Monthly Archives: December 2014

Mint Chocolate Chip Gelato


Sometimes, the only thing you want to eat is just desserts for dinner…..

Homemade Mint Chocolate Chip Gelato with Homemade Italian Pizzelle Cookies……


Christmas 2014: Feast of the Seven Fishes

The Feast of the Seven Fishes (Italian: Festa dei sette pesci), also known as The Vigil (Italian: La Vigilia), is a  Southern Italian and Italian-American celebration of Christmas Eve with meals of fish and other seafood.

The long tradition of eating seafood on Christmas Eve dates from the Roman Catholic tradition of abstinence.A traditional holiday meal  may include seven, eight, or even nine specific fishes that are considered traditional. The most famous dish Southern Italians are known for is baccalà (salted cod fish). The custom of celebrating with a simple fish such as baccalà is attributed to the greatly impoverished regions of Southern Italy. Fried smelts, calamari and other types of seafood have been incorporated into the Christmas Eve dinner over the years.

A typical modern Christmas Eve  Feast  may include some combination of anchovies, whiting, lobster, sardines, dried salt cod, smelts, eels, squid, octopus, shrimp, mussels and clams.

The menu may also include pastas, vegetables, baked or fried kale patties, baked goods and homemade wine. This tradition remains very popular to this day.

Below are few of the dishes that were apart of our Feast of the Seven Fishes.


Seafood Risotto with Shrimp, Asparagus
and Mushrooms


Baked Stuffed Trout with Oyster Stuffing


Seafood Gumbo with Quail, Blue Crab and White Clams


Calamari Fra Diavolo with Squid Ink Pasta


Shrimp with Zucchini  Linguine


Shrimp and Lobster Ravioli with Spinach Basil Pesto and Shaved Parmesan


Fried Calamari


Cioppino Seafood Soup with Sourdough Rounds


Escarole and Fig Salad



Applewood Smoked Gouda Cheese and Pepper Jelly Appetizers

This recipe was adapted from Chef  Vivian Howard who contributed to  the January 2015 Issue  Food and Wine Magazine. Originally conceived as a fancy grilled cheese sandwich  made with Époisses, the pungent French cow-milk cheese, and sweet and spicy pepper jelly, it can easily be adapted to be a festive appetizer. I made my own hot pepper jam for my version of this dish.

You can find the original recipe by following this link:


Serves 4
1/2 cup pecan halves
1 Tablespoon canola oil
1 Teaspoon kosher salt
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
Eight 1/2-inch-thick slices of French bread
4 Tablespoons hot pepper jelly
8 ounces Applewood Smoked Gouda Cheese, cut into 1/4-inch

Preheat the oven to 350°F. In a pie pan, toss the pecans with the oil and salt. Bake for 8 minutes or until toasted. Let the pecans cool, then coarsely chop.

Spread 1/2 tablespoon of the butter on one side of each slice of bread. Toast in the oven until lightly golden. Remove from the oven and spread 1/2 tablespoon of the pepper jam on the other side of each slice. Arrange the cheese on the buttered of 4 slices of bread and top with the pecans and return to the oven, for about 3 minutes and bake until the  cheese is melted.

Remove the cheese toasts and arrange on a serving platter with the jam covered toasts. Serve with additional hot pepper jam on the side.



Sparkling Apple Cider Sangria

Who says Sangria is only for Summer entertaining? Look what we found on-line at Zulka Sugar. Another crowd pleasing drink  with a twist that will surely become a staple at your winter and holiday gatherings. Enjoy!



  • 1/4 cup Zulka Morena Sugar
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 2 cups Apple Cider
  • 1/2 cup Calvados or other Apple Brandy
  • 1 750 ml bottle white wine (Pinot Grigio or Sauvignon Blanc work best)
  • 1 bottle sparkling apple cider
  • 5-6 apples, cored and sliced thin
  • Cinnamon sticks


Mix together the cinnamon and sugar in a small bowl. In another small bowl, pour a little of the brandy. Dip the glasses in the brandy and then the cinnamon sugar. Add a few apple slices to each glass. Set aside.

Pour the remaining cinnamon sugar in a large pitcher. Add the apple cider and stir until the sugar is dissolved. Top with the brandy and wine and mix. Add the rest of the apples. Chill until ready to serve.

Add the sparkling cider right before serving. Garnish with an apple slice and a cinnamon stick. Serve chilled. Add ice if desired.

Why the next world war will be fought over food


The world has a massive food crisis on its hands. The crisis is so big that organizations like the World Bank and the United Nations say there won’t be enough food to feed the global population when it jumps from the current seven billion people to nine billion by 2050.

Some research even suggests a food scarcity crunch as early as 2030just 15 years from now.

The reasons? Severe weather events like droughts and floods, economic hardships, and political unrest in underdeveloped countries, as well as agribusiness expansion.

While many experts say that producing more food will make the crisis go away, others contend it’s not that simple.

“To address food security, we need a shift in the way we address poverty and inequality in the world,” Stephen Scanlan, a professor of sociology at Ohio University. “There should be a reframing of food as a fundamental human right…

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Seafood Risotto

Here is a preview of the Christmas Eve Dinner.

This year we are celebrating  with an Italian theme: Feast of the Seven Fishes…………………

One of the featured main courses will be a Seafood Risotto. This dish is really simple, composed of aborio rice, white wine, butter, shrimp,  tender  spears and baby portabello mushrooms.

Stay tuned,  because there will be more dishes from our Feast of the Seven Fishes to follow!

Happy Holidays!


Red Velvet Cake Jelly


This past weekend, I went by my favorite wine store to pick up a bottle of burgundy for the braised oxtails dish that I as going to make. I found my favorite bottle, but my eye caught this wildly fabulous label that I have never seen before.

Red Velvet Wine by Cupcake Vineyards. I read the tasting notes on the  label :

“Red Velvet combines Zinfandel, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Petite Sirah. Each varietal adds distinct characteristics and lends structure, aroma and depth of flavor. We ferment each varietal separately before blending. Finally, a unique oak regime infuses creaminess. Experience a wine as rich, soft and elegant as red velvet. Our Red Velvet blend delivers over-the-top aromas of chocolate, deep dark blackberries and luscious red fruits that follow through to the palate. Finish with a hint of coconut and creamy mocha that shows unmistakable intensity and length.”

I absolutely love Red Velvet Cake. It is one of my favorite desserts. And with reading the wine’s tasting notes, I had an Ah-ha moment: This would make a great jelly! So I bought a whole case of the 2012 Cupcake Vineyards Red Velvet Wine. The merchant gave me an additional 10% off. Saturday was definitely  my lucky day.

I made the jelly and it turned out perfect. I am happy camper all the live long day!

If you like to try the  Red Velvet Cake Jelly, you can find it on-line at: