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Tasty Thursdays – Gelato

I can’t remember a time in my adult life when I’ve eaten more ice cream, sorbet and gelato.

A pint or more of sorbet or ice cream is on my shopping list every week. I tell myself I’ll only need a pint but if I don’t pace myself, I can eat all of it in one sitting.

Last weekend, I was in the Bronx where my friend and I had a wonderful meal at Emilia’s on Arthur Avenue. A family-style restaurant, it was packed when we arrived at a little after six. Pat, one of the owners, told us the wait would be about 20 minutes. We took a short walk down the block to check out another restaurant that had been recommended but it was closed for holiday. So civilized.

I don’t normally order lasagna when I go to an Italian restaurant but this time, I decided to. I was very pleased with my selection. The lasagna was light, each layer almost as thin as a wafer.  My friend’s Chicken Parmigiana made me wish I had ordered it instead.


When the dessert menu came, I looked longingly at the different flavors of sorbet – peach, coconut, orange and lemon – but had to pass. I had no room!

One thing that endears me to a restaurant is the people. By the time we left Emilia’s on Saturday night, we both felt as if we had returned to a place we’d been going to for years. Pat had us in conversation while we waited for our table, then she or her husband would check on us during the meal. We weren’t being singled out for special treatment, they did that routinely with everyone. Pat even introduced us to her granddaughter, who works at Emilia’s on weekends. I could see why the place was so packed when we arrived. It still was when we left hours later.

If you ever make it to the Bronx, just ask anyone how to get to Arthur Avenue in Little Italy and check out Emilia’s.

It’s been in the 90s here in the northeast this week and it made me think of gelato. There was none on the menu at Emilia’s. Anyway, here’s a recipe, courtesy of


2 cups milk

1 cup heavy cream

4 egg yolks

1/2 cup sugar



In a medium saucepan, mix milk and cream. Warm until foam forms around the edges. Remove from heat.

In a large bowl, beat the egg yolks and sugar until frothy. Gradually pour the warm milk into the egg yolks, whisking constantly. Return mixture to saucepan; cook over medium heat, stirring with a wooden spoon until the mixture gels slightly and coats the back of the spoon. If small egg lumps begin to show, remove from heat immediately.

Pour the mixture through a sieve or fine strainer into a bowl. Cover, and chill for several hours or overnight.

Pour the mixture into an ice cream maker, and freeze according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Transfer to a sealed container, and freeze until firm. If the gelato is too firm, place it in the refrigerator until it reaches the desired consistency.

Buon Appetito!


Tasty Thursdays: Broccoli Grape Salad with Citrus Vinaigrette

I was at the nail salon a few years ago when I discovered this recipe for Broccoli Grape Salad with Citrus Vinaigrette in a magazine. I figured since it had two things I love, broccoli and grapes, it would be worth trying out.

I was also intrigued by the combination or broccoli and grapes and wrote the ingredients in my notebook.  The next time I had family and friends over, I tried it. It was delicious! And the most important thing is, my friends loved it. My cousin always complains that I experiment with new recipes when I have people over but even she raved about it.

The flavor of the broccoli, the crispness of it blended well with the sweetness and soft texture of the grapes. The citrusy flavor of the vinaigrette gave it a kick.

The other thing about the Broccoli Grape Salad is that it is very simple to make. Since it’s so easy and everyone loves it, I usually make a large bowl and keep it in the refrigerator, especially in the summer.

Several months after I discovered the recipe, the citrus vinaigrette I was using disappeared from the supermarket shelves. I was crushed. I visited several supermarkets in different neighborhoods trying to find it. Eventually, I gave up and went online. I’ll share below the one I finally decided on.

Here’s the recipe for Broccoli Grape Salad with Citrus Vinaigrette. Hope you get to try it. When you do, let me know what you think.

Broccoli Grape Salad with Citrus Vinaigrette

2 bunches broccoli fleurettes, cut into bite-sized pieces (You can also blanch the broccoli to soften them up)

4 cups of red, seedless grapes, halved (or 2 of red, 2 of green)

1 cup sliced almonds


Prepare the citrus vinaigrette following the directions below and set aside.

Place broccoli and grapes into a large bowl

Pour citrus vinaigrette over the salad mixture, stirring until combine

Cover and refrigerate for 2-4 hours or overnight to allow the flavors to blend

Add nuts before serving.

Note: The salad can be doubled very easily if you have a crowd.


Citrus Vinaigrette


1/2 cup fresh orange juice (about 1 orange)

1/3 cup fresh grapefruit juice

2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

1 tablespoon honey

1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

1 tablespoon low-sodium soy sauce

2 teaspoons minced peeled fresh ginger


Combine all ingredients in a blender; process until smooth. Pour into a bowl; cover and chill.

Note: Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to one week.

Yield: 1 1/3 cups (serving size: 1 tablespoon)

Citrus Vinaigrette recipe courtesy of


Tasty Thursdays: July 4th Jerk

Jerk is both a style of cooking and the mix of spices used to make jerk. It is a very popular way of cooking in Jamaica that has grown from chicken to pork, fish, sausage, tofu, lobster, etc.

My earliest memories of jerk was of a man who used to sell jerk chicken door-to-door on his

Little Ochie Jerk Lobster – Maynefoto

bicycle. Back then, making jerk was an elaborate affair – it was always slow-cooked in the open over pimento wood, which gave it a distinct flavor. Jerk all but disappeared in the 1960s but it saw a huge resurgence in the 1970s when some enterprising chefs duplicated the sauce and made it available in bottles and packages.

Thanks to Jamaicans abroad who wish for a taste of home, jerk has gone international.

At home, especially in tourist areas, jerk is big business but, as you’d expect, it’s been watered down considerably to accommodate those who are averse to the peppery jerk taste. (Earlier this year, I wrote a post, Jamaica-In Search of the Real Jerk about finding authentic jerk in Jamaica.)

Peppery or not, jerk is still a delicious way to cook. You can bet it’ll be on the menu this weekend at many July 4th barbecues.

Here are two recipes to try.

Stir-Fried Caribbean Vegetables with Jerk Tofu

I discovered this recipe a few years ago. It is one of my favorites and disappears pretty quickly whenever I make it.


1 tbsp Walkerswood Jerk Marinade or Jerk Seasoning (you can substitute any jerk seasoning from the supermarket or the one below)

2 tbsp palm, peanut, sesame or soy oil

500 g/1lb. firm tofu, cubed

1 onion, sliced

2 garlic cloves, finely chopped

Oil, for frying

For the vegetables:

About 1kg/2 lbs. total of any combination of carrots, zucchini, cauliflower, green cabbage, pak choy, sweet peppers and/or broccoli


Mix together jerk seasoning and oil, add to tofu and marinate for at least an hour (preferably overnight).

Heat the frying oil in a wok or suitable skillet. Deep fry the tofu cubes for 3-5 minutes and reserve. Pour out most of the oil and stir-fry the onion and garlic; then begin to add the other vegetables, hardest first. Cook very lightly; then add the tofu and stir in gently until hot. Serve immediately.

Serves 4. Preparation time: 15 minutes plus 1 hour (or up to overnight) marinating plus 10 minutes cooking.

Jerk Tofu recipe courtesy of Walkerswood Caribbean Kitchen by Virginia Burke.

David’s Jerk Chicken


½ cup Jerk Rub*

1 onion, finely chopped

1 Scotch bonnet pepper, minced

Leaves from 1 fresh thyme sprig, minced

2 scallions, including green parts, finely chopped

1 chicken (3 to 3 ½ pounds), cut into serving pieces


Mix together the jerk seasoning, onion, pepper, thyme and scallions. Rub the chicken well all over with the jerk rub. Cover and refrigerate for 4-6 hours.

Prepare a low fire in a charcoal grill using a combination of charcoal and pimento wood. (If you don’t have pimento wood, substitute applewood or hickory, or build a fire with just charcoal. If you’re using a gas grill, preheat it to 225° to 250°F.

Place the chicken on the grill and cook, covered, for 1 to 1 ½ hours, turning every 10 minutes or so. When it’s done, the chicken will take on a very dark color, the juices will run clear when the meat is pierced, and the internal temperature will have reached 160°F.

*Jerk Chicken Rub

1 onion, finely chopped

½ cup finely chopped scallions, including green parts

2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves

2 teaspoons salt

1 teaspoon ground Jamaican allspice

¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg

½ teaspoon ground cinnamon

4-6 Scotch Bonnet or habanero peppers, minced fine

1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Using a mortar and pestle or a food processor, combine all the ingredients and grind to a paste. Store leftover paste in the refrigerator in a tightly closed jar for about 1 month.

Makes about 1 cup; enough for 406 pounds of meat

Jerk Chicken recipe courtesy of Jerk from Jamaica by Helen Willinsky

Enjoy your 4th!


Tasty Thursdays: Tapas

I love tapas and go to tapas bars every so often, especially in the summer.

What are tapas? Tapas are canapes or appetizers or small snacks that originated in Spain. They can be served hot or cold. There are tapas bars all over Spain and now all over the U.S.

I found a tapas restaurant near the London Eye and was surprised to see oxtail tapas. Of course, I had to try it. I was not disappointed.

Oxtail tapas

Whenever I have friends over, I usually make several different tapas. Two of my favorites are Prawns and Bacon and Ceviche. Tapas pretty simple to make and always go very quickly. Here are the recipe for both, courtesy of

Prawns and Bacon Tapas


  • 5 oz jamon or thinly sliced bacon
  • 24 medium to large uncooked, headless prawns, peeled
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 lemons, quartered


Cut the bacon (or jamon, if using it) into pieces, which you will wrap generously round the prawns. Place the wrapped prawns down flat on a board and skewer them through the fattest part of the tail, making sure the jamón is firmly fixed. Season generously and drizzle with the oil.

On a high heat, griddle, grill or barbecue the prawn and bacon brochettes for 2-3 minutes on each side, so the jamón crisps up. Alternatively, roast in a hot oven (425ºF) on an oiled baking tray for 8-10 minutes. Squeeze the juice of the lemon and garnish with lemon wedges. Serve immediately.


Ceviche Tapas


  • 1 1/2 lb halibut, turbot, sea bass or salmon fillets, skinned
  • Juice of 3 limes
  • 1-2 fresh red chillies, seeded and very finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • Salt

For the garnish

  • 4 large firm tomatoes, peeled, seeded and diced
  • 1 ripe advocado, peeled and diced
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 tablespoon fresh coriander leaves


Cut the fish into strips measuring about 2 x 1/2 inch. Lay these in a shallow dish and pour over the lime juice, turning the fish strips to coat them all over in the juice. Cover with a clear film (plastic wrap) and leave for 1 hour.

Mix all the garnish ingredients, except the coriander, together. Set aside.

Season the fish with salt and scatter over the chillies. Drizzle with the oil, Toss the fish in the mixture, then replace the cover. Leave to marinate in the refrigerator for 15-30 minutes more.

To serve, divide the garnish among six plates. Spoon the ceviche, sprinkle with coriander, and serve.



Tasty Thursdays: Coq au Vin

Solange, my almost-mother-in-law, used to make coq au vin (chicken in wine) quite often. Stylish, beautiful, generous and funny, she was a stay-at-home mom, long before the term came into vogue, to eight children. Her home was inviting and warm and almost always full of people.

With Mom and Dad

Mom had a habit of “spicing up” everything she made — it just wasn’t done until she added her own flavors and seasoned it with love. She was a stickler for attractive food presentation. “La nourriture doit plaire a l’oeil avant de plaire a l’estomac. (Food must please the eyes before it pleases the stomach.),” she’d always say. And her coq au vin was legendary.

Mom shared her recipe for coq au vin with me several years ago. I’m kicking myself now because I can’t find it anywhere. I’m hoping it’s with my own mother’s recipe for the fruit cake she used to bake every Christmas (we were all given chores — mine was to chop the fruits). She had written it in her own hand on the back of an envelope and given it to me when I was dating Mom Solange’s son. Now they’re all gone and I can’t find either the coq au vin or the Christmas cake recipe anywhere. to the rescue! I found something similar to Mom’s coq au vin which I’m sharing with you. It doesn’t have her secret spices but I think you’ll like it.


  • 1 750-ml bottle of dry red wine
  • 2 medium carrots, sliced
  • 2 onions, coarsely chopped
  • 3 celery stalks, coarsely chopped
  • 6 large fresh thyme sprigs
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 6 whole chicken legs with thighs
  • 1 1/2 cups pearl onions
  • 5 tablespoons butter, room temperature
  • 12 ounces large mushrooms, quartered
  • 4 bacon slices, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1 1/2 cups Port
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour


Stir first 6 ingredients in heavy large nonreactive pot. Add chicken, submerging completely. Cover; chill overnight.

Cook pearl onions in large pot of boiling salted water 3 minutes. Drain and cool. Peel. Melt 3 tablespoons butter in heavy large skillet over medium-high heat. Add pearl onions and mushrooms and sauté until mushrooms are tender, about 10 minutes. Transfer to bowl. Add bacon to same skillet and sauté until brown and crisp. Transfer bacon to paper towels to drain. Wipe skillet clean.

Using slotted spoon, transfer chicken from marinade to strainer (reserve marinade in pot). Pat chicken dry with paper towels; sprinkle with salt and pepper. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in same skillet over medium-high heat. Add chicken and sauté until skin is brown, turning once, about 10 minutes. Transfer chicken to pot of marinade; bring to boil. Reduce heat; simmer uncovered until chicken is very tender, about 1 hour 15 minutes. Strain chicken and cooking liquid over large bowl. Transfer chicken to medium bowl; discard vegetables in strainer. Return liquid to pot. Add Port and bring to boil. Combine flour and remaining 2 tablespoons butter in small bowl. Whisk into cooking liquid. Boil over medium heat until sauce thickens and is slightly reduced, about 15 minutes. Return chicken to pot. Add pearl onions, mushrooms and bacon to sauce in pot. Simmer until heated through and flavors blend, stirring occasionally, about 10 minutes.

Recipe courtesy of




Tasty Thursdays: Gazpacho

When the weather turns hot, all I want to do is drink – water, mostly – and eat light, very light.

One of my favorite light meals is gazpacho, a cold soup that I was introduced to in Spain, that is made from fresh tomatoes and chopped raw vegetables.

It’s my summer meal lifesaver. This recipe that I found on comes closest to the way I make mine.

Traditional Gazpacho Soup

Cold tomato soup
Cold tomato soup
















21 oz. of tomato (chopped)

2 cloves of garlic

2 onions (chopped)

2 red and green peppers

1 cucumber (optional)

7 tablespoons of oil

2 tablespoons of vinegar

1 1/2 tablespoon of water

Cumin (optional)

2 tablespoons fresh parsley to garnish


In a big mortar mash cumin and garlic. In a plastic bowl, mix the chopped onion, chopped tomato, oil, vinegar, salt and the contents of the mortar. Pour half of the chopped mixture in a food processor (or blender) add very cold water and blend. Add salt and the remaining chopped mixture, mix and pour into a glass or other non-metal, non-reactive container. Keep it in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours (longer is better) to let the flavors blend. Garnish with parsley. Serve chilled.

Can be served with diced, toasted bread or avocado wedges.

Note: I prefer to use a mortar but a blender or food processor works as well. If you like it chunky like I do, set it to chop, not puree or liquefy.

Buen provecho!

Tasty Thursdays: Bananas Foster

Bananas Foster
Image by stu_spivack via Flickr

I had Bananas Foster a few years ago when a friend brought it to a party. I couldn’t believe how good it was but then again, I should have. I love bananas. And the best part, it’s so easy to make!


1/4 cup butter

2/3 cup dark brown sugar

3 1/2 tablespoons rum

1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

3 bananas, peeled and sliced lengthwise and crosswise

1/4 cup coarsely chopped walnuts

1 pint vanilla ice cream


In a large, deep skillet over medium heat, melt butter. Stir in sugar, rum, vanilla and cinnamon. When mixture begins to bubble, place bananas and walnuts in pan. Cook until bananas are hot, 1 to 2 minutes. Serve at once over vanilla ice cream.

Thanks to for this recipe.

Tasty Thursdays: Fresh Strawberry Pie

tasty homemade strawberry pie
Image by soozums via Flickr

My almost mother-in-law and second mom was a fabulous cook who hosted elaborate parties. She was a stickler for attractive food presentation.  She’d always say that food should please the eyes first before it pleased the stomach.

I spent a lot of time at her home the summer following our meeting, getting to know the family. I ate a lot and discovered several dishes that have become favorites. She always prepared them for me whenever she’d visit.

There’s one dessert she used to make that I love for its simplicity, its elegance and the combination of textures and flavors. It’s Fresh Strawberry Pie. I make every summer and look forward to making it again this year.

Hope you like it.


9″ pie crust

2 pints fresh strawberries (hulled and halved)

Whipped cream


  • Remove pie crust from packaging and bake following baking directions.
  • Select about 20 strawberries as close to the same size as possible. Wash, hull and cut in half. Leave one whole, including the stem, for garnishing.
  • Once the pie crust cools, arrange the strawberries back to back, stem side down around the edge of the pie.
  • Spoon whipped cream into the center of the pie crust. Chill until whipped cream is set, about 3 or 4 hours.
  • Garnish with a whole strawberry before serving.

What’s your favorite dessert?

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Tasty Thursdays: Shepherd’s Pie

After my first visit to London, I returned home and cooked Shepherd’s Pie almost every week! I couldn’t get enough of it. It’s quite simple to make and very tasty.

Shepherd's pie















Here’s a recipe I found on


  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1 large onion, peeled and chopped
  • 1 large carrot, peeled and chopped
  • 1 pound ground lamb (or substitute half with another ground meat)
  • 1 cup beef or chicken broth
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1 teaspoon chopped fresh or dry rosemary
  • 1 tablespoon chopped Italian parsley
  • 1 cup frozen peas
  • 2 pounds russet potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup milk (any fat content)
  • Kosher salt to taste


1. Preheat oven to 375°F.

2. In a large sauté pan over medium-high heat, heat the oil, then add the onion, carrot, and meat. Cook until browned, 8 to 10 minutes.

3. Drain the fat and add the broth, tomato paste, and herbs. Simmer until the juices thicken, about 10 minutes, then add the peas.

4. Pour the mixture into a 1 1/2-quart baking dish; set aside.

5. Meanwhile, bring the potatoes to a boil in salted water. Cook until tender, about 20 minutes; drain.

6. Mash the potatoes with the butter, milk, and salt.

7. Spread them over the meat mixture, then crosshatch the top with a fork.

8. Bake until golden, 30 to 35 minutes.

Tasty Thursdays: Steak and Ale Pie

As I might have mentioned in previous posts, I’ll try anything. My tour of Stonehenge came with lunch so we stopped at the George Inn in Lacock. Even though I’d never had it before, I selected the steak and ale pie. It seemed pretty straight forward and most importantly, hearty. It was an all day tour and I had no idea when my next meal would be.

George's Inn Steak and Ale Pie
Steak and Ale Pie

Since we’d pre-ordered lunch, we were served as soon as we found our tables. The steak and ale pie was delicious!

I wasn’t sure how it was made but an Australian couple at the adjoining table explained that the meat was cooked first in ale — at least, that’s how it’s done in Australia — then baked.

A Little About The George Inn

The George Inn has been used as a pub since 1361. Though it’s been renovated and modernized, the George still maintains some of the vestiges from its past, such as the large open fireplace with a dog-wheel that once used for spit roasting.

I forgot to ask for a recipe but found this one on If you try it, let me know what you think.


  • 1/2 (17.5 ounce) package frozen puff pastry, thawed
  • 1 tablespoon lard
  • 1/2 pound cubed beef
  • 1/4 pound carrots, diced
  • 1/4 pound turnips, diced
  • 1/2 pound peeled and cubed potatoes
  • 1/4 pound onions, diced
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup bitter ale
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 1/4 cup cold water
  • salt and pepper to taste


  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C).
  2. Heat a large skillet over high heat. Add lard, then meat. Toss to coat meat, and saute just long enough to brown meat on all sides. Remove from heat. Place meat in a 1 quart baking dish. Add carrots, turnip, potatoes, and onion. Mix well.
  3. Place 1 cup water and ale in a small saucepan. Bring to a simmer. Mix cornstarch with 1/4 cup cold water until smooth. Slowly pour cornstarch mixture into simmering ale mixture, whisking constantly. Continue to simmer until mixture has thickened. Add salt and pepper to taste. Pour mixture over meat and vegetables. Trim puff pastry to fit over top of filling.
  4. Bake in preheated oven for 45 to 50 minutes, until pastry is deep golden brown.

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