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A Little of This and Some of That: My Favorite Books!

April 23, 2015 Menu No Comments

For ages, cookbooks have been an integral part of the kitchen, being just as important of a cooking tool as your most used pots and pans. Nowadays, virtually any recipe that you want is right at your fingertips, thanks to the internet. However, there are still plenty of well-crafted cook books that are being written that should not be overlooked. In this episode, I’m sharing with you some of my favorite food-related books, ones that I treasure not only for their recipes, but also for their well-told stories and incredible photos. Pull up a chair, pour yourself a cup of coffee and join us!

Be sure to contact us at or in the Comments section below to let us know your favorite cook books and what you thought about this episode of A Little of This and Some of That.


You can click on the images below for more information and for purchasing. 






flavor bible




Ricotta and Rice with Ham and Asparagus

April 15, 2015 Entrees, Menu No Comments
ricotta rice

As I was enjoying my last few bites of the Easter ham and rice pies last week, I came to the sad yet expected realization that it will be another year before I get to savor the seasonal treats. And as usual, I always say to myself that it’s a shame that we can’t celebrate and enjoy these dishes more than once a year. Of course if we did, they wouldn’t quite taste so special. But this did get me thinking on how I could spin a variation of these annual treats into a new dish that could be enjoyed all year round. But how exactly would I do this? Thanks to celebrity chef Nadia G of Bitchin’ Kitchen, I found my answer.

In a recent episode of her eclectic cooking show, Nadia G put together a dish that she called Riso con la Ricotta, which was a decadent combination of white rice, ricotta cheese, pancetta, Vidalia onion, sweet peas and pecorino cheese. Everything abut the dish screamed ‘hearty’ and ‘stick to your ribs’. I gave the recipe a try, and it was everything that I imagined it to be. It was good. REALLY good! It also included two of the key ingredients in my Easter rice pie…ricotta and, of course, white rice.

I decided to use Nadia G’s recipe as a starting point, and build up the key ingredients to make a dish that was similar to the Easter pies. I substituted the pancetta with cubed ham (which is of course the star ingredient in the ham pie), replaced the peas with asparagus (the peas would have worked well, but asparagus is always on our family’s table for Easter dinner), added some lemon juice and zest (which give the citrus flavor to the rice pie) and a bit of fresh parsley. After seasoning the dish with a little salt and pepper to taste, the mission was complete. I had created a hearty and filling dish that had the taste and character of the traditional Easter pies, but could be enjoyed pretty much any time of the year!

You can find Nadia G’s version by clicking here. I suggest that you try both versions. Again, her’s was outstanding. But for a lighter, more spring-like taste, I’m sure you’ll enjoy my modified version. And if Nadia G happens to come across this post…reach out me at I’d love to spend a day comparing notes in the Bitchin’ Kitchen!!!

Ricotta and Rice with Ham and Asparagus
Inspired by Nadia G’s Riso con la Ricotta

1 cup (1-inch) sliced asparagus (about 1/2 pound)
1 cup white rice
1/2 cup ricotta cheese
1 8-oz boneless cooked ham steak, cut into 1-inch cubes
Sea salt
Freshly ground pepper
1/4 cup pecorino cheese, finely grated
2 tbspn fresh chopped parsley
zest plus juice of 1 lemon

Cook the asparagus in boiling water 3 minutes or until crisp-tender. Drain and set aside.

Put the rice in a pot with 2 cups water. Bring to a boil and cook until done, 15 to 20 minutes.

Transfer the rice to a large mixing bowl and stir in the asparagus and ham. Stir in the ricotta cheese and pecorino cheese, then add the lemon juice and zest, parsley and salt and pepper to taste.

Serve and enjoy!

ricotta rice



Crab and Corn Chowder Pot Pie

March 26, 2015 Entrees, Menu, Soup No Comments

The idea for this recipe has been simmering on my “to cook” list for a while now. I finally had the opportunity to put this dish together recently, and I’m very happy to say that it was everything that I was hoping for. Crab and corn are a classic combination to begin with, so I knew that adding crab meat to a creamy corn chowder would work well. Because cornbread is often served up with corn chowder, I decided to use cornmeal when making the dough for the pot pie, so that the grainy and sweet cornbread flavor would be incorporated in every flaky bite of the pot pie crust. The addition of the cornmeal to the dough worked as well as the crab meat did in the chowder. When all of the ingredients were finally combined, the end result was incredibly tasty and very enjoyable. Normally, I would save a creamy chowder or a pot pie dish for the cold winter season. This dish however is a bit lighter and sweeter than a traditional winter chowder, so it can be enjoyed just about any time of the year. And if you’re not in the mood for a hearty pot pie, you can serve up the easy to make chowder on its own!



Crab and Corn Chowder Pot Pie

Step 1: The Chowder
1 shallot, finely chopped
6 cups frozen corn, divided (sweet or white corn)
3 cups reduced sodium chicken broth, divided
1 large sweet red pepper, chopped
1/2 tsp Old Bay seasoning
1/2 tspn dried thyme
salt and pepper to taste
6 oz can crab meat

Lightly coat a large sauce pan with cooking spray. Add shallot; cook and stir over medium heat for 4 minutes or until tender. Add 4 cups corn; cook and stir until corn is softened, about 5 minutes. Add 2 cups broth; bring to a boil. Reduce heat; cover and simmer for 10 minutes or until corn is tender. Cool slightly.


Carefully process soup in batches in a blender, until smooth; return mixture to the pan. Add the red pepper, Old Bay seasoning, thyme, salt and pepper, crab meat and remaining corn and broth; cook and stir for 10 minutes or until the corn is tender. Set aside.


Step 2: The Pie Crust
1/2 cup cornmeal
1/2 cup flour, plus more for shaping
1 tspn salt
2 tbspn shortening
1 egg
1/4 cup water

Combine cornmeal, flour and 1 tsp salt in a bowl. Cut in shortening. In a separate bowl, beat together egg and 1/4 cup water. Add to cornmeal mixture.

Shape the dough into a ball, using extra flour to prevent sticking. Wrap the ball in plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes.

Step 3: The Pot Pie
Preheat oven to 375˚. When ready to assemble the pot pies, remove dough from fridge and roll it out on a floured surface. You’ll want to cut the dough into circles large enough to slightly overlap your serving bowl, so the thinner you roll the dough the more dough you will have to use.

Divide the chowder equally among 6 oven-proof individual serving bowls or ramekin dishes.




Brush the outside edges of each bowl with an egg wash, then place the dough on top. Trim the circle to 1/2-inch larger than the top of the bowl. Crimp the dough to fold over the side, pressing it to make it stick. Brush the dough with egg wash and make a criss-cross slit in the center of the dough. Place the bowls on a baking sheet and bake for 1 hour, or until the top is golden brown and the filling is bubbling hot.




Roasted Tomatoes with Arugula and Grana Padano

March 8, 2015 Menu, Salads No Comments

After being clobbered with an unexpected end-of-season snowstorm, I am more than ready to start enjoying some of my favorite springtime meals. While it is still too early in the season to really think about planting and picking your own fresh tomatoes, it doesn’t mean that you can’t enjoy what’s available at the grocery store. The recipe that I’m sharing with you today was inspired by television’s Chef Michael Smith, and uses some nice store-bought vine ripen tomatoes.

I recently watched Chef Smith prepare roasted tomatoes, and I knew that this was the perfect dish to help kick-start spring fever. Roasted red peppers are one of my favorite salad and sandwich condiments, and I love grilling up tomatoes in the summer, so I was very anxious to give roasted tomatoes a try. The recipe is as simple as slicing up up a few tomatoes into four to eight pieces each (depending on how small you prefer the slices), tossing them with olive oil, some salt and pepper and some fresh basil, then oven roasting them for an hour. The aroma of the roasted tomatoes is absolute heavenly. Once slightly cooled, these babies are simply amazing. The tomatoes develop a rich, robust, sauce-like flavor enhanced by the natural sweetness. The olive oil, salt, pepper and basil add a delicious punch to the tomatoes…they literally explode in your mouth.

I served the tomatoes on top of arugula, then topped the salad with a little more olive oil and fresh shaved Grana Padano cheese, which is a popular Italian cheese that is similar in taste and texture to Pecorino Romano or Parmesan. The rich, sweet tomatoes were a perfect complement to the peppery arugula and sharp cheese. This salad is definitely a spring-time must…but it doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy it now. And don’t forget the crusty bread and red wine!

Roasted Tomatoes with Arugula and Grana Padano

(you can adjust all measurements to your liking)
2-4 vine ripen tomatoes
olive oil
a handful of fresh basil leaves, finely chopped
Grana Padano, Pecorino Romano or Parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 350˚. Cut the tomatoes into 4-8 pieces each, depending on how small you would like them. Toss the sliced tomatoes in a bowl with some olive oil, a dash of salt and pepper and the basil, making sure that all of the tomatoes are evenly coated. Place them on a baking tray, making sure that the pieces don’t overlap. Bake the tomatoes for one hour.

Remove from oven, let cool slightly.

To serve with arugula – place the cooled tomatoes on the arugula, drizzle with a little more olive oil, top with some shaved cheese.


Step one: cut the tomatoes and toss with olive oil, salt, pepper and fresh basil.


Step two: spread the tomatoes evenly on a baking sheet.


Step three: after an hour in the oven, let cool slightly.


Step 4: enjoy the tomatoes on a salad, sandwich, or on their own!






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