Saturday, November 17, 2018

Traditions and Revisions (re: THANKSGIVING)

Seems like it was just summer.....Fall was certainly fleeting......and now we have the first of the

As with many families, we have certain traditions. 

It was a long time for my Mother to "relinquish" the holiday dinner duties to me so I have really
only been doing the dinner for a few years.

I personally do not eat stuffing.  That said, I realize how most people enjoy it very much.

My Mother always made one traditional stuffing.....celery, onions, chicken stock, salt and pepper,
toasted breadcrumbs and INTO the bird!

There was never an egg involved in the recipe.  I see now, through my research, that most recipes
do indeed involve egg.

While trying to replicate my Mother's Thanksgiving meal, it became apparent that not all members
of our family liked the stuffing IN the bird.  So, I made a batch for IN the bird and also, for OUT of
the bird.

While reading wonderful recipes for Thanksgiving I decided to try an additional stuffing:
Corn bread, Sausage and Sage Stuffing.  I would make my cornbread in a cast iron skillet and
proceed with a Williams Sonoma recipe......this was such a hit with my family!!!  They absolutely
LOVED is a keeper, a must for each year!

I also decided that, each year, I would try another stuffing recipe......last year I made a Leeks
Bread Pudding (basically a stuffing) and, I must tell was not all that great and I would not
make it again.

This year I am on the hunt for ANOTHER stuffing to introduce to my clan!  But I must be very
select as most will not appreciate an oyster stuffing .....I am slightly entertaining the thought of
an Herbed Wild Rice and Quinoa Stuffing with apples, cranberries and pecans but I can just see
the eyes glaze over at the mention of Quinoa.......but this sounds really good to me!

My husband (the BOB) was talking to a childhood friend the other day and was informed that
the friend's family was disconnecting with tradition and having stuffed shells for the Thanksgiving
meal, which is really understandable given that they are of Italian heritage.    My husband said to me, "why don't we do that instead of going through all of this?"

I looked at him, in amazement, and said, "Well, the turkey is already ordered for THIS year so
we are having the traditional dinner.....we can approach the subject at the Thanksgiving table and see what the family thinks". 

(Truth be told, I don't give a fig what we have for dinner - I just cherish my family all together!!!)

The next day my youngest daughter telephoned me and in our discussion, I shared the conversation
I had with her Father.  She, excitedly exclaimed, "Oh no!  We MUST have the traditional dinner!
We look forward to it all year!"   (Well, didn't that just warm my heart!)

So, for this year, at least, we ARE having the traditional Thanksgiving meal.

However, I must confess......we are among the, apparently very few, who do not anticipate and
enjoy the 'Green Bean Cassarole' each and every Thanksgiving!!!

What can I tell you?  My Mother never made it!!!

We always had Brussel Sprouts!!!  I have since discovered a Williams Sonoma Brussel Sprouts
recipe that is braised with bacon, chicken stock and is to DIE FOR!  (Each year I get new
Brussel Sprouts "converts"!!)

One of the "traditions" that I introduced was making 'place card' turkey cookies!

I would roll out and bake turkey cookies, decorated with sanding sugar and then I would write
on each cookie with icing the name of each family member.  I would then seal each cookie in
a bag and that would become the "place card" at the table.

This year I toyed with the idea of NOT making the cookies.

Nah!  Have to continue the traditions!  The cookie dough is in the fridge awaiting me!

Friday, November 16, 2018

Chicken Marsala

We recently did a dinner at our church and the entrée was Chicken Marsala.

This is a dish prepared with Marsala wine. 

And lots of mushrooms!  If you do not care for mushrooms, this is not the dish for you.

Most recipes will call for dry Marsala but a very few will call for sweet Marsala.

There is the slightest difference in taste between the two wines.   However, there is much more
sugar in the sweet and that can ultimately alter the dish.


6 chicken breasts, pounded to an even thickness, to cook evenly
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
1/2 cup all purpose flour OR 1/2 cup fine bread crumbs
 2 T. olive oil, or more as needed
1 knob butter, unsalted
10 oz. cremini mushrooms (or baby bellas)
1 knob butter, unsalted
2 shallots, finely chopped
1 large garlic clove, minced
1 cup Marsala wine (dry)
1/2 cup chicken stock
1/2 lemon, juiced
1/2 c. finely minced fresh parsley

The classic preparation is to pound the chicken breasts to an even  thickness and then salt and
pepper the breast.  The breasts are then lightly dredged in flour (or fine bread  crumbs)  and sautéed in a pan with olive oil and a knob of butter.  The breasts should be lightly browned, just a few minutes on each side - 4-5. 

Remove the breasts and set aside to keep lightly warmed.  To the pan, add the sliced mushrooms
and saute til nice and browned.  Add butter, if needed.  You don't want too much fat since you want
to really brown the mushrooms to bring out their earthiness.  Then add the shallots and garlic. Saute for just a minute or two.    Add the Marsala wine, scraping the pan of its fond and let it reduce by about half.  Add the chicken stock and bring to a boil.
Add a knob of butter to finish the sauce.  Add the chicken breasts and coat with the sauce.

Lemon is the unami for many foods.  After this dish is completed, a light sprinkle of fresh lemon
juice is just the right touch, to bring all the flavors to their complete perfection.

This is a lovely dish served with peppardalle or orzo.

Cauliflower Cakes

I was so sure I had already written about Cauliflower Cakes!  But after looking back through the
posts, it appears not.

I made them for a luncheon today and had posted photos last evening on Facebook and there was
quite a bit of interest in the recipe.

This is so unbelievably easy I am almost embarrassed! 

If you like cauliflower, you will love these!  And you can add whatever you like to them!


1 head cauliflower
1 cup grated cheese (such as cheddar or  monterrey jack jalapeno)
1 egg
1/3- 1/2  cup bread crumbs
salt and pepper

1.  Steam head of cauliflower til fork tender.  Drain well. 
2.  In bowl, mash cauliflower.  Add 1 egg and incorporate.  Add cheese and bread crumbs,
     salt and pepper.                
3.  In saute pan, drizzle olive oil and melt 1 knob of butter on medium heat.
4.  Make cakes (patties) out of the cauliflower mixture and saute for 4-5 minutes.  Turn
    and saute additional 4-5 minutes.  Outside should be crispy and browned.

I have also added a small amount of finely diced red bell pepper, some grated carrot, even
some cooked quinoa!

Hope you enjoy!

Friday, November 9, 2018

Me and Martha

I am sure I have alluded to this before......Martha Stewart was my inspiration.

She has been admired, revered, admonished, beatified, deified, parodied, scorned, taunted, ......
but she is still here!

It was way back in Aunt Betty presented me with Martha Stewart's Entertaining book.
What a beautiful book it was!  Loaded with lovely to's......oh, it was right up my
alley!  Everything I did was right there! her book!

But, truth be told.....the initial inspiration would have to be my Mother, Barbara.  She did not
fiddle with fancy hors d'oeuvres , nor did she struggle with complicated desserts.......she planned
and cooked lovely meals that tasted wonderful!  Every night we were served a salad that was
unique and interesting.  It might be a pear filled with cream cheese on a bit of lettuce.....or, one
of my favorites,  a vegetable- filled gelatin on a bed of greens.  Her meals were a cut above
the ordinary and always full of flavor.  Her desserts were simple.....grapefruit halves with a
cherry or a piece of homemade banana cream pie.

My Mother never asked me to help in the kitchen.  That was her personal one
was allowed!  Therefore, I was never privy to her  magic out of that kitchen.

But, back to Martha!  I had collected wonderful lace doilies and antique linens, silver knives from long-gone families of wealth, (complete with their initials), marvelous serving pieces.  Martha showed me how this all could be set forth to complete the most amazing table setting, buffet presentation, culinary offering. 

Therefore, armed with my Mother's downhome flavorful cooking and Martha's innovative style,
I was on my way with what would become Creative Catering by Trish Giordano!

The Passing of Time

It has been absolute ages since I have posted on this blog!

What have I been doing, you may ask?  Well, I have been going through (finally!) all the collected
recipes to see what I will keep and what I will discard for my future book.....

having lunch with various friends and acquaintances......

cooking for different church functions.......

I don't know.....the time is just flying by!

I thought, when I retired, that I would have so much time on my hands!

I thought I would exercise ,visit, experiment with new recipes, entertain family and friends, create the ultimate photo gallery in our second floor loft and hallway, perhaps get massages (never yet have had one!), perhaps take some cruises, perhaps travel within the United States..........well, my list is not getting crossed off but I am not just sitting still!!!!

Where does the time go?

I do find it harder to get up each morning.....the arthritis has not crippled me yet, but near so!
I need to have my banana half, warm drink (either lemon water or coffee), and perhaps a piece
of cheese and listen to the news, check out the Wall Street Journal and the weather and, finally,
get a nice hot shower ( which is so very soothing to the joints) before I am good to go for the day.

While I may have been awake since 5:00 a.m., I am not usually set for the day til 9:00 a.m. or so!!!!

Do you have trouble sleeping?  I can usually fall asleep all right but then I awake around 2:00 a.m.
and either doze and awake every hour thereafter or remain awake til said 5:00!!!!!  How very
annoying that can be!  (Thank goodness I don't have to be somewhere at 8:00 a.m. on a regular

Have you been experiencing the "invisible" phase yet?  That is when everyone you encounter
at the stores, etc. looks right through you.  Of course, you have to be almost 70 for this to occur.
Most annoying.

I have begun to "play up" on this age thing.  When I encounter sales people, I act the "old lady",
personified!  I find they are more helpful, eager to give me the discounts ( you know, you must
ask for them, they will not be offered!) and I then walk away a happy customer - with a lower
priced item!  (There has to be some benefit to being "older"!)

Most folks my age are "purging"......all those old cards, photos, remembrances.  (My girls tell
me, "Mom, we are just going to throw all of this away!".)    I do start to do so......I have such good
intentions!  And, then, I look at a card or a photo or a drawing and I reminisce about that period
of time and, before I know it, the afternoon is over and I have a huge pile for "definitely keeping,
no matter what!" and 3 items I have put into the "discard" pile.

Clearly,  I am not capable of purging.

My one greatest joy, however, is watching and listening to my three  daughters.  All three are wonderful, intelligent, innovative, caring, funny women........not because of,  but despite me!.......they are truly the best!  They are passionate, compassionate, honest, sincere, dedicated.....oh, I could go on and on!  I admire each of them more than I can say.  They have handled whatever Life has thrown
their way admirably.  They are extremely loyal.  They are totally supportive of each other and that
warms my heart more than I can ever verbalize. 

The passing of time does have its perks......watching the next generation (and the generation after
that) hold on to our traditions, values and, yet, voicing and instilling their own beliefs and innovations
into their lifestyle and that of their children's.

It really is as it should be.

Monday, August 27, 2018

Roma Tomatoes

I recently went to the farmers market and ran into a school chum (and practically a life-long friend!)
and she told me she was going to purchase a bushel of Roma tomatoes and roast them in the oven for
soups, stews and sauces all winter long.

What a great idea!

The following market day, the one stand I patronize had a basket for $5.00.......25lbs!!!!

Once home, I cut the tomatoes and placed them cut side up on a baking sheet.  I sprinkled them with
kosher salt, freshly ground pepper, fresh thyme, drizzled olive oil over the tomatoes  and put them in a slow, low (300*) oven for 2 hours.

The kitchen smelled absolutely divine!

The tomatoes were a bit soft.  I bagged them and froze each bag flat......for the winter!!!

The next day, I finished off the tomatoes (the never ending bag of tomatoes!).  This time I placed
the cut side down on the baking sheet.  I sprinkled the kosher salt, freshly ground pepper, and fresh
basil, then drizzled liberally with olive oil.  I baked these tomatoes at 400* for one hour. 

I can't begin to tell you how wonderful that smell was!!!

Once cool, I processed the tomatoes, oil, basil, everything on the baking sheet.......and the result was
the very best, best ever, oh my! tomato sauce ever!!!!!!!

Unfortunately, the yield was only two (2) quarts!!!!!

Eggplant! Eggplant!! Eggplant!!!

As a young girl living in Manhattan, I had a friend from "da Bronx".  We would go to Tucci's (in the Bronx)  on Friday evenings after work.  It was there, for the first time, I had Eggplant Parmesan.

Now I had had fried eggplant at home in Pennsylvania  many, many times.  My Mother served it as a side vegetable dish.  I always, always loved eggplant.

It's seems you either love it or hate it.

But Tucci's!  They did wonderful things with the eggplant and I was in heaven.

Fast forward many years and it is still one of my very favorite dishes.  Most of my pals enjoy it
as well.

I recently prepared an Eggplant Rollatini with no ricotta cheese.  Yep, no ricotta cheese.  That is
almost sacriligious, is it not?

I also did not fry the eggplant in oil.

Instead, I sliced the eggplant lengthwise and placed it on a parchment-lined baking sheet I had
sprayed with Pam.  Then I placed the eggplant slices on the baking sheet and sprayed each
slice with Pam.  I also sprinkled just a small bit of kosher salt on each slice.

The pan went into a 400* oven for about 20 minutes.  (some of the slices were a bit too thin and
were over-baked but most were just right).

After the slices cooled, I placed a beautiful, thin slice of prosciutto on top of each slice of eggplant.
Then I added a rolled-up slice of Fontina cheese and rolled up the eggplant slice.

This was placed on a bed of Roma Tomato Sauce (another blog posting), topped with freshly grated parmesan cheese, and baked for about 25 minutes. (Mozzarella cheese is another good option).


Monday, July 16, 2018

The Art of Letter Writing

I am an insane hoarder of letters.

I have every card and letter sent to me in the last fifty years.

Yes, you read correctly, fifty years.  Letters and cards neatly preserved in boxes.
Every once in a while I peruse them, with much enjoyment.

I could not wait to learn to write.  In my elementary school there was always a childhood illness
(Measles, mumps, chicken pox, etc.) making the rounds and the teacher would
not begin and/or continue our lessons in cursive until all were present.  This, seemingly,
went on forever.

I have always prided myself on having a neat hand writing but, alas, these days the arthritis
has definitely altered my style.

My great, great Aunt used to write notes to me and at the bottom of the note she would tape
two dimes, for an ice cream treat.  Friends who moved away would write to me and it was
always such fun and great anticipation to open and read the letters.

And then the internet was created and, along with it, email.

I must admit that, initially, emails were fun.  They were instantaneous and that, in itself, was amazing.  I confess, however, that to this day I treat an email as a letter, usually complete with
a salutation, etc.

As we all know, the downturn in postal mailings occured due to emails.  And then texts became
the  new form of communication, complete with its own symbols and abbreviations.

And then the public schools chose to discontinue teaching cursive.  (That makes me so sad).

There are now students who only know how to print.  I don't know how they sign a check but then those are becoming a thing of the past as well!  They do not know how to compose a
personal letter or a business letter.

And, they certainly do not know the joy of holding an envelope containing  words written by someone, perhaps from another city, state or country.

If you really want to brighten someone's day, sit down and jot a little note letting them know
you are thinking of them.  I guarantee you will be sending more than words!

Sunday, July 15, 2018

Chicken and Waffles

Growing up in Central Pennsylvania, Chicken and Waffles was a menu item we had quite often.

My Mother would poach a chicken, debone it, and, using the chicken stock, prepare a creamed
chicken.  She would then make waffles, using a waffle iron.  The creamed chicken would be
served atop the homemade waffles.....hmmmmm, comfort food!

Every Sunday I take my ninety-one year old Mother and sixty-one year old brother to Sunday
Lunch.  My brother has Downs Syndrome and food is his hobby!  We go from restaurant to
 restaurant each Sunday - some days it is Olive Garden, some days it is Red Lobster, others it
might be a diner.

Early this morning my brother called me.  He informed me he was in the mood for Chicken
and Waffles.  I told him I would see what I could do to make that happen.

I then punched in "Chicken and Waffles near me" on my ipad.  Many, many restaurants and
diners appeared.  I then zeroed in on the closest restaurants and was quite surprised at the
photos of Chicken and Waffles.

Instead of a Chicken in Gravy over Waffles, what appeared at these restaurants was Fried
Chicken and Waffles on the Side with Maple Syrup.  (What??????)

No where was there a chicken in gravy over a waffle. 

Apparently the Fried Chicken with Waffle on the Side is a Southern specialty.

I must confess, I never heard of that!

Digging further into the internet, an article appeared regaling the wonders of the Amish
Chicken and Waffles, only to be found east of Pittsburgh!

Aha!  Our Chicken and Waffles!!!!!

Little did I ever realize that this was a regional dish peculiar to Central Pennsylvania.
(although I must admit, I thought, as a youngster, that everyone in the world ate pork and sauerkrout
on New Years Day!!!)

With the advent of the rotisserie chicken,  available to everyone, we do not have to cook our
own chicken, make our own stock, etc. to enjoy this dish.

I found a wonderful recipe from good food stories that nails it!

Amish Chicken and Waffles
(4 servings)

1  3-4 lb. rotisserie chicken

1 large egg
4 T. unsalted butter, melted
1 cup milk
1 cup unbleached all purpose flour
1/2 t. baking powder
1/2 t. granulated sugar
1/4 t. kosher salt

4 T. unsalted butter
1/4 cup unbleached all purpose flour
2 cups chicken stock
1/4 cup milk (or heavy cream, for extra richness)
salt and pepper to taste

1.  Pull the meat from the roasted chicken and cut or shred into bite-sized pieces.
Keep warm in a low oven til ready to assemble.

Make the Waffles:
2.  Preheat a 4 square waffle maker.
3.  Separate the egg yolk and white and reserve the egg white in a small bowl.
4.  Melt the butter in a small saucepan and remove from heat to cool slightly.
5.  Whisk the egg yolk and milk together in a large bowl, then add the melted butter, flour, baking powder, sugar and salt.  Whisk together til just barely combined; some lumps may remain.
6.  Beat the egg white by hand or with an electric mixer til soft peaks form.  Gently fold the
egg white into the batter with a spatula.
7.  Grease the waffle maker, if necessary, and pour the batter evenly into the waffle iron; depending on the depth and size of your waffle maker, you may have a bit of leftover batter.  Cook according to your waffle makers' specifications.

8.  Alternative:  purchase frozen waffle and heat according to directions.

Make the gravy:
1.  Melt the butter in a heavy bottomed saucepan over medium heat.  Sprinkle the flour evenly over the melted butter and whisk to incorporate into a roux. 
2.  Cook, whisking frequently, til roux turns toasty golden.  It will remain pale for a few minutes,
then toast quickly so keep an eye on it.
3.  Drizzle in the chicken stock, whisking constantly as it is added.  The flour will clump, but
continue to whisk and the gravy will smooth itself out.  Add the milk and cook, stirring frequently,
until the gravy thickens and comes to a simmer.
4.  Remove from the heat and season with salt and pepper to taste.  Add chicken pieces to the


1.  Place a waffle on a plate, spoon chicken and gravy over the waffle.
(Sometimes served with a side of mashed potatoes)

Saturday, March 3, 2018


One of my all time favorites is the Crostata, or Italian Fruit Pie.

In days gone by, pasta frolla (pie dough) was rolled and filled with homemade jam.
There would be some with fancy lattice, some quite rustic with just the ends turned up.

My personal favorite is filled with fig jam.  The traditional in Tuscany is blackberry jam.
Right now I have peach jam- filled Crostata in the oven.  The house smells delightful!

This is a dessert that is so basic, so simplistic and so very delicious!

I make a batch of the dough and put it in my freezer so I am ready at a moment's notice
of friends coming for coffee or luncheon.  It does not take long to defrost and I always
make sure I have a jar of jam in the pantry.

The pasta frolla must be very cold.  Many recipes will say to chill for 30 minutes but I
have found that is not near enough time.  The dough is still too soft and will fall apart.  I
allow the dough many hours, even overnight, to get a proper chill.

You can prepare a free form tart with the ends rolled in over the filling or you can use a pie
pan.  I use a French tin with a removeable bottom for my Crostatas.

You can fill the tarts with the traditional blackberry jam, or peach, apricot, raspberry.....
whatever suits your taste.  You can also use Nutella, which my grandchildren love!

The dough:

1-1/4 stick unsalted butter, room temperature
1 C. granulated sugar
1 large egg + 1 large egg yolk
dash salt
2 C. all purpose flour

I put butter in mixer (yes! the mixer!) and then add the sugar.  I then add the eggs, dash of
salt and, finally, gradually add the flour.  Pop the dough out onto the saran, wrap it up and
give it a good chill.  (there is no water in this dough! and it rolls like a dream!)

Fill the tart with the jam (or Nutella) of your choosing.  Add some lattice strips. (I like
to brush some eggwash on the strips but be careful!  They can brown very easily!)

Bake in a preheated 350* oven for about 30 minutes.  The dough should be golden. The
jam will be bubbly.

Let cool and enjoy!  I sprinkle a bit of 10-x when serving.

This is a peach jam filling

This is what it looks like with 10-x sugar sprinkled on top

This is a Fig Jam filling (my favorite!)

The classic blackberry jam filling from Tuscany

Saturday, February 24, 2018

Christmas Pavlova

Meringues have always fascinated me.

Dottie Lonardi, who lived next door to us when we lived in the City, used to bake a zillion cookies
at Christmas and always made "meringue kisses" with the leftover egg whites.  She would put
nuts in them.

Those were my very favorite cookies!

As I would research meringues as I became older, I was amazed to discover how the Australians
are the absolute masters with meringue!

This dessert was created in the 1920's when the Russian ballerina, Anna Pavlova, was touring
Australia and New Zealand.

It should have a crisp crust with a soft, marshmallow-y inside, and is usually served with
fresh fruit and whipped cream.

When in France and Ireland I was surprised to see meringues in every bakery in both countries!

It has only been in recent years that I have discovered Mary Berry, the Martha of Great Britain.

This past holiday season I was trying to decide on a special dessert for one of my dinner parties.
I was already making the croquembouche for the one dinner party and then decided on the
pavlova for the other.

Thank goodness berries of all kinds are available for the holidays!  (I do remember once,
however, when we were catering that there was a scarcity of berries, for whatever reason,
and I was hard pressed to make the fruit presentations look palatable!)

I had made individual meringues for pavlova over the years but never the large ring.

I turned to Mary Berry and the results were raves and bravos!

One tip:  do not attempt meringues when it is raining outside!  Meringues and Rain
do not mix well!

Flounce, Coverlet or Bedspread?

 It is the time of year when we want to purge, organize, make clean, re-do.

It is also the time of year when bedding linens, towels, etc. all are on sale.

So, what better time than to purchase a new bed covering since the old one has pulls
and I am just plain tired of it.

It was one of those great bed-in-bag buys with the bedskirt (aka dust ruffle), shams,
comforter and even some accent pillows.  It has definitely served its purpose and has
definitely seen its day. I am just not crazy over the comforter look any longer.

For the new bed covering, I was thinking of  the lovely matelasse quilts (coverlets).
I started looking all over the internet and, to my dismay, I discovered there is quite a
range in the measurements for coverlets for king size beds.

I was always of the opinion that the coverlet should extend 3" below the mattress.  If you
have a bed skirt, the mattress will be covered and you have a well dressed bed. Hmmmmm,
sounds good but that is not the reality.

I purchased a lovely quilt and was so excited to see how it looked on the bed.  Well, it
did not even cover the mattress sides.    I had to return it.

A king mattress with a pillowtop (and a quilted mattress protector) requires a lot more
material than the linen industry is providing!  It seems they have not yet caught up with
the puffy, high bedding we all now desire.

So, the coverlet is out.  How about a bedspread?

That too is problematic in that the widest bedspread seems to be 120" (and that is termed
oversized!)  and I need 138"!

I seriously thought about going back in time with a 1950's chenille bedspread.  However,.
there would have been a 10" shortage on both sides and I just didn't think that was
going to look right, even with the bedskirt.

Who knew this was going to be such an ordeal?  Remember in those "good ol' days" when
you just purchased  twin or full and all bedding linens fit just fine?  You really didn't have
to give it a second thought.

Now sheets have to be extra deep or you will be having a "Lucy" moment trying to make
the bed!  And the bedskirt has drops of 14", 16", 17".......

Voila!  I found a flounce!  with a 30" drop!!!!  It could not be more perfect!  I just
ordered it tonight.  It is velvet though.....not my first choice,  but velvet is so on-trend right
now....oh well.  This can be the Winter Bedding.

Thank goodness this is something we don't do all that often.  This turned into such a major

Here is store photo of my new  (retro) "Hollywood" bed:

Sunday, February 11, 2018

Trish Giordano: Creme Brulee

Trish Giordano: Creme Brulee: Creme Brulee is one of the most famous custards to come out of France.   However, England, Spain and France all claim to have creat...

Creme Brulee

Creme Brulee is one of the most famous custards to come out of France. 

 However, England, Spain and France all claim to have created this Classic Dish. 

 The first printed recipe for a dessert called creme brulee is from the 1691 edition of the French cookbook Le Cuisinier Royal et Bourgeois by Francois Massialot, a cook at the Palace of Versailles.

Creme Brulee means, simply, "Burnt Cream".

Made with simple ingredients of eggs, sugar, heavy cream and fresh vanilla bean, this dish
could not be more basic.

After the baking process, extreme heat via broiler, salamander or good old plumbers
torch is applied to sugar on top of the custard to form a hard crust.

One year, a very large, prestigious law firm we catered for requested this dessert for  their 
Secretaries Appreciation Day Luncheon.  The law firm was so large, we, in fact, had to make
this a two day affair.

They had a lovely office building  overlooking the Susquehanna River.  We were on the top floor for the luncheon festivities.  The Maintenance Supervisor advised me that  an open flame (pumblers'
torch) would wreak havoc and cause a gazillion gallons of water to overcome us should I attempt
to "torch" these creme brulee desserts inside.

Since there was a terrace, I figured that we could "torch" the desserts outside.....what choice did
I have?

Ok, ok, so maybe I didn't think that one through!!!.....First day of event, we are outside attempting
to torch these desserts and the wind is whipping all around us!  The flame is going everywhere....
but not on the wonderful desserts I have prepared!  What a joy that was get a hard crust
on these desserts!

My bottom line advise is:  do not attempt this outside with the wind whipping all around you!!!!

Trish Giordano: Learning the Crock Pot

Trish Giordano: Learning the Crock Pot: Everyone swears by the Crock Pot.  Even Martha has relented and published a book on how to use and enjoy this invention!  However, you will...

Learning the Crock Pot

Everyone swears by the Crock Pot.  Even Martha has relented and published a book on how to use
and enjoy this invention!  However, you will need to purchase a new one to follow most of her
recipes if your crock pot does not have the browning capability.

My husband always gives very personal Christmas gifts.  However, whenever I was pregnant the
gifts were geared more to household conveniences.  More years ago than I remember, (pregnant with middle daughter I believe), he presented me with a crockpot.  It was still a "newfangled" thing back then.

It was an orange-ish color and all one piece without the removable insert most have today.  I think
he had purchased it at J. C. Penney.

Since it came with a small booklet of recipes, I began using it right away.  Everything was fine but my husband was not real fond of the meals.  Since everything had a sauce (most recipes back then called for throwing a can of soup in, yes, usually that awful mushrooms stuff) he preferred his food more "clean".

So, the crockpot was relegated to the back of the pantry and only brought out on a rare occasion.

I purchased a new crockpot for myself and my one son-in-law several years ago.  However, I did not have much success.  There seemed to be a hot spot and most of the foods I cooked in the crock pot
ended up being overdone or dried out or even burnt!

I contacted the Crock Pot company and they informed me that the pot must be at least 2/3 full in
order to work properly.  Smaller amounts just are not meant for this type of slow cooking.  Aha!
That explained a lot since I was using small amounts of food just for me and my husband.  They
did admit however, that most of the pots do indeed have a hot spot.  Again, this pot was sent back to the shelf in the garage.

Fast forward many years and a dear school chum  (Hi Carolyn!!)  posted a photo of her beloved crockpot, which looked exactly like the old one I had.  She noted that she received a new one and was not using it since it did not work as good as her original crock pot.

That spurred me to action.  I retrieved the newer crockpot I had purchased in recent years from the
garage and proceeded to prepare a pot roast.  First, I seared the meat, after putting salt and pepper on both sides. Then placed the meat in the crockpot on a bed of carrots and onions.  (no potatoes since
I was going to served mashed) and turned the dial to high for four (4) hours.

So excited was I!  A bit after the four hours, I checked the meat and, to my dismay, it was not done!
It was not falling apart when poked with a fork.  Now what to do?  I transferred the meat and a bit
of juices to my dutch oven (which is what I would normally use for a pot roast) and put it into a
375* oven.  It took under an hour, but the meat was then perfect and I was able to proceed with my
meal.  I was serving this to my husband, my mother and a plate to a neighbor recovering from a
stroke, so it had to be good!

Luck be with me, it did turn out to be wonderful!

Was that a beginner's luck?  Time will tell as I am about to try recipes out in the crockpot on a more regular basis.

What is your favorite recipe for the crockpot?  I would love to hear from you if you care to share!

Trish Giordano: Changing Carmines

Trish Giordano: Changing Carmines: I posted the wonderful recipe for Carmine's Rigatoni many years ago. We first experienced this wonderful dish at our daughter, Barbara...

Changing Carmines

I posted the wonderful recipe for Carmine's Rigatoni many years ago.

We first experienced this wonderful dish at our daughter, Barbara's, Wedding Rehearsal Dinner
at....Carmine's in Manhattan!

What a delightful experience!

It has since become a Family Favorite, with grandson James wanting nothing but!!!!!

I did notice, however, that when my daughter Katie prepared the dish, it was a bit different
than when I prepared it.

I checked the archives and realized that I was now using two (2)  16 ounce rolls of Bob Evans
Sausage, Original, since the Italian is no longer available in our stores, rather than just one.

Also, I was using two (2) cans of cannellini beans, rather than just one.

All other ingredients remained the same as in the published recipe.

This truly makes a difference!

I hope you will try this and love it as much as we do!  A great crowd pleaser!

Trish Giordano: Revisiting Crab Cakes

Trish Giordano: Revisiting Crab Cakes: Crab Cakes are a true luxury these days! In our catering days, we were known for our outstanding crab cakes.  I did a post many years a...

Revisiting Crab Cakes

Crab Cakes are a true luxury these days!

In our catering days, we were known for our outstanding crab cakes.  I did a post many years
ago and published our recipe which can be found in the archives or just google trishgiordano
crabcakes and it should come up.

This past holiday season I was attempting to purchase jumbo lump crabmeat which, not only
was it difficult to find but very expensive. (as in $33-$36 per lb.!!)

I also noticed that none of the stores were carrying U.S. crab. 

 It was from Mexico, China, Thailand, etc.

I had inadverently purchased crab from China in the past and was amazed at how different the crab
looked and tasted.  Typically, crabmeat is a grey-ish color and has a pleasant sweet taste.
(which is why I never put onions in my crabcakes).  The crab from China was pure white,
uniformly square in shape and, quite frankly, had not much taste at all.

I was able to located jumbo lump crabmeat by Phillips at Costco, of all places!.....however,
their label indicated that it also was from Southeast Asia.  I telephoned Phillips and had
a lengthy conversation which was quite informative.  While the crab is no longer harvested
from the U.S., it is under judicial supervision and regulations by the Phillips company and in
their own water pools.

My crabcakes were delicious as always but I do lament the changing of the times and our world
when I can no longer work with the wonderful products of the past.

Anyway, the intention of this post is to caution you when purchasing crabmeat.  Never before have
there been so many choices and, in my opinion, none of them are worth considering.

That adage, "you get what you pay for" is, unfortunately, so very true as we all usually discover.

Trish Giordano: Holiday Beef Wellington

Trish Giordano: Holiday Beef Wellington: Since we moved into our townhouse, I have had friends in for formal dinner parties each Holiday season....usually during ...

Holiday Beef Wellington

Since we moved into our townhouse, I have had friends in for formal dinner parties each Holiday
season....usually during the week  before Christmas.  

I have such fun setting the table, creating an ambiance and planning the menus!

This year, I decided for my School Chums Dinner that I would do Filet of Beef.  

I went through all my basic recipes and then checked out Gordon Ramsay.....who I adore and love
his approach to foods....and came up with the winner, Holiday Beef Wellington.

I have been preparing Filet of Beef for more years than I care to count in my catering career!

Typically I do not sear the beef.  I know, I know, this seems a sacrilege!  However, I would 
usually cook the beef at such a high temperature, it created its own crust!  Thus, negating the
need for the searing.

Gordon's approach of the duxelles and prosciutto were what won me over.

First, I purchased a whole tenderloin that was not trimmed.  The difference in price for a trimmed
tenderloin was almost $10.00 per lb.!  And, while I do detest the process of trimming, I am perfecting capable of doing so, thereby saving the money!!

The main goal when trimming the beef yourself is to be sure to remove all the silver.  This does
not melt out like the fat does.

I then, as per Gordon, layed out saran wrap and then layered thinly sliced prosciutto. On top of 
that I spread the duxelle mixture of mushrooms, shallots, and herbs. 

Unfortunately, I did not take a photo of placing the tenderloin on top of the duxelles and wrapping
it all up with the prosciutto.  Sorry about that!  

I then wrapped the beef in puff pastry.  I brushed the entire surface with an egg wash and then
made some decorative slits.

A quick roast in a hot oven and, voila!  perfection!

Just google Gordon Ramsay's Holiday Beef Wellington and don't wait til the next Holiday!
Try it now!  It is easy and absolutely delicious!!!

Saturday, January 27, 2018

Surviving the Flu of 2017-2018

Never had I, not the fun game on Facebook this day.....truly, never have I ever been
so sick.

Two days after Christmas I was hit "flat out"......ended up in the hospital for one week and home
on oxygen and bedrest for three more weeks!  I am just getting back into a semblance of normalcy but fatigue plagues me and that take some adjustment.

Which brings me to a new "state of mind" that, after being an Energizer Bunny for so many
years, it is quite shocking to one's system to have to slow down!

I am so used to making many, many commitments.....not because I am being pressured to do so, but because I truly want to and with great enthusiasm!

It would be nothing for me to go, go all day and end my day with an evening of cooking or baking
til midnight or later!  Now, my morning preparations and one errand exhaust me!

I had started many blog posts on wonderful events from the holidays which were not completed.
I will soon post these and, while they may be a bit late, hopefully, you will have fun with them and
perhaps even attempt some of the recipes!!!

The kindnesses showed to me was overwhelming and, quite frankly, humbling.  I made a note to self,
that whoever, whenever someone I know is sick or infirmed, I will drop off soup or a meal without
asking and shower that person with cards and messages!  My husband and I were so very, very

That old adage, "without your health you have nothing" is, unfortunately, so very true.  I have new
empathy for anyone with breathing problems (the flu caused me to have great upper respiratory problems, hence the oxygen).  I am looking at anyone with health issues in a totally different light

From being so very ill to being this side of Heaven, I must now seek my purpose, and of course,
count my many blessings.