Friday, December 11, 2009

Encino Park Book Club

Another month, another book club. I didn't have to go far since it was close to my neighborhood. The Encino Park Book Club is a group of dynamic young women who all became friends when they were neighbors and meet every month to share food and books. I was honored to be chosen to participate with them. Everyone brought a recipe from Siren's Feast and we shared some good laughs and some good food.

Janet Billig Rich, producer of the Tony winning musical Rock of Ages, found Siren's Feast and brought it to Alegre Ramos, owner of the "green" store Green and Greener in Valley Village, who was already a friend and Jin Shin Jyutsu client I have known for several years. Another "small world" story. And Voila! I was able to attend another book club. I have enjoyed myself at every single one. What could be better for an author to meet readers over food and spirits?

Monday, December 7, 2009

Sur La Table

I took the Feast on the road again, this time to my home turf of Phoenix, Arizona where I had been asked to be guest chef at Sur La Table, the fabulous cookware stores located all over the country. Their Scottsdale location had a kitchen big enough for the 16 students who participated (a sell-out) and nearly everyone bought a copy of Siren's Feast. Morocco Memories was the theme, even though I snuck in one of my Armenian specialties, Cheese Beorag. I had a blast and didn't realize beforehand that the students did all the cooking, while I supervised.

Carol Blonder, quite the chef herself, is the culinary director in Scottsdale and she loved the copy of Siren's Feast I sent her so much it was chosen for her culinary book club, a true honor. Two members of her book club were also participants in a fun-filled afternoon.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Westside Ararat Guild Luncheon

The afternoon could not have been more beautiful in Granada Hills and I have to admit to being delighted that so many Armenian women showed up to hear me talk about my family, my wild childhood and food at the Westside Ararat Guild luncheon. Not only did the event raise money for the Ararat Home but I managed to sell nearly 50 copies of Siren's Feast, An Edible Odyssey, while warning some of the older women about the content. And talk about food!!! The food, as usual, was truly divine, prepared by many of the women who attended, including myself. I rolled another 150 grape leaves for the occasion.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Cheese Beorag Recipe


A tradition Armenian delicacy made with an old family twist. As an h’ors d’oeuvres it cannot be matched.

1 pound filo dough (if dough is frozen, thaw over night in the refrigerator)
½ cup butter, melted


½ lb. feta cheese (I prefer French or Bulgarian as they are less salty)
½ lb. jack cheese, grated
1 bunch parsley, chopped very finely
½ tsp. black pepper
2 eggs, beaten


1 cup milk
1 egg

Preheat oven to 375 degrees

In a mixing bowl, crumble feat cheese. Add grated jack cheese. Next add the eggs, parley and black pepper. Blend well and set aside.

Set up a workspace. Filo dough is paper-thin and dries out when exposed to air so it will be necessary to work quickly. Have enough room on counter top for dough, melted butter and baking dish. I use a clay baking dish approximately 10” x 14” x 2”. Glass and stainless steel are also good. Open filo dough and lay sheets of filo on a piece of wax paper or foil. Place two sheets of filo at a time in the baking dish. Using a pastry brush, brush dough with the melted butter. Continue layering the dough in this manner, two sheets at a time, brushing every two sheets with melted butter until half of the dough is used.

Next spread the cheese mixture evenly over the buttered dough. Then continue layering dough and brushing with butter until all the dough is used.

Place baking dish in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour to harden the butter. Using a sharp knife cut the unbaked beorag into serving-sized pieces (about 2 in. squares.) Blend milk and egg together and pour over the top so that the liquid goes down inside the cuts.

Bake in the oven for 25-30 minutes, or until pastry rises and turns golden brown. Remove from oven and serve hot.

Serves 12 or more


I rediscovered the charming neighborhood of Noe Valley during my book signing at Omnivore Books on Food. Samantha served as hostess for the event which drew some old friends, including the parents of some old friends. Merrill Conn wrote me after reading Siren's Feast and said he couldn't eat dinner or watch TV until he had finished the book. He's 86. His email was worth the whole trip. I also had a chance to wander the neighborhood and discovered Lovejoy's Tearoom which absolutely charmed me as a lover of high tea. The petit fours were scrumptious.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Back to the Feast (September events)

Now that my slipped disc has slipped back into place, I'm back after a long absence and excited about the upcoming events for Siren's Feast. For anyone in Northern California, I'll be doing a book signing at Omnivore Books in San Francisco on Sept. 13.
Omnivore Books is a charming store in Noe Valley that not only has top-notch authors visiting but also a collection of antiquarian and collectible cookbooks. Please stop by.

Two days later, I'll be at the Allied Arts Guild in beautiful Menlo Park. That is on Tuesday, Sept. 15, from 1-2 pm.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Siren's Feast Recipe Index


Appetizers and Salads

Armenian Eggplant Salad – 14
Baba Ghanouj – 196-197
Carrot & Beet Salad – 54-55
Cheese Beorag – 306-307
Fattoush (Syrian Bread Salad) – 206
Muhammara (Lebanese Walnut Dip) – 197
Orange Salad – 49
Salade Des Lentilles Vertes – 118
Tabbouli – 198
Yalanchi Sarma (stuffed grape leaves) – 304-306
Yogurt – 261

Side Dishes

Armenian Rice Pilaf – 13-14
Bulghur Pilaf – 208
Couscous – 49
Daddy’s Fassoulia (green bean stew) – 21
Dal (spiced lentils) – 168
Kubisa (Moroccan greens) – 40
Midya Dolma (rice-stuffed mussels) – 328-329
Red Beans and Rice – 288
Preserved Lemons – 40
Vosp Kufta (red lentil patties) – 207

Soups and Sauces

Cilantro-Mint Chutney – 169
Gazpacho Andalusian – 113-114
Sweet Salad Dressing – 126

Main Courses

B’Steeya – 55-57
Baby Feast – 289-290
Nigerian Pepper Stew – 288-289
Shish Kebab – 13
Stuffed Baked Fish Fillets with Spicy Tomato Sauce – 51-52
Tortilla Espanola – 112-113
Vegetable Shai Korma – 154
Vegetable Tajine – 50
Vegetarian Curry – 167
Vegetarian Shepherd’s Pie – 243-244
Vegetarian Stuffed Zucchini – 134-135


Keta (sweet Armenian breakfast rolls) – 23-25
Wiggle Worms (Armenian donuts) – 19


Christmas Trifle – 275-276
Fresh Peach and Hazelnut Tart – 94
Kataif (Honeyed Shredded Dough Pastry) – 199-200
Paklava Rosettes – 329-330


Chai – 155
Mango Lassi – 142
Moroccan Mint Tea – 37

Silicon Valley and Beyond

Siren's Feast hit the trail recently with a road trip to Northern California, reminding me why I live in California. The drive was beautiful, through fields of artichokes, past orchards of almond and cherry trees and on through Gilroy, the garlic capital. I couldn't wait to get to Silicon Valley, where the first of two Siren's Feast events took place, and start cooking, loaded with fresh walnuts, Vidalia onions and all the spices I procured on my last trip to Morocco. My hostess, Lisette Derouaux, spared no expense to introduce me to the dynamic ladies of Silicon Valley. I can't wait to return to Menlo Park.

Then it was on to Marin County to attend a Siren's Feast book club potluck and meet yet another group of fabulous women. My hostess, Karin Conn, publicist extraordinaire, has a divine circle of friends who love to read and eat and I am always thrilled to have people prepare my recipes. It was hard to leave, but another visit awaited me, further down the road.

I had a fantastic visit with my old Ibiza friends Simma and Jeffrey. I loved their vegetable garden and Simma has a beautiful line of jewelry. I always say, you can't make new old friends.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

I received some great news yesterday. My culinary memoir Siren's Feast, An Edible Odyssey has just been named the Winner in the Autobiography/Memoir category of the 2009 Next Generation Indie Book Awards. It was also named Finalist for Best Cover Design in the Non-Fiction category. That is due to the beautiful work of Shawn "Blue" Bayer, artiste extraordinaire. I'm over the moon. Recognition is a good thing.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Saturday Afternoon on Mt. Washington

It is so rare these days, especially in LA, to meet new foodie friends at a party, decide to get together for a feast, then actually do it. I had a divine afternoon with my new friends at the home of Aussie chef Ben Johnson and actor Mark Espinoza, along with Denise Daclan who creates the most divine artisan infused sea salts. I baked my Armenian cheese beorag (pg. 306 of Siren's Feast) and made some Muhammara (pg. 197) Ben( Mannix of made his Wombat Salad of roasted root vegetables, goat cheese, watercress and pistachios which had me in ecstasy and Denise brought along a sampling from Saltistry. Wine, sunshine, and a view of Los Angeles from the deck completed our fabulous feast.

Monday, April 27, 2009

LA Times Festival of Books

Los Angeles does some things right. The LA Times Festival of Books (April 25 & 26) was a huge success, except for the three unfortunate people who were injured by flying scaffolding. Saturday was so windy. I was extremely fortunate to be signing books on Sunday, which was a gloriously beautiful day, at the popular Book Soup booth, right after the ever so popular T. C. Boyle and Candy Spelling, widow of Aaron, mother of Tori. This is LA, after all.

My yalanchi sarma (stuffed grape leaves) were a hit and worth the labor involved. And I met some fantastic people.
I stopped by the Heifer Booth (The Heifer Foundation's mission is to end hunger and poverty by giving people the means to feed themselves) to meet Kim, whose mission is to review and promote independent bookstores through her blog as well as supporting the Heifer Foundation and just generally being fabulous. And to my surprise and joy, copies of Siren's Feast, An Edible Odyssey, were flying out of my hands.

With the spate of independent bookstore closings, it was truly a thrill to see thousands of people who are enamored with reading and meeting authors.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Aztec Soup

A while back, after I'd returned from the wedding on Isla Holbox, I promised to post a recipe for the amazing soup I ate several times while there. Everyone loved this soup and I've done my best to recreate it. In honor of my lovely young friend, Kate Puzey, I decided it was high time to revisit the wonderful memories of the time we spent together. Knowing that Kate had an exciting life and the support and love of such an amazing family is some consolation over the loss of her.


2 tbsp. olive oil
1 onion, sliced thin
1 red bell pepper, sliced thin
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tomato, chopped
1 lb. ground chicken
1 tsp. oregano
2 ears fresh corn, with kernels removed
salt/black pepper to taste
4 cups chicken broth

chopped fresh cilantro
sour cream
crumbled Queso Fresco (Mexican cheese)
sliced avocado

In a stock pot, begin by sauteing the onion, then the bell pepper and garlic in olive oil, until softened. Stir in the chopped tomato and saute a few minutes more. Add the ground chicken and continue sauteing. Finally add the oregano, corn kernels, chicken broth and season with salt and pepper to taste.

Garnish each bowl of soup with chopped cilantro, 1 tbsp. sour cream, crumbled Queso Fresco and avocado slices and serve.
DEELISH! And so easy.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Good news and more truly sad news

I've been so busy with Mom, who at 94 has had to recover from a broken hip, full-time book promotion, working on my next book, keeping up with the garden, the dogs and friends, I just realized I hadn't written a post in a long while. I'm excited about appearing at the LA Times Festival of Books, signing books at the Book Soup booth (#330), which is one of the hippest bookstores in the West and thrilled about all the latest great reviews of Siren's Feast. All that info is posted on my website.

The truly sad news I received was about the passing of a young woman I met last summer at the beautiful wedding I attended on Isla Holbox, off the coast of the Yucatan. Kate Puzey from Georgia, cousin of the bride, who had been a Peace Corps volunteer in Benin, was found murdered outside her hut in the village where she had been living. I am still devastated. I pored over her blog and photos for days. She was a beautiful, brilliant and spirited soul and my heart is broken since I know how close she was to her entire extended family. You can read from her blog and see some of her photos through another site

Some things are just incomprehensible.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

So sad

What a shame that another Los Angeles landmark bookstore is closing. I love Amazon as much as anyone, but nothing can compare to spending time in a brick and mortar bookstore, browsing the shelves, picking up books and chatting with the knowledgeable people who work there. So I was heartbroken yesterday when I read in the LA Times that one of my favorites, The Cook's Library in West Hollywood, will end its 20 year run the end of April. For cooks, chefs and foodies there was nothing like it. It was even listed in Gourmet magazine as one of the ten best best cookbook stores in the country.

Until April 30 their entire stock of cookbooks, including my own culinary memoir, will be on sale until all the merchandise has been sold. I visited yesterday and took along a plate of stuffed grape leaves and left with a fabulous Thai cookbook - Spirit House Thai Cooking.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

I LOVE book clubs

So I'm not the best photographer, but try fitting 15 enthusiastic women into one frame. The Bookie Club in Rancho Palos Verdes is a delightful group of accomplished women and I was thrilled to be invited to their gathering in an art and treasure-filled home overlooking the Pacific. I hardly minded the 2 hours spent on the 405 Freeway getting there since I was able to listen to our brilliant President's town hall meeting on route.

It seems like every gathering for Siren's Feast includes lots of delicious food and this was no exception. We had a scrumptious chicken tajine, couscous, cheese beorag, tabbouli, lemon squares and oh yes, lots of wine. I even gave a mini-demonstration of self-help Jin Shin Jyutsu. I could have stayed all night it was so much fun and I can't wait to see them again. They're called the Bookie Group because they usually play poker after their meetings.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

My little Vedra walks the Red Carpet

Mothers sometimes have reason to be proud. If you've already read Siren's Feast, you would know that my daughter Vedra spent nearly her first 18 months in a London Prison with me. Just last week she walked the Red Carpet at the Berlin Film Festival with her adoptive Dad, Joe Dallesandro, for the premiere of the documentary she produced--Little Joe. Joe also received the Teddy Award. All the screenings were sold out and they had over 75 requests for interviews.

The project evolved over eight years and the results are just fantastic. You can read the review from Variety here.

Friday, January 30, 2009


I haven't had time to post anything lately. My adorable mother, Florence, fell and broke her hip the day after her 94th birthday.
And it happened in Newport Beach, which involved a lot of driving back and forth. Happy to report she is a trooper and came through surgery just fine, is still in rehab and we hope to have her up and walking soon. For anyone who goes through this, be aware that the after effects of anaesthesia in the elderly can bring out the devil in the most unassuming people. Before surgery the nurses were all "sweethearts." After surgery they all became "dirty bitches." (Mom's words, not mine.) The next day the nurses were all "sweethearts" again, prompting one of them to say, "She's baaack. We missed you."

Since I've never posted a photo of my mother and my daughter Vedra, here they are--both major characters of SIREN'S FEAST.

And I'll be baaaack---soon.