Sunday, October 31, 2010

Happy Halloween! Trick Or Butterscotch Pudding?

Butterscotch Pudding

Happy Halloween!

Are you ready? Do you have your costume? Do you have enough candy to hand out to the little goblins in your neighborhood? Do you have whiskey? No, not for kids, for you.

Here's how it works: Make yourself a batch of David Lebovitz's boozy butterscotch pudding, and chill it in the fridge all day. Then after you've finished handing out all of your Halloween candy, put the kids to bed, turn off the lights and treat yourself.

Just be sure to serve it tricked-out with a dollop of freshly whipped cream and a few candy corn. That is, if you haven't already gobbled up all the candy corn in your house. If you have, then switch to salty, roasted pecans.

Butterscotch Pudding
Recipe from David Lebovitz.
Printable recipe.

4 tablespoons (60g) butter, salted or unsalted

1 cup (180g) packed dark brown or cassonade sugar

3/4 teaspoon coarse sea salt
3 tablespoons cornstarch

2½ (625ml) cups whole milk

2 large eggs

2 teaspoons whiskey

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1. Melt the butter in a medium-sized saucepan. Add the dark brown sugar and salt, then stir until the sugar is well-moistened. Remove from heat.

2. In a small bowl, whisk together the cornstarch with about 1/4 cup (60ml) of the milk until smooth (there should be no visible pills of cornstarch), then whisk in the eggs.

3. Gradually pour the remaining milk into the melted brown sugar, whisking constantly, then whisk in the cornstarch mixture as well.

4. Return the pan to the heat and bring the mixture to a boil, whisking frequently. Once it begins to bubble, reduce the heat to a low simmer and continue to cook for one minute, whisking non-stop, until the pudding thickens to the consistency of hot fudge sauce.

5. Remove from heat and stir in the whiskey and vanilla. If slightly-curdled looking, blend as indicated above.

6. Pour into 4 serving glasses or custard cups and chill thoroughly, at least four hours, before serving.

Freshly Whipped Cream from Food Blogga
1/2 cup heavy whipped cream
1 tablespoon sugar
1-2 teaspoons whiskey, if you dare

1. Before you begin to make the whipped cream, consider these helpful tips: Start with a deep stainless steel bowl that has been chilled in the freezer for about 15-20 minutes. Chill the beaters of the electric mixer as well. Both will help to create more volume in the cream. Once ready beat ½ cup heavy whipping cream on medium-high speed until soft peaks form. Sprinkle sugar evenly over the whipped cream and beat until peaks re-form. Whipped cream can be covered with Saran Wrap and refrigerated for 1-2 hours before serving.

2. Top each pudding with a dollop of whipped cream and a few candy corns. Indulge.

Here are more tricked-out treats you might enjoy: 
Snickers Cookies recipe from Food Blogga
Tootsie Roll Fudge recipe from Food Blogga
Candy Corn Cookies recipe from Mignardise
Candy Vanilla Bundt Cake recipe from Noble Pig
Nutter Butterfinger Bars recipe from Wine Imbiber
Reese's Peanut Butter Cup and Chocolate Chunk Cookies recipe from Food Blogga

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Would You Like a Review Copy of My Book Recipes Every Man Should Know?

Woo-hoo! I'm thrilled to say that as of this morning, my book Recipes Every Man Should Know, co-authored with Brett Cohenhas only one copy left for pre-sale on Amazon! Thank you so much to all of you who have already purchased a copy. And for those of you who would still like one, don't worry, they're ordering more.

This little, hardcover, black book details a number of recipes that... well, every man should know. You'll find manly breakfasts like Sausage and Egg Breakfast Hash, gut-filling dinners like Jambalaya, and lots of bacon-spiked foods, including guacamole and brownies! All this goodness for a modest $9.95. Can you say Christmas stocking stuffer?

Would you like a review copy for your blog? If so, here's how it will work:

1. Email Eric Smith eric AT quirkbooks DOT COM. Tell him your name and blog URL. Please put REMSK review copy in the subject line.
2. Post a review of the book on your blog anytime during the month of November.
3. Please link to the Recipes Every Man Should Know Amazon page, Quirk Books' website, and to me, Food Blogga.
4. Accept a BIG warm-hearted thanks from me, and if you're really sweet, maybe even some freshly baked biscotti!

Please note that quantities are limited, so contact Eric soon if you'd like a copy!

You can read more about the book here.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Check Out My Recipes in The Cooking Light Double Holiday Issue

Are you ready for the holidays? Yes, I know it's only October 25th, but Thanksgiving is in 31 days. OK, now that I've got you in a good panic, let me help.

The double holiday issue of Cooking Light magazine is on stands, and you need to get a copy. Why? Because it contains 332 healthy recipes and tips to make your Thanksgiving dinner a healthy, smashing success.

Plus, I've got several recipes in this issue. See the string beans and mashed sweet potatoes on the cover? Those are my recipes!

This hefty issue gives you with everything you need for your holiday dinner: Scores of delicious appetizers, drinks, entrees, sides, and desserts. If you're wondering which recipes are mine, here they are. (Please note that all photos are courtesy of Cooking Light.)

                                                 Pomegranate Gin Sling

                                             Winter Jeweled Fruit Salad

                                     Spiced Persimmon and Pecan Muffins

                               Rosemary Mashed Sweet Potatoes with Shallots

                                        Citrus Green Beans with Pine Nuts

                                                  Pumpkin Pie Pudding

Kristen of the beautiful blog Dine & Dish already made this pumpkin pie pudding and said, "These little beauties do not disappoint." And readers on the Cooking Light website rating it as "outstanding."

So whether you need some Thanksgiving side dish inspiration, a new way to cook the bird, or just want a pretty magazine to flip through, you'll find everything you need in the Cooking Light double holiday issue.

Caveat to my Rhode Island readers: Get your copy soon. If you don't, my dad may end up buying all of them.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

What Are the Best Apples for Baking?

raw apples

There are nearly 100 apple varieties sold commercially in the U.S. How do you choose the best ones for baking?

The key is to consider both flavor and texture. The apples you choose should be firm so they'll maintain their shape and not turn to sauce when cooked, and they should be slightly tart since you’ll sweeten them up with sugar and spices.

People have regional preferences for apple varieties such as MacIntosh in New England and Fuji in Washington. When possible choose fresh, locally grown apples, which will be more flavorful and allow you to brag -- “I baked this pie with apples I picked this morning!” Also, many bakers agree that the tastiest apple pies come from mixing sweet and tart apples. 

Here is run-down on the best apples for baking:

Best for pies: Sturdy, thick-skinned apples with a sweet-tart flesh. Braeburn, Granny Smith, Gravenstein, Jonagold, Jonathans, Pink Lady, Pippin, and Winesap.

Best for baked goods such as muffins, scones, and cakes: Firm apples with a sweet-tart flesh. Fuji, Gala, Empire, Golden Delicious, Honeycrisp, and Rome Beauty.

Best for applesauce: Softer, sweeter apples. Ambrosia, Cameo, Cortland, MacIntosh, and Macoun.

What are your favorite apples for baking?

Here are more apple recipes you might enjoy from Food Blogga:
Homemade Apple Sauce recipe from Food Blogga
Tuscan Torta di Mele (apple cake) recipe from Food Blogga
Apple- Maple Walnut Breakfast Quinoa recipe from Food Blogga

Here are more apple recipes you might enjoy from the blogosphere:
The Ultimate Caramel Apple Pie recipe from Kopiaste
Southern Fried Apple Pies recipe from Confabulation in the Kitchen
Apple, Walnut, Gorgonzola Rustic Tart recipe from Simply Recipes

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Got Soft Apples? Make Apple-Maple Walnut Breakfast Quinoa

Apple-Maple Walnut Breakfast Quinoa

Is there anything more disappointing in October than biting into what you think will be a crisp, snappy apple only to have your teeth sink into mushy flesh? What do you do? Continue to eat it not to be wasteful, or toss it aside for something else?

Neither. Don't eat something you don't enjoy. You'll only be unsatisfied and crave something more. If you can, don't toss it either. Use it in something where the texture of the apple isn't critical, like applesauce. Or add it diced and cooked to oatmeal, quinoa, or barley for a delicious hot breakfast.

This Apple-Maple Walnut Breakfast Quinoa is a protein-rich, filling breakfast alternative to oatmeal. Plus, when you bake the apples on the stovetop, the scent of freshly baked apple pie will float in the air. How can a day not be good when you start it off with warm, soothing, spiced apples?

Seeing as I bought six apples from the same farmer, I've likely got five more softies in my fridge. I don't feel like having quinoa for breakfast tomorrow, so I'll be saying hello to homemade applesauce later today.

Apple-Maple Walnut Breakfast Quinoa
Makes 2 servings
Printable recipe.

1/2 cup dry quinoa
1 cup water
2 teaspoons butter
1 medium apple of your choice, diced with skins on
1- 1 1/2 tablespoons chopped walnuts
1/8 teaspoon apple pie spice
a pinch of salt
1 tablespoon pure maple syrup

1. In a small, heavy bottomed sauce pan, bring water and quinoa to a boil for 2 minutes. Lower to a simmer and cover for about 15 minutes, or until the quinoa has absorbed the water, puffs up, and turns translucent. If the water has evaporated before the quinoa is cooked, just add a bit more water. Quinoa should maintain a slight crunch when cooked.

2. In a small skillet over medium heat, melt butter. Add apples and cook 2 minutes, or until softened and lightly browned. Add walnuts, apple pie spice, and salt. Cook 1 minute more. Add to quinoa and stir.

3. Divide quinoa into two bowls, and drizzle with maple syrup. Serve hot.

Here are more breakfast recipes with apples you might enjoy:
Apple and Granola Scones recipe from Baking Bites
Pumpkin Apple Pancakes recipe from Halfed Baked
Breakfast Apple Granola Crisp recipe from Stylish Cuisine
Whole Grain Sour Cream Apple Muffins recipe from Pinch My Salt
Baked French Toast with Apples recipe from Confessions of a Foodie
Old-Fashioned Spiced Apple Streusel Muffins recipe from Food Blogga
Homemade Cranberry, Raisin, and Walnut Applesauce recipe from Food Blogga

Monday, October 18, 2010

Husbands, Sunday Football, and Philly Cheesesteak Pizza

Philly cheesesteak pizza

Reason #47 why I love my husband: He has deemed Sundays "Pizza and Football Day." That's right. He makes the pizza. Then we eat the pizza, drink beer, and watch football together.

If you're thinking, "But she just announced she has celiac disease. Why is she posting about pizza?" Here's my response: I'll still be posting carby Italian recipes like pizza and pasta. After all, Jeff isn't gluten-intolerant. However, I'll also be posting gluten-free recipes. So, rather than having less, Food Blogga will have more! Now for the pizza.

Philly cheesesteak pizza with giardiniera

When struck with a serious hankering for a Philly Cheesesteak last Sunday, Jeff decided to make a Philly Cheesesteak Pizza instead -- a macho pie of succulent sauteed sirloin steak, sweet caramelized onions, and smoky cheddar cheese.

After the first bite, I thought his Philly Cheesesteak Pizza couldn't be improved upon. I was wrong. Reason #48 why I love my husband: He suggested adding a scoop of mouth-puckering, salty giardiniera to our pizza. Touchdown!

Philly Cheesesteak Pizza
Makes 8 slices
Printable recipe.

This pizza recipe was created by Jeff Benabio, aka @dermdoc, Food Blogga's husband. It should feed eight people; it will likely feed four; for the truly gluttonous, it will feed two. 

1 pound store bought dough or homemade dough
2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon olive oil, divided
1 pound sirloin steak, cut into 1/2- inch thick strips
a sprinkling of salt and black pepper
1 large yellow onion, thinly sliced
1 teaspoon sugar
1/4-1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1/4-1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 cups smoked cheddar cheese (or sharp cheddar)
2-3 tablespoons fresh finely chopped flat-leaf parsley, optional
1 cup giardiniera (Italian pickled vegetables)*

1. Roll out the dough and brush all over with 1 teaspoon olive oil. Cover with a dish towel and set aside.

2. In a large skillet over medium-high heat, add 1 tablespoon olive oil. Add steak and sprinkle with salt and black pepper. Cook for 4-6 minutes, turning once or twice, until lightly browned and just barely pink. Transfer to a plate.

3. In the same skillet over medium-low heat, add 1 tablespoon olive oil. Add onions and sprinkle with sugar. Cook stirring occasionally for about 10-12 minutes or until softened and browned. Remove from heat.

4. Sprinkle half the cheese evenly over the dough. Arrange the steak on top, then arrange the onions. Sprinkle evenly with crushed red pepper flakes, salt, and then remaining cheese.

5. For a pizza stone, bake at 500 degree for about 10 minutes, or until both the top and bottom of the crust is brown and the cheese is melted. For a baking sheet, bake at 450 for about 20 minutes, or until both the top and bottom of the crust is brown and the cheese is melted. Serve hot or at room temperature, and garnish with a spoonful of giardiniera.

*Shopping Note: Giardiniera, an Italian pickled vegetable salad, can be found at Italian specialty markets or in the Italian or condiment section of most major supermarkets.

You might also enjoy these pizza recipes:
Dad's Patriots' Potato Pizza recipe from Food Blogga
Whole Wheat Veggie Pizza recipe from Food Blogga
Tequila-Lime Shrimp Pizza recipe from Susan Russo at
Fennel Sausage and Rapini Pizza recipe from Food Blogga
Mexican Pizza recipe from My Life Through Food
Meatball Pizza recipe from Recipe Girl
Spanish Inspired Pizza recipe from Jenn Cuisine ~ gluten-free
Pepperoni, Mushroom, and Sausage Pizza recipe from YumSugar
Flatbread Pizza with Prosciutto and Gouda recipe from The Food Addicts
Roasted Garlic, Gruyere, and Rosemary Pizza recipe from Tennessee Locavore

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Nine Things I Learned at the BlogHer Food '10 Conference

I recently returned from BlogHer Food '10 where, as expected, I met fabulous new friends, connected with fabulous old friends, and ate fabulous food. A few unexpected things happened too.

Here are nine things I learned at BlogHer Food '10:

1. While attending an informative session on food styling, an attendee asked, "What can I do to make brown, gloppy food like beef stew look good?" The panelists' collective reply: Nothing. After the laughter subsided, Tami Hardeman of Running With Tweezers offered this advice: Surround ugly food with pretty props: a colorful bowl, a funky spoon, or a textured napkin. Never underestimate the power of sprinkled parsley.

Dorie Greenspan, Susan Russo, and Elise Bauer at BlogHer Food '10
Dorie Greenspan, Susan Russo, and Elise Bauer

2. Next time you're creatively stymied, stop everything and go for a walk. That's what baking goddess Dorie Greenspan does when she needs to spark her creativity. "It works every time!" she told me.

3. David Leite of Leite's Culinaria told us it's OK to say "no." Working for free or for minimal payment isn't furthering bloggers' careers. Say "no," and most times, they'll come back with a better offer.

Susan Russo, Ree Drummond, and Garrett McCord  at BlogHer Food '10
Susan Russo, Ree Drummond, and Garrett McCord

4. The dazzlingly down-to-earth Pioneer Woman, Ree Drummond, reminded her audience that you can't be everything to everybody. Choose the media that best suits your talents: Are you a word wizard? Write. Do you come alive in front of the camera? Do video. Do you have great interviewing skills? Hello, podcasts.

5. The talented and beautiful Anupy Singla, author of The Indian Slow Cooker, understands that many home cooks are intimidated by Indian spices and cooking. So she created spice packets, small bundles of 5 essential Indian spices, that will get anyone cooking Indian. Demystify something for people, and they will love you. They'll also buy your book.

6. Diane of the darling White on Rice couple told bloggers that "Great food photography isn't about fancy gear; it's about light." She encouraged us to walk around our homes to find the best sources of natural light for food photography, even if it's in the bedroom, or --  GASP! -- the bathroom.

7. Smile. Say hello. To everyone. Wear comfortable shoes. Know when to walk away from the Scharffen Berger table.

Ben, Tara, Cheryl Sternman Rule, and Katie Goodman at BlogHer Food '10
Lunching with Ben Rhau, Tara Dahill, Cheryl Sternman Rule, and Katie Goodman.

8. Katie Goodman of Good Life Eats, who has a mega-watt smile, taught me to always carry a WISP, a single use mini toothbrush, in my purse. When you're on a panel after lunch, like I was, you want people to remember what you said, not what you ate.

9. The food gods appreciate irony. While at BlogHer Food '10, I received a call from my doctor informing me that I tested positive for celiac disease. Not only can I no longer eat pasta and pizza, but I also have to change my Twitter bio, which currently reads, "I eat gluten."

Here are more posts about BlogHer Food '10 you might enjoy:
Revelations: Fed Up With Lunch
Guide to Conference Etiquette: 5 Second Rule
BlogHer Food: The Love Fest: Will Write for Food
Memorable Moments from BlogHer Food '10: Panini Happy
Defining Success: Dine and Dish
BlogHer Food 2010 in San Francisco: The Italian Dish
Want more? Check out Liveblog at

Monday, October 11, 2010

My Book, Recipes Every Man Should Know, Is Available for Pre-Sale on Amazon!

Christmas at Nui Dat, 1970

I just returned from the amazing BlogHer Food '10 conference in San Francisco. I am thrilled and humbled to tell you that my little black book, Recipes Every Man Should Know, co-authored with Brett Cohen, was the first book to sell out at their authors' table! (Insert sounds of horn-tooting by me.)

Would you like a copy of Recipes Every Man Should Know or a copy for a hungry guy in your life? It's available for pre-sale on Amazon right now, and it's only $9.95!

Why should men cook?

1. Women think men who cook are sexy.
2. It involves fire, sharp instruments, and meat.
3. Women think men who cook are sexy, and it involves fire, sharp instruments, and meat.

Need more reasons?

4. It's cheaper than eating out all the time, which means more money for other stuff.
5. It's healthier, which is also sexy.
6. If you cook for your friends, they'll buy you drinks.

That's why you've got to have a copy of Recipes Every Man Should Know. This little black book is packed with easy, delicious recipes that will impress family, friends, and, most importantly, the ladies.

Aridai 18
It's never too early to get him started in the kitchen.

Not sure which pots and pans to use? We tell you. Don't know the difference between dicing and slicing? We explain. Not sure how many pints are in a quart? Two. No matter the occasion, we've got recipes that won't fail you:
  • Tailgating? Jumbalaya and Beef-and-Beer Chile
  • Throwing a party? Beer Margaritas and BuffaloWings
  • Dinner alone? Perfect Panfried Pork Chops
  • Romantic dinner for her? Creamy Shrimp Fettucine 
  • Sunday breakfast with the kids? Better-Than-IHOP Chocolate Chip Pancakes
We've even got recipes for "The Hangover Cure," (yes, it works), The Perfect Burger, No-Bake Cheesecake, and more! All this goodness fits snugly in your back pocket, so you don't even need a grocery list. What more could you ask for?

Want to buy a copy for yourself or for a guy in your life? It makes a great Christmas gift or stocking stuffer for only $9.95! Order your copy of Recipes Every Man Should Know through or through today!

Photo Credits: Creative Commons, Flickr: Australian War Memorial Collection and Hadassah Williams.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Falling For Grapes: Mesclun, Chicken, and Grape Autumn Salad

Mesclun, Chicken, and Grape Fall Salad

At the end of August, I posted on an Asian Chicken and Soba Noodle Salad that I called a "transitional salad" -- cool enough to eat on a steamy summer night yet satisfying enough to quell your hunger after a long day at work.

Four days into October, it's now time for full-fledged autumn salads. You know, the kind with thick slabs of roasted squash, wedges of spicy persimmons, and robust dressings made with maple syrup and heady herbs such as rosemary and sage.

While most fall salads include apples, pears, and fresh figs, not many include of one autumn's most popular fruits: grapes. Perhaps that's because like bananas, grapes are available in our supermarkets year-round and don't seem to have a specific season. Well, they do. Most grapes in the US are grown in California and are harvested between August and December. They're also available at San Diego farmers' markets right now.

locally grown organic grapes
Locally grown grapes from the Little Italy Mercato. 

I wish I could have you taste some of our local grapes. They're like nothing you've ever tasted from the supermarket. That's because no matter the variety -- Champagne, Thompson, Concord, Flame -- the grapes aren't picked until fully vine-ripened, which makes them dizzyingly plump, juicy, and flavorful. When you bite into some varieties, they release bursts of juice so intense, you'd think you're drinking wine.

Even if you can't get locally grown grapes, buy yourself the best ones you can find, and toss them into this Mesclun, Chicken, and Grape Autumn Salad. Sweet or tart grapes will get along deliciously with crisp pan-seared chicken, crunchy red bell peppers, and juicy heirloom tomatoes.

So next time you're at the market, reacquaint yourself with grapes. This long-time friend just might surprise you.

Mesclun, Chicken, and Grape Autumn Salad
Makes 4 servings
Printable recipe.

1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
1- 1 1/4 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breast, cut into strips
8-10 cups mesclun, preferably spicy
1 yellow tomato, cut into wedges
1 red bell pepper, cut into strips
1 cup grapes of your choice

1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
6 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

2 tablespoons chopped, lightly toasted pecans, pine nuts, or walnuts

1. In a large skillet over medium-high heat, warm 1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil. Add chicken; cook for 8-10 minutes, turning several times, until golden and cooked through.

2. Place mesclun, tomato, pepper, and grapes in a large bowl.

3. Whisk vinaigrette ingredients in a small bowl.

4. Add chicken to salad and toss. Pour vinaigrette over salad, and toss until well coated. Sprinkle with nuts. Divide evenly among four plates.

You might also enjoy these fall/autumn salad recipes:
Roasted Pear Salad recipe from Kitchen Parade
Butternut Squash and Pomegranate Salad recipe from Dani Spies
Watercress, Seckel Pear, and Brie Salad recipe from Food Blogga
Dandelion, Persimmon, and Medjool Date Salad recipe from Food Blogga
Roasted Purple Cauliflower and Arugula Salad recipe from Food Blogga
Butternut Squash Salad with Curry-Apple Dressing recipe from This Mama Cooks!
Roasted Sweet Potato, Apple, and Spinach Salad recipe from Two Peas and Their Pod