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Apple, Onion, And Cranberry Tart with Goat Cheese



I looked around my kitchen and in the fridge and saw the above ingredients hanging out in my cupcake tree.  I had a pre-made pastry crust that was screaming to be used and it was a dreary baking kind of day.

Years and years ago I made a red onion and apple tart as an appetizer and loved the combination (that tart had a bit or rosemary in it as well).  Everyone loves the apple-cranberry combo in the stuffing I make for Thanksgiving and Christmas so I didn’t think I could go too wrong here.  Now as I’m typing, I could have thrown in a few chopped chestnuts for a nice crunch – next time.  Oh, and grated Gruyere cheese would work really nicely – next time. 

But as I said, given the dreary day, the ingredients that were just hanging out in the cupcake tree (who knew what a versatile piece of kitchen equipment it truly is).  This is a happy combo of flavors, takes no time to whip up and would also make nice little tartlets for the upcoming hols!

Makes 1 9-inch tart


½ large sweet onion, diced

2 apples, peeled and diced on the small side

¼ cup chopped dried cranberries

1 teaspoon fresh thyme, chopped

1 tablespoon calvados (optional)

4oz goat cheese, crumbled

1 10 inch pre-made pie crust

Salt and pepper

Canola oil for cooking

Pre-heat oven to 350°F.

Spray a 9-inch tart pan with cooking oil spray (if tart pan is not non-stick).  Line with parchment paper and feel with baking beads.  Bake for 15minutes, remove beads, and bake another 5 minutes to dry out bottom of tart.  Let cool. 

Cook onions until soft in a little canola oil over medium heat.  Add apples, thyme, cranberries, and calvados Season with salt and pepper.  Continue cooking until apples are tender and mixture is syrupy/on the dry side. 

Spoon mixture into tart shell, pressing down with the back of the spoon.  Sprinkle with goat cheese and bake for another 15-20 minutes until heated through.  Serve warm or room temperature.


Devil's Food Cupcakes with White Chocolate Filling and Peppermint Marshmallow Frosting


These cupcakes are a “must do” for the holidays.  Chocolate, peppermint, and marshmallow...I mean come on!  I took inspiration for these little babies from the December 2008 Bon Appetit magazine cover.  But, this time, rather than wrestling with a cake that, when done, looked like something from Dr. Seuss’s “How The Grinch Stole Christmas!” – which was not a bad thing, I just worried that it might end up in Whoville overnight – so, this time I decided to make cupcakes.  And it worked great since I didn’t have to worry about the cake toppling over in the fridge (even with cake-dowels stuck in it) and the individual cakes are so much easier to handle.  When I made this, I used James Peterson’s Devil’s Food Cake recipe from his book “Cooking” – it’s just so easy and delicious –  I kept with the peppermint marshmallow frosting and white chocolate cream recipe from BA.  These little cupcakes are now a new holiday tradition.  If you don’t like peppermint you can substitute orange – that would be yummy as well!


Devil’s Food Cake – from “Cooking” –

Makes 12-14 cupcakes

Ingredients - Cupcakes

1 cup flour

1 ½ teaspoons baking soda

½ teaspoon baking powder

¼ teaspoon salt

½ cup butter, cut into eight pieces

8oz bittersweet chocolate pieces

1 cup sour cream (only Daisy here)

¾ cup sugar

3 eggs beaten

Ingredients – White Chocolate Cream Center

6 oz white chocolate pieces like Lindt or Ghirardelli

1 ½ cups chilled heavy whipping cream

¾ teaspoon peppermint extract

Ingredients – Peppermint Marshmallow Frosting

1 1/8 cups sugar

¼ cup water

2 large egg whites

½ tablespoon light corn syrup

¼ teaspoon peppermint extract



Preheat oven to 350°F.  Line a standard sized muffing tin with paper liners.

Whisk the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt in a medium sized bowl and set aside.  Heat butter, sour cream and chocolate in a heatproof bowl and melt over a sauce pan of simmering water.  Stir with a rubber spatula until melted and smooth.  Remove from heat. 

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle, attachment beat sugar and eggs until well blended. On low speed, add the chocolate mixture then the four.  Scrap down the sides and bottom of bowl making sure everything is mixed evenly together – do not over mix.  Fill each liner with a scant ½ cup of batter.  Bake for 15-18 minutes until the tester inserted comes out clean and the tops spring back when pressed.  Cool completely. Using an apple corer or small paring knife, cut a small plug from the top of each cupcake. Can be made one day ahead.  Store at room temperature in a cake domes or covered in foil.

White Chocolate Cream

Heat 1 ½ cups cream in a small sauce pan until simmering.  Place chocolate in a heatproof bowl and pour hot cream over pieces.  Let stand 1 minute then whisk until smooth.  Whisk in extract.  Cover and chill until mixture thickens – about 4 hours.  Can be made one day ahead.  When ready to assemble cupcakes. Beat ½ cup of heavy cream in to chocolate mixture until smooth and peaks form.  Pipe filling into cupcake centers, chill while making the frosting.

Peppermint Marshmallow Frosting

Combine sugar, water, egg whites, and corn syrup in the bowl of a stand mixer.  Whisk to combine well.  Place over a pan of simmering water and whisk, pretty much constantly, by hand until mixture resembles marshmallow and ribbons form when whisk is lifted – this could take as long as 20 minutes!  Whisk in peppermint extract.  Remove bowl from sauce pan and attach to stand-mixer fitted with the whisk attachment.  Whisk on high speed until barely warm to touch and very thick – about 10 minutes.  Pipe frosting on the filled cupcakes and chill.  Let cupcakes come to room temperature before serving.

  Note:  you must use the frosting immediately, so do not make until you are ready to ice the cupcakes




Pumpkin Spice Cupcakes with a Caramel Center and Cream Cheese Frosting

This recipe started in my head a few days ago.  I had been looking at old, old, Gourmet and Bon Appetite magazines and started combining different recipe ideas.  I had always wanted for some strange reason to boil a can of sweetened condensed milk and turn it into caramel but never had the guts to do it.  Visions of an exploding can and caramel all over the stove, floor and walls put me off.  But in one recipe I found in the Gourmet 2002 Christmas issue, there was an oven method that I jumped all over and I’m glad I did (it’s actually posted on the Eagle Brand website).  It took a while (a good 2 ½ hours to be exact) to get the right color and consistency but well worth it.  The taste is just soooo ridiculous delish especially after being stuffed inside a moist spicy flavorful cupcake (had to take a breather after that sentence) then topped with vanilla cream cheese frosting. The only other thing I could say as a possible improvement would be...sit down and let you’re your sweet tooth envision this...Double chocolate cupcakes with a caramel center and chocolate ganache frosting...check back for that recipe!  



Makes 15-18 cupcakes

3 cups all purpose flour

2 teaspoons baking soda

2 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1 teaspoon ground ginger

1 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

¼ teaspoon salt

1 15-ounce can pumpkin

½ cup brown sugar

1 cup granulated sugar

1 ¼ cups vegetable oil

1 teaspoon vanilla

4 large eggs

2 teaspoons finely grated orange peel


For the caramel center:

1 14-ounce can of sweetened condensed milk



16-ounces powdered sugar

1 8-ounce package cream cheese, room temperature

½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature

2 teaspoons vanilla extract


For the cupcakes: Preheat oven to 350°F.  Line a standard muffin tin with paper liners.

Whisk the flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, ginger, and nutmeg together in a medium bowl.  Set aside.  Beat the oil, sugar, vanilla, and pumpkin on medium speed in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment – about 2 minutes.  Add the eggs, one at a time, beating until well incorporated.  Reduce speed to “stir” and add the flour, mix until the batter is smooth (the batter will be thick).  Fill each liner with approximately a scant ½ a cup of batter. 


Bake for 25-30 minutes or until a tester inserted comes out clean and the cupcakes spring back when pressed lightly in the middle.  Cool on rack.  Can be made a day ahead, stored in an air tight container.


To make the caramel: 

Preheat oven to 425°F

Pour Sweetened Condensed Milk into a 9-inch pie plate. Cover with aluminum foil and place in a bain- marie (large shallow pan filled with hot water). Bake for 2-2 ½ hours or until thick and caramel-colored, whisking occasionally.  Cool completely before piping into cupcakes.

To make the frosting:

Beat the butter and cream cheese, and vanilla on medium until smooth using an electric mixer.  Slowly add the sugar (and I mean slowly or you will have a confectioners’ sugar cloud in the kitchen) and beat until incorporated and smooth.  Can be made one day ahead and stored in the fridge.  Let stand at room temperature until soft enough to spread.


To assemble cupcakes:

Using an apple corer or small paring knife, cut a small plug from the top of each cupcake, reserve the plug, and scoop out a hole in the center of each cupcake to hold the filling.

Transfer cooled caramel mixture to a heavy-duty re-sealable plastic bag, and seal; cut off one corner of the bag to make a 1/8-inch opening.  Place the tip in the cupcake and pipe in the filling to fill the hole.

Replace the plug and frost with cream cheese icing.  Dot top with additional caramel.




Brown Sugar, Pineapple, and Horseradish Glaze for Baked Ham...and Just About Anything Else


Some glazes, especially store bought, are too too sweet with no substance and a lot of “stuff” in them to keep their shelf life going forever.  The horseradish, cloves, and molasses give this a little added oomph.  What was nice about this as well is that the glaze didn’t slide off the ham; it stayed right where it should on the ham not in the pan.  Cooking the glaze down, letting it cool and using crushed (not tidbits and not chunks) pineapple gives this just the right consistency.  This would be delish on a pork roast, pork tenderloin or chicken legs, and wings.



Makes 2 cups

1 cup light brown sugar

8oz crushed pineapple

¼ Dijon mustard

2 ½ tablespoons horseradish

1 tablespoon molasses

2 tablespoons cider vinegar

½ teaspoon ground cloves


Whisk all ingredients together in a medium saucepan.  Simmer for 20 minutes until glaze is thickened, syrupy, and dark golden brown in color.  Let cool.  Can be made two days ahead.  Makes enough glaze to coat a 6-8lb ham. This can easily be doubled for a larger ham.

It’s All Delicious Notes:  I baked the ham tented in foil for 13 minutes per pound at 350°F.  During the last 40 minutes, I turned the oven temperature up to 425°F, uncovered the ham, and basted it twice in 15 minute intervals.  


Goat Cheese Spread with Thyme and Lemon


I wish I could take credit for this, but can’t.  So simple, so delicious and so like Chef Bob Waggoner to whip it up one day.  Yummy! 



Serves 4-6 as an appetizer

4oz goat cheese, room temperature

1 small shallot, finely minced

1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme leaves

1 teaspoon grated lemon peel

1 teaspoon lemon juice

Black pepper to taste


Soften and “cream’ the goat cheese in a medium bowl using a fork.  Add the shallot, thyme, lemon peel, lemon juice and season with black pepper.  Continue mixing until all the ingredients are combined.  Serve with crackers or toasted baguette pieces.  


The Reuben Sandwich - An American Classic




There are two stories to this sandwiches origin.  One has that it was made for a group of  old poker playing cronies back in 1920 at the Blackstone Hotel in Omaha Nebraska.  The other story is that Arnold Reuben a famous NY deli owner invented the Reuben put it on the menu in 1914 as a “special.”  Either way, it’s one of my favorite sandwiches.  I love the tart and hearty rye bread, the salty corned beef, the sour sauerkraut mixed with the sweet Thousand Island dressing and well what’s a sandwich without melted cheese?  It’s perfect no matter where it came from.  After making these the other day for “Game Day” I have all sorts of combos in my head; turkey pastrami and coleslaw instead of sauerkraut was the first to come to mind.

 The key to getting the bread toasted not burned and the cheese to get lava-y is to cover it then “grill” it low and slow.  The bread toasts, the cheese lavas, and the beef and sauerkraut heat up.  During the last few minutes, I put a grill press on top just to compact the sandwich slightly.


Makes 2 sandwiches


4 slices rye bread

10 slices corned beef

6 slices Jarlsberg cheese

¼ cup sauerkraut, drained

3 Tablespoons Thousand Island dressing, see below

2 Tablespoons spicy brown or Dijon mustard

Butter for grilling or frying


Heat a large skillet over medium low heat.  For each sandwich – spread one side of  the bread with mustard.  Top with 5 slices of corned beef.  Spread ½ the sauerkraut mixture on top of beef.  Add 3 slices of the cheese and top with remaining slice of bread, press down slightly.


Butter one side of the sandwich and place buttered side down in skillet.  Butter remaining side of bread.  Cover sandwiches with a lid or aluminum foil and “grill” for 7 minutes on each side or until dark golden color.  Use a “press” for the last few minutes on one side just to compact the sandwich slightly.  Let rest 3 minutes before cutting. 


Thousand Island Dressing



Makes about 2 cups

½ cup mayonnaise

½ cup sour cream (only Daisy brand here)

¼ cup ketchup

1 ½ teaspoons fresh grated horseradish

½ cup sweet pickle relish, drained

1 ½ teaspoons capers, drained and minced

10 small pimiento stuffed Manzanilla olives, minced

1 teaspoon Tabasco sauce


Whisk the above ingredients together in a medium bowl.  Cover and refrigerate until ready to use.


It’s All Delicious Notes:  This recipe can easily be doubled. 




Thousand Island Dressing


This is not unlike Louis dressing just a bit lighter, sweeter, and saltier.  Well, that’s my take on it anyway.  We’re grilling up Reuben sandwiches later (game day baby!) and there was absolutely no way I was ever going to buy store bought dressing...blich.  So I concocted this and have to say, am damn pleased with myself!  Go Gamecocks!



Makes about 2 cups

½ cup mayonnaise

½ cup sour cream (only Daisy brand here)

¼ cup ketchup

1 ½ teaspoons fresh grated horseradish

½ cup sweet pickle relish, drained

1 ½ teaspoons capers, drained and minced

10 small pimiento stuffed Manzanilla olives, minced

1 teaspoon Tabasco sauce


Whisk the above ingredients together in a medium bowl.  Cover and refrigerate until ready to use.


It’s All Delicious Notes:  This recipe can easily be doubled. 




Paella with Chicken, Shrimp and Clams


This was one of the best and most flavorful Paella’s I have ever made and dare I say – had!  Instead of kind of just throwing it all in, I followed a lead from two of my favorite guys in the cooking realm – Gordon Ramsey and Tyler Florence – I know I know, how could two total opposites have a common thread that I could find attractive in both and then mold and manipulate into the perfect man...I mean Paella.  I took Gordon’s robustness flavor, teamed it with Tyler’s ease and confidence wielding style in the kitchen and voila!  A pretty much perfect man...I mean Paella.  Please look at the notes below, this is not hard by any means, but depending on your tastes and pan size this could be a little on the fiddly most men.  

Serves 6-8


8 boneless chicken thighs, seasoned with dry rub below

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

2 Spanish chorizo sausages, thickly sliced on the diagonal (about 8oz each)

1 Spanish onion, medium chop

8 garlic cloves, peeled, smashed and minced

½ bunch of flat-leaf parsley leaves (or a good handful) chopped

½ bunch of cilantro (or a good handful) chopped

A good splash of sherry or dry white wine, about ¼ cup (not really optional)

1 (15-ounce) can whole tomatoes, crushed and smashed

1 1/2 cups Arborio rice

4 cups chicken stock plus a little more if needed

Saffron threads, a large sized pinch dissolved in a little chicken stock

1 dozen littleneck clams, scrubbed

1 pound fresh shrimp, peeled and de-veined – tails left on

1/2 cup frozen petite peas, thawed

Lemon wedges, for serving

Dry rub for chicken:  Oregano, paprika & garlic powder


Sprinkle oregano, paprika & garlic powder generously over chicken, coating both sides and rubbing into skin and meat.  Cover and refrigerate at least 1 hour.


Heat oil in the paella pan over medium heat. Sauté the chorizo until browned, remove and set aside. Add chicken pieces and brown until golden on both sides and almost cooked through, remove, and set a side with chorizo.

Add onions, garlic, parsley, and cilantro to pan, cook for 2 or 3 minutes over medium heat. Then, add rice and splash of sherry.  Stir to coat the rice and cook until it begins to crackle.  Add tomatoes and stir to combine all the ingredients, cook for a few minutes more until the liquid thickens slightly. 

Pour in stock; stir so the rice absorbs the liquid evenly.  Add saffron and stir to break up threads.  Add chicken, chorizo along with all accumulated juices back to the pan and cook for 10 minutes.  Add the clams tucking them into the rice and more stock if necessary.  At this point, you may have to remove the chicken pieces, cover, and keep warm depending on the size of your pan.  When the clams begin to open, add the shrimp.  Continue to simmer, adding more stock if needed.  The shrimp should take about 8 minutes to cook.  Carefully stir paella to distribute liquid.  When the shrimp are pink and cooked and the clams opened, remove from heat and let rest for 5 minutes. Garnish with peas and lemon wedges.

It’s All Delicious Notes:  A few suggestions – a 15” Paella pan was not large enough for all this – men and their measurements!  So, I removed the chicken thighs and kept them warm while the shellfish were cooking.  I added ever so little additions of stock to keep the Paella nice and moist.  I also used a mixture of hot and mild chorizo sausage, cutting them in two different ways, so those who like their chorizo hot, knew exactly which sausage would suit their tastes.  Obviously, there’s nothing saying that you couldn’t make two different Paella’s – one all seafood the other all meat – after all it’s nice to have choices in and out of the kitchen!


Pasta E Fagioli With Spicy Sausage and Swiss Chard

The traditional version of this is just as it translates – Pasta and Beans.  I did my usual procedure of covering the kitchen table with all my Italian cookbooks, opened to the Pasta e Fagioli recipes or anything remotely close.  I took the bits and flavors of each recipe I liked best. So, thank you’s go to:  Lidia and your Italian-American Kittchen , Andrew Carmellini and your Urban Italian cookbook, and A-16 and Nate Appleman for all of your inspiration.  This is a true rustic Italian meal in a bowl.  The aroma alone is enough to make you think you can speak Italian.  The garlic, pancetta, and onions, all getting happy together in the saucepan...heaven!

 The one thing I did do was to cook the pasta separately, and only added it on a per portion basis.  This way, the pasta didn’t soak up all the liquid and turn into a mushy mess.  When I re-heated a huge bowl for myself, again, I added the pasta last, just to warm it through then sprinkled (okay, more like piled) some Parmesan cheese on top, sliced two huge pieces of ciabatta bread and tucked in.  With the weather getting colder (sort of) and football season in full-swing...this is a perfect dish for hungry fans.  It also gets better a few days on.


Serves 4-6


4-5 sprigs fresh thyme

2-3 bay leaves

4-5 sprigs fresh oregano

2 tablespoons olive oil

4oz diced pancetta

2 hot Italian sausages, casings removed and crumbled

1 medium onion, finely chopped

5 garlic cloves, peeled and minced

2 ribs of celery, finely chopped

1 large carrot, finely chopped

½ - 1 teaspoons red pepper flakes (optional)

1 cup white wine

4 cups chicken broth

1 19oz can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed

2-3 leaves – depending on size Swiss chard, finely chopped

8oz cooked orecchiette, ditalini or elbow macaroni

Grated Parmesan cheese to serve



Make a bouquet garni by wrapping the thyme, bay and oregano in cheesecloth then tie with kitchen twine.  Set aside. 

Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat, add pancetta and sausage, cook until both begin to brown.  Break up any large pieces of sausage with the back of a spoon.  Add garlic, carrots, onions, and celery.  Saute until the onions begin to soften.  Pour in white wine and add bouquet garni.  Simmer until the wine is reduced by half.  Add beans and chicken broth, bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 45 minutes, add Swiss chard in the last 10 minutes of cooking.  Serve in large bowl, sprinkled/piled with cheese and crusty ciabatta on the side. 


It’s All Delicious Notes:  There were so many variations on this dish.  Some with sausage, some without, some called for pureeing half the liquid and beans, others added tomato paste to the soup.  I have to thank my cousin Marcie for the Pasta Fagoli idea.  I hope this lives up to your expectations Marcie and you and Les enjoy this as much as I did.



Hummingbird Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting

It’s a new twist for those ripened  bananas that are turning more spotted as I type.  I never had a Hummingbird cake until my friend Cindy and I took a short road trip to Beaufort and had lunch at the Beaufort Inn.  Southern Graces (a local catering company) serves lunch daily and brunch on Sunday at the Historic Inn - more on that at a later date.  Anyway, so impressed, were we, with the sweet, slight crunch and moist texture of our pieces of Hummingbird Cake that I set out to find my own recipe.  And I did, there are recipes flying all over the internet and are pretty much bog standard (except for Martha’s, obviously she changes hers up – because she’s Martha – freakin- Stewart!  That’s why!).  Hummingbird cake legend has it that the very first recipe was printed in Southern Living in 1978, submitted by Mrs. LH Wiggins of Greensboro, NC.  The exact explanation of the name remains elusive (like the little hummingbird itself) but it’s thought to have come from the sweetness derived from using the combination of crushed pineapple and bananas.  Or possibly that it makes you hum when you devour it.  Either way, I’m just happy I experienced this delightful little treat!  I decided to make cupcakes (for our Labor Day BBQ), and like a hummingbird, one minute the cupcakes were there and the next they were not.  This was truly one of the easiest and tastiest batch of cupcakes I have ever made.



Makes about 18 cupcakes


3 cups flour

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon baking soda

½ teaspoon salt

2 cups sugar

1 cup canola oil

4 eggs

1 cup chopped pecans – about 4 oz

3 mashed bananas

8oz crushed pineapple

1 ½ teaspoons vanilla


Cream Cheese Frosting

8oz cream cheese, softened

½ cup (1 stick) butter, room temperature

16oz confectioners’ sugar (about 4 ½ cups)

1 ½  teaspoons vanilla extract


Preheat oven to 350°F.  Line a standard muffin tins paper liners.

Whisk the flour, baking soda, and cinnamon together in a medium bowl.  Set aside.  Combine the bananas, pineapple, and pecans in a medium bowl.  Set aside.  Beat the oil, sugar and vanilla on medium speed in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment – about 2 minutes.  Add the eggs, one at a time, beating until well incorporated and beginning to turn pale – about three minutes.  On low speed, add the banana mixture and continue beating until combined.  Reduce speed to “stir” and add the flour, mix until the batter is smooth.  Fill each liner with approximately a scant ½ a cup of batter.  Bake for 25-30 minutes or until a tester inserted comes out clean and the cupcakes spring back when pressed lightly in the middle.  Cool on rack.

To make the frosting:

Beat the butter and cream cheese, and vanilla on medium until smooth using an electric mixer.  Slowly add the sugar (and I mean slowly or you will have a confectioners’ sugar cloud in the kitchen) and beat until incorporated and smooth.  Spread frosting over cooled cupcakes.  Can be made one day ahead and stored in the fridge.  Let stand at room temperature for 1 hour before serving.


It’s All Delicious Notes:  This recipe was adapted from Paula Deen, Art Smith and Mrs. LH Wiggins of Greensboro, NC.  Also, when I fill my cupcake liners, I use an old-fashioned ice cream scoop – the tins fill perfectly every time.



Pino Gelato - Oh Lawd or What I Love On Hilton Head


I’ve resisted this place for years and am sorry I did, just look at this gelato.  It’s dreamy, creamy, delicious, and delightful.  You walk into the store, and the sweet smell of takes over you.  You become dizzy as you walk up to the display case and see the most wonderful selection of flavors looking like frozen clouds.  Then the decisions have to come; how much and how many flavors should you decide to put in your cone or in my case, bring home.  On my first visit, I went for traditional vanilla and chocolate (mixed quart).  It was gone in two days.  On the second, a combo of dulce de leche and vanilla in one quart, a pint of chocolate and a pint of raspberry.  I’m still slowly working on these, my guilty pleasure at the end of the evening.  And here’s the good news compared to regular ice cream?  In my opinion, gelato could be classified as a health food with half the fat, almost half the calories, and zero (that’s cholesterol.  What’s not to love?  Now I’ve had grocery store gelato, and again, there is simply no comparison.  You get what you pay for and Pino Gelato is far superior to any pre-packaged gelato I’ve had.  


They also make these cute little pizza cones that were featured on the Food Network show, “Unwrapped.”  It is just that, pizza in cone shaped flaky dough.  But for me, being a traditionalist I’ll stick to the gelato.  And another interesting little fact which I love (in addition to my personal feelings of the health benefits eating gelato versus ice cream) is that the Pino Gelato franchise is owned by a woman, Ramona Fantini.


Pino Gelato

1000 William Hilton Parkway

The Village @ Wexford

Hilton Head Island, Sc 29928

Hours:  Monday – Saturday 12pm-9pm




Re-fried Black Beans with Chorizo


Easy, tasty, versatile with a bit more texture than totally smashed up re-fried beans.  I used canned black beans to cut down on the soaking and cooking time and a combo of hot and mild chorizo.  The consensus was “delish” and firmly in the “It’s All Delicious” Southwestern repertoire.  I wish I could take total credit for this dish, but I can’t it has to go to Luke and was their idea to add the chorizo!  



Serves 8-10 as a side dish or dip

2 15oz cans black beans, drained and rinsed

1 yellow onion, finely chopped

½ cup cilantro, finely chopped

1-1 ½ cups chicken stock

8 oz chorizo sausage, thinly sliced

1-2 tablespoons canola oil


Heat oil in a medium sauce pan over medium heat.  Cook chorizo until sausage begins to render its fat and browns, remove using a slotted spoon and set aside.  Add onion to pan and cook until golden, add ½ the beans and ½ the stock.  Smash the beans down with a potato masher or back of a metal spoon.  Add the remainder of the beans, mash down, and then pour in the rest of the stock.  Add cilantro, lower heat and simmer until the beans become on the dry side, about 1 ½ hours. Continue stirring and mashing beans down occasionally to prevent sticking.  Return chorizo to pan during the last 30 minutes of cooking.  Serve warm as a side dish or as a dip with tortilla chips. 



The Market @ Michael Anthony's - What I Love On Hilton Head



Finally, an Italian market on the Island chocked full of cheese, breads, dried and cured meats – olives galore, pasta, and massive cans of plum tomatoes.  There’s homemade mozzarella and a nice selection of olive oils, wines, imported artichokes and roasted peppers.  They also sell a few of Michael’s fresh sauces - tomato and Bolognese.  Two days notice can get you branzino (my personal favorite fish) and if you fancy a veal chop just call ahead.  My next fingers crossed hope is that they will have “dishes to go” or maybe pre-made ready to pick-up, bring home and call your own (now who would ever do that?).  Maybe a few desserts?  The whole marketplace concept started when attendees of Michael’s cooking demos wanted to buy the ingredients he used during class.  Makes total sense, rather than traipsing around the Island not finding everything, the Market was born.  Each week there are new and interesting “finds” in the store. 


How expensive is it?  Hmmmm...That’s somewhat like; how long is a piece of string?  For instance, a bag of fresh pasta at $9.00 might feel a bit pricey but it’s well worth it being lighter in texture for one thing.  Plus I'm a firm believer of "you get what you pay for!" and "you can't put a price on quality."  

So while you might take an initial gulp, you forget the expense when you al dente it up and pour Michael’s tomato sauce over it (don’t don’t over cook this pasta...please.  If it’s possible to commit a sin against a starch...overcooking it would be cardinal). 


The 6lb cans of Alta Cucina plum tomatoes that grace the shelves are things of beauty and the contents produced the best sauce I ever made – even possibly a contender for the “Do you call it sauce or gravy?” competition at the Italian Heritage Food Festival on September 25th at the Shelter Cove Park.


 Grazie to all at Michael Anthony’s for opening a well needed specialty store on the Island.


Michael Anthony's Restaurant and Market

37 New Orleans Road

Hilton Head Island, SC 29928

843 785 6272


Sweet And Spicy Walnuts


These are bit different to make.  I had every intention on using them as a topping for my roasted beet and goat cheese salad.   But well, it didn’t really work out like that.  One taste test, to make sure I got the crunchy/salty/sweet/spicy combination right, led to another taste, which led to “just one more.”  That, in turn, led to a “hey, try one of these,” which led me to just sticking them in a bowl, munching on them, then making another batch for the salad.  What’s nice about these is that they are lighter and fresher tasting than a “praline” nut - crunchy without being teeth-chipping-hard. 



Makes enough to enjoy on their own (without getting yourself sick) and if they last, a nice topping for a salad


2 cups water

2 cups sugar

2 teaspoons cayenne pepper

12oz shelled walnut halves, unsalted

Course sea salt


Preheat oven to 450°F.

Heat water, sugar, and cayenne pepper in a heavy saucepan over high heat.  Cook until the sugar dissolves brushing down the sides of the pan with a pastry brush dipped in water.  Add walnuts and stir to coat.  Reduce heat to medium. 


Cook for 15minutes stirring regularly and wiping down the sides of the pan with the pastry brush as necessary.

Line a baking tray with foil, spray with cooking oil.  Using a slotted spoon transfer nuts to the tray.  Sprinkle liberally with salt and bake for 5-8 minutes until they turn a deep walnut-brown color.

Keep an eye on them; do not over bake since the sugar will burn easily.  Cool and separate any pieces that are stuck together.  Use as an appetizer or topping for salad (if they last that long).  The walnuts will keep in an air tight container for a few days. 



It’s All Delicious Notes:  1) These are addictive.  2) Substitute chipotle chili pepper for the cayenne pepper for a smoky spicy sweet nut!  3) I tried using cashews, but they really didn’t work as well as the walnuts.  


Grouper with a Parmesan and Panko Crust


Out of approximately two hundred and fifty-five recipes on this site, there are twenty-five plus chicken recipes, thirty plus desserts, twenty-three plus that have something to do with Italian.  Only eight have something fishy about them, and here is the ninth. 

Obviously, I’m not a huge fish person, but my list is finally growing.  I love our lowcountry shrimp – best shellfish on the east coast.  Tender sweet clams and mussels make the list.   Tuna and salmon are my next favorites, a good crab cake - i.e., with white crab meat and limited breading - makes me smile as do soft shell crabs.  I’ve just discovered barrel fish and corvina, so they both have been added.  Swordfish and mako have been deleted - so over them, too much tarragon sauce in the early nineties.  I had tilapia once and will never eat that bottom fisher again – blich! And now, Black Grouper straight out of our local waters has joined the exclusive list. 

To date the best and freshest I’ve found on the Island has been from Dave at Piggly Wiggly in Coligny - say that three times fast! This would be lovely served with a little ratatouille – see previous post from Chef Penn 

 Anyway, I’m determined to expand the fishy-ness of this site and thanks to Michael Cirafesi from Michael Anthony’s, my all time elusive favorite, Mediterranean sea bass or branzino will be available with two days notice – that makes me smile too! 



Serves 4

1 ½ lb Grouper fillet – cut into 4 pieces

1 cup shredded Parmesan cheese

1 cup Panko bread crumbs

Handful flat leaf parsley, roughly chopped

1 teaspoon garlic powder

Whole milk

Canola oil

Quick light tomato sauce – recipe below


Preheat oven to 425°F

Process parsley in the bowl of a food processor until minced.  Add the Parmesan and garlic powder, process until just combined.  Pour parsley mixture into a shallow dish and add the panko, toss with a fork to combine.  Set aside.

Pour about ¼- ½ cup of milk in a shallow dish.  Dip each side of the fillets into milk, then panko mixture, pressing crumbs into each side of the fillets.  Place on a baking tray lined with parchment paper, refrigerate until ready to cook. 

Heat a large oven proof skillet over high heat.  Add canola oil, when the oil begins to smoke lower heat. Using a spatula, transfer fish fillets to skillet, depending on size of pan, you may have to cook two at a time, do not over crowd.  Press fillets down using a spatula and fry until golden, approximately 2-3 minutes on each side.  Finish cooking fish in the oven until firm when pressed approx another 3-5 minutes depending on the thickness of the fillet.  A good tip from “Cooking” by James Petersen is to figure on a total cooking time of 9 minutes per inch of thickness. 

Spread a few tablespoons of fresh tomato sauce on a plate and top with grouper. 


Light Tomato Sauce

2 15oz cans of diced tomatoes, pureed in a blender

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

Simmer pureed tomatoes and olive in a medium saucepan for 30 minutes.  Keep warm while preparing grouper. 

It’s All Delicious notes:  Look for a fillet that is pretty uniform in thickness allowing the pieces to be the same size.  This makes the cooking timing easier.