Feb 12

SOBE Wine and Food Festival – Epicure Gourmet’s Party Impossible

The South Beach Food Wine and Food Festival (SOBEWFF) comes once a year and the event doesn’t come cheap. For the average Joe, one can only afford to really pick one or two events without breaking the bank. This was my first year going and I was ecstatic, my friends and I chose to go to the Epicure Gourmet Market Party Impossible hosted by Robert Irvine. It was hosted at the Herzog & de Meuron designed parking garage. The design of the parking garage is sick. I think it actually costs 20k to rent out the space for an event. On a normal day, it costs 20 bucks to park your car. I actually accidently parked there one day not realizing the steep parking cost. I mean it is Miami Beach, but I normally park in a different lot which is a dollar an hour. Not only is the cost steep, but the ramps to get into the garage are steep. I felt like my car was gonna fall backwards. Anyways, I digress.

A few days prior to the event

I found out that Marc Summers from Double Dare was going to be there. I was more excited about meeting Marc Summers than the other chefs that were gonna be there. I’m ashamed to say, but I actually didn’t know who Robert Irvine was. I tweeted at Marc Summers and to my surprise he wrote back. I don’t know if anyone else can share if my excitement, but I was thrilled.

Twitter with Marc Summers SOBEWFF

Night of the event

My friends and I hopped in the cab, and told the cabbie. “Take us to the pink building” The garage was lit up with hot pink lights that you can see from a distance. We were all getting excited. As we arrived, we checked in on the ground floor on Lincoln Road. To my disappointment, the tickets for this event were sold on Living Social. I paid $95 plus a $12 delivery of the ticket as they wouldn’t let you print it out. I was pissed, someone gets to go to the event for the half the price and didn’t have to pay the $12.

After checking in, we took the elevator in the garage to the 7th floor. As we got quickly got off, we were handed an event map. We first headed to the photo booth. I honestly could have spent the whole night in the photo booth, its so much fun. However, we came for the food and drinks and quickly moved on. Right as we were walking, I said out loud “ I want to meet Marc Summers”, as I finished saying that some old guy comes up to me and says “ I heard you wanted to meet Marc Summers” I turn around and my face turned bright red. It was Marc Summers. I told him I tweeted at him and he knew exactly who I was. After we took a picture together, my night was complete. Well almost.

Marc Summers DoubleDare SobeWFF

Time for the food and drinks!

I started feeling overwhelmed by the amount of food. It was desserts galore at this event.

There was also a fish, cheese and meat station. Not sure whether I should begin with food or drink, I started with a yummy premade bottled vodka called Or-G made with papaya, lime and mango. After finishing my first drink, I quickly headed to the woman hanging upside down pouring champagne.

Champange from Celing SOBEWFF Party Impossible epicure gourmet

Between trying to get my drink on, carrying a purse, camera and wearing high heels and no place to sit, my excitement of the night quickly wore out. The lines to get the food were extremely long. However, lines are over-rated and I quickly stepped in and grabbed a few bites. The food was mediocre and honestly its hard to manage drinking and eating and crunching both in a 3 hour period.

Event Challenges

Marc Summers put on his Double Dare hosting hat and challenged Robert Irvine to make a drink, make a sandwich hanging upside down and make a ceviche. The venue does not have good acoustics, so if you were not up close and personal, you had no idea what was going. My friends and I worn out by standing in our heels all night, found a spot on the edge of the stage, front and center for the ceviche challenge.

Friends Epicure Gourmet SOBEWFF

Robert Irvine must be very into his body, as people were shouting for him to take his shirt off for the challenge, he happily obliged.

All I was thinking was, he should put his shirt back on or put a bag over his head whichever is easiest or doesn’t hinder him from making ceviche. Being that he’s a celebrity chef or what not, I asked him to take a picture with me. He said sure but you gotta take it quick. Being rushed, I took an awful picture with him and Marc Summers. Not sure why he was rushing me, he was taking pictures for 10 minutes with fans. I would of taken another picture but I could care less about a chef I had no clue who he was prior to the event.



The biggest tool of the night was Guy Fieri. He may have just stopped by the event and was not paid to be there. After the ceviche challenge, he quickly rushed off the stage. I asked if he could take a picture with me and he said if you can manage to take one before I head to the elevator. No one would take the picture for me, so I held up my phone and took the best shot I could get. Thanks for nothing Guy!! Where are the modest celebrity chefs these days? Does Guy Fieri really need a security guard?

Guy Fieri Party  Impossible SOBEWFF


The hottie of the night was Fabio from Top Chef. He oozes sex appeal. At first when I saw him, I wasn’t sure if it was him. So I put on my stalker hat on. I couldn’t confirm if it was him or not until he spoke. Gotta love his Italian accent, plus he smelled so good. He may have overdone it on the cologne as I could smell him from 3 feet away but I didn’t care it was Fabio. I finally had the courage to go up to him and ask if I could take a picture with him. Before taking the picture, I told him I heard some not nice things about him. He was taken aback as who could hate Fabio? I felt bad as he was actually really nice. I wish I could have re-done that moment. Oh well. I’m sure it didn’t phase him more than the minute I was chatting with him.

Top Chef Fabio SOBEWFF

Overall, I thought Epicure Gourmet put together a great event, it may have not been the best one of the entire South Beach Wine and Food Festival. I definitely plan to go again next year. Next time, I’ll pick more wisely on which one I go to. Unless, of course, I get comped to go an event next year. That would be nice, Wouldn’t it?

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Aug 11

Cuban Chicken Pizza

FYI – This post is long overdue but here we go:

So after experiencing a lackluster cooking class at Lenore Nolan Ryan’s Cooking School , my girlfriends and I started our own little cooking club.

I was the hosting the first one and I decided to use an easy recipe that I’ve used before. I’ve learned many times never to make a recipe for guests that you’ve never made before. :) It never turns out good. (However, there are exceptions) The theme of the night was latin night and I chose to demonstrate Cuban Chicken Pizza. I actually got this recipe from my sister back when we were both living in New York. She found it in Cooking Light Magazine and has since been a recipe I use  quite often.

Move over Taco Night, Cuban Chicken Pizza is here. (Ok I lied, Taco Night will never go away, but you should still enjoy this recipe!)

Cuban Chicken Pizza Close

Cuban Chicken Pizza

  • 4 (8-inch) fat-free flour tortillas
  • Cooking spray
  • 1 (11-ounce) can no salt-added whole-kernel corn, drained
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds (Cumin Powder will work as well)
  • 2 cups diced roasted chicken breast
  • 1 (15-ounce) can black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • 3/4 cup Monterey Jack cheese with jalapeño peppers
  • 4 teaspoons chopped fresh cilantro
  • Preheat oven to 350°.
  • Place flour tortillas on a baking sheet coated with cooking spray. Bake at 350° for 10 minutes or until edges are light brown. Remove from the oven; stack and press down to flatten. Set aside.
  • Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat; coat pan with cooking spray. Add corn to pan, and cook 1 minute or until lightly charred. Add cumin seeds; cook 5 seconds, stirring constantly. Add chicken, black beans, and garlic; cook 2 minutes or until thoroughly heated. Remove from heat; stir in lime juice.
  • Place tortillas on baking sheet. Spoon 3/4 cup bean mixture onto each tortilla; top each with 3 tablespoons of cheese. Bake at 350° for 2 minutes or until the cheese melts. Sprinkle each pizza with 1 teaspoon cilantro.

Cooking Light

(I realized when hosting a dinner party, it is very hard to manage taking stellar pictures and still serve warm food. )

Cuban Chicken Pizza Cheese


Cuban Chicken Pizza Cheese

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Jun 11

Cooking School: Pepper Roasted Chicken

I recently had a girls night at Lenore’s Cooking School.  I had no idea what to expect as the only other cooking class I took was at Publix and that was demonstration only.

My typical self was running 5- 10 minutes late and arrived to Lenore speaking to the guests of the class.

Cooking Class Intro

The class was titled Fast Food Fresh! Sassy Weekday Meals.

On the menu: Honey Garlic Lamb Kebabs, Spicy Salmon with Corn and Tomatoes and Pepper Roasted Chicken

Now my first impression was that we were going to be able to make all of the things on menu. I was quite wrong.

There was six stations – 2 stations for each meal on the menu.

The girls and I quickly went for the Pepper Roasted Chicken.

Pepper Roasted Chicken


2 teaspoons black pepper

5 5oz chickenbreasts

5 carrots, peeled and sliced

3 cups baby potatoes, sliced

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

A bag of baby spinach leaves

Honey Mustard Dressing

2 Tablespoons mustard & Chopped Tarragon

3 Tablespoons of Minced red onions

2 Tablespoons honey

2 Tablespoons white wine vinegar

2/3 cup olive oil

Combine the mustard, onions, honey and vinegar in a bowl and stir to combine.  Drizzle in the olive oil. Set Aside.

Directions for Chicken

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

Toss the carrots and potatoes in some olive oil, tarragon, salt and pepper.

Brush the chicken with olive oil and sprinkle the pepper over the chicken and place on a parchment paper lined baking sheet with the carrot and potato.

Bake for 20 minutes or until golden and cooked through

Toss the fresh spinach and warm potatoes and carrots. Place on a plate top with chicken and spoon over the dressing to serve.


The only thing I can actually say I learned was how to “properly” dice an onion. If you saw the way I tried to dice an onion, you would just laugh.  Don’t go the easy route by using a food processor, you don’t want it to be a watery consistency.

When cutting an onion… “the root is the core“.  So remember to leave the root on the onion and to slice towards to the root but still leaving the root.

Diced Onion

I would say that this honey mustard was actually quite good, but it took some time to get to the right taste buds that we were looking for.  Lenore’s assistant told us not to measure the oil, and quite frankly I did not feel comfortable “not measuring”. Luckily when you cook, you adapt!  So we added more mustard and more vinegar till we got to the taste we were going for.

Honey Mustard Ingredients

I’ve never made honey mustard this way.  I usually take the easy route and combine Honey and Spicy Mustard. It works just as well :)

Honey Mustard

Potatoes and Carrots Poured on Chicken

Potatoes Carrots and Chicken

The girls and I with our dish

Girls and Our Dish Pepper Roasted Chicken

This is so easy to make and I plan to make it again.

Pepper Roasted Chicken Plated

Overview:  Now the food was delicious, but to be honest I didn’t feel like we learned anything and we certainly did not learn how to cook the other two items on the menu. It felt like we used their kitchen and just followed the recipe on the menu.

I really loved how bubbly Lenore was at first.  Then every time I went to ask her a question or make a comment she would walk away. She reminds me of Rachael Ray. I hate Rachel Ray.

We later find out at the end of the class, that they charged $5  for every glass of wine we had.

My friends and I have another Living Social Coupon to go to Lenore’s Cooking School, but otherwise I don’t think I would go back there.  Unless she changes the way she sets up her classes.

The girls and I decided after the class that we are gonna do a monthly cook and learn at our places. Looking forward to the first one!

For those that have been to hands on cooking classes, how are they structured?  Do you learn more at demonstration?

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Apr 11

From NYC to the Poconos – Roasted and Herb Crusted Lamb Loin

While I’m planning my next successful dish to follow up my chocolate covered matzo (which got #1 on foodbuzz and I was overjoyed with excitement, thank you everyone who buzzed me to the top!), I wanted to introduce you to my friend Holly who hopefully will be a regular guest blogger. I previously mentioned Holly in my Food in Paris post. She spent 3 months in Paris  last summer and I was lucky enough to be able to visit her while she was there. Check out her blog on her Paris Adventures. It will make anyone jealous!


After spending the past summer in France, I didn’t come back with a keen sense of the language or a new desire to become an artist.  What I did pick up in the land of haute cuisine was a renewed appetite for good food and a desire to brush up on my culinary skills.  It was this new found interest that propelled me to scour New York City in search of outlets for my passion.

Luckily enough for me, New York is also in the midst of its own foodie love affair and it was easier than ever for me to find inexpensive and creative cooking classes, join other like minded faux chefs in renegade cooking clubs and indulge in my new hobby by baking and cooking for friends and the Greenpoint Soup Kitchen.

One of the first cooking classes I signed up for this year was at a place called Ger-Nis Culinary & Herb Center in Brooklyn.  The center hosts hands-on cooking classes, lectures and events for both adults and children on various topics and cuisines.  They also promote healthy and sustainable living (they compost scraps from classes!) and a sense of community.  Ger-Nis is located in south Brooklyn, near the Gowanus Canal, and is also available for rental and usage for events, video taping and recipe testings.  Check them out if you are in the New York area.

I recruited a friend and we decided to try a dinner class so that we could learn to prepare a full meal we could then replicate for friends while away for a weekend in the Poconos.  The lamb roast dinner that we made during our class was delicious!  I recommend the recipe to anyone who enjoys a good roast, as it was fairly easy to prepare and can fool your guests into thinking you are a much better cook than you may or may not already be!

While away with friends in the Poconos we prepared the roast and it was a HUGE success!  Eight people devoured an 8 lb lamb in less than an hour.  There is nothing better than good friends, good food and some good wine.  But don’t take my word, try it for yourself!


Grating and zesting in preparation for our big meal

The Veggies
8 pounds 2 ounces and a beautiful shade of pink!
Lamb in Pan
The girls handled the meat this trip and boy was it good!
Lamb Being Cut
PBR- Wine, Guinness, Miller Light, how’d this get in there?
PBR - Pabst Blue Ribbon
Chocolate Stout cake was a huge crowd pleaser- even at breakfast the next morning!
Chocolate Stout Cake
Ger-Nis Culinary & Herb Center
Roast Lamb Dinner
Teacher: Orianne Cosentino

(courtesy of Ger-Nis Culinary & Herb Center)
Serves 6


3 tablespoons Dijon mustard
3 cloves garlic, chopped fine
¼ cup fresh parsley, chopped
¼ cup fresh cilantro, chopped
¼ cup fresh mint, chopped
2 teaspoons fresh thyme, chopped
2 teaspoons cumin
¼ teaspoons salt
3 tablespoons canola oil
1 (4 pounds) boneless lamb leg roast, tied


Preheat oven to 425°F.

In a small bowl, combine mustard, garlic, herbs, cumin and salt. Set aside.
In a large sauté pan, over high heat, add canola oil. Add lamb and brown on all sides. Remove from pan and smear the top of roast with mustard and herb mixture.

Put lamb on a rack in a roasting pan and cook for (20 minutes per pound) 1 hour and 20 minutes, or until a meat thermometer registers 130°F for medium-rare or 140°F for medium. Transfer lamb to a cutting board and let stand 10 minutes.

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Apr 11

Chocolate Covered Matzo

There is absolutely no excuse for my lack of blogging, I’ve done this before too many times. Trust me I still have been eating and cooking but haven’t felt inspired to share.  Until today!

As Passover is coming around the corner, I decided to tackle Chocolate covered Matzo. My friend Holly who is actually not jewish made this one time a couple of years ago when I was still living in New York City. It was so decadent and cured my 3pm chocolate craving at work. I knew I wanted to make it and every year since I had a taste I claimed I was going to make it. Nope, never did. About 4 years later, I’m proud to say I can now make Chocolate Covered Matzo. But to be honest, the site I found this recipe on,  says the recipe is easy to make with your kids, allowing supervision of course. However I won’t let that stop me from enjoying my creation because I’m back. :) (Back to blogging that is!)

Chocolate Matzo

Chocolate Covered Matzo reminds me of a chocolate covered pretzal. During Passover you can’t eat leavened bread, so matzo is a great substitute. Plus, I caramelized the matzo before the chocolate, so its a treat you won’t be able to pass up.

Caramelized Chocolate Covered Matzo Recipe


  • 3-4 boards matzoh
  • 3/4 cup Passover margarine or butter
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1-1/2 cups semisweet or dark chocolate chips
  • 1 cup chopped walnuts, hazelnuts or pecans (optional)
  • 1/4 tsp. kosher salt or sea salt


Chocolate Covered Matzo Ingredients

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with foil. Spray with cooking spray.
  2. Spread the matzohs in the pan in a single layer, breaking them to fit if necessary.
  3. Heat the butter or margarine and brown sugar in a medium saucepan to a boil. Pour evenly over matzoh, spreading with a knife to make sure the matzoh is well covered.
  4. Bake 10-15 minutes, until the caramel is a golden brown. Turn off the oven, and remove the matzoh.
  5. Sprinkle the chocolate chips evenly over the matzoh. Return the matzoh to the oven. Let it sit in the warm (turned off) oven for 2 minutes. Remove and spread the chocolate evenly with the back of a flat spatula or a knife.
  6. Top with nuts, if using. Sprinkle with kosher salt.

(BTW – David Lebowitz makes a similiar recipe but he adds vanilla and toasts his almonds). I don’t think the vanilla is needed but its worth trying next time around)

When making this recipe, I couldn’t decide between dark and milk chocolate and pecans and walnuts.  I preferred the dark chocolate and pecans over the milk chocolate walnuts.  Not only did the dark taste richer and more decadent, the dark chocolate chips spreaded easier than the milk for some reason.

While making this recipe, I also learned how to make caramel, butter and brown sugar! Who knew?. So next time, your eating caramel, remember its pure sugar and fat. :) I actually had a little extra caramel when making this recipe, so I made caramel chews by pouring it into little circles on a sheet and putting it in the fridge.  It was so good. I have to be careful next time I’m making this recipe and not leave any extra caramel. :)  For the small chance that I do have extra caramel, I may put the extra caramel in some type of fun mold shape.  Caramel Chews!

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Mar 11

Chicken Piccata

It’s about time for another post from me… well sorta. This one comes straight from my mom, well at least the recipe and pictures do.

Ever since I started this blog I’ve been trying to get my friends and family to guest post. It’s either they don’t know what to write or they forget to take pictures.  At this point, I’ll take what I can get from them and figure it out from there.

On another note, I like to say I inspired my friend to start a food blog, an Indian food blog.  I’m not sure if she would give me the credit for inspiring her but I like to think so.  She hasn’t official launched it and won’t tell me the name of it, but once she does, I will be sharing it on here.

Now on to the recipe shared by my mom…

Chicken Piccata

Serves 4
Cooking Time: 30 Minutes

The Chicken Piccata Recipe comes from my favorite cook book.  It’s called Calico Pantry.  It is made up of  recipes  contributed to the charity United Cerebral Palsy  association of Nassau County, New York.  I’ve had this cookbook for 36 years.  The recipes are great and always come out perfect!! Even if you can’t cook you can’t go wrong  making any of these dishes.

From  the loud New Yorker : )

(BTW – ever since I wrote about finding a cookbook and referred to her as a loud NewYorker, she won’t let it go and now refers to herself as the loud New Yorker)


Ingredients Chicken Piccata

2 tbsp. Flour
1/2 tsp. Salt
1/4 tsp. Pepper
1 1/2 lb. Chicken cutlet
1/2 cup butter
1/4 cup dry white wine
1 lemon, thinly sliced
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley


1 tbsp. Butter
1 egg yolk
1/4 cup wine


Combine flour,salt, and pepper to coat chicken.  In hot butter, saute chicken until well browned.  Add wine,lemon, and parsley and simmer,covered, for ten minutes.  Remove chicken to serving platter and keep warm.   Discard lemon or keep for use as garnish.

Chicken Piccata


Slowly heat butter in same skillet (pan).  Beat egg yolk with wine.  Slowly  add

To butter in skillet, stirring constantly. Cook over low heat stirring until sauce is thickened and hot.  Pour over chicken and  serve.

Chicken Piccata Sauce
Chicken Piccata Close up
Chicken Piccata close upChicken Piccata on Plate

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Mar 11

The ultimate chicken wings

I wanted to write about these little guys back when the superbowl was happening but they wouldn’t of gotten the attention they deserved as everyone was writing about their superbowl recipes.  Plus, I was stuck in bed sick and not able to cook anything.

close up drummettes

So a few weeks back,  at the  anti-valentines day’s potluck ( Yes, this happened, we all wore black and drank lots and lots of wine), I made chicken wings. How appropriate right?  Actually, they were drummettes but wings sound better and the recipe still applies.

I got this recipe from my brother in law who actually got it from his mother.  As soon as I had them, I knew I had to have the recipe.


Mini Chicken Wings or Drummettes
garlic salt
garlic powder
celery salt
onion powder

These are the 5 top seasonings I use, but you can substitute one or two with one you prefer. I know this seems very sodium heavy, but they are really delicious so you must try them, just don’t eat all of them to yourself. It will be hard but trust me its for the best.



  • Preheat Oven at 350 degrees
  • Using a Cookie Tray – lay out the chicken drummettes evenly on the pan

chicken drummettes

Sprinkle each seasoning on the individual chicken pieces, then flip each piece over and sprinkle the other side.

seasoned drummettes

Cook for 45 minutes in oven.  Mid-way thru flip over each drummete. While baking, the chicken will create natural juices and will be flavorful inside and out.

cooked chicken drummettes

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Mar 11

Finding the right Cookbook

For my birthday, my sister asked me what I wanted. I said get me anything food related.

She then replied,  well what do you want exactly.  (In our family, sometimes its better to ask exactly what we want, it saves us time from returning).

I said just get me a cookbook.  I guess she felt it easier for me to just pick out a cookbook so I met her at Borders.

Now going into a bookstore not knowing a single thing about which cookbook to get is quite an overwhelming experience.  I can now understand why my sister just wanted me to pick out the cookbook myself.

How does one choose a cookbook? I know I probably should have done my research prior to heading to the bookstore but the trip to the bookstore was last minute. This Border’s location was closing down and everything was 20% off.

As I arrived to Borders, I headed straight to the cooking section.  I felt like their selection was limited, probably due to the fact that it was already rummaged through.

borders bookstore

I could of went for a cookbook that was made by a famous chef, or focused on a region.  I even thought about just getting a baking cookbook for cupcakes and cookies.  As I went through cookbook to cookbook, none had what I was looking for. And at the time, I didn’t know what I was looking for but I figured if I looked through enough cookbooks it would hit me.  Now, I didn’t want to get a cookbook by a famous chef, I personally feel like that its their way of promoting themselves.  Other cookbooks, had recipes that I knew I would never make or even like for that matter. I would have gone for a baking cookbook but I really was set on recipes that I could make for dinner.

When I finally saw the section for All Purpose Cooking. I knew that it was exactly what I was looking for. I’m not ready for the big leagues and I knew I want something that I could cook that everyone can enjoy. Now to find the right cookbook…

The Final Three

Like I mentioned above, the store did not have a large selection. I saw three that peaked my interest.  I really liked the Cooking Light recipe book, but for me to pay (sister pay)  for this book, I might as well just order the magazine and get the recipes that way.

cooking light cookbook

The next book I came across was Better Homes but as soon as I saw Bridal Edition on the front cover I was completely turned off. I almost had a winner but for someone who is recently out of a 3 year relationship buying a Bridal Edition cookbook would just give me more anxiety then I already have. Sigh.

I finally stumbled on the Joy of Cooking. As I heard my mom calling my name from downstairs of the store, she sounds like a loud Jewish New Yorker, I had to quickly make my decision.  I browsed through the book quickly and saw it had recipes that I knew I wanted to cook. The only downfall is there are no pictures. But, hey back in the day, I don’t think there were cookbooks that had pictures. Food Porn did not exist. A world without Food Porn, crazy right?

joys of cooking

Anyways, I grabbed the book went downstairs and showed my mom and sister.  My mom’s first reaction,” isn’t that a very old book”

Does she not know that I just spent the last 30 minutes looking for a cookbook ??? Ugh! Who cares that its an old cookbook, the recipes don’t change that much.

I decided to get it anyways and figured you can’t go wrong with a book that’s been around for decades? Right? Either way I wasn’t about to go back upstairs and spend another 30 minutes looking for a book.

Lesson Learned

Next time, I’m heading to Amazon, virtually that is and doing my research. Don’t worry, I’m still intending on using The Joy of Cooking but I’m just planning for my next cookbook. :)

Plus, with my new outlet of Twitter you can just ask people what their favorite cookbook is. You may even find a cookbook aficionado like I did.

I was  browsing through Twitter and found @SimonCookSays. His description on twitter says

“Obsessive cookbook collector w/ nearly 800 cookbooks who loves to cook & eat. Professionally, by day and by night, I work around food.”

I knew he was the perfect person to ask.

Read Botttom Up

Next cookbook will be Mark Bittman. :) That was easy!

Now that I have your attention, hopefully I didn’t lose it with all my ranting, what cookbook would you recommend for everyday cooking?

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Feb 11

Chianti: A Great Compliment to Pasta

by Dan Paulus the Wine Guy

I would like to begin by apologizing to my followers as I recently had my wisdom teeth pulled and felt my palate was distant between the open cuts and healing medicines in my mouth. As luck would prevail, I survived and as we all know when you feel better a great meal is the best way to CELEBRATE!

This particular evening, I had a group of 4 friends come for dinner and I assumed my usual role as Dean Martin, who best describes it in his song, “Poor Little Old Wine Drinker Me.” I emailed my girlfriend Christine throughout the day to find out what she would be cooking.  She decided to make  Chicken Parm with Rigatoni, an Italian favorite of mine. Now that I knew what to expect for our dinner guests, I headed towards my favorite local wine shop with my knowledge guns loaded, gusto and enthusiasm towards finding just the right wine to compliment the coming meal my wonderful girlfriend was preparing.

Knowing that I was in the market for something to compliment a pasta dish, I instantly thought of a Chianti. Chianti is a wine region in the Tuscan hills of Italy that until 1995 had a strict recipe of 70% Sangiovese, 15% Canaiolo and 15% Malvasia bianca. In 1995, the region decided that bottles labeled as Chianti could be sold containing as much as 100% Sangiovese and no less than 80%, a native grape of Italy. While we touch on Italy, I will say they are one of the most strict wine regions in the world about what grapes are grown and where. If you were to bring a Bordeaux grape, such as;Chianti Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Malbec or Petite Verdot the wine would instantly be labeled a “Super Tuscan Wine.” The Tuscan wine region accounts for approximately, 1/5 or 20% of all wine production in the World!

I ran into the store and searched the carefully planned selection of Chianti’s and found two bottles of Castello D’Albola selling for $19.99 each and decided I would give a new brand a try. Earlier, I noted I knew to flock to Chianti because the wine has a tendency to bring your cheeks together, a perfect and natural way to prepare your mouth for pasta!

I read the rear label while standing in line and expanded my knowledge of the Chianti as I learned this region is home to nobile and famous families of the Renaissance era. The wine maker suggests that the wine is best consumed with cheese, pasta dishes and roasts. A perfect match for my dinner plans. I promptly returned home to open the wine and much like letting a Genie out of bottle – let this wine, breathe!

Opening wine and allowing it to breathe is a critical step in the enjoyment of wine. I liken it to taking a bite of an apple and letting it sit on a counter for approximately a half hour. When you return you find the apple to be turning slightly brown; much to this effect, wine is best consumed in a state similar to the “browning stage” of an apple. This process allows the aromas to expand and the wine to open up so its features are best exhibited. Recently, Vinturi created an aerator that drastically reduces the “browning” stage of wine and allows the wine to open more quickly, thus allowing a faster open to consumption phase.

My guests had finally arrived and as the 4 guests would expect I had prepared myself to tell them about the Castello D’Albola Chianti Classico vintage 2006 I chose. I overlooked one huge aspect, the marketing! “How come this bottle has a rooster on it?”… “What does Classico mean?”…”This bottle has a 12.5% Alcohol content – how does this compare to beer or a mixed drink?” I truly love talking about wine and these questions I was truly short on answers, but as my hobby has taught me – learning and story telling makes any brown, green or white bottle interesting.

How come this bottle has a rooster on it?

  • A) Roosters or gallo nero in Italian is used to represent wine makers of the Gallo Nero Consortium until 2005, which then was used to represent Chianti Classico.

Speaking of Classico, what does it mean?

  • Classico refers to Chianti that has been stored in barrels for a time period of 4-7 months. Other varieties also include, Riserva is stored in barrels for up to 38 months and Superiore which is planted and harvested with a lower yield, has a higher alcohol content and dry extract while produced under very strict rules of the region.

How does this wine compare to beer, or a mixed drink in terms of alcohol content?

  • Light beers generally contain less than 4.5 – 5.0% alcohol content, while a mixed drink containing Vodka could contain more than 40% by volume.

We toasted the meal, our health and great company and it was now time to stick our nose in the glass of Castello D’Albola and allow the aromas to be discussed.  The swirling motions began and the flowery talk of the aromas were discussed as the scent of Violets was interjected by one guest. Another thought it had hints of other fresh spring flowers. The observation of the color was that of ruby red fading to a deep garnet as you gaze into the wine glass. And, at first taste, my guests fell victim to an amazing wine they both enjoyed and now became filled with knowledge.

Until the next time – bottoms up!

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Feb 11

My Grandma’s Frozen Yogurt Pie

When my grandma made her yogurt pie, I probably never ate it.  One because I was young and a fickle eater and two because I was not a fan of yogurt.  About four years ago, I was at my sister’s apartment for dinner and she made this dessert.  Once I had my first bite, there was no turning back, I was hooked.  I kept thinking to myself why didn’t I try this sooner.  Well you know the reasons.  Anyways, I started making this recipe all the time, once it was finished, I would make another one.

This soon became a family staple when we had get-togethers.  I’ve assumed responsibility for making this dessert.  I do have to give my sister credit for keeping this dessert alive. Now-a-days my mom actually is the one who makes it all the time.  Its funny, I think my sister Jackie was probably the only one who use to like it.  Now, we all fight over the last slice.

Please mind the less than awesome pictures because I was making this at a potluck dinner with friends and got a little tipsy when it was being served.


Keebler’s Ready Crust -Graham Cracker (find this in the baking aisle)
2 Dannon Fruit on the bottom Yogurts ( I use strawberry and blueberry to get a mixture of flavor.
1 – 8oz container of Cool Whip – Free


  • Mix the Yogurt and Cool Whip together until well blended.
  • After ingredients are completely mixed, put yogurt filling in pie crest.
  • Put in freezer for a few hours until filling in frozen


  • Take out of freezer 30 minutes prior to serving, in order to soften the filling slightly.
  • Any leftovers, put pie back in freezer for a later time


ingredients in bowl

ingredients mixed

yogurt filling in pie crust

frozen yogurt pie

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