December 2009

Kick-Ass Homemade Bloody Mary Mix

December 31, 2009
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When I was little, I used to spend every holiday with my grandparents. While they always hosted Christmas, on New Years Day we would usually go to a party held at the house of a family friend. I remember this tradition fondly and about 10 years ago, decided to recreate it, inviting friends over for a hangover-busting New Year’s Day brunch. The central theme of this brunch has always been “Bacon.”
As in, “come for the bacon, you know you want it.”
Yes, the uber-trendy ingredient of 2009 has been the most popular part of brunch at my house for the better part of a decade. Every year I cook at least 5 lbs of it and it disappears like sharks into the swirling chum. This is no fancy-schmancy bacon, nor it even my own homemade stuff, just plain old Farmer John, cooked to a crisp. It’s …
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Restaurants in Rome; La Tavernetta

December 29, 2009


The last restaurant I’d like to feature from my trip to Rome is a place called La Tavernetta. It’s on a tiny back street near the frenetic, touristy area surrounding the Pantheon. The street is not much more than an alley with almost no traffic; it’s surprisingly quiet for being so close to the center.

When we arrive at La Tavernetta (Via degli Spagnoli 48) it is full inside, but has empty tables outside. It’s chilly, and threatening to rain. But we’re hungry and the €12 lunch menu sounds good so we take our chances and sit under a large umbrella. It does indeed begin to rain while we are eating, but the umbrella keeps us dry and the food and wine warms our bellies.

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Spicy Long Beans with Cashews

December 28, 2009


Spicy Long Beans with Cashews

I’m back! I know I’ve been gone longer than usual and I’m sorry for that, but the past few weeks have been difficult and busy to say the least. Without going into too much detail, I’ve spent some time focusing on my other web site, created a 116 page blurb book (which had to be done in time for Christmas), and dealt with a family member’s serious illness. In the process, I learned more about the current state of US hospitals and the medical system than I ever wanted to know. Suffice it to say, here’s to hoping 2010 will be a less chaotic and stressful year!

 This recipe is a quick and easy side vegetable for many Asian themed meals. The last time I made it, served it alongside some thai curry with shrimp, but it could easily go with a Chinese style stir-fry.

Long beans are also …

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Chocolate Cake with Salted Caramel and Fleur de Sel Praline

December 7, 2009

Chocolate Caramel Cake with Fleur de Sel Praline

Every Thanksgiving I make two desserts. One is always a pumpkin mousse pie and the other is usually something chocolate. This year I really wanted a show-stopper and decided I wanted a chocolate cake which had salted caramel in it in some way.  The original recipe came from Bon Appetit and can be found here, but I made some changes to the recipe (see notes at bottom) and added my own touch, the Fleur de Sel Praline for the garnish and inside the cake.

The cake has a lot of parts, but if you take it one step at a time and do some of it in advance, it’s not that difficult. I was very pleased with the way it turned out; the cake itself is rich with a bite of coffee flavor, the caramel has a nice tang to it from the addititon of the sour cream, and …

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