Monthly Archives: May 2015

Baking Chez Moi: Rhubarb Upside Down Brown Sugar Cake

Title Rhubarb Slice

Rhubarb pie is one of my husband Scott’s favorite desserts.  It was one of his grandmother’s specialties and as many as I have made and as much as he’s enjoyed them I don’t think they can ever quite compare.  I’ve experimented with a few other rhubarb recipes but before now have never found anything that could compete.

Rhubarb Ingredients

I was very much in luck for this recipe since my local farmer’s market had rhubarb. My grocery stores carry rhubarb but it is almost always in bad shape. Luck was with me and I hit the season just right for this recipe.

Peeling RhubarbChopping Rhubarb

As much as I’ve tinkered with rhubarb I’ve never peeled it before.  I was pretty nervous but it wound up being incredibly easy and I think I’m going to use this trick going forward.

Sugared Rhubarb

Cooking Rhubarb

The recipe suggests saving the sugar that results from sugaring the rhubarb and I did just that.  It was pretty nice with a little champagne.  I wish I had thought ahead to try a few mixed drinks-maybe next time.

Cooked Rhubarb in Pan

Once the rhubarb is soft it goes into the top of the pan.  I was definitely on the verge of having my rhubarb go to mush but saved it in time and it held together great in the pan.

Orange Zest in Batter

The recipe suggested the zest of an orange as an optional ingredient.  I went for it and loved the resulting flavor in the cake but it was so distinctive i couldn’t help but wonder what it would have been like without it.  Almost like a different cake entirely I imagine.

Batter on Rhubarb

Once the batter is mixed up is goes on top of the cooked rhubarb and into the oven.

Cake from the Oven

Now for the scary part: flipping the cake onto the platter.  I was so lucky that it came right out for the most part and I only had a few tiny pieces of rhubarb to put back on top.

Flipped Rhubarb

Steaming Rhubarb Cake

The cake smelled amazing with lovely rhubarb steam coming off but it definitely needed a touch of jelly.  I couldn’t find any that were suggested but I figured strawberry was a classic accompanying taste and would give it some lovely red color.

Adding Jelly

Final Cake with Jelly

The final product wasn’t so impressive on it’s own but once some whipped cream and strawberries were added it had the extra oomph it needed.

Finished Cake

Up Close Finished Rhubarb

Final Pic Rhubarb

The resulting cake was very interesting.  Somewhat of a sweet and sour play that felt just right with our warm weather.  As much as I enjoyed this cake I will save making it again until I can find fresh rhubarb again at my market.  The rhubarb is such a star in this I feel like it begs for the best quality.



Guest Post: Sharing Meals with your Filmmaker Family

So excited for my first guest post.  My sister Carrie sent me a script she wrote for a short film awhile back that blew me away.  I love talking with her about her experiences working on big budget sets and production but there is something very special about this small project.  Even the film about making the film is pretty magic.  You can sense the wonderful energy and beauty that they are creating with this project.  If you want to join in and be a part of making this film happen check out Carrie’s link at the bottom of her post.

Filmmaker Family Time.

I’ve known a special universal truth for a very long time and it’s served me well over these years working in the field of art and entertainment: Food brings people together. Food makes people happy. Therefore, eat food, together, and things will go okay.

Living and working in Los Angeles in the entertainment world for the last six years and having not gone off the deep end or had any nervous breakdowns, I sometimes get asked by L.A. hopefuls or parents of L.A. hopefuls – how do you survive? L.A. feels so harsh and materialistic. L.A. people seem horrible. L.A. sucks, doesn’t it? Truth is, yeah, sometimes it really, really does. No lie, Los Angeles can friggin’ suck. Hard. Parking tickets. Weirdos. Traffic. The constant hustle of not doing enough and wondering about your next paycheck. Luckily, there are antidotes for the sucky-ness and they don’t come in the form of success or money – although those can be nice when deserved. They come from the same things that make anyone feel safe, happy and whole. The first thing I tell anyone is that you have to find your L.A. family. Not blood relatives necessarily. Not people on a screen that you obsess over. This family is the one made up of your friends that actually like you. The ones that listen to you and are generous in spirit. These are the people that invite you to their place for no other reason than to just hang out and laugh. Most importantly, these are the people you eat with. A lot.


Delicious food – in the form of good snacks or good meals- has magical qualities for keeping groups happy. It can change the atmosphere of a room in seconds. It is, hands down, my favorite way to get to know people. I’ve made it a habit to really remember people’s food preferences and it’s amazing how much this can be a persuasive way of making friends. When I graduated college, I was awarded a scholarship at graduation and the only reason this is relevant at all (brag alert), is that part of the speech this professor gave mentioned the plethora of snacks I brought to rehearsals. That was such a distinct part of my leadership abilities – bringing food – that my esteemed professor included it in her speech… to the very packed theatre of parents and peers. It got a good laugh, but the point is that I knew, even back then, food is an important tool for me. Eating together unites a group in a way that not much else does. It’s magic. Wielding the positive power of collective eating – seeing how happy eating leads to productivity and teamwork – has become a strange asset in the way I approach any job, P.A. or Director. It is an essential tool in my toolbox and I use it every time, with 100% success.

1185580_10201094223106695_975755181_nFilm Family

This year has been another sweet reminder of the importance of eating good food together. I belong to a fantastic group of generous, kind filmmakers and artists that I feel are my L.A. family and some of us have been tirelessly working on a project that requires a lot of late night meetings and weekend get-togethers- a difficult task given our L.A. schedules. Luckily, these are people who also believe in the power of collective, family style eating and it affirms our connection and creates a space of comfort constantly. There is rarely a week we don’t at least try to do some sort of potluck meeting where foods are brought, shared and devoured. Aside from our deep discussions about our intensely difficult goals and dreams, we talk about food stuff a lot. We’ve probably had about twenty lengthy conversations about cheese. We fuss over different wines, their cost, and what store they were on sale at. One brave soul recently made homemade Kombucha successfully (look up images for ‘scoby’ and tell me that ain’t brave). We don’t all have the same diets but even that is part of the magic- we all consider each other in what we bring and what we make. The personal nature of simply sharing together, celebrating cooking and real food, making awesome recipe discoveries together, and especially laughing over meal failures has been, in my opinion, a large part of how we end up negotiating our projects together too – like a family. Not always perfect, but willing to negotiate and make it work.

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To learn more about some of this filmmaker family and the current project we’re working on called Kinesthesia, visit us on our facebook page ( and take a look at our live, 30-day campaign on Seed&Spark ( where you can join us in helping the film get made and see where it all ends up. We’d love to share our progress with you – and guaranteed, you’ll spot some of our family-style potluck meetings during production!

Now, let’s go eat. I’m suddenly starving.


Baking Chez Moi: Nutella Buttons

Nutella Button Top Post

Nutella buttons really should have been a simple and quick cupcake recipe.  Sometimes I have a way of complicating what should otherwise be a breeze to get through and this was one of those instances.  Typically I make a recipe as close to the original as possible but I no longer buy US Nutella so I had to find an alternative*.  This turned into a little experiment and ended up being more of a Nutella substitute test than a cupcake test.

Nutella Button Ingredients

I tested three Nutella alternatives: Justin’s chocolate hazelnut butter, Wild Friends chocolate sunflower seed almond butter and homemade hazelnut chocolate spread.

Yolk and Flour Nutella ButtonsMixed Yolk Nutella Buttons

The recipe for the cupcakes is pretty simple.  Yolk and dry ingredients get lightened up with beaten egg whites.

Egg Whites Nutella ButtonsMixing Egg Whites Nutella Buttons

Then comes the fun part.  A little batter gets put into mini muffin paper-lined tins and then a little dab of chocolate hazelnut spread gets added and covered with batter.  Dorie also suggested using jam in the center and I bet this would be wonderful in these.

Spooning Batter Nutella ButtonsHomemade spread Nutella Buttons

Justins Nutella ButtonsWild Friends Nutella Buttons

My cupcakes came out with cute little domed tops but they deflated a bit once cooled.  Since I was covering these with chocolate it didn’t matter too much.

Cooling Buttons

Three Varieties of Buttons

*Reasons I don’t use Nutella

1. It’s really bad for the environment. (Supposedly they are working on this.)

2. Orangutans are really awesome.

3. This affects people too.

If you use Nutella that’s cool, maybe drop them a note that you would prefer they speed up the whole sustainably sourced thing though.  We all make choices every day on who to support and I just decided that the taste of Nutella just wasn’t worth the sacrifice for me personally.  I also gave up peanut butter m&ms which occasionally brings me near the point of tears. I may have to give up my beloved Reese’s eggs too; thank goodness the regular cups are ok.

I noticed a few years ago that I got major skin break outs after sneaking some Halloween candy.  Turns out palm oil has been sneaking into our manufactured foods for quite some time now. The Justin’s hazelnut spread that I tested was made with sustainable palm oil and it definitely triggered some major skin breakouts for me. Go figure, my body doesn’t like the cheapest oil out there? I tend to give most baked or sweet foods a pass on the nutritional value of their contents but if something has a negative consequence on how I look or feel I don’t really have a compelling reason to eat it.