Category Archives: Family Recipes

i8tonite with Wisconsin Supper Clubs Author & Filmmaker Ron Faiola & Recipe for Onion Pie

i8tonite with Wisconsin Supper Clubs Author & Filmmaker Ron Faiola & Recipe for Onion PieWisconsin Supper Clubs are a Midwest tradition like no other – a celebration of excellent food in a friendly, homey atmosphere. From thick-cut steaks to fish boils (a Great Lakes tradition, especially popular in Door County) and Friday fish fry, the food at supper clubs here is high quality – and there are some standard items that all supper clubs feature. The relish tray (cut vegetables, dip) and club cheese are standard, and come first.

Then you sit and chat, have a cocktail out on the deck or at your window-side table, and the friendly waitress (who always treats you like an old friend) brings your excellent dinner. For that’s what a supper club is about – socializing and eating in a very friendly and welcoming atmosphere.

i8tonite with Wisconsin Supper Clubs Author & Filmmaker Ron Faiola & Recipe for Onion PieWisconsin has hundreds of supper clubs – how to choose? Well, Milwaukee author & filmmaker Ron Faiola has come to our rescue with advice for both travel planning and restaurant picking. He’s an author and filmmaker who has produced and directed numerous critically acclaimed documentaries. He is the president and founder of Push Button Gadget Inc., which has been specializing in audio visual and business theater production for nearly 20 years. And, most importantly for us, he is the author of Wisconsin Supper Clubs and Wisconsin Supper Clubs: Another Round, both published by Agate Midway.  In these books, he profiles excellent supper clubs throughout the state – and gives us a glimpse into this unique Wisconsin tradition.

i8tonite with Wisconsin Supper Clubs Author & Filmmaker Ron Faiola & Recipe for Onion Pie
Dining Room, Four Seasons Supper Club and Resort, Arbor Vitae

Food People Questionnaire (with a nod to Proust):

What is your favorite food to cook at home?
Cheese burger pizza made from scratch, complete with pickles and ketchup.

What do you always have in your fridge at home?
Cheese, butter, milk.

i8tonite with Wisconsin Supper Clubs Author & Filmmaker Ron Faiola & Recipe for Onion Pie
Fish boil, Fitzgerald’s Genoa Junction, Genoa City

What marked characteristic do you love in a person with whom you are sharing a meal?
Their sense of adventure food-wise.

i8tonite with Wisconsin Supper Clubs Author & Filmmaker Ron Faiola & Recipe for Onion Pie
Birthday party, Kutzee’s Supper Club, Stanley

What marked characteristic do you find unappealing in a person with whom you are sharing a meal?
Being too food-fussy.

Beer, wine, or cocktail?
Beer, cocktail, then wine.

Your favorite cookbook?
Roald Dahl’s Revolting Recipes.

Your favorite kitchen tool?
Potato masher.

i8tonite with Wisconsin Supper Clubs Author & Filmmaker Ron Faiola & Recipe for Onion Pie
Steve cuts steaks, Club Chalet, Green Bay

Favorite types of cuisine to cook?
Mexican breakfast, French omelets.

Beef, chicken, pork, or tofu?
Mostly chicken (and seafood), but I love to make some great tofu dishes.

Favorite vegetable?
Asparagus.

Chef you most admire?
Jennifer Paterson and Clarissa Dickson Wright of the Two Fat Ladies show on BBC.

Food you like the most to eat?
Pizza.

i8tonite with Wisconsin Supper Clubs Author & Filmmaker Ron Faiola & Recipe for Onion Pie
Chef Alison Nave sends food out. The Village Supper Club, Kenosha

Food you dislike the most?
Chicken gizzards.

What is your favorite non-food thing to do?
Train travel.

Who do you most admire in food?
Kyle Cherek, host of Wisconsin Foodie.

Where is your favorite place to eat?
On my back deck when it’s nice out.

i8tonite with Wisconsin Supper Clubs Author & Filmmaker Ron Faiola & Recipe for Onion Pie
Dining Room, Four Seasons Supper Club and Resort, Arbor Vitae

What is your favorite restaurant?
Any local family restaurant.

Do you have any tattoos? And if so, how many are of food?
I don’t, but I know a girl who has the M&M guys on her arm.

Recipe: Onion Pie

i8tonite with Wisconsin Supper Clubs Author & Filmmaker Ron Faiola & Recipe for Onion Pie

Every Thanksgiving my family asks me to make my updated version of this Pennsylvania Dutch recipe.

Ingredients (for 8″ Pyrex pie plate):

1/2 cup Italian bread crumbs
4 tbs butter
2-3 medium sweet onions cut into rings or strips (not diced)
2 eggs
3/4 cup milk
1 cup shredded sharp (or mild) cheddar cheese
Salt & pepper

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Cook onions in two tbs butter and a pinch of salt & pepper on medium low heat. Onions should be soft but not caramelized.
Melt 2 tbs butter in bowl and mix with 1/2 cup Italian bread crumbs. Press mixture into bottom of buttered pie dish.
Combine beaten eggs, milk and cheese in bowl. When onions are done, layer them on top of the bread crumb crust, then slowly add the egg mixture from bowl. Additional cheese (parmesan, asiago) can be added to the top (optional).

Bake on center rack and check at 25 minutes, inserting a clean knife in center. If it comes out clean, the pie is ready. Most likely it will need another 5 or 10 minutes, checking every 5 minutes. When done, remove from oven and let it sit for 5 minutes. Cut into pie wedges or squares.

 

Read more: Behind the Scenes of Wisconsin Supper Clubs: Another Round

– The End. Go Eat. –

 

Author Photo © Art Mellor. All other Photos © Ron Faiola

i8tonite with Azerbaijani cookbook author Feride Buyuran & Recipe for Fresh Herb Kükü

i8tonite with Azerbaijani cookbook author Feride Buyuran & Recipe for Fresh Herb KüküI’ve recently fallen in love with the cuisine of Azerbaijan – thanks to the efforts of Feride Buyuran. With her new cookbook, Pomegranates and Saffron – the first comprehensive cookbook on Azerbaijani cuisine published in the U.S. – and her impressive and inspiring cooking website, http://azcookbook.com/, she’s singlehandedly promoting Azerbaijani cuisine to an audience unfamiliar with it. There are few Azerbaijani restaurants in the US – you can count them on one hand – and while the cuisine is somewhat familiar, because of its Persian, Russian, Middle Eastern, and Turkish influences, much is new and exciting.

Imagine a country where East and West are beautifully intertwined in the cuisine and culture and where its treasured cooking secrets are waiting to be discovered. Welcome to Azerbaijan. In Pomegranates and Saffron, Feride Buyuran takes you on a delightful culinary journey through this beautiful land in the Caucasus.

i8tonite with Azerbaijani cookbook author Feride Buyuran & Recipe for Fresh Herb KüküIn the cookbook, there are over 200 tempting recipes for appetizers and salads, soups and stews, pasta, meat, vegetable and egg dishes, breads, saffron rice pilafs, aromatic drinks, and desserts, all adapted for preparation in a Western kitchen. Interspersed throughout the text are fascinating glimpses of local culture and traditional proverbs related to food that will make your adventure even more memorable.

i8tonite with Azerbaijani cookbook author Feride Buyuran & Recipe for Fresh Herb Kükü

Pomegranates & Saffron has won 4 major awards, including Gourmand Best in the World Award, U.S. Winner of Gourmand World Cookbook Award for Best Eastern European Cookbook, Living Now Book Award with a Silver Medal in the Ethnic Cookbooks Category, and a National Indie Excellence Award in the International Cookbooks Category.

 

I chatted with Feride via Skype, and as we talked, I grew more and more impressed with her worldview – and cooking. Originally from Azerbaijan, Feride moved to the US about 15 years ago. While she visits home as often as possible, she wanted to cook the foods she grew up with, to satisfy her cravings for food from home. Feride had started a recipe notebook when she was 13, curating those recipes as stories. To supplement that small notebook once she was in the US, she started calling her mom, grandma, sister, and other family members (all excellent home cooks) to ask for recipes from home. She conceived of her cookbook when she was 8 months pregnant (talk about pregnancy food cravings!), and has worked for 7 years on her book and accompanying website. She talked about not giving up on her dream, and gaining an education in the publishing industry – that “it’s a hard road, but so worth it.”

i8tonite with Azerbaijani cookbook author Feride Buyuran & Recipe for Fresh Herb Kükü

It shows. The book is beautiful, informative, and chock full of cultural goodness. The website shares recipes, links to interesting food articles, and travel and cooking inspiration. When I asked Feride what she’d want to say to readers about Azerbaijani cuisine, she noted, “Don’t be scared of the name Azerbaijan. The food is a beautiful melange of cultures, and is unique. The ingredients are widely available in the US and not scary. See for yourself how delicious it is!”

She is the perfect bridge to representing two countries in cooking, an ambassador from Azerbaijan who shares the best way to learn about a place – through its food, recipes, and culture.

i8tonite with Azerbaijani cookbook author Feride Buyuran & Recipe for Fresh Herb Kükü

One thing I loved learning about the culture and cuisine of Azerbaijan is the traditional hospitality toward guests. For meals, the table is filled with as many dishes as possible, putting the best you have out for your guests. If there’s a celebration (birthday, wedding) meal, there’s a person at the head of the table to make toasts. Meals are to be lingered over, while enjoying the time spent together.

i8tonite with Azerbaijani cookbook author Feride Buyuran & Recipe for Fresh Herb Kükü
Food People Questionnaire (with a nod to Proust):

What is your favorite food to cook at home?
Stuffed grape leaves – dolma. Very laborious, but the entire family is crazy about it.

What do you always have in your fridge at home?
Plain yogurt (homemade) and milk (because I always need a batch to make yogurt again), and fresh herbs (cilantro, parsley, etc).

What marked characteristic do you love in a person with whom you are sharing a meal?
Enjoying the food set in front of him or her and being appreciative.

What marked characteristic do you find unappealing in a person with whom you are sharing a meal?
An extremely picky eater is the recipe for an unpleasing meal.

i8tonite with Azerbaijani cookbook author Feride Buyuran & Recipe for Fresh Herb KüküBeer, wine, or cocktail?
Generally speaking, none, as I am not much of a drink lover. But I do enjoy a few sips of wine or cocktail with friends at get-togethers.

Your favorite cookbook author?
I have a few in mind – Faye Levy, Claudia Roden, Darra Goldstein, Anna vom Bremzen, Najmieh Batmanglij, and others. Their books are enlightening and their recipes appeal to my taste.

Your favorite kitchen tool?
Cliche, but a good knife and a sturdy cutting board. Also a good blender for those impromptu smoothies.

i8tonite with Azerbaijani cookbook author Feride Buyuran & Recipe for Fresh Herb KüküFavorite types of cuisine to cook?
Turkish, Azerbaijani, Middle Eastern, Eastern European.

Beef, chicken, pork, or tofu?
Beef and chicken. I don’t cook with pork, and tofu is ok once in a while.

Favorite vegetable?
Eggplant all the way, although it is actually a fruit.

Chef you most admire?
No favorite. I don’t want to pick a celebrity chef because there are many chefs out there who are equally talented yet don’t have media exposure. So, to me, any chef who is hard working, creative, yet humble is admirable.

Food you like the most to eat?
I love food of all sorts and anything delicious is good for me. I love anything with eggplant. Also, lamb kabab. And, if it’s pomegranate season, I love the fruit. I also like dried fruits. b. See? My list can continue.

Food you dislike the most?
It’s more of an ingredient – wasabi. Every time I try to like it, my palate says no.

i8tonite with Azerbaijani cookbook author Feride Buyuran & Recipe for Fresh Herb Kükü

What is your favorite non-food thing to do?
Dancing flamenco (my hobby), reading when my brain is not cluttered, and chatting with friends around tea table.

What do you most admire about food?
Its innate power to bring people together. Everywhere.

Where is your favorite place to eat?
At home, in any home. I love homemade foods. They come with stories and if it’s a good company, with a good dose of laughter.

What is your favorite restaurant?
I really like ethnic restaurants serving traditional or fusion foods. There are a few on my mind but no absolute favorite yet.

Do you have any tattoos? And if so, how many are of food?
No tattoos. But I am beginning to wonder if a pomegranate tatoo would look good on me.

Recipe: Fresh Herb Kükü

i8tonite with Azerbaijani cookbook author Feride Buyuran & Recipe for Fresh Herb Kükü

In Azerbaijan, kükü (read: kyukyu) is the general name given to dishes in which main ingredients—vegetables, herbs, meat or fish—are bound with eggs, then browned on both sides on a stovetop. It is not to be confused with omelet, as the featured ingredients in kükü are used in far greater amounts than eggs. By its appearance and texture, kükü can be likened to a Persian kookoo, Middle Eastern eggah, Spanish tortilla or Italian frittata.

Simplicity in itself, fresh herb kükü is by far the most popular and the most frequently made kükü of all in the versatile kükü repertoir. In this light summer dish, fresh herbs are mixed with eggs, then the mixture is leveled in a frying pan and cooked in butter on both sides to yield a tender, flavorful interior laced with a golden surface

If you wish, add some fresh mint to the kükü, and if in season, fresh green garlic (green parts only) as well, decreasing the amount of other herbs accordingly. Sometimes, spinach is added too. Herb-laden tender kükü wedges can be served cold or at room temperature as an appetizer or immediately as a light standalone dish with bread or as a side dish to rice pilaf. You can also make it a part of your breakfast and brunch menu. Don’t forget to drizzle the kükü with thick, creamy garlicky yogurt sauce, for that extra touch of authenticity.

Serves 4

Ingredients
2 packed cups chopped fresh cilantro
1 packed cup chopped fresh dill
½ cup fresh green onions
5 eggs
½ teaspoon salt
Ground black pepper to taste
¼ cup unsalted butter or clarified butter (can substitute olive oil)
Garlicky yogurt sauce (mix 1 cup plain yogurt with crushed garlic to taste) or plain yogurt, to serve

Instructions
In a large mixing bowl, combine the chopped fresh herbs and eggs. Season with salt and pepper, then stir with a spoon to mix well.
Melt the butter or oil over medium heat in a 10-inch non-stick frying pan. Pour the herb-egg mixture into the pan to fill it completely, leveling it with the back of a spoon. Cook until golden brown on the bottom, 5 to 8 minutes.
Using a knife, carefully cut the Kükü into 4 wedges (or 8 if you wish). Gently turn the wedges over to brown the other side. If you need to, add more butter or oil to the pan.
Remove the cooked Kükü from the heat and transfer it onto a serving platter. Serve with bread or as accompaniment to rice pilaf.
Separately serve a bowl with garlicky yogurt sauce or plain yogurt, to spoon onto Kükü to taste.

The End. Go Eat.

i8tonite with Arizona Taco Festival Founder David Tyda and Recipe for Rocked Guac

i8tonite with Arizona Taco Festival Founder David Tyda and Recipe for Rocked GuacIn 1912, Arizona became the forty-eighth state to enter the contiguous United States. Prior to that, the desert landscape territory was an extension of Mexico’s Sonora, the agricultural hub of our bordering ally. Arguably, you could even say that the Grand Canyon state and our friendly neighbor are conjoined twins. Instead of sharing body parts, the state and the country share a border and a unique history, especially as it relates to eats. On this northern side, we have adopted tacos and tequila as our own with fast food franchises, academic courses detailing corn tortilla virtues, and country songs such as “Ten Rounds with Jose Cuervo.” (Fortunately, Mexicans don’t have songs about throwing back a bottle of Napa cabernet.)

It’s not surprising then that the state is home to the world’s largest taco festival, honoring its Mexican heritage. Entering its seventh year, the massively attended Arizona Taco Festival was co-created by David Tyda, 39, and glorifies one of the globe’s greatest food icons – right up there with hamburgers, barbeque, French fries, and pizza. There is no other state or city where an annual celebration takes place showcasing the depth of creativity folded into a flour or corn tortilla. “When my business partner, Rick Phillips, and I started the festival,” says Tyda, “we wanted to reveal how diverse the taco can be.”

i8tonite with Arizona Taco Festival Founder David Tyda and Recipe for Rocked Guac

Taking place annually in October, over thirty-five thousand people join in eating unusual hybrids folded or fried into flour or corn layers. The gorge get-together has become a tourism force to be reckoned with for Arizonans bringing heads in beds for the hospitality soaked town which has almost 60,000 rooms in nearly 450 hotels and resorts. (Jokingly, Tyda says, “We sold tickets in every state except Rhode Island, Hawaii, and Maine. Dunno what they’ve got against tacos in Rhode Island.”). Over fifty restaurants gather at Scottsdale Salt River Fields, serving up two dollar tacos with a chance to win a ten thousand dollar cash prize.

i8tonite with Arizona Taco Festival Founder David Tyda and Recipe for Rocked Guac

“Whenever someone visited me, they would always ask where they could get a good taco,” states Tyda. “Creatively, we see unusual ideas of what makes a taco. Although, I think it would be fun, to see what restaurants do who don’t make tacos – see what they come up with.” To his credit, he and his partner have also branched out to other epicurean bashes, such as Scottsdale Beer Palooza highlighting craft brews, and Arizona BBQ Festival featuring The Redneck Games.
Long before he was an advocate of Mexico’s leading export, Tyda was one of the state’s finest journalists, working as the editor of Ritz-Carlton Magazine, the now defunct Desert Living, Stratos, and many other glossy titles. Over the years, he’s witnessed a decline in the writing world. In an interview with 26Blocks, he says about journalism, “That art is dying and I’m sad about that.” Yet, gratefully, the Midwest-born, Arizona State University graduate has smartly created a whole new work category for himself and Arizona, turning the Valley of the Sun into a Mexican taco fest.

i8tonite with Arizona Taco Festival Founder David Tyda and Recipe for Rocked Guac

Food People Questionnaire (with a nod to Proust):

What is your favorite food to cook at home?
My famous mojito pancakes – they have all the ingredients of a mojito in the batter.

What do you always have in your fridge at home?
An open box of baking soda, though I’m not convinced it’s doing a damn thing to keep stuff fresh.

What marked characteristic do you love in a person with whom you are sharing a meal?
Willingness to share their food.

What marked characteristic do you find unappealing in a person with whom you are sharing a meal?
Bad tippers.

i8tonite with Arizona Taco Festival Founder David Tyda and Recipe for Rocked GuacBeer, wine, or cocktail?
All of the above. I believe in democracy.

Your favorite cookbook author?
Dr. Andrew Weil. His recipes are simple and healthy.

Your favorite kitchen tool?
A good knife.

Favorite types of cuisine to cook?
No favorites – stir fry, Italian sauces, grilled wings, you name it.

Beef, chicken, pork, or tofu?
Tofu – only because I rarely encounter it.

Favorite vegetable?
Prosciutto-wrapped asparagus, hold the asparagus.

Chef you most admire?
Any talented sous chef because they’re doing a ton of the work and getting almost none of the credit.

i8tonite with Arizona Taco Festival Founder David Tyda and Recipe for Rocked Guac

Food you like the most to eat?
Tacos, of course!

Food you dislike the most?
Anything poorly designed, where the chef didn’t think about the user experience (i.e., tacos that fall apart, a burger with a soggy bun, pizza with too much cheese, etc.)

What is your favorite non-food thing to do?
Netflix and chill with my fiancé (and I really mean Netflix and chill, lol)

Whom do you most admire in food?
Any chef who can achieve consistency. It’s truly a moving target.

i8tonite with Arizona Taco Festival Founder David Tyda and Recipe for Rocked GuacWhere is your favorite place to eat?
At the bar.

What is your favorite restaurant?
Dick’s Hideaway.

Do you have any tattoos? And if so, how many are of food?
Nope.

Recipe: Rock Out with your Guac Out

2 avocados, peeled and pitted
1 cup chopped roma tomatoes
1/4 cup chopped red onion
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
2 Tbsp lime juice
1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and minced
Sea salt and ground black pepper, to taste
Chips

Scoop avocados into a medium bowl, and cut/smash with a fork to desired consistency. Stir in all other ingredients. Serve with chips.

The End. Go Eat.

i8tonite with Grow Your Own Cake Author Holly Farrell & her Pumpkin Soda Bread Recipe

i8tonite with Grow Your Own Cake Author Holly Farrell & her Pumpkin Soda Bread Recipe“Who doesn’t love cake?” Thus my introduction to Holly Farrell began, when I called her at her gardener’s cottage on an estate in the UK, near the Shropshire/Herefordshire border. Farrell is a serious gardener, mom of a toddler, and the author of Grow Your Own Cake: Recipes from Pot to Plate, a genius book that is both a backyard gardening guide and cookbook. The beautiful, inspiring photos are by Jason Ingram.

 

i8tonite with Grow Your Own Cake Author Holly Farrell & her Pumpkin Soda Bread RecipeFarrell has a delicious twist to her cake recipes, though – she has a vegetable garden devoted to all things cake. How did this come about?

In college, Farrell majored in history. Which led, curiously, to gardening. What? Yes, well, love entered the picture, too, as you’ll find out in a moment. She got the growing bug working at a chili pepper farm, after which she trained at RHS Gardens Wisley, where she gained the Wisley Diploma in Practical Horticulture and the RHS Certificate and Diploma, both with Commendation – and met her husband! They now live on the country estate where he is the Head Gardener.

i8tonite with Grow Your Own Cake Author Holly Farrell & her Pumpkin Soda Bread RecipeSoon, she started writing garden books – and freelancing on kitchen gardens for private clients. Now one thing that’s a bit unusual, you’d think, for gardeners – sometimes the accommodations where they lived didn’t have big gardens, because the estate had such extensive gardens! So, she has been growing her own fruit and vegetables for many years, in a variety of settings, from allotments to container gardens. I think for Farrell, gardening is like breathing – something you do no matter where you are. It was amazing to hear her clear passion for gardening –  and her love of teaching how to grow things – from across the pond.

Farrell has always cooked, and always liked cake. This book is a glorious combination of the two, where ingredients you never thought would be in a cake are the stars – or the firmament.

i8tonite with Grow Your Own Cake Author Holly Farrell & her Pumpkin Soda Bread Recipe
lavender shortbread cookies

She hopes to inspire people to expand their gardens – and palates. This book will appeal to gardeners who are already growing, and bakers who have never gardened, too. Using freshly grown ingredients (including herbs and flowers) – especially from your own hand and land – makes such a difference. Can’t grow much? Start with herbs in pots on your windowsill, and get the rest from local farmers at your farmer’s market.

i8tonite with Grow Your Own Cake Author Holly Farrell & her Pumpkin Soda Bread Recipe
Rose cake

I love this book, for it teaches much in both the garden and the kitchen. If you know one, skip ahead to the other. But the recipes (50 of them!) shine, I will be honest. Her chapters include spring and summer cakes, autumn and winter cakes, afternoon tea, pudding, and savory bakes. When I asked what readers might be surprised about her book, Farrell mentions that she while she loves gardening, she doesn’t grow her own wheat, or raises cows and chickens – and the recipe that raises the most eyebrows is the savory cheesecake (you know I flipped right to that page after our afternoon chat, and indeed, I was both intrigued and impressed. Making soon!).

As a mom, I asked Farrell for tips were to get kids started baking (and gardening) early. She said to start early by baking sweet stuff! And while plenty of people are great at hiding vegetables in a cake, that’s not what she’s about. She prefers getting kids to appreciate growing things, picking, and then cooking them. Their time and efforts are rewarded and they’ll want to try it again (and again).

I was impressed with Farrell’s philosophy on gardening, eating, and life. She noted that, “so much goes into the experience of eating – where you are, who you’re with, if the sun is shining, etc. The cakes in the book will taste good, but hopefully you’ll be in a good place, a garden, and the satisfaction of having grown it yourself will make it better.”

To that end, she’s shared two recipes to inspire you.

Questionnaire, with a nod to Proust:

What is your favorite food to cook at home?
Cake! Or anything involving cheese.

What do you always have in your fridge at home?
Butter and eggs, and parmesan cheese (see above).

What marked characteristic do you love in a person with whom you are sharing a meal?
I’m terrible at deciding between dishes in restaurants, so it’s always nice when they order the other choice so I can try both!

What marked characteristic do you find unappealing in a person with whom you are sharing a meal?
Poor table manners.

Beer, wine, or cocktail?
Cocktail.

Your favorite cookbook author?
Too many to choose, but for the writing, Nigel Slater and recently Ruby Tandoh.

Your favorite kitchen tool?
My silicone spatula.

Favorite types of cuisine to cook?
Anything sweet – pudding, dessert, cake…

Beef, chicken, pork, or tofu?
Chicken, but I couldn’t live without pancetta for ragu.

i8tonite with Grow Your Own Cake Author Holly Farrell & her Pumpkin Soda Bread Recipe
Pea Cheesecake (told you. Make one!)

Favorite vegetable?
Broccoli – it’s what I crave when I’m under the weather, but for baking with, carrots.

Chef you most admire?
Jamie Oliver and Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall do great work with their campaigns for better food.

Food you like the most to eat?
I couldn’t live without chocolate.

Food you dislike the most?
Visible fat on meat – I just can’t stomach chewing it. Or semolina and rice puddings, a school-dinner legacy.

What is your favorite non-food thing to do?
Gardening.

Who do you most admire in food?
Michael Pollan writes so well, and his Food Rules is brilliant.

Where is your favorite place to eat?
At the kitchen table with my husband and daughter.

What is your favorite restaurant?
The best meals I’ve ever had out were at Raymond Blanc’s Le Manoir, and at a little place called Da Enzo in Rome.

Do you have any tattoos? And if so, how many are of food?
Hah! No, sorry, I’m not nearly rock and roll (or brave) enough for tattoos.

Growing Carrots & Carrot Cake Recipe

i8tonite with Grow Your Own Cake Author Holly Farrell & her Pumpkin Soda Bread Recipe
Grow your own carrots…

G R O W CARROTS
When I first started growing my own vegetables, I had a friend who thought carrots is carrots is carrots. I presented him with my home-grown roots for dinner, pulled from the soil that afternoon. ‘Oh’, he said, ‘so that’s what carrots are supposed to taste like.’

BEST VARIETIES
For recipes that call for blended or grated carrot, sweet, juicy, long, blunt-ended varieties are best, such as ‘Sugarsnax 54’, ‘St Valery’,
any of the ‘Nantes’ type or the shorter ‘Amsterdam Forcing’ for growing in pots. When using whole carrots, as in Root veg
tarte Tatin, baby carrot varieties such as ‘Paris Market’ are a good choice, and also suitable for growing in pots.

PLANTING
Sow carrots in a sunny spot in spring, and again at intervals until late summer. Scatter the seed thinly in a drill in well-prepared soil free from large stones. Small carrots can be grown in pots, and this is actually preferable to growing them in heavy clay soils.

MAINTENANCE
Carrot flies are attracted by the scent of the foliage so avoid brushing it while tending the plants. To protect the crop from such pests, cover with horticultural fleece or fine mesh. Clear plastic tunnels can also be used if aired daily. Check the edges and folds regularly for slugs and snails. Thin the seedlings once the roots have grown to a usable size, leaving one plant every 10cm/4cm or so.

HARVEST
Satisfying as it is to just pull up carrots using the foliage, this should be avoided so the root does not break; instead use a fork to lever them out of the ground. Carrot thinnings provide the first harvest, while the main crop will be ready around four months after sowing.

Recipe: CARROT CAKE

i8tonite with Grow Your Own Cake Author Holly Farrell & her Pumpkin Soda Bread Recipe
for this amazing carrot cake!

Perhaps the most well-known of all the vegetable cakes, and with good reason, carrot cake comes in many guises. This sponge version is lightly spiced, moist and includes a zesty buttercream. It is light enough for baking with fresh, sweet carrots in summer.

MAKES A TWO-LAYER CAKE
YOU WILL NEED
2 x deep, round cake tins, 20cm/8in diameter, greased and base-lined

INGREDIENTS
Cake:
200g/7oz peeled carrots
2 tbsp natural yogurt
1 tbsp orange juice
330g/11oz plain flour
300g/10oz light brown muscovado sugar
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground ginger
1½ tbsp baking powder
180g/6oz unsalted butter
3 eggs

Candied carrot:
1 peeled carrot
70g/2½oz caster sugar
70ml/2½fl oz water

Buttercream:
300g/10oz icing sugar
150g/5oz unsalted butter
3 tsp lemon juice, to taste

Decoration:
1 lemon, zest
75g/2½oz walnuts and/or pecans, toasted

METHOD
• For the cake, preheat the oven to 170°C/325°F/gas mark 3. Grate the carrots, then blitz in a food processor or blender with the yogurt and orange juice to form a rough purée. Set aside. Sift the flour, sugar, spices and baking powder into a large bowl, then beat in the butter until it has coated the dry ingredients and the mix looks like breadcrumbs. Beat in the eggs until just incorporated, and then the carrot purée for 2–3 minutes. Divide between the two tins. Bake for 30 minutes, or until a skewer comes out clean. Then remove from the oven and turn out the cakes to cool on a wire rack.
• For the candied carrot, using a zester or small knife, pare long, thin strips of carrot into a small saucepan. Then add the sugar and water. Bring to a simmer over a medium heat and cook for about 5 minutes, until a thin syrup has formed. Hook out the carrot strips and leave to cool on a wire rack.
• For the buttercream, sift the icing sugar and beat with the butter to combine, then add lemon juice to taste. Beat for 5–10 minutes until light and fluffy.

TO ASSEMBLE
Use half the buttercream to sandwich the two layers of cake together, and the other half to cover the top. Grate over the lemon zest and finish by sprinkling over the toasted nuts and candied carrot.

 

Recipe: PUMPKIN SODA BREAD

i8tonite with Grow Your Own Cake Author Holly Farrell & her Pumpkin Soda Bread Recipe

Soda bread, which is created using baking powder rather than yeast, requires no kneading and no proving. It is best served warm, making it an ideal choice for a quick weekend lunch. Tradition has it that the cross sliced into the top of the bread is to ward off the devil, but whatever the origin it makes each loaf easy to tear apart into
chunks to share.

MAKES 2 LOAVES

YOU WILL NEED
1 × baking sheet, dusted with flour

INGREDIENTS
500g/1lb 2oz plain flour, plus extra for dusting
1 tsp salt
pinch of freshly ground pepper
4 tsp baking powder
150g/5oz grated pumpkin
100g/3½oz grated
gruyere cheese
300ml/½ pint buttermilk

METHOD
• Preheat the oven to 200°C/400°F/gas mark 6. Mix the flour, salt, pepper, baking powder, pumpkin and three-quarters of the cheese quickly and thoroughly in a large bowl. Then make a well in the centre.
• Pour in the buttermilk and stir until it comes together as one ball of dough. Work as quickly as possible until the ingredients are all incorporated, but do not mix for longer than necessary to do this.
• Divide the dough into two equal pieces, and shape each into a ball. Put on to the baking sheet and flatten slightly. Cut a deep (almost to the base) cross in each ball, sprinkle with the remaining cheese and dust with a little flour.
• Bake for 25–30 minutes, until the bread sounds hollow when tapped on the base. Remove from the oven and cool on a wire rack.

TO SERVE
Serve warm or cold. The loaves will last 2 days at most, and are best eaten as soon as possible after baking.

 

Inspiration, indeed. Spring is here – what are you planting, with a mind to bake and eat?

The End. Go Eat.

i8tonite with Eat Smart Culinary Travel Guides’ Susan Chwae & Shepherd’s Pie Recipe

i8tonite with Eat Smart Guides' Susan Chwae & Shepherd's Pie RecipeSusan Chwae, along with her mother Joan Peterson, are publishers of the award-winning Eat Smart Culinary travel guidebook series. To date, they have published guides to Brazil, Denmark, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Mexico, Morocco, Norway, Peru, Poland, Sicily, and Turkey. Note: the links are to my interviews with the authors! I love these guides and have enjoyed reading and sharing them for many years. This series? It’s the best thing you can read if you love food and are traveling.

In 2014, Susan designed the Eat Smart Abroad App that pulls the menu guide and foods and flavors chapters from each book so you never have to wonder what’s on the menu or in the market with easy-to-use translators for food and beverage terminology.

Susan also co-leads the Eat Smart Culinary Tours. Their annual Eat Smart Culinary Tour to Turkey is their most popular tour. Here’s a video from one of their tour participants:

They also lead tours to Morocco, India, Peru, Sicily, and in 2016 will be launching the 2016 Culinary Tour to Indonesia, with William Wongso, who is considered one of Indonesia’s national treasures.

Joan Peterson and Susan Chwae of Eat Smart Guides. From i8tonite with Eat Smart Guides' Susan Chwae & Shepherd's Pie Recipe
Joan Peterson and Susan Chwae of Eat Smart Guides

 

Food People Questionnaire (with a nod to Proust):

i8tonite with Eat Smart Guides' Susan Chwae & Shepherd's Pie Recipe

What is your favorite food to cook at home?  My grandma’s Shepherd’s Pie. It’s simple and a real comfort food in the winter months. I tend to cook with what I have available at the moment and this recipe is perfect to use what you have on hand, or that single parsnip or rutabaga you received in your CSA share.

What do you always have in your fridge at home? Cheese, a Wisconsin kitchen staple.

What marked characteristic do you love in a person with whom you are sharing a meal? A mutual appreciation for the thought and creativity that went into preparing the meal.

What marked characteristic do you find unappealing in a person with whom you are sharing a meal? Eating too fast, and making me clean up the kitchen.

Beer, wine, or cocktail? Wine or cocktail.

Your favorite cookbook author? When I went away to college, my dad bought me the Better Homes and Garden cookbook collection. He wrote a message on the inside cover in each of them. I grab those first for ideas and then create my dishes with what I have on hand.

Turkish spoons. i8tonite with Eat Smart Guides' Susan Chwae & Shepherd's Pie Recipe
Turkish spoons

Your favorite kitchen tool? My Şimşir wood spoon collection from Turkey. There are shops behind the Spice Market in Istanbul where they are made and sold and we always stop to shop as part of our tour itinerary.

Favorite types of cuisine to cook? I’m a casserole fan. And I love traditional Mexican foods.

Beef, chicken, pork, or tofu? Chicken

Favorite vegetable? Asparagus

Chef you most admire? My husband. When he starts creating a dish, he absolutely has to master it and I admire his dedication.

Food you like the most to eat? King crab legs

Food you dislike the most? Pearl onions

What is your favorite non-food thing to do? Watch my daughters perform in dance and music. Both of them are passionate about the arts.

Who do you most admire in food? Right now, William Wongso. He’s going to be co-leading our upcoming culinary tour to Indonesia. His dedication and drive to promote the cuisine of Indonesia is awe-inspiring.

Where is your favorite place to eat? Home. I am surrounded by great cooks.

What is your favorite restaurant? Salvatore’s Tomato Pies in Madison.

Do you have any tattoos? And if so, how many are of food? If I did, I wouldn’t be able to say because my mother will read this.

Recipe: Thelma’s Shepherd’s Pie

i8tonite with Eat Smart Guides' Susan Chwae & Shepherd's Pie Recipe

Brown ground or diced lamb with chopped onions.

i8tonite with Eat Smart Guides' Susan Chwae & Shepherd's Pie Recipe

Add a variety of small or diced vegetables you have on hand, some flour, worcestershire sauce, some herbs, salt and pepper, and enough water to thicken the mixture.

Place in a deep casserole dish and top with prepared mashed-potatoes.

Sprinkle with paprika and bake at 350 degrees, uncovered, around 30 minutes.

 

-The End. Go Eat.-

i8tonite: On the Joy of Deviled Eggs

Deviled Eggs – the highlight of any group gathering…one look and people cluster to snag some, long for more, become sad when they are gone too soon.

What is it about deviled eggs that we so love? It could be the variations – from Chef Thomas Keller’s classic deviled eggs for the Oscars last night to the blasphemy/brilliance of buzzfeed’s deep fried deviled eggs. It could be that they are comfort food, or holiday food, or party food, or deeply nourishing food.

I don’t know one person who doesn’t love deviled eggs – if I met one, I’d be suspicious (Are they human? Do they have taste buds? Who are these people?).

i8tonite: On the Joy of Deviled Eggs

While in Milwaukee last month (“researching” our great food recommendations for our Cheat Sheet to eating in Milwaukee), my friend Amy Sobczak and I started discussing deviled eggs (because Vanguard was OUT of them. Oh, the sadness). The longer Amy and I talked, the more I realized how important deviled eggs are – to our meals, families, and celebrations.

i8tonite: On the Joy of Deviled Eggs

Here are some deviled egg musings from Amy and I – and a few family recipes.

i8tonite: On the Joy of Deviled Eggs

What is your first memory of deviled eggs?
A: Ah, the deviled egg… a cherished treat made for holidays and celebrations. I realized as a young girl that these little delights go fast at family functions, so the hover and snatch move at the serving table was necessary to enjoy as many as possible. Once they’re gone, they’re gone!
J: I remember peeking over the table when I was small, eyeing that platter of deviled eggs and wondering if “they” would know if I took one out. Of course, I was too short to see that the deviled eggs were placed on special dishes that had egg-shaped indentations on them, thus letting anyone know that there had been a egg-snitcher. Two words: WORTH IT. And, I went back for more.

What family traditions do you have around deviled eggs?
J: Well, deviled eggs are holiday food in my extended family. My aunt brings them at Christmas. Others bring them to summer gatherings. In our house, I make them often because they are good protein, and good snacks, and we can’t get enough of them.
A: Deviled eggs are a special occasion treat for us as well, rarely made for just your typical day. A family member or friend would always bring them to showers, birthday parties, and holiday get togethers.

egg plates. From i8tonite: On the Joy of Deviled Eggs
My mom’s collection of deviled egg plates

What ingredient can’t you stand in deviled eggs?
A: I never met a deviled egg ingredient I didn’t like.
J: Pickles. Onions. Anything super strong or crunchy. My granny added olives, and/or topped them with caviar and I’d (gasp) avoid them.

i8tonite: On the Joy of Deviled Eggs

Favorite part of the deviled egg… Yolk or white?
J: YOLK all the way!
A: The yolk… hands down!

 

What’s with the name ‘deviled egg?’
A: Hmm… perhaps it’s deviled because of the mixing and mashing of several ingredients.
J: I add a titch of horseradish – devil-ish? Or maybe that the Hungarian paprika we sprinkle on top can be spicy?

i8tonite: On the Joy of Deviled Eggs
Why yes, there are *four* kinds of Paprika here.

Why do you think deviled eggs are so popular? They are always first to go, at a potluck!
J: Maybe because they can be tedious to make (although easier than many) and people reserve that cooking effort for holidays? I’m not sure, but when I see them anywhere, I grab a few!
A: They go with anything and everything!

We’ve seen some pretty crazy things (such as deep fried deviled eggs!) – would you eat them? why or why not?
A: Look, I love to try new things but I’m old school when it comes to the deviled egg. There’s something about that delicate balance between the firm white against the tangy yolk mixture. It’s just so delicious. Can’t mess with that.
J: Um, NO. Just no. It’s blasphemy. Eggs need to be cold, not warm; soft, not fried. Please stop.

Our favorite ingredients:
A: A good horseradish, pickle relish, and celery seed
J: Mayo, mustard, horseradish, chives, topped with paprika and salt

How to boil eggs

You can’t beat the directions from Food 52 and Serious Eats.

Recipe: Amy’s Deviled Eggs

i8tonite: On the Joy of Deviled Eggs
Amy’s Deviled Eggs

6 eggs, hard boiled, shelled, cut in half
1 tbsp Dijon mustard
2 tbsp mayonnaise
1 tbsp pickle relish (drained)
½ tbsp cream style horseradish
¼ tbsp dried chopped chives
⅛ tbsp dried green onion flakes
⅛ tbsp dried onion powder
¼ tbsp dried celery seed
Hungarian paprika to taste/finish

Remove the yolk from each egg half and place in a small bowl. Put whites aside. Mash yolks with a fork add next eight ingredients and mix well to a fluffy consistency. Add relish juice if mixture is too dry (¼ tsp at a time). Fill egg whites full to heaping and sprinkle with paprika. Store in refrigerator.

 

Recipe: Jessie’s Deviled Eggs

i8tonite: On the Joy of Deviled Eggs
Jessie’s Deviled Eggs. See the ones my dad loves at the bottom?

1 dozen eggs (from a local farm is best. Trust me, I grew up reaching under chickens to grab them)
Squirt of yellow mustard
Mayonnaise, to taste
Grated horseradish, to taste
Fresh chives, snipped to small pieces
Salt, to taste
Sweet and Hot paprika, to taste

Boil your eggs. Run them under cold water and crack the shells a tiny bit, to let the cold water in and cool them down. Drain. Peel the eggs and cut in half.

i8tonite: On the Joy of Deviled Eggs

Place the whites onto your special deviled egg plate (or a regular plate, if you don’t have one yet). Put the yolks into a food processor and buzz a few times to create crumbles. Scrape into a bowl and add your ingredients.

Be careful with how much mayonnaise you put in – you can always add more, but you can’t take it out. Stir carefully until all is blended. Then scrape with a spoon into the hollows of the whites. Sprinkle with paprika, to taste. Keep them chilled until serving.

My husband and dad love the hot paprika. I love the sweet. Everyone loves different amounts, so start with a light hand and keep the paprika next to the plate, for those that like to add more. We usually have several kinds of paprika around – the latest is some very delicious paprika direct from Budapest, brought back by my best friend (thank you!).

 

What do you add to your deviled eggs? How often do you make them?

i8tonite: On the Joy of Deviled Eggs
– The End. Go Eat. –

i8tonite: An Ode To Biscuits

Warm, flaky, steam rising, slathered with creamy Irish butter… you’re visualizing my favorite food in the world: BISCUITS.

i8tonite: An Ode To Biscuits (with recipe!)
Brush the tops with butter

It started when I was small. No tube biscuits for this family, oh no. We’ve got strong southern blood in our veins, and it shows at biscuit time. My gramma or my mom would make them, and I’d sit in the kitchen and “help” by taste testing. Of course, anyone knows that when you have this kind of help, you need to double the recipe. It’s worth it for the hot biscuits, enjoyed before dinner with someone who appreciates them. Who GETS YOU. You know who you are.

i8tonite: An Ode To Biscuits (with recipe!)
Hungry yet?

There are (vast) differences between southern biscuit culture and northern biscuit culture. Here’s a bit of history from our family, showing just how different they are. My gramma and her mother (full south, all the way) went over to my grampa’s mom’s house (northerners, every one). Biscuits were on the menu. My paternal great gramma pulled the biscuits from the oven, and SET THEM ON THE COUNTER TO COOL. Gramma and Gramma Lillie waited, aghast, for these northern biscuits. Who eats cold biscuits on the first bake? Sure, for leftovers (ha! who has leftover biscuits?), with country ham for a sandwich, or buttered and sprinkled with cinnamon sugar and put under the broiler until the tops are crunchy. Those are all great uses for old, cold biscuits. But to not eat them hot? Well, I can’t even imagine. I’d have stared, too, sad at the warm biscuity goodness rising into the air and not into my mouth.

One of the ways my gramma served up biscuits was with southern ham (a country ham, salty and chewy) and milk gravy. Sometimes, she’d make redeye gravy (with coffee). Now, the only gravy I want to touch my biscuits is sausage gravy – homemade, because everyone else puts too much pepper in, and I don’t do hot.

But mostly, I love biscuits hot, buttery, and plentiful. For my birthday this year, I asked for biscuits for dinner at my parents’ house. My mom asked what I wanted for sides – ribs? salad? coleslaw? She gets me.

i8tonite: An Ode To Biscuits (with recipe!)
Melted butter works best like this: put a large slab of butter on one half, then put the two halves back together and flip upside down, so the butter melts one way – then flip it and let it melt another way. IF you can wait, that is. Here, I obviously could not wait. That poor biscuit half needs more butter.

Recipe: Flaky, buttery biscuits with yogurt

This recipe is adapted from Mark Bittman’s How to Cook Everything

Ingredients:
2 cups all-purpose flour or cake flour
3 t baking powder
1 t baking soda
1 t sea salt, fine grain
5 T cold butter, plus a bit more, melted, to brush the tops
7/8 c plain yogurt (I love Trader Joe’s European whole milk yogurt) or buttermik

Directions:
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in your food processor. Add the butter, cut into bits, and pulse until it is crumbly. If you don’t have a food processor, mix it with your hands until it is completely blended.

Add the yogurt and stir until it is just mixed into a ball – no more! Knead 10 times. Too sticky? Add a tiny bit of flour. It will stick to your hands – this is normal.

Scoop out onto a floured board and pat it into a 3/4 inch rectangle. Cut rounds with a biscuit cutter or glass. Bittman notes this will produce 10-14 biscuits. Au contraire for me – 9 max. So, you might want to double or triple it. Note: In the photos below, my dough is a bit too thick – I could have gotten a few more biscuits out if it was patted out a bit more.

i8tonite: An Ode To Biscuits (with recipe!)
Cutting out biscuits – just push STRAIGHT down, do not twist.
i8tonite: An Ode To Biscuits (with recipe!)
Cutting out biscuits – if the dough goes over the top of the biscuit cutter, as this one shows, you need to pat it out a bit more.

Place onto an ungreased cookie sheet, with or without a silpat. Take the last bit of scraps and form into the tester biscuit (cook’s reward!).

i8tonite: An Ode To Biscuits (with recipe!)
Place biscuits on an ungreased cookie sheet
i8tonite: An Ode To Biscuits (with recipe!)
If you put them close together, the sides that touch will be extra tender

Bake 7-9 minutes, until golden brown. If you want to gild the lily, brush those tops with melted butter. My dad eats them with honey. My daughter eats them with jam. I just eat them.

Eat. Be Happy. Biscuits are good.

Pin for later:

i8tonite: An Ode To Biscuits (with recipe!)

The End. Go Eat.

i8tonite with Anson Williams: Entrepreneur and Happy Days Icon

PerfectPortionCookbook-CoverWhat do stars of iconic television shows  —  such as Anson Williams from Happy Days — do after their show goes off the air? Do they continue to act like The Mysteries of Laura Debra Messing, leaving lovable Grace Adler of  Will & Grace behind? Or do they create entire behind-the-cameras careers, such as Laverne & Shirley’s Penny Marshall, who went on to much acclaim directing Tom Hanks in Big and Madonna in A League of Their Own? How about the Olsen Twins from Full House – Mary-Kate and Ashley — creating a billion-dollar fashion business? Williams, who played the adorable Potsie from Happy Days, turned out to be all those things and more. He’s directed many television shows, including episodes of the fabulous Melrose Place and The Secret Lives of An American Teenager. But he also became an incredibly successful entrepreneur with Joanna Connell, a Hollywood make-up artist. For the past 18 years, Connell and Williams have created a mini-empire with StarMaker Products, a skin line used by a variety of television actors.

French Toast for Perfect Portions Cookbook 2015
Williams, QVC’s Bob Warden and nutritionist Mona Dolgov

After a trip to his local store, there was a lightbulb moment when the actor-director-entrepreneur saw the 100 calorie snack packs. Williams said, “I realized it was all about portion control. I can eat all the foods I love, but I need to keep it at 100 calories.” Williams approached QVC’s Bob Warden and nutritionist Mona Dolgov to help him create The Perfect Portion Cookbook. Over a two-year period, testing and re-testing, writing and re-writing, tasting and re-tasting, Williams – along with his team of Warden and Dolgov – developed his vision, starting off with this debut cookbook. Eventually, Williams will turn the perfect portion into a library of cookbooks and healthy products.

Fundamentally, all the recipes in the book are divisible by 100 calories, creating the perfect portion. Each recipe has a graph, calorie count, and how much is in that portion. For example, follow the instructions for the Pumpkin Pie cookie and once made, each sweet is 100 calories. Simply, it’s not so much a diet, which is restrictive, as it is a change in eating habits. Nothing is taken away, as much as everything is counted.

At the age of 66, with four kids, Williams – who over the phone sounds as if he’s thirty — states, “I’m as buff when I was in my 30s. I did the 100 calorie portion. Sixty is the new sexy.” And a new food trend is born.

Food Questions (with a nod to Proust):

PerfectPortion-Guacamole-StuffedCherryTomatoes
Guacamole Stuffed Cherry Tomatoes

What is your favorite food to cook at home? Gosh. Definitely Saturday and Sunday morning breakfast with my kids. I love getting together and making French toast as a family.

 What do you always have in your fridge at home? It’s what stays in the fridge when you have four kids. We are always adding to it. Always greens. Quick proteins. Healthy drinks. Mostly stuff for the kids.

What marked characteristic do you love in a person with whom you are sharing a meal? Connection with that person.

What marked characteristic do you find unappealing in a person with whom you are sharing a meal? Self-involvement.

Beer, wine or cocktail? Red wine. I love finding small, family-run vineyards.

PerfectPortion-photo-collage-6-300x300
Bob Warden, Williams and Mona Dolgov

Your favorite cookbook author? Bob and Mona. We put the cookbook together. Giada de Laurentis is good, too.

Your favorite kitchen tool? Blender.

Favorite types of cuisine to cook? I’m not an expert cook, but I do love family recipes. Food that has meaning. My wife Jackie, who is Swedish, cooks family recipes handed down to her.

Beef, chicken, pork or tofu? Chicken and tofu. But all of them in moderation are good.

Favorite vegetable? Spinach.

Chef you most admire? Hope Berk. She is our eighty-four-year-old next door neighbor and has made all the kids their birthday cakes for years. She’s been a huge influence on our family. Making food for us that has been generational.

Food you like the most to eat? Bob’s Pot Pie from our cookbook. Best thing I’ve ever eaten.

Food you dislike the most? I despise fast food. I think the companies are corrupt and greedy. They created an addiction.

PerfectPortion-BonelessBBQRibs
Boneless BBQ Ribs

What is your favorite non-food thing to do? Before the kids, I sailed planes. Now, I love being with my kids and spending time with them. I love creating. Writing scripts. I do more now than ever.

Who do you most admire in food? Bob and Mona.

Where is your favorite place to eat? Home.

 What is your favorite restaurant? Café Escobar in Malibu. All the food is made from family recipes and is really delicious. Inexpensive. No pretense. I can sit at the bar, have a great meal and a glass of red wine.

Do you have any tattoos? And if so, how many are of food? No tattoos.

PerfectPortion-HotCocoaPretzelsAnson’s “Hot Cocoa” Pretzels (Adapted from The Perfect Portion Cookbook)

  • 100 mini pretzels
  • 1 large beaten egg white
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 3 tablespoons cocoa powder

 Preheat the oven to 275 degrees. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. In a mixing bowl, mix the egg white and vanilla. Toss in the pretzels and coat well.

In a smaller bowl, combine the sugar and cocoa. Taking 2/3 of the sugared cocoa mixture, toss with the pretzels.

Spread evenly on the baking sheet. Sprinkle with the remaining sugared cocoa. Bake for 20 minutes, turning the pretzels over after the first 10 minutes. Cool slightly before serving.

The End. Go Eat.

i8tonite: with Chef Ruggero Gadaldi, San Francisco’s Delarosa & Spicy Holiday Italian Meatballs

Editor’s Note: This is a posting from  contributor Penny Sadler, Adventures of a Carry-On.

Beretta-Proof-385
Ruggero Gadaldi: Credit Aubrie Pick

From his childhood days helping out in the family market and churning butter on the farm near Bergamo, Italy, Chef Ruggero Gadaldi developed his love for and understanding of regional Italian foods. His passion for preparing only the most authentic Italian cuisine lead him to study at Italy’s prestigious San Pellegrino Hotel School. From there, he made his way to the US via a number of positions at five-star hotels throughout Europe, New York, and finally San Francisco, with a stop in Los Angeles to cook for Pope John Paul II.

Inside
Inside Delarosa: Credit, Aubrie Pick

In 2008, Gadaldi received the San Francisco Chronicle Visionary Chef Award. His restaurant, Antica Trattoria, was voted Best Neighborhood Italian, Bay Area Critics Choice Award, SF Chronicle, 1996 – 2008.

 

In a city known for great food and plenty of Italian options, Delarosa, Gadaldi’s latest venture, is the kind of place that locals favor for reliable and reasonably priced Italian food served in a casual and contemporary atmosphere. The newest location at Yerba Buena Lane has exactly the same look and feel as the Marina location: the kitchen is open, and space is light, with accents of orange.

Delarosa is only one of a number of celebrated Italian restaurants in the Bay Area to which Gadaldi has dedicated his passion for preparing authentic Italian food.

Chef’s Questionnaire with Ruggero Gadaldi

Delarosa-198How long have you been cooking? Since I entered the “Scuola Professionale Alberghiera di Stato” for Chef in San Pellegrino, Bergamo, Italy in 1972.

What is your favorite food to cook? Regional Italian.

What do you always have in your fridge at home? Cheese, salami and pickles

What do you cook at home? My wife does the cooking at home, I’m the dishwasher. (Big smile.)

Photo By Aubrie Pick
Photo By Aubrie Pick

What marked characteristic do you love in a customer? When a customer is served and they take that first bite, they pause and then a smile appears. We hope then that we have added to their day.

What marked characteristic do you find unappealing in a customer? Being disrespectful.

Tupperware, Rubbermaid, or Pyrex? Pyrex

Beer, wine or cocktail? Wine with my meal, and a Negroni at the end of my day.

Your favorite cookbook author? Joyce Goldstein

Your favorite kitchen tool? Gnocchi paddle.

Your favorite ingredient? Piemontese white truffle.

Your least favorite ingredient? Can’t think of one.

Least favorite thing to do in a kitchen? Gutting sardines.

Favorite types of cuisine to cook? Italian.

Beef, chicken, pork or tofu? Pork

Favorite vegetable? Dino kale or Tuscan Cabbage.

Chef you most admire? Mario Batali. 

Mussels and Tomato Sauce
Photo by Aubrie Pick

Food you like the most to eat? Hearty stews

Food you dislike the most? There isn’t much I dislike. I love food !!!

How many tattoos? And if so, how many are of food? Zero. I admire some but cringe when I think about the pain they had to go through to get them.

Recipe: Meatballs in Spicy Tomato Sauce (Serves 4 – 6)

Delarosa-Proofs-54Tomato Sauce

  • 3 Tbsp Olive oil
  • 4   Chopped garlic cloves
  • 1 tsp   Calabrese chili flake
  • 16 oz.   Tomato-basil sauce

 

 

In a saucepan, heat olive oil and add garlic and chili flakes. When garlic starts to get brown add tomato- basil sauce. Cook for 10 minutes at medium heat.

Meatballs

  • ¾ lb. ground beef
  • ¼ lb. ground veal
  • ½ lb. Italian sweet sausage (out of casing)
  • 1 cup Bread crumbs
  • ¼ cup Milk
  • 1 Tbsp Finely chopped garlic
  • 2 Tbsp Finely chopped fresh Italian parsley
  • 2 Egg whites
  • ½ C Grated Fresh Pecorino cheese
  • 1 Tbsp Tomato Paste
  • Kosher Salt and Fresh Ground Pepper to Taste

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In large mixing bowl, combine all the ingredients.  Mix thoroughly, though not over handling.  Before creating balls, put a little bit of olive oil on your hands in order to minimize sticking. Spoon out mixture and create meatballs that are approx 1.5-inch balls.  Place on a greased sheet pan and place in preheated oven for 30 minutes.

Place meatballs in the Spicy Tomato sauce and simmer for 7 to 10 minutes.

Plate:  2 to 3 meatballs on a plate and add a spoonful of sauce on top.  Top with fresh grated Parmesan cheese if desired.

The End. Go Eat. 

My Stepmother’s Filipino Chicken Adobo

My Stepmother’s Filipino Chicken was a popular post. I’m sort of rethinking how often I write these as I’m finding three times a week is a bit much.  Tell me your thoughts. 

I called my father to wish him a happy birthday. He’s hard of hearing now, so I’m screaming into the phone. He still doesn’t understand English very well. As a Filipino, who was in the U.S. Navy, he never quite assimilated. He did try, though. He married a Caucasian woman and then that went belly up. (I was a by-product of that first union.)

On his second try at marriage, he gave up attempting to be “white” and married a former Filipino beauty queen, Myrna. They had two sons. I lived with them in their Virginia Beach ranch home for a short while in my teens. It was the first time that I ate well. One of the great memories I have of being with him and his family, Myrna or her mother, Grandma, was cooking Filipino food: chicken adobo, pancit, lumpia, or guisantes (simmered pork and peas) for a family dinner. My father never used utensils when eating. He ate only with his hands and fingers; somehow, food never dropped onto on his clothes.

There was to be a party at the house. I think it was a birthday party, but I don’t recall. The morning before, about a dozen of my Dad’s friends, my tios or uncles – depending on whom you ask — all speaking Tagalog (the native dialect of the Philippines), came over and began digging a hole into the backyard. Into that pit, about four feet deep and eight feet wide, lined with banana leaves, a bonfire was started. By early afternoon the next day, and about three or four cases of Pabst Blue Ribbon later, the men were cooking up a whole pig over blistering coals.  Between slugs of beer, a discussion of basketball and smoking cigarettes, they took turns slowly rotating the carcass; occasionally, throwing water onto the pig, creating a delicious billow of white smoke. Its purpose was to create a crispy skin and succulent roasted meat.

Their wives – my stepmother along with aunts and tias, about a dozen women in all — gathered in the kitchen and dining room, rinsed vegetables in pots of cold water. Two ladies to a pot.  Carrots cut into matchsticks, tomatoes diced, and onions chopped. The smell of pig’s blood simmering with Thai chilies was perfuming the house. Sweet. Spicy. Earthy. It mingled with cigarettes and constant chattering.

Sometime around 2 in the afternoon, more friends showed up. No one knocked or rang the bell; they just greeted with hugs and kisses. The elders met on bended knees, and heads bowed. Their folded hands kissed in blessings.

Adobo

Chicken Adobo (Myrna’s recipe)
Quartered chicken, using only legs and thighs. (I used about 3 lbs of chicken thighs)

For every cup of soy sauce, use a half cup of white vinegar. ( I used two cups of soy sauce and a cup of vinegar. You might want to do a cup and a half of soy sauce.)

Bay leaves. About three of four. (I used four fresh bay leaves but dried is good too.)

Garlic. “…as much as you want,” she says. (I used a whole head).

A quarter teaspoon of whole peppercorns. (Myrna’s instructions, “Throw in peppercorns.”)

Place everything in large pot and bring to boil, about 20 minutes. Cover slightly with the lid not all the way on the pot. When it gets to boil, turn to low heat to simmer, cooking for another 20 minutes but check the chicken and baste with the sauce. Cook until chicken is cooked through, with juices running clear. Serve over rice. Make it fancy with chopped scallions.

Note: I do not know of a Filipino who uses sugar or fries the chicken after it’s been braised.

The End. Go Eat.