Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Be careful what you wish for!

When I was a child, I actually had no idea that we had to pay for food in restaurants. I assumed those expansive and generous beings who seemed delighted to bring us whatever we wanted must be some kind of angels. They dazzled me!

So, naturally, when someone asked me at age five what I wanted to be when I grew up, I said, “Either a waitress or a movie star!”

While other girls played with dolls, I had two favorite solitary games. Making up recipes and writing them on index cards to put in a recipe box like my Mom’s, and playing "short order cook." I separated my bedroom and my small dressing room with a book shelf I pretended was a counter. I would stand at pretend tables and take down orders on an order pad I bought with my allowance at the dime store. Slapping the order on the counter, I would vanish behind the counter and become the short order cook. Truly, I never tired of this game.

My parents were early foodies and shared a curiosity about dining experiences. On Sunday drives or summer vacations our destinations were always restaurants such as Philippe’s French Dip sandwiches in downtown Los Angeles, the Original Pancake House in Portland, Oregon, and Anderson’s Split Pea Soup in Buellton, California.

Their tenacity in tracking down tantalizing tastes had a tremendous influence on who I would become professionally.

Years later when my late husband and I hosted our own television cooking series it occurred to me I had indeed become a movie star/waitress.

Be careful what you wish for!


For 12 leaves

Because I love to be dazzled and to dazzle others, my specialty has become making simple things that people notice and remember. So it is with these easy chocolate leaves . . .

Heat about 2 ounces of chopped chocolate of your choice in the top of a double boiler, stirring just until completely melted. Remove the top portion of the pan set aside to cool for a few minutes.

Use a table knife to spread the chocolate thickly over the backs of clean, fresh citrus or camellia leaves.

Place on wax paper, chocolate side up, in the refrigerator until the chocolate has hardened. Carefully pull the real leaves away from the chocolate ones. (See illustration.)

Use the leaves as surprise toppings for ice cream and just about any chocolate dessert.

To prepare in advance: Chocolate leaves will keep in the refrigerator or freezer if they are carefully wiped of surface moisture that could cause white spots. They are great to have on hand for dressing up simple desserts and needn’t be thawed before serving.


  1. Ooooh Diana, I have citrus trees & camellia's.

    I must make the chocolate leaves for the Welcome Back Teachers school party desserts next month. They'll love them! Thank you.
    I love your stories.

  2. very cool in an alice in wonderland sort of way!

  3. I forgot all about these. I learned how years ago and it seems that it faded away until today! Thank you for the reminder that simple things can make such a difference!

    I am honored that you visited my blog today. Good luck with the halibut!

  4. Thanks for visiting my site too! It is fun to find kindred spirits!

  5. I remember my grandma used to make this and top them on our ice creams.We used to think she was hiding a chocolate tree in the kitchen :)Im from foodista.com and I love your blog!