The Pepper Primer

Black, white, Szechuan, pink, green, Tellicherry and more! Those are all types of pepper. Each is unique and should be used in different ways. Black pepper is the most common spice in the world and is found in just about every single cuisine. Its use dates back to the time of the Egyptian pharaohs, having been found in ancient tombs and in mummies’ nostrils! It was exotic and signified elevated status. It's, frankly, my all-time favorite and I tend to use a LOT of it when I cook for

Monica’s here…we can have appetizers now!

This headline goes back to a family ‘story.’ When my niece and nephew were little I’d occasionally join them and their parents for dinner in a restaurant. I have loved dining out for as long as I can remember whether in a schmancy place or at the Hot Shoppes Cafeteria. I’ve always wanted to try as many items on a menu as possible - can you imagine how happy I am at a tapas restaurant? Back in the day... Well, one evening years ago as I sat with

The fun is in the numbers – Celebrating 15 years!

Wow! July marks the end of my 15th year in business! That whole “time flies” when you are running a business is very true! For those who have known me in other careers, you’d be shocked to hear that this is the longest I’ve ever ‘held’ any one job! (Or maybe you wouldn't be!) Since leaving school, I have spent: 3 years teaching elementary school children 5 years typing and doing graphics 7 years with a British firm, ultimately as VP of Administration Many years of freelance event planning,

Why I travel to Iceland again…and again…and AGAIN?

For many years I traveled to the Turks & Caicos Islands for vacation to relax, enjoy the scenery and decompress. To dig my feet in the sand, feel the warm breeze and the hot sun upon my northeast skin. I went at least 7 or 8 times over the course of 10 years. I went to the exact same resort and sat on the exact same beach each time. Never once did someone say to me with incredulity in their voice, “You’re going BACK to Turks & Caicos?”

Is it HOT in here?

How Hot Is It? Little known tips for using your meat thermometer properly as we get closer to Thanksgiving Do you have one of those instant-read meat thermometers? How accurate is it? You can check quite easily and re-calibrate (just as easily) if necessary. First, grab a glass and fill with ice and water. Let it sit to get fully chilled. Next, pull off the plastic cover over the shaft of the thermometer that hopefully, you have not tossed. There will either be an area near one end

What I Ate on My Summer Vacation(s)

It’s September, and for me September is when things truly start anew! Back to school and back to the routine - summer is gone and vacations are a memory. For me my strongest vacation memories are typically related to what I ate. (No surprise there!) This summer, we are still in the mode of visiting “I” countries - Iceland, Ireland and Italy again. It’s the same 3 countries as last year...but not the same food! Iceland, by far has THE best fish and chips ever produced The freshness

A Cornucopia of Fresh Summer Fruits and Veggies

Summer fruits and veggies are a plenty! Don’t walk...RUN Farmers marketing are bustling right now, so get your fill while you can! If you are blessed with local market stands, do not walk but RUN to take advantage of the bounty. Here are a few of my favorite markets in the area. All are local (to me) Farmers' Markets in Maryland: Riverdale Park - weekly on Thursday afternoons Spicknall's - Beltsville - daily - this is more a produce 'stand' (albeit a huge one) which is a permanent

Lemons, Shoes, and Breathtaking Views

What a trip! Italy’s Amalfi Coast is as gorgeous in person as it appears in all those iconic pictures you’ve seen – sheer cliffs dotted with colorful structures right down to the sea below! I must have 50 pictures on my phone of the same view – the one from our rental apartment that I couldn’t believe! That apartment sat in a lemon grove up the ‘hill’ from the town of Minori. Lemons hung within arm’s reach and we were told to help ourselves. That we did, enjoying

Homemade Ghee

Ghee – that clarified butter making the health rounds these days – can be a pricey proposition if you use it as much as I do. I’ve seen it range from $19.99 for 13 ounces on Amazon to $9.99 for 10 ounce at Trader Joe’s. For the price of a pound of your favorite butter and about 5 minutes worth of active work, you can have ghee made to the shade you prefer. Mine is slightly brown in color before it sets up and very nutty in flavor. Here’s the trick…step by

Broccolini with Pomegranate Seeds

Here's a bright and colorful and flavorful side dish that goes equally well with a slow-roasted beef tenderloin, a rack of lamb or a fillet of black cod. It's also a snap to make and looks great on a festive table. Enjoy! Save Print Broccolini with Pomegranate Seeds Serves: 4   Ingredients 2 bunches broccolini (about 1 pound) 1 cup orange juice (preferrably fresh-squeezed) 2 teaspoons honey Aleppo pepper* ½ cup pomegranate seeds Instructions Trim the broccolini and steam until done to your preferred level of softness/hardness. This is truly

Lamb, Zucchini & Tomatoes atop Roasted Spaghetti Squash

Lamb-haters - please don't stop reading! Use this versatile recipe as a general guide and skip the lamb! Substitute with bison, turkey, chicken or beef...and if you do, you should switch up the fresh herb used. For instance, with turkey and chicken I might use chopped fresh sage leaves and with beef or bison perhaps fresh cilantro or parsley would do the trick. Also, with the leaner proteins (bison, chicken, turkey and even beef) you should add a few teaspoons of oil to the skillet BEFORE browning. Lamb has

True Confessions

This tale starts with my most dreaded and most frequently-asked question once someone discovers that I’m a personal chef:  “Do you still cook at home?” My true confession/dirty little secret is that I DON’T. After I’ve cooked all day long frankly the last thing I want to do is cook again. I just don’t. It’s pitiful – a chef eating cheese and crackers or store-bought hummus on top of store-bought pita and calling it a night. I create beautifully delicious, balanced meals for others but not for me. Well

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