Thursday, April 30, 2009

You Must Visit These Sites - April 30, 2009


(Photo upload to Flickr by Shesnuckinfuts')

Each week, I'd like to expose you to some interesting sites and blogs for you to check out.

Here is this week's selection...

Your Ultimate Shelf Life Guide - Save Money, Eat Better, Help The Environment

The first site I would like you to take a look at is called Still Tasty. I was reading one of the Yahoo groups that I belong to called Jewish Food Groups (among the hundreds of food groups I think I belong to) and one of the group members posted this blog site. What a wealth of information. It explains all about expiration dates on cans, bottles, packaging, how long foods stay fresh, what has to be refrigerated, and what doesn't. This is a great reference site to bookmark, and to send to all your kids. I know I always fight with my crew about leaving leftover pizza on the counter and eating it the next day because they are too lazy to wrap it and refrigerate it -

Here is what Still Tasty says: "Question: Last night, I ordered in some pizza and then fell asleep for a few hours before I could put away the leftovers. The pizza was sitting on the counter for a total of about 6 hours before I put it in the fridge. It still smells fine — is it safe to eat?"

Answer: Sorry, but you're out of luck.

According to the United States Department of Agriculture, it’s dangerous to eat any cooked food (including takeout foods like pizza, fried chicken or Chinese food) that has been allowed to sit at room temperature for two hours or longer.

The reason is that temperatures between 40° F and 140° F provide the perfect breeding environment for so-called “pathogenic bacteria” — the kind of bacteria that causes foodborne illness. And here’s the tricky part: Pathogenic bacteria generally does not affect the taste, smell, or appearance of food. In other words, just because the pizza smells ok to you, that doesn’t mean it’s safe to eat.

Now, does this mean you're guaranteed to get sick if you eat the pizza? Nope — you could certainly get lucky and experience no side effects at all. But in our humble opinion, no food is worth taking the chance on contracting a serious foodborne illness.

The next time you order in pizza, be sure to follow the guidelines for storing your leftovers here."

So kids,if you ever eat unrefrigerated left over pizza, I'll have to kill you if the pizza doesn't kill you first!

Check out this site, you will be so glad you did!

A story in the Baltimore Sun states that in this recession, more and more restaurants are allowing diners to BYOB (bring your own bottle) and are either lowering or eliminating the corkage fee. See, there are some good things that come out of a recession. Many restaurant owners are saying this is a way to thank their customers (my own thought is, if some of these restaurants don't start courting customers, and lowering prices, they will be closing their doors, if they thought they could still get corkage fees, don't even think that they would be doing this for the customers benefit - it's time the little guy caught some breaks, so take them where you can.)

Each restaurant of course has their own policies, rules, and regulations so you would do best to call ahead and inquire, rather than be embarrassed. If you want to read more about this story,
here is the link - just clink on Baltimore Sun.

Of course, not to be outdone, Crain's New York Business published an article along the same vein as the previous article and it states that most BYOB restaurants are running afoul of the law, particularly in New York. The New York State Liquor Authority is now so concerned over this emerging new trend that they are giving classes to restaurant owners explaining the dos and mostly don'ts associated with allowing diners to bring their own bottle. The New York State Liquor Authority states that these restaurants are looking towards severe penalties as well as possible closure if they allow these practices to continue. So be careful, where you bring your own bottle, you could be jeopardizing your favorite restaurant - especially in New York, where our politicians have nothing better to do than to worry about their constituents having a nice bottle of wine with dinner, instead of figuring out why they are taxing us to death, our increasing number of unemployed, our loss of businesses and population to more people friendly states, but whether or not you bring your own bottle of wine, seems to take precedence!

By the way, just so you know, if you do gift baskets in New York State (which I did for years) you cannot include a bottle of wine, even if the customer gives you the receipt, you cannot ship wine across state lines, and a whole host of other stupid rules designed to make your life miserable and allow your business to fail.

Read more about this story on Crain's New York Business website.

The Elmira, New York, Star-Gazette features an article that will do your heart good. During National Library week, the Southeast Steuben County Library in Corning, New York, dispensed with their fines on overdue books in lieu of a donation of food to the library. One item of food for every overdue book would clear the offenders account. The food will then be donated to the Corning Community Food Pantry and the Painted Post Churches Food Pantry.

What a wonderful idea, perhaps more library's could follow their lead, and why wait for National Library Week, why not make it a once a month happening. Perhaps other organizations, with late fees, could follow suit. Perhaps the credit card companies, who have higher interest rates than the Mafia, could do an amnesty month - and instead of putting people in the poor house, they could feed people in the poor house! Something to think about - in the meantime, kudos to
the Southeast Steuben County Library - you did a good thing!!!! To read more about this article,
click the link Southeast Steuben County Library

Next comes an article from

on one of my fellow twitterers, Medini Pradhan

who calls herself "a Splenda-holic" hmmmmm a Splenda Foodfanataholic - wow!

Medini told me that she was being written up in the New York Times Weekender in an article about artificial sweeteners. Medini who runs an Indian food and culture website, uses Splenda to sweeten her tea. The article goes on to talk about people and their preferences in the Sweetener War, in case anyone cares, I am a Sweet-n-Low kinda girl. To read more, or voice your own opinion, click on the link for the New York Times Weekender.

To learn more about Medini, follow her on Twitter or visit her website Cuisine Cuisine . Com
to learn more about Indian culture and food, or to purchase beautiful gifts from India. You go Medini, your fellow Twitterers are proud of you.

The final pick of the week comes from my friend Anne, who is a wealth of knowledge, including giving me a great shrimp scampi recipe which I made for dinner tonight and will post when I get a minute to breath, comes a link for 50 of the Greatest Food Blogs. The link was up for awhile, but in case you missed it, here it is again from the Times on Line in the United Kingdom. Check the list and see if your favorite food blog is there.

Excuse me Times on Line but you forgot somebody......what about me????????????

Hope you all enjoyed this weeks picks...

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Mangia Italiano...

One of the most popular dishes in many Italian Restaurants is Alfredo...Tortellini Alfredo, Fettuccini Alfredo, Veal Alfredo, you get the picture.

Supposedly, Alfredo Sauce was made popular by Alfredo di Lelio, who ran Alfredo's restaurant in Rome around 1914. The first time I can remember eating it was as a 16 year old in Bologna, Italy. The cooking of Northern Italy is largely made up of cream sauces, as opposed to Southern Italy, where tomato sauce is the norm.

If you look at the map of Italy,

you will see the cities of Bologna and Milan closer to the top of the boot, the home to Parma (Parmesan Cheese) and Emilia Romana (Romano Cheese),
and you can see why cream and cheese would be a staple in their diet.

As you move down to the south, the weather is much warmer, and much more conducive to gardens and fresh vegetables like tomatoes, hence the tomato sauce, and tomato salads, and heavy use of vegetables and pasta combinations.

As my family was from Southern Italy, we never ate Alfredo when I was young. My Irish Aunt Edith was actually the one who first started to make "Noodles Alfredo" as she called it, when I was in my late teens. Hers was a very easy recipe, and very good, but a little thinner than what you would get in many restaurants. I still enjoy making it when I want a slightly lighter Alfredo Sauce.

Once you learn to make the basic Alfredo Sauce, you can pair it with whatever pasta you like.

Here is a recipe for a basic Alfredo Sauce that takes a few minutes to do. In fact, put up the salted water for whatever pasta you are making, and when it comes to a boil, and you throw in the pasta, you can start your sauce. The sauce will be ready when the pasta is...

Note: This recipe contains eggs which help thicken the sauce. If you don't like eggs or can't eat eggs, you can eliminate them but you may have to increase the amount of grating cheese to thicken the sauce.

Alfredo Sauce

1/2 - 1 pint of heavy whipping cream
1 stick of butter
2 cups of grating cheese ( you can use whatever type you prefer, Parmesan, Locatelli-Romano, Pecorino Romano)
4 egg yolks
Salt and pepper to taste

Separate the eggs, and place the yolks (you can save the whites for something else if you want) in a separate dish. Beat the yolks with a fork and set aside. Place the butter into a large saute or frying pan. Turn the heat on low and start to melt the butter. Add half of the first half pint of heavy cream to the egg yolks, and half of the heavy cream to the butter in the pan. Add the grating cheese to the butter and cream. Add salt (I use very little because the cheese is very salty, in fact, you can even eliminate the salt if you want to) and pepper to taste. Before the cheese/butter/cream mix gets very hot, add the egg/heavy cream mix to the pan (this will prevent the eggs from cooking into scrambled eggs. Whisk the sauce together to make sure the eggs don't scramble. Heat the sauce until is is hot and thickened, but do not bring it to a full boil. Keep the heat on very low until the pasta is cooked. Drain the pasta well, and add to the sauce and combine well. If you think the sauce is too thick, you can then add some of the cream from the second half pint. This makes enough sauce for 1 pound of pasta and will feed 4 as a main course and 6 as a side dish.

If you have Alfredo left over, you don't want to heat it in a microwave because the sauce will break down. Instead, use a double boiler if you have one, or make a makeshift double boiler by placing some hot water in the bottom sauce pan, place another saucepan on top of it and place the Alfredo in the top saucepan, adding some extra heavy cream (a few tablespoonfuls) to the pasta. Bring the water in the bottom pot to a boil and gently stir the pasta in the top pot until heated. The sauce should stay together and not break down this way.

This is what you will need for the recipe:

Alfredo Sauce

1/2 - 1 pint of heavy whipping cream
1 stick of butter
2 cups of grating cheese ( you can use whatever type you prefer, Parmesan, Locatelli-Romano, Pecorino Romano)
4 egg yolks
Salt and pepper to taste

Fill a large pot with water

add salt (a good handful)

Turn on the heat and bring to a boil

Separate the eggs,
and place the yolks in a separate dish

Beat the yolks with a fork and set aside

Place the butter into a large saute or frying pan
Turn the heat on low and start to melt the butter

Add half of the first half pint of heavy cream to the egg yolks,

and the other half of the half pint of
heavy cream to the butter in the pan

Before the butter/cream mix gets very hot
add the egg/heavy cream mix to the pan
(this will prevent the eggs from cooking into scrambled eggs.)
Whisk or stir the sauce together to make
sure the eggs don't scramble

Add the grating cheese to the butter/cream/egg mix

Add pepper to taste

Add salt
(I use very little because the cheese is very salty, in fact,
you can even eliminate the salt if you want to)

Heat the sauce until it is smooth, hot and thickened,
but do not bring it to a full boil

Keep the heat on very low until the pasta is cooked

When the water boils, throw in the tortellini
or pasta of your choice

The tortellini usually float to the top
when they are done (but taste to be sure)

Drain the pasta well,

and add to the sauce

and stir to combine well

If you think the sauce is too thick,
you can then add some of the cream
from the second half pint, but usually the little residual
water from the pasta thins the sauce out enough

Place in a serving dish and enjoy!

Bookmark and Share

Alfredo Sauce on Foodista

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

That's What Friends Are For...

“True friends are the ones who never leave your heart,
even if they leave your life for awhile.” –Author Unknown

The year was 1971, and I was just graduating from high school and heading to Roosevelt Hospital School of Nursing. I would be living away from home (of course, not if my father had anything to do with it, lol...he's comment was "Italian girls leave home in a wedding dress or a coffin." My mother however, was far more progressive, and let my father think he made the decision to allow me to go (he was such a pushover.)

My first day in the dorm, and I met a few girls who would become my dear friends, Kathy Skelly (Sullivan) Tina Terenzi, Diane Kobert (Hochman), Cathy McClenin, Leslie Staub, and Bernadette Walsh. We all lived on the same floor and we all hung out together.

After nursing school, some of us drifted apart, but I stayed in touch with Kathy and Tina through the years. We stayed in touch through marriages, divorces, babies, children serving in Iraqi, and now grandchildren. I was talking to Kathy and asked if she ever heard from Diane. It seemed like Diane had fallen off the face of the earth. I decided to join Facebook and put in my information, including nursing school, and a few weeks after this conversation, Diane found me on Facebook. Now, she Kathy, Tina, and I are all in touch once again.

Tina with grandson Peyton Morales

Kathy Skelly Sullivan has more grandchildren than I can count :)

Diane and her family

Diane and I seemed to have a lot of parallels in our lives, one of them being that we love to cook, and we both have a food blog. She is currently redoing her blog and when it is up, I'll post the link here. We were talking about recipes and she told me she had a great cake recipe and would I be interested in it. I sure was, I love all recipes. She sent me the recipe and a picture of the beautiful cake.

Although the format is not step by step, I think you will enjoy making this beautiful cake that Diane was kind enough to let me print here. After all, that's what friends are for :)

White Chocolate Cake
Diane Kobert Hochman

Original Recipe from Better Homes and Gardens, 2002 (I have edited the recipe to make it mine)


2 cups butter (divided 1 1/2 cups and 1/2 cup)
3/4 cup water
8 ounces white chocolate chopped (divided 4 ounces and 4 ounces)
1 1/2 cups buttermilk
4 slightly beaten eggs
1/4 teaspoon coconut extract (note: the original called for rum extract)
3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 1/2 cups sugar
1 (7 ounce) packages flaked coconut (reserve 1/2 cup for cake batter)
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese, softened
1 (3 ounce) package cream cheese, softened
6 cups sifted, powdered sugar
1/4 cup powdered sugar
edible flowers (optional)

Remove 1/2 cup butter and all cream cheese from the refrigerator to soften.

Pre-heat oven to 325°F.

Place coconut (minus 1/2 cup) in a plastic bag. Add 1/4 cup powdered sugar and shake to coat.
Arrange coconut on a baking sheet so that it lies flat. Toast for 12-15 minutes or until tinted brown. Remove from oven and move to a plate. Set aside.

Increase oven temp to 350°. (Note: if you are using dark, non-stick pans, do not increase oven temperature.

Grease and flour 2 9-inch round cake pans (Baker's Joy works just fine). Set aside.

In a large saucepan, bring butter and water to a boil. Remove from heat. Add 4 ounces white chocolate and stir till melted. Whisk in the buttermilk. Temper ( add a little of the of mixture to the eggs, whisking quickly so the eggs don't cook) the eggs with the butter mixture then add eggs to saucepan. Add in the coconut extract.

In an extra large bowl, mix the flour, sugar, baking soda, and baking powder. Stir in the egg mixture. Divide batter between the prepared pans.

Bake at 350° for 25-30 minutes or until a wooden toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool in pans on wire rack for at least 10 minutes. Remove cakes from pans and cool on wire rack.

While the cakes are cooling, make frosting:

Melt 4 ounces white chocolate (over a double boiler or in the microwave in 30 second increments - even though it may not look melted, stir it and add more time in 15 second increments) , let cool 10 minutes.

Beat 1/2 cup softened butter and the 11 ounces of cream cheese with an electric mixer on medium speed until combined and smooth. Beat in the white chocolate.
Gradually add 6 cups powdered sugar, beating until smooth. Reserve 1 cup for decorating.

When the cakes are cooled, level the tops of the cakes. Place strips of waxed paper under what will be the bottom layer. Using an offset spatula, frost the top of the bottom layer, leaving 1/4-inch unfrosted. Place the second layer on top. Starting with the sides, fill in the gap between the layers, then put a light coat around the sides of the cake. Frost the top. Go back and re-frost with a heavier layer of frosting, until all of the frosting is used up. Swirl the frosting around making a consistent pattern all over the cake. Remove waxed paper strips.

If using, place flowers around cake. Carefully place coconut on top of cake. Using either a pastry bag and star tip, or decorating tool of your choice, strategically decorate between the flowers with the reserved frosting.

Refrigerate until ready to use.

Bookmark and Share

White Chocolate Cake on Foodista

Monday, April 27, 2009

Millie's For Breakfast and on the road home!

Well, the time has come, vacation is coming to an end and we are getting ready to leave Sarasota and head back to Orlando and on home. We are heading to Millie's for breakfast before we head back. Rae and Steve met a woman from Sarasota in the train ride down who told them we had to try's Millie's for breakfast. She said that the breakfasts were wonderful and to try the Stuffed French Toast (which takes a little extra time to prepare.) She said they are only open for breakfast and lunch and we should be sure to stop there. Since we got the best recommendations from people along the way, who were we to argue, so off to Millie's we went!

As you enter the doors, you are immediately met by a homey feeling,
beautiful blue and white decor, lovely blue plate collection on the walls

very bright and airy, lovely plants

pretty wooden booths with heart-shaped cutouts
(tables are also available)

Neta, our waitress was fabulous, she was so great in guiding
us so we wouldn't over order, which left to
our own devices we probably would have

Perusing the menu

Time to make some decisions

Neta arrives with the food and the moment of truth

Steve went for the eggs, hash browns, English muffins and grits
which he had been dying to order all week.
His comment was "My grits were OUTSTANDING!!!"

Rae opted for the blueberry pancakes
which she said were delicious, light and fluffy

Marc, like Steve opted for eggs, hash browns, a side of ham and toast
He said his was fabulous

I, once again, tried to order something small, lol
I wanted biscuits and gravy - I thought I did the right thing,
I ordered one biscuit - wait until you see the size of this portion

it was humongous!!!! I can't imagine what the two biscuit portion would have been like.
It was absolutely delicious, so creamy and flavorful!

We asked who MIllie was and Neta told us that there really was a Millie, and that
she had passed away in 1996. The restaurant was owned by
George Nikias (who came to Sarasota via Oceanside, Long Island)

George allowed me into the kitchen to take a few pictures. I think some of you may wonder why I do that. I find that when the owner lets you see the kitchen, you can feel
pretty safe eating in that restaurant. After all, who would let you see a dirty kitchen.
As you can see, the kitchen here is immaculate, and this was during the peak
of their serving time...

Everyone of the staff was happy, smiling, and seemed to really
have the customer's interest at heart

So George, you can count on the fact we'll tell everyone to eat at Millie's,
it was great! Will you consider opening in upstate New York?

And now, it's time to end our Florida posts,
I bid you farewell

as my cousin Joanne says through her
Perrie Menopudge character
"Midlife Rocks!"

I am ready to be retired, and I haven't worked in years!

PS...If you love this shirt you can order one through their website:
Perrie MenoPudge

Bookmark and Share

Millies on Urbanspoon