Breakfast or Dessert?

My intention was to create something sweet for breakfast, but it was so sweet it turned into dessert instead. Although, I don’t think most people would mind dessert for breakfast, lunch, or dinner for that matter! I had angle food cake lying around the kitchen and wanted to put  it to use before it went stale. I decided to make angle food cake french toast with a mixed berry cream cheese filling; it was sort of like an inside out stuffed french toast. The berry syrup underneath the french toast was supposed to act as the sauce, but I wouldn’t dare not to finish this without maple syrup, and of course it was the last addition to the dish! Hot tea and delicate strawberries complete the breakfast… or dessert?thumbnail_file2.

 

A Teeny Weenie Pink Polka Dot Party!

pot de creme

Polka dots, pearls, and pot de creme is one way to keep a woman in her fifties feeling glamorous on her birthday! After a long weekend trip away for business, my mother returned home in time for a small “happy birthday” sing along before she went off to bed. Earlier in the week I asked if she either wanted her famous sour cream fudge cake or pot de creme to enjoy when she arrived home. And if I don’t know my mother, she’s always down for anything decadent with chocolate, but since I got no answer on either choice, I went with pot de creme in which I decided to top with whipped cream and rhubarb sugar. I admire the individual cupcake cups because they create consistent portion sizes and make way for easy cleanup. And when I clean up that just means my mom has to “clean up” after me, so I made it a bit easier on both our parts (haha)!

Considering the love, ambition, dedication, and care you put into your life, I hope the next year is fabulous like you. Happy Birthday to my queen!

“The Weather Outside is Frightful, but Lasagna is Delightful!”

lasagnaToday I reminisced of a food memory  I had of a best friend a few years ago. At the time I was having her over for dinner and wanted to make something appropriate for a vegetarian that she was at the time. I ended up making a white lasagna, which has a contrasting flavor profile from the  classic one with tomato sauce and ricotta. I remember how sweet and garlicky the filling tasted. Everyone enjoyed it including my brother who probably licked the pan clean.

So, while cooped up in the house today I had the idea of recreating my white lasagna in which I included spinach, a bechamel of Parmesan cheese, and mozzarella cheese sliced between the layers. I took it out of the oven, let it set, and decided it needed some camera attention. My mouth watered as I cut into the tender, stringy layers and placed it on the plate. It took me far longer to take this picture than it did to eat the thing!

 

 

Lombardy Pasta Party

pizzoccheri.jpg

If I could live in a world that revolved around pasta I would be the luckiest gal! I discovered this recipe while in the Italian restaurant at the Culinary Institute of America, Caterina D’ Medici. Pizzoccheri is its name, a pasta that originates in Lombardy, Italy, consisting of buckwheat tagliatelle folded with savoy cabbage, sprinkled with diced russet potato, layered with fontina cheese and drizzled with garlic and sage brown butter. The tender noodles, soft potato, earthy cabbage, crunchy sage, and pungent, creamy, stringy cheese create a melody in my mouth. The only thing different about my version of Pizzoccheri is the type of pasta I used. Although the recipe calls for buckwheat tagliatelle, I couldn’t stop myself from using my favorite white carb instead.

Killing it with Cocktails!

Alcohol has a histcocktailsory all its own. From cocktails like the Cosmopolitan, to aperitifs like brandy and liqueurs like Fernet Branca, alcohol has been known to soothe the soul and warm the heart. The word “cocktail” has many derivatives. An article in Saveur magazine mentions that the word originated in the Hudson Valley region or somewhere amongst NYC, Boston and Albany. Another story states that the term originated in New Orleans, where a beverage mixed with brandy was served in a French egg cup called a coquetier. Eventually the nickname cocktay gave way to what we now know as cocktail.

Today, alcohol is served everywhere. From bars to restaurants to concert halls and stadiums, it is threaded into American life. However, it wasn’t always simple to have a cocktail, or any alcoholic beverage for that matter. In the 1920’s and 1930’s there was prohibition. During this time, any establishment that sold alcohol unlawfully was referred to as a speakeasy. One of the oldest speakeasies in America, the 21 Club in New York, opened at the tail end of prohibition in 1930. Dozens of famous people have dined at the 21 Club throughout the years and are known to dine at the same tables upon return. The wine cellar is located underneath the building next door; which was its secret hiding spot during prohibition. Camouflaged doors and revolving bars have also helped keep the club undercover in the past. The wine cellar stores wine like Montrachet 1898 and Romanee- Conti 1880. Signature cocktails offered include Into the Woods made with Laphroaig scotch, black pepper, and peach and Changing Thymes made with Greenhook Gin, Aperol, grapefruit juice, and thyme. One classical drink offered is called the‘21’ Perfect Martini created with sweet and dry vermouth, bitters, and either Makers Mark or Bulleit Rye. They also named one of their beers on tap, Speakeasy Prohibition Ale.

If you are continuing out on the town, stop by the Blacktail, a Cuban themed bar inspired by the prohibition era. During the prohibition, some Americas escaped to Cuba for a cocktail getaway. According to the New York Times the Blacktail’s signature drink is a blend of many kinds of rum: Cana Brava, Bacardi Heritage, Banks 5 Island Blend Rum and Barbancourt white rum. And of course the Cuban themed bar offers a cocktail list including a minty mojito or strawberry daiquiri. Jack McGarry and Sean Muldoon who also own America’s best rated bar, The Dead Rabbit, located in NY City’s financial district, own Blacktail. The Dead Rabbit is a sophisticated Irish Tavern. Accolades for this bar include, World’s Best Bar, Best Bar in North America, World’s Best Cocktail Bar, Worlds Best Cocktail Menu, International Bartender of the Year, and more. The Dead Rabbit has three levels: the Taproom, the Parlor, and the Occasional. If you are looking for an all-night adventure, the Taproom is open from eleven am until four am every day of the week. One of their famous offerings is a drink called Pop-Inns which is liquor mixed with beer. They are also famous for their vast collection of whiskey. Published in their alcoholic beverage manual include some drinks like Irish coffee made with Irish whiskey, heavy cream, and Demerara sugar which is said to taste like molasses and caramel. They also offer Maiden’s Blush consisting of raspberry cordial, lemon, absinthe and gin.

It is always fun to visit destinations with a lot of history behind. If you are seeking a timely adventure a few places to escape to for a night out with beer in one hand and an old fashion in the other would be 21 club of Nyc, Blacktail, and The Dead Rabbit.

 

Aphrodisiacs: The Valentine’s Day Love Potion

aphrodisiac-picture
O
f course, most of us are like minded when it comes to the topic of aphrodisiacs, especially with Valentine’s Day a few days away. Many of us can’t help but snicker at the thought of their purpose. Aphrodisiacs like fruits, spices, or liquors that evoke sensual feelings present a fun diversion for adult couples. There are many interesting assertions surrounding this topic including the nutritious benefits aphrodisiacs offer and their potentially controversial side stories.

It is a common theory that if a food looks like a body part or organ then it must be beneficial to that body part. Culinary Institute of America’s Chef and Culinary science professor Jonathan Zearfoss has studied aphrodisiacs, and in his work mentioned a theory called the Doctrine of Signatures. This idea means if the plant or herb resembles human body parts or organs then it will positively help those body parts or organs. CIA’s chef William Philips notes how avocados look like the cervix of a female and therefore assist in the menstrual cycle along with the antioxidant vitamin E. Upon further research this idea of avocados and reproductive health is dated back to the time of the Aztecs.

As for males, oysters are alleged to be of assistance in reproductive organs. Chef Phillips also mentioned zinc and oysters being good for men’s sexual health. Zinc was used as a supplement for male testosterone levels. Chef Zearfoss said that because oysters are usually eaten alive, the idea of “taking on a life force” may be a factor in why live oysters are seen as something more than just food. Saffron, the vibrant orange culinary delicacy is also essential for libido levels or sex drive. You can steep it in tea or do what Queen Cleopatra did, bathe in it.

There are also potentially harmful foods consumed for the perks that aphrodisiacs offer. Many of us in the culinary industry have heard about Fugu, the tetrodotoxin poison containing blowfish of Japan. To anyone’s surprise this malignant fish is considered an aphrodisiac because of the mouth numbing sensation it gives diners. Talk about taking risks! Yarsagumba found in Nepal is a fungus that grows on caterpillars and known for its amorous effects. Studies in Chinese medicine tell us that the fungus is boiled and consumed in forms of hot tea or soup.

There is controversy on the subject of aphrodisiacs, however. Chocolate is probably one of the best regarded to eat on any given day. And, because Valentine’s Day is only a few days from now it is interesting to bring about a controversial perspective some have on the topic. On the contrary of aphrodisiac history with chocolate, according to the New York Times article “The Claim: Chocolate is an Aphrodisiac” research found this to be a false assertion. Although chocolate contains tryptophan which induces serotonin and phenylethylamine a chemical released when you’re in love, there is not nearly enough of either in chocolate for it to have an effect on the body. This idea relates to other items people consume like spices and herbs. Although many herbs and spices offer health benefits they must be consumed in large amounts for them to have an effect on the body. Don’t let this research put a damper on your fun, but its good food for thought next time you consider eating colossal amounts of chocolate while watching romantic 1980s movies.

http://blog.ciachef.edu/aphrodisiacs-valentines-day-love-potion/?utm_campaign=Blog&utm_content=46350265&utm_medium=social&utm_source=facebook

Golden Ravioli: the Trip to Mario Batali’s Castle of Fine Dining.

The experience file1 (3).jpegwas as this, extraordinary. Our stomachs chose to be bottomless pits that evening, but we didn’t we feel like giving up anyway. The ambiance of the restaurant was exciting, with a grand staircase leading down to the wine cellar, mini balconies gated with rod iron, brilliant gold accents, and the soft noise from the grand piano.

After seated, we were presented the wines list with hundreds of varieties including Tuscany’s Chianti, Piedmont’s Barolos and Barbarescos, and Veneto’s Amarone. Their idea of a warm welcome was an aperitif of Franciacorta sparkling wine. Then, we were given warm lavender scented hand towels and two amuse bouche to begin. One amuse presented itself in a porcelain white cup and the other in a glass bowl. Our table captain took the order in which we pleasantly asked to switch the dessert course with another pasta tasting. I am a “freak” when it comes to pasta and there were seven or more to choose from!

Two apps, three pasta courses, and a few wine pairings into the meal I asked for the fourth round of baguettini with whipped creme fraiche; I could not stop eating! After placement of our protein course, the captain poured the jus over Chris’s veal chop and the tomato bouillabaisse around my Cacciucco stew, while explaining intricate detail about the dish. He left a hot lemon and rosemary wrapped napkin next to Chrisfile (2).jpeg for him to waft as he ate, which we were in awe about during its delivery. The sommelier surprised us with our last wine pairing, offering myself a Nero d’Avola from Sicily to sip with the stew. After taking my wines class a few weeks earlier I was not in favor of reds, but I doubted too soon. After the final wine pairing I changed my opinion about red wines. I realized that sometimes it takes the right person selling the wine and the environment you are in to acquire a special taste for a particular style. 

We thought dessert wasn’t an option because we gave that up at the beginning of the meal, however the captain presented us with a Pear Crostata and Hazelnut Tartufo before we could ask for the check. As if the tart and ice-cream weren’t enough, we were also treated with a box of mignardise consisting of caramel wrapped in edible paper. That was the finest finale to a great date night at Del Posto.