Copyright: iuliian / 123RF Stock Photo

Make Brandied Yams!

Apple Brandied Yams

Steaming The Yams

4-5 large yams (3-4 pounds)
water as needed

Select uniform sized yams. Place them in one to two layers in a large pot. Add one inch of water. Sprinkle with salt. Bring the water to a boil, cover the pot, and reduce the heat to low. Steam the yams until tender when pierced with the tip of a small sharp knife (30-45 minutes depending on their thickness). Pour off the hot water and fill the pan with cold water. While they are still warm but cool enough to handle peel them. Remove them from the water when they are cool and refrigerate them covered. They may be cooked and refrigerated a day in advance, then cut and assembled the next day.

Preparing The Sauce

1 Tablespoon cornstarch mixed to a paste with 1 Tablespoon water
2/3 cup dark brown sugar, packed
3/4 cup water
2 Tablespoons butter
1/4 cup raisins

Combine the cornstarch paste, brown sugar, water, butter and raisins in a saucepan. Boil until it is thick and glossy.

1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
2 Tablespoons lemon juice
1/4 cup brandy
1 cup diced green apple

Remove the sauce from the heat. Add the nutmeg, brandy, lemon juice and apples.


The Sauce
Butter as needed

Liberally butter a 1 1/2 – 2 inch deep oval or rectangular casserole dish. Cut the potatoes into 1/4 inch thick diagonal slices. Layer the potato slices, randomly dotting them with butter and coating them with a portion of the fruited sauce. Try to distribute the raisins and apples between the layers rather than on top to keep them from scorching. Reserve enough of the sauce without fruit to spoon over the top.

Bake the yams uncovered for approximately 60 minutes at 350 degrees or until the sauce is thick and bubbling and the potatoes are hot and glazed. Baste with the sauce several times during the cooking time. This dish will hold well if prepared ahead of time. Slip it into the oven to reheat it briefly, if needed.

Turkey and Mashed Potatoes

Mashed Potatoes and Gravy

Mashed Potatoes

6 medium potatoes (about 2 pounds)
1/2 cup milk
2-3 Tablespoons butter
salt and fresh ground pepper as needed

Peel the potatoes. Remove the eyes and bruises. Cut the potatoes down the length; then cut the halves into 1” wide chunks. Place them in a 2 1/2 to 3 quart saucepan. Add 2 inches of water. Sprinkle with salt. Bring the water to a full boil. Cover the pot and reduce the heat to low. Steam the potatoes until tender (about 10 – 12 minutes). Drain off the potato liquid and return the pot to the burner. Shake the potatoes over the heat to dry them. Heat the milk.

Meanwhile, transfer the potatoes to a bowl and rice them back into the hot pot. Stir in the butter. Add the hot milk as needed and beat with a large wooden spoon until smooth and fluffy. Add the salt and pepper. Hold on a warm burner.


4 1/2 Tablespoons flour (If you prefer a thicker gravy use 6 Tablespoon flour.)
4 Tablespoons butter (For a thicker gravy use 6 tablespoons butter.)
3 cups turkey stock and drippings
salt and pepper to taste

Melt the butter in a heavy 1 1/2 quart saucepan. Add the flour and whisk to a smooth paste. Cook the roux for a few minutes on low heat. Set aside to cool briefly. Meanwhile heat the broth just to the boil. Whisk in the hot broth all at once. Return the pot to the heat. Bring the gravy to the boil. Reduce the heat, correct the seasoning with salt and pepper, and simmer briefly. Hold the gravy on warm or set aside and reheat later.

Turkey and Mashed Potatoes

Need Help With Thanksgiving?

Over the next few weeks as a special gift to our students and guests we are going give you recipes and techniques for a delicious, successful thanksgiving dinner.

What is the most requested recipe? It is mashed potatoes and gravy. And it is not difficult to do. We are going to share our recipes with handy hints and we are going to encourage you to make a roasted chicken ahead to practice your technique. So when you get to that important day, you will feel confidant and ready.

Two different potatoes, baking potatoes or Russets and Yukon Gold make great mashed potatoes. We recommend that you steam them in about 2 inches of water rather than boil them covered with water. Mashed potatoes are going to be one of the last things you get ready. Potatoes may be peeled in advance and held in a bowl of cold water to cover. Cut them just before you are ready to steam them. Make your mashed potatoes near the end of your cooking time. A ricer is a perfect tool for getting smooth mashed potatoes. Though roughly mashed potatoes made by hand are OK too. Some like them rough, some like them smooth. Probably the best way to reheat them is to microwave a batch in a bowl or your serving dish just before serving time.

To create your broth for the gravy, transfer the roasted turkey to a platter to rest. Drain away the excess fat. Place the pan over two burners. Add your own homemade turkey stock or Swanson’s chicken stock to the roasting pan. Scrape up all the roasted brown bits and strain into a saucepan. Set aside until needed. You can make gravy ahead with no problem. So as soon as you have the juices from the roasted turkey go ahead and make the gravy. Then reheat it at serving time.

Here are your first recipes to practice ahead. Feel free to write me at: or call if you need help at 206 525 7537. If I am here I will answer.

Here are your recipes:

Mashed Potatoes and Gravy

Cooking for One

Take Care of Yourself

Come on, you can do it. Cook for “one”.

Kindle the spirit of caring for yourself. It’s not so tough. It’s an attitude. First of all go buy yourself the best looking most expensive placemat you can get. One in which the colors are just perfect. Buy a packet of napkins that have a design you love or a couple of snazzy fabric napkins. Set aside your best silverware or go buy yourself just one place setting of silverware you wished you could have. Maybe it is pricey. Well, you’re worth it.

Find the best view out your windows. Maybe it is just the action of the street with the sizzling sound of rain as cars go by. Perhaps it overlooks a great tree, a flowering plant at the neighbor’s house or a tiny view of the city. Set up a table overlooking that spot. (We love to feed birds so I set up a card table with a tablecloth in the family room where they create the evening’s entertainment.) Let go of the TV. Choose your favorite music instead.

I know, I know, you are saying “what about the food?” Think of your meal as having three simple parts: the main course, the starch course and the vegetable and or salad course. Keep it easy. Go to your recipe collection and organize a group of your favorite recipes. Create a menu list of groups of three that you would like together. Make copies and create a weekly dinner collection.

If you plan the combinations ahead you can make a meal for yourself in 30 minutes.

  • Here are some combinations that I would put together:
    A loin lamb chop sautéed in a skillet with spices of your choice, a baked potato with trimmings or a baked sweet potato (You need 1hour for baking a potato so start 30 minutes ahead for this part.), fresh broccoli steamed or open pot boiled.
  • A 6 ounce serving of salmon topped with lemon slices and dill baked in a 425 oven for 10 minutes per inch of thickness served with parsley and pepper rice and a fresh green salad.
  • Pasta tossed with a bit of cream and sautéed vegetables such as tomatoes, mushrooms, basil and fresh grated Parmesan served with a Greek salad and a slice of garlic bread.

If you think about it in advance you have a lot of 3 part combinations that you would like together. The point is that with a bit of advanced planning it is easy to shop and put together a 30-minute meal after work. You can also marinate something before you go to work. It leaves you with something to look forward to after fighting the car/freeway wars to get home.

By planning ahead and “believing in the possibility” you become the “mother at home” that is looking after you! Salud! A toast to your good health and well being.

A Beautiful Fall Table

Thinking about Holiday entertaining?

Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, or New Years?

Which party is your favorite to attend and give? What decisions can you make right now while times are calm? Choose your party and work on your guest list. Who do you really want there? How would you like to impress them? Browse now for décor ideas and purchase a few things you really like. Close your eyes and envision your space. How would you like it to look and feel?

Have you been to Seattle Costume and Display on Roosevelt Way? They have wonderful décor items that coordinate together. Pick out napkins, plates, and items to add to the things you love. They will be ready for you nice and early! Early decisions let you relax as a future host.

Start choosing your recipes. Test some new ones.The best way to get new exciting menu items is to take a class! And WE HAVE THE CLASS FOR YOU! However, there are only 12 spaces. You may want to decide now. JOIN US FOR: Little Bites of Delights on Thursday, November 16th 7-10 pm. Mitra has a gorgeous array of easy appetizers ready for you!

Envision the look of your table. Will you use flowers? Then remember that, if this is a sit down meal, flowers need to be low. I frequently choose a selection of my favorite, small vases and intermingle them with slender candleholders down the length of the table. This adds a warm enticing glow to your room.

Now that you are getting an early start, snoop through your cupboards and find Grandma’s glasses and special plates. Lovingly wash them ahead and set them aside covered by a clean towel. They will be ready and waiting to bring memories back!

I also make drawings of my table plans with sketches of lots of possibilities. This part of your event is great fun when you have time to organize ahead. When it’s time, enjoy it and fulfill your dreams!

Don’t you just love to impress and make people happy? Share yourself, who you are and what you love! They will be so pleased.

Copyright: 123rfaurinko / 123RF Stock Photo

Zucchini Bisque

Zucchini Bisque

1 medium onion quartered
4-6 Tablespoons butter or as needed
1 1/2 pounds slender zucchini
2 1/2 cups chicken stock
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1-2 Tablespoons finely shredded dill or basil leaves
salt to taste
freshly ground white pepper
1 cup heavy whipping cream

Add the onion chunks to the food processor with the metal blade in place. Pulse until the onion is evenly chopped. Melt the butter in a 3 quart sauté pan. Add the onion and sauté gently until tender.

Change over to the shredding disk. Cut the zucchini into 3 inch lengths. Wedge the zucchini upright in the feed tube securely, but not too tightly. With a light pressure on the pusher shred the zucchini in batches.

Add the zucchini and chicken stock to the pan. Bring to the boil and lower the heat to a simmer. Cover and cook for about 15 minutes.

With the metal blade in place puree the soup mixture in batches and transfer to a bowl. Do not fill the processor bowl more that 1/3 full at a time. The soup should not overflow.

Add the nutmeg, basil, salt and pepper. Stir in the cream. Correct the seasoning and serve hot, at room temperature or chilled. Makes about 6 cups.


Meet Louise Hasson!

Enjoy a Unique Experience In Seattle

We could tell you how great Bon Vivant is…

but we thought our students could do it better!

“Authentic!” “Meaningful!” “An Experience to last a lifetime!”


Convenient Evening Classes in Private Homes

“I work full time and the evening cooking classes make it possible for me to pursue my passion.” Susan

“I’m not very comfortable in crowds. The classes being in private homes made me feel right at ease. It was like cooking in the kitchen with grandma.” Elsie


Information You Can Use

“I’ve taken classes at some of the other schools in town but they were more about drinking and playing with food. At Bon Vivant, I learned skills that I use every day and I no longer dread going into the kitchen.” Laura

“I took the Cut & Cook class. This was a real good class for me and I believe for all students alike. I thought I had mastered a lot of the basics, but the techniques and demonstrations along with hands-on made for a superb class.” Joey

“The steak class was AMAZING. It’s 11:00 and we’re still chatting and munching. The food was great, the techniques useful – I’m really looking forward to using this at home. I think my dad even learned something, and we’ve been trying to convince him to stop overcooking steaks for YEARS.” Doug



“As a developer at Microsoft, I don’t have a lot of time for a social life. The weekly series courses give me the opportunity to spend time with people who share my passion for great food. I don’t know what I’m going to do after I’ve taken them all” Mike

“You had significant influence on my family way back in the ’90’s on Mercer Island. My youngest son Brian (then a pre-schooler) is a Chef and co owner of several celebrated restaurants and is married to a Chef. Older sons Michale and Jack though not pro’s are creative home cooks. I have recently moved to and 18 acre parcel in Ellensburg which I hope to develop into a small farm producing grass fed beef and some specialty produce. I just wanted to share a bit and thank you for taking this “bored housewife” to a world I never imagined!” Barb


Confidence Building

“This was the most useful series I have ever taken! My confidence as a chef and my abilities to create different menus has transformed. My family is still begging me for all those recipes.”

“Louise’s in depth knowledge of food and cooking techniques never ceases to amaze me. After each class I run home and tell my fellow foodies how much I’ve learned and cannot wait to try out the recipes at home. I’ve already signed up to make the unbelievably delicious Iced Lemon Souffle for my sister’s wedding shower.” Ashley


Memorable Occassions

Whether it’s a Saturday Saveur Magazine Event, a date night or a private event, we’ve got you covered!

“Thank you for a wonderful class. My husband and I loved the class and made our anniversary very memorable. The class structure is amazing.” Preeti

“I wanted to thank you again for organizing such a successful cooking class for our staff members. I only heard rave reviews from them! Everyone loved the class. When we plan our retreat next year, I hope we will be able to include Bon Vivant School of Cooking again!” Julia


Life Changing

“I hold you in such high esteem for all that you have given me. I really knew or cared about nothing as related to food preparation. However, after I met you bells and whistles went off and my life has never been/will never be as it was.” Eric

“I just wanted to let you know what a large part of my life Bon Vivant has been. The classes I’ve taken have expanded my knowledge of, approach to, and appreciation of food and cooking. I’ve met so many great people who are passionate about both teaching and learning more about the craft. I wanted to thank you and the school for many great memories.” Lucia

Apricot Jam

What do you like to do for your vacations?

We are here at Lake Chelan, the produce basket of Washington State.

And when I see great tomatoes, peaches, apricots and more being sold by the box, my save it for winter button begins to flash red. And the beach stops calling me for a while.

Seattle is a great place. But as hot as summer has been our growing season is nothing like east of the mountains in places like Yakima and Chelan where the roads are lined with farms and fruit trees galore and the tomatoes ripen for sure to a deep plush red.

As you travel over the mountains to Eastern Washington there are many produce stands to tempt you. And the first thing we bought from the other side was a 25 pound box of deep red Italian pear tomatoes. This created the inspiration for homemade tomato sauce for the freezer. And we happily spent 3-4 hours chopping tomatoes, onions, celery, garlic, fresh basil and oregano and cooking the sauce to create 12 containers for our secret stash.

And I was grateful and will be even more grateful this winter, when those delicious meals that call for a great tomato sauce will be half done before I start. Just pull that 3 cup container out of the freezer and you are on the way to spaghetti with homemade meat sauce, stuffed zucchini and much more.

We also bought 10 pounds of ripe, gorgeous Perfection Apricots and made the most beautiful jam possible from plush sweet fruit. So exiting! I pressure seal my jams and refrigerate them and they keep their bright orange color until every jar is used.

By the way, when you are in class ask for a spoonful of that jam. I am really proud of it! You will have to make your own tomato sauce, however. Send me a note and I will share my recipe with you.