Celebrate with Babs: Holiday Recipes & Family Traditions from the TikTok Grandma

              Barbara Costello didn’t do social media when she first helped her daughter by posting a cooking video on TikTok.

              “I thought TikTok was all about dancing,” says Costello, the mother of four and grandmother of eight, who is known as Grandma Babs. Her first post was in April 2020 during the pandemic. Nine months later she had 200,000 followers. Now it’s closing in on two million.

              “By the time we hang up, you’ll probably have 20,000 more followers,” I tell Costello who is in the car with her daughter, Liz Ariola, on their way to a book signing.

              I’m only half joking.

Soaring Numbers

              Besides TikTok followers on her Brunch with Babs site, Costello also has 660,000 followers on Instagram. In comparison, I have 1989. Not that I’m jealous.

              Costello, who is 73, is considered a granfluencer—a growing trend of older people who are kicking it on social media. And now she has a cookbook, “Celebrate with Babs: Holiday Recipes & Family Traditions” featuring one hundred of her tried and true handwritten recipes that she pulled from her wood recipe box.

              “I started collecting recipes before the internet,” she says. “You used to go over to someone’s house for dinner and leave with recipe cards of what was served that night.”

              The book is divided by holidays and celebrations which are a big deal in the Costello family.

              “We’re Italian and we like big noisy get-togethers,” she says. “My mom was one of nine and I have 21 first cousins. Even after Bill and I got married there were so many of us that we still sat at the children’s table when everyone got together.”

              Originally from the Chicago area, Costello taught middle school in Schaumburg before the family moved, ending up in Connecticut where they’ve lived for decades. Costello opened her own pre-school (they called them nursery schools back then) in the basement of her house. She thinks the skills she learned as a teacher and administrator are part of what connects her to her audience. And she is all about connections.

              “I still get invited to the weddings of my preschoolers,” she says. “And many of them have remained friends with their pre-school classmates and they’re at the weddings. I think that’s wonderful after all those years.”

              Costello describes herself as having gone from zero to 60 miles-per-hour.

              “I never expected this,” she says. “People ask me if I have a business plan and I say what’s that? I’m making it up along the way.”

              It was Ariola who got her mom in the business. Social media savvy, Ariola writes the popular mom blog Mrs. Nipple blog (get it—aureole/ariola) and asked her mom for help during her pregnancy. Despite morning sickness, Ariola was trying to launch a TikTok channel and got her mom to agree to film three videos while her two grandchildren were napping.

              The first video showing Costello making her grandmother’s Greek chicken recipe garnered 100,000 views. Somewhere along the line, one of her viewers was a cookbook editor. The rest, as they say, is history.

              Even though the book is divided into holidays, each section with a special memory or anecdote, Costello says they recipes are good for everyday as well.

              “Recipes are recipes,” she says. In other words, you don’t have to wait until Easter to make marinated leg of lamb, apricot glazed ham, or Grandma’s Easter Bread.

Bonding Over Meals

              Even though she was a working mom, Costello always made family meals.

              “People didn’t do fast food like they do now,” she says. “And I think it’s very important for families to eat together.”

              Indeed, one of her hopes for her cookbook and her social media popularity is that it will encourage people to cook more and enjoy dinner together. In the meantime, she’s going to keep cooking.

              “My mom is always over the top when it comes to celebrations,” says Ariola, noting her mother’s tendency to make way too much food.

              “Being raised in an Italian family,” says Costello, “ I learned that the worst thing that could happen is that there wasn’t enough food to feed everyone.”

              That certainly won’t happen on her watch.

Smash Cake

“I always look forward to our grandkids’ first birthdays,” writes Costello. “My daughter loves showering her sons with smash cakes when they have that special birthday. She strips them down and lets them go at the cake. It’s a ton of fun to see how their little personalities shine in this moment. This is not only the favorite of my one-year-old grandson Scooter, but also a hit with my toddler-aged grandkids, too. Even I love it! I’ve made this recipe as just a loaf when not celebrating a special one-year-old in the family. The cream cheese frosting and the cake are the perfect combo.”

prep time

15 minutes, plus 2 hours to cool

cook time

50 minutes

yield

1 smash cake plus 1 loaf (serves about 9)

Ingredients

  • ½ cup unsalted butter, softened
  • ½ cup firmly packed light brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • ½ cup pure maple syrup
  • 2 (4 oz containers unsweetened applesauce
  • 1¾ cups  all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • ½ tsp ground cinnamon
  • Pinch of fine kosher salt

Cream Cheese Frosting:

  • 8 oz  cream cheese, softened
  • ½ cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • 2 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • Natural food coloring (optional)

Directions

1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease and line 2 (4-inch) ramekins or cake pans, and 1 (9 x 5-inch) loaf pan with parchment paper.

2. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter and sugar together until pale and creamy. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add the maple syrup and applesauce. Beat until well combined.

3. Using a fine-mesh sieve, sift the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt into the wet mixture. Stir until combined. Spoon the mixture into the ramekins until three-fourths full. Pour the rest of the batter into the loaf pan.

4. Bake the smash cakes for 30 to 35 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Bake the loaf for an additional 15 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Let stand for 15 minutes before turning onto a wire rack to cool completely.

5. Make the frosting. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the cream cheese and butter until well combined. Add the powdered sugar and vanilla. Beat until smooth and creamy, scraping the side of the bowl once or twice during mixing. If desired, beat in a few drops of natural food coloring of your choice.

6. To assemble the smash cake, place the bottom half on a serving plate. Spoon frosting over. Add the remaining layer. Spread frosting over the top and side of the cake. Add decorations of your choice. To serve the loaf, spread the top and sides with frosting, and cut into slices to serve.

Broccoli Salad (from the Summer Barbecue chapter)

This easy, crisp, classic vegetable salad is a must at any summer barbecue, picnic, or pool party. This is an old recipe I’ve been making for over forty years. The flavors meld beautifully, and the fresh crispness of the veggies, the creaminess of the dressing, and the ease of making it ahead, make this recipe a winner in all categories.

prep time

15 minutes, plus at least 1 hour to chill

cook time

none

serves

8–10

Ingredients

  • 2 bunches of raw broccoli, cut into bite-sized florets (about 8 cups)
  • 1 small red onion, chopped
  • 1 lb. crisp, crumbled bacon
  • ½ cup chopped, toasted pecans or walnuts
  • 1 cup golden or brown raisins
  • 1 cup mayonnaise
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • 2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
  1. In a large bowl, mix the broccoli, onion, bacon, nuts, and raisins.
  2. In a small bowl, stir together the mayonnaise, sugar, and vinegar.
  3. Toss the dressing with the broccoli mixture. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour before serving. Store leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.

Celebrity Chef Lineup Announced for 2022 KitchenAid Fairway Club

KitchenAid recently unveiled the full schedule of celebrity chefs taking the stage in the KitchenAid Fairway Club, the centerpiece of the fan experience at Harbor Shores during the 2022 KitchenAid Senior PGA Championship. Renowned celebrity chefs Scott Conant, Stephanie Izard, and Melissa King will join KitchenAid chefs Chris Covelli and Brett Wagner in providing golf fans and culinary enthusiasts alike with the chance to ask questions and learn from the experts during daily cooking demonstrations.

Schedule

Local favorites will also be providing featured demonstrations throughout the event, highlighting their best tips and favorite KitchenAid products. The full KitchenAid Fairway Club schedule is as follows:

Thursday, May 26

1 p.m. ET –  Melissa King

2:30 p.m. – Cheyenne Galbraith, Houndstooth

Friday, May 27

  • 1 p.m. – Scott Conant
  • 2:30 p.m. – Brian Maynard, Forte Coffee

Saturday, May 28

  • 1 p.m. – Stephanie Izard
  • 2:00 p.m. – Tim Foley, Bread+Bar, Bit of Swiss
  • 3:00 p.m. – Deb Sailor, Cheese Lady

Melissa King

An award-winning chef and entrepreneur, King is known for her technical precision and ability to blend modern California cuisine with Asian flavors, Melissa is recognized as one of the best female chefs in San Francisco and a 40 under 40 Rising Star. Fan favorite and winner of Top Chef All-Stars, Melissa holds the record for winning the most challenges in the show’s history. She now serves as a judge on Top Chef and The Food Network’s Julia Child Challenge.

Prior to her television success, Melissa helmed several Michelin starred kitchens in San Francisco under acclaimed culinary legends including Dominique Crenn and Ron Siegel. She has cooked for notable figures such as Oprah Winfrey and Al Gore, and is a certified level 1 sommelier and skilled butcher. As a proud Asian American, queer woman, Melissa has raised over $50,000 for marginalized communities. She guest-stars in Sesame Street’s historic Thanksgiving episode that premiered the first ever Asian American muppet. She is set to curate the menu at the Met Gala in May 2022. Melissa is also the owner of King Sauce, a small batch sauce line and offers virtual cooking classes available in her online shop.

Scott Conant

A two-time James Beard Award-winning chef, cookbook author, and TV personality with a career spanning more than 35 years, Conant brings a deft touch and unwavering passion to creating culinary experiences with thoughtful hospitality and soulful cuisine. His portfolio of acclaimed restaurants includes Mora Italian (Phoenix, AZ), The Americano (Scottsdale, AZ and Atlanta, GA), and Cellaio at Resorts World Catskills (Monticello, NY). Conant has been a popular presence on Food Network as a recurring judge on Chopped since 2009 and frequent co-host of Beat Bobby Flay.

Stephanie Izard

James Beard “Best Chef: Great Lakes” recipient 2013, and 2011 Food & Wine “Best New Chef,” Stephanie Izard is the Executive Chef and Owner of five Chicago restaurants. She also won the coveted title of “Iron Chef” in 2017 and was the 4th winner of Bravo’s Top Chef in 2008. Izard created a retail product line called “This Little Goat,” consisting of globally inspired cooking sauces and spice mixes for home cooks, and currently ships her sweets from Sugargoat nationwide in partnership with Goldbelly.

“It is our honor to welcome such a distinguished roster of chefs to the KitchenAid Fairway Club,” said Deb O’Connor, director of global corporate reputation and community relations at Whirlpool Corporation. “Our chef demonstrations are always a fan favorite, and this might be our best year yet. We love inspiring our cooking enthusiasts to spend more time in the kitchen, and there’s no better way to do that than by learning from the experts themselves.”

KitchenAid Fairway Club

Located near the main Championship entrance, the KitchenAid Fairway Club is open to the public each day of the Championship and serves as the main experience center for fans to embrace their love for making. From samples at the KitchenAid Cafe and the opportunity to use our small appliances to the “putt for paint” contest where fans who make a putt on a Stand Mixer-shaped green could win a custom painted stand mixer, there’s something for everyone at the Fairway Club. Chefs Covelli and Wagner will be on hand all week to share recipes and answer your culinary questions.

Unique Culinary Fan Experiences

KitchenAid always brings unique, culinary fan experiences to this historic and prestigious senior major, and 2022 will be no different.

https://www.facebook.com/SeniorPGAChampionship/videos/402383484802115

For more updates and information about the KitchenAid Fairway Club activities, fans can follow @KitchenAid_Golf on Twitter.

For more information about the KitchenAid Senior PGA Championship or to purchase tickets, visit SrPGA.com.

About KitchenAid

Since the introduction of its legendary Stand Mixer in 1919 and first dishwasher in 1949, KitchenAid has built on the legacy of these icons to create a complete line of products designed for those with a passion to make. Today, the KitchenAid® brand offers virtually every essential for the well-equipped kitchen with a collection that includes everything from countertop appliances to cookware, ranges to refrigerators, and whisks to wine cellars. To learn more, visit KitchenAid.com or join us at Facebook.com/KitchenAid and Twitter.com/KitchenAidUSA

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Sur La Table’s Summer Cooking Series for Kids and Teens

Aspiring junior chefs can up their cooking skills this summer by enrolling in Sur La Table’s Summer Series, an assortment of cooking classes available online and in-person, designed for kids and teens. The four and five day series include Bake Shop, Open Your Own Restaurant, and Cooking Adventure and are taught by Sur La Table’s exceptionally well-trained and experience. The small-sized classes ensure that young chefs have plenty of active participation.

The complete kids and teens schedule is available online now here for June-August 2022 and enrollment is now open. Online classes start at just $29 per class and in-person classes start at $249.00 for a 5-Day series. Young cooks can explore menus full of exciting discoveries, from how to prepare favorite dishes to new twists on classic dessert. Classes are about two to two-one-half hours each. Class size is limited to 16.

In-person classes

Kids’ 5-Day Summer Series: Cooking Adventure

Kids’ 5-Day Summer Series: Bakeshop

Kids’ 5-Day Summer Series: Chef School

Kids’ 4-Day Summer Series: Chef School

Teens’ 5-Day Summer Series: Open Your Own Restaurant

Teens’ 5-Day Summer Series: Baking Workshop

Teens’ 5-Day Summer Series: The Academy Of Cuisine

Teens’ 4-Day Summer Series: The Academy Of Cuisine

Sample class menus include:

Kids’ 5-Day Summer Series: Bakeshop

Day 1: Sweet Treats

Cake Pops

Fruit Gummies

Day 2: Playing with Dough

Banana Bread

Cheesy Garlic Bubble Bread

Homemade Butter

Day 3: Smart Cookie

Decorated Sugar/Shortbread Cookie

Drop Cookie

Skillet Cookie

Day 4: Take the Cake

Bake Cupcakes

Mix Fillings and Frostings

Create Decorations

Practice Piping Techniques

Day 5: Bake Your Own Creation

Use surprise ingredients to craft your own recipe.

Teens’ 5-Day Summer Series: The Academy of Cuisine

Day 1: All About the Apps

Vietnamese Fresh Rolls with Dipping Sauce

Caprese Bruschetta

Mexican Street Corn Dip

Day 2: Savory Starches

Pad Thai

Gnocchi with Fresh Tomato Sauce

No-Knead Bread with Homemade Butter

Day 3: Power Up with Protein

Chicken Parm with Homemade Pasta

Carne Asada Tacos with Homemade Tortillas

Veggie Fried Rice

Day 4: Living the Sweet Life

Fruit Galette

Roasted Strawberry Ice Cream

Profiteroles with Chocolate Sauce

Day 5: Make Your Own Menu

Create recipes using surprise ingredients!

Please note, Sur La Table is taking serious COVID-19 protocols for in-person events for the safety of their guests and masks are required at all times in stores. In-person classes are offered in all store locations.

Yumna Jawad: Feel Good Foodie

          Spoiled by her mom’s cooking and too tired to cook herself after working all day Yumna Jawad decided after getting married to change all that. Calling her mom—there was no Facetime back then–Jawad would have her stay on the phone and tell her step by step how to make a meal. It took just two weeks and from there Jawad, who moved to Kalamazoo, and now lives in Grand Rapids, used her new skills not only to cook for her family but as a springboard to creating Feel Good Foodie, her healthy, quick, and creative food blog. She also keeps an active Instagram account with three million followers.

          I came across her blog when researching healthy recipes since I’ve moved on during the pandemic from trying all those dessert recipes I’ve been clipping and saving for years and was very impressed. Besides recipes, she also offers nutritional information, substitutions, how to videos, how long does it take to make the recipe and links to similar recipes. So I emailed Jawad and she responded within ten minutes even though it was late at night but then judging by how often she updates her blog, she may not sleep much if at all.

          It turns out that she worked in Branding and Research & Marketing for consumer packaged foods and the retail food industry and eight years ago began sharing recipes on her Instagram account. She now has over two million followers which is pretty amazing. I have like 2000. Her blog has 400,000 visitors a month. So I asked her why she thought she was so successful.

          “When I first started sharing recipes on social media, my photos were all taken on an iPhone and it was always the meals I made that day for myself or my family,” she says. “The food wasn’t styled or edited, but it was easy and approachable. I think it resonated with a lot of people seeking ways to eat healthier that was attainable and easy-to-manage. And when others tried recreating my recipes, they had similar results without ‘Pinterest fails’. That encouraged them to try more and share more, which I believe helped me establish credibility in my brand and recipes. And all of that was before I even knew that I was even building a health and wellness brand.”

The Flavors of the World

           Jawad has an international background that adds to the creativity of her recipes. She was born in what is now the Democratic Republic of the Congo and also lived in Sierra Leone until age 11. When Civil War broke out there, the family moved to Dearborn, Michigan. After marrying, she and her husband, a cardiologist, moved several times as well before ending up in Kalamazoo and now Grand Rapids  She first learned to cook traditional Lebanese food but now has exponentially expanded her repertoire but there’s often a Middle East/Mediterranean aspect to her recipes because of their focus on vegetables and healthy ingredients.

          Her culinary inspirations, besides her mother include Ina Garten of Barefoot Contessa fame.      

          “While not all of Ina’s recipes are low calories/low fat, I love her realness, approachability, and passion for cooking,” says Jawad. “She inspires me to be who I am and allow that passion to come through with my recipes without any fluff.”

          Curtis Stone is also another food idol because, she says, he is all about eating unprocessed and unpackaged foods as much as possible, which is actually healthier and cheaper.

          “This is something that I focus so much on with my wholesome home-cooked meals,” she says.

          And because, as the mother of two children, she likes meals that are quick to prepare, she’s a fan of Rachel Ray.

          “Rachel rally popularized the idea of 30 minute meals that made home cooking so accessible for so many people; and that is directly in line with my thinking,” says Jawad.

          Currently she adds three recipes a week to her blog—meals she’s been making for her family since she learned to cook 12 years ago. Some are inspired by tradition, others by watching cooking shows, reading food magazines, and following social media and focuses on new approaches creating healthy wholesome meals.

          “This includes, for example, trends like quinoa crust breadsticks, or cauliflower pizza or sweet potato toast,” says Jawad. “I keep up with the latest trends and test new ideas myself and then add my own twist to them, usually by making the prep easier or by swapping some ingredients to personalize the recipe.”

Recipe Data Base

          She’s also adding to the recipe data base on her blog.

          For those who wonder how to incorporate new foods into their kitchen repertoire, she has some tips. When she used to discover new produce at farmers’ markets, she’d ask the grower for suggestions. Now, Jawad uses the vegetables or fruits in a way that makes it more connected to what  she knows.

          “I recommend experimenting with it in a way that you normally eat other similar foods,” she says. “For instance, since rutabaga is a root vegetable, I would prepare it similar in a similar way to other root vegetables by roasting it because I know I would naturally enjoy that more than steaming it. I would also recommend trying something new in smaller quantities and having others to share it with. It makes the process more enjoyable to try a new ingredient or recipe with other taste testers. When it comes to kids, the same advice applies. But also, I strongly recommend having kids help in the purchase and preparation of ingredients. It gets them more excited about what they make because they feel more invested in the process. When all else fails, mask it in a smoothie or blended soup.”

The following recipes are courtesy of Yumna Jawad.

Chicken Lemon Orzo Soup

  • 1 pound boneless skinless chicken thighs
  • 1 onion diced
  • 3 large carrots peeled, halved lengthwise and finely sliced
  • 3 celery stalks small diced
  • 2-3 bay leaves
  • 1 Tablespoon butter or olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves minced
  • 1 teaspoon dried rosemary
  • 3/4 cup orzo pasta
  • 1/8 teaspoon turmeric optional
  • Juice of 1-2 lemons to taste
  • Fresh parsley

Place chicken and scraps from the outer layers and end of the onions, carrots, and celery along with a couple bay leaves in a large stock pot. Add bay leaves and 8-10 cups water and season with salt and pepper. Bring to a boil; reduce heat and simmer until chicken is fork-tender, about 30 minutes.

Remove chicken and shred; then strain the chicken broth using a fine-mesh sieve and discard the vegetable scraps and bay leave

Heat oil in the same pot over medium heat. Add the chopped onions, carrots, celery, garlic and cook until tender, about 4-5 minutes. Stir in the shredded chicken, orzo, rosemary, and turmeric (if using). Then return the broth to the stockpot and bring a boil.

Reduce the heat and simmer until the orzo is cooked, about 20 minutes.

Stir in the lemon juice and season with salt and pepper. Serve immediately with fresh parsley or mint, if desired.

Air Fryer Sweet Potato Fries

  • 2 medium sweet potatoes peeled
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon garlic powder
  • ¼ teaspoon paprika
  • ⅛ teaspoon black pepper
  • Preheat the air fryer to 380°F. Peel the sweet potatoes, then slice each potato into even 1/4 inch thick sticks.

Place the sweet potatoes in a large mixing bowl, and toss with olive oil, salt, garlic powder, paprika and black pepper.

Cook in 2 or 3 batches, depending on the size of your basket without overcrowding the pan until they’re crispy. I recommend 12 minutes, turning halfway. This may vary based on your air fryer.

Serve immediately with your favorite dipping sauce

Quinoa Patties

  • 1 cup cooked quinoa
  • 2 eggs beaten
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • ½ red onion finely chopped
  • ½ cup mozzarella cheese
  • 2 cloves garlic crushed
  • 1 cup breadcrumbs
  • Water as needed add moisture
  • 1 tablespoon canola oil

For the Avocado Yogurt Dip

  • 2 tablespoons cilantro chopped
  • ½ cup yogurt
  • ½ avocado extra ripe
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Combine quinoa, eggs, and salt in a medium bowl. Stir in onions, cheese, garlic, and cilantro. Add the breadcrumbs, stir, and let sit for a few minutes so the crumbs can absorb some of the moisture. Feel free to add water if the mixture feels too dry. Form the mixture into 6-8 patties.

Frying Instructions:Heat the oil in a large, heavy skillet over medium-low heat. Place add quinoa on the heated pan, making sure not to overcrowd the pan and cook until the patties are golden color, about 7 – 10 per side minutes.

Baking Instructions:Place the quinoa patties on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Brush the oil on top of the patties. Bake in a preheated oven at 400°F for 15 minutes, until golden.

To make the avocado yogurt sauce, whisk together the cilantro, avocado and yogurt. Season with salt and pepper and serve with the cooked quinoa patties.

 Notes

Storage: Store any leftovers in an airtight container. They will last up to 5 days in the fridge.

Freezing Instructions: You can also freeze the patties before or after cooking them.

  • To freeze them prior to cooking, lay them on a flat baking dish in the freezer for at least 4 hours. When frozen, place them in an airtight bag. Thaw in the fridge overnight and cook per instructions.
  • To freeze them after cooking, simply store them in an airtight bag after they’ve cooled. To re-heat, thaw in the fridge overnight and bake in a 350°F oven until heated through.

Substitutes: For best results, follow the recipe as is. However here are some common substitutes that would work well in this recipe.

  • Instead of eggs, you can use a flax eggs. For each regular egg, use 1 tablespoon ground flaxseed + 3 tablespoons water.
  • Any type of shredded cheese can be used in place of mozzarella.
  • If you prefer not to use breadcrumbs, you can use a gluten-free flour like almond flour or oat flour, or you can also use panko breadcrumbs.

“Satisfy your sweet tooth with a plant-based treat in under 10 minutes,” Jawad says about the following recipe. “3-ingredient chia pudding is the perfect pick-me-up. High in fiber, protein, and healthy fats, this recipe is as good for you as it tastes.”

3-Ingredient Chia Pudding

  • 2 tablespoons chia seeds
  • ½ cup almond milk or milk of choice
  • 1 teaspoon honey or other sweetener
  • Strawberries, blueberries, or other fruit

Pour all ingredients into a Mason jar and mix well. Let sit for a few minutes and then stir again until it is smooth and there’s no clumping.

Cover the jar and store in the refrigerator for at least two hours.

When you’re ready to eat, top with your favorite fruit and serve.

The Cake Boss Cooks!

Here’s what I learned about Buddy Valastro aka the Cake Boss and star of TLC’s Cake Boss and Kitchen Boss, after meeting him and watching him cook a fantastic meal for the five grand winners of the KitchenAid Make the Cut Sweepstakes by hhgregg at the Senior PGA several summers ago in Benton Harbor, Michigan. The first is that he’s warm and witty, the second he can whip up a multi-course dinner in an amazing short period of time, and the third is he doesn’t measure.

Chopping up a big pile of pancetta (a type of Italian bacon and no, we didn’t learn how much), he adds it to a big pot (“I like to cook family style”) along with finely chopped shallots and minced garlic.

“If you don’t have shallots, you can use onions,” he says. “It ain’t gonna kill you.”

Next come the tomatoes that the Valastros can each fall – some hundred bushels and a large pile of basil – an ingredient he describes as the most important.

“When you cut it,” he says. “It releases all the flavors.”

And next – well, let’s just say it was lucky there wasn’t a heart specialist in the group.

“You’re going to go crazy when you see how much salt I put in this,” he says, scooping up what looks like a huge handful of salt from a bowl and throwing it into his pasta sauce. “But believe me you need it.”

Watching Valastro, we all wonder how much salt he used.

“I don’t measure,” he says after someone asks. “I ain’t going to lie to you.”

Indeed, when Buddy cooks, several of his crew watch him, trying to estimate the amounts he uses to translate them into recipes for his food shows and cookbooks.

“Anytime I cook with tomatoes, I always put in a little sugar,” he says. “Maybe because I’m a baker, maybe because I’m a sweet guy.”

He also likes to keep a piece of bread nearby to dip in the sauce to taste for seasoning.

While he’s talking, he brings us up to speed on Cake Boss, the reality show based upon Carlo’s Bakery, his fourth generation bakery in Hoboken, New Jersey. There are now more Carlo’s Bakery locations as well as Carlo’s Bake Shop Vending Machines including one in Las Vegas.

“It’s pretty wild,” he says. “I do a life sized Betty White cake.”

Next, he adds cream to the pasta sauce so the red turns pink.

“Sometimes I do what my dad used to do which is whip the cream before adding it,” says Valastro. “This is old school Italian.”

After throwing in a “smidge” more basil and telling us we can add as much cream as we want, we get to eat the sauce after he ladles it over bowtie shaped pasta.  Served with a round of polenta, a caprese salad – freshly made mozzarella layered with tomatoes and basil leaves and drizzled with olive oil, Buddy starts on the cannoli – rolled pastry shells stuffed with a thick rich cream made of ricotta cheese, cream, sugar and a touch of cinnamon oil.

“Don’t be cheap with the cannoli cream,” he says, using a pastry bag to extrude a large amount into the rolls. “The trick to making the rolls is lard. But it’s hard. You have to fry them and wind them around a stick. I did a demo of it once at DisneyWorld and I was like stressing. This is one of the recipes in my book that I say good luck. Better to buy some good shells somewhere.”

Buddy Valasco with big smile.

When Buddy finally is finished cooking a meal that seems like it should have taken days – the elapsed time is about an hour — he has produced a warm tomato basil soup, garlic cheese bread, veal picante, the pasta dish, the caprese salad, polenta as well as cannoli for dessert.

“I want to bring back a time,” he says in closing, “I want to let the basil talk, the garlic talk, I want to cook from the heart.  That’s what it’s all about.”

Caprese Salad

  • 2 ripe tomatoes, cut 1/4″ slices across the equator
  • 1 pound best quality fresh mozzarella cheese, cut 1/4″ slices
  • Fresh whole leaves of basil, approximately 15-20 leaves of assorted sizes
  • Best quality flavorful extra virgin olive oil, as needed
  • Coarse salt
  • Coarse grindings black pepper

 On a serving platter, lay down the slices of tomato and sprinkle with salt. Allow to rest 5-10 minutes until tomatoes exude some juices. Lay mozzarella on top of the tomatoes, season with sprinklings of salt and grindings of pepper.

Drizzle olive oil to taste over all. Oil will mingle with the tomato juices to create a flavorful sauce.

Scatter fresh basil leaves decoratively over all.

Pasta with Pink Sauce

  • ½ pound pancetta
  • 2 – 4 shallots
  • 28-ounce can Italian tomatoes, chopped
  • 1/8 cup olive oil
  • 1 to 3 cloves garlic
  • ½ cup or more fresh basil
  • ¼ to ½ cup grated Romano cheese
  • ½ to 1 cup heavy cream
  • Salt, pepper and sugar, to taste
  • 1 pound farfalle or bowtie pasta

Finely slice up the shallots and garlic. Cut the pancetta into chunks. Sauté the shallots over medium heat.

After a couple of minutes add in the garlic and the pancetta. Cook for a few minutes and then add tomatoes.

Add a dash of sugar, salt, pepper and bring it to a roaring boil for about 5 minutes. Lower the heat and let it cook for another 5 minutes.

Next add the heavy cream. You can cook your pasta at any time but you only want to cook it al dente because it’ll continue to cook in the pan with the sauce.

Cook for another couple of minutes. Then drain the farfalle and dump it right into the pink sauce.

Cook it at high heat for another minute so that it absorbs the sauce. 

Finish with fresh basil and some grated Romano cheese.

Cook Once Dinner Fix: Cassy Joy Garcia

          Leftovers make me feel guilty. More than they should, they frequently sit and sit in my refrigerator until, as my mother would say, “they’ve served their time” and can be thrown out for good reason—they’re no longer edible. There must be a better way.

          Now Cassy Joy Garcia shows us that way in her new cookbook, Cook Once Dinner Fix: Quick and Exciting Ways to Transform Tonight’s Dinner into Tomorrow’s Feast (Simon & Schuster 2021). I had previously written about Garcia’s first cookbook, the bestselling Cook Once, Eat All Week:  26 Weeks of Gluten-Free, Affordable Meal Prep to Preserve Your Time & Sanity, a title that pretty much says it all. This time around, Garcia again is all about saving time and money while creating great and healthy meals. Featuring 120 easy to make recipes, she uses leftovers from one recipe to create a second completely different meal for another meal.

          The trick, says Garcia, a holistic nutritionist who created the blog Fed + Fit, is to create twin recipes such as Dry-Rubbed Barbecue Brisket and then transform it into a second meal–the very yummy Cheesesteak-Stuffed Peppers and her leftover Roasted Garlic Turkey Breast becomes Spiced Turkey Potato Soup. Both twin meal shave different flavor profiles but enough commonality that it’s easy to adapt each one of a series into a second day dinner without fuss.         

In one dinner series, Garcia takes simply roasted cauliflower florets, transforming them into what she describes as a “craveable, nourishing General Tso’s take on cauliflower and then into the most satisfying tacos inspired by tinga, a Mexican stew.

The bold flavors of the sauces and the way we quickly re-crisp the cauliflower creates the magic. You will not be bored by these dishes, and I bet you’ll find yourself craving them often.”

         She also provides tips, substitution ideas, and a list of categories such as dairy-free, egg-free, freezes easily, gluten-free option, and nut-free to help those on special diets know which recipes will work for them.  

“I really like the idea of being able to bridge tonight’s effort into a meal in the future,” says Garcia, who lives in San Antonio, Texas with her husband and two children. “If you don’t get ahead, you’ll feel like you’re constantly catching up.”

We can all identify with that.

The recipes below are from Cook Once Dinner Fix by Cassy Joy Garcia.

MEAL 1                                                                                                

General Tso’s Cauliflower

Serves 4

Active time: 30 minutes

Total time: 55 minutes

  • 4 medium heads cauliflower (21/2 pounds total), cut into florets
  • 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 11/2 cups uncooked white rice, rinsed
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 teaspoons grated fresh   ginger
  • 1⁄3 cup honey
  • 1/4 cup rice vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons chili garlic sauce (see Tip)
  • 2 teaspoons toasted sesame oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon fish sauce
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 1 cup vegetable broth or water
  • 1/4 cup thinly sliced green onions (sliced on an angle), for garnish
  • 1 tablespoon white sesame seeds, for garnish.

Preheat the oven to 400ºF.

Toss the cauliflower florets with 1/4 cup of the olive oil, then divide them between two rimmed baking sheets, arranging them in an even layer, and sprinkle with the salt. Roast for 35 to 40 minutes, until the tops of the florets start to brown.

Meanwhile, cook the rice according to the package instructions.

In a large skillet or wok, heat the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil over medium heat. Add the garlic and ginger and cook, stirring, for 2 to 3 minutes, until fragrant.

Add the honey, vinegar, soy sauce, chili garlic sauce, sesame oil, fish sauce, cornstarch, and broth and whisk until well combined and smooth. Simmer for about 5 minutes, until the sauce thickens.

Transfer half the cooked cauliflower (about 6 cups) to an airtight container and refrigerate to use for Meal 2 (it will keep for up to 5 days). Add the remaining cauliflower to the pan with the sauce. Toss to combine, then remove from the heat.

Serve the cauliflower over the rice, garnished with the green onions and sesame seeds.

TIPS

  • Garcia says to ook for chili garlic sauce, a bright red Vietnamese condiment, in the international foods aisle. She uses the Huy Fong brand with the rooster on it– the same brand as her favorite Sriracha.
  • If you like less heat, use just 1 teaspoon chili garlic sauce to make the dish milder.
  • If you follow a vegan or vegetarian diet, use a vegan fish sauce.

MEAL 2                                                                                                

Cauliflower Tinga Tacos

Serves 4

Active time: 15 minutes

Total time: 30 minutes

  • 3 canned chipotle chiles in adobo sauce, finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup tomato paste
  • 1⁄3 cup fresh lime juice
  • 2 teaspoons dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • About 6 cups roasted cauliflower (reserved from Meal 1; see page 244)
  • 8 corn tortillas, warmed
  • 1 avocado, thinly sliced, for garnish
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro, for garnish
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped red onion, for garnish
  • 1 lime, cut into wedges, for serving

Preheat the oven to 375ºF.

In a large bowl, whisk together the chipotles, tomato paste, lime juice, oregano, cumin, salt, pepper, and 6 tablespoons water. Add the cauliflower and toss to coat evenly.

Spread the cauliflower evenly over a rimmed baking sheet. Bake for 15 minutes, or until the tops of the cauliflower florets start to darken.

Divide the roasted cauliflower among the tortillas. Top with the avocado, cilantro, and onion and serve, with the lime wedges alongside for squeezing over the top.

Roasted Chicken and Potatoes with Fresh Arugula Salad

Serves 2

Active time: 30 minutes

Total time: 1 hour 30 minutes

For the Roasted Chicken

  • 1 (4- to 4 1/2-pound) whole chicken
  • 4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) salted butter, at room temperature
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

For the Roasted Potatoes

  • 1 pound red potatoes, cut into 1/2-inch-wide wedges
  • 2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt

For the Fresh Arugula Salad

  • 4 cups arugula
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice (from 1 lemon)
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

Preheat the oven to 400°F.

In a small bowl, stir together the butter and garlic until well combined.

Rub about half the garlic butter over the outside of the chicken. Using your fingers, gently lift the skin from the breast and smear the rest of the garlic butter under the skin.

Place the chicken in a roasting pan or on a rimmed baking sheet. Tuck the wing tips under the joint where the wing meets the chicken’s body. Using about 6 inches of kitchen twine, tie the ends of the drumsticks together.

Season the chicken with the salt and pepper. Roast for 1 hour 10 minutes, or until the juices run clear and/or an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest portion of a thigh registers 165°F. If the skin starts to brown too deeply, tent the chicken with a piece of aluminum foil.

Meanwhile, roast the potatoes: In a large bowl, toss the potatoes with the olive oil. Spread them out over a rimmed baking sheet and season with the salt.

When the chicken has been in the oven for 35 minutes, put the potatoes in the oven and roast for 45 minutes, or until they start to look golden brown.

When the chicken is done, remove it from the oven, tent it with foil (if it’s not already tented), and let rest for 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, make the arugula salad: Place the arugula in a large bowl. Add the lemon juice, olive oil, salt, and pepper and massage the dressing into the leaves. Remove the potatoes from the oven. Carve the legs, thighs, and wings from the chicken, transfer to an airtight container, and refrigerate to use for Meal 2 (it will keep for up to 5 days). Carve the chicken breasts from the chicken and divide them between two plates.

Serve the chicken with the potatoes and arugula salad alongside.

MEAL 2

Butter Chicken Bowls with White Rice

Serves 2

Active time: 35 minutes

Total time: 40 minutes

  • 1 tablespoon paprika
  • 1 tablespoon garam masala
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • Cooked chicken legs, thighs, and wings (reserved from Meal 1), skin removed, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) salted butter or ghee
  • 1 tablespoon grated garlic (about 3 cloves)
  • 1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger (from about 1/2 inch)
  • 2 1/2 cups crushed tomatoes (from one 18-ounce can)
  • 1 cup plain Greek yogurt
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice (from 1 lemon)
  • 1 cup uncooked white rice, rinsed
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro leaves, for garnish

In a small bowl, whisk together the paprika, garam masala, coriander, cumin, turmeric, and salt. Add the chicken and toss to coat in the spice mixture.

In a large sauté pan, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the garlic and ginger and caute for 3 to 4 minutes, until fragrant but not browned.

Add the seasoned chicken to the pan, reserving any spice mixture left in the bowl, and sear, undisturbed, for 3 minutes, or until lightly browned on the bottom, then stir and sear for 3 minutes more. Remove the chicken from the pan and set aside on a plate.

In the same pan, whisk together the tomatoes, yogurt, cream, lemon juice, and any remaining spice mixture until combined. Bring to a simmer over medium-low heat and cook, stirring occasionally, for 15 to 20 minutes, until fragrant and slightly reduced in volume.

Meanwhile, cook the rice according to the package instructions.

Return the chicken to the sauce and simmer for 5 minutes more, then remove from the heat.

Serve the chicken over the rice, garnished with the cilantro.

Lidia’s Got Your Back with Commonsense Italian Cooking

Years of fame from authoring best selling cookbooks, hosting TV cooking shows, opening restaurants and gourmet food stores, including the many Eataly stores including the one in Chicago that opened eight years ago, and creating her own line of pastas, sauces and readymade foods hasn’t even slightly dimmed Lidia Matticchio Bastianich’s enthusiasm for spreading the word about the glories of Italian cuisine. Indeed, if she had her way, we’d all be experts in Italian cooking.

“Italian food is very simple,” Bastianich tells me as we chat about her cookbooks including one of my favorites, Lidia’s Commonsense Italian Cooking: 150 Delicious and Simple Recipes Anyone Can Master (Knopf $35), which she co-authored with her daughter Tanya Bastianich Manuali. “It’s all about good ingredients and not fretting about the recipes.”

Passing on the traditions learned from helping her mother and grandmother cook, Bastianich revels in the email and comments she gets from fans crediting her with teaching them how to cook Italian.

“People think I don’t know how to make an artichoke or risotto or pasta,” she says, “and when they learn, they are so excited. At one of my book signings, a woman told me that when her kids get home from school and they ask what’s for dinner, if she says I’m cooking Lidia, they’re happy.”

In her book, Bastianich expounds on using our judgment when it comes to cooking.

“We all have commonsense in life, in the kitchen we all have it too, this book brings it out,” she says. “It’s straightforward. Recipes are not law. It’s okay to change a recipe according to what we have in the house. I want people to be comfortable with food.”

Intense food memories of her grandmother’s Italian kitchen mix with those of coming to America at age 11 at a time when the Italian ingredients we take for granted now—fresh ricotta, pasta and mozzarella, a wide selection of Italian charcuterie, the Arborio rice necessary for making risotto and high end canned tomatoes—were difficult if not impossible to find. Bastianich describes herself as feeling “yanked from a cocoon.” And indeed life was much different. From milking goats and helping harvest the seasonal garden bounty, she instead wanted to be American which meant eating like an American.

“I was intrigued by Jell-O and TV dinners because that’s what being Americans was— heat up a TV dinner and sit in front of the TV to eat,” she recalls. “Sometimes my mom would give me a fried zucchini sandwich for school. I was so embarrassed. In high school and college you did what your peers do.  My mother was very upset.”

Fortunately, not only for her mother but for American home cooks, Bastianich, realizing she had a heritage that was rich, reconnected to her roots and became an advocate for real food versus what she calls American “utility” food.

“My father never would have eaten a TV dinner,” she says. “Food has given me so much. If I can share that it’s a great gift.”

Sidebar: Mega Italian

Partnering with her son Joe as well as several others, Bastianich opened the 50,000-square-foot Eataly in Manhattan over a decade ago, the group then brought the concept of all thing’s Italian cuisine-wise to other cities including Chicago. The two-story 60,000-square-foot store features a plethora of restaurants, cooking classes a gelateria for gelato lovers and enough retail food vendors to send even the most blasé foodie into overdrive. On October 22 & 23, Eataly is presenting their Tuscan Wine & Cheese event, a focus on artisanal cheeses, regional wines, and seasonal bites on October 22 & 23, Eataly Restaurant Fest until October 31, and How to Eataly offering tips for living and eating better as well as getting the most out of fall until November 1. As for other events, there are cooking classes, market tours, and more all the time.

Eataly is located at 43 E. Ohio St., Chicago, IL; 212-229-2560 http://www.eataly.com/eataly-chicago

The following recipes are from Lidia’s Commonsense Italian Cooking.

Chicken Breast with Orange and Gaeta Olives
Pollo con Olive ed Aranci

  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 1/2 pounds thin sliced chicken cutlets
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • all-purpose flour for dredging
  • 1 large red onion, sliced
  • 1 cup pitted Gaeta or Kalamata olives, halved
  • Juice and zest of 1 orange
  • 1/2 cup white wine
  • 1 teaspoon fennel powder
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh Italian parsley

In a large skillet over medium heat, add the olive oil and butter. Season the chicken with 1/2 teaspoon of salt and lightly dredge it in flour. Lightly brown the chicken in the skillet (you want the chicken to end up with a blonde-colored crust and slowly build the color, and flavor, up) on both sides, about 2 minutes per side. Cook the chicken in batches, if necessary, depending on the size of your skillet. Remove to a plate as it is colored.

Once the chicken is colored, add the onion and cook until softened, about 3 to 4 minutes. Add the olives, orange juice and zest, white wine and fennel powder. Add chicken back to the skillet and simmer until the chicken is just cooked through and the sauce coats the chicken, about 3 to 4 minutes. Season with remaining salt, sprinkle with the parsley, and serve.

Food Network Ina Garten Panettone Bread Pudding

Lidia’s Pear Bread Pudding

  • 2 tablespoons softened unsalted butter
  • 6 large eggs
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Zest of 1 lemon, grated
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 cup heavy cream, plus more to whip for garnish
  • 4 cups day- old 1/2-inch country- bread cubes, crusts removed
  • 2 Bosc pears, peeled, cored, and cut into 1/2-inch chunks
  • 1/3 cup blanched sliced almonds

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Coat the baking dish with softened butter. Whisk the eggs in a large bowl. Add all but 2 tablespoons of the sugar, the vanilla, and lemon zest, and whisk to lighten the mixture. Whisk in the milk and heavy cream. Add the bread and pears, and pour the mixture into the prepared baking dish. Sprinkle with the remaining 2 tablespoons of sugar and the almond slices.

Bake until the pudding is set and puffy and the top is golden, about 40 to 45 minutes. Let cool on a rack for 15 minutes; serve warm or at room temperature, garnished with whipped cream.

Serving Size

Makes 6 to 8 servings

Apple Cake

Serves 4

  • 2.2 pounds golden delicious apples
  • 2 eggs
  • 3.5 ounces flour
  • 3.5 ounces sugar
  • 3.5 ounces Amaretti
  • 3.5 ounces butter
  • 1 tablespoon milk
  • 1/2 pack yeast for baking

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter and flour an -8– or -9–inch springform pan.

In an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and white sugar until pale and light, about 1 minute. Add the eggs, one at a time, and beat until light and fluffy, another minute or two. Beat in the vanilla.

Sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Pour the dry ingredients into the mixer with the lemon zest, and mix until just combined. In a medium bowl, toss together the apples, brown sugar, and walnuts. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan, smooth the top, and then sprinkle with the apple mixture.

Bake until a toothpick comes out clean from the center of the cake, about 35 to 40 minutes. Let cool on a rack, then unmold, and cut into wedges to serve.

Lidia’s newest cookbook, A Pot, A Pan, and A Bowl: Simple Recipes for Perfect Meals was just released, here’s a recipe from the book. Find more recipes on her Facebook page.

Follow Lidia at @lidiabastianich

Cheese, Wine, and Bread: Discovering the Magic of Fermentation in England, Italy, and France

Katie Quinn. Photo courtesy of William Morrow.

         Katie Quinn wasn’t content to just enjoy a chunk of the English classic Montgomery’s Cheddar, a hunk of crusty bread with a soft inner core from Apollonia Poilâne, or a glass of Nebbiolo, the grape variety from Northern Italy’s Piedmont region known for its  strong tannins, high acidity and distinctive scent.

Katie Quinn working on a goat farm in Somerset, England. Photo courtesy of Facebook.com/TheQKatie

         Instead, living in New York she had worked her way up from being an NBC page to her dream job as an on-camera host at Now This News, she found herself back home recuperating in Ohio after sustaining a traumatic brain injury in an accident. With time to ponder, her avid curiosity led her to ask a question—“how can I love these great foods–bread, wine, and cheese without knowing how they’re made?”

         Of course, many of us would be content just to pour another glass of wine and slice a gooey piece of Brie, but Quinn couldn’t leave it there.

For some of use, including me, the realization that  cheese and bread are as much a part of fermentation as wine is a revelation. It takes a little more connecting of dots to realize that cheeses are fermented dairy products and bread ferments through the use of yeast.

Working as a cheesemonger at Neal’s Yard Dairy. Photo courtesy of Facebook.com/TheQKatie

         “I realized that there was a story to be told,” she says. “I could have just nerded out as a history geek to write the book, but I wanted to really experience the process of fermentation and how it creates these foods we love. I wanted this to be an immersive experience.”

And so in her newest cookbook, Cheese, Wine, and Bread: Discovering the Magic of Fermentation in England, Italy, and France (William Morrow 2021; $22.63 Amazon price), we follow  Quinn on her all-encompassing road trip as she embarks upon an in-depth exploration of all three necessary food groups. She became a cheesemonger at Neal’s Yard Dairy, London’s premiere cheese shop. But that was just the start in her cheese career. Soon, she was working on a goat farm in rural Somerset where she describes the cute critters as just smart enough to be obnoxious. It was during her exploration that she discovered the role British women play in cheesemaking (you have to try her recipe for Cheddar Brownies which she’ll be demonstrating at her upcoming virtual book launch this Tuesday, April 27—see below for details on how to sign up).

Photo courtesy of Facebook.com/TheQKatie

         Next she’s hanging with Apollonia Poilâne of Paris’ famed Poilâne Bakery, apprenticing at boulangeries in Paris learning the ins and outs of sourdough, and traveling the countryside to uncover the history of grains and understand the present and future of French bread and global bread culture. Next stop Italy, where she  gives readers an inside look at winemaking with the Comellis at their family-owned vineyard in Northeast Italy and visits vintners ranging from those at small-scale vineyards to large-scale producers throughout the country.  Taking a side road, so to speak, she discovers her great grandfather’s birth certificate and become eligible for dual citizenship. So entranced with the country, she and her husband Connor decided to make their home in the Puglia region in southern Italy.

Photo courtesy of Facebook.com/TheQKatie

         Quinn, an author, food journalist, YouTuber, podcaster, and host, describes herself as having a real appetite to explore. A great storyteller, she also shares recipes such as Zucchini Carbonara, Tortellini in (Parmigiano Reggiano) Brodo, Ciambelline al Vino (Wine Cookies), and Walnut and Raisin Rye Loaf, which are interspersed through the book.  

Virtual Book Launch of Cheese, Wine, and Bread.

When: Tuesday, Apr 27, 2021, 5:00 PM to 6:00 PM CST.

Cost: Book and shipping:  This ticket includes a signed copy of the book and shipping – Shipping within USA only (THE BOOK WILL BE SHIPPED IN ABOUT A WEEK AFTER THE EVENT). $44 or Book and Ticket with pick-up at Anderson’s Naperville store. $34.

To join through Anderson’s or other bookstores throughout the U.S., visit katie-quinn.com/cheese-wine-and-bread-cookbook

The following recipe is from CHEESE, WINE, AND BREAD by Katie Quinn Copyright © 2021 by Katie Quinn. Reprinted by permission of William Morrow, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers.

Photo courtesy of William Morrow.

Spaghetti all’Ubriaco (Drunken Pasta)

Coarse sea salt

12 ounces dried spaghetti

1/4 cup extra-virgin

olive oil

4 small garlic cloves, thinly sliced

1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes

1 cup red wine

1/2 cup freshly grated

Pecorino Romano cheese, plus more for serving

1/4 cup  finely chopped nuts (I like pine nuts, walnuts, or almonds)

1/8 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

Fine sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Sprigs of parsley, for garnish

Fill a large pot three-quarters full of water and bring it to a boil over medium-high heat. Add a generous amount of coarse salt (the adage “It should taste like the sea” is a good gauge of how much). Cook the spaghetti for 2 minutes less than the instructions on the package for al dente. (You don’t want it to be completely cooked because it will continue cooking in the red wine later.)

While the pasta is cooking, heat the olive oil in a large, high-sided pan over medium-low heat. Add the garlic and red pepper flakes and cook, stirring, for 1 minute, or until the garlic becomes fragrant. Pour the wine into the pan with the garlic and stir. Remove from the heat while the pasta finishes cooking.

Drain the pasta, reserving 1 cup of the pasta water.

Add the pasta to the pan with the wine and garlic over medium heat and stir. Cook, occasionally stirring gently, for 2 minutes, or until the pasta is al dente and has absorbed most of the wine, taking on a plum hue.

Remove the pan from the heat and mix in the cheese and nuts. Stir in a tablespoon (or more) of the reserved pasta water; its starchiness mixes with the fat in the cheese to create a silky coating on the noodles. Finish with the nutmeg, season with salt and pepper, and stir to incorporate well. Taste and adjust the seasoning if you think the dish is asking for it.

Serve garnished with parsley and topped with more cheese and enjoy slurping down the drunken noodles.

German Sweets for the Holidays and Beyond

          Though right now I can’t even travel to Chicago to do some holiday shopping because of the pandemic, I did manage a trip to Southwest German to visit several of their beautiful Christkindlesmarkt (Christmas Markets) and take a holiday cookie making class.

          Well, kind of. The trip was a virtual cooking class and I’ve been doing a lot of those lately. It is, of course, nowhere close to being there but still when you get to the point where going to the grocery store becomes a big adventure, it’s really a great way to explore—and plan for the time when we might be able to journey again.

          And even though the holiday is long past, making the cookies and thinking of the beauty of the Christkindlesmarkts is a fine thing to do in gloomy February when all the excitement leading up to Christmas is long past and winter seems forever.

          Southwest Germany is comprised for the most part of the state of Baden-Wuerttemberg and is bordered on the west by France, Switzerland to the south, Bavaria to the east and Hesse to the north. It encompasses the Black Forest, large cities like Heidelberg, Baden-Baden and Stuttgart and a plethora of towns and villages that are so neatly kept and so very beautiful like Schwetzingen where there’s the Schwetzingen Palace & Gardens and Wiblingen, the home to an 11th century abbey. One thing you quickly realize about Germany is that almost every village no matter how small has a castle. And abbeys and monasteries dating back a millennium are common. New to them is anything built less than 400 years ago.

          Before COVID-19, late November and December is the time for the fantastic Christmas markets that have been part of the German holiday season since the 1300s. But of course, this is the age of COVID-19, so not only is my cooking class virtual but so are my visits to the Christmas markets. One plus, I save a lot of money by not being able to actually shop.

          Wendy Jo Peterson who, between military moves and following her husband’s career around the world, racked up a lot of miles working with children and adults across the spectrum from populations with special needs to elite athletes. Culinary nutrition and reaching optimal wellness through the foods we eat is one of her main drivers and she’s clocked in a lot of hours teaching, at hospital, working a computer and presenting the latest in nutritional science. When she lived in Stuttgart, Peterson immersed herself in cooking traditions and techniques and is bringing all that to our virtual classroom.

          We can either cook along with Peterson or just watch and I’ve decided I want to cook along with.

          To save time, Peterson has prepared her dough ahead of the class and so did those of us who are going to be cooking with her. Our first cookie is a yeast dough shaped into the form of the little tan man, known  In North Baden and the Electoral Palatinate, as Dambedei, in South Baden as Grätti or Baselmann and in other regions as Weck or Klausenmann. I hope I’m not going to be quizzed on the names of the cookies because I just won’t be able to do it.

But no matter the name, Dambedei’s instantly recognizable to children—and adults—because of his characteristic appearances. All little tan men have a pointed head, raisin eyes, almond mouth and a button jacket made of nuts.

Dambedei’s origins go back to when people were excluded for whatever reason from worshipping in the church on Bishop Nikolaus von Myra’s remembrance day. Instead the blessed bread is served to them in the shape of a man.

“The other cookies we’ll be making are Spitzbuben, also known as Hildabrötchen which are named after the Grand Duchess Hilda von Nassau, the last Grand Duchess of Baden,” says Peterson. “Supposedly, the popular Grand Duchess enjoyed eating Hilda rolls and often baked them herself. She was buried at the side of her husband, Grand Duke Friedrich II in the grand ducal grave chapel in Karlsruhe. Her ornate coffin can be viewed there.”

We’re also will make Hutzelbrot. If we were in Germany, we’d use dried Hutzel pears but alas I’ll be using  the dried pears sold in the grocery store. The term hutzelig in Swabia translates into wrinkled and that also describes the fruit. As for Swabia, it’s a historic region in southwest Germany. Someone a long time ago told me a Swabian joke. It isn’t very funny but it’s the only one I’ve ever heard. I tell it to the class, but they don’t think it’s funny at all.

Baden-Baden

We also have recipes for Springerle and Lebkuchen so if I do all the cooking, I’ll have a great assortment of German cookies.

Spitzbuben or Hildabrötchen

1 cup sugar

2/3 cup of cold butter, cut into small pieces

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 egg

1 1/3 cups of flour

½ cup of raspberry jam for the center

1 tablespoon powdered sugar

Cream together sugar and butter. Add vanilla extract and egg until combined. Add flour to form a dough. Shape the dough into a ball and wrap or cover well and put in the fridge for about an hour. Preheat the oven to 325° F.

Roll out the dough very thinly and cut into circles. Then cut out the shape you like in every other cookie. Place on a baking tray lined with parchment paper and bake for about 15 minutes or until golden. Cool. Heat the jam, spread over the cookies without  cutouts, then place the cutout half on top of the cookie with the jam. Dust with powdered sugar.

Springerle

4 eggs

2 ¼ cups powdered sugar

2 ¼ cup white wheat flour

1 tablespoon of whole anise seed or, if you want, substitute with gingerbread, cardamom, or ginger

Lightly toast the anise beforehand in a pan and then mix it into the batter. This treatment dissolves the essential oils and unfolds its full taste.

All ingredients are placed in a warm room for several hours before starting.

Beat the eggs until frothy, then add the sifted powdered sugar and the tablespoon of anise seed.

Stir this mixture in the food processor for at least 10 minutes.

Then stir in the sifted flour, one tablespoon at a time.

The dough is now a bit soft and needs to rest to have time to shape.

Put the dough in a bowl with a tightly fitting lid and covered with cling wrap, leave to rest in the refrigerator for at least 12-24 hours.

When you are ready to make the cookies, you cut off a small portion of the dough and immediately cover the rest of the dough again, otherwise it will dry out.

Roll out the dough on the floured baking board 8-10 mm thick. Press the Springerle mold into the lightly powdered dough and cut out the springerle with a dough scraper, pastry wheel or a cookie cutter.

Place the springerle on a baking sheet covered with aluminum foil and leave to dry for 24 hours in a warm place.

Preheat the oven to 285 degrees Fahrenheit and bake the Springerle for approx. 15-18 minutes.

After baking, let the springerle cool, remove from the aluminum foil and store in a cardboard box in a damp place.

Hutzelbrot

2/3 cup each of dried pears plums and figs

¼ cup dried apricots

½ cup raisins

1 1/3 cup chopped hazelnuts or chopped almonds

1 tablespoons anise seeds

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

¼ teaspoon ground cloves

2 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice

1 1/2 cups rye flour

1 cup + 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

5 teaspoons baking powder

6 eggs

1 cup granulated sugar

2 to 4 teaspoons of vanilla

Soak the dried plums, pears, and figs in water overnight or 8 to12 hours. Drain the fruit and roughly chop it. Finely dice the dried apricots. Put all the fruit with raisins, hazelnuts and almonds in a bowl, season with aniseed, cinnamon and cloves, drizzle with lemon juice and mix well.

Mix the flours with baking powder. Beat the eggs with the sugar until frothy. Add the vanilla extract and the fruit and nut mixture. Finally, gradually knead in the flour mixture and knead the mixture well.

Shape the dough into two loaves of bread. Place on a greased baking sheet. Bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 70-80 minutes. After baking, let cool on a wire rack.

Dambedei

1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour

Ground lemon peel

1 cup milk

2 tablespoons honey

1 packet (2 ¼ teaspoons) active dry yeast

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 tbsp canola oil

1 egg yolk

Raisins

Mix wheat flour with lemon zest in a bowl. Warm the milk slightly, add honey and fresh yeast and stir. Add vanilla to the milk and add, along with the canola oil to the flour and mix to form a soft dough, about 5 minutes. Let the dough rise to double its volume in a warm place, knead again by hand and roll out to1/3 of an inch thick.

Cut out 4 Dambedeis each eight inches long, place on two baking sheets lined with baking paper and brush with the egg yolk. Press the golden raisins into the dough as eyes and jacket buttons. Bake in the preheated oven for approximately 12 minutes at 395° Fahrenheit.

Lebkuchen

If I get the chance I want to follow the Lebkuchen trail that runs through the Black Forest. Until then, I’ll have to settle for making them at home.  

¾ cup honey

2 cups cane sugar

1 cup orange candied peel

¾ cup lemon candied peel

2/3 cup raisins

1 cup + 2 tablespoons chopped hazelnuts

5 cups whole meal rye flour

2 ½ cups whole meal spelt flour (can substitute whole wheat flour

2 teaspoons of baking soda

4 to 5 teaspoons gingerbread spice

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1 teaspoon cloves (ground)

2 tablespoons cocoa powder

4 large eggs

6 tablespoons + 1 teaspoon butter

Juice and zest of an organic lemon

For painting: 2 egg yolks,  3 tbsp milk

For decorating and cutting: whole peeled almonds and cookie cutters

The day before, heat the honey and cane sugar in a saucepan while stirring. Finely chop the orange peel, lemon peel, raisins, and hazelnuts.

Mix rye and whole meal spelt flour, baking soda, gingerbread spice, cinnamon, ground cloves, cocoa powder and the finely chopped orange peel, lemon peel, raisins, and finely chopped hazelnuts in a bowl. Knead the heated honey with cane sugar, softened butter, lemon zest, juice, and eggs with the flour mixture until it is a very firm, brown dough.

Shape the dough into an elongated roll and let rest in a cold room overnight, in an airtight container.

Preheat the oven to 320° F and line a baking sheet with baking paper.

Knead the dough well, roll it out on a floured work surface to approximately ¼-inch thick, cut out the gingerbread and place on the prepared baking sheet.

Mix the egg yolk and milk, brush the gingerbread cookies with the egg yolk and milk mixture, decorate with an almond and bake in the oven for about 15 minutes.

 Place the baked gingerbread cookies on a wire rack to cool, then store in a tin or container. The longer they are stored, for approximately one to two weeks, the better they are.

Learn Bread Baking with Parisian Baker Apollonia Poilâne

Courtesy of MasterClass

The Poilâne Bakery, founded in 1932 and famed for their wonderful breads, continues to be located  at their flagship store at 8 rue du Cherche Midi in the 6th arrondissement of Paris.  But now you don’t have to travel to France (though who wouldn’t want to?) to buy a loaf or even find one of the bakeries in the U.S. that sell Poulaine breads.  Instead you can learn to make your own through MasterClass, the streaming platform where offering learning experiences from the world’s best across a wide range of subjects, is featuring Apollonia Poilâne who will be teaching a class in bread baking as well as sharing family anecdotes and expert techniques.

In staying true to its founding principles—making high quality bread for all—and in creatively joining the arts of living well and eating well, Poilâne has flourished, offering its savoir-faire across France and all over the world.

Courtesy of MasterClass

“In this flash-in-the-pan world, Apollonia represents the things that endure—a company passed down through three generations and a commitment to honoring the timeless tradition of bread baking,” said David Rogier, founder, and CEO of MasterClass. “In her MasterClass, she will intimately share her passion and help members understand how to best utilize their senses while baking.”

Courtesy of MasterClass

              In her MasterClass, Poilâne will teach an approach to bread baking that is sensory, fluid, and adaptable, sharing her passion for honoring the philosophies and techniques that her family has perfected over the last eight decades. Through rich stories of Poilâne’s personal history alongside expert tips, MasterClass members will learn her family’s method for making five kinds of bread, including brioche, rye, and her novel sourdough starter.

Courtesy of MasterClass

Incorporating her warm energy and profound determination into her lessons, Poilâne shows how a loaf of bread, and the practical ways to use it, change over time. She’ll share her rare insight on the evolution of bread, paired with a number of creative and practical recipes involving bread at all stages, which she calls breadcooking. From a true-to-form take on pesto to an innovative riff on granola, her view on using bread as an ingredient should inspire members to never leave a crumb behind. Regardless of prior baking experience, members will leave Poilâne’s class feeling inspired to try their hand at her recipes and feel a deeper appreciation for the timeless traditions of baking bread.

Photo courtesy of Amazon.

              “Baking at home, putting your hands in flour, getting a feel for the dough and seeing your bread rise is a one-of-a-kind experience, one that you must do in your lifetime,” said Poilâne, whose book Poilâne: The Secrets of the World-Famous Bread Bakery (Rux Martin/Houghton Mifflin Harcourt) was released last year. “In my MasterClass, the most important lesson I will teach you is how to attune your five senses to what it is that makes the perfect loaf.”

Courtesy of wikimedia commons.

            Beginning life cradled in a crib made from a breadbasket, Poilâne was poised to take over Poilâne, her famed family bakery in Paris, founded by her grandfather in 1932. Following the accidental death of her parents in 2002, she assumed the title of CEO at the tender age of 18 and ran the international bakery and business for four years from her Harvard University dorm room. 

Courtesy of MasterClass

Poilâne’s class is now available exclusively on MasterClass.

ABOUT MASTERCLASS:

Launched in 2015, MasterClass is the streaming platform where anyone can learn from the world’s best. With an annual membership, subscribers get unlimited access to 100+ instructors and classes across a wide range of subjects, including Arts & Entertainment, Business, Design & Style, Sports & Gaming, Writing and more. Step into Anna Wintour’s office, Ron Finley’s garden and Neil Gaiman’s writing retreat. Get inspired by RuPaul, perfect your pitch with Shonda Rhimes, and discover your inner negotiator with Chris Voss. Each class features about 20 video lessons, at an average of 10 minutes per lesson. You can learn on your own terms—in bite-size pieces or in a single binge. Cinematic visuals and close-up, hands-on demonstrations make you feel like you’re one-on-one with the instructors, while the downloadable instructor guides help reinforce your learning. Stream thousands of lessons anywhere, anytime, on mobile, tablet, desktop, Apple TV®, Android™ TV, Amazon Fire TV® and Roku® players and devices.

Follow MasterClass:

Twitter @masterclass

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Facebook @masterclassofficial

Follow Poilâne Bakery:

Twitter Poilâne (officiel)

Instagram @poilane 

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