Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Apple Kielbasa Coins - Delicious and EASY!!!!

If you like kielbasa, apple, and maple, I've got an unbelievable easy and tasty dish for you - Apple Kielbasa Coins from While it claims to serve six, I think it's barely enough for 4 sausage lovers. It takes 30 minutes or less to prepare.

- 1 & 1/2 pounds of cooked kielbasa cut into 1/4 inch slices
- 1/4 cup apple juice
- 1/4 cups apple jelly
- 2 tablespoons maple syrup

- In a large skillet, bring sausage and apple juice to a boil.
- Cover and cook for 5 minutes.
- Uncover and cook 5 minutes longer.
- Drain. (Actually, I had nothing to drain because all the juices had cooked off.)
- Add jelly and syrup. Cook and stir until jelly is melted and sausage is coated.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Potato, Bacon, Corn Chowder - Nice and Easy

Here's a tasty and easy potato, bacon, corn chowder that I found at

Although the recipe reportedly serves 4, my experience is that it would serve 6 to 8.

Preparation takes 20 to 30 minutes. Cooking time is 20-30 minutes, depending on whether you use precooked microwavable bacon or if you start by cooking uncooked bacon. I used the precooked bacon, but I suspect the results would have been even better by starting with the uncooked bacon.


- 1/2 cup diced bacon
- 4 medium potatoes, chopped
- 1/2 medium onion, chopped
- 2 cups water
- 2 1/2 to 3 cups cream-style corn
- 2 12-ounce cans or a 1 pound, 4 ounce package of frozen cream style corn
- 2 teaspoons salt
- pepper to taste
- 2 cups half and half or light cream, scalded


- Sauté bacon until browned and crisp.
- Add chopped potatoes and onions.
- Add water, corn, and seasonings.
- Cover and simmer for 15-20 minutes.
Stir in half and half. Heat through, but do not boil.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Chicken with Marsala, Mascarpone, & Mustard Sauce over Fettuccine - Another Terrific Giada Dish

Chicken with a sauce of Mascarpone Cheese, Marsala Wine, and Dijon mustard over fettuccine pasta is one more example of a terrific dish from Giada de Laurentiis. After tasting this dish, I understand why it is a five-star recipe with over 800 reviews on ( Thanks Giada!!

It is very easy to make and takes about 50 minutes total. It yields 5-6 servings. Since I was only preparing it for two of us, I reduced the amount of chicken to about 10 ounces. However, I did not change the sauce recipe. The sauce was so good that the two of us finished it. I think if I was making it for 5-6 people, I'd make more sauce.


- 1 1/2 pounds boneless skinless chicken breasts, each breast cut crosswise into 3 pieces
- salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 5 tablespoons butter, divided
- 3/4 cup chopped onion
- 1 pound cremini  mushrooms, sliced (Baby bella mushrooms are essentially the same thing)
- 2 tablespoons minced garlic
- 1 cup dry Marsala wine
- 1 cup (8 ounces) mascarpone cheese
- 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh Italian parsley leaves, plus whole sprigs for garnish
- 12 ounces dried fettucine (I used fresh fettucine)


Sprinkle the chicken with salt and pepper. Heat the oil in a heavy large skillet over high heat. Add the chicken and cook just until brown, about 4 minutes per side. Transfer the chicken to a plate and cool slightly.

- While the chicken cools, melt 2 tablespoons of butter in the same skillet over medium-high heat.
- Then add the onion and sauté until tender, about 2 minutes.
- Add the mushrooms and garlic, and sauté until the mushrooms are tender and the juices evaporate, about 12 minutes.
- Add the wine and simmer until it is reduced by half, about 4 minutes.
- Stir in the mascarpone and mustard.
- Cut the chicken breasts crosswise into 1/3-inch-thick slices. Return the chicken and any accumulated juices to the skillet. Simmer uncovered over medium-low heat until the chicken is just cooked through and the sauce thickens slightly, about 2 minutes.
- Stir in the chopped parsley. Season the sauce to taste with salt and pepper.

Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the fettuccine and cook until al dente, stirring occasionally, about 9 minutes for dried pasta or 3-4 minutes for fresh pasta. Toss the fettuccine with 3 tablespoons of butter and season to taste with salt and pepper.
Swirl the fettuccine onto serving plates. Spoon the chicken mixture over the fettuccine, and garnish with parsley sprigs.

Dry Dock Waterfront Grill, Sarasota - A Nice Lunch

A friend and I recently set out to have lunch at the Old Salty Dog on City Island in Sarasota. However, when we got there, it was packed. So, we decided to try the Dry Dock Waterfront Grill ( on Longboat Key. It was a good choice.

The Dry Dock is located on Sarasota Bay. It has both indoor and outdoor dining. We decided to eat inside. We were seated at a window-side table with a nice view of the waterfront.

The Dry Dock has an extensive luncheon menu ( I immediately spotted one of my favorite sandwiches - lobster rolls, which I ordered. The dish comes with two lobster rolls, which are packed with lobster mixed with light mayo, chopped celery, green onions, lettuce and tomato, and served on a toasted, buttered, New England frankfurter roll for $18.95. The dish comes with a side of either cole slaw or french fries. I chose the slaw. Both the lobster rolls and the slaw were excellent. I think I would prefer some other type of roll for the lobster rolls, but that's a matter of personal preference. What's really important is the lobster filling. When I mentioned to our waitress that I would prefer the lobster rolls on some other type of roll, she mentioned they could probably do that for me next time.

Until I tasted these lobster rolls, my favorites had been at Sharky's on the Pier in Venice. I now have a new favorite.

My drink was a glass of Sensual Malbec from Argentina for $7. It was tasty, and the serving size was nice.

My friend, who had lived in the UK, had fish and chips. He said the fish and chips were delicious, but not as good as the excellent British version.

Our server, Nicole, was very professional.

I look forward to returning to the Dry Dock.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Excellent Crab and Ricotta Manicotti and Giada de Laurentiis are always great sources for delicious recipes. In searching for a recipe to use some leftover fresh ricotta cheese, I found a wonderful Giada crab and ricotta cannelloni recipe posted on I was attracted by the fact that it contained crab, which we love, and by its mostly very favorable 241 reviews.

Since I could not find cannelloni at Publix or Fresh Market, I used manicotti, which means "sleeves" in Italian.

(If you ask me the difference between cannelloni and manicotti, I could not tell you. There are many conflicting explanations on the Internet. In some case, the two are used interchangeably. In others, manicotti tubes are described as being wider; or manicotti are described as being made from crepes rather than pasta. The bottom line is that the supermarket manicotti are tubular pasta shells that are suitable for stuffing.)

The recipe serves 6-7. The filling was enough to fill 14 manicotti sleeves - the number contained in the box I purchased. It is a bit pricey if you use lump crab, which I did. I used Chesapeake Bay lump blue crab from Fresh Market. It cost $29.99 for a 1 lb container.

The recipe is easy to make. However, making the Bechamel sauce, which requires constant stirring, took me about 25 minutes, rather than the 10 minutes stated in the recipe.

The verbatim recipe with reviews can be found at:


- 1 box (8 ounces) cannelloni or manicotti pasta (12-14 shells)
- 1 cup of whole milk ricotta cheese
- 3/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese, plus 1/4 cup for sprinkling
- 1 egg yolk
- 1/2 cup chopped fresh basil leaves
- 1 pound lump crab meat
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground white pepper
- Bechamel sauce (see recipe below)


Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the pasta and cook until tender but still firm to the bite, stirring occasionally, about 8 to 10 minutes. Drain pasta.

In a large bowl, mix together ricotta, 3/4 cup Parmesan, egg yolk, basil, crab, salt, and pepper.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Fill the pasta with the crab mixture and place in a buttered baking dish. Top the filled cannelloni with the Bechamel Sauce, and sprinkle with the remaining Parmesan cheese. Bake until bubbly and the top is golden brown, about 15 to 20 minutes. Serve immediately.

Bechamel Sauce


- 5 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
- 4 cups milk warmed
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground white pepper
- Pinch freshly grated nutmeg


In a medium saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the flour and whisk until smooth, about 2 minutes. Gradually add the warm milk, whisking constantly, until the sauce is thick, smooth, and creamy, about 10 minutes (do not allow the sauce to boil). (As I mentioned above, this step took me about 25 minutes.)

Remove from the heat and stir in the salt, pepper, and nutmeg. (The sauce can be made up to 3 days ahead. Cool, and then cover and refrigerate.)

Yield: about 4 cups

Monday, November 12, 2012

Cipriani - Delicious Papparedelle & Tagliolini Pasta

During the past month, I set out to find pappardelle pasta for one dish and tagliolini pasta for another.

Pappardelle are are broad thin noodles. I wanted to use this pasta with an Umbrian pork ragù. Pappardelle originated in Tuscany and are used in some very popular dishes such as pappardelle alla lepre (papardelle with hare sauce) and pappardelle al ragù di cinghiale (pappardelle with wild boar ragù).

Tagliolini, also known as tagliarini, are long, very thin, cylindrical noodles which originated in the Emilia-Romagna Region of Italy. I wanted to use them for Tagliolini alla Scivolosa from the famous Roman restaurant Sora Lella.

I could not find either pasta at Publix, but did find Cipriani pappardelle and Cipriani tagliolini at Fresh Market. Both pastas were fantastic, and worked very well with the the dishes I prepared.

Cipriani was founded in Venice, Italy in 1931 by Giuseppe Cipriani, founder of the famous Harry's Bar in Venice. The Cipriani family still owns Harry's Bar, as well as Cipriani restaurants in New York, London, and Hong Kong.

An 8.82 ounce (250 gram) box of either pasta sells at Fresh Market for $7.99. Both boxes contain 5 servings, and both are certified Kosher.

Lemartine, Another Wonderful Wine from Poggio Antico

As I have mentioned in previous postings, Poggio Antico winery, located in the commune of Montalcino, Tuscany, is one of my favorite wineries. Poggio Antico is well known for its superb Brunellos. In January of this year, it introduced a new wine -Lemartine, a wine which it produced in 2010. I purchased several bottles during a visit there last summer. I served the first bottle  at a special dinner the night before last. It was terrific. I think the winery best describes this wine as "a hearty, rich, and elegant wine." 

Lemartine is a red wine which is a blend of 50% Sangiovese, 25% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 25% Petit Verdot. The juices of the three types of grapes are aged separately for 10-11 months in 225-liter French oak barriques. After blending, they are aged a further 4 months in bottles before being released.

Lemartine is named after an old stone family homestead built on the Poggio Antico property over a century ago. The wine is classified as a Tuscan I.G.T. (Indicazione Geografica Tipica).

I paid 22 (US$27.28 at 1 = US1.24) per bottle at the winery. I have not seen this wine in the U.S.

The main wine I served at the dinner the other night was a wonderful 2004 Poggio Antico Brunello Riserva. Others such as Wine Spectator, which rates it at 96 points, have already done a superb job of describing this wine.

The menu for the meal was Italian, with the exception of the appetizer:

- Tomato, avocado, mango salsa with chips
- Carabaccia - Tuscan Onion Soup
- Parmesan Cheese Flan (Sformato di Parmigiano-Reggiano)
- Pappardelle Pasta with Umbrian Ragù
- Strawberry, Mascarpone, Marsala Pudding (Budini di Fragole, Mascarpone, e Marsala)

Typical of Poggio Antico's responsiveness to its clients, when I asked for technical fact sheets about the wines I served, they were sent to me within hours,

For an earlier posting on Poggio Antico, see:

The URL for Poggio Antico's web site is:

Monday, November 5, 2012

Coyne's Pier 28, Sarasota - Authentic Jumbo Lump Crab Cakes

Since moving from Maryland to Florida over a decade ago, I have searched for authentic, Maryland-style crab cakes made from blue crab. Foolishly, I have believed menu claims at a number of restaurants that they served Maryland-style crab cakes, some with jumbo lump crab meat. Last week, I was again disappointed when I tried the alleged jumbo lump crab cakes at Pincher's Crab Shack in Lakewood Ranch.

Some restaurants think that if they start with jumbo lump crab meat and then grind it into a paste in a food processor that they're creating the real thing. However, that does not work. Authentic Maryland-style jumbo lump crab meat sandwiches have to satisfy at least the following criteria:
- Use fresh meat from jumbo-sized blue crabs, not imported canned crab meat
- Leave the meat in recognizable lumps
- Use very little filler

Finally, last night, I found the genuine article at Coyne's Pier 28 (, next to Costco in Sarasota. Coyne's knows the real thing because the owners are from Maryland's Eastern Shore and operated their original restaurant in Ocean City, MD starting in 1988.

My wife, our daughter, and I all had the crab cakes last night, and they were delicious. My wife and daughter had the crab cake platter, which comes with two crab cakes and two sides - vegetable of the day and starch of the day - for $26. The crab cakes were served with Pier 28's Spicy Remoulade. (I've never seen a remoulade served with crab cakes in the Baltimore-Annapolis area.)

The vegetable of the day was way overcooked asparagus. The starch of the day was red roasted potatoes. My wife and daughter asked our server, Michelle, if they could substitute the Bawlmer Nuggets that were listed on the chalk board specials by the door. Michelle arranged the substitution. It turned out that the nuggets were like ordinary Tater Tots. ("Bawlmer" is how Baltimoreans pronounce the name of their city.)

I had the crab sandwich, which is served with a choice of crackers or on a toasted bun with mayo for $15. It also comes with a side. I chose cole slaw, which was very nice.

I started with the Prince Edward Island mussels with pan-seared andouille sausage, tomato puree, fresh herbs, chardonnay, and a butter finish for $12. It also comes with pieces of toasted bread to dip in the sauce. I loved this dish. The mussels were excellent; there was lots of sausage; and the sauce was terrific. It's on my list to order again.

Our server was excellent.

Coyne's has lots of other appealing dishes on the menu, which is detailed on its web site, but I'd probably have a hard time not ordering the crab cakes and mussels again.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Darwin's on 4th, Sarasota - I love It

Last night, my wife, three friends, and I enjoyed a fantastic meal at Darwin's on 4th ( in Sarasota. This was no surprise because we have had a number of excellent dining experiences at two of the three other locations where chef Darwin Santa Maria has operated restaurants in Sarasota. Our first experience was at his first restaurant, the small Selva Grill on Clark Road at Swift. Later, we had excellent meals when he moved Selva Grill to a larger venue on Sarasota's Main Street. We missed the opportunity to eat at his highly rated Cottage Restaurant on Siesta Key, which he still serves as a consultant.

When friends recently invited us to join them for dinner at Darwin's on 4th, his newest venture, we jumped at the chance. We had read good reviews of this restaurant and were eager to try it.

Chef Darwin, who is originally from Peru is an exceptionally creative and talented chef, who not only incorporates the influences of his native Peru, but of other cuisines as well. One way in which Peruvian cuisine differs from that of other Latin American cuisines is that it is influenced by the large ethnic Japanese community of about 50,000. Chef Santa Maria has incorporated Japanese tastes into a number of his dishes.

One unique aspect of Darwin's on 4th is that it also has its own microbrewery. The brewmaster, Jared Barnes, is very creative. One of our friends with whom we dined is a beer connoisseur. He loves the beers at Darwin's. I tried one sip of the first beer he had, and was really impressed. It is called Betrayal. It is an Oak Aged Imperial Stout with tastes of coffee, chocolate, and vanilla. It is very powerful, with an alcohol content of 10%.  If you're a craft beer lover, check out Darwin's beer menu at

My wife started with an appetizer of Shrimp Spring Rolls with creamy shrimp, avocado aioli, and sweet chili sauce for $10. It was superb.

I started with Choritos - pan-roasted, fresh, Prince Edward Island mussels with Aji Amarillo butter and lime juice for $13. They were incredibly delicious.

My wife's entrée was Chef Darwin's Skirt Steak, an 8 oz. skirt steak with chimichurri sauce, beet relish, and sweet plantains for $26. She loved this dish at Selva Grill and was delighted to see it on the menu at Darwin's. As usual, it was wonderful. She likes it so much, she can't bring herself to try any other entrées.

Instead of having an entrée, I had a ceviche called Mayya Shrimp Ceviche for $13. It had shrimp, lime juice, orange juice, red bell peppers, avocados, cancha (crisp Peruvian corn kernels), and plantain chips. Every morsel was mouth-watering.

In the ceviche portion of the menu is another type of Peruvian raw seafood dish known as tiradito (, which differs from ceviche because it is sliced in long slices rather than chopped. One of the tiradito dishes is an example of a dish with Japanese influence. The Wahoo Tiradito has ponzu sauce, a citrus-based Japanese sauce, which I love. The Wahoo Tiradito also has ginger aioli, cucumber, mango, and seaweed salad.

For dessert, my wife had the Tumbao Pot of Mousse, bittersweet and white chocolate mousses, café cappuccino, tartufo chocolate, and mango and raspberry sauces for $7. It was outstanding.  

My dessert was the Lavender Honey Poached Pear with goat cheese ice cream and black pepper caramel sauce for $7. Fantastic!

Our wine was a 2010 Decero Argentinian Malbec from the Mendoza Valley for $40. It was very nice.

Our server, Enrique, was extremely knowledgeable, helpful, and attentive.

The atmosphere at Darwin's is very nice.

I strongly recommend making reservations.

Darwin's is located at 1524 4th St. Phone 941-343-2165.