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Tastings of any sort (oil, vinegar, cheese, ham): Venice/Ravenna/Bologna/Milan

cool beans! thanks for the tip, will follow up now...

Apr 21, 2010
talkoftomatoes in Italy

Disinfecting Kitchen Spray for Cutting Boards, etc.

WAY cool idea. Love a toss of peppermint, or orange, or almond extract... just straight vinegar? No water?

Dec 09, 2008
talkoftomatoes in Cookware


Absolutely! I bought a package at Trader Joes and was so excited to try to get my kiddos to eat it.

Bring to room temp or defrost with lukewarm water in a colander. Shake dry. Place 1-2 T of butter and 1-2 T of olive oil in sautee pan and heat over medium. Sautee with chopped up sage leaves, kosher salt and course pepper. YUM! Here is the whole post:

The kids loved it!

Jan 10, 2007
talkoftomatoes in Home Cooking

Food for grieving friends

My good friend just underwent surgery and we are signing up to deliver dinners for the next two weeks (drive over the food day-of with heating instructions). Another bunch of friends got together and purchased a $200 gift certificate to Pagliaccis Pizza, so the family can order it numerous times, as needed. I thought that was pretty cool. You could order from I haven't used them, but they provided food for the actors in a performance I just attended/my brother directed. And the food was really great---I plan to use them.

Sorry for their loss.

Lamb Chops with an Olive-and-Herb Crust

I am going to make it tonight! I cannot imagine it anything less than spectacular; it has all my favorite herbs, AND balsamic and olives? (Plus I have a special affinity for bread crumbs). Sign me up! I am really loving the pan searing then baking to finish lovely cuts of meats. Thanks for the recipe!

on bread crumbs:

Jan 10, 2007
talkoftomatoes in Recipes

Putting the Party on Ice

I agree, mostly I read outlandish kitchen gymnastics as entertainment. BUT I will say I have tried the ice cube thing, mostly because it is big reward for little effort: guest guffaws, a moment of artistic genius, self-entertainment.

For the record, red hots in ice cubes don't work. They sink and are drained of their color (was aiming for a devilish Halloween concoction on that one). Two, years ago Martha herself introduced the ice ring. Never tried, but always thought a big bowl of punch with a bundt cake made ice ring of cranberries and rosemary would look COOL. Guests impressed, self-bemused is my secret agenda.

Jan 10, 2007
talkoftomatoes in Features

Christmas Eve Dinner for 10 with a red and green theme

Love the peppercorns on the pork idea, and the green and red enchiladas! (PS anyone have a good enchilada recipe?).

I worked at a restaurant years ago where we served a scallop pasta with---I want to say green pesto and then they put a one inch circular border around the outside with red pesto (sundried tomats) and placed about a dozen scallops around the plate on the red pesto.

Dessert: cranberry tart, garnished with mint leaves
Dessert: homemade mint (or green tea) and pomegranate (or cherry, raspberry, cranberry) ice cream?

Drink: I just made up a Christmas Kazi! It is very festive and explicitly green and red! Recipe here:

Let us know what you decide to do!

Dec 14, 2006
talkoftomatoes in Home Cooking

Best from-scratch Steak Marinade?

Yum... I better stop reading while I am so hungry and go make dinner!

Dec 14, 2006
talkoftomatoes in Home Cooking

Best from-scratch Steak Marinade?

Bummer about the Gluten Allergy!

I am so not well-versed on all the food allergies that are so prevalent! Need to learn...

Great idea on buying a book, but all the comments really helped to. Good specifics on what to buy, how long to marinade something and above all: winter grilling is in.

Dec 13, 2006
talkoftomatoes in Home Cooking

Christmas Eve Dinner for 10 with a red and green theme

Roasted Red Beets? Red onions? Red potatoes? Perhaps with zucchini rounds? I love roasted veggies.

How about a salad with red roasted beets, thinly sliced radishes, pomegranate seeds...

Lamb with mint jelly?

Fun idea for a menu!

Dec 13, 2006
talkoftomatoes in Home Cooking

Best from-scratch Steak Marinade?

Yes---I assumed grilling is best (though the chill in the air does make one hesitate...). I had just read a number of recipes that seared the steak and then put it... must've been under the broiler to finish it off.

Favorite cut?

Dec 13, 2006
talkoftomatoes in Home Cooking

Best from-scratch Steak Marinade?

I had to chuckle at the idea of steak at a spa, such care goes into wash, dry, blot, rub, coated and rave reviews after the treatment. Thanks for the marinade ideas, I didn't think about the oil overpowering but good to know. My next big question is what cut of beef and do you brown it first or bake it or a little of both? Any general rules about how long to cook and at what temp? I have much to learn...

Steinpilz: I love it browned!
Amoncada: good tip on the EVOO---and butter!
Galka and Kelli2006: how long do you marinade it?

Does anyone use wine?

Dec 12, 2006
talkoftomatoes in Home Cooking

Best from-scratch Steak Marinade?

Thanks---do you use any olive oil? Do you use quite a bit of balsamic? I love balsamic... garlic... yum.

Dec 12, 2006
talkoftomatoes in Home Cooking

Best from-scratch Steak Marinade?

I really, really want a good go-to steak/beef marinade. I have tasted a handful that were to-die for, but don't have my own concoction. I like the idea of tossing steak into a ziploc bag with a juicy, yummy marinade only to have it transform hours later to restaurant worthy fare. A little help?

Dec 11, 2006
talkoftomatoes in Home Cooking

Unique food gift recipes 2006 - what have you got?

Salts and rubs seem to be the rage. Trader Joe's even has wild Hawaiian Red or Black salt and Whole foods is supplying a large variety of salts in bulk (near the olives at my store). Making herb rubs for meats, or herb blends would be lovely. If I give herbs or salts, I find that the non-foodie family types really, really, really love 3-4 recipes to accompany such gifts. Then they actually use them!

Here are gifts I have given in the past: A Sangria Kit, (canned, homemade) Blueberry Chutney & Peppermint Bark. Read recipes here:

And I always consider a yummy entourage of cookies: russian tea cakes, iced cookies, thumbprint cookies, nut-lace cookies, thought I need a new favorite chocolate cookie... and since I just learned canning this year I may have to give a jar or two of my red sauce (very sendable!).

Good luck!

Dec 09, 2006
talkoftomatoes in Home Cooking

Favorite twists to basic meatloaf?

I love to provide the meatloaf texture with a different yet complimentary topper: cumin and paprika sauteed onions.

1 T olive oil
1/2 onion, sliced into 1/4 inch rings
pinch cumin
pinch sweet paprika

Sautee onions in oil and spices for 10 minutes or until nicely carmelized. Top off meatloaf with onions, slice and serve.!

Dec 09, 2006
talkoftomatoes in Home Cooking

Hot alcoholic beverage

Hot buttered rum, for sure, and I always keep good quality hot chocolate and peppermint schnaaps on hand (with some fresh whipped cream on top!). Here are 5 more to consider:

1. Hot Angel: Steamed milk (foam or not) with Frangelica (a hazelnut liquor).
2. Coffee Nudge: 1 oz Brandy, 1/2 oz. each Kahlua & Dark Cacao, fill with coffee and top with whipped cream.
3. Coffee Alfredo: 3/4 oz. each Kahlua, Amaretto, fill with coffee and top with whip cream.
4. Hot Toddy: 1 1/4 oz Bourbon, 1 oz. honey, fill with hot water and sprinkle with nutmeg.
5. Hot Apple Pie: Sparkling Cider, 1 1/4 oz heated Tuaca, topped with whip cream.

Thanks for the great reminder to start making cozy, warm drinks! It has been too long!

Dec 09, 2006
talkoftomatoes in Spirits

Vegetable side dish for Christmas Buffet Dinner

Can I come?

That menu sounds amazing!

My first thought was a cauliflower gratin but then I realized you need some red/orange/purple/yellow and something with a texture that compliments/doesn't conflict with the mashers. You already have spinach/green in the salad, but I think a gratin is a perfect idea!

I made a killer eggplant tomato gratin this summer, with kalamata olives, pine nuts and feta. But you could do a basic tomtato gratin---that would be lovely. If you roast brussel sprouts, throw in a bunch of colorful beets and you will have a very festive dish. Peel and chop beets (yellow, purple, orange) into about half the size of the beets and they will roast up nicely.

Gratins are so good!

Thanks for the menu inspiration!

Dec 04, 2006
talkoftomatoes in Home Cooking

cream lemoncello

I have an amazing recipe for Limoncella, in case you are interested. People beg me for the stuff, I give it as gifts and people even ask me if they can buy it!

It takes 80 days to make, but not b/c it takes effort. It is so easy, and stays in the pantry. I always keep one bottle tucked away in my freezer for dinner parties and the like.

Here is the recipe:

p.s. I usually use Potato Vodka... Good luck and enjoy!

Nov 15, 2006
talkoftomatoes in Spirits

Best Tasting Appetizer that is ......

A few ideas off the top of my head:

1. The smoked salmon from costco is great. I just put it with a wedge of brie and some good crackers.

2. Blue cheese wedge with Quince Paste (YUM---I buy the paste from Whole Foods but many places will carry it).

3. Thin focaccia, rubbed with pesto, with small triangles of brie heated in oven 5 minutes. Cut into triangles.

4. Olives, olives, olives.

5. Awesome artisan bread with my fave dip (turns bread and oil into a bonafide appetizer): olive oil, balsamic, garlic, red pepper flakes, fresh italian parsley.

I will resist writing the next five---this is one of my favorite topics! Oh, and loved the above comment by Janet: "scary simple." I love scary simple!

Nov 15, 2006
talkoftomatoes in General Topics

I'm on a mission- Kettle Chips New Flavor Voting- Aztec Chocolate must win

Seriously, I had no idea there were that many new flavors of Kettle Chips. I am so there with the Aztec Chocolate.

Every time I go to the grocery store, there is at least a new flavor or two.

We keep buying the next one, and are eating our way through them one at a time. A fun little food testing experience. Anyway, I am still stuck on the good ole Honey Dijon. I can't help it. But I will keep trying the new bags!

Kudos to the marketing and advertising brainchild over at Kettle; they have really nailed the market on this one.

I better go vote...

Nov 15, 2006
talkoftomatoes in General Topics


I live in Seattle and for a short stint worked for a company called Beecher's Cheese
it is located in Pike Place Market on the water in downtown Seattle. Pretty cool, the kiddos can even watch them make cheese!

I love eating cheese but need to do a better job committing all the names to memory!

I will say this much: one of my favorite combinations in the world (for an appetizer) is a wedge of cambazola and roasted garlic. Drizzle with olive oil and serve with good, artisan bread.

Nov 15, 2006
talkoftomatoes in Cheese

New organic restaurant named Tilth in Seattle's Wallingford district

Thanks for the links---I did enjoy the food, and will go back b/c I still want those duck burgers! Unfortunately my server experience wasn't as grand, but I was happy to hear others had a good server experience! Even though my server was repeatedly rude and nonresponsive, I was thrilled that all the folks in the kitchen seemed to be really having a ball together.

A good weeknight dinner for guests?

My inlaws, and other guests, love a unique drink to strart off a meal. Mix a sidecar or offer lemon drops and a nice appetizer as easy as smoked salmon and cheese or bruschetta with tomatoes and basil. There are a lot of desserts you can make in advance, especially tarts and pies. Do you have an ice cream maker? If you serve the yummy braised chicken from Epicurious, buy some yummy artisan bread and serve it with this quick dip (I usually mix the ingredients in a small glass then right before serving, invert and pour it into a shallow dish for sharing):

1/3 cup olive oil
2 T balsamic vinegar
2 cloves minced or pressed garlic
Pinch red pepper flakes
1-2 T fresh basil or flat-leaf parsley cut in chiffonade

One of my favorite tricks to fancy up a worthy loaf of bread; my kids love it too!

Nov 06, 2006
talkoftomatoes in Home Cooking

New organic restaurant named Tilth in Seattle's Wallingford district

Just curious if anyone else has been to this new, organic restaurant? It has only been open for a few weeks...

newbie brunch

Now you are making me hungry!

You could have some bacon or little sausages to accompany the eggs, but I love the idea of the roasted potatoes. Chop 'em smallish and maybe throw in a pile of herbs or some tiny chopped fennel.

Yes, at least one greens to go on the yummy bagels.

I went to a bagelish party once and they offered multiple kinds of cream cheeses.

Oh, and if you are near a trader joes, or in your grocer freezer section, you can find frozen fruit. For killer bellinis, I bought a trio package of pineapple, mango and papaya then blended it with champagne for a fun drink! My blender was busy that brunch...

Oct 12, 2006
talkoftomatoes in Home Cooking

Calling All Kid tested recipes...

I just started blogging on this, because it seems to be such an overarching theme in my life (that I enjoy blabbing about): trying to feed kids, keeping it engaging, expanding their palates, etc. I have picky eaters, one that is interested in being in the kitchen (self-proclaimed food critic) and one that would eat pizza all the time if I didn't keep pushing the envelope (i.e trying new things, experimenting while keeping it simple).

I swear if you keep having them try a bite of something new, having it appear on their plate, after awhile they start to eat/like it a bit more (slow but worthy process). For example, I used to roast just carrots (baby carrots, tossed with olive oil and kosher salt, 400 degree oven, 15 minutes). I started throwing in a little parsnip (same size chunks as carrots, still simple in appearance). Now they eat both.

Too, if they are doing homework in the kitchen while I am prepping, I always have them smell fresh herbs before I pop them into a dish. They don't realize they are increasingly familiar with herbs and begin to like some more than others. Then later when rosemary shows up on potatoes or sage with butter is topping ravioli, it is familiar and they are more likely to try it. Sorry so long winded! Good luck!

Here are two broccoli recipes that my whole family enjoys (the lemon one works well for green beans as well):

Lightly cook the broccoli either by steaming or boiling on the stovetop or steaming in the microwave (Add 2-3 T of water and cover). When the broccoli is finished, combine with other ingredients and serve.

Lemon Broccoli
8 oz. broccoli (I use baby broccoli sometimes, nice visual with the long stems and tender stalks)
1 lemon, juice and zest
2 T olive oil
Kosher salt

Cook broccoli, meanwhile combine zest and juice of 1 lemon with 2 T olive oil in bowl. Remove excess water from cooked broccoli and mix with lemon & oil. Serve.

Parmesan Broccoli
4 oz. broccoli (I admit, I usually just microwave broccoli florettes—tops only—until tender. This is when I only have 2-3 minutes and want a veggie on the table).
1 T butter
2 T parmesan (flakes, shreds or powder: you be the judge)

Cook broccoli, remove excess water, stir in butter and parm. Double or triple as needed.

Oct 12, 2006
talkoftomatoes in Home Cooking

Roasted Vegetables

Where to begin? I am completely taken with roasted veggies; I like so many more veggies because of roasting. Last few rounds of roasting (typically with kosher salt and olive oil):

Quartered new potatoes, fennel w/Rosemary
Baby carrots with parsely and golden raisins
Love the carrot & parsnip combo
Beets with thyme (add goat cheese to toss and serve)
Brussel Sprouts
Cherry Tomatoes

Oct 09, 2006
talkoftomatoes in Home Cooking

Marcella Hazan comparison

My fave Uncle ONLY cooks from her books. He has long been considered the family gourmet. He makes it look so easy!

Oct 09, 2006
talkoftomatoes in Home Cooking

OctoberTini: Gingersnaps

I love to play with concoctions in my kitchen, and this October is no exception. I made up a cocktail called Gingersnaps, made with Vodka and Gingersnap Simple Syrup. What is your latest cocktail invention?

Oct 08, 2006
talkoftomatoes in Spirits