Gobble Gobble Time

Well Halloween is over and now instead of our minds being on costumes and candy, we switch gears to our preparation for overeating. The holiday of all holidays, happy-thanksgiving-day-from-samantha-endora-bewitched-2915030-800-600 Thanksgiving. I love this holiday because it is so all about the food, and lots of it! I also love this holiday because everyone always has great food disaster stories to share which I find very funny and amusing. I had a client once that told me that if you looked in the dictionary under the word dry, you would see a picture of his mother’s turkey. Another client told me that his wife’s dressing was so bad even the dog would not eat it! My wife likes to share the story about her sister who forgot to thaw the bird and tried to microwave it.  The only food not out of a can were the potatoes she (my wife) made. She says that was all she ate that dreadful Thanksgiving. This was also the sister who had the great misfortune to plop a donut casserole on my dessert table. Those of you who know me can only imagine how well that went over.( Insert hysterics). Then there was my Aunt Mary who only knew how to make about 4 things, she left the gizzards in the bird one year. I did the same damn thing many years later and thank goodness my client was super cool and had a great sense of humor! I also love the stories of the family dynamics……or lack there of. The stories about the aunt who has never seen you with a man and won’t stop asking why you are not married at 50, a nice girl like you.  Or the annoying deaf uncle who begins every sentence with “in my day” in a really loud voice so he is screaming in your face. And how about the cousin that has the audacity to bring jug wine. That’s grounds for death by public flogging in my house. Then of course there are the teens. Ah yes those darling adolescents who don’t speak but do utter sounds occasionally and pretty much never make eye contact with you until you say dinner is ready, at which time they devour everything that is not nailed down all while texting their friends telling them how bored they are.  It’s the great meal that makes most of us unbutton our pants so that we are comfy while taking the tryptophan nap, so we can wake up, button up and eat more. Gotta love Thanksgiving! Well this year in honor of all of this holiday bliss, I thought I would share some of my favorite recipes with you. So on Thursday Nov. 12 at 6:00 I will be doing just that in Saratoga at Serendipity Studio. Come join us and I will show you how to make my world-famous (in my world) sausage, apple, fennel dressing and we will do some outside the box dishes like, mashed potato casserole, roasted brussel sprouts with bacon and maple syrup and my favorite Utica greens. Can we say yum! We will also talk turkey and I will show you how to make a super easy brine and herbed butter for basting. I will also be asking everyone to share their funniest holiday story of a good meal gone bad. best story wins a 25.00 gift certificate from me for my next class. Now if all of this does not entice you to come join us on Nov. 12, then I don’t know what will. Class is just 49.00 (bargain) So what are you waiting for?   http://www.serendipityartsstudio.com


Italians are the best!

I always say that there are two kinds of people in this world, Italians and those who want to be! Well and why wouldn’t you? I mean we make the best cars, the best clothing, the best shoes, our country is beautiful along with our language and…..there is our food. I am certainly bias being a full blood Italian girl from New York, but come on you have to admit our food rocks. We also speak very loud, all talk at the same time and always sound like we are arguing. But we’re not. That’s just how we roll. Now that being said, I will attest to the fact that I like very little Americanized Italian food. Italian food should be prepared with first, a great deal of love, second, only the best ingredients, and third, simple presentation. Our food should not be complicated with tons of ingredients and not served in portions that could feed a small village in Africa. A couple of good examples of this is lasagna and eggplant parmesan. These two dishes are among my personal favorites. I never order eggplant in restaurants because it’s never good. It’s always soggy, too thick and tastes like nothing. I have been told that I make the best eggplant parmesan, and I do and so does my friend Donna Parisi whose mother was the eggplant parmesan queen. I learned my techniques from Bert Parisi along with my grandmother Filomena, both of them made the best in my book. Before Bert passed away I asked her to share with me her secret, and she did! No secret really, my grandmother did the same thing as I am sure many Italians do. Works every time and it has everything to do with the thickness of the slices and salt! Of course the sauce is also key. I also fry mine because you just can’t get that flavor that I love without the frying step. I have however ordered lasagna a few times that was pretty darn good and I will be sharing my favorite recipe on Saturday evening in my little video blog as I prepare for a small dinner party. So watch for it. One of the things I dislike most about Americanized Italian food is the copious amounts of cheese they plop on everything. Don’t get me wrong, I love cheese but a 2 inch layer atop a portion of food is just too much and unnecessary, especially when it is not good quality. On Saturday October 24, I will be teaching a class in Saratoga at Serendipity from 5-8 pm. We will be making Pasta Bolonaise (the best), Grilled Polenta with Prosciutto di Parma and Risotto con Carciofi (artichokes) depending on class size I may be adding a surprise bonus recipe! So grab a bottle of vino and come join us as we listen to Italian music and create these wonderful dishes. See you there and remember,family3 buy local, eat healthy, stay well.

Proper Cocktails

It’s no secret that I am a fan of a really good Manhattan. Now I am very picky about the exact way my drink is made because like food, making a good drink, a proper cocktail,images-1 is somewhat of an art. No one admires a good bartender more than I do. This past week we had friends in town so we went out to eat at a couple of places. Both places I ordered a drink, my beloved Manhattan. The first experience was at a lovely place in Rhinebeck called Terrapin. Great food and superb cocktail. My Manhattan was listed on the menu as a sour cherry bourbon manhattan. Ok so they had me at sour cherry. The drink was made with Maker’s Mark bourbon, house soaked cherries and local Warwick cherry cordial. This was the best Manhattan I have ever had, and I make a pretty damn good one right here at the Adams Road bar, so I am not so easily impressed. The secret here was in two things, the house soaked cherries, and the cherry cordial liquor. I had to know what it was and where it came from, so I looked it up and there it was. Warwick Winery and Distillery right here in beautiful Upstate NY in a little town called Warwick. Who knew? I will be visiting there very soon and returning with some of this wonderful cherry goodness! My second experience was not so good at the CIA in Hyde Park. I understand they are a teaching facility, but wow, the food was good, not great, the service was awful and the cocktails were bad. Really bad. For the amount of money that we spent we should have had a much better dining experience. And I could not help but wonder for all the money it costs to go there, you would think there would be an instructor or two walking around making sure that things were done properly. I have been there twice now and I doubt I will go back. As for Terrapin I will most certainly go back and I am off to Warwick soon to visit the winery and distillery. I will have a full report with photos soon! http://www.terrapinrestaurant.com/contact  http://www.wvwinery.com/

Quick, Easy, Delicious

People tell me all the time that they really want to cook healthy and home made for their families but they just don’t have the time. Well Hamburger Helper, which is garbage food takes about 20 minutes. So….if you are willing to spend 20 minutes making that, then how about trying a healthy, fresh meal that takes about the same time and is way better for you? Here are two that I think you will like. I will be posting more of these quick and easy meals along the way to help you cook healthier for you and your family. Easy, fresh ingredients and not out of a box! Just click on the links and enjoy!

Pasta with Asparagus

Beef Scaloppini with Tomatos

Welcome to Philomena’s Blog

Philomena_0932So when my brothers and I were kids, we pretty much drove my mother nuts on a regular basis. She used to get all crazy and tell us that we were going to drive her to Utica! Well we really were clueless as to exactly what that meant. Eventually we learned that there was a mental hospital in Utica. A real creepy one like the one in American Horror Story. So for most of my adult life I always associated Utica with a creepy nut house and my mothers fear that if we did not behave, she would be joining the ranks of residents. Now fast forward some 50 years later and my moving back upstate and discovering that nutty Utica is know for something much better than a crazy house………Utica greens! Let me tell you I cannot stop eating them. Several restaurants around here serve them, but I love the dish so much that I make them here at home all the time. For my family they are a main dish, and the recipe that I am about to share with you has added potatoes, which I love and that makes the dish really a main dish. So if you love greens, you must try these. It’s so nice to no longer associate Utica with crazy people and instead think of this yummy dish. If you are not an escarole fan, substitute spinach it’s just as good. Enjoy and remember, buy local, eat healthy, stay well! http://www.saveur.com/article/Recipes/Utica-GreensUticaGreens