Daydream Monday, anyone?



Summers in Arizona for restaurants and bakeries or any hospitality business here is slow. Super slow. I assumed this would give me time to relax, daydream, and plan for the upcoming season. Yeah, not so much. I have been consistently busy planning and plotting with the odd job here and there, that I feel like I haven’t been able to spend much time playing with all my new ideas.

Mondays are my creative days. Well, I do office work too, but I give myself space to write recipes, test recipes, and flip through my cookbooks and mags that are piling up on my desk, and finally organize the bobs and bits around my messy office.

Daydream Mondays allow for endless cups of coffee, slices of leftover dark chocolate cake for lunch, and wine time arriving whenever the day demands and permits. Bowls of sweet plum slices for snack while catching up on emails or sorting through boxes of baking tools that will be used and abused this upcoming season. I don’t have to be anywhere or have to meet any deadlines. The day takes shape however I need it to, plus it’s alone time in my home office and kitchen to be by myself.

It’s simple and not the break I had hoped for, but the business is growing and starting to find its shape, and I am so grateful for this progress.


Thanks to everyone who came out on Saturday to Williams-Sonoma Biltmore for the Artisan Market. We love being able to do these events and spread the word about what we are doing at Pistol Whipped Pastry.

Happy Monday, friends!


Rachel Ellrich Miller is a pastry chef and food writer in Phoenix, where she bakes, eats, hangs out with her amazing husband, Mr. PC, and drinks copious amounts of Arizona wine. You can get more information about her pastry at, or her Sugar Rush column on Phoenix New Times Chow Bella blog.

A Willcox Weekend


Mr. PC and I are in love with Willcox, Arizona. The land stretches forever in every direction, with farms and vineyards lining the roads. People are kind, waving to us, even though they have never seen us and may never see us again. The main drag of downtown is slowly being revitalized with wine tasting rooms, and hopefully restaurants will follow.

The purpose of our trip was a going away party for our friend Simona. She has an amazing career as a wine maker, venturing around the world to different wineries, helping through the entire wine making process. We met Simona a few months ago when we went to Willcox to help our friends at Sand-Reckoner plant some vines (see story here).


We brought a dessert bar with dark chocolate cupcakes topped with vanilla buttercream, a s’mores station (Simona had her first s’more and while a little too sweet for her, she did enjoy it), bourbon coconut rice pudding, and mason jars of lemon posset.


As everyone arrived at the Pillsbury Wine Company tasting room, a variety of dishes filled the table and full bottles of wine collected on the bar. There wasn’t a bad bit of food in the place. Citrus salad, grain salad, peaches baked with goat cheese, baked squash, marinated steak tacos, and Simona’s veggie lasagna.






Everyone sat outside eating, drinking wine, talking and watching the rain storms roll overhead. A beautiful weekend with lovely people.


If you have the chance, get down to Willcox wine country and taste the beautiful wines they are making.

Simona, we will miss you! Safe travels on your next journey! xo

Rachel Ellrich Miller is a pastry chef and food writer in Phoenix, where she bakes, eats, hangs out with her amazing husband, Mr. PC, and drinks copious amounts of Arizona wine. You can get more information about her pastry at, or her Sugar Rush column on Phoenix New Times Chow Bella blog.


Wedding, House, And Building The Business

Dessert from our mini moon at Bourbon Steak.
Dessert from our mini moon at Bourbon Steak.

I married my love, Mr. PC. We tied the knot just over two months ago in a sunset ceremony surrounded by our family and close friends. While it was a beautiful day, we are still exhausted and attempting to recover.

I wish I could have spent more time with family and friends that came in from out of town. Everything went so quickly and the wedding day was a blur of hugs and quick conversations. I don’t feel like I was able to talk to everyone enough. Happily, I was able to at least speak with everyone who attended, but for me, it wasn’t enough. Now they are all home, we are moderately recovered, and I wish we had more time with our families and friends. Check out the lovely armadillo cake one of my best girlfriends made me over at my Sugar Rush column on Chow Bella.

Even though I was not allowed to make my own wedding cake, I still represented Pistol Whipped Pastry with some tasty cupcake treats for my family and friends to take with them as well as a dessert table at the rehearsal dinner. I wanted to give my out of town guests something from my bakery, plus, I love doing orders for dessert tables or dessert favors for weddings, and my wedding was no exception.

Cupcakes from our wedding.
Cupcakes from our wedding.

Of course, there is always drama when you put many different opinions into one space. I have chosen NOT to change my name at the present time. I like my name. I have a business and a career built on my name. Never did I think that it would matter to me, to change my name, until a couple months ago, when someone asked me if I was practicing signing my new name. I hemmed and hawed, caught off-guard at how much I didn’t want to change it. This has been my name for 31 years. I’m not ready to part with it just yet.

When we went to sign the marriage certificate after the wedding, the venerable female reverend told me that I HAD to change my name, because legally, my name is now that of my husband, and I could get into serious trouble with the law if caught with my maiden name on my license and social security card. My photographer frantically waved her hands and shook her head no behind the silver-haired reverend. It’s a great story to tell, and I eagerly wait being arrested by the police for not using my married name.

We hit the ground running after the wedding. Pistol Whipped Pastry is taking off and I am thrilled. Crazy busy. Somedays, I wish I could clone myself, but I am really excited about all the progress. We are booking events left and right, and I am getting to work with so many amazing people. Check out the new line of gluten free pastries I am doing at Kaleidoscope Juice. I’m writing for some fabulous publications, and being extended some amazing writing opportunities that I can not wait to share with you all.We bought a house in December, you know, because we haven’t done enough this year, yet. Life is good.

The recovery process after a wedding seems to involve the regaining of one’s appetite. I feel like I didn’t eat for about a month prior and during the wedding. My trainer was amazed at how quickly I was losing weight. “No appetite,” was not her favorite response. However, we are making up for it now, by eating good food.

It’s like I hit Suzie Homemaker mode this weekend, roasting a chicken, then making stock from the remains. Homemade chicken soup. Apples for applesauce gurgling away in cider on the stove. The windows opened. Prepping dinners for the week. It was the first time in a couple weeks I had cooked a homemade meal, and it was fully relaxing. As much as I love the precision and measurements of pastry, I equally love the dash-here-and-pinch-there of savory cooking as well.

Chicken soup, pink lady applesauce, and new wine glasses.
Chicken soup, pink lady applesauce, and new wine glasses.

I make chicken stock quite a bit, since I typically roast a chicken about every other week. I throw the whole chicken carcass into the stock pot, fill with water till just covered. Add a couple chopped carrots, some celery, an onion, a bay leaf, salt and pepper, and simmer for about 4 hours. Make sure to skim off and discard the foam as it collects on the surface.

I strain my stock through cheesecloth or a fine mesh sieve. Store in deli containers in the freezer for use whenever needed.

With the proliferation of kale and other hearty leafy greens popping up from our local farmers, I have been chopping and tossing those greens in near the end of the soup making process.

Our new house is perfect. It’s exactly the amount of space we needed and in a great area, that is up-and-coming. I finally have a dedicated office to house my books, Pistol Whipped Pastry gear, and all the great photography gear & props I have been collecting.

I am loving the blank slate that is before me, daydreaming up how I want to decorate. I have already procured some paint samples, and have a pinterest board full of creative DIY ideas of how I want to organize and create my perfect workspace.

Over the next month I will be working on putting together my office space, and sharing it with you here. The challenge I am facing is the need for a lot of storage, but I don’t want it to look like I work in a storage room or a closet. With a growing collection of cookbooks and vintage cake stands, I want to be able to display them, but not feel overwhelmed in the small space.


I guess it’s time to open a bottle of wine and start painting the walls. Do people have such things as painting parties? Hmmm…

Seasons of Change or Change of Seasons

The past few months have been busy. The past few weeks have been insane! My latest and greatest news is that Pistol Whipped Pastry, my pastry business, is up and running!



We are generating interest and picking up some great clients, plus placing PWP products on the shelves at some fabulous local stores. PWP is looking at getting into some of the farmers markets soon. I will keep you updated on where you can grab some tasty PWP treats, and we hope to see you there.



Mr. P.C. and I are in full wedding swing. That means eating better, which isn’t hard to do with all the gorgeous veg and fruit coming up at the farmers markets. I sat by the open window this weekend, and ate a pound of strawberries. The ruby strawberries were intended for a tart (err, eating better means fruit on your tart, right?), but once I bit into one, I knew they wouldn’t make it to my pastry.

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I have more strawberries coming this week, but this time, I will attempt to resist, so that PWP strawberry jam doesn’t suffer.

Are you enjoying the strawberries coming in? How are you eating them?


4 Things I’m Crazy About…This Week




1. Owl Cake Tin – I am obsessed with owls. Probably because my grandma used to collect them, and having them around reminds me of her. These were too cute to pass up. World Market for $8.99. I can’t wait to bake up some little owl cakes.

2. Rush Creek Reserve, from Uplands Cheese Company – This cheese is amazing! You purchase a round, and then cut the top off, because the cheese inside is so liquid, gooey. The ripeness of the cheese communicates the change in the cow’s diet, from grass-fed during the summer, to dry hay of the winter season. The small wheels are wrapped in spruce bark, which infuses a woodsy flavor to the rounds. Mr. Paul Child bought me a round of their latest and last release of the season, for my birthday. It only lasted two days with a box of Trader Joe’s crackers. Contact Wedge & Bottle to see when Uplands Cheese Company will begin to ship again later in the year.

3. Packaging for my pastry – Honestly, there are so many choices out there. It is complicated, to want to present your product in a beautiful way, and yet at the same time, to not spend a fortune to do so. I’ve been getting samples and trying to make wise decisions. What is your favorite kind of packaging, and what do you dislike in packaging?

4. Garden & Gun Magazine – If you have never picked up this homage to the south, you need to! Beautiful photos, well-written stories, and delicious recipes from incredible southern chefs, it is the accumulation of everything I want in a magazine. For sale at Barnes & Noble or subscribe on their website.


A Birthday and a Tart

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I turned 30 this month. When I confessed my hesitance for this birthday, most of my friends rolled their eyes and told me how much better my 30’s would be. “But I thought I’d have done more at this point in my life,” I whined. They’d shake their heads and sip their drinks.


I couldn’t ask for better friends, who have shown me love all month long, and helped me celebrate a big moment in my life. Dinners and drinks, laughs and putting all the big dreams I have for this year out to others, letting them help boost them up with positivity.


For my actual birthday dinner, I wanted to do all family dishes, that meant something to me. There was genuine love and multiple helpings. At the end of the day, comfort food, comforts all. My friends appreciated the love and the generational hands that passed the knowledge down.

It was simple entertaining: mason jars filled with candles, rustic rounds of sourdough kneaded by my hands, family recipe for saccarine pickles, a small pot of my clementine marmalade, overflowing bowls of cinnamon bourbon pecans, a multitude of cheese, the family sauce with bison meatballs, spicy salmon, roasted veg, our now 4th generation family cake called ‘mush cake,’ and cake plates overflowing with my cupcakes.

Wine filled glasses, cupcake wrappers and crumbs litter plates and napkins, while conversation filled the empty spaces. An obscene number of wine bottles start to line the counter.

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This month, I’ve been working on a few new projects complete with new recipes, and in doing so, feeding myself some delicious food (think about the 3 rounds of sourdough now sitting on my counter, goodbye waistline!). One of the recipes I’ve been tweaking and falling in love with are these apple tarts. The crumble sprinkled on top is hearty, and after a day of pinches each time I passed the prep table, I was in need of another batch. Whoops!

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The apples are Arkansas Blacks from the farmers market and they are perfect for these tarts. The texture reminds me a bit of a McIntosh, and the skin is a deep purple, that is almost black. Topped off with crumble and some creme fraiche swirled with maple syrup. A last taste of fall here in the desert as we slip into spring. I eat the test tarts warm from the oven, straight off the sheet pan.

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All-in-all, a great birthday month. Happy Birthday to my fellow, Aquarians! I hope you enjoy these tarts as much as I do.

**Update: I just got the okay to release some good news, right before I was about to hit send on this post. I will be a Season 6 Blogger on Molly Mahar’s fabulous site Stratejoy, with 6 other amazing women!

Please check us out soon, over on Stratejoy.


Apple Tarts with Crumble and Maple Creme Fraiche

Rachel Ellrich Miller



1 cup Whole Wheat Flour
1/2 cup Sugar, Light Brown
4 oz. Butter, Unsalted, Cold and Cut into Cubes
1/2 tsp Sea Salt, Fine
1/2 tsp. Fall Spice
1 Tbsp. Fresh Grated Ginger
1/4 cup Whole Flax Seeds

    Apple Tarts:

For the pie dough:
2 1/4 cups AP Flour
1/2 cup Whole Wheat Flour
1/4 cup Sugar, Granulated
1 tsp. Sea Salt, Fine
1 cup Butter, Unsalted, Cold and Cut into Cubes
3/4 cup - 1 cup Water, Ice Cold
1/2 each Zest of Citrus

    For the assembly of Apple Tarts:

3-4 Apples (Your choice!)
3-4 oz Butter, Unsalted, Browned
Fall spice mixed with Sugar, Granulated

    To serve:

Creme Fraiche
Good Maple Syrup



Place flour, sugar, butter, salt, fall spice and ginger into a food processor. Pulse till combined. Dump onto a silpat or parchment lined sheet pan. Mix in the whole flax seeds. Bake at 375 degrees, flipping with a spatula, every 5-6 minutes till golden brown (roughly around 15-20 minutes).

    Apple Tarts:

Place the AP and whole wheat flour, sugar, salt, citrus zest and butter into the food processor. Pulse till butter is incorporated and about pea-sized. Slowly add the water till the dough comes together. Don't over process, you don't want to build too much gluten. Place in a ziploc bag or plastic wrap and allow to rest/chill in the fridge for at least a few hours.

Cut the dough into 4 pieces. Roll each piece out and using a larger bowl or plate as a stencil, cut a circle out. If the dough gets too soft, place it in the fridge or freezer for a few minutes.
Place first dough round on a parchment lined sheet pan. Paint a little brown butter onto the round (not too much, you don't want it pooling). Sprinkle some of the fall spice-sugar mixture on the round.
Slice the apples. I like to cut in half and remove the core, then slice each half. I do thin slices so that they will bend as I arrange them in the tart.

I layer a few apples on the bottom, in the center of the dough round, then fold the edges of the dough around/up to create a shell.
To create my apple layers: I place down apples, a brushing of brown butter, and then sprinkle fall spice-sugar. After I have folded the edges of the dough up, I brush them with some brown butter and sprinkle with fall spice-sugar. I then try to almost create a flower with the apple halves, off-setting the overlapping halves. I still continue to do the layering with the apple slices, brown butter, and fall spice-sugar.

Continue assembling the rest of the tarts, and make sure to do the assembly on the parchment lined sheet pan, so that you don't have to move your tarts after they are assembled.
Bake at 350 degrees until the crust is golden brown.

To assemble:
Sprinkle warm apple tarts with crumble, and drizzle with maple swirled creme fraiche. Stuff yourself with apple goodness.

Clementine Custard and An Flax Meal Cookie

My custards class in culinary school, I gained 10 pounds. Those plunky pounds slipped on my body as I inhaled spoonfuls of pastry cream, downed little disposable metal cups of crème brûlée with crunchy shards of burnt caramel, freshly spun ice cream sucked from the churning machine, and precious pots de crème lapped up with broken bits of cookie chunks. There is nothing more satisfying than a custard. My go to dessert is usually a pint of ice cream, but my heart will always belong to a perfectly baked custard.

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Christmas Cookie Exchange

I feel like Christmas cookies fall into the category of spaghetti sauce or stuffing at Thanksgiving…your mom (or grandma) makes the best, no contest. We all grew up eating specific cookies, that if they weren’t there, it just wouldn’t be Christmas. I love those cookies and the stories that go with them. One of the best Christmas presents I ever received were a batch of cookies and the recipe from my friend Jenn. When I saw the Great Food Blogger Cookie Exchange, I knew I wanted to be apart of the cookie love, share some recipes and stories.

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The last couple years, my mom and I have been tweaking old recipes (my one grandma only ever used Crisco in cookies…YUCK!) and adding some new favorites to our cookie plate. My latest addition are these cookies, that I’ve been thinking about for a while now. A combination of two of my favorite flavors, pistachio and marmalade. The cookie is a buttery shortbread-esque cookie, cut like a linzer cookie and filled with a sweet, yet slightly bitter, clementine marmalade.

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Pistachio Shortbread with Clementine Marmalade

Rachel Ellrich Miller


    Pistachio Shortbread Cookies

1 # Unsalted Butter, At Room Temperature
1 1/4 cups Granulated Sugar
1/4 tsp. Almond Extract
2 each Eggs
3 1/2 cups Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
1 1/2 cups Pistachios, Ground
1/2 tsp. Baking Powder
1/2 tsp. Fine Sea Salt

    Clementine Marmalade

20 each Clementines
1 each Lemon
6 cups Granulated Sugar
1 1/2 cups Water


    Pistachio Shortbread Cookies

With a food processor, pulse pistachios until they are finely ground, but still have some small chunks. Add them to a bowl with flour, baking powder and sea salt. Whisk all the dry together, so that they are combined.

In your mixer with paddle attachment, cream together butter and sugar. Slightly beat the two eggs and add the almond extract to them. Add them to your butter and sugar mixture, till fully combined.

On a low speed, add flour mixture slowly until fully combined. Place in 4 small plastic ziplock bags and place in the fridge overnight or for at least 6 hours.

Once the dough is chilled, roll out on a lightly floured surface, to a little under 1/4" thick. Using your cutters, cut tops and bottoms, and if you want to do the linzer look, cut a smaller window in one of the halves of the cookies. I roll the dough one time, straight from the fridge, and then collect the scraps, chill them and then re-roll them once more. Anything after that can either be baked and eaten as scraps or thrown out. Re-rolling dough multiple times builds the gluten and make your cookies tough, so try to only do it once and then enjoy some delicious cookie scraps.

Chill each tray of cut cookies in the freezer for 5-10 minutes. Bake at 350 degrees for 5 minutes, rotate the pan 180 degrees, and then bake for 4 more minutes (Please, keep an eye on the first pan that you bake. Every oven is very different and baking times will vary. You want to bake till they are just getting a little brown on the bottom.)

Cool your cookies on racks. Assemble with clementine (or any marmalade of your choice). I use 2 teaspoons of marmalade to fill each cookie. Store in an airtight container for up to a week (mine don't last very long, so I honestly don't know if they will last longer than a week ;o) ).

    Clementine Marmalade

Halve and then thinly slice clementines and lemon. Place in a large pot with sugar and water. Bring the mixture to a boil, stirring and allow sugar to fully dissolve. Remove from heat and cool. Place in a covered container and leave at room temperature for 8 hours (or over night).

The next day, place the mixture in a large pot and bring back up to a boil. Reduce the heat and allow to simmer for about an hour, stirring constantly. Most jam or marmalade recipes call for you to bring it to 220 degrees. You can most definitely use this method, but I use a different test to know if my jam/marmalade is done. Place a couple plates in the freezer at the beginning of the process. When the marmalade has thickened, the fruit has turned translucent, and you feel it is done, take a spoonful and place it on the plate in the freezer. Leave it in the freezer for 1 minute. Take the plate out and look at the marmalade. It should not run down the plate if you tilt it. You should be able to run your finger through it and have it stay (similar to a la nappe when making creme anglaise). Typically it will also form a little skin on top and wrinkle when you run your finger through it. This is when it is done.

Allow the marmalade to cool slightly and then in batches, pulse it in your food processor. I do this, so that when biting into the cookie, you get a little bit of the gooey marmalade and a little bit of the peel. I hate to bite into the cookie and have a huge strand of peel slop out.

At this point, you are able to can the marmalade (please follow canning procedures of boiling the sealed jars - if you need more information on this, please let me know) or if you are using it all for cookies, place the marmalade in a coverable container and allow to cool. Store in the fridge once it has cooled. (I also like to place a piece of plastic wrap directly on the top to prevent a skin from forming on the top, before I put the container lid on.) When you are ready to fill your cookies, take marmalade out about 20 minutes before to take the chill off and make it easier to spread.


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Through this process, I’ve had three boxes of delicious cookies and some amazing notes reach my doorstep or inbox. Kristina from Atlanta, GA, sent soft cake-like sour cream cookies. Missy from Portland, OR, sent me some Oregon Hazelnut Thumbprints filled with Raspberry Jam. Kate from Menifee, CA, sent sugar cookies in memory of her mother and their first Christmas without her.

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Enjoy these cookies, and please have a safe holiday!

Summer Plummin’

I have a love-hate relationship with summer. It is definitely my least favorite of the seasons, and it was even when I was a kid. All I can think of are shorts, which I don’t wear, because they are highly unbecoming, or being 8 years old, and sticking to the leather seats in my grandfather’s gold Lincoln. The saving grace for summer not receiving my pure, sweaty hatred, was, and is, stone fruit season. Nectarines, peaches, cherries, apricots, and my personal favorite, plums.


My mom only used to buy black plums, the deepest shade of purple with a white shimmer on them. The soft sweetness of ruby center disintegrates between the tongue and the roof of your mouth. The skin demands some chewing. As your teeth pinch the skin, tartness seeps and kicks your rear taste buds in the face. I’d slip into the refrigerator like a ninja, taking two plums at a time. I’d gobble them, locked away in my room, staring at a Donnie Wahlberg poster. Tucking the pits in a paper towel, I’d bury it at the bottom of the garbage can so no one would know I was double fisting stone fruit.

In this last bit of summer weather, while I pray for rain to pour from the skies and cool this retched desert off, I need the consolation of my favorite part of summer. The warm jamy plums, topped with buttery, sweet crumble. Perhaps a farewell, before kicking summer out the door.


Plum Crumble

Rachel Ellrich Miller


For the filling:
6-8 plums (I used pluots, but you can use any that you love)
1/2 c. - 3/4c. granulated sugar (taste the plums and decide how sweet you want to make it)
1/2 each lemon, juiced

For the crumble:
1 c. all-purpose flour
1/4 c. granulated sugar
1/3 c. almond meal/flour
4 oz. butter, slightly softened at room temperature, but still cold (I use Irish butter. Once you eat Irish butter, you won't go back. Kerrygold is imported by many grocery stores. The only draw back is it's price at $4.99 for 8oz.)
1/4 tsp. fine sea salt
1/4 c. heavy cream
1 tsp. vanilla paste

For the whipped cream:
heavy cream
granulated sugar
vanilla extract


Pre-heat oven to 325 degrees F.

Prepare your plums into slices. Make sure they are all about the same size so that they cook evenly. Toss them with the sugar and lemon juice and place in a buttered, oven safe dish.

In a mixer bowl, place flour, sugar, almond meal/flour, and salt. Cut the butter into small pieces and toss into the mixer with the paddle attachment. Turn the mixer to medium and mix until it becomes sandy and the butter is incorporated. This is why you want the butter to be semi-soft. Add the cream and vanilla paste and mix till incorporated. It will be paste-like consistency. Crumble the mixture in pieces over the top of the plums. I use my hands to do this. It's the easiest way and it allows for even coverage of the plums.

Bake at 325 degrees F, until plum juice bubbles up and becomes syrupy, about 30-40 minutes. Turn the oven up to 375 degrees F, till the crust is golden brown, and bake about another 10-20 minutes. It honestly all depends on how hot your oven bakes. You want the plums to thicken and become jamy, and the crust to brown.

Allow to cool slightly. Serve warm with whipped cream or vanilla ice cream. Whip cream, granulated sugar, and vanilla extract, to your taste, for whipped cream to top crumble. Store in fridge and eat cold, by the spoonful, over the sink for breakfast.

Triumphant Eats Tonight

I’m deeply in love with the process of creating a dish. Experimenting with flavors, techniques, equipment, colors, texture. The evolution of old recipes into something new. Mistakes are necessary because they always produce a new understanding of the an ingredient or it’s interaction with another. Working. Reworking. Editing. Adjusting. Tinkering. Tweaking. Ideas from notebook to plate. Always a little different, but often for the result of a better dish. Frustration is sometimes inevitable.

Family and friends gathered for Easter dinner is the perfect time for a classic and a new experiment. Feedback is honest. Crust scraps are cleaned off plates by the coffee sipping grazers.

Failures are eaten with as much gusto as successes, perhaps though, lacking a feeling of triumph.

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