Kitchen Catastrophes + Captivating Culinary Stories

Culinary Catastrophes with Kimberly Purcell

My guest today is Kimberly Purcell. She’s the former owner of Culinary Artistry Catering and the current owner of Amethyst Organizing. Kimberly’s husband, Clay Purcell, is the Executive Chef of Tower Bridge Bistro, Sacramento, CA. To learn more about Kimberly and her organizing business, visit:  For more information on Tower Bridge Bistro, visit:


culinary stories Geralin Thomas Raleigh Cary NC


GT:  Kimberly, readers don’t know this but you have a fabulous sense of humor.  What do you say we start the interview by having a little fun?  Please share one of your finest kitchen catastrophe stories.

Kimberly:  OK! Let’s discuss,  “The Great Manicotti Catastrophe”

GT:  Sounds good   . . .

Kimberly:  Many years ago, I was preparing a very large pan of manicotti for a personal dinner party. After spending close to an hour preparing and filling the pasta, I put the pan in the oven to bake. Imagine my surprise, and dismay, when I turned around and saw one of the main ingredients sitting on the counter.

As luck would have it, it was way too late to change the menu and this is one of my, “signature dishes” that everyone loves. So, I pulled the pan out of the oven and very carefully scraped the filling out of the pasta tubes. I rinsed off the pasta, remixed the filling properly and refilled the tubes. I popped the pan back in the oven and no one was any the wiser! I believe I had an extra glass of Chianti  (or two!) that evening to calm my nerves.

GT:  Kimberly, What is your favorite dinner? And, please keep it simple Kimberly!

Kimberly:  Pasta! I keep many containers of homemade frozen pasta sauce in the freezer. In 20 minutes, I can defrost and heat the sauce, boil water, cook pasta and throw together a salad. Pasta my #1 comfort food.

GT:  Readers need and want an easy but fabulous recipe for the holidays?  Do you have anything you’d care to share?

Kimberly:  Yes, here’s one of my favorites:  Goat Cheese/Marmalade Crostini.

The ingredient list is simple:

  • One thin French baguette (the long thin one, not the larger Italian bread)
  • One small package of goat cheese (about 4 ounces)
  • I normally use the plain stuff but I’ve also made this with goat cheese that had Italian herbs added.
  • Some high-quality orange marmalade
  • a couple of cloves of garlic
  • olive oil
  • black pepper


Kitchen Stories - Professional Organizer Geralin Thomas


Using a serrated bread knife, make your Crostini by cutting 1/3″ slices. I do them at an angle so you will end up with an oval rather than a smaller circular shaped piece. I will usually make 3 pieces per person but you can make as many as you’d like. These are also great on an antipasto platter.

Preheat your oven to 350º and lay your slices on a cookie sheet. Now take some olive oil and pour a small amount into a bowl or ramekin. Brush a small coat onto the top of each Crostini. Don’t soak them, just a thin coat will do. Try not to get olive oil on the cookie sheet or it will smoke when you bake them. I usually use parchment paper for this but it’s not necessary.

Now take a garlic clove, peel it and slightly crush it with a knife. Rub each Crostini with the garlic to give it a little flavor. You don’t want pieces of garlic to stay on the Crostini. If you don’t care for garlic or don’t have any, you can skip this step but it does really add another layer and complexity to the flavor.

Put your cookie sheet in the oven and bake the Crostini until they are just slightly golden, maybe 10-12 minutes.

You can now set them aside to cool. This part can be done several hours ahead of time if you’d like.

After they are cool, spread each one with about a teaspoon of orange marmalade. Don’t use too much or they get slippery when you try to add the cheese. You just want to add a bit of sweetness to the dish.

Now, take the goat cheese, and with a knife, spread about a tablespoon of cheese on top of the orange marmalade. Top with a tiny bit of freshly ground black pepper.

At this point you have two options, they are more than ready to be served as is. I like to toss the cookie sheet back in the oven, just before they are ready to serve to barely warm them again. Not even long enough for the cheese to melt, just long enough for it to soften a bit. 5-6 minutes or so.

You can serve these on the side of a salad plate, or as I mentioned on an antipasto platter or as a canapé. They are very, very simple to make and yet add a whole other level to a simple salad course.

GT: Yum!  That sounds delicious and I can’t wait to make them.  Thanks for sharing!


culinary stories Geralin ThomasKimberly Purcell is the owner of Amethyst Organizing, a Northern California based Professional Organizing Company. As the wife of an executive chef, Kimberly is a lover of all things food and entertaining.