Skip to main content


Showing posts from April, 2017

Buttery Garlic Popcorn

Movie night! Is there anything as wonderful as sitting on your couch, snuggled in a blanket, with a big bowl of buttery popcorn while you watch your favorite movie? Unlike the theater, you don’t have to deal with strangers chit chatting throughout the film, you can pause it when you need to hit the bathroom, and the popcorn you make at home doesn’t cost you 8 bucks. Plus, you can sprawl on the couch, wear your comfiest pajamas, and bundle up in a warm, cosy blanket.  You can use normal salt here and skip the garlic flavor, but try it with garlic salt at least once. It’s delicious and y favorite popcorn flavor. Grab and handful, put on your movie, and get an ice cold beverage of your choice (beer, lemonade, soda, sparkling water, wine- whatever says movie night to you) and enjoy! Ingredients: 1/3 cup tablespoons popcorn kernels 3 tablespoons canola, corn or safflower oil 3 tablespoons melted butter Garlic salt, to taste Method: In a 6 quart heavy bottom

Ragu alla Bolognese with Tagliatelle Pasta

I travelled to Italy a few years ago. I had an opportunity to sing Violetta in La Traviata, a dream role if there ever was one. I stayed and sang in a quiet charming town called Fidenza; it is a town of about 24,000 people in the province of Parma, in the Emilia-Romagna region of Italy. The capital of the Emilia-Romagna region is Bologna, from which Ragu alla Bolognese gets its name (Ragu in the style of Bologna). I lived there for 8 weeks, and in those 8 weeks I had some of the most incredible food of my life. For dinner once before an evening performance, my cast mates and I went to a little restaurant for food. The chef, literally a little old Italian grandma, told us she was preparing for dinner but had nothing for us yet except pizza and wine, but she was making some fresh pasta for a lasagna alla Bolognese. We asked if she minded if we sat at one of her tables outside to wait. We ordered wine and chatted. I think in about an hour she brought out the lasagna. I had o

Lemon Squares

Birthday birthday birthday! It is my coworker’s birthday today. She makes working a true joy; she always has a listening ear, a shoulder to cry on, a kind word, but she also isn’t afraid to drop some hard truths. Plus, she is a very hard worker and smart to boot!  In honor of her birthday, I had a hard choice of things to make. She loves coconut, and she loves lemon. She wears coconut perfume daily, and there is nothing I have not seen her squeeze lemon onto to improve its flavor. However, my dilemma was solved very easily. One of our clients is also her dear friend, and he makes her an incredible, over the top cake each year for her birthday. We met furtively to discuss our birthday baking plans; he decided to reprise a fabulous and beloved coconut cake he had made a few years previously, and I was to go to town on a lemon-flavored goodie.  As children, my sister and I made two desserts religiously; chocolate chip cookies and lemon squares. We loved both of them and we

Classic Burgers

Burgers are such a quintessential American summer food; star of the summer cookout. They are meaty, juicy and can be unendingly varied with the topping you select.  Grinding your own meat for your burgers is both fun and improves the flavor. You can select the quality of meat you want to use (grass-fed?), grind it to the coarseness you wish, and add the fat content you desire. I aim for having 25 percent fat in my burgers; they are the juiciest and most flavorful that way. I do not recommend going below 20 percent fat; I find my burgers tend to dry out too easily below that point and aren’t as flavorful. I cook my burgers to medium; I do not need my burgers to be rare like I like my steak. The beef in burgers in already tenderized by the grinding process; the meat will be tender like a rare steak cooked to medium provided that the meat isn’t overpacked or too lean.  I also take after Alton Brown in feeling that adding anything more to a burger than salting and pe

Hamburger Buns

There is a world of difference between homemade bread and store-bought. Even bread you buy from the bakery cannot compare with bread you make yourself; the aroma you enjoy throughout the process of kneading, proofing, baking and cooling is drool-worthy, and the result is always worth the effort. I greatly enjoy using my bread maker to knead and proof my dough; I find that bread-making is incredibly easy that way. I cheat even further here by using a hamburger bun pan to shape my buns. Homemade hamburger buns blow away the ones typically purchased for summer grill sessions. These buns have flavor and lovely, firm texture, great to stand up to the juicy burgers and multitude of toppings and sauces I like to pile on. I like to grill my buns after I split them with a little butter; i prevents the sauces from soaking into the bread ad making it soggy. You can omit the sesame seeds on the top of the bun if you wish; I find them to be essential to my burger experience. Try these

Malted Vanilla Ice Cream with Peanut Brittle and Toffee

I have a homemade ice cream addiction. I like to make no churn ice creams with sweetened condensed milk and whipped cream, I like to make Philadelphia style ice cream with cream, milk and sugar, and I like to make French ice cream and gelato with cream, milk, sugar and eggs. I even love frozen yogurt and sorbets!   Because of this addiction, I have steadily added to my ice cream making appliances. I started with a cheap freezer bowl appliance, upgraded and bought a higher quality one, and now I own a compressor ice cream maker (along with both a standard waffle cone maker and a mini waffle cone maker). A compressor ice cream maker does not use a freezer bowl; instead, it has a refrigerating/ freezing unit in the machine itself that freezes the ice cream as it churns. It means that I require a lot less planning to make ice cream; I never need to remember to freeze my bowl if I want ice cream. Also, I tend to be able to freeze my ice cream a little more solidly since my free

Fruit Tart

Easter is here again! I love this holiday; to me it signals springtime and rebirth. I love pastels, dying eggs, and any excuse to make an Easter basket full of candy is fine with me. For my Easter dinner dessert, I wanted to make something that was fresh, full of color, and festive. A fruit tart seemed like the perfect solution. Pate sucree, or sweet pastry, is a sweet, crumbly French pastry used for the bases of sweet tarts, like a fresh fruit tart with pastry cream. It tastes rather like shortbread but isn’t nearly as delicate, able to stand up to heavy fillings without falling apart. For the best results, it needs to be chilled thoroughly twice. The first allows the butter to chill and the gluten to relax, and the second time prevents the pastry from shrinking back from the pan when you bake it. Blind baking the crust with weights prevents the dough from bubbling up and ensures a flat base for your fillings. Pastry cream, or crème pastissiere, is like vanilla pudding