This is an amazing cookbook and I appreciate anything Middle Eastern.  There are so many recipes I want to try, most using my favorite meat, lamb.  Stay tuned, I’ll be cooking from this book in the coming weeks.



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recipe: sugar cookie cut out cookies

January 5th, 2013 | Posted by admin in Desserts | RECIPES - (0 Comments)

This is the cut out cookie recipe I have used for years.  I cannot remember where or when I came across this but it is the best I have found.  I use it for Valentine cookies, Easter, fall leaves, really any holiday or special event cutout cookie.


• 2 sticks unsalted butter
• 1 cup sugar
• 1 egg
• 2 teaspoons vanilla
• 1 tablespoon buttermilk or cream

• 3 cups of flour
• 3/4 tsp of baking powder
• Dash of salt


• Cream the first five ingredients together.

• Add the flour, baking powder and salt and form into two discs.

• Wrap in cellophane and refrigerate for at least 2 hours.

• After dough has been chilled, roll out onto a floured surface and place on cookie sheet into a preheated oven of 350 degrees, for 8-10 minutes.

• Let cool and Frost.


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pantry staple: knives

January 4th, 2013 | Posted by admin in PANTRY STAPLES - (0 Comments)

This should be a cook’s best friend, pantry/kitchen staple.  I am not a knivesman.  Meaning I have no formal training chopping, slicing, and dicing, but I manage to get the job done.  These two knives were a recent gift from my youngest son.  They have changed my world!  I now feel as if I can chop, slice, and dice like a pro.  So my recommendation to any of you who love to cook… Check out the Wusthof Classic Ikon #4176/17cm and the Japanese Classic chef’s knife “Shun” #DM0706.  They will change your life.



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recipe: seafood chowder

January 4th, 2013 | Posted by admin in RECIPES | Soup - (0 Comments)

Seafood chowder was a request from one of my clients for Christmas Eve dinner.  I really have never made my own seafood stock but after talking to my fish expert he said using the shells of the African Lobster tails in the stock would make this recipe magical!  It worked… I can’t explain how delicious this recipe is filled with Little Neck Clams and African Lobster meat.  I took the basic recipe from Ina Garten’s Lobster Chowder and added clams, you could also add shrimp, halibut, whatever you love in a seafood chowder.

Let me know if you like it.


Serves 12

• 3 (1 ½ pound) cooked lobsters, cracked and split OR 6-8 tails
• 24 little neck clams (scrub with brush under cold water to clean)
• 4 ears corn

• 1 ½ sticks unsalted butter
• 2 cup chopped yellow onion
• ½ cup cream sherry
• 1 ½ teaspoon sweet paprika
• 8 cups whole milk
• 4 cups heavy cream
• 1 cup dry white wine

• 2 tablespoon good olive oil
• ½ pound bacon, diced large
• 4 cups large-diced unpeeled Yukon gold potatoes (4 medium)
• 3 cups chopped yellow onions (4 onions)
• 4 cups diced celery (8 stalks)
• 1 tablespoon kosher salt
• 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
• 4 teaspoons chopped fresh chives
• ½ cup cream sherry


• Remove the meat from the shells of the lobsters.

• Cut the meat into large cubes and place them in a bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate. Reserve the shells and all the juices that collect.

• Cut the corn kernels from the cobs and set aside, reserving the cobs separately.

• For the stock, melt the butter in a stockpot or Dutch oven large enough to hold all the lobster shells and corncobs.

• Add the onion and cook over medium-low heat for 7 minutes, until translucent but not browned, stirring occasionally.

• Add the sherry and paprika and cook for 1 minute.

• Add the milk, cream, wine, lobster shells and their juices, and corn cobs and bring to a simmer. Partially cover the pot and simmer the stock over the lowest heat for 30 minutes. (I move the pot halfway off the heat.)

• Meanwhile, in another stockpot or Dutch oven, heat the oil and cook the bacon for 4 to 5 minutes over medium-low heat, until browned and crisp.  Remove with a slotted spoon and reserve.

• Add the potatoes, onions, celery, corn kernels, salt, and pepper to the same pot and sauté for 5 minutes.

• When the stock is ready, remove the largest pieces of lobster shell and the corn cobs with tongs and discard.

• Place a strainer over the soup pot and carefully pour the stock into the pot with the potatoes and corn.

• Simmer over low heat for 15 minutes, until the potatoes are tender.

• Add the cooked lobster, the chives and the sherry and season to taste.

• Heat gently and serve hot with a garnish of crisp bacon.



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table dressing: new years eve

December 31st, 2012 | Posted by admin in TABLE DRESSING - (0 Comments)

A bit of sparkle, always perfect for a special night!  Mix silver and gold… it all works.



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recipe: veal stew

December 21st, 2012 | Posted by admin in Entrées | RECIPES | Soup - (0 Comments)

This is a great one pot meal for winter entertaining.  You’ll want to reheat the leftovers as the next day it’s even better.


• 28-30 cipollini onions
• 4 tablespoons olive oil
• 6 pounds veal stew meat, cut up into 1 inch pieces
• Salt and freshly ground black pepper
• 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
• 6 garlic cloves, finely chopped
• 1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
• 1-1/2 cups dry white wine
• 6 cups reduced-sodium chicken broth (homemade is the best!)
• 1 (14-1/2 ounce) can diced San Marzano tomatoes in juice
• 28 small red potatoes, peeled and halved or quartered
• 3 large carrots, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces
• 2-3 turnips, peeled and cut into 1 inch pieces
• 1/4 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley


• Peel the onions and cut off the ends.

• Next heat the 2 tablespoons of the oil in a large, heavy pot or casserole over medium-high heat (I use an 8 quart iron pot).

• Sprinkle the veal with salt and pepper.  Toss the veal with the flour in a large bowl to coat.

• Working in 3 batches, add the veal to the pot and cook until browned, adding another tablespoon of oil as needed, about 10 minutes per batch.

• Using a slotted spoon, transfer the browned veal to a bowl.

• Add the garlic and thyme to the same pot and saute over medium heat until tender, about 30 secords.

• Next add the wine and simmer over medium-high heat until reduced by half, stirring to scrape up the browned bits on the bottom of the pot, about 5 minutes.  Return the veal to the pot.

• Stir in the broth and tomatoes with their juice.  Cover partially and simmer over medium-low heat for 15 minutes.

• Add the onions, potatoes, turnips, and carrots to the stew and simmer uncovered until the veal and vegetables are tender and the juices are thick, stirring occasionally, about 45 minutes.

• Stir in the parsley.  Season the stew to taste with salt and pepper.

The stew is ready to serve.  Enjoy!




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winter containers

December 21st, 2012 | Posted by admin in FLOWERS | Outdoor - (1 Comments)

Weather had been great so I was still planting winter containers and having fun with all the amazing materials.

Here is another winter container using birch branches pepper berries and a variety of greens.



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christmas container

December 4th, 2012 | Posted by admin in FLOWERS | Outdoor - (0 Comments)

It’s beginning to feel a lot like Christmas!



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recipe: albondigas soup

December 4th, 2012 | Posted by admin in RECIPES | Soup - (0 Comments)

This is a great meal in itself.  I serve it with chopped cilantro, homemade tortilla strips, and a good Mexican beer.  The recipe is from “The Family Chef” by Jewels & Jill Elmore.


Serves 6-8

• A few glugs of olive oil
• ½ large sweet onion, finely diced
• 1 large shallot, finely diced
• 2 handfuls shitake or crimini mushrooms, finely diced
• ½ handful fresh thyme leaves
• Salt & pepper to taste
• 1 clove garlic, finely diced
• ½ bunch parsley (flat-leaf or regular), finely chopped
• 2 pounds ground dark meat turkey (I also like to use 1 ½ pounds ground dark meat turkey and ½ pound ground pork)

• ½ large sweet onion, diced
• 2 stalks celery, diced
• 1 large tomato, diced, or a small can of crushed tomatoes
• 8 cups chicken stock or broth
• 2 pinches Mexican oregano and/or dried cilantro
• Salt to taste


• Prepare the meatball mixture: In a hot skillet add the oil and then sauté the onions, shallot, mushrooms, thyme, salt, and pepper until mushrooms are cooked through and liquid is absorbed.

• Add the garlic and parsley.  Remove from heat and let cool.

• Add all the sautéed ingredients to the meat, season again generously with salt and pepper and mix together lightly by hand.  Be careful not to over mix, which can toughen the meat.

• If you have time, let the meat rest for a few minutes before forming into 1” meatballs.

• In a large-bottomed pot, brown the meatballs in olive oil, turning frequently.  Set aside.

• Prepare the soup: In the pan you used to brown the meatballs, add a touch more oil and sauté the chopped onion and celery until soft and translucent, scraping the bits from the pan to incorporate the flavors.

• Add the fresh tomatoes and the chicken stock, oregano, and cilantro to pot.  Bring to a boil.

• Turn down the heat to medium and simmer for at least 15 minutes or so.

• Add the meatballs to the pot.  Simmer until meatballs are cooked through (about 10 more minutes).

• Add salt to taste.

This soup gets even better the next day!




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winter container

December 4th, 2012 | Posted by admin in FLOWERS | Outdoor - (0 Comments)

Changing seasons means changing your container gardens.  A variety of greens: pine, cedar, boxwood, and curly willow help make this pot special.



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