It’s my day in the Pretty Mommy recipe exchange—and my birth­day, so I thought I’d go big. Festive.


What I tried to make—a caramel bar like the one they serve at Santa Monica’s Huck­le­berry—was not as expected.

The con­struc­tion of the bar is much like a lemon bar: a short­bread crust and a thick layer of caramel. Easy enough, I thought. First I baked a short­bread crust using my favorite recipe for lemon bars. Then I tried mak­ing easy caramel with a can of sweet­ened con­densed milk. The result of that exper­i­ment ended up in the trash. I made another attempt, fol­low­ing this recipe. The fla­vor pro­file of the caramel is per­fect. But Huckleberry’s bars have a cer­tain jelly-like qual­ity to the caramel that I can’t fig­ure out how to repli­cate. So, if you know what I’m miss­ing, or, if you’re the baker at Huck­le­berry and can give me a hint, I’d be eter­nally grate­ful. Right now I have a layer of short­bread with a hard caramel attached to it. Don’t get me wrong, it’s deli­cious, and we can’t stop eat­ing it, but it’s not quite right.

While I con­tinue to pon­der the miss­ing ingre­di­ent, my con­tri­bu­tion to the exchange is instead some­thing I know how to make: vinai­grette. Actu­ally, my vinai­grette is really David Lebovitz’s vinai­grette, and if you don’t have plans to make a salad soon, may I sug­gest that you do?

David Lebovitz’s Vinaigrette


1/8 tea­spoon sea salt
1 table­spoon sherry or red wine vine­gar
1 table­spoon finely minced shal­lot
1/2 tea­spoon Dijon mus­tard (Lebovitz rec­om­mends French brands like Maille or Amora)
3 or 4 table­spoons good olive oil

  1. In a small jar (Bonne Maman jam jars are per­fect for this), com­bine the salt, vine­gar, and shal­lot. Let stand for about ten minutes.
  2. Add the Dijon mus­tard and 3 table­spoons of olive oil. I like to use a tiny whisk, but that’s just because it’s the only time I get to use it. Taste the vinai­grette. You may want more oil for a mel­lower fla­vor. I usu­ally add salt and a lit­tle more mustard.
  3. Lebovitz sug­gests the addi­tion of chopped herbs, but I am lazy and gen­er­ally pretty happy with the vinai­grette with­out them.

I do think a great vinai­grette makes sal­ads a lot more appeal­ing, espe­cially after a week­end lack­ing in veg­eta­bles. While it’s sunny and warm here in South­ern Cal­i­for­nia, I real­ize eat­ing veg­eta­bles is a lit­tle harder when it’s freez­ing out­side. I think this would work just as well on roasted veg­eta­bles or even poached fish.