A St. Patrick’s Day Dinner


I am the granddaughter of an Irish immigrant 

who made her way, as a young teenage girl from Ireland to NYC, and worked as a hotel chambermaid. The Irish influence was strong in our home growing up, because my mother was proud of her heritage and celebrated it in a big way. Perhaps that is why emerald is my favorite color!

The tradition of corned beef and cabbage as THE Irish meal associated with St. Patrick’s Day is said to have not actually originated in Ireland, as one might think, but rather, emerged as an American tradition brought here by Irish immigrants like my grandmother, Madge Borg. In Ireland the cabbage was traditionally cooked with bacon, as beef was hard to get.  Though some very talented chefs will debate this history. When the Irish made their way to America, or New York, as it was for most, beef was plentiful and thus became the celebratory fare for those who journeyed from the Emerald Isle.

When immigrants leave their country, they often rely on food to maintain the love of homeland and culture.

As immigrants were likely to work long hours to make ends meet, this traditional March 17th celebratory dinner was turned into a one-pot, easy-to-make meal.  It basically is a “throw it all in the pot, cover and cook” meal which required little prep work.  It simmered for hours, sending off that familiarly mouth-watering, warm and cozy aroma wafting through the house, while kids were bathed, homework was done, the house was picked up and the table was set for dinner.

This meal was always a favorite in our home, reserved for the once a year celebration of the Irish, a tradition I carried on through all the years of raising my own family. 

My favorite memories come from sitting around our big round kitchen table with family and friends for hours on end, eating and drinking and just enjoying each other’s company.

Dressed in green, we started the day with a slice of Irish soda bread lightly toasted with a good butter. Everyone would go about their day and return for the evening meal.


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Corned Beef & Cabbage with Potatoes & Carrots
A Leprechaun’s Pot of Gold

The recipe we used year after year, moved from a somewhat authentic peasant recipe handed down to my mother, by my grandmother, to a recipe with a bit of a Mediterranean spin to it, compliments of my Portuguese father, to a cooking method a bit more refined.

Today, I still cook the same recipe for the once-a-year meal, complete with beer only, as we reserve the green martini for a more elegant moment in time.  

I’d like to share my family recipe with you:

Menu serves 6 (with lots leftovers)

  • Corned Beef & Cabbage with Potatoes & Carrots

  • Irish Soda Bread & Butter

  • Hard-Boiled Eggs & Mustard

  • Stout Beer for drinking and cooking!

Ingredients:

  • 2-21/2 lbs Corned Beef (as lean as you can find)

  • 2 lbs Red Potatoes (medium sized peeled & halved)

  • 2 lbs Carrots (peeled and cut into 2” pieces)

  • 6 Hardboiled eggs (I think a Portugese touch!)

  • 1 Head of Cabbage cut into 4 wedges)

  • 1 Onion (one medium sweet whole)

  • 12 Ounce Guinness stout

  • 2 Tbs Kosher salt (add more later to taste)

  • 1 Tbs Black finely ground pepper (add more later to taste

  • 2 Bay leaves

  • 1 c Malt Vinegar (yum!)

  • 1 Bunch finely chopped parsley

  • 2c Stout beer

  1. Fill pot with enough water to cover corned beef in an 8 qt pot (or Dutch oven)

  2. Bring to a boil and simmer for 30 minutes. Simmer on VERY LOW and watch carefully.

  3. Empty water and rinse

  4. Fill pot again with enough water to cover meat by an inch

  5. Place Corned Beef, salt, pepper, bay leaves, onion, vinegar and stout beer in pot

  6. Bring to a boil, then lower to simmer
    ***Simmer and cook for 2 ½ hours or until meat is tender when pricked with fork. Be careful to watch that the water does not boil***

  7. Remove meat from pot and allow to rest on platter

  8. Add red potatoes and carrots to the water and continue cooking until tender (30 minutes).

  9. Add cabbage wedges and cook until tender (30 minutes)

  10. Hard boil 6 eggs in a separate pot. Peel and slice in half

It’s all in the Presentation

  1. Slice meat against the grain and arrange on a platter

  2. Remove potatoes and arrange on either side

  3. Remove carrots and arrange on either side

  4. Remove cabbage and arrange on either side

  5. Place 6 hard-boiled eggs sliced in half around the platter

  6. Spread mustard on meat (optional)

  7. Sprinkle entire platter with finely chopped parsley

  8. Serve with an Irish soda bread and a very good butter.

OR

Place all of it in a large serving bowl and serve as a stew.
** My preference is to serve all ingredients separately

Optional Condiments

  • Malt vinegar

  • Serve with course grain spicy brown mustard (we put it on everything!)

  • Serve with a side of horseradish and mustard sauce

  • Serve with a mustard gravy

  • Serve with Irish Soda Bread and butter…YUM!

  • Serve with beer of your choice for drinking

VOILA!

Butternut Squash Lasagna Rollups

Traditionally, our family makes the journey to Nantucket Island the day before Thanksgiving, arriving from all parts of the country. Besides the glass of wine they are handed when they walk through the door, they look forward to the “traditional” night before Thanksgiving dinner which includes Butternut Squash Lasagna Rollups with pumpkin sauce, an entree of either tenderloin, roasted chicken or Nantucket Bay scallops, and a FUN and fabulous salad, different each year.  The one part of the dinner that never changes is the butternut squash lasagna rollups!

They are easy to make and great for preparing ahead of time, while your head is spinning with the hundreds of ingredients you hope you have for the BIG next day, Thanksgiving!

This crowd pleaser is comfort food at its very best. Think football season!  I brought these to a Super Bowl party last year styled on a 32" long slender platter.  What a hit!  But the hit for me was to see the platter empty within a half hour of our arrival.  I love that.

 

This serving platter is very special to me.  I purchased it from a local artisan in Middlebury, VT while our son was attending Middlebury College.  It conjures up wonderful memories.  I try to buy a little something everywhere I travel. Serving pieces, like foods, can bring you back to a time and place that is part of this wonderful journey called life. 

This serving platter is very special to me.  I purchased it from a local artisan in Middlebury, VT while our son was attending Middlebury College.  It conjures up wonderful memories.  I try to buy a little something everywhere I travel. Serving pieces, like foods, can bring you back to a time and place that is part of this wonderful journey called life. 


Ingredients

  • 1 Box lasagna strips (I like Del Cecco!)
  • 1 Package of cubed butternut squash
  • 1 Jar Cucina Antica Tuscany pumpkin pasta sauce (Whole Foods)
  • ¼ Cup chopped parsley or parsley flowers
  • ¼ Cup grated parmesan (optional)
  • 1 Small box baby spinach
  • 1 Box MontChevre’ crumbled goat cheese
  • S & P to taste
I love, love this sauce!  I happened upon it a few years ago, and it has been my go-to since.  When you're cooking for Thanksgiving, it's okay to short-cut with a delicious jar of quality sauce the night before!

I love, love this sauce!  I happened upon it a few years ago, and it has been my go-to since.  When you're cooking for Thanksgiving, it's okay to short-cut with a delicious jar of quality sauce the night before!

  1. I box of long lasagna strips. I never use the precooked. I can’t really say why except that they just don’t seem right to me. And they are challenging to roll without breaking. If you want less pasta, you can use the shorter lasagna strips. You will just have adjust your filling amounts and make them smaller. Or just fold over in half like a loose ravioli.
  2. Cook pasta according to package directions.  I like them on the al dente side as they are firmer to work with and hold up better when stuffed and rolled.
  3. Drain in cold water.  Do not leave in strainer!  Immediately remove each one, smoothing it out so it’s not wrinkled
  4. Lay each strip flat on a long piece of Aluminum foil. 
  5. Cover each layer with foil before the next layer
  6. Begin by smearing each lasagna strip sparingly with Pumpkin Sauce
  7. Spoon small clumps of goat cheese, 2-3 tsps, crumbled or from a softened log, per strip.  You will get the hang of it as you go along!
  8. Layer with baby spinach leaves washed and patted dry
  9.  Spoon on mashed butternut squash, 3-4 tsps, per strip. 
  10.  Season with Salt and Pepper
  11.  Sprinkle with grated parmesan cheese (optional)
  12.  Gently roll up being careful to not let ingredients come out on sides.  You will learn amounts only by doing this.
  13.  Spread a thin layer of pumpkin sauce in bottom of 9X12 baking dish, enough to coat pan.
  14.  Place roll ups in dish and top each roll up with the sauce.
  15. Cover and Bake at 300 degrees until heated through, about 30 minutes.  Remove from oven, remove foil and let cool. 
  16. Serve 1- 2 per dish with extra sauce if desired.
  17. Garnish with parsley, either chopped and sprinkled all over or dotted with a parsley flowers, as shown.
  18. Serve with Fresh grated Parmesan cheese. VOILA!

Nantucket Island Cranberry Bogs in AUTUMN

There is nothing more spectacular than autumn on the island of Nantucket; the colors of the foliage, the peaceful ebb and flow of the tides on the quieted beaches, the celebratory sound of the church bells harkening the hundreds of weddings each weekend, the genius minds who come together for The Nantucket Project, the farms lushly displaying their brilliantly colorful autumnal yields and finally, the celebration of the 160 year old cranberry bogs, the epically fascinating cranberry bogs, culminating in the annual Cranberry Festival.  It’s an amazing industry, with an incredible history, and one that has certainly has made us appreciate that glass of cranberry juice we pour or that can of cranberry sauce we open!

The History of the Nantucket Cranberry Bog

Cranberry bogs in Nantucket began in 1857 and grew to an incredible 234 acres!  Today, they produce 2 million pounds of cranberries per year!  Who could believe this on this tiny island 30 miles out to sea which measures a mere 14 by 3.5 miles!?  Can you imagine that until 1959 it was the largest contiguous bog in the entire world?  Then, water conservation became a priority, thereby necessitating the construction of watering ditches. Subsequently, this caused a sub-division of the bogs into smaller, more water efficient units.

 

How are Cranberries Grown?

Cranberries are water-harvested. What does this mean? They are grown on vines tucked into beds of sand and gravel and carefully cultivated throughout the year in bogs. A sophisticated irrigation system floats them in water to facilitate easy harvesting. The floating cranberries benefit from increased sun exposure, which increases their phytonutrient content giving them their gorgeous bright red color, and giving us the health benefits of antioxidants and anti-inflammatories. So cook, cook, cook and drink, drink drink with cranberries!  

Every year we walk the bogs with a proud fascination with this incredible natural habitat on our favorite little spot in the sea. No way could we have imagined the drama of this industry, until we actually experienced it. Our daughter, Brooke Lyons Osswald, visiting from LA, enjoys a stroll around the bogs appreciating nature's bounty....


Turkey Cranberry Chili

  • 2 pounds of ground turkey
  • 6 cups Pomodoro Sauce   
    NOTE: I always have this on hand either in the freezer or I make it fresh. You can also substitute Rao’s Sensitive Sauce in a jar. It’s delicious!
  • 2 tbs Coconut oil
  • 2 tbs Ghee
  • 1 can black olives drained and cut in half
  • 1 c chopped parsley
  • 4 large carrots chopped and steamed al dente
  • 2 cups butternut squash cooked (mashed or cubed)
  • 2 cups dried cranberries
  • 4 cups shredded fresh spinach
  • S&P to taste
  • 1 tbsp Turmeric
  • 1 tbsp Cinnamon

Coat a frying pan with the Coconut oil and Ghee and cook the turkey until no longer pink. Drain water from it. In a 9x12 baking dish combine turkey with sauce, olives, carrots, butternut squash and cranberries.

Season with S&P to taste (I’m heavy on the pepper!), turmeric and cinnamon. Bake at 325 for 30 minutes covered. Remove from oven, fold in the spinach. Cover and return to oven for 10 minutes. Remove from oven and let sit covered for 10 minutes.

Sprinkle with parsley and serve.


Penny’s Cranberry Sauce with Walnuts and Orange

  • 1 12oz bag of cranberries or 3 cups cranberries
  • 1/2 c water 
  • ½ c orange juice
  • 1 c sugar
  • Zest of one naval orange
  • 1/4 c chopped walnuts
  • 1 tbsp Cointreau (optional)
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon

  1. Bring water, orange juice and sugar to a boil in a medium saucepan.
  2. Add cranberries, return to boil.
  3. Reduce heat and simmer for 10-15 minutes on low, stirring.
  4. Remove from heat
  5. Stir in Cointreau (optional)
  6. Fold in Walnuts
  7. Add Cinnamon
  8. Cover and cool completely at room temperature (while it thickens)
  9. When cool, sprinkle with orange zest
  10. Refrigerate***(I make this a day or two before as a time-saver!)  BE CREATIVE WITH HOW YOU SERVE IT!  I don't like it running all over the plate making the foods red, so I offer different serving options, including tiny little dipping bowls.  Think out of the box! The glasses make for an awesome presentation on a buffet!

Cranberry Stuffing Sausage Balls  ( giant wow!)

  • 1 lb Breakfast Sausage
  • 1/4 c Dried cranberries, plumped  
    * Bring 1 cup of orange juice to a boil. Pour over cranberries, cover and let sit for 10 mins. Strain.
  • ½ tsp Ground sage
  • S&P to taste
  • 1 Small onion finely chopped
  • 1 Stalk celery finely chopped
  • ½ c Mild Cheddar cheese shredded
  • 2 Eggs
  • 1 Box of Chicken Stove Top Stuffing *Prepare according to instructions on box
  • 1c Chicken Stock (low sodium)

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees
  2. Brown sausage until no longer pink. Remove from pan
  3. Add onion, celery, S&P and sage and sauté until soft
  4. Toss sausage, onion and celery mixture and remaining ingredients into a bowl and mix well
  5. Line baking sheet with parchment paper or tin foil
  6. Scoop consistent sized balls, the size of a tablespoon, and place on cookie sheet
  7. Bake for 15 minutes.
  8. Skewer and arrange decoratively on platter with cranberry sauce in the center. *** Recipe for cranberry sauce above
  9. Garnish with orange peels

Pork Tenderloin with Cranberry Stuffing

  • Package of 2 pork tenderloins
  • 1 Box of Savory Herb Stovetop stuffing
  • 1 c dried cranberries ***plumped as above
  • 2 tbsp EVOO
  • Kitchen string
  • 3 tbsp chopped rosemary
  • Fresh rosemary

  1. Prepare stuffing according to directions
  2. Mix together with plumped cranberries
  3. Add 2 tbsps chopped rosemary
  4. Butterfly tenderloins and pound thin
  5. Add 1-2 cups stuffing mixture in the centers (depending on the size of your meat)
  6. Fold up both sides and tie with kitchen string every 2 inches
  7. Wedge fresh sprigs of rosemary between pork and string
  8. Coat skillet with EVOO
  9. Add 2 tbsp chopped Rosemary to pan
  10. Add tenderloins and sear on 3 sides
  11. Remove from skillet and place in baking pan in oven for  15-20 minutes or until temp is 145.
  12. Remove from oven and place on cutting board, loosely tented with foil for 10 minutes before slicing.

Cranberry and Pear Smoked Gouda Salad

  • Fresh baby spinach leaves
  • Endive
  • Smoked Gouda spears
  • Clementine slices
  • Chopped walnuts
  • Dried cranberries
  • Sliced red Anjou pear

Creamy Cranberry Balsamic Dressing

  • 1c EVOO
  • 1/2c Balsamic vinegar
  • 1c Jellied cranberry sauce

Mix in Vitamix or Cuisinart to desired consistency (I prefer a thicker dressing). Assemble salad ingredients decoratively on a plate, as shown, drizzle with dressing and serve!  BIG HIT in our house!

Chicken Zucchini Mini-loaves Stuffed with Goat Cheese & Applesauce

Ingredients

  • 2 Pounds of freshly ground Chicken  (preferably not packaged)
  • 1 ½ c Italian Seasoned Bread Crumbs
  • Crumbled Goat Cheese
  • One finely chopped zucchini
  • 12 slices of Bacon
  • 1/2 c Milk
  • 2 Eggs
  • 1 1/2 c Applesauce
  • 1 tbs Olive Oil
  • Salt & Pepper to taste (I use salt sparingly, but love pepper!)

Directions

  1. Mix meat with milk , eggs, S & P, breadcrumbs, 1 c applesauce and zucchini (for a more moist meatloaf, add more milk)
  2. Grease bottom of baking dish with olive oil
  3. Line baking dish with 4 strips of bacon
  4. Divide meat into 4 loaves (1/2 lb each) or 8 loaves (1/4 lb each)
  5. Mix box of goat cheese with ½ c applesauce
  6. Poke a well in the center of each “mini” loaf and fill with goat cheese and applesauce mixture
  7. Cover with a criss-cross of bacon
  8. Bake uncovered in a 325 degree oven for 1 hour and 15 minutes

The Sankaty Shandy

~Nantucket Island~

THE BEST BEACH BEER! There is nothing quite like an ice cold, thirst quenching drink at the beach on a hot summer day, while lazing away the hours with friends and family. The perfect prescription for this is a SHANDY, a traditional beer cocktail, a “beer tail”, which generally consists of a 50-50 mixture of a lager beer and a fizzy, a carbonated “something”, such as a sparkling lemonade, ginger beer, ginger ale, fruit juice or cordial, served in a glass. Through the years, this popular drink took Western Europe by storm with exciting creations emblematic of the geography and associated traditions, such as the Singapore Kip Lin (lager + tonic water) or the French Monaco Beer(lager + lemonade + grenadine) or the Italian tango…ooh, la la, (lager + gooseberry cordial) or the German and Portugese Diesel (lager + Coco-Cola.) In honor of our Nantucket Island, I’ve created the SANKATY SHANDY, a mix of my personal favorites, lager + cucumber with mint or lime!

On the island of Nantucket, we pay great homage to the legendary Cisco Brewers, a winery, brewery and distillery that produces an impressively awesome selection of world sought-after wine, spirits and beer. Their popular Sankaty Light Lager is delicious for a day in the sun. I’ve paired it with one my all-time favorites, but difficult to come by, the NEW sparkling Cucumber & Mint Presse’ from the wonderful Belvoir Fruit Farms.  This delicious “bubbly” is made from 100% organic ingredients and is non-GMO, gluten-free and vegan, with no preservatives, sweeteners or artificial colors. Mixing it 50-50 with a slice of cucumber, lime or mint sprig on the side, yields an invitingly colorful icy “beer tail” that will have you smacking your lips with delight and probably reaching for another!  Plan in advance, as this is a seasonal product not always available. But, fear not....there is always a backup....

Equally as delicious, and more readily available on the island is DRY Sparkling in cucumber flavor. You always have to have a Plan A and Plan B when “on island”!  The only thing we never need a plan B for is the BEER from Cisco Brewers, which deliciously and plentifully flows day after day, week after week, year after year, decade after decade……And that you can be sure of!

A Surprise Birthday Luncheon!

For me, there is nothing better than a surprise party of any kind!  My first surprise party was my sweet sixteenth birthday, which I remember like it was yesterday. I even remember what I wore!  Surprises are emotional jilts that just stay with you over time, especially the sweet ones.

My friend of thirty years is humble and shy and does not like being the center of attention.  I wanted to do something special for her birthday, so I concentrated on what I knew she would enjoy; an intimate lunch with her closest friends, good food, as she is a foodie, and plenty of ice cream!  She LOVES ice cream!  I knew my party design would begin with her favorite colors, orange and green, so I set out to create a simple, but spirited afternoon she would remember.  I like a party to be cohesive.  Keeping the same color scheme throughout is easy to do and packs a big punch. So, I used as much green and orange as I could in the party design, the food presentation, and in the flavors, focusing on citrus, and using lots of orange and lime.

I began by pulling out everything I had in orange and green, which included the lamp, the Ikat pillow and the orange lacquered tray I used for the dessert and champagne serving.  The mini-ice bucket is an antique decoupage I’ve had since 1985, brought to me by a dealer who knew I would love the vivid orange tones. Of course I grabbed that!  I selected the Veuve Clicquot champagne, because it’s my favorite AND because it just happened to have an orange label.  I tied a green striped ribbon around the birthday girl’s wine glass just to add a special little something! And of course, the balloons!  No birthday party is complete without balloons. EVER. Balloons are the easiest and least expensive way to decorate a room. You can get them in almost any color to coordinate with your party and they scream CELEBRATION!  I adorned each place setting with Banana tree leaves from my yard by placing one leaf under the flatware at each place setting. I pulled out my 5-inch palm leaf ribbon I had from another project, cut a few strips and laid them around on the lacquered dessert tray and the bar cart for an infusion of more variegated green.  For the place cards, I simply set an orange at everyone’s place setting and made small banner flags, which I glued onto toothpicks and poked into the oranges.  It added a whopping dose of color and served the purpose!  My white and green Limoges Café Paris china, from the restaurant in Paris by the same name, worked beautifully into the color scheme. And last, but not least, was the "little orange box" we all know is from Hermes. It was a "little something" from me she had to have!  Once the party design was in place and the bar cart was styled, I set about to whip up a sweet, delicious menu…


Menu

  • Lobster Deviled Eggs with Paprika
  • Tortelloni Antipasto Skewers
  • Grilled Fresh Corn on the Cob with Lime Butter
  • Spicy Red with Lime BBQ Chicken
  • Mediterranean Mint Gelato with Orange Chocolate and Mint
  • Chocolate Raspberry Cake
  • Veuve Clicquot Champagne
  • Rose’ Wine
  • Sparkling water

Tortelloni Antipasto Skewers with Pesto Dipping Sauce

  • 1 package of Chicken and Prosciutto Tortelloni by Buitoni
  • ¼ pound of Boars Head Hard Salami
  • 12 Marinated Mozzarella Balls                         
  • Colorful Lettuce
  • 12 Grape Tomatoes
  • Buitoni Pesto Sauce
  1. Cook the Tortelloni according to the directions on the package, being sure to not overcook or they will fall off the skewers. I add a dash of salt and a drip of olive oil to the water.
  2. To assemble, alternate decoratively on a 12-inch bamboo skewer and arrange on a bed of lettuce
  3. Serve the pesto sauce in a small bowl in the center. Garnish with basil leaf

Spicy Red & Lime Barbecued Chicken Breasts

  • 1 c Uncle Matty’s Food Co.’s Spicy Red sauce (Love!)
  • Juice of 2 Limes
  • 3 Whole Breasts Halved                      
  • 2 Tbs Olive oil
  • 2 Tbs Chopped Parsley
  • Fresh Lime sliced thin for garnish
  1. Marinate breasts overnight or for 2 hours with Spicy Red sauce and lime juice
  2. Place 2 tbs olive oil in baking dish and pop into 325 oven for 5 minutes
  3. Remove from oven and place breasts in baking dish covered with foil
  4. Bake at 325 for 30 minutes
  5. Remove from oven and place on gas grill on medium with lid down for 10 minutes
  6. Open lid, baste with sauce mixture, close lid and cook for 5 minutes
  7. Turn breasts over and repeat. Doneness is dependent upon the thickness of your breasts.
  8. Allow to sit tented with foil for at least 10 minutes before serving. 
  9. Sprinkle with chopped parsley and serve on bed of spinach. Garnish with thin sliced limes.

Corn on the Cob with Lime Butter

  • 6 Ears of locally grown Fresh Corn
  • 1 stick Butter melted
  • Zest of 2 limes                                
  • Juice of 2 limes
  • Lime wedges for garnish
  • Salt to taste
  1. Pull husks down and remove silky threads
  2. Melt butter and mix with lime juice
  3. Rub half of butter mixture over the cobs before closing husks
  4. Wrap in foil and grill on medium heat for 15 minute
  5. Turn over and continue grilling for another 15 minutes (or until tender)
  6. Remove foil when done, return husk covered corn to grill for a minute on each side to get char marks.
  7. Pull husks back and tie with kitchen string
  8. Plate, pour remaining butter and lime mixture over cobs
  9. Sprinkle with salt (if desired)
  10. Sprinkle with lime zest
  11. Garnish each cob with a slice of lime on a decorative toothpick

Lobster Deviled Eggs

  • 6 Eggs (hard-boiled)
  • 1 Tb Light Mayonnaise
  • 2 Tbs Sour Cream                 
  • 1 Tsp Sriracha Hot Sauce
  • ½ lb Fresh Lobster Pieces 
  • Parsley for garnish
  • Paprika
  1. Hard boil 6 eggs, slice in half and remove yolks to bowl
  2. Mix yolks with mayonnaise, sour cream and sriracha
  3. Add half of the lobster pieces reserving the rest for “topping”
  4. Arrange egg white halves in deviled egg dish
  5. Fill with yolk mixture (I like them over-filled and not so neat)
  6. Fill each deviled egg with the rest of the lobster pieces tucking them in, using it all!
  7. Sprinkle whole plate with paprika
  8. Add a small sprig of parsley to each on

 

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Mediterranean Mint Gelato

  • Talenti Mediterranean Mint Gelato (love this brand!)
  • Theo Organic 70% Dark Chocolate Bar cut into chunks and shavings
  1. Place two small scoops in bowl 
  2. Top with a few chunks of chocolate                    
  3. Sprinkle the whole bowl with shaved chocolate
  4. Top with mint sprig

 

 

 


Chocolate Raspberry Cake

**I usually make my cake from scratch, but happily resort to Duncan Hines, a delicious box cake when needed

  • 2 boxes Duncan Hines Classic Dark Chocolate Fudge cake mix
  • 3 9” inch round pans
  • Just Jan's Seedless Raspberry Spread
  1. Make layers per box directions                                          
  2. Let cool completely
  3. Slice each layer horizontally to create 6 thinner layers
  4. Spread a thin layer of raspberry spread on each layer until cake is 6 layers high
  5. Shave sides of cake with sharp knife and clean up with hair dryer on low
  6. Frost the top of the cake with frosting
  7. Top with flower to coordinate with your party! 

Chocolate Frosting   

**From THE BEST of FINE COOKING 5-Star Recipes 2015 (the best ever!) I’ve been making this frosting since I first saw it in their October 2009 issue!

  • 2-½ cups heavy cream
  • 6 tbs unsalted butter
  • 1 Vanilla bean, split and seeds scraped out
  • 6 oz bittersweet chocolate, chopped
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 2 cups unsweetened cocoa powder
  • ½ cup Lyle’s Golden Syrup
  • ¼ tsp kosher sal
  1. Combine cream, butter, vanilla seeds and bean in a saucepan over low heat, stirring until butter is melted. 
  2. Remove bean and whisk in chopped chocolate until melted. 
  3. Whisk in sugar, cocoa, syrup and salt until smooth. 
  4. Pour into 9X13 baking dish and freeze until firm, 2 hours. Can be done overnight.
  5. Remove from freezer and pour into mixing bowl with paddle attachment and beat on medium for 2 minutes to soften. Change to whisk attachment and beat on high speed until light and fluffy for 3 minutes.

Resources

  • Café Paris china: Limoges from Lou Lou’s Lost & Found Newberry St. Boston
  • Green check napkins: Williams Sonoma (post-season sale)
  • Napkin rings: William Sonoma
  • Bar cart: Target
  • Candles: Home Goods
  • Platters: Home Goods
  • Wooden board: Home Goods
  • Milk glass cake stand: Home Goods
  • Balloons: Publix Market
  • Fresh flowers: My husband gifted me with the day before!
  • Green water goblets: Private Collection
  • Champagne flutes: Pier1 
  • Ice Cream bowl: IKEA
  • Glass ice bucket on bar cart: Tiffany
  • Mini decoupage ice bucket: Antique from the 1900’s  (private collection)
  • Orange lamp: Dovecote Westport, CT
  • Orange lacquered lamp: Dovecote Westport, CT
  • Ikat pillow: Dovecote Westport, CT
  • Chocolate frosting recipe: **The Best of FINE COOKING 5-Star Recipes 201

The "Bloody Whaler"

Legend has it that the Bloody Mary originated in 1921 at a New York Bar in Paris, which later became Harry’s New York Bar, a Paris hangout frequented by the likes of Ernest Hemingway and friends. I Love Paris, I love Hemingway and I love a Bloody Mary! Over the years I perfected a “Bloody” I named“Lobsta’ Bloody Merry”, a Bloody Mary I make with tomato juice made from scratch, celery stalk and a skewer of lobster pieces, lemon wedges and mini sweet red peppers. It became our “Merry” Christmas Morning tradition, serving as the perfect Christmas Eve hangover cure until gifts were opened and breakfast was served! I started doing this because we always had so much left over lobster from our Christmas Eve “Feast of the Seven Fishes”. 

We had great fun debuting our “Lobsta Bloody Merry” on the Martha Stewart Living Radio Show in 2012 on a segment we did on “healthy” drinking. 


 
 

We’ve had such great fun with the “Lobsta’ Bloody Merry” that I decided to create a brother for “Merry”, a more nautical version for summers on the island of Nantucket.  I named it the “Bloody Whaler” to commemorate Nantucket’s fascinating whaling history. For this drink I use clamato juice, as in the “Bloody Caesar” created by a Canadian in 1969, who was inspired by his favorite dish in Italy, Spaghetti alle vongole, or, spaghetti with tomato sauce and clams.  My version incorporates fresh fish plucked from Moby Dick’s sea, a good compliment of spices and citrus and clamato juice, a nod to Nantucket’s clamming industry.  Since we are usually on the run each morning in the summer, I opted to go ahead and make my Bloody Whaler a meal-in-itself and finish it off with a skewered fresh lobster tail (which looks like a whale’s tail!), and a shrimp, cucumber and lime kebob and a tall fluffy celery stalk for flavor and presentation!

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 ounces of Tito’s Vodka (or more if you like)
  • 4 ounces of Clamato juice
  • 1-2 tsps Gold’s horseradish (or to taste) 
  • 2 dashes Worcestershire sauce (or to taste)
  • 1 dash Celery salt
  • 1 fresh squeezed Lemon wedge
  • 2 fresh squeezed Lime wedges
  • 1 Lime wedge for toothpick
  • 1 tsp Cholula Chili Lime Hot Sauce
  • 11/4-pound Steamed lobster for tail meat *** 
  • 1-2 Large shrimp (depending on size available)
  • 2 Slices English cucumber
  • 1 12” Bamboo Skewer
  • 1 4” Toothpick
  • 1 Celery stalk with leaves (garnish)
  • Old Bay Seasoning (for rim)
  • 1 cup ice
  • Tall glass

PREPARE THE LOBSTER

  1. 3 Gallon Pot filled with salted water to about 2 inches
  2. Bring to a boil
  3. Run live lobster under cold water, removing rubber bands (use gloves!)
  4. Place lobster into pan with lid on 
  5. Cook over high heat about15-18 minutes
  6. At 7-10 minutes lift lid and rotate the lobsters, if cooking several, so they will cook evenly
  7. The lobster will turn bright orange and the meat will turn from translucent to opaque white
  8. Check for doneness by cutting one open and checking color of meat or by testing the temp, which should be 180F
  9. Let cool
  10. Crack open and remove the meat from the entire lobster, saving all the parts

***Steaming is the best way to cook the lobster as it traps the flavor and produces the most tender meat.  OR, you can have your fishmonger steam the lobsters for you. OR, you can just buy the fresh cooked lobster tail meat at a good fish store, as many fisheries cook lobsters daily. However, buying them and steaming them yourself is the most economical way, especially if you are serving many.   


PREPARE THE RIM OF THE GLASS

  1. Rub a lime wedge around the rim of a tall glass and dip into a dish of
  2. Old Bay Seasoning, twirling it around until fully coated
  3. Let sit while mixing ingredients, being careful not to smudge it

MIX INGREDIENTS

  1. Combine the vodka, horseradish, Worcestershire sauce, celery salt, lemon, lime, Cholula chili lime hot sauce, Clamato juice and ice
  2. Stir, stir, stir
  3. Gently pour into desired glass over ice (I don't like a watery Bloody so I use a few cubes)
  4. Insert 12 inch Bamboo skewer with lobster tail proudly propped
  5. Top with 4 inch toothpick skewer with 1-2 shrimp, depending on size, cucumber, lime wedge
  6. VOILA!  Serves 1

NOTE: Use fresh lobster only. Frozen will not work, as they tend to be tough and challenging to eat.  Also, save all the parts of your picked lobster for your next breakfast! #lobsterbenedict #eggandlobsterflorentine #lobsteromelette

A Sunday Italian Supper in the Kitchen

One of my favorite memories of all times was dinner for six in the kitchen at the home of our friend, the famous French chef, Jacques Pepin, and his lovely wife Gloria. The other guests were the brilliant Morley Safer, journalist and host of CBS’s 60 Minutes, and his wife Jane. We sat around the center island, I feeling somewhat intimidated, sipping delicious French wine as we watched Jacque, this iconic world-renowned chef, whip up a magnificent duck with cranberry sauce. I was focusing so hard, I’m quite sure I didn’t even blink. The conversation was scintillating and intellectual, while the demonstration was a culinary excursion like no other. So much fun! From that point forward, my favorite thing to do is to have friends in for “dinner in the kitchen”.

It was here I learned that dinner in the kitchen can be as elegant as anywhere, that interesting people make for an interesting party and that a relaxed and fun host and chef makes for a relaxed and fun group of guests!

I’m an Italian food enthusiast. Okay, that’s probably putting it mildly. To put it another way, my mother-in-law used to laugh and say, “Penny would have cold rigatoni for breakfast everyday if she could!” And she was right. I love everything about Italian food, the romance associated with it, the traditions, the bright colors and the love that sits at the bottom of the pot of Sunday sauce! Whether we are in Florida or Nantucket, most Sundays begin with the Sunday sauce which I get up and start before my coffee. I love to smell the garlic sautéing and the sauce simmering for hours (with football on in the background all day!). Sunday sauce means different things to different people. Growing up, our sauce began by browning braciole (stuffed with garlic, parmesan and parsley and tied up with kitchen string), sausage and pork as the base. Today, we’re focused on a healthier approach to eating, cooking with less fat and fewer saturated oils, while still getting our robust flavors, but from herbs and spices, rather than from meats. Our Sunday sauce is a clean and simple Pomodoro sauce cooked with fresh plum tomatoes, basil, parsley, salt & pepper, crushed red pepper, garlic and olive oil.

NOTE:  I like to use a combination of fresh tomatoes and can tomatoes for larger batches. If you want a bigger batch use the 28 oz cans of San Marzano tomatoes with a ratio of 1 can of crushed tomatoes to 1 can of plum and 1 can of paste. (1-1-1)

This sauce can be made quickly, if need be, but tastes even better when simmered for hours. And it is especially tasty the next day! Not only will your family and friends enjoy a delicious meal, you will reap the benefits of a whole day of the best a ”ROMA”therapy!

Total Cooking Time: 2-3 hours
Total Prep Time: 20 minutes
Yields: 4 servings


Ingredients

  • 1/4 c extra-virgin olive oil  (the best quality you can afford)
  • 6 garlic cloves (peeled & cut into large chunks, not minced)
  • 1 tsp Kosher or sea salt (better tasting than table salt)
  • 1/2 tsp freshly crushed black pepper (better tasting than ground pepper)
  • Crushed red pepper flakes to taste
  • 6 Basil leaves (fresh)
  • ¼ cup fresh parsley, chopped
  • 24 fresh plum tomatoes
  • ½ C grated Parmesan cheese (optional)

1. Score tomatoes, and submerge into a pot of boiling water for 1 minute. Remove and run under cold water. Peel and cut into halves. In a saucepan sauté the olive oil with 2 basil leaves for 5 mins to achieve a wonderful basil infused olive oil. Remove basil leaves from oil and discard. Add garlic, continue to sauté (do not let garlic brown! It should be soft and translucent) Add tomatoes, kosher salt, crushed black pepper & parsley and cover.

2. Cook on low for 15 mins. Uncover and stir and mash down the tomatoes. Cover again to keep moisture in.  Repeat in 15 minutes. You want the tomatoes to soften and mashed to get all the liquid out.

3. Cook on simmer for another 15 minutes. Partially uncover to let some of the liquid evaporate. The more ripe the tomatoes, the more juice they will yield. I prefer my sauce to have the thickness of a puree, not too soupy. If need be add a can of tomato paste to thicken sauce.

4. Pour into food processor and puree until desired consistency.

5. Return to pot

6. Add 2 shredded bail leaves and simmer for 10 minutes more.

7. Add crushed red pepper to taste. I love spicy!

8. Cover for 5 minutes.  Let sit.

 

For years, I've been carving artichokes to use as a candlestick holders.They look awesome in a small grouping with candles at different heights! Here, I carved two artichokes to use as vases, a sort of vegetable vessel if you will, and used water tubes for these beautiful South African Orange Star flowers. I filled a Tiffany ice bucket with Florida oranges to bring more of the color orange in.


Spaghetti

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Cook spaghetti in a pot of boiling water with a dash of olive oil and a pinch of salt. Cook according to directions on package, as you don’t want it to be overdone.  Al Dente is the goal! Return cooked spaghetti to pan and swirl in a tablespoon of butter.

Some like to mix the sauce and pasta together. I prefer to plate the plain buttered pasta and top with the delicious Pomodoro. You can sprinkle the whole plate with chopped parsley or simply garnish with a single basil leaf. Grated cheese is offered on the side, or can be mixed with the parsley and spread all over the plate like a garnish!


Tomato and Pepper Salade

  • 2 Yellow ripe tomatoes (the color is beautiful)
  • Box of red cherry tomatoes (halved)
  • Baby sweet peppers (sliced)
  • Balsamic fig glaze
  • Basil garnish

This is served buffet style with the balsamic glaze on the side for people to help themselves.


Baked Thyme & Parmesan Chicken Breasts

  • 3 Whole breasts
  • 2c Italian Seasoned breadcrumbs
  • 1 tsp Dried crushed thyme
  • Cayenne
  • Fresh thyme sprigs for garnish
  • ¼ C grated parmesan cheese
  • Egg
  • Flour
  • Olive oil

1. Leave breasts whole and pat dry.

2. Mix bread crumbs with 1 tsp of dried, crushed thyme (rub in the palms of your hands and release!) and a pinch of cayenne.

3. Dip breasts in flour then egg, and dredge in breadcrumb mixture. Lay flat, sprinkle parmesan in the middle.  Bring the sides up and overlap tight, turning over with  overlap facing down.

4. Gently mold folded chicken creating a football shape

5. Heat oven to 325 degrees

6. Pour EVOO into the bottom of a 9X13 baking dish. Pop in preheated oven for 5 minutes.

7. Remove from oven and place football shaped chicken breasts in the warmed pan. Cover with foil. Bake for 1 hour. Remove foil return to oven and bake for 15 minutes more.

8. Remove from oven and let sit for half an hour

9. Slice when cool enough to touch

10. Garnish with sprigs of thyme

Delish drizzled with the balsamic fig glaze or topped with pomodoro!


Sipps Organic Sodas & White Wine

I love these 100% Certified Organic sparkling drinks to serve in addition to wine. They are Gluten free, fresh tasting and come in the most interesting flavors.

  • Summer Pear with green tea & honey
  • Mojo Berry with blackberry, mint & lime
  • Pinot Grigio

Dessert

  • SO Delicious Dairy free Chocolate with mint leaf  
  • Garnish with Scharffen Berger shaved chocolate
  • Moscato D’Asti

 Resources

  • White Platter: Home Goods
  • Marble and wood Cutting Board: William Sonoma
  • Sipps Organics: Home Goods 
  • Dishes: IKEA
  • Wine Glasss: Crate and Barrel
  • Ice Bucket: Tiffany
  • Linen/Cotton Napkins: Williams Sonoma
  • Rattan Napkin rings: Williams Sonoma
  • Greenery: My Florida yard
  • Fresh Artichokes carved and filled with South African Orange Star flowers: Publix

An Alfresco Lunch for Four for $100… and that includes linens, dishes, stemware and food!

IF I CAN DO, YOU CAN TOO!  As the saying goes, “ITS ALL IN THE PRESENTATION”, but when the food is delish, its even better!  I recently hosted an alfresco lunch for our Lyonslifestyle team of four on our pool terrace. We had just moved into our home in Florida after a year of renting a furnished apartment that I outfitted with kitchen items from IKEA and HOME GOODS.  Utilizing what I had, I set about to make a pretty lunch statement with pretty food.  And here is how I did it…..

I served my favorite smoked salmon sandwich, which is quick, easy to assemble, visually appealing and absolutely delicious. This brunchy-lunchy meal looks special and signals that you’ve gone the extra step and made an effort to “make it nice”.  I purchased the croissants that morning from our local market which bakes them fresh daily. I set the plates up with blueberries, baby carrots and veggies and covered them with plastic wrap until ready. Shortly before the team arrived, I sliced the croissants and spread room-temperature goat cheese on both sides before stuffing with salmon topped with watercress and then covered with plastic wrap. I hard-boiled the eggs, peeled them and had them waiting, along with the hummus. After the team was seated and wine was poured, I scooped the hummus onto the plates and topped with a smidge of the red pepper. I sliced the eggs with an egg slicer and gently placed three slices on top of the watercress with a tap of black pepper. The finishing touch was a generous sprinkle of cinnamon on the carrots and on the plate for presentation!

I found these cheerful lemon printed placemats and napkins at Home Goods, which I paired with green tinted, plastic wine glasses I purchased years ago at an end-of-the-summer sale (more on that later). I love to design my tabletops with fruits, vegetables and natural greenery, so I bought an ivy plant at the supermarket and plopped a pineapple right into the center of it.  It added height, charm and symbolized “welcome”! I had just purchased a small green milk glass cake stand in the sale aisle at Home Goods and decided to use it to plate the croissants to add another element of height and a tiny bit of drama. Voila! DONE in a flash and all for barely $100!   

 

Tabletop Design Resources = $57.94

  • 4 White placemats with lemons$12.99 Home Goods

  • 4 White napkins with lemons$12.99 Home Goods

  • Plastic Stemware Pier1 Imports (my collection)

  • Small green Milk Glass Cake Stand $4.00 Home Goods (SALE shelf)

  • White Dishes $1.99 each at IKEA

  • Napkin Rings $5.00 each Williams Sonoma


  Centerpiece = $12.98

  • Ivy plant $8.99 (you have it for a long time after)

  • Pineapple $3.99 (you can slice for another meal)


Ingredients = $28.95

  • Smoked salmon $7.99

  • Watercress $1.99

  • Goat cheese $3.49

  • Sliced hard-boiled egg

  • Fresh Croissants $4.00 (6 in a box!)

  • Red Pepper hummus $3.50

  • Blueberries $2.50

  • Carrots $2.49

  • Grape tomatoes $2.99


Beverages (not included)

  • Pinot Grigio

  • Pellegrino sparkling water with lemon