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Cardamom Cookies for Ruth, Kate, and Gabe

I love the flavor of cardamom, and our guests do too. Last weekend Ruth, Kate and Gabe came to visit. They may be our longest running guests – we saw Kate grow up visiting Leith Hall, and now the next generation is doing so. This is for Ruth’s Christmas cookie collection since she has the Norwegian roots to claim it.

Cardamom cookiescardamom cookie

1 cup unsalted butter

1 cup sugar

1 egg 2 2/3 cup flour

¼ tsp. Salt

2 tsp vanilla paste or extractcardamom pods

1 Tbs. ground cardamom

400 degrees F. 8 to 10 minutes

Beat all of the ingredients together. Scoop onto parchment lined cookie sheets with a small cookie scoop. Bake. Transfer to wire racks after cooling ten minutes.

For these and other teatime treats, call Leith Hall and make your reservations now!


Leith Hall Blueberry Muffins for Vicky

blueberry muffins Cape May bed and breakfast

Blueberry Muffins for Vicky.blueberry muffins Cape May bed and breakfast

I make these blueberry muffins for my guests whenever I make scrambled eggs with cream cheese and dill. When I can get them, I use wild blueberries from Wyman’s. Otherwise, I use fresh or frozen cultivated blueberries.

2 cups all purpose flour

1 Tbs. Baking powder

½ tsp. Salt

½ cup sugar

1 egg

1cup milk

¼ cup melted butter

1 tsp. Lemon extract

1 cup blueberries

Beat the egg, then beat in the milk, butter, lemon extract. Mix the flour and baking powder, salt, and sugar. Mix the dry into the wet ingredients util incorporated but not more. Mix in the blueberries. Portion into paper lined and cooking-sprayed muffin cups. Bake at 375 F. for 10 minutes on top shelf, then 10 minutes on bottom shelf. They should spring back when fully baked. If they don’t spring back, leave them in the turned-off oven for 3 to 5 minutes to firm up.

This general recipe also works for any other kind of muffins. Leave out the lemon extract and blueberries and replace with vanilla paste and chocolate chips for chocolate chip muffins. Or replace with orange extract and dried cranberries, or replace the sugar with light brown sugar, the lemon with vanilla, and the fruit with rum soaked raisins for rum-raisin muffins. Or substitute  coconut extract and shredded sweetened coconut.  Vanilla, a finely chopped apple and cinnamon will make apple muffins.

blueberry muffins Cape May bed and breakfast

Good luck  making these muffins, or you can let me make them for you by visiting us at Leith Hall bed and breakfast.


There’s no such thing as too much chocolate !

Spring Festival

I think that it’s the Leith family motto – There’s No Such Thing As Too Much Chocolate. This year, it can be your motto too. The pastry chefs at one of Cape May’s finest restaurants, The Blue Rose, will prepare seven plated courses of chocolate desserts. Come visit us at Leith Hall bed and breakfast in Cape May and enjoy this special event, offered three times this Fall. The Mid-Atlantic Center for the Arts is offering this feast in cooperation with The Blue Rose



Rugalach recipe for Alice C.

cape may b&b

One of our recent guests, Alice, asked for this recipe. I’m glad that she liked it. It’s one of my favorites.

Cape May B&BI think that rugalach are one of high points of Eastern European Jewish cuisine (along with Challah and Blintzes). The less said about my grandmother’s cooking in general, the better. Rugalach are little jam and nut filled pastries with the dough made with  both butter and cream cheese. The great thing about rugalach is that they can be anything that you want. You could use almond pastry filling instead of  fruit preserves. You could use anything spreadable and anything sprinkle-able. (Think hazelnut butter and bittersweet chocolate for  Nutella-like  rugalach)

We have a friend in New York who makes what she calls Shiksa Rugalach (she’s Irish). They are made by leaving out the sugar in the dough and filling them with ham and sliced brie. Delicious, but definitely not Jewish.



2 sticks of unsalted buttercape may b&b
1 8 oz. Package of cream cheese
3 cups of flour
½ cup of sugar
½ teaspoon salt

Water and Vanilla extract.

Mix the flour and sugar and salt together in a bowl. Chip the sticks of butter into the flour mixture. Flake the cream cheese into the flour with your fingertips, squeezing the flour into the cream cheese to make flakes. Either cut the mixture together or rub it into flakes with your fingertips. Toss a little bit of cold water mixed with Vanilla extract  onto the flour and butter mixture and bring it together with your hands or a rubber spatula to make a dough. Wrap the dough in [plastic wrap and refrigerate for an hour. To use the dough, cut the dough into at least four pieces and push the dough out into a long narrow rectangle on your counter or pastry board.

1 cup of preserves
1 cup of golden raisins
1 cup of nuts
cinnamon optional
brown sugar optional

1 beaten egg for glazing
sugar or brown sugar for sprinkling.

cape may b&bSpread preserves, raisins, and nuts on the narrow rectangle of dough. Using a pastry blade or spatula to help you, roll the rectangle away from you, starting on the long side nearest you. You should end up with a spiral rolled log about a foot long. Use your pastry blade or a big knife to cut the log into little pastries, transferring each one onto a parchment-lined cookie sheet. Brush each one with beaten egg and sprinkle with brown or white sugar. Bake in a preheated 350 F. oven for about 45 minutes. Check often after 30 minutes to make sure that they don’t burn.

Rugalach can be made with any preserves, or with cinnamon sugar, or with brown sugar and an egg, beaten together. You could use dried cranberries, or minced dried apricots, or dark raisins, or currants, or any other dried fruit that you like. You can leave out nuts, or use pignoli


Food and Fun at the Physick Estate

Food and Fun

food and funThere will be food and fun at the Emlen Physick estate at two upcoming events. The first is the Victorian Family Fair on Saturday June 28. This is a sweet 19th century style fair with little circus acts, food, a crafts fair, and live music and entertainers. Charaacters from the Victorian Era wander the grounds of the Physic Estate and chat with the kids.

Saturday, August 9 will be the Craft Beer and Crafts Festival. This is one of the mostfood and fun popular events of the year and will be hopping with live music all day, three craft beer breweries (Cape May Brewery, Tuckahoe Brewery, and Victory Brewery) and lots and lots of crab and corn on the cob. There will also be a crafts fair for picking up the perfect Cape May gift for the folks at home.


food and funCome stay with us at Leith Hall and visit either of these extremely pleasant days at the Physick Estate.


Breakfast Frittata Leith Hall for Cheryl

Our guest, Cheryl, requested this recipe for frittata that I serve for breakfast. I’ve found that people don’t want exotic or unusual ingredients at breakfast-time. They want comfort. I bake the frittata in a quiche pan. Since a frittata means fried in Italian, I guess it’s not a real frittata – it’s sort of a quiche without a crust.
You can also add diced cooked potato to the frittata and make it a luncheon dish or even a light supper.

Breakfast Frittatafrittata
6 eggs
1 quart of whole milk
2 Tbs. cornstarch
½ tsp. salt
1 tsp. ground black pepper
1 Tbs. chervil
½ of a large red bell pepper or 1 small red bell pepper – diced
½ of a small red onion – diced
About 3 oz. Swiss cheese , grated

frittataBeat the eggs, milk, cornstarch, salt, pepper, chervil together. You can adjust the amount of milk to fit your quiche pan. If you add another cup of milk, add another teaspoon of cornstarch. Saute the pepper and onion in a little bit of oil or butter. Sprinkle the pepper and onion on the bottom of the quiche pan. Sprinkle a generous layer of Swiss cheese over the pepper and onion mixture. Ladle the egg batter on top of the other ingredients. Bake at 375 F. for about twenty minutes. The frittata is done when the top is lightly browned and the center is no longer liquid. Cool for 10 minutes before slicing and serving.

Or, better yet, just come visit us at Leith Hall and let me make it for you!


Chocolate, chocolate, chocolate cake

Very moist chocolate cake with a hint of cardamom

I served this chocolate cake for teatime yesterday, and one of our guests, Jeff of Springfield, NJ, really liked it. It is very moist and very chocolate. When it comes out of the oven, it is dry and pretty dense because of the cup of cocoa powder. Soaking it in sugar syrup makes it very moist and adds a hint of cardamom. You could flavor the syrup with orange extract instead, or even just chocolate extract.


2 cups unbleached all purpose flour

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon baking powder

2 teaspoons baking soda

1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (I use Droste’s or Van Houten)

2 cups sugar

1 cup water

1 cup canola oil

1 cup buttermilk (you could use yoghurt and a little water, or sour cream and a little water)

3 eggs

1 Tablespoon vanilla (I use William Sonoma’s Bourbon or Tahitian vanilla)

1 teaspoon organic coffee extract

1 teaspoon organic chocolate extract


Sugar syrup : Bring to a boil; ½ cup water, ½ cup sugar, and ten crushed cardamom pods.chocolate


cake sliceMix flour, salt, baking powder and baking soda together. Sift in cocoa and mix. Separately, mix water, oil, buttermilk, vanilla, chocolate extract, and coffee extract together in an electric mixer. Add sugar and mix, add eggs, one at a time, and mix. Add flour mixture to bowl one-half cup at a time and beat in.

Turn the batter into a greased and floured tube pan, bundt pan, or other decorative cake pan. I use a glass spiral mold from Jena glass. Alternatively, you could use two 9” lined and greased and floured layer-cake pans – but then you’d reduce the baking time by 15 minutes.

I flour my pan with a mixture of flour and cocoa, so it’s brown rather than white. It makes a better presentation.jena glass

Bake for about 40 minutes (perhaps 45) at 350 F. ( My oven is a little hot, so I set it at 340F.) The cake should spring back when prodded with your finger and be pretty firm.

Let the cake cool in the pan, then pour the sugar syrup over it, a little at a time. Let the cake sit for several hours to distribute the sugar syrup before unmolding.



Cool in a New Way – Cape May



cool DeDe BridgewaterGet ready, in two weeks, Cape May becomes cool. Starting May 30, the Exit Zero Jazz Festival will fill the town with music. Friday, locations in the middle of town will host a crowd of performers. They range from Cintron at Carney’s – a Latin big band, to the Gerald Clayton Trio at Alethea’s – a rigorously trained and very modern jazz group. Especially wonderful DeDe Bridgewater will be at Convention Hall with her beautiful theater-filling voice and eminently listenable styling.

Big Band Jazz

Saturday, there are over fourteen performances. But my favorite is Vince Giordano’s big band The Nighthawks. You keep looking into the wings, expecting Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers to foxtrot out of the wings. The Nighthawks are from Brooklyn, and I’m from Queens, so they’re practically hometown boys.

Sunday, another six groups will perform. But, I want to point out Roberta Gambarini who has beencool Vince Giordano described as the best jazz singer in the last sixty years. She’ll be appearing at Alethea’s at the Inn of Cape May.

Plan your getaway now and call us for reservations.


Food, Wine, and Violence in Cape May

Food and Wine and cutthroat competition in Cape May

Take of bunch of Jersey guys. Get them revved up and competitive. food and wine Cape MayThen give them lots of knives. It doesn’t sound like a good idea, but that’s exactly what happens at the chefs’ competitions at the Cape May Food and Wine Festival from September 14th through 22nd.  There are dozens of events; wine tastings, beer tastings, and a bourbon tasting.  There are food and wine Cape Maylots of meals; a harvest dinner, a clambake, a food tasting at Convention Hall, lunches and brunches.

If, after all that great food, you want something light, head for the East Lynne company’s production of Why Marry?  (Sept. 20th) .It was first produced in 1917, was an enormous hit, andfood and wine Cape May was the first play to win a Pulitzer Prize, then was forgotten until the East Lynne Theater Company re-discovered it.

Three days later, on September 23, feast again. One you’re filled to the gills, try some culture at Cape May Stage’s performance of Arthur Miller’s The Price.  Arthur Miller wasn’t just famous for marrying Marilyn Monroe, he was also one of America’s great playwrights.

You know that every day is a food and wine celebration in Cape May. The third week in September, it will be even more of a festival. Why not plan a break in Cape May and come visit us at Leith Hall?


Cape May Craft Beer and Crab Festival

Craft Beer and Crab Festival

cape may craft beer and crabThis coming Saturday is the second annual Cape May Craft Beer and Crab Festival. Last year’s party was a huge success and this year’s will be even more fun. There’ll be live music all day on the grounds of the Elmlyn Physick Estate and jugglers, the Little Circus, carnival games and more – Pulled pork sandwiches, hot dogs and burgers for the tradition-minded.  Local and regional brewers will offer their creations and there will be lots of crab, crab-cakes, and othercraft beer and crab summertime food. You’ll be able to get to the Physick Estate by free shuttle from the Washington Street information booth, or walk a block from the elementary school parking lot.

Last year kids had a great time with the entertainment and games and adults enjoyed the wide variety of beers available. Craft vendors and  a farmer’s market will contribute to the whirl of craft beer and crabthings to do. Come stay with us at Leith Hall and enjoy all the diversion that Cape May has to offer.