Blueberry-Lemon Scones

As you might have noticed, we’ve been on a scone kick lately. That might be because a good scone is pretty much the perfect edible companion to just about anything, with these blueberry-lemon scones being my favorite breakfast scone. Like the lemon-poppy seed scones, they’re light and airy. The blueberries and lemon give a nice tartness and the sprinkled sugar adds just the right touch of sweetness.

Blueberry Scones | Leni & Viv

Although blueberry is a somewhat traditional flavor for a scone, they were a departure from normal for me. For the longest time I avoided blueberries like the plague. As a kid, I had a strange fruit phobia. Blueberries weren’t on the top of that list (oranges and watermelons were the main culprits), but they were banned nevertheless. The older I got, the braver I got. I started to experiment, hesitantly at first, with frightened eyes and puckered lips. And then one sunny day I realized that strawberries weren’t going to cripple me and oranges weren’t going to kill me. And that was the beginning of my fruit adventure.

Blueberry-Lemon Scones | Leni & Viv

Even now, fruit is not my favorite–I’ll still take chocolate or peanut butter over strawberries or oranges any day–but I’ve learned to embrace nature’s candy. In any case, it says something about these scones that even I fell in love with them. They became an important part of my morning routine. It was beautiful while it lasted: sitting lazily in the kitchen nook, gazing out at the ducks that have made the swimming pool their home, savoring each crumbly bite between sips of homemade iced coffee.


Blueberry-Lemon Scones


  • 2 cups flour
  • 2 tbsp baking powder
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 tbsp cold, diced butter
  • 1/4 cup sour cream
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 1 1/2 cups fresh blueberries
  • 2 tsp milk
  • 1 tbsp coarse, clear, sparkling sugar


Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Place silpat or parchment paper on a cookie sheet.

Place flour, baking powder, sugar, and lemon zest in food processor. Pulse a few times to combine.

Add butter and pulse a few times.

Add milk and sour cream. Pulse until just combined. Remove dough and place on a floured surface. Add blueberries and knead in until just combined. Shape into about a nine-inch round. Brush milk on top, then sprinkle sparkling sugar. Cut pie-style into 8 pieces.

Place on silpat or parchment papered cookie sheet.

Bake 11-13 minutes until lightly browned and firm to the touch. Be sure not to over-bake.

Serves 8.

California High Tea: Espresso-Chocolate Scones

Espresso-Chocolate Scones | Leni & Viv

Sweeter and richer than the lemon-poppy seeds scones, these espresso-chocolate scones work well as a high tea palette cleanser or as a late-night dessert. I’d still say the amaretto and pecan scones are my favorites, but these espresso chocolate ones come in a close second. I suppose it depends on what mood you’re in and whether you’re more of chocolaty person or more of a nutty person.

Espresso-Chocolate Scones |Leni & Viv


Espresso-Chocolate Scones


  • 1/4 cup cocoa powder
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 tbsp espresso powder
  • 1 tbsp espresso beans
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 tbsp baking powder
  • 6 tbsp cold butter, diced
  • 2/3 cup milk
  • 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips


Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line cookie sheet with silpat or parchment paper.

Place cocoa powder, flour, espresso powder and beans, sugar, and baking powder in food processor. Pulse until espresso beans are almost ground, which gives a little crunch to the scones.

Place butter on top of mixture in processor and pulse a few times until just incorporated. Add milk and pulse just until blended. You may need to add milk, but only 1 tsp at a time.

Remove from processor and place on a flour surface. Shape into a circle and cut into 8 pie pieces.

Place on prepared cookie sheet and bake for 8-10 minutes or just until set. Remove from oven and let cool.

Heat chocolate chips in a small saucepan until melted (or you can microwave for 1-2 minutes). Drizzle or spread over cooled scones.

Serves 8.

Lindsay’s Knockwurst Burrito

Hot dogs are a lot like people, in the same way people are a lot like snowflakes, if that makes any sense. What I mean to say is that each hot dog is unique. Different in a dozen little ways, from the type of dog, to the method of cooking the dog, to the type of bun, to the method of cooking the bun, to the toppings, to the etc., etc.

Lindsay's Knockwurst Burrito | Leni & Viv

Sometimes it seems as if there are as many types of hot dogs as there are people who make hot dogs, and some of those people are rather passionate about their manner of making dogs. Perhaps that’s why I’ve been so hesitant about sharing this recipe. That, and I feel very proprietary about this hot dog. It is, after all, my hot dog. My own personal pet. You know how people don’t always like other people’s pets? Well, that may very well be the case with my hot dog. So hot dog partisans take heed: this hot dog may not be for you. But if you’re of the adventurous type, if you live for the new thrill and the strange taste, try it out. There are scarier things in the world.

Lindsay's Knockwurst Burrito | Leni & Viv

Strictly speaking, it’s not a hot dog at all, but rather a knockwurst. Of course that’s just one of the many individual touches. I don’t like hot dogs; I like knockwurst. Hebrew National Kosher knockwurst to be exact.

Another personal touch: I don’t like hot dog buns. Even with a big, thick knockwurst, the bread-to-meat ratio is wrong. Simply wrong. I never knew what to do about this problem (except not eat hot dogs) until one day I ran out of hot dog buns. I had already cooked my hot dog, so there was no running off to the store. The only bun-like thing in the fridge was a tortilla, so that’s what I used. And that’s how this “knockwurst burrito” was born.

Lindsay's Knockwurst Burrito | Leni & Viv

It was a revelation of sorts: I realized then that hot dogs were meant to be served on tortillas (particularly the thin kind, like my favorite Guerrero, which creates the perfect bread-to-meat ratio). I haven’t eaten a hot dog on anything else since the day I ran out of hot dog buns. I also never eat a hot dog without slicing it lengthwise and opening it up. Not only does it allow for better, more thorough grilling, but it also turns the dog into a perfect holder for the toppings.

Lindsay's Knockwurst Burrito | Leni & Viv

The rest of the ingredients came together after many unsatisfying experiments in creating my own perfect dog. I happen to like the combination of the sweet & soft goat cheese with the crisp and salty pickles, but I may be in the minority here. Case in point: I offered one of these to my father as a treat, and I can’t say he agreed with me. I tried replacing the pickles with peperoncini. He liked that better, but eventually reverted back to the simple hot dog with mustard. I wasn’t offended. It is a hot dog, after all. To each his own.


Lindsay’s Knockwurst Burrito


  • 1 package of Hebrew National Knockwurst (or Beef Franks)
  • 4 tortillas
  • 2 large dill pickles (or 4 tbsp pepperocinis)
  • About 1/2 cup of goat cheese
  • Mayonnaise
  • Mustard


Heat up your grill or preheat your Foreman to 375 degrees. If you don’t have a Foreman, or if you’re in a hurry, you can put a large pan on the stovetop on medium heat.

Cut up your pickles (I use about half a large pickle for each hot dog). Set aside. Take your goat cheese out of the fridge and let it soften.

Open up your knockwurst by slicing it along one side, lengthwise (don’t cut all the way through, just until you can open it up with your fingers). Throw the knockwurst on the grill or in the pan, open side down so the inside cooks first. Cook about five minutes or until the knockwurst begins to char. If you’re using the pan, flip over onto the other side and cook until slightly charred.

While your knockwurst is cooking, heat your tortillas. You can place them in a large pan on medium heat and cook for about 30 seconds on each side, or until warm. If you’re in a hurry and aren’t worried about cancer, you can also cover the tortillas with a paper towel on top and bottom and place them in the microwave for about 30-45 seconds, or until warm.

Spread a thin layer of mayonnaise on the heated tortillas. Add as much mustard as you like.

Lay knockwurst on tortilla, open side up, slightly off-center. Crumble goat cheese on knockwurst. Sprinkle your pickles (or pepperocinis) over the top. Fold long sides of the tortilla up to the tips of the knockwurst. Fold rest of tortilla over knockwurst and roll it up, tucking in the sides as you go.

Serve and enjoy.

Makes 4 knockwurst.

California High Tea: Lemon Poppy Seed Scones

I almost forgot to post these scones. They got buried in my computer and only a fortuitous accident brought them to light again. Truth is, I was so enamored, nay obsessed, with the amaretto & pecan scones that I completely forgot about their softer, lighter cousins: the lemon poppy seed scones. It’s a shame; they’re delightful. They’re just as moist as the amaretto scones, but with a lighter, perhaps more summery touch.

Lemon Poppy Seed Scones | Leni & Viv

Lemon Poppy Seed Scones


  • 2 cups flour
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 2 tbsp poppy seeds
  • 1 tbsp baking powder
  • 6 tbsp cold butter, diced
  • 5 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 tbsp lemon zest
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup confectioner’s sugar
  • 3-4 tbsp lemon juice


Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Place parchment paper or silpat on a cookie sheet.

In food processor pulse flour, sugar, poppy seeds, and baking powder.

Add butter and pulse until just combined.

Add lemon juice, zest, and egg. Pulse until just combined. If dry add 1 teaspoon milk. Pulse. Add any more milk in 1 tsp intervals until just combined.

On a floured surface, shape dough into a circle. Cut into 8 wedges (or use round biscuit cutter).

Bake for 8-10 minutes or just until lightly browned. Let cool.

In a small  bowl, mix confectioner’s sugar with 3 tbsp lemon juice. If mixture is stiff, add 1 tsp at a time of lemon juice, mixing after each tsp, until smooth and spreadable.

Spread or drizzle lemon glaze on warm scones.



Summer Seafood Salad

I love seafood. I love it all year round. In the winter I adore a good Cioppino or even a spicy seafood curry. In the summer I’m all about fish tacos and shrimp tacos and fresh lobster and… well, seafood pasta salad.

Summer Seafood Salad | Leni & Viv

I suppose it’s one of the perks of living close to the great Pacific: you grow up with fond memories of eating delectably fresh seafood (or delectably fried seafood, because who doesn’t like a good fried dish now and anon?) while listening to the waves lap against a shore filled with shrieking children. (If only I weren’t plagued by an irrational and utterly unreasonable fear of tsunamis inspired by a sixth grade science textbook, I would have so many more of those wonderful memories.)

But while I love seafood in all its glorious variety, I can honestly say there are only two pasta salads I’ve ever fallen in love with. One is a spicy Asian pasta salad. The other is this seafood pasta salad.

Summer Seafood Pasta Salad | Leni & Viv

It’s a perfect summer day meal–lunch or dinner. What makes it glorious is not only the seafood, but the capers, which add just the right touch of pungent saltiness–a burst of flavor every few bites. A bed of fresh butter lettuce not only adds a nice flavor, but also soaks up the sauce nicely. Oh yeah, and it reduces the guilt factor. So does substituting yogurt for the traditional mayonnaise and sour cream if you so choose. You can also substitute the shrimp and crab for whatever seafood you enjoy, or better yet, whatever seafood happens to be freshest that day.


Summer Seafood Salad


  • 1 lb Orecchiette pasta
  • 1/2 cup reduced fat mayonnaise
  • 1/2 cup reduced fat sour cream
  • 1/4 cup green onions, thinly sliced
  • 2 tbsp drained capers
  • 2 tbsp minced fresh tarragon
  • 1 tbsp minced fresh dill
  • 1 lb cooked medium shrimp
  • 1/2 lb chopped crabmeat
  • 1 cup chopped celery
  • 2 small heads butter lettuce, chopped in large chunks


Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Gently pour in pasta and cook until al dente. Immediately place in colander and rinse with cold water until pasta is room temperature. Set aside.

Combine mayo, sour cream (NOTE: You can use 1 cup of sour yogurt in place of the mayo and sour cream), green onions, capers, tarragon, dill, shrimp, crabmeat, and celery in a large bowl. Stir until completely combined. Add pasta and stir.

Serve by placing lettuce on an individual plate and place and place pasta salad on top.

Serves 6-8

Thai Chicken Wraps

Thai Chicken Wraps | Leni & Viv

Back when I posted our soft pretzel recipe, I talked about nostalgic pre-movie rituals that involved soft, Parmesany pretzels. That post reminded me of another beloved mall ritual: Tacone Wraps. I’ve always loved Tacone wraps. Perhaps it’s more accurate to say I love Tacone’s Thai Cone Wraps since I honestly haven’t tried any of their other wraps (I’m one of those people: once I like something, I rarely deviate). After successfully making my own pretzels for the first time, I thought, Hey, why can’t I make my own Thai cone wraps?

Thai Cone Wraps | Leni & Viv

Easier said than done. It was indeed a bit more difficult to make these than the pretzels. First I had to dissect the different components of Tacone’s wraps, from the cucumber salad to the peanut sauce to the chicken and and the rice. Then I had to find the best recipe for each component (this was, after all, my first foray into Thai peanut sauces and cucumber salads). After a little experimentation, I came up with this recipe. I was pleased. For my first try I used lavash wraps. They worked, but I wasn’t overly impressed. I liked that they were thinner than tortillas, but unfortunately they were dry and brittle; they not only tasted a bit dry, but also fell apart as I was wrapping. If you can get your hands on very fresh lavash wraps, they would probably work wonderfully. If not, I’d recommend Guerrero tortillas, which are thinner than other tortillas yet have the integrity to remain in one piece throughout an entire eating. Also, if you’re in a bit of a hurry, go ahead and buy some pre-roasted chicken breasts. God knows I do.

Thai Chicken Wraps | Leni & Viv

While nothing will ever replace my favorite Tacone wraps, I actually prefer these. It took some time to prepare the wraps, but the result ended up being cleaner and fresher than the ones at the mall. Not only that, but I could vary the proportions as I saw fit, which was perfect, since I tend to go lighter on the chicken, heavier on the rice, and much heavier on the peanut sauce. I was going post the recipe for that Thai peanut sauce, but since I took that one straight from the She Simmers site and I want you head over there and give her some love, I posted a link instead (I know, I make everything difficult).


Thai Chicken Wraps


Cucumber Salad

• ¼ cup fresh lime juice
• 1 ½ tbsp fish sauce
• 1 ½ tbsp sugar
• ¼ tsp cayenne pepper
• 2 garlic cloves, minced or approx. ½ tsp garlic powder
• 1 ½ English hothouse cucumbers
• ½ carrot or approx. ¼ cup carrots, grated


• 1 cup rice
• 1 cup water
• 3-4 burrito sized tortillas or lavash wraps
• 1 lb chicken breast (pre-cooked, if you’re in a hurry)
• 2 tsp olive oil
• Salt and pepper

Prepare the Thai peanut sauce. Set aside and let cool while you prepare the other ingredients.

For the cucumber salad, cut the cucumbers in half twice. Slice into thin pieces. Peel and grate carrot. Combine all cucumber salad ingredients in a large bowl. Mix together and set aside.

To make the rice, bring water to a boil in medium pot. Stir rice into the boiling water. Cover and remove from heat. Let sit, covered, for 5 minutes, until the rice absorbs the water.

Meanwhile, prepare the chicken. Rub your chicken breast with olive oil, and add salt and pepper. Heat about 1 tsp of olive oil in a medium skillet over medium heat. Place chicken breasts in. Cook until edges are opaque. Flip chicken breast over, cover pan, and lower heat. Cook for about 10 minutes. Once your chicken is fully cooked, le tit rest for at least five minutes to seal the juice inside, and then cut into small pieces.

Assemble wrap. Spread out approx. ¼ cup chicken breast, ¼ cup rice, and ¼ cup cucumber salad slightly off-center of your large tortilla. Drizzle on about 1 ½-2 ½ tbsp peanut sauce. (You can vary proportions to suit your own tastes. If you’re like me, you might want to add a lot more peanut sauce.).

Fold wrap. Fold the sides in so they nearly touch, then fold up the bottom of the tortilla, tucking in the sides as you go. Continue to bring up the bottom of the tortilla, rolling as tightly as possible, and folding in the ends as you roll. If you want a great tutorial with detailed pictures, head over to The Kitchn. Cut wrap in half.

Makes 6-8 wraps.

Cookie Inspiration: Summer Fiesta Cookies

Cinco de Mayo / Summer Fiesta Cookies | Leni & Viv

I debated whether to post these now or wait until next year. We made them for Cinco de Mayo. Now that Cinco de Mayo is long over, it’s a little late to be posting Cinco de Mayo cookies. On the other hand, there’s no reason to be narrow-minded. There’s nothing that says limes and chilies should be limited to one day of the year. Rather, I’d like to think of these cookies as one of the many heralds of the beginning of summer. (I was going to say something about the transition to summer, but since we’re already getting consistent temperatures in the eighties and nineties here in the greater Los Angeles area, I think it’s safe to say we skipped the transition part and jumped straight into the middle of one our interminable SoCal summers).

Cinco de Mayo / Summer Fiesta Cookies | Leni & Viv

But for all my melodramatic complaints about the heat, I love good summer fun as much as anyone. After all, I am a true Angelino, and even I have to admit there are good things about a SoCal summer, not the least of which is spending long lazy weekend afternoons sipping refreshingly cool drinks while taking in the sun by a sparkling pool.


Indeed, for a moment I considered calling these margarita cookies, but since I’ve never been a big fan of the classic cocktail (sacrilege, I know), I decided to call them summer fiesta cookies instead. Because long before there were sparkling pools and alcohol-infused drinks, there were simply lawn chairs, a makeshift garage “patio”, homemade cookies, nona’s iced “coffee” (consisting of a splash of coffee and a cupful of milk), and good sisterly fun. I guess in some ways that makes these light-hearted cookies more nostalgic for me than more traditional summer treats. So whatever your summer traditions, I hope our summer cookies offer some inspiration for your own cookie decorating adventures.

Classic Stuffed Bell Peppers

Stuffed Bell Peppers | Leni & Viv

I thought I’d bring out another one of those wonderful comfort dishes that we’ve been having around here since time immemorial. Typically stuffed bell peppers are an autumn dish, but as much as I love to savor their warm heartiness when the leaves begin to change colors and the days begin to grow cold, I also love them as a substitute for a summer repast of grilled meat and veggies. Indeed, the baking isn’t so much different from the grilling, except that it allows the juices and flavors to marinate together nicely over a longer period of time.

Stuffed Bell Pepper | Leni & Viv

A dish like this is all about simplicity. No fancy frills to take away from the freshness of the main ingredients: bell peppers, ground beef, and bread. The seasonings add just the right touch, allowing the flavors to pop. The inside is moist: tender meat, suffused with the juiciness of the bell peppers. I love to eat a crumb of bread with each bite; it soaks up the juice and absorbs the flavors, only to release it back to your grateful taste buds.

Stuffed Bell Pepper | Leni & Viv

Classic Stuffed Bell Peppers


  • 1 pound ground beef (or turkey)
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped onion
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 4 extra large, or 6 medium green bell peppers
  • 1/4 cup grated Romano cheese
  •  1 tsp pepper
  •  1 slice white or wheat bread, grated
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 slice white or wheat bread, the heal (or end of the loaf)
  • 1 tsp EVOO


Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Cook ground beef in a large skillet until crumbled and almost cooked through. Add onion and garlic. Cook until meat and veggies are fully cooked. Set aside to cool.

Cut around the core of a bell pepper and remove, then carefully remove white veins and seeds, by gently tapping the pepper. Do the same to the remaining peppers.

Once the meat mixture has cooled, remove as much liquid as possible, using a large spoon. Mix in Romano, pepper, grated bread and egg. Spoon ground beef mixture into the cavity of the bell peppers. Cut or break the heal of the remaining slice of bread and use place it over the top o the bell pepper, where the core was removed. With your hands, shove the bread in place. This will hold the meat mixture in while baking and is a delicious extra morsel, as it soaks up the flavors of the bell pepper. Drizzle the EVOO into the palm of your hand rub each bell pepper all over.

Place peppers into an 8 x 8 square inch baking pan (if using 6 medium peppers, a 9 x 9 square pan will do). Bake for about 1 hour, turning the pepper about every 15 minutes, until all sides loose their bright green color and the peppers are golden brown on all sides.

Serves 4-6

NOTE: If you are feeding a crowd, double the recipe and place in a 9 x9 inch pan, baking for the same amount of time.

California High Tea: Carrot Ginger Tea Sandwich

Sometimes California decides that spring is superfluous. I can’t tell you how often we seem to jump straight from winter, which is never much of a winter anyway, to summer. After a few consecutive days of over ninety degree heat I seriously considered booking a trip to Alaska for a season or two. But since I have neither the time nor the money, I’ve opted for the next best thing: a day at the beach. Aside from that beautifully refreshing break, I’ve spent the heat weave drinking gallons of iced tea and making giant stacks of dainty sandwiches.

Carrot Ginger Tea Sandwich | Leni & Viv

One of the most refreshing sandwiches, next to the cucumber tea sandwiches we posted in our last California High Tea installment, is the carrot ginger. I used a light, multi-grain bread. Along with the crispness of the freshly grated carrots, it gave it a great texture. And while most people fill their tea sandwiches sparsely (they are supposed to be dainty treats after all) I stuffed mine full to bursting because that’s just the kind of gluttonous person I am.

Carrot Ginger Tea Sandwiches | Leni & Viv

I originally found this recipe over at What’s Cooking America, who originally got it from the Fairmont Empress Hotel in Victoria, British Columbia. Like always, I’ve tweaked the amounts to get the kind of sandwich I like (I went lighter on the mayonnaise, heavier on the ginger paste, and nil on the butter). If you’re like me you’ll play around until you get just the right mix, but either way, I think you’ll love these deliciously healthy tea sandwiches.

Carrot Ginger Tea Sandwich


  • 2 cups freshly carrot, grated
  • 3 tbsp cream cheese, softened
  • 2 tbsp mayo
  • 2 tsp ginger paste
  • alfalfa sprouts
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 6 slices multi-grain bread


Cut the crusts from your bread with a serrated knife. Set aside.

In a medium bowl, combine grated carrots, cream cheese, mayonnaise, and ginger paste. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Top 3 slices of bread with carrot/ginger mixture. Add alfalfa sprouts and top with the remaining slices of bread. Cut the sandwiches in half diagonally and then cut in half again.

Yields 12 tea sandwiches.

Spinach & Cheese Soufflé

Hello, loyal readers! Sorry for the long hiatus. It was unintentional. I was planning on taking a blogging vacation for Holy Week, but that weekend somehow turned into a few weeks. Probably because I had a nasty fainting fit that sent me flying/falling into a very large painting. When I came to I looked liked I’d just been in a drunken fight. I wish I could say the other guy looked worse, but the painting was just fine. Needless to say, it knocked me off my game. Since then I’ve been playing catch-up with work. Unfortunately the blog fell by the wayside.

Spinach & Cheese Soufflé | Leni & Viv

But not to fear, Leni & Viv is back. We’re starting off easy, with another one of our classic comfort food dishes: spinach soufflé. It was just what I needed after my rough week, probably the closest thing to hugging my old teddy bear. The light fluffiness of the eggs and the freshness of the spinach is offset by the warm creaminess of the cheese. We use a jalapeno-jack, which adds the subtlest of spices to the dish.

Spinach & Cheese Soufflé | Leni & Viv

Spinach & Cheese Soufflé


  • 1 (10 oz) bag fresh or frozen spinach, chopped
  • 6 tbsp butter
  • 6 tbsp flour
  • 2 cups low-fat milk
  • 5 eggs
  • 3 tbsp chives, chopped
  • 1 1/2 cups Jalapeno-Jack cheese, grated
  • 2 tsp pepper


Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Butter, or as we did, spray a soufflé dish with cooking spray. Set aside.

Using cheesecloth or a sieve squeeze as much liquid out of the spinach as possible. Set aside.

In a medium saucepan, melt butter over medium heat. Mix in flour with a whisk. Cook for 1-2 minutes, until mixture comes together. Add the milk all at once and whisk briskly so no lumps form. Continue cooking until thick and creamy 9-11 minutes. Set aside to cool.

In a medium-sized bowl beat eggs. Add chives, cheese, and pepper. Add 1 cup of the roux to the egg mixture to temper. Mix all of the egg mixture into the roux. Place in prepared soufflé dish.

Bake for 30-40 minutes, until puffed and golden brown.

Serves 4-6