Fall is in the air. And in my stomach.

I cheated. I had a donut before I got home. “I’m sorry,  I couldn’t help it,” I told Heather. She was very forgiving, as she understood my situation. I had a bag full of apple cider donuts from The Apple Farm, here in Victor.  It was my second trip in a week for these irresistible treats. How could I resist opening the bag, even before I got in the car?? It was difficult with the bags of apples I was carrying (which were also really good!), but I managed.

Honestly, donuts are never my first choice in baked goods. I generally find them to be too dry. So…a couple weeks back, when Chef Mark suggested we make a special trip to go get some, I was a little skeptical.  But these donuts are an exception; moist and flavorful. Yum.

I figured a Pumpkin Harvest Ale pairing would make for a nice fall snack, and I was right. Cheers!

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Super good Italian bread pizza

This post wasn’t supposed to happen. I was too hungry to stop and take a picture. And I knew Heather was too, so I didn’t want to ask her to wait. But, it turns out that pizzas made with that leftover loaf of Italian bread on your counter are very filling! So after we gobbled through 3/4 of the pizza, we were stuffed and there were two pieces left. They were still warm enough to look delicious…so here they are! I highly recommend using up your day old bread this way (this one was a loaf of Pane Italian from Wegmans). Top it with whatever you have left over in the fridge. This half of the loaf had sauce, tomatoes, fresh mozzarella, grated parmesan, peppadews, prosciutto, olive oil, salt, crushed red pepper, and basil. The other half (which we ate first, and hence is missing from this post) had sauce, tomatoes, summer squash, mushrooms, asparagus, shredded mozzarella, grated parmesan, olive oil, salt, crushed red pepper, and arugula.

Don’t forget the wine…salut!

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The Aviation. Purple drinks are cool!

Purple is a cool color….so I think a purple drink is cool too! We were introduced to this cocktail in New Orleans at the Green Goddess. As we sat and watched one being made, we couldn’t help but ask about it. Which led us to try one and realize how good it is! It is perfectly refreshing on a warm evening!

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I did a fair amount of research to find the right recipe for this. There are many variations and theories on when it was invented. But most lead back to the start of the twentieth century and Hugo Ensslin’s 1916 Recipes for Mixed Drinks. Ensslin’s recipe called for 1½ oz. El Bart gin, ¾ oz. lemon juice, 2 dashes maraschino liqueur, and 2 dashes crème de violette. I settled on the NY Times recipe and added a touch of simple syrup to balance out the citrus. I like it both ways, but since I’m generally creating cocktails for Heather this is the official 2eat2drink recipe!

  • 2 ounces gin
  • 1/2 ounce freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 2 teaspoons maraschino liqueur, preferably Luxardo
  • 1/4 ounce simple syrup
  • 1/4 ounce Crème de Violette

FIll a cocktail shaker with ice, gin, lemon juice, Luxardo and simple syrup. Shake to chill, then strain into a martini glass. Slowly pour Crème de Violette into the glass to create a purple swirl that settles near the bottom. Garnish with a twist of lemon or a flamed lemon peel.

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It’s experiment time! I created an animated gif of the pour. It may only work if you click on it, based on my preview. Let’s see what happens…

Click to animate!

Click to animate!

Cheers!

Margaritas Trump Timeliness

Happy Cinco De Mayo! Yes, this post is late, but the post title explains why. When given the choice between finishing off the margaritas with Heather or writing this post, the margaritas won out! Sorry, but I’m sure you understand!

Sunday, I cooked tequila flamed shrimp tostadas for us to celebrate. I followed the Food and Wine recipe, just without the black beans (as I forgot to purchase them) and using yellow corn chips instead of tostadas. I also added a minced jalepeno to the avocado mixture (which is basically a yummy pineapple guacamole). Using chips instead of tostadas is a great way to do an appetizer or a dinner version. The meal was amazing, and I will definitely be making them again soon.

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The recipe called for a silver tequila; Don Julio Blanco to the rescue! Of the silver tequilas I’ve had, it’s by far my favorite. Give it a try!  Since the tequila was open, I felt compelled to make margaritas (see recipe here). They were helpful to lessen the effects of  the heat from the chipotle peppers and adobo sauce. Happy cinco nueve de Mayo! Cheers!

Mirbeau = Indulgence

This week marks the anniversary of our first date! Last year, we commemorated the occasion with a quick getaway to Mirbeau Inn and Spa in Skaneateles. With the French countryside and the works of Monet as its inspiration, Mirbeau provides gorgeous accommodations and excellent cuisine in a soothing, romantic environment. When making a reservation, be sure to mention whether you would like to stay in a cottage, allowing you to stroll through the lovely gardens on your way to the main building, or in the main building itself. We prefer the cottages, but have stayed in the main building during the winter to avoid walking outside for the spa and dining options.

The lovely grounds of Mirbeau.

The lovely grounds of Mirbeau.

As we entered our cottage, classical music was playing softly. We felt any lingering tension start to slip away as we took in the French country décor, complete with a fireplace. The bathroom was like a gorgeous mini-spa with its oversized soaking tub, large walk-in shower, and Mirbeau’s “Essentials” body and hair products.

After settling in, we took a short walk to Spa Mirbeau. Rather than booking a spa treatment, we opted to simply change into our swimsuits, wrap ourselves in thick, soft white robes, and visit the Aqua Terrace. This remarkable outdoor space boasts a large, naturally-shaped Jacuzzi (complete with waterfall and landscaping), a huge stone fireplace, and a small bar. We ordered a lunch of finger sandwiches and wine from the barman, then perched beside the fire to eat. It was a fabulous meal with which to begin our twenty-four hours of indulgence! The sandwiches were delectable, the wine delicious. We lingered by the fire a bit more, then spent a lovely afternoon relaxing in the water.

It was then time to get ready for dinner. Formal attire isn’t required, but I just love any excuse to dress for dinner! We freshened up, changed, and strolled to the Wine Bar. Although we love the Dining Room at Mirbeau, we’d never dined at the Wine Bar, and thought this was an excellent opportunity to do so. The cozy space has its own large fireplace and comfortable seating. You can use the automatic wine machines to sample a variety of vinos, or simply order off the menu. We tried a couple of wines and several small-plate-style appetizers. Everything was delicious, and the atmosphere was enhanced by chatting with our fellow diners at the Wine Bar – Sean and Dee from Buffalo, locals Peggy and Jimmy, and Bill the car guy. Add in the excellent bartenders, Ed and Tim, and it was a lively, fun evening!

The comfortable bed provided for a very good night’s sleep, which was followed by the complimentary European Continental Breakfast. This was so much more than the typical freebie breakfast, both in variety and quality. We particularly loved the almond pastries, so much so that our server obligingly wrapped some up for us for the ride home!

We made the short drive into the charming town of Skaneateles, walking through its downtown area and checking out shops and galleries. Our original thought was to have lunch in town, but we just couldn’t resist one last meal at Mirbeau. So off we went, back to the Dining Room, for a famous Mirbeau Hamburger. This decadent burger is served on a brioche roll with Portobello mushrooms, balsamic red onions, gruyere and spinach, with bistro fries, béarnaise sauce, and bordelaise sauce on the side. It is well deserving of its accolades.

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Behold…the Mirbeau Hamburger.

The Dining Room.

The Dining Room.

We’d put it off as long as we could; it was time to leave our little sanctuary. With one last longing look at the lovely garden, we tore ourselves away and headed back to reality!

Hot Dogs a la Casey

Hi, my name is Heather and I’m a Disney addict. It’s been eight months since my last trip to the World. I was going through some serious withdrawal recently, so Rich helped me out by making us hot dogs in the style of Casey’s Corner, our favorite Magic Kingdom eatery and first-meal-at-Disney tradition.

In addition to the typical dogs and fries, Casey’s Corner offers a few specialty hot dogs. Our favorite is the Barbecue Slaw Dog, which is topped with pulled pork, cole slaw, and barbecue sauce. Casey serves it with fries and a soft drink, but we classed it up a little and had them with brown sugar/bourbon baked beans and gin & tonics. Yeah, that hit the spot.

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Hartmann’s wieners topped with Wegmans pulled pork and cole slaw. Served with a side of Bush’s bourbon and brown sugar grillin’ beans for the happiest meal on earth!

Here are a few pictures from our last Disney World fix. Enjoy!

Happy Egg Bake Easter!

Don’t you just want to dive right into this…in all of its straight out of the oven fluffy cheese and egg glory??

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I know I do…even though I just did, and I’m really full! But this wonderful egg bake that Heather made for Easter brunch will settle flat in about 15 seconds, so now is the time! Sliced up, it’s a great way to satisfy your whole Easter brunch crew, and it can bake away while the Easter egg hunt is going on.

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Grapefruit and mimosas are a good pairing!

The recipe is super simple and is prepared the day before.

  • 10 slices Pepperidge Farm white sandwich bread, cubed
  • 1 lb. grated cheddar cheese
  • 8 eggs, beaten
  • 4 cups milk
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. pepper

Grease a 9×13 baking dish. Alternate layers of bread and cheese. Mix remaining ingredients together and pour mixture over layers. Refrigerate overnight. Bake uncovered at 325˚ for 1 hour.

It should look like this before baking.

It should look like this before baking. Count flavor not calories! 🙂

A tip from my wonderful chef: the Pepperidge Farm bread is a key ingredient, and other bread doesn’t work as well. Heather kept this egg bake kid friendly, but don’t be afraid to add any pre-cooked ingredients such as ham, peppers, onions, sausage, or anything else you can dream up. You could also experiment with different kinds of cheese. Let us know what you come up with!

Enjoy your Easter! Cheers!

Osteria Rocco (Neapolitan pizza, part three)

And for the final installment of Heather’s Neapolitan pizza article written for CITIZEN magazine:

Osteria Rocco, 165 Monroe Ave., Rochester, 585-454-3510, roccorochester.com

            Okay, so this pizza wasn’t cooked in a wood-fired oven, but was it ever good! The cooking method here is to use a brick-lined gas oven that runs at about 700 degrees. Yes, 700 degrees. That’s hot, and the nicely charred crust is evidence. This crust was a bit denser than at the other two places. It was crisp on the outside and super chewy on the inside, and we loved it!

First up was the margherita, which had crushed California tomatoes, basil leaves, and – cue the choir of angels – FRESH mozzarella. I did say we were pizza snobs, right? To me, a margherita just isn’t quite the same without the fresh mozzarella. The Rocco margherita was, therefore, my favorite.

Heather cutting the margherita!

Our chef’s choice pizza was the vongole. Its toppings consisted of clams (yes, clams!), pancetta, parsley, chili peppers, and garlic oil. This pizza had a really nice heat to it. The toppings made for a delightfully unusual flavor combination.

The vongole, fresh from the kitchen. Clams on a pizza!

The pizza at Rocco is served in the traditional Neapolitan style, which means that it comes whole, and is meant to be eaten with a knife and fork. This reminded us of our beloved Una Pizza, where the pizza is also served whole. However, Rocco helps you out by providing you with a pair of kitchen shears with which to cut your pizza into slices, if you so choose. How fun!

We had an appetizer before our pizza. Fresh homemade ricotta. It’s worth a trip all on its own!

Fresh homemade ricotta. Incredible.

We’re sure that there are many more Neapolitan-style pizzas out there for us to try, no matter where you are. If you have any recommendations, leave us a comment!

Lucca Wood-fire Bistro (Neapolitan pizza, part two)

Sorry for the delay (we’ve been a bit busy!) – here is the second installment of Heather’s Neapolitan pizza article for CITIZEN magazine:

Lucca Wood-fire Bistro, 90 W. Main St., Victor, 585-924-9009, luccawfpizza.com

Like at Ember, this pizza is cooked in a wood-fired oven, this one reaching temperatures of around 550 to 650 degrees. We really like this crust, which is a great blend of crunchy and chewy.

For the margherita, the toppings were sliced plum tomatoes, grated mozzarella, chopped basil, garlic, and olive oil. We liked that the basil was put on after the pizza came out of the oven, keeping it nice and fresh, and that there was lots of it! We’re kind of partial to basil.

The funghi, along with the margherita, and a couple glasses of old vine zin!

Our second pizza, chosen by the chef, was the funghi. The toppings for this pizza are garlic and oil, mozzarella and asiago cheeses, roasted red peppers, spinach, prosciutto, white and portobello mushrooms, finished with truffle oil and parmesan. Wow! What a pizza! It is rich, creamy, and decadent, and one that we will certainly go back for.

This is a wonderful time of year to visit Lucca. They have plenty of outdoor seating, and we adore sitting on the porch and watching the world go by while we enjoy our delicious meal.

Good pizza AND good dessert!

I just have to add that while we were there, we also had the chocolate chip cannolis for dessert. They were excellent! Oh, and the boys enjoyed their cheese pizza, too!

The “my father is a photographer” syndrome.

After giving it much thought and consideration, we consider Lucca Pizza to be our favorite pizza this side of the Mississippi. Tell chef/owner Matt Gervasi we sent you!