they burn. Set aside


Toast the pine nuts and black mustard seeds together; then set aside. ©Joyce Hays, Target Health Inc.



3. Rinse the asparagus, then make the asparagus ribbons

4. To shave the asparagus lay a stalk flat on a cutting board, holding it at the base. Usually, with asparagus recipes, you snap off the tough bottom, that are too tough to eat. In this recipe, don’t snap them off, so you have something to hold onto when you make the asparagus ribbons.

5. Gripping the base, at about where the pale base turns green, use a vegetable peeler to shave the stalk in long, even strips all the way through the tip. Be sure to peel the asparagus ribbon, all the way to the end of the tip. Some of your ribbons will have part or all of the tip and others won’t. That’s okay. The end result will be a lovely variety of ribbons.

6. The best peeler to use, is the Y-shape one. Peel again until you’re about half way through the stalk, then turn over and peel the other side. When you reach the point that the peeler will no longer shave the spear, rest the spear on top of a wooden spoon (or wooden spatula) with a flat handle, to elevate the spear and take the last two or three strips. Peel all of the asparagus spears, like this.


Nice to be able to look out your kitchen window onto a garden or a backyard. However, I’m satisfied looking out onto our block with many trees, and over-looking a little church that fills the air with music – choir rehearsal. With my window open or closed, the lovely sound has a calming effect. ©Joyce Hays, Target Health Inc.


This is the Y-shape peeler you should use. I got this either at Williams-Sonoma or Amazon. ©Joyce Hays, Target Health Inc.



7. Combine asparagus shavings, toasted pine nuts and toasted black mustard seeds, in a large salad (serving) bowl, and toss gently. Save some of the nuts for garnish.


8. In a small bowl, place the minced chives and the garlic juice in the bottom of the bowl and cover with olive oil. Add lemon juice, zest, turmeric and pinch chili flakes, and whisk until smooth.


Easy dressing to make. ©Joyce Hays, Target Health Inc.



9. Pour this dressing over the asparagus mixture and toss gently with salad servers, to lightly coat all of the asparagus ribbons. Toss gently. Taste and adjust seasoning, if needed.


Last toss; about to bring to table. ©Joyce Hays, Target Health Inc.



10. Finally, sprinkle the salad with the freshly grated parmesan, a few extra (toasted) pine nuts and toss. Place the lemon circles around the bowl for decoration, or on individual plates. Serve immediately.


Easy to make and delicious! ©Joyce Hays, Target Health Inc.


This is a healthy, truly flavorful salad. With some excellent bread and an icy white wine (or not), you really have enough for a summer lunch and or dinner. ©Joyce Hays, Target Health Inc.


Two of the seven theater clubs we support (RoundAbout Theater and Manhattan Theater Club), started years ago with very little financing. They struggled on, in various off Broadway locations, for many years, until today each owns several Broadway theaters and, each has been nominated for many Tony Awards. Last week, at RoundAbout’s American Airlines Theater, we saw some great theater in Arthur Miller’s, The Price. The surprise of the year, is the emergence of Danny DeVito, giving a great memorable performance, not to be missed. His beautifully created character will knock your socks off. Although, he’s made a name for himself on the screen and in other entertainment ventures, he belongs on the stage in live theater. He is a gem! Run to see this show before it closes. It has a limited engagement.


Danny DeVito in 2013; Born, Daniel Michael DeVito Jr, November 17, 1944 (ago 72)


Photo credit: Gage Skidmore [CC BY-SA 3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons – File:Danny DeVito by Gage Skidmore 3.jpg, CC BY-SA 3.0,


Serve your favorite, well chilled white wine with the asparagus ribbon salad. This Pouilly-Fuisse was perfect. ©Joyce Hays, Target Health Inc.


From Our Table to Yours

Bon Appetit!


Date Cookies Made with Three Healthy Ingredients

I’m experimenting by using dates instead of sugar, in recipes. It all started when our LA son, Alex, would visit and have his coffee with a couple of dates. He was right. This is a delicious combo. Take a bite of date, then a sip of coffee – lovely. So, then I wondered if a date cookie would also go well with a cup of coffee and began testing, plain date cookies, plus adding other ingredients, which all ends up, sharing this recipe with you. ©Joyce Hays, Target Health Inc.




1 cup almond flour

8 dates (pits removed)

1/4 tsp. vanilla extract


This is the easiest cookie recipe on the Planet. You can stick to the three ingredients, given, or you can add 1 additional ingredient from the following list: 1 heaping Tablespoon peanut butter (any brand you want, with or without peanuts); 1 and ? heaping Tablespoon shredded coconut (use the half for garnish); 1 and 1/2 Tablespoons white chocolate chips (use the half for garnishing); 1 and 1/2 Tablespoons plain walnuts (use the half for garnish) ©Joyce Hays, Target Health Inc.





1. Do any chopping, slivering, cutting, toasting, you need to do.


Chopping some garnishes at the same time: walnuts in one corner and white chocolate in the other. ©Joyce Hays, Target Health Inc.


Toasting pine nuts for top of cookies using peanut butter. You can toast plain peanuts also. Don’t need to use any nuts that come with salt. ©Joyce Hays, Target Health Inc.



2. Put parchment paper on a cookie sheet

3. Preheat oven to 350 degrees

4. Place all ingredients in a high speed blender, or food processor and blend until a dough like consistency is formed. If the dough is not sticky enough, keep blending until it sticks together.


Dates in food processor, next vanilla extract, then almond flour. Only pulse these three. Don’t add peanut butter or coconut, walnuts, white chocolate, etc. into the food processor. Add that fourth ingredient, later. ©Joyce Hays, Target Health Inc.



5. With a spatula, remove all the dough and put into a bowl. Now is the time to add your choice of a fourth ingredient, if you want. White chocolate chips are better added now, so they don’t get ground down too much. You control the size of the fourth ingredient, like walnuts and coconut, much better, if it’s added after the first three ingredients are pulsed in the food processor, and scraped in a mixing bowl. Feel free to experiment with that fourth ingredient. I tried banana but it didn’t work out too well.


The three contents of the food processor, were scraped into this bowl. ©Joyce Hays, Target Health Inc.


Here, 1 big Tablespoon of peanut butter is being added to the dough. It will get mixed until it’s completely combined with the other ingredients. ©Joyce Hays, Target Health Inc.


Here’s the peanut butter, now well incorporated into the dough. ©Joyce Hays, Target Health Inc.



6. Divide the dough into six pieces. Squeeze each portion in your hand, and roll into a ball.


In your hand, roll 1/6 of the dough into a ball. Then flatten it out. Make the rim of the cookie smooth, while it’s in your hand. Just push down a little, all around the rim, so there are no jagged edges. ©Joyce Hays, Target Health Inc.



7. In your hands, flatten each ball into a cookie shape and smooth the outer rim, as well.

8. Place cookies on the baking sheet, with parchment, and bake for 10 minutes, for a warm, just out of the oven cookie.


The walnut date cookies came out warm and delicious. ©Joyce Hays, Target Health Inc.


These are the white chocolate date cookies; they go fast! ©Joyce Hays, Target Health Inc.


All of the flavors are good, but these peanut butter date cookies are my favorites; One with a cup of coffee gives morning pleasure. ©Joyce Hays, Target Health Inc.


When Jules went to a conference in Iceland, last week, he took a whole container of the coconut date version, with him. ©Joyce Hays, Target Health Inc.


Mother’s Day flowers from our daughter, plus some icy Bellinis. Not bad, eh? ©Joyce Hays, Target Health Inc.


Hope everyone had a special Mother’s Day. It’s been a (welcome) cool Spring, here in the Big Apple.



From Our Table to Yours

Bon Appetit!


K A L E  C A E S A R !!!

This is one of the most delicious salads on the planet, whether you make it with romaine or with kale. I’ve been making Caesar salad for years and if I do say so, myself, my recipe is one of the best. Take it from me, there is no bottled Caesar dressing, that can equal the one you make yourself. Also, for some reason, some restaurants stopped using anchovies and even eliminated garlic. Without these two ingredients (and all of the others, too) you may have some kind of salad, don’t know what you would call it; but it ain’t Caesar. ©Joyce Hays, Target Health Inc.


Get all of the ingredients together in one place. Use fresh! Fresh garlic is better than garlic powder. Fresh lemon is better than bottled. Freshly grated parmesan is better than bought and freshly baked croutons taste much better than store bought. ©Joyce Hays, Target Health Inc.





The Dressing


3 anchovy fillets packed in oil, drained

4 fresh garlic cloves

Pinch Kosher salt

1 large egg yolk (boil egg for 1 minute and not longer)

Zest of 1/2 fresh lemon

2 Tablespoons fresh lemon juice, plus more (to your taste)

3/4 teaspoon Dijon mustard

2 Tablespoons excellent olive oil

2 Tablespoons canola oil

6 Tablespoons finely grated FRESH Parmesan

Pinch black pepper

Worchester sauce (one drop)


The Croutons


1 cup torn 1″ (bite-size) pieces old bread, with crusts

1 Garlic clove, squeezed

2 teaspoons olive oil


The Kale


1 large head of kale, leaves separated, washed three times, dried with paper towel. Then leaves torn by hand, put into a bowl and set aside.


Even though the plastic bag may say, pre-washed, I always rinse any leafy veggie under cold water, two or three times. Here’s the kale a dark beautiful green – has lots of healthy magnesium; just what you want for good health. I would say, that I tore the leaves too much; better a little larger. ©Joyce Hays, Target Health Inc.



The Cheese


1 cup FRESHLY GRATED Parmesan, grate it yourself & leave extra on the dining table, so more can be added after serving. Although, you can buy pre-grated parmesan, it’s quite bland compared with the cheese you grate yourself, freshly grated for each recipe.




The Croutons, certainly, can be made the day before. Otherwise, make them first, before you make the dressing. Can you buy packaged croutons? Of course, but try to make them yourself. The flavor is so much better. If you’re going to make a really great Caesar salad, you might as well make great tasting croutons. There is simply no comparison! Once you taste the richness of your own croutons, you’ll never buy them again. They’re not a peripheral ingredient, they make the salad better. That’s why they’re in the recipe.


1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

2. In a medium bowl, add the 2 teaspoons olive oil and the squeezed juice of one fresh garlic clove. Stir

3. Tear or cut any left-over bread, you have, into (1 inch) bite size pieces, enough for 1 cup (press the bread down a bit, in the measuring cup). Then put the pieces of bread, into the bowl with oil/garlic. My favorite bread for croutons is day old (or older) sour dough bread.

4. Now, toss the bread pieces or cubes and be sure that the bread cubes are all covered (as much as possible) with the oil mixture. Let them sit for a while to absorb the oil, like 30 to 60 minutes. Stir them around every once in a while

5. Arrange croutons on a baking sheet or large pan and bake, tossing occasionally, until golden, 10-15 minutes. Watch them carefully. Just a little too long in the oven, and they will burn and won’t be useable for the salad. When golden, remove from oven and set aside to cool.


Croutons are about to go into the oven. You can see that some pieces have more oil than others. Doesn’t matter. Once added to the salad, dressing will rub onto the croutons and they’ll be delicious. ©Joyce Hays, Target Health Inc.


Out of the oven, crisp, crunchy and delicious; ready to be added to the salad. These are a hundred times better than store-bought. ©Joyce Hays, Target Health Inc.



The Dressing


1. Use a large wood salad bowl and make the dressing in the bottom of this bowl.

2. Boil one large egg for one minute and remove from heat after 1 minute. Immediately run the egg under cold water. Then carefully crack it open, so as not to break the yolk. You have to separate the yolk from the egg white and use only the yolk in this recipe. Separate and put the yolk into a small container, ready to use in the dressing. This is a precaution worth taking, to prevent salmonella. Never use a completely raw egg.


You’ve got to boil the one egg, for 1 minute and not longer. This is a short cautionary step, so as not to get salmonella. ©Joyce Hays, Target Health Inc.



3. Now, mash all the garlic and anchovies, right in the wood salad bowl, with a fork. Evenly mash, so you get a smooth paste.


Starting to mash the garlic and anchovies in our wooden salad bowl. This wooden bowl is devoted to Caesar salad, only. By doing this, over time, the garlic and oil season the wood. In Santa Fe, at one of our favorite restaurants, we ran into a chef who did the same thing, tableside. Used a favorite wood salad bowl for Caesar salad only. Four Seasons restaurant always had same bowl for their Caesar Salads, made tableside. This beautiful space with unequaled delicacies, was where Target Health Inc. held the first-second-third and fourth annual Holiday Parties. In the first few years, our numbers were small but our goals were not; Four Seasons fulfilled our needs nicely. That great restaurant is gone now, but not forgotten. ©Joyce Hays, Target Health Inc.



4. Next, with a small whisk, add the egg yolk and whisk it into the garlic/anchovy paste; or continue to use the fork.

5. Now, add the lemon zest, 2 Tablespoons of fresh lemon juice and whisk; then add the mustard and 1 drop of Worchester sauce, whisk again

6. Next, add the extra virgin olive oil and whisk it into the dressing.

7. Add the canola oil drop by drop, while you whisk it into the dressing.

8. Finally, add the freshly grated parmesan and black pepper (to your taste). Taste to see if the dressing needs more of anything (to your taste). With the anchovies, you may decide not to use any salt. You might want more lemon juice. This is the time to taste and decide. I don’t think you need salt, since the anchovies are salty enough.

9. Whisk the dressing so it’s thick and glossy.


Freshly grated parmesan means doing it yourself. There’s no substitute. Buying a container that reads “freshly grated“ simply is NOT. After a while, you’ll see, there’s something satisfying about doing it yourself. ©Joyce Hays, Target Health Inc.


Make the dressing completely in the bottom of your salad bowl. Then add the kale leaves. ©Joyce Hays, Target Health Inc.



10. If you want, you can make the dressing 1 day ahead; however, I think serving right after making the dressing is the very best way to make Caesar salad.

11. Just before serving, add the croutons and toss. Then add additional freshly grated parmesan and serve.


Add the freshly baked croutons to the kale, with dressing underneath. Now, it’s time to toss. ©Joyce Hays, Target Health Inc.


I always add to the table, a dish with extra, freshly grated parmesan, just in case I didn’t use enough in the dressing. ©Joyce Hays, Target Health Inc.


Tossing the salad. Just about to serve it. Will add more parmesan in a minute. ©Joyce Hays, Target Health Inc.


The proof is in the eating. ©Joyce Hays, Target Health Inc.


We’re trying a super-Tuscan wine, Tignanello – which is a blend of 80% Sangiovese, 15% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 5% Cabernet Franc, from the highly regarded Antinori Estate of fine wines. Scroll down to read more about the history of this wine, worth trying, if you haven’t already. ©Joyce Hays, Target Health Inc.


We started our meal with glasses of full bodied Tignanello, a blend with complex aromas and a long finish, worth paying attention to. Then the Caesar salad, which if made correctly, makes a bold statement to your taste buds. We thought that a white wine, would not push back enough and that this red would be the best to accompany the Caesar. This particular recipe is so-o good, that I made it my whole meal with seconds and thirds. Jules likes more than one dish at dinner, so I created another meatless recipe, experimenting with him for the first time. I call it a Mushroom Medley with Marsala; served with a nice chewy twisted pasta called, Gemelli. I would say that New Yorkers (following the lead of California) are now trending toward more and more meatless meals.

I took a chance that the richness of the mushrooms would combine well with the Tignanello wine, and the two were made for each other. This whole meal was simple but beyond delicious. Call us OCDers, but for the thousandth time, we had our yummy lo-cal jello cake for dessert, slathered with cool whip.


BTW, just to go back to the Caesar: I never promised you a low-cal salad. Sorry 

At Manhattan’s Signature Theater, where THI is a Patron, saw a new play by one of New York’s young talented playwrights, Annie Baker, called Antipodes, which for me, echoed Samuel Beckett. A year ago, we saw Annie Baker’s The Flick, which won that year’s Pulitzer prize. The Flick ran for three hours, but with excellent theater, time is never an issue and we loved this play. Antipodes, is a mind bender and an allegory (in my opinion) and I love art, like this, that compels you to cogitate more than you might do, otherwise. We’ve also seen Annie Baker’s play, John, with a surprise ending. Keep a lookout for the keen talent of Annie Baker, often working with young, equally talented NYC director, Sam Gold.


More about Tuscan wines from the Antinori Estate:

Gemelli Pasta


Giovanni di Piero Antinori joined the Florentine Guild of Vintners in 1385, beginning an oenological legacy that has lasted over 26 generations. Throughout the company’s history, it has remained family-owned and operated. Today, Marchese Piero Antinori directs the long-lived family vision, and his three daughters participate in various activities with the firm.

Famed wine consultant Giacomo Tachis began his celebrated tenure with Antinori in 1961, a year that witnessed the inception of new vinification techniques (controlled temperatures, aging in bottle, and barrels comprising a range of types and styles) and the beginning of a revisionist period in the concept of Chianti (which was later actualized in various methods utilized to maximize extraction and aroma). This dynamic period of experimentation continued over the course of several years, with some of the pivotal initiatives including the use of maloactic fermentation for red wines, aging in barrique, and planting of several non-indigenous varietals.

The most tangible and compelling evocation of these progressive efforts, of course, is captured in Antinori’s extensive portfolio, which features some of Italy’s most revered and sought-after bottlings.

Piero Antinori desired not to recreate a Bordeaux-style claret, but rather, to convey the versatility and finesse of the noble Sangiovese.

Drawing upon the consummate skill of Giacomo Tachis, Antinori realized his conception in the form of the second official Super-Tuscan – Tignanello – debuting in 1971 as a blend of 80% Sangiovese, 15% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 5% Cabernet Franc. While second in the Super-Tuscan timeline, its conception entailed several inaugural efforts: It was the first modern wine of Chianti to contain a nontraditional grape – Cabernet Sauvignon – while omitting white grapes, and the premiere wine to be aged in small barrels.


From Our Table to Yours


Bon Appetit!


Homage to Spinach: 1 Spinach Pie

Besides being delicious, this is a wonderfully versatile dish because it’s good warm or cold; indoors or outside; dinner, brunch, snack. ©Joyce Hays, Target Health Inc.


This recipe turned out so well, we have it about twice every month. ©Joyce Hays, Target Health Inc.





2.5 lbs. spinach, chopped (you can substitute frozen; thaw it well)

1/4 cup olive oil

4 large onions, diced

2 bunches scallions (use white and (tender only) green part

6 fresh garlic cloves, sliced

1/2 cup parsley, chopped

1/2 cup fresh dill, chopped

1/2 cup fresh cilantro, chopped

1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg (buy the whole nutmeg and freshly grate it)

Pinch black pepper or to taste

Pinch chili flakes

1/2 lb. feta cheese, crumbled

4 eggs, lightly beaten

1/2 lb. ricotta or cottage cheese




1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees

2. Wash and drain the chopped spinach at least 3 times, to be sure you get all of the sand and grit out. Nothing ruins a spinach recipe more, than biting down on sand. The last time this happened, I had to throw the whole baked dish, out, after serving it. If using frozen spinach, thaw completely and squeeze out excess water. Spinach should be dry.


This is the third washing, and now draining. It ruins all of your efforts, if the final result ends up with chewing on sand or grit. ©Joyce Hays, Target Health Inc.



3. Chop everything that needs chopping or slicing.


Chopping everything on the same cutting board. ©Joyce Hays, Target Health Inc .



4. Heat the olive oil in a large pan. Saute the onions, garlic and scallions until tender.

5. Add the spinach, parsley, and dill and cook for 5 to 10 minutes until the spinach is wilted and heated through. Add the nutmeg and season with salt and pepper.

6. If using frozen spinach, you will want to cook until excess moisture evaporates. Spinach mixture should be on the dry side.


Sautee the onion, garlic, scallion. ©Joyce Hays, Target Health Inc.


To the onion/garlic mix add all the chopped spinach, all the herbs, all the seasoning and cook stirring occasionally, for 5 to 10 minutes. ©Joyce Hays, Target Health Inc.



7. Remove from heat and set the spinach aside to cool.


8. In a large mixing bowl, combine the feta cheese, eggs, and ricotta cheese. Add the cooled spinach mixture and mix until combined.

To the eggs, I added the feta and ricotta. ©Joyce Hays, Target Health Inc.


After the cooked spinach mixture has cooled way down, add it to the egg/ricotta bowl and combine well. ©Joyce Hays, Target Health Inc.



9. Oil a deep bake dish, with 1 teaspoon of olive oil, and pour the spinach mixture in. Use a spatula to scrape all the spinach out of the mixing bowl.


Entire spinach mixture is poured from the bowl into an oiled baking dish. Try to use a baking dish that also goes from oven to table. ©Joyce Hays, Target Health Inc.



10. Bake the spinach pie section for 40 minutes, then remove from oven to cool for about 10 minutes.


Spinach mixture has been baked and just out of the oven. Now it will cool down for about 10 minutes. ©Joyce Hays, Target Health Inc.



11. While the spinach is baking, make the topping.


Topping Ingredients


4 eggs, beaten

1.5 cups plain Greek yogurt (FAGE)

Pinch salt

Pinch black pepper

Pinch paprika

1 cup creamy goat cheese or freshly grated kashkaval cheese, which I get from FreshDirect



Topping Directions


1. Add all of the above ingredients to a bowl and whisk with a fork or whisk tool.


Whisking the topping mixture with a fork (couldn’t find my whisk), until it’s nice and smooth. ©Joyce Hays, Target Health Inc.



2. After the spinach pie has been baked and has cooled down, with a spatula, scrape all of the topping from the bowl, pouring it onto the spinach pie. Do this slowly.

3. Smooth the topping so it’s evenly distributed over the spinach.

4. Bake in the same 350 degree oven for approximately 20 minutes. Keep your eye on the oven to be sure the topping doesn’t burn.

5. Serve nice and warm


Smells so-o good! ©Joyce Hays, Target Health Inc.


Third helping. ©Joyce Hays, Target Health Inc.


This spinach pie goes fast. ©Joyce Hays, Target Health Inc.

Homage to Spinach 2: Spinach Salad with Tomatoes, Avocado, Goat Cheese, Strawberries, Flax

Tasty, easy, healthy; make this one of your favorite salads, this summer. ©Joyce Hays, Target Health Inc.


This summer, we’re going to be eating fresh salads, loaded with super healthy ingredients, as the main dish, along with chilled wines. Fresh fruit and sugar-free jello cake for dessert. ©Joyce Hays, Target Health Inc.





1 box baby spinach, washed twice or three times, then dried on paper towel

2 or 3 plum tomatoes

1 avocado, cut in pieces

1 container creamy goat cheese, cut in pieces

4 sweet strawberries, cut in half or 1.5 cup of fresh watermelon pieces

1 cup of toasted flax seeds, or use some of the flax crackers and crush them into crumbs

1/4 cup fresh basil, chopped fine

1/4 cup fresh dill, chopped fine


Flax seeds are in the top 10 to 15 list of healthy foods to include in a regular diet. Keep a large jar out on your kitchen counter and simply throw a handful into nearly everything you make. ©Joyce Hays, Target Health Inc.


Using more flax seeds on everything, now. ©Joyce Hays, Target Health Inc.




Make a simple dressing with:

walnut oil (not olive oil)

zest of 1 lemon

fresh lemon juice

4 garlic cloves squeezed

Pinch chili flakes


We had spinach pie with the spinach salad and fresh mango for dessert. Did not seem redundant at all. ©Joyce Hays, Target Health Inc.


Imagine living on an island with this sweet fruit growing everywhere. I’m going to try to create some mango desserts this summer. ©Joyce Hays, Target Health Inc.

Homage to Spinach 3: Baked Tofutti Spinach Spread or Dip, with Yogurt, Parmesan & Flax

Healthy, simple and easy to make. It turned out to be so-o delicious, that I made this my dinner. Fresh French baguette, slightly toasted, with spinach spread (or dip with crackers and/or cruditee) and icy Pouilly-Fuisse; mango for dessert. ©Joyce Hays, Target Health Inc.




2 stalks of scallion, chopped up to half the white section

6 fresh garlic cloves, sliced

? cup fresh dill, well chopped (save a twig for garnish)

2 cups of freshly grated parmesan cheese

2 (10 ounce) boxes of frozen spinach

2/3 cup of Greek yogurt (FAGE)

1 container Tofutti (soy cream cheese)

1/3 cup of Kraft mayonnaise

1 cup crumbs of flax seed crackers, or plain toasted flax seeds




Take frozen spinach out and let it thaw.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees

When spinach is thawed out, with paper towels in each hand, squeeze excess liquid out of the spinach.

Oil some ramekins, one for each person; or a larger group bowl

Get out your food processor and pulse all the ingredients together

With a spatula, scrape out everything from the food processor and into the oiled baking dish(s) and bake for 20-30 minutes.

Serve as a side dish or simple main dish with chips, baguette and/or bread and a nice chilled Pouilly-Fuisse.


Still enjoying Louis Jadot, Pouilly-Fuisse. This wine was perfect with all three spinach recipes ©Joyce Hays, Target Health Inc.



From Our Table to Yours !


Bon Appetit!


Salmon-Avocado Appetizer

We love salmon in our house: sauteed salmon, baked salmon, Nova Scotia salmon (Nova), salmon mousse, salmon salad. You name it; we love it. So, it was a no-brainer to come up with this recipe. What’s amazing is that I didn’t think of it sooner. This has got to be the world’s easiest, most delicious fish recipe. It came to me, after we decided to cut calories and not have weekend bagels piled high with Tofutti (soy cream cheese) and Nova, with steaming mugs of coffee. We grind our own beans because of the influence of our son Alex and because Dean Gittleman told us we were missing out on great coffee by not doing grinding our own beans! ©Joyce Hays, Target Health Inc.


This recipe went from a more complex, salmon ceviche with 16 ingredients to what you see here, a two-ingredient recipe with no marinade, no seasoning, no cilantro, no sake. It eliminated all the extra work, without a loss of flavor. Who could ask for anything more? ©Joyce Hays, Target Health Inc.



Ingredients For Two People


6 ounces of special ahi salmon, sold especially to be eaten raw, like sushi and/or sashimi

2 ripe, but not mushy avocados

1 bag of bamboo picks, 6 inches long


World’s easiest appetizer with only two ingredients. Or, to be precise, if you count the bamboo picks, then three items to buy. ©Joyce Hays, Target Health Inc.


I got this Ahi Salmon from Whole Foods. It’s in the frozen section and is especially for eating raw salmon as in my recipe and as in making sushi and/or sashimi. You want to get the very best salmon, cut and flash frozen for the purpose of eating raw fish. ©Joyce Hays, Target Health Inc.





1. Cut the salmon into small pieces (cube like if possible) on a cutting board. Put on a plate.


If from your freezer, thaw out the salmon. Then cut it into small cube-like pieces.  Keep in mind that you want to have three cubes of salmon for about 10 to 13 bamboo picks, so try to get at least a total of 30 of these small pieces of salmon. ©Joyce Hays, Target Health Inc.


2. Cut the avocados in half and pull out the pit the best you can, without damaging the flesh.

3. With a knife, crisscross each avocado half, so you have little squares. Then with a knife, run the blade all around the avocado half to loosen the flesh. With a small spoon take out each cube of avocado, carefully, so it stays intact. Put on a plate.

4. Get out your bamboo picks and alternately put a piece of salmon, then avocado on each stick, so that you have a total of 3 small pieces of salmon and 3 small pieces of avocado

5. Arrange the salmon picks on a serving platter and devour.

6. I suppose you could add wedges or circles of lemon and/or lime on the serving plate, which would look lovely. I didn’t think of it when I served this the last time, but will do it next time. If you have any leftover avocado, serve that on the table, or on the serving platter.

7. A white wine (icy if possible) goes well with this recipe, including champagne or prosecco.


So-o colorful and inviting to serve your guests! ©Joyce Hays, Target Health Inc.


We had icy Pouilly Fuisse with the salmon appetizers. ©Joyce Hays, Target Health Inc.


Pretty and Easy, not to mention delicious. Happy Spring! ©Joyce Hays, Target Health Inc.


This is the beautiful high ceiling of the Metropolitan Opera, after all the Swarovski crystal chandeliers slowly, have been raised up. ©Joyce Hays, Target Health Inc.


The breathtakingly beautiful Metropolitan Opera chandeliers, by Swarovski from Austria. Photo source: Genista –, CC BY-SA 2.0,


We’ve seen our last opera for this season. We usually go to 10 to 12 operas each year. The MetOpera season went so fast this year, can’t believe it’s almost over. My three favorite operas this year were Bellini’s I Puritani, Verdi’s Rigoletto and Wagner’s Tristin and Isolde (yes, 5 hours). For those operas lovers reading this, I am posting one aria from each opera, for you to enjoy.


I Puritani: Tenor Aria, Act 1

Rigoletto: Quartet, Final Act

Tristan and Isolde: Final Act: Isolde’s aria, sung by Nina Stemme, who sang at the Met in this year’s production – an epic version. At the end of this five hour opera, I stood up with tears streaming down my face – finally looked around me – the people in front of me and those next to me, were the same, moved to tears. A transcendental experience, is what we all agreed. I will never forget this particular production and I’ve seen it several times before this. Bravo to all involved and to the audience so deeply moved.

Vladimir Horowitz plays Wagner-Liszt Isolde’s Liebestod: Editor’s note: It took the legendary pianist three separate days to record this piece to his satisfaction, and he died four days after its completion on November 5, 1989.

WAGNER – Tristan und Isolde – Prelude and Liebestod (Georg Solti – Chicago Symphony Orchestra)



From Our Table to Yours !


Bon Appetit!


Another Holiday Dessert: White Chocolate/Marzipan with a Cashew Kiss Inside

First I ordered the little candy flowers, you see above, from Amazon and then stored in back of fridge. I knew I would think of a use for them. When Spring arrived to Manhattan and hardy little flowers started peeping through the soil, I thought of the stored decorations; they seemed to call out for white chocolate rather than dark. Gradually, this recipe fell into place. The concept and preparation were fun and easy to do. Naturally, I then wanted to share the results with you. ©Joyce Hays, Target Health Inc.


This is a perfect holiday dessert. If you wanted a different garnish like cashew crumbs or tiny pieces of shaved chocolate, or whatever you have around the house, that would work also. With this batch, because Spring had arrived, I liked the little flowers. ©Joyce Hays, Target Health Inc.


A little bite of heaven. ©Joyce Hays, Target Health Inc.



Filling Ingredients


1 and 1/2 cups toasted salt-free cashews (bought at

3 Tablespoons Grade A or B maple syrup (bought at

1/2 teaspoon bourbon vanilla extract (bought at

pinch of salt

3 Tablespoons white chocolate chips (FreshDirect)


Coating & Dipping Ingredients


3.5 ounces of a white chocolate brick (bought at Whole Foods)

1 can marzipan (bought online at

Use any type of garnish you want like: crumbs of cashew, tiny pieces of shaved dark chocolate, teeny candy flowers, rainbow sprinkles (buy in a small bottle), rum soaked pieces of cherry


Online buying, makes life so easy. For these ingredients, I went to three websites: FreshDirect, Amazon and ©Joyce Hays, Target Health Inc.




1. Take out a plate or small platter, and put parchment paper on the plate. You will put little dough balls on this plate and into the fridge for 60 minutes.

2. Plan your garnish and have it ready to sprinkle over the melted chocolate before it hardens. It’s too late to do this, once the chocolate has hardened.


Garnish is ready. ©Joyce Hays, Target Health Inc.



3. In a blender, combine all filling ingredients, except white chocolate chips, until cashews are broken down into a batter which holds together when pressed. Pulse for 30 seconds or more, if needed. Remove the batter to a bowl.


The cashews are in the food processor, with maple syrup, vanilla extract and pinch of salt. ©Joyce Hays, Target Health Inc.


Now, keep pulsing until the cashews, vanilla, maple syrup, salt, turn into a batter. ©Joyce Hays, Target Health Inc.



4. After scraping all of the batter into a bowl, now, stir in the white chocolate chips.


With a spatula, scrape out of your food processor, every last bit of the cashew dough into a regular mixing bowl (not with electric beaters). Add the white chocolate bits to the dough and mix them into the dough, with your hands. ©Joyce Hays, Target Health Inc.



5. Using your hands roll the dough into 13 to 15 half-inch balls, and place on a parchment lined plate.


Here is what a cashew dough ball looks like. (with white chocolate chips) ©Joyce Hays, Target Health Inc.


More cashew dough balls on parchment, eventually going into fridge for 60 minutes. ©Joyce Hays, Target Health Inc.



6. Put in freezer for at least 30 to 60 minutes.

7. While dough is freezing, roll out the can of marzipan. Using a cookie cutter or small round glass or cup, press the circle into the marzipan until you have 13“ to 15“ circles, thick enough to hold the dough, but not so thin that the marzipan pouch will break when the dough is put into it. There will be little scraps of the marzipan, so save them until you have enough to make another circle. Make marzipan circles that equal the number of cashew dough balls you’ve made.

8. After 60 minutes, you will place a dough ball in the center of a marzipan circle. Then with your fingers, gather the marzipan up and over the dough ball. The marzipan is easy to manipulate, so when you’ve covered the dough ball with marzipan, simply pinch it, at the top a little, and the marzipan will be sealed. You’re now ready to dip all the balls into warm white chocolate.


Marzipan has been rolled out with a wooden rolling pin. I didn’t have any cookie cutters, so I used this round dish that I use on the table to serve little extras like more anchovies for Caesar Salad, or more salmon roe for top of baked potato. Your marzipan circle should be large enough to wrap around one cashew dough ball. ©Joyce Hays, Target Health Inc.



9. In a double boiler, or small pan, melt the white chocolate.


I like to use this tiny frying pan to melt chocolate because it’s easier to use my hands to dip the balls into. ©Joyce Hays, Target Health Inc.


Here is the one stage of this recipe that you might balk at. Now, the time has come to dip the balls into the warm melted chocolate. You can do it by putting one ball at a time, into the chocolate, with your fingers. Roll it around to get completely covered, using fingers or a fork. Then remove the wet chocolate ball with fingers or with two forks, and put it on the plate you have ready with the parchment. If you’re quick, you can do this with half of your balls, and then add the sprinkles right away, to be sure they will stick. The thing is, what do you do with your sticky chocolate fingers?     :))  Guess. That’s right.



10. After the freezing time is up, remove the dough. Put one piece of the cashew dough in the middle of a marzipan circle. With your fingers, gather the outer circle of marzipan around the dough, so that the marzipan can be pinched together at the top like a little purse.

11. Have the same plate with parchment ready.

12. Pick up each little marzipan purse or ball and dip it into the melted chocolate; roll it around so you get as much of it covered as possible, then put the cashew kiss on the plate. Use your fingers or use two forks.

13. Immediately sprinkle the white balls with whatever garnish you have ready. Do this while the chocolate is still wet. Later, the sprinkle will not stick, as well.

14. Do the dipping and sprinkling, one at a time, with each little chocolate purse, putting each one to harden on the plate. Or, as mentioned, above, do the dipping fast and get half, or all on the plate and then do your garnishing, quickly while the chocolate is still wet and not yet hardened.


This is what the wet chocolate balls look like right after being dipped and garnished. ©Joyce Hays, Target Health Inc.



15. Later, you can arrange them as you like.


You can have a little bite of heaven, without too much effort. ©Joyce Hays, Target Health Inc.



Can I crow a little about my own recipe? Okay, these petit-fours or little cakes will be like a little bit of heaven in your mouth. You won’t believe how good they are. And, as you can see from the directions, they’re very easy to make.  Enjoy, my friends!


May the Spring of 2017 bring with it, a joyful renewal of much needed hope and peace!

©Joyce Hays, Target Health Inc.



From Our Table to Yours !


Bon Appetit!


Holiday Sweet Sticky Nut Bars


Jules gives this dessert five stars. ©Joyce Hays, Target Health Inc.






  • 2 cups almond flour
  • 1/4 cup coconut oil, melted
  • 2 Tablespoons honey




  • 3 eggs
  • 1/2 cup walnut or pecan halves, or chop in pieces, you decide
  • 1/2 cup coconut sugar
  • 1/2 cup maple syrup
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3 Tablespoons butter or butter substitute
  • pinch of Kosher salt


Just a few ingredients. I like to use vanilla extract with bourbon infused into the extract. There’s no bourbon flavor in the dessert, but somehow this addition, enhances the vanilla. ©Joyce Hays, Target Health Inc.




  1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
  2. If you want the nuts chopped, do that now and set aside.


Chop your nuts or keep them in whole pieces, you decide. I’ve done my recipe with chopped nuts and whole halves. It doesn’t matter. ©Joyce Hays, Target Health Inc.
3. Mix the crust ingredients in a medium-sized bowl until combined. Press mixture evenly into an 8” or 9” square baking dish, covering the bottom and sides.


Mix well, the three crust ingredients. ©Joyce Hays, Target Health Inc.


Press the crust mixture down with the type of spatula I have above, or the back of a wooden spoon. Keep pressing until the mixture takes on a solid look and feel and it no longer looks like crumbs. After you’ve gotten a solid dough-like crust, then try to push it, up the sides of the baking dish or pan, just a little. Push it up the sides all around the baking dish. ©Joyce Hays, Target Health Inc.


Next put into oven to bake. As I continued to perfect this recipe and, therefore, made it a number of times, it didn’t seem to matter how thick this crust was. In this photo, for example, on the right side of the baking dish, the crust is thicker than in the middle. I thought this would not taste good. However, it was wonderful. Because the crust is so flexible, I am assuming that you could use any shape baking pan or dish, and even the size could vary. ©Joyce Hays, Target Health Inc.


Coming out of the oven, nice warm browned crust. (smells wonderful). ©Joyce Hays, Target Health Inc.


  1. Bake for 10 minutes or until the crust starts to brown. Remove from the oven and allow to cool.
  2. Using an electric mixer, whisk the eggs with the coconut sugar until you get a pale brown foam. Add the vanilla extract. Transfer the mixture to a saucepan. Add the butter and maple sugar. Cook over medium-low heat for about 8 minutes, stirring constantly, until the mixture thickens. Turn off the heat. Allow to cool for 5-10 minutes.


Best to crack your eggs into a separate, small dish, in case a tiny piece of shell falls in. Easier to pick shell out of a small dish than the big mixing bowl. ©Joyce Hays, Target Health Inc.


To the eggs, add the coconut sugar and vanilla extract. Beat until well combined and you see, (above) some light brown foam. ©Joyce Hays, Target Health Inc.


Transfer the egg mixture to a saucepan, and add the butter and maple syrup and medium-low heat, cook for 8 to 10 minutes, stirring constantly so it doesn’t stick, but does thicken. After this mixture has reached a nice thick consistency, remove from heat and allow it to cool for five to ten minutes.
6. Fill the crust with the warm, thick filling. Arrange walnut or pecan halves (or chopped nut pieces) over the filling.


After filling, has cooled down a little, pour it into the baking dish over the browned crust. ©Joyce Hays, Target Health Inc.


Over the warm filling, add all the nuts (either chopped or whole halves or both).

Then put into oven. ©Joyce Hays, Target Health Inc.
7. Bake for 20-25 minutes at 350°F.


Going into oven. ©Joyce Hays, Target Health Inc.


  1. Let cool to room temperature and refrigerate for at least 4-6 hours before serving.
  2. Serve the pie with cool whip or your favorite garnish.


Just out of the oven. Let it cool just a bit before you cut the bars. Cut the bars as large or as small as you wish. But wait until this delicious dessert has cooled down. ©Joyce Hays, Target Health Inc.


Warm and gooey and irresistible! ©Joyce Hays, Target Health Inc.


Serve on dessert dishes, plain or with whipped cream or ice cream or Cool Whip, which is what we opt for. ©Joyce Hays, Target Health Inc.



This is one of the first times I experimented with this recipe. I didn’t wait long enough for the crust to cool. I poured the filling over a warm crust. Just so you know, it didn’t change the flavor at all. Some of the filling seeped into the crust, as you can see here, and it didn’t matter. Wanted to let you know this, so you can see how flexible the recipe is. Great flexibility. ©Joyce Hays, Target Health Inc.


Every bite is delectable! :) ©Joyce Hays, Target Health Inc.


Cheers to Spring, which is beautiful here in Manhattan. ©Joyce Hays, Target Health Inc.


This weekend we’re going to see the new Broadway production of Tennessee Williams’ Glass Menagerie. We saw a Broadway revival of this play 3 years ago and didn’t like it. We’re going again because NY has a new young, extremely talented director, Sam Gold, whose ascent has been remarkable. Sam Gold is directing Menagerie, and we want to see how he deals with the challenges of this great play. Already, he has eliminated all intermissions, in order for the acting to go smoothly without interruption.


He always has some creative surprise in each play he directs. Sam Gold won a Best Director Tony recently for Broadway’s Fun House. His interpretation for off-Broadway, Look Back in Anger, a few years ago was awesome.


One way or another, we’ll have a good time.


Hope your weekend is restful and filled with the beauty of Springtime!


From Our Table to Yours !

Bon Appetit!

Sherry Mushroom Tart with Goat Cheese, Tofutti, & Leeks

Jules likes the crust, but I think it could be much better; however, the rest of this pie is wonderful. If you buy your pie dough, this is an easy recipe and if your aim is a meatless meal, you’ll be happy with this. You could also make this your veggie with fish, seafood and/or poultry; and a brunch treat over the weekend. ©Joyce Hays, Target Health Inc.


You could serve this Sherry Mushroom Tart as an appetizer with chilled wine. As you can imagine, we’ve eaten a lot, as the tart evolved, so tried different white wines. The best were Sauvignon Blanc, Pouilly Fuisse, Pouilly Fume, Pino Grigio, Champagne and Prosecco. I’m not crazy about Chardonnay, but if you like it, go for it, it would be perfect.




  • 3 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 Tablespoons cream sherry for cooking leeks
  • 2 Tablespoons cream sherry for cooking mushrooms
  • 1 red onion
  • 2 scallions, sliced very finely
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 3 pounds’ leeks, white parts and 1 inch of pale green parts, thinly sliced
  • 20 fresh garlic cloves, sliced
  • 2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves, well chopped
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/2 cup chicken stock or broth
  • Pinch salt
  • Pinch black pepper
  • Pinch chili flakes
  • 1 teaspoon curry powder
  • 1 container Tofutti
  • 3 ounces’ soft goat cheese, crumbled
  • 1 pound mixed mushrooms, such as oyster, chanterelle and cremini, brushed clean and coarsely chopped
  • Almond (or chickpea) flour for dusting (when you roll dough out)
  • Tofutti dough (made at home, or your own pie crust recipe, or bought at store)


Get all ingredients together in the same place. ©Joyce Hays, Target Health Inc.





  • First, make your favorite pie dough or buy at store and refrigerate overnight.



I’m not yet anywhere near, a good crust maker, but here’s the latest experiment, making the pie dough, using Tofutti. ©Joyce Hays, Target Health Inc.



  • Chop, cut, slice everything.



Chopping onion, scallions, garlic, leeks all at the same time. ©Joyce Hays, Target Health Inc.



  • In a skillet, over medium-high heat, add the olive oil.
  • Add the garlic, sliced leeks, chopped onion, scallions and sauté until translucent, 4 to 5 minutes.
  • Add the thyme, bay leaf, chicken stock, 2 Tablespoons cream sherry, all seasoning and spices.



This photo is steps 3, 4, and 5. ©Joyce Hays, Target Health Inc.



  • Reduce the heat to low, cover and simmer until the leeks are nearly tender, about 15 minutes. Uncover and cook, stirring occasionally and being careful not to let the leeks brown, until almost all the liquid has evaporated, about 15 minutes more.
  • Remove and discard the bay leaf. Transfer everything in the skillet to a bowl. Stir in the container of Tofutti, goat cheese, and mix everything together, very well. Set aside
  • In another fry pan, over medium-high heat, add olive oil 2 Tablespoons cream sherry and add the chopped mushrooms, and sauté until the mushrooms are soft and have released their juices, 3 to 4 minutes. Set aside


Cooking mushrooms with sherry. ©Joyce Hays, Target Health Inc.



  • Now, take dough out of fridge and roll it out into a large circle, so it will fit onto your oiled pie dish.



Scatter flour on parchment paper or on your counter, to roll out the dough. ©Joyce Hays, Target Health Inc.


Fit the dough to your pie dish. On the right, there’s an extra piece of dough that I pushed onto an empty space. ©Joyce Hays, Target Health Inc.


Crust baked and coming out of oven to get the filling poured in. ©Joyce Hays, Target Health Inc.



  • Preheat an oven to 400°F.
  • Transfer the dough to pie dish. Don’t worry if it doesn’t fit exactly. Push it, pinch it until it’s in place. If you have little pieces of extra dough, just pinch/push them into place on your pie dish.
  • Bake your crust according to your own recipe or go by the directions on the package, if you bought it. Bake it slightly, then remove from oven.
  • Add and mix the 2 beaten eggs to the bowl of leeks, stir them in to combine well.
  • Now, add the mixture in the bowl of leeks, to the sherry mushrooms in the skillet. If you forgot to add the goat cheese and any spice or herb, do it now and mix to combine well.


Mixing everything together, before spooning this, into the pie crust. ©Joyce Hays, Target Health Inc.



  • Next, spread all the leek/goat cheese mixture to within 1 inch of the edge of the dough. Bake until the crust puffs and
  • both the crust and the leeks are golden, about 15 to 20 minutes.



The filling has been spooned into the pie shell and about to go into the oven. ©Joyce Hays, Target Health Inc.



  • Five minutes, before tart is done, open the oven and sprinkle finely chopped parsley and scallions over the top and bake for 5 minutes more.
  • Remove from oven, and let the tart stand for 5 to 10 minutes. Cut into wedges and serve warm.



If a recipe turns out well, we’ll just eat that with some wine, and put away the rest of the meal. This was one of those times. :) ©Joyce Hays, Target Health Inc.


We had fried chicken thighs with this. ©Joyce Hays, Target Health Inc.


We had sautéed shrimp with this. ©Joyce Hays, Target Health Inc.


As long as they stay sweet and juicy, we’ll be having fresh mango for dessert. ©Joyce Hays, Target Health Inc.


This is one of our reliable standbys, well chilled, Louis Jadot, Pouilly-Fuisse, wonderful with the Mushroom Tart. ©Joyce Hays, Target Health Inc.


We’ve seen several plays, on and off Broadway, but would not recommend them. We’re looking forward to Arthur Millers, The Price and at The Metropolitan Opera, Beethoven’s Fidelio.


The geopolitical situation in the U.S. and around the world, is not good. In addition to reading voraciously about it, I’ve been listening to a lot of Chopin. Here are some favorite pieces to bring stress levels down:


Frederick Chopin Piano Concerto #1, 2nd Movement, Krystian Zimerman

Vladimir Ashkenazy plays Chopin Nocturne in C sharp Minor (No.20)

Tiffany Koo (Age 5) – Chopin Nocturne #20 C Sharp Minor

Chopin : Nocturne in c sharp minor for violin and piano (Arr by Nathan Milstein)


Happy Spring Everyone !


From Our Table to Yours !



Bon Appetit!

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