Friday, March 13, 2009

Celebrate Spring with Chocolate

With the arrival of spring bringing Easter, Mothers’ Day, and a bounty of fresh fruits and vegetables, the season is ripe for creating and sharing sweet moments with family and friends. And what would a celebration be without chocolate? Chocolate for Breakfast by Barbara Passino (The Gerald & Marc Hoberman Collection; February 2009; hardcover/$40.00; ISBN: 978-1-919939-55-1) allows us to indulge our chocolate fantasies with rich, creative recipes and menus, perfect for an Easter brunch, Mother’s Day breakfast, or just because.

“Chocolate has always been my passion, ever since I was a baby and my mother gave me a chocolate brownie as a bribe,” says Passino. “When I would visit my Aunt Johnny , she and I would share a secret ritual, tiptoeing down to the kitchen in the morning for a secret breakfast of brownies from the night before. That’s where I got the idea of having chocolate for breakfast.”

It was these loving memories that prompted Barbara to create the signature menus and recipes that she serves daily at her famous Oak Knoll Inn in California’s Napa Valley. Chocolate for Breakfast is a collection of Barbara’s passion-filled creations, techniques, philosophies and anecdotes, all presented in more than 100 easy-to-follow recipes that allow home cooks everywhere to start new breakfast rituals with their families. Menus with a chocolate twist showcase culinary influences from around the world, creating unique meals for family gatherings or to make any day special.

Barbara has organized recipes into chapters such as North of Southwest, Asian Persuasion, The French Connection, Moroccan Excursion, Valentine’s Day Decadence, Recipe for a Perfect Night’s Sleep, and All-American, making it simple to find a recipe or menu to fit any mood or occasion.

Recipes that use wonderful and fresh spring ingredients include:
· Lacey Singapore Omelet made with spring vegetables
· Triple Threat Chocolate Muffins baked in flower pots
· Spring Frittata
· Herbed Scrambled Eggs over Roasted Portabello Mushrooms
· Chocolate-filled Gazelle Horns served with Tajine of Eggs Baked with Summer Vegetables
· Chocolate Truffle Fritters with Cherry Sauce
· Chocolate Omelet with Blueberries in a Pinot Noir Sauce
· Chocolate Strawberry Dumpling

Barbara says to enjoy the season's fresh strawberries for Easter, followed by an Easter basket for grown-ups, both recipes from her book:
· Chocolate Strawberry Shortcake, followed by
· Eggs in a nest

For Mother's Day she suggests recipes that are so easy that the children can help with the cooking and so tasty that they will gladly eat:
· Baked Eggs with
· Triple Chocolate Muffins baked in a flowerpot

Barbara has also provided a list of Resources so even those who live in produce-deprived areas can find all of the items needed to create her recipes.

Start creating your own family traditions this spring with Chocolate for Breakfast!


Barbara Passino is the proprietor/chef of Oak Knoll Inn, a luxurious, intimate inn nestled amidst rows of grapevines in Napa Valley, California’s Wine Country. Her decadent breakfasts have become California legend and attract visitors from all over the world. In the midst of her 15 years in the world of finance, Barbara took time to study with master chef Marcella Hazan in Venice. Eager to learn about other cultures through the role of food in daily life, Barbara combined travel with the study of cooking and was inspired to turn her passion into a full-time dream-come-true: Barbara and her husband John bought the Oak Knoll Inn in 1992. All of this culminates in the greatest breakfasts imaginable.


Surrounded by 600 acres of vineyards, slowly drifting hot-air balloons and magnificent sunrises, Oak Knoll Inn is the perfect setting for a slow-paced, life-changing feast that Barbara likes to call breakfast. Guests from around the world return year-after-year to dine on Barbara’s latest culinary creations. Critics have delighted in the Oak Knoll experience, frequently describing it as Napa’s most romantic and luxurious bed and breakfast. Mornings at Oak Knoll start with breakfast that can be enjoyed in front of a crackling fire or out on the sunny deck. Every evening, Oak Knoll hosts a wine and cheese party, often with a visiting winemaker. A refreshing splash in the swimming pool in the morning and a soothing dip in the Jacuzzi at night are the perfect way to start and end the day. And, the secluded setting of Oak Knoll Inn belies the wonderful fact that some of Napa's best known wineries and renowned restaurants are just minutes away.

More information on Barbara Passino and Oak Knoll Inn is available at

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