Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Serafina, White Plains

My husband and I celebrated our 24th Wedding Anniversary on August 22nd. We had been celebrating all weekend long with fabulous meals either out or at home. With all the kids out of the house on a Monday night we decided to try a local restaurant that recently opened  in White Plains, Serafina.
We were asked if we preferred al fresco dinning or to be seated inside. We usually love to sit outside when that option is offered but last night wanted to get a feel for the inside of the restaurant. We asked to be seated by a window, and were shown to a lovely table with a view. We even waved to a friend of ours who was passing by in his car while he was stopped at a traffic light!
It's a fun place. Very lively with a young, hip vibe.  The wait staff was very accommodating and on top of their game. Very quick to refill water glasses and offer fresh milled pepper on served dishes.
For an appetizer I ordered Tartare Sofia. To my delight out came a beautifully stacked tuna and salmon tartare. The presentation was magnificent. It was very fresh and delicious.

My husband, Steve loves Truffles. On the menu they offered a risotto made with truffles. He asked if they could substitute the risotto with a pasta. The waiter suggested a paglia e fieno, which is usually a mix of green and white thin long flat pasta.   The shaved truffles on the pasta were abundant.  We would have preferred the parmigiano to be freshly grated onto the pasta.  While the taste was delicious it was missing a little something, perhaps some salt and also needed a little more of a sauce on the pasta. It was very dry.

For my entree I ordered Grilled Calamari, and Steve ordered the Cornish Hen. I just laughed at that. In all the time I have known him I have never seen him order a Cornish Hen in a restaurant. I don't think I've ever seen him eat a Cornish Hen!  I don't think he'll be ordering another one any time soon!
My Grilled Camari was good.  I did ask for it to go back into the kitchen for a little more grilling time.  It was served on wooden skewers and served on top of an arugula salad that was perfectly seasoned. The portion was also very generous.
We loved the vibe of the restaurant.  While some dishes were very good, and showed signs of brilliance others were just fair to good.  We love having a restaurant like this in our neighborhood.  Hopefully last night was just the result of the kitchen being a little off.  They are trying very hard to please. I've talked to some other friends who have gone there, and they said to give them another chance. I think next time we'll try the pizza.

Some of you may be asking, who is she and why does she think that she can review a restaurant. Well, I am nobody really. I'm just someone who loves good food. I love to make great food, I love to eat great food, and just like you, when I go out I want to have a great meal. I may not be an expert, and I'm certainly not compensated in any way for my blog posts, but I know the difference between a fair meal, a good meal and a great meal. Just like you!

Thanks for stopping by!

Buon Appetito

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Lentil Soup Greek Style

Do you Fakes? We do! And we love it! This Food Crawl is all about Lentil Soup, also know as Fakes. This is a vegetarian version of Lentil Soup and is a very similar to any other Lentil Soup with the addition of one other ingredient that is very surprising. That ingredient is Vinegar!

This recipe has been adapted by Yes You Can Cook Greek by Georgia Lyras & Rita Lazarakis.

1 pound Lentils
2 qts water
2 carrots, chopped
2 stalks celery, chopped
1 medium onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
2 Bay Leaves
1 16 oz can tomatoes, crushed or 1 pound of fresh tomatoes, peeled and crushed
1/4 olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
1/4 vinegar ( I like red wine in this)

Pick over and wash the lentils. Place in a large pot, cover with water and bring to a boil.  After boiling for 2 minutes, drain and rinse the beans and set aside in a bowl.
In your large pot add a little bit of the olive oil and to the olive oil saute the onions, celery, carrots, and garlic until just tender. Add the Lentils, the  2 quarts of water and the bay leaves.  Bring to a boil and then reduce heat and let simmer, partially covered for 20 minutes.
Stir in the tomatoes and the olive oil and return to a boil. Reduce heat to low, partially cover and simmer an additional 30 minutes or until the lentils are tender. Add salt and pepper to taste and stir in the vinegar.
Serve this with some toasted pita bread and a greek salad and you'll have a delicious, complete meal.
I like to serve this with a shot of olive oil and vinegar on the side.  The extra drizzle of olive oil just floating on top is a tasty touch that you will just love. My family loves the vinegar, and a little bit goes a long way.

Kali Orexi

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Beet Carpaccia

A friend of mine called me a few days ago. He's in the restaurant business and enjoys seeing what I'm up to on my blog.  He had one criticism,  that I needed to improve my platting skills. I know! I seriously need some instruction in this area.
I explained to Tony that all these dishes that I am sharing with you on my blog are usually photographed using my cell phone, while I am preparing dinner, trying to get it all on the table while it's still hot! My family laughs at me when they see the cell phone come out. I hear, "oh here's another facebook moment" or "she's blogging again".
So today, I decided to make a dish in the middle of the afternoon, just because! And because my family isn't sitting at the table with their forks and knives in their hands waiting for me to put their food on the table I had plenty of time to play. It was fun!
I also wanted to play with my OXO Mandoline slicer.  I still can't get the hang of a waffle cut, but that's another story.
Today I played with beets and kohl rabe.
Here's what I came up with. Beet and Kohl Rabe Carpaccia, with Aioli, Pesto, and Balsamic Drizzle.
Beet and KohlRabe Carpaccia flower with aioli , balsamic vinegar, orange infused olive oil finished with salt and pepper and lemon zest

Beet and KohlRabe flower with Aioli leaves filled with pesto paste, dotted with balsamic vinegar and drizzled with extra virgin olive oil, and finished with lemon zest
And yet, another presentation!
And then the taste testers in the house were called upon to scoff it all up!

Thanks for checking in with me today!

Buon Appetito

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Tuscany Tonight Recipe Contest/

It's all about the stuffed flowers!
I have entered my recipe for the Stuffed Zucchini Blossoms for a contest that is being offered by Tuscany Tonight.

The top ten recipes that get the most votes has a chance to win the Grand Prize. Please click here  and vote for my recipe. I really do appreciate it!  And go ahead and submit your own recipe! Let me know, I'll vote for you too!

Buon Appetito

Monday, August 22, 2011

Veal Chops

I love Veal Chops. I will sometimes make them caprese style, but wanted something a little different. I sent my husband out for mushrooms and he came home with some beautiful Porcini mushrooms. I wanted to make these on the grill, but we were having some very funky weather in New York, severe lightening and thunder storms with heavy rain. I was not going to stand out in the rain with an umbrella!
These were very simply prepared, seasoned with salt, pepper and rosemary. They were seared in a very hot pan with an equal amount of olive oil and butter. 3 minutes on each side gave the chop a beautiful color! I finished them in a 375 degree preheated oven, until they reached an internal temperature of 150. I let them rest for a few minutes after taking them out of the oven (this helps the meat stay nice and juicy) and served them with a champagne, mushroom and onion sauce. (Could this be a demi glaze?) Delicious! Recipe for my sauce is below!

Thanks for stopping by today!
Buon Appetito!

4 Tablespoons of butter (unsalted)
2 Tablespoons of flour
veal stock, 1 cup or more
red wine, 1/2 cup
salt, 1 teaspoon
pepper, 1/2 teaspoon
rosemary, a fresh sprig, leaves removed from stem
1 medium onion sliced thin
1/2 cup porcini mushrooms
1 tsp orange zest* optional

Start your sauce by melting the butter and mixing in the flour until you have a little bit of a paste.
In a separate pan saute onions in a little bit of butter until they are golden.
 Add the veal stock to the butter and flour mixture and mix with a wire whisk.  Add the onions and now add the sliced porcini mushrooms.
Add the wine and season with salt, pepper and rosemary. At this time I added the orange zest. Let the sauce reduce, over a low flame.  If it is too thick add more stock. Taste the sauce and adjust the seasoning to your liking. You should not taste the alcohol from the wine, it should have cooked off.

If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me!

Monday, August 15, 2011


I can't believe my baby daughter, Zoe is leaving for college in two days.  If you looked in her bedroom right now you wouldn't think she is going anywhere. Clothes are thrown all over the floor, her closets are busting with articles of clothing spilling out, and let's not even talk about what's under her bed. It makes me crazy! Oddly enough it really doesn't bother her at all. I know that when she leaves she'll be taking what she wants, leaving behind an enormous mess for someone else to clean up!
Zoe has always had an eclectic palate. She has always loved soup. Always wants to eat soup. She can eat soup every day for every meal, and she adores oatmeal! Normal food, right? But in the same breath while asking me to make chicken soup, or Beef with Barley Soup (her favorite), she could easily ask me to make octopus salad, calamari with linguini, cavetelli with broccoli or osso bucco!
I had asked family to come over on Sunday so they could see her off before she leaves.  I thought it would be nice to include her in the planning of the menu. I wasn't totally surprised when she asked for a Greek themed meal. I was actually thrilled! She wanted lamb gyros, with tzadziki sauce ( a sauce made from greek yogurt and cucumbers), spanakopite ( a spinach pie) , saganaki (cheese), and a salad.

I purchased a boneless leg of lamb and marinated it over night in a homemade buttermilk ranch dressing. I know some of you may be cringing at this thought, but I have to tell you that it really tenderizes the meat and adds some excellent flavor.  I also seasoned the leg of lamb with salt and pepper, and a chopped onion!
I cooked the lamb until it reached an internal temperature of 140 degrees (This will be medium rare)  and then let it rest for a little bit. I tented the lamb with foil to retain the heat. It continues to cook a little bit this way too. It was delicious, juicy and cooked to perfection!

The lamb was sliced thin, and then the assembly of a gyro went into action. The Pita was grilled on an open flame.  The tzadziki sauce was slathered on the grilled pita. Lamb was piled on with tomatoes, red onion, cucumber and feta cheese. YUM!  For those of you who don't like lamb, try making a gyro with chicken or pork. You'll be glad you did!

Thanks for stopping by!
Kali Orexi!

Friday, August 12, 2011

Peanut Butter Cream Pie for Mikey

While reading some foodie blogs, I happened to come across a link to In Jennie's Kitchen blog.
Jennie recently and suddenly lost her husband, Mikey. She is inviting all of us to celebrate her husbands life in a way that we foodies love,  by cooking and spending time in the kitchen.  Jennie is asking us to make a Peanut Butter Cream pie in his honor.
So today, to show our support for Jennie and her 2 daughters, I made this Peanut Butter Cream Pie with my daughter Zoe. We're going to share it with our loved ones,  as directed by Jennie," and then hug them like there's no tomorrow because today is the only guarantee we can count on."
Jennie, I am sorry for your loss. I hope that all these Peanut Butter Cream Pies being made today take away some of your tears.  God Bless.

The only thing I did differently from Jennie's recipe is I used Chocolate Chip Cookies instead of Chocolate Cookies. It's what I had in my pantry.

You can find Jennie's recipe here.


Thursday, August 11, 2011

Artichokes on the Grill

This is going to be short and sweet. I wanted to share with you a delicious way to prepare artichokes.
Tonight I grilled them. They were really good.
I cleaned the artichokes by peeling off the outer layers and cutting off the pointy parts of the leaves.  I peeled the stem. The two artichokes in the front of the picture have been cleaned.

I placed them in a pot of cold water with a clove of garlic, a bay leaf and half a lemon. I let the water come to a boil and then covered the artichokes for 10- 15  minutes with the heat off.

I removed the artichokes from the water and dried them off.  I then cut them in half.
I sprinkled them with salt and pepper and drizzled extra virgin olive oil on the inside of the artichoke. I grilled them on a hot grill for about 5 minutes per side.
They were served with sliced lemon and a home made tomatillo inspired mayonnaise for dipping.
Thanks for the visit!
Buon Appetito!

Tuesday, August 9, 2011


Have you ever been in the market and passed by the Tomatillo's and said to yourself "What are these?" "What do I do with these?" I have on many occasions, and finally one day I broke down and filled a bag with them, brought them home and looked at them for a few days, and still didn't know what to do with them. Now that I've figured it out, we can't get enough of this easy, simple salsa verde.

I love it when you can keep it simple and something only takes a very little prep. You are going to love this. It is fabulous as a dip with tortilla chips or as a sauce on your meats or poultry.
Take the tomatillo out of the husk and wash them. Cut them in half and arrange them on a cookie sheet that has been lined with aluminum foil.
Bake them in a preheated 450 degree oven until the skin on the tomatillo blisters and gets charred.  Check them after 10 - 15 minutes. Once they have a nice color take them out of the oven and put the tomatillo's into a blender or a food processor.
Add 1/2 a white onion, 2 cloves of garlic, 1 Jalapeno pepper, cut in half and seeded, and a handful of fresh cilantro. (I just love fresh cilantro from the garden!) Let the blender pulse everything together.

Remove from the blender.  Season with some salt and the juice from one fresh lime. Taste it! It's sweet and tart and a little bit spicy. If you're not into the heat, start with 1/2 a Jalapeno pepper instead of a whole one. This salsa adds such a dynamic taste to any kind of BBQ'd or roasted meats, and is simply delicious on it's own with some chips.

Buon Appetito!

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Sunday Meatballs

Is it Sunday Gravy or Sunday Sauce? I've seen many posts on which one to call it. All I have to say, is that I don't care what you call it as long as you make it well!
This week I went shopping at Restaurant Depot. For those of you who have had the opportunity to shop in one of these warehouse you will know that the quantities that you must purchase are enormous! Think Costco, Sam's, B.J's amounts and triple the quantity! They had some chop meat that looked really good, so I bought the package. The package was 10 pounds! I made some hamburger patties, made stuffing for the zucchini flowers and had enough left over to make meatballs for dinner tonight.
When ever I make my meat balls I always start with fresh chopped onion, garlic, parsley, seasoned breadcrumbs, eggs, and grated cheese. I usually only use Parmigiano in my meatballs, but today used a combination of cheeses that were in the refrigerator, Parmigiano and Pecorino. Again, I thank my friends from Rome, Giorgio and Marina who brought me fabulous cheese from Italy!
Some days I like the meatballs to be more rustic and will chop the onions and garlic by hand. Today I wanted a smoother meatball so I tossed everything into the food processor and pulsed it a few times to get the onions and garlic almost like a puree.
I was also in the mood for big meatballs, so I made them really large. 
Line the baking sheet with some parchment paper and bake the meatballs in a  450 degree preheated oven for about 15 minutes. Turn them around and baked them another 15 - 20 minutes. 
These were extremely cheesy.  And they were nice and soft! Into the tomato sauce they go!

I used 4 quart jars of the tomatoes that I jarred last season. I've got to use up what's left in my pantry. It's almost time to make the sauce again!
Start the sauce with a little bit of olive oil in the bottom of the pot. Add to the oil a  small chopped onion and a few cloves of garlic, chopped. Saute the onion and garlic just until they start to sweat, and become clear. Add the tomatoes and stir.  I added some hot sausage, which I had browned on each side, to the pot,  and a few pieces of country pork ribs. To season the tomatoes I also added fresh chopped parsley, salt and pepper and a pinch of red pepper flakes. Cover the pot and let everything simmer for a few hours. I know it's done when the pork flakes off the bone!

Tonight, this is being served with Spaghetti! There's nothing like a great dish of spaghetti and meatballs on a Sunday afternoon.  Hopefully they'll stop stealing meatballs out of the pot so there will be enough left for dinner!

Meat Balls Recipe

chop meat (I like chuck for this, has lots of flavor)
eggs (I use 2 - 3 eggs per pound of meat)
1 large onion, chopped
3 - 4 cloves garlic, chopped
1/2 cup fresh chopped parsley
salt and pepper to taste
1 cup grated cheese
1 handful of breadcrumbs- just enough to bind the mixture

Mix all the ingredients together until well incorporated. Form the meatballs and either bake them in the oven  @ 450 degrees for 15 - 20 minutes on each side or pan fry them to brown them on all sides.

Add the meatballs to your favorite tomato sauce, simmer until cooked through and serve with your favorite pasta! Enjoy!

Buon Appetito

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Stuffed Zucchini Flowers

Hello Friends! It certainly has been awhile since I've shared some of my family secrets! I'm strictly speaking of cooking secrets, and sharing some coveted family recipes!
I've had a very relaxed and enjoyable summer. We spent two weeks out in Montauk, New York on the beach. Every day was a glorious day. Wish I could have spent another week out there.  hint, hint!!
I am so relaxed.

Today's Food Crawl is all about Stuffed Zucchini Flowers!
Now it's time to get back to sharing some of the food that gets made and created in my kitchen.
Today I'm going to tell you all about my mothers Stuffed Zucchini Flowers! It was my mothers Birthday August 2nd. Thinking of her always makes me think of the special dishes that she used to make. Stuffed Zucchini Flowers were among the amazing.  My husband would eat them out of her refrigerator before she had fried them!
 I actually made my audition tape for MasterChef - Season 2 preparing these. I was trying to upload the video but apparently it is too long to post on here. My son, John, the Pepperdine Movie Production Graduate promised to break it down for me so I can share it with you.  When he does I'll just post it. You can see how nervous I was while making the tape. My next audition tape will be very different! lol

My friend Jersey Paulie  has been asking me for this recipe. This one is for you Paul! Recipe will follow, keep reading!

In my garden I always plant more zucchini plants than I need just for the flowers. Today I was able to pick 11 flowers. There will be more tomorrow! 11 stuffed flowers is such a tease! I'll bet you can't only eat one! lol
You can do so many different things with them. They are delicious in a batter, made into a pancake, they are delicious stuffed with cheeses,  or stuffed with a crabmeat mixture is always yummy. My mother loved sausage and chopmeat! Our recipe is for a blossom stuffed with meat.

The earlier you get into you garden in the mornings the better. You will find these gorgeous blossoms fully opened, just waiting to be picked. The flowers that should be picked for stuffing are the flowers that are attached to long stems.
If you don't have these available in your garden ask a local farmer to sell you some of his Zucchini Flowers. Most farmers will sell them to you.  If you are really desperate go to a specialty italian store. They will  charge you an arm and a leg for each flower, so try your local farmers market before making an investment!
With a few simple ingredients you will impress your family and friends. Promise!
I'm starting with some chop meat, sweet Italian Sausage, fresh parsley, onion, garlic, parmigiano cheese (thank you Giorgio and Marina, who brought me cheese from Rome!), eggs, salt and pepper and seasoned bread crumbs. Rough cut the onion and smash the garlic and add them to a frying pan with a little bit of olive oil. Add the chop meat and the sausage meat, removed from the casing into the frying pan. Season with salt and pepper. Cook until the meat is cooked through and the garlic is tender.

While the meat is cooking you will want to clean the flowers. I have found ants crawling around in them. You can just delicately wipe the inside of the flower to remove the ants. You can also run the flower under some water .

Once I clean them I place them on a paper towel upside down. This helps the blossom stay open a little to make it easier to stuff them.

They are so delicate and they will rip and tare so be gentle!
With a slotted spoon remove the meat into a food processor and pulse it a few times until the meats are well incorporated with the onion and garlic. Remove the mixture from the food processor . In a large bowl add fresh chopped parsley, and grated cheese. Mix well. Taste as you go along. You may want to add more salt or pepper or perhaps even more cheese.
Time to stuff the flowers! I use a baby spoon or a demitasse spoon. If I had a pastry bag I imagine you could use that as well. It probably would make my life so much easier! lol
 I hold the flower between my thumb and cup it with the rest of my fingers, trying to keep the flower open. With the spoon I add the meat mixture and push down until the flower is completely full. I squeeze it gently so the mixture gets encased by the flower.

Repeat until you are done stuffing all the flowers.
Beat an egg and roll the stuffed flower into the egg and then gently roll the egg washed zucchini flower into bread crumbs.
 Repeat until all the flowers are breaded.

Pan fry the stuffed flowers in a little bit of oil until they are lightly browned on all sides. You can also flash fry these.

Zucchini Flowers
1 large onion chopped
4 - 5 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped
1 pound chop meat
1 pound sausage
1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley
1/2 cup grated Parmigiano cheese
salt and pepper to taste
1/2 cup seasoned bread crumbs
1 - 2 eggs, beaten

You can cut down on amounts in the recipe. This will make quite a bit of mixture. The leftovers can be used in stuffing so many other things, and it never goes to waste in my house! Check in later this week for more ideas on what you can stuff!

Thanks for visiting today! I've missed you!
Buon Appetito!