An Italian New Year’s Tradition

I was in the kitchen this morning making the traditional, Italian New Year’s meal of lentils with sausage. Although I remember lentil dishes growing up, my fondest memory of them was many years later on our first trip to Italy. We were fortunate to be in Florence over the holidays and New Year’s Eve was filled with prosecco, fanciful pastries and fireworks at midnight.  On New Year’s Day, we ate at a small, local restaurant and were served a wonderful dish of lentils with cotechino, a delicious spicy sausage. The Italians believe the dish brings luck and prosperity. Happy New Year!





Trip to Tuthilltown Spirits Distillery

We spent a lovely afternoon at Tuthilltown Spirits Distillery in Gardiner, NY a few weeks ago. The beautiful site, which is about 90 minutes from NYC, is centered around a 220 year old gristmill. These folks are using local apples and grain to make great spirits. (Their Baby Bourbon is a favorite.) You can tour the distillery, have a private tasting and dine comfortably, in or out, at their wonderful stream-side restaurant. What a way to spend the day!



Post Holiday Cheer

Happy New Year to all, I hope that 2016 is your best year ever! 

As usual, my holidays were hectic, but wonderful. I was able to continue my tradition of going into the city the week after New Year’s to view the Fifth Avenue windows. Like every other year, Bergdorf’s were the star of the show.

We stopped in at The Plaza to get out of the chill and discovered their food court…an amazing array of delicacies in a beautiful space, bustling with happy, hungry people. 

My daughter Brigitte insisted we sample the chocolate crepes from Lady M. It was well worth the calories!






Gardening with a Conscience

 I just visited the Brooklyn Grange Farm on the roof of the six story Standard Motors Building in Long Island City. This project of converting a large, unused space into a working farm is truly urban magic. The atmosphere is vibrant with people passionate about bringing together community and better eating. 


COFFEED, located on the ground floor of the same building, serves lunches and dinners using the rooftop produce while supporting its local, charitable partners. 


 Urban Gardening 


 Brooklyn Grange Rooftop Farm





Derby Day Cupcake

Our take on the classic Kentucky Derby cocktail, the Mint Julep. A bourbon cupcake topped with mint and lime icing.


Derby Cake



Culinary Traditions Are Like Stories

Once again this Easter, I continued a culinary tradition of making pizza rustica for members of my family. I bought the ingredients in many of the same shops on Arthur Avenue in The Bronx, frequented by my mother and grandmother many years ago. As a child, I remember following them around from store to store carefully selecting the ingredients. It seems that the meats and cheeses are as authentic now, as they were back then. I also recall how mom and grandma would cut thick slices of the pie and give them to neighbors and family for Easter. I am so happy that I’m able to carry on this tradition of sharing.





Original pastry wheel

























Irish Soda Bread with Fennel Seeds topped with Irish Cheddar


4 cups all-purpose flour, plus extra for currants

4 cups organic sugar

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt

1 teaspoon dry cinnamon

1 cup dry currants

1 tablespoon fennel seeds

4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch dice

1 3/4 cups cold buttermilk, shaken

1 extra-large egg, lightly beaten

1 teaspoon grated orange zest

1/3 cup Grand Marnier (or enough to soak the currants)

grated Irish cheddar cheese for sprinkle on top bread 



Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper.

Combine the flour, sugar, baking soda and salt in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with paddle attachment. Add the butter and mix on low speed until the butter is mixed into flour

With a fork, lightly beat the buttermilk, egg and orange zest together in measuring cup. With the mixer on low speed, slowly add the buttermilk mixture to the flour mixture. Combine Grand Marnier soaked currants and fennel seeds with 1 tablespoon of flour and mix into dough. It will be very wet.

Dump the dough into well-floured board and kneed it a few times into a round loaf. Place the loaf on the prepared sheet pan and lightly cut an X into the top of the bread with a serrated knife. Bake for 45 to 55 minutes, or until a cake tester comes out clean. The cheese will be browned.





Revisiting the Neue Galerie and Cafe Sabarsky

The crown jewel of the Neue Galerie’s exhibit was Gustav Klimt’s Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer I. This dazzling painting was purchased in 2005 for $135,000,000, the highest price paid for any work of art at the time. The story of its recovery from the Nazis is the subject of a new film ” The Woman in Gold”, starring Helen Mirren.

It was wonderful to sit at a window table in the cafe, facing Central Park, enjoying the best kaffee and strudel I can remember. One bite of Chef Kurt Gutenbranner’s  donut, and you’re in heaven. German/ Austrian art and Austrian cafe perfectly matched, making you feel like you’re in Salzburg. Bravo!

I’ll be back to visit again for their cabaret night. I will keep you posted.


Apple struddle



cafe american






Harney & Sons Fine Teas

The perfect place to visit on a cold winter’s day. These warm fragrant teas are served in a quaint shop in Millerton, NY. The beautiful rolling countryside covered in winter white, gives us one more reason to love New York!

I shared a valentine blend of Ceylon tea, with chocolate and pink rosebuds. Simply wonderful. Worth the drive.


BlarneySon Tea



valentine tea





Valentine’s Day Ideas

A very Happy Valentine’s Day to all! It will be a cold one this year for many of us here in the Northeast, so these winter favorites are sure to keep us warm:Hot Chocolate made with French valrhona cocoa and heart shaped peppermint marshmallows. Heart shaped Florentine lasagna with a blush bechamel sauce.


Hot Cocoa3





Two Carrot Catering