Italian Blue Goat Cheese Risotto and Xocopili Chocolate

Remarkable Risotto Risotto with Italian Blue Goat Cheese and Xocopili Chocolate Category: Appetizer or Main Dish We saved one of our best meals for last on our 2018 Italian trip.  On our final night in Orta San Giulio, we enjoyed a stupendous risotto made with blue goat cheese, candied walnuts and shaved Xocopili chocolate (Risotto all’erborinato di capra della Val Vigezzo, cioccolato Xocopili e noci caramellate).  Wow! That was that good risotto!  We stayed at the incredible Bed & Breakfast Al Dom on the shores of Orta San Giulio with a private garden at the edge of the lake and views across to the L’Osola del Silenzio (Island of Silence).  Below is our little Al Dom “picnic area.”     … Read more…

Apple and Snickers Salad

Sweet Dreams Are Made of This! Apple and Snickers Salad Dessert A few years ago, I read an article in the NY Times regarding the most distinct recipes searched for online in each state around Thanksgiving.  Being born and raised in California, many (who am I kidding?) … most of the recipes I had never heard of — Frog Eye Salad, Pig Pickin Cake, Dirt Pudding, you get the picture.  The big winner in South Dakota, Iowa, and Nebraska was Snickers Salad. (In case you were wondering, Persimmon Bread was the winner here in California.) So what is a Snickers Salad?  It’s a combination of chopped Snickers candy bars, apples and whipped topping.  YUM, and what a great way to use … Read more…

Bucatini Aglio e Olio

Pasta Perfetta Bucatini Aglio e Olio Main Dish Having just returned from a three week trip to Italy, we are still craving pasta, and our favorite pasta recipe is Bucatini Aglio e Olio. (Here are a couple of teaser photos from the upcoming trip report … The roof of Duomo di Milano and our hometown of La Morra in the Piemente wine country).                       .   Upon our return from our Christmas week 2009 journey to Rome, we started making the Barefoot Contessa’s recipe for Spaghetti Aglio e Olio, which is made with garlic (aglio), olive oil (olio), red pepper flakes and parmesan cheese. We make this all the time … Read more…

Mai Tai Upside-Down Skillet Cake with Hatch Chiles and Pineapple

skillet pineapple upside down cake Edible Mai Tai Mai Tai Skillet Pineapple Upside Down Cake with Hatch Chiles  Dessert: As Hatch chile season drew to a close, my mind was humming on how to use the Melissa’s Extra Hot Chiles we had grilled for the Hatch Chile Butterscotch Blondies.  We made some Hatch Chile hamburgers for dinner one night and when I opened a jar of my Caramelized Pineapple & Ghost Pepper Salsa, a pineapple upside-down cake popped into my mind.  Caramelized Hatch chiles and pineapple?  You bet!  I have not had Pineapple upside-down cake since I was probably in kindergarten.  My mom used to make it in a cast iron skillet.  I whipped one up, but it was kind of bland.  The cake just wasn’t … Read more…

Hatch Chile, Butterscotch & Pecan Blondies with Fleur de Sel

Butterscotch Blondies Recipe Salty, Sweet and … Hot! Hatch Chile, Butterscotch & Pecan Blondies with Fleur de Sel Welcome to Hatch Chile Season, or as Tom calls it, “The most wonderful time of the year!”  We go crazy this time of the year grilling Hatch Chiles and finding new ways to use them.  Tom published a magazine for the produce industry for years and years and one of his favorite clients was Melissa’s Produce.  I credit Melissa’s for getting Tom to eat produce outside his comfort zone.  Now that Tom is retired, Melissa’s continues to include us in events and new products including sending us a big ole box of Hatch Chiles.  Thanks, Melissa’s! Knowing the box of chiles was to arrive soon, I had been … Read more…

Lemon Sorbet, Vodka and Prosecco Italian Cocktail (Sgroppino)

Sgroppino Singing Gondolier Lemon Sorbet, Vodka and Prosecco Italian Cocktail (Sgroppino) Cocktail: Tracy and I were told about this lemon sorbet prosecco cocktail by a drunk Brit (you can always trust a drunk Brit) one evening when we stayed at the Pensione La Calcina in Venice back in 2005.  Since we were sitting next to a canal as we sipped this, I dubbed the drink a Singing Gondolier. When we returned to California, Tracy and I stepped up to the Mai Tai Tom Test Bar in an attempt to perfect the drink to fit our taste, and the following recipe (after many intoxicating iterations) is our favorite variation.  For those of you who don’t like to eat raw eggs, the egg … Read more…

Grilled Steak and Elote Tacos

Excellent Elote! Grilled Steak Tacos with Elote Main Course: Perusing Cooking Light recently, I found a recipe for Grilled Steak and Elote Tacos from skinnytaste.com.   Fast and easy!  Perfect for a weeknight grill fest.  One of my favorite appetizers is the Elote Appetizer from the Elote Café in Sedona, Arizona.   Elote is Mexican street corn, usually grilled and rolled in mayo and cotija cheese and eaten on a stick.  YUM.  The recipe calls for skirt steak which is very thin and cooks quickly.  For our usual tacos, Tom and I prefer flap meat ( which is a tad thicker than skirt steak and our butcher cuts into thinner carne asada-type pieces), but it does take a little longer to grill (but … Read more…

Cadillac Margarita Cheesecake Bars with Graham Cracker Pretzel Crust

Tequila Treat Treasure Cadillac Margarita Cheesecake Bars with Graham Cracker Pretzel Crust Dessert: Tom’s birthday this year falls on National Tequila Day.  Since it is also a work day (for some of us at least), instead of downing some margs, I decided to make him the Top-Shelf Margarita Cheesecake found in Booze Cakes, Confections Spiked with Spirits, Wine, and Beer.  This recipe book was a gift from our friends, Dan and Linda, whose favorite booze cake is Tom’s Famous Black Russian Bundt Cake.  I have marked many cakes in this book that I would like to try but this is the first one I’ve made.  The recipe calls for a cornmeal crust, but I just couldn’t envision a margarita rimmed … Read more…

Summer Tomato, Strawberry & Mozzarella Salad

Stupendous Summertime Salad Summer Tomato, Strawberry & Mozzarella Salad Starter: In 2014, in anticipation of our 20th Anniversary trip to Paris, Tom and I took a beginning French language class at Le Petite Ecole Française. Our instructor, Caroline, who was French, was excellent and very patient with us (especially Tom).  Caroline also organizes many get-togethers and events for her students and French-speaking people in our area.  One such event which we attended was an unofficial Dîner en Blanc … a secret Dinner in White where the guests must dress entirely in white for a pop-up picnic dinner.                    From Forbes:  “Originated in Paris as a way to celebrate the French ‘art of living’ and the return of sunny summer days, … Read more…

Spicy Buttermilk Fried Chicken

Shake Shack’s Buttermilk Fried Chicken Variation Spicy Buttermilk Fried Chicken Main Course: When I read that Ina Garten (Barefoot Contessa) said the recipe for The Shake Shack’s fried chicken was the best fried chicken ever, I did a double take.  My Nana’s fried chicken is the best ever!   Of course, did anyone bother to get Nana’s recipe? … Mom?   So, if Ina says this is the best ever, I had to give it a try. What I can recall of my Nana’s chicken was that she fried it in an electric frying pan, in Wesson or Crisco, and she used paper bags to shake it up.  Man, that chicken was perfection and even better the next day … but, nothing … Read more…