Thursday, December 31, 2015

Chicken Paprikash - Tasty and Easy

Chicken Paprikash is a simple, easy stew of Hungarian origin and is very popular in Germany. It is typically served over soft egg noodles like German spaetzle (spätzle) / or Hungarian Nokedli. Instead, I served it with a side of sautéed bell peppers and onions, for a lighter meal. It took about an hour and a half to prepare.

I found this version, which serves 4, on (


- 1 whole chicken cut into pieces. (I used two large chicken breasts, and cut them into bite-sized pieces.)
- 1 medium onion, sliced
- 2 tablespoons paprika (some recipes call for a specific type of paprika)
- 4 tablespoons butter (I ended up using six - see below)
- 1 can chicken broth (A typical can has about 15 oz.)
- 4 tablespoons sour cream
- 1/2 cup flour (optional - to thicken the gravy)


1. Melt the 4 tablespoons of butter in a large pot or dutch oven, and stir in the paprika.

2. Sauté the onions in the paprika-butter solution. When the onions are soft, remove them and set them aside.

3. It may be necessary to add an additional tablespoon of butter to the solution (if too much of the butter has been used up in sautéing. I added 2 tablespoons because the bottom of the pot looked too dry. I think one tablespoon would have sufficed.)

4. Add the chicken and brown on all sides in the butter-paprika mix.

5. Add the chicken broth, and add the onions back into the pot. Simmer covered for 1 hour.

6. After the mix is fully cooked, add the sour cream.

7. If thicker gravy is desired, stir in the flour. It will quickly thicken the gravy.

8. If desired, serve over German or Hungarian noodles.

Friday, December 18, 2015

Super Easy Fried Potatoes - with Manchego

I found this super easy and tasty fried potatoes recipe at ( and gave it extra flavor by adding Manchego cheese. The original recipe produces 4 to 6 servings. However, since I was cooking for just the two of us, I reduced the amount of potatoes and butter. Needless to say, you can replace the Manchego with many other types of cheese. Below is my version to serve two.


- 2  medium potatoes, washed and cut into 1/4" slices. It is not necessary to peel them.

- 3 tbsp butter

- about 2 oz of Manchego cheese, thinly shaved with a vegetable peeler

- salt and pepper


1. Melt the butter in a skillet

2. Add the potatoes and cook over medium heat for about 15 minutes, turning the potatoes over every couple of minutes. Add salt and pepper while cooking. The potatoes will be finished when most are lightly browned on both sides.

3. Plate the potatoes and sprinkle the Manchego on top of them.

Arugula, Manchego, and Sun-Dried Tomato Salad

This delicious and easy arugula salad is from Martha Stewart's web site ( It was a nice accompaniment to a shrimp, honey, and cilantro main dish. It serves 4.


- 1 - 2 tbsp honey (I used two)
- 2 tbsp white balsamic or white wine vinegar (I used balsamic)
- 2 tbsp olive oil (I used a very high quality, mild, Greek EVOO)
- Coarse salt and ground pepper to taste
- 2 bunches arugula, about 1 pound total, well rinsed and with stems removed (I used a package of prewashed arugula, with stems already removed, from Publix. So, it took much less than a pound.)
- 1/4 cup of oil-packed, sun-dried tomatoes, drained and thinly sliced
- 4 ounces Manchego cheese


1. In a large bowl, whisk honey and vinegar until combined. Whisk in oil. Season with salt and pepper.

2. Add arugula and sun-dried tomatoes.

3. Using a vegetable peeler, thinly shave the Manchego. Add half to the bowl, and toss to combine.

4. Divide the mixture among four serving plates. Top with remaining Manchego, and serve.

Strawberries, Lemon Ricotta, and Vanilla Dessert

I really enjoyed this easy strawberry dessert, but my wife was not wild about it. I found it at the Eating Well web site:( It serves 4.


1 teaspoon vanilla extract or 1 vanilla bean
3 tablespoons honey, or more to taste
2 teaspoons lemon juice
Pinch of salt
3 cups strawberries, hulled and quartered
2 cups part-skim, creamy ricotta cheese
2 tablespoons freshly grated lemon zest ( will probably take 2 lemons)


1. If using vanilla bean, halve lengthwise. Using the tip of a small knife, scrape the seeds from the pod into a medium bowl.  Otherwise, put the vanilla extract in the bowl. Add the honey, lemon juice, and salt to the bowl. Whisk until well combined. Add strawberries and stir to combine. Let stand at room temperature for 15 minutes to 2 hours, stirring occasionally.

2. Just before serving, combine ricotta and lemon zest in another bowl.

3.Taste strawberry mixture. If it's too tart, add a little more honey.

4. To serve, spoon 1/2 cup of the ricotta into each of four dessert bowls. Top each with about 1/3 cup of the strawberries. Serve immediately.

Apricot & Ricotta Stuffed Celery

If you enjoy celery, ricotta, and apricot, you might enjoy this very easy appetizer combination. I thought it was nice, but not exciting. The full recipe below should serve four to six. I reduced the amount of celery to three ribs because there were only two of us. The recipe is from the Taste of Home web site: (


- 3 dried apricots
- 1/2 cup part skim creamy ricotta cheese (This type of ricotta is normally found in the cottage cheese area of the dairy section in a supermarket.)
- 2 teaspoons brown sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon orange zest
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
- 5 celery ribs 


Chop apricots with food processor. Add ricotta, brown sugar, orange zest, and salt. Blend these ingredients, then stuff the mix into the celery. Chill until ready to serve.

Shrimp Lime Honey Garlic Cilantro Skillet - Delicious and Easy

This shrimp skillet recipe is terrific and very easy to make. It serves 4 and is from, which has a number of other delicious-sounding shrimp recipes. (


1 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp butter
1 lb large shrimp, uncooked, deveined, peeled. (The original recipe called for leaving the tails on, but I removed them.)
3 garlic cloves, minced
4 tbsp honey (as always, I used Sarasota honey.)
3 tbsp freshly squeezed lime juice (took 1 & 1/2 limes)
1 tbsp soy sauce
3 tbsp chopped cilantro


1. In a large skillet, heat olive oil and butter. Add shrimp and garlic, and cook for 5 minutes, occasionally turning shrimp over until shrimp is cooked.

2. In a small bowl, combine honey, lime juice, soy sauce, and cilantro. Mix to combine.

3. Add the mixture to the skillet with the shrimp.  Bring to high heat, coat the shrimp with the mixture, and cook for 1-2 minutes until the sauce reduces just a touch. Remove from heat, Let it stand for sauce to thicken.

Saturday, December 5, 2015

Easy Umbrian Involtini

We recently had the honor of hosting two of our terrific nieces who were visiting town. We had previously enjoyed a wonderful trip to Umbria and Tuscany with one of them. So I decided to prepare a meal with Tuscan and Umbrian dishes and wine. 

The main dish dish I chose was involtini, which means, "small bites of food." (The singular is involtino.) The dish consists of an outer layer of food wrapped around an inner layer. It is very similar to a roulade. There are many types of involtini. The outer layers are normally,veal, steak, pork, chicken, or eggplant. There are also many types of stuffing.

I chose the Umbrian involtini because the niece who visited Italy with us had involtini for lunch at the wonderful Locanda del Cantiniere in Gubbio, Umbria. (The involtini there was a different recipe.)

This one is very easy to make. 

The entire menu for the evening included:
- a large antipasto selection, with several Tuscan pecorino cheeses, several types of salame, roasted red peppers, marinated mushrooms, and artichoke hearts, with crostini. (Only the crostini were made by me) 
- an assortment of fresh ravioli from Mazzaro's Italian market.
- involtini
- salad
- a Florentine schiacatta cake, baked by me

I chose the Tuscan pecorinos, including one from Pienza, because we and our niece had enjoyed an incredible plate of assorted pecorinos at the cozy La Buca di Enea in Pienza. Pienza is famous for its pecorinos. (Pecorino simply means sheep cheese. Tuscany has many types of pecorinos. Unlike the pecorino Romano, which is used for grating, these cheeses are not meant to be grated.)

The red wines were both from the Vecchia Cantina winery in Montepulciano - a Cantina Redi Rosso di Montepulciano, and a Vecchia Cantina Vino Nobile di Montepulciano. I chose these wines because our niece had joined us on a visit to the Vecchia Cantina winery.

This recipe is from Mary Ann Espositio's 2002 book, "Ciao Italia in Umbria," and can be found at:

The recipe serves four.


- 8 thin veal, pork, or chicken slices cut for scaloppine
- 8 thin slices of prosciutto
- 2 tablespoons of finely crushed juniper berries. Crush them with a mortar and pestle. (I found the berries at Mazzaro's.)
- 8 whole sage leaves
- Grinding of black pepper
- Fine sea salt to taste
- Extra virgin olive oil
- 1/2 cup of Montefalco Rosso or other red wine. (Montefalco is a town in Umbria. Nice red wine is produced there.)

A note about the meat: I used thin slices of sirloin tip steak. Since they were of different thicknesses and not as thin as scaloppine, they took a few minutes longer took cook than the recipe states. It was a challenge to get pieces of the same size because I was serving 10 people.


Rolling involtini is very simple. You can find YouTube videos showing how it is done.

1. Lay the meat pieces out flat. Top each one with a slice of prosciutto, a little of the crushed juniper berries, a sage leaf, a grinding of pepper, and a sprinkling of salt. Roll each piece to form a little bundle. Tie each with kitchen string or secure it by pushing a toothpick through. I used toothpicks. 

2. Put the involtini into a baking dish in a single layer.

3. Preheat the oven to 350°F

4. Brush the involtini with olive oil. Bake them for 5 minutes, then pour in the wine and continue baking for an additional 7 minutes, basting the bundles occasionally with the wine. Check with a meat thermometer to ensure that the involtini are cooked to the proper temperature.

5. Serve hot.

Friday, December 4, 2015

Bell Peppers, Onions, Dried Fruits, and Balsamic - An Easy Side

This easy side with bell peppers, onions, dried fruits, balsamic vinegar, and capers is my first creation from scratch. It serves two.
The recipe's ingredients can easily be adjusted for your taste.

I used to accompany a grilled salmon recipe which I previously posted and which we love:


1 orange bell pepper sliced into thin strips
1/2 a medium-sized onion, sliced into thin strips
2 tbsp chopped dried apricots
2 tbsp raisins
1 tbsp capers
2 tbsp raspberry balsamic vinegar
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil


1. Place olive oil in a medium skillet and heat over medium heat.

2. Add onions and cook until soft, about 5 minutes.

3. Add peppers  and cook for about 5 minutes. About 2 minutes before the peppers are done, add the fruit, capers, and balsamic.

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Shore Diner - Excellent Lunch on St. Armands Circle

Today we enjoyed an excellent lunch with four friends at Shore Diner ( on St. Armand's Circle in Sarasota. It is on the second floor above an associated shop called Shore. We chose the restaurant on the basis of our daughter's recommendation and the many hundreds of positive reviews on Trip Advisor, Yelp, Open Table, and Facebook. On the basis of our experience, the reviews appear well deserved.

My wife had a Mediterranean Chicken Sandwich with roasted peppers, mozzarella, lemon cress, and basil mayo on olive bread for $12. It was delicious, large, and accompanied by a salad of greens.

She also enjoyed a side of truffle fries with Parmesan and chives for $7. The serving was large enough that there were leftovers to bring home.

I had a cup of seafood bisque for $2. It was delicious.

My main course was a Seafood Cobb Salad with Maine lobster, crab, shrimp, avocado, bacon, and hard-boiled egg, with yuzu tarragon vinaigrette for $20. It was superb, with lots and lots of seafood.

My wife shared a very large serving of chocolate cake with one of our friends.

Her wine was Pinot Grigio.

I had a 2013 Lola North Coast Pinot Noir from northern California for $10 a glass. It was very pleasant.

Our server did an excellent job.

The restaurant has a retractable roof over one dining section. The roof is opened when the weather is pleasant. Unfortunately, the weather today was overcast with the strong possibility of rain.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Corn, Bell Pepper, Honey, Onion, and Spices

This nice and easy side dish is a slight twist on an Ina Garten recipe. I added honey and cumin, and reduced the amount of corn by half. The original recipe can be found on at:

The dish serves 2 to 4, and takes a total of 25-30 minutes of prep and cooking.


- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1/2 cup chopped onion (This was about 1/4 of a decent-sized Spanish onion)
- 1 small orange bell pepper. 1/2 inch diced
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1 15-oz can of whole kernel, sweet corn
- 1 & 1/2 teaspoons Kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1 tablespoon of honey
- 1 teaspoon of cumin
- 2 tablespoons julienned fresh basil,  minced fresh chives, and/or fresh parsley leaves. (I used Italian parsley.)


Heat the olive oil over medium heat in a large sauté pan. Add the onion, and sauté for 5 minutes. until the onion is soft. Stir in the bell pepper and sauté for 2 more minutes.

Add the butter to the pan and allow it to melt. Over medium heat, add the corn, salt, and pepper, and cook, stirring occasionally, for 5 to 7 minutes. Stir in the honey and sprinkle on the cumin when the dish has about 2 minutes left to cook. 

When the cooking is complete, stir in the herbs. Serve hot. 

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Lebanese Bulgur Side Dish

Bulgur is a parboiled dried wheat that looks like couscous. It is very popular in Middle Eastern cuisine and is used in dishes like tabbouleh and kibbeh. It is also called Bulghur or Burghul. The first two versions are from Turkish and the third from Arabic. ( It comes in four different grinds - from nr. 1, which is the finest, to nr. 4, which is the coarsest.

I found and tried a tasty bulgur side dish on ( It's easy to make, but takes about 50 minutes to prepare. It serves 4-6. 

1/3 cup olive oil
1 onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon dried basil
1 cup bulgur
1 cup tomatoes, seeded and chopped (I used drained, canned diced tomatoes)
1 & 1/2 cups vegetable or chicken broth
1 tablespoon honey
1 tablespoon tomato paste (I used ketchup)
salt and pepper to taste 
1 pinch cayenne (optional)
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley


1. Heat the oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat

2. Heat the broth in a separate small sauce pan

3. Add the onion and cook until lightly browned - 3-5 minutes

4. Add garlic and cook for 1 minute

5. Stir in the tomatoes and basil, cooking 2 more minutes

6. Stir the bulgur thoroughly into the tomato mixture

7. Stir in the hot broth, reduce the heat to low, cover, and cook for 5 minutes

8. Add the honey, tomato paste, salt, pepper, and cayenne, and stir thoroughly

9. Continue to cook, covered, until the bulgur is tender and all the liquid has been absorbed, about 25 minutes. Stir from time to time.

10. Turn off the heat and let sit for 10 minutes

11. Sprinkle the parsley over the top and serve

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Lamb Meatballs with Yogurt Sauce - a Middle Eastern Taste Treat

Kofta or Kufta is a delicious type of meatball/meatloaf dish with many variants from Morocco through Afghanistan. Wikipedia has an informative article at ( 

I recently tried a version that my wife found in the Publix Supermarkets' magazine, "Grape." (That was the last print issue of the magazine.) According to the Grape article, this version is from Turkey. It was easy to make and delicious, but took me a bit of time to prepare because I am a slow chopper.

This version includes lamb, dried apricots, onion, garlic, and various herbs and spices. It could also be made with beef or pork; and one could certainly substitute dried fruits such as figs, or cherries, or raisins for the apricots. It is served with a Tzatziki-type yogurt sauce. 

The article about the recipe said it serves six. However, the two of us demolished it with no problem.

When eating the meatballs, I cut them in half and dipped them in the yogurt sauce.

Our only side dishes were grapes, and a lettuce and mozzarella salad with olive oil and balsamic.

A. Kofta
1 pound ground lamb
1/2 cup chopped dried apricots
1/4 cup finely chopped onion
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
3 Tbsp chopped fresh parsley
2 cloves coarsely chopped garlic
1 Tsp salt
1 Tsp ground coriander
1/2 Tsp ground cumin
1/4 Tsp ground cinnamon

1. Preheat oven to 375°

2. Line a 15 x 10 x 1-inch pan with foil

3. In the bowl of a food processor, combine all of the ingredients and process until ingredients are thoroughly blended. I blended the meat, apricots, and onions first; then the herbs, then the spices. (I added one third of the spices at a time to try to blend them as thoroughly as possible.)

4. Shape this mixture into about 30 meatballs that are 1 & 1/2 inches in diameter. It came to 27 meatballs. Place the meatballs into the foil-lined pan as you make them.

5. Bake for 20 to 22 minutes, or until  browned and cooked through (to 160°). You may wish to turn them about half way through the baking. I did not, so they ended up very dark on the bottoms. That did not affect the taste.

6. Serve with yogurt sauce.

B. Yogurt Sauce
1 cup plain Greek yogurt (I used two small containers of Chobani Greek Yogurt - 5.3 oz each.)
1/3 cup shredded cucumber (This took about 1/3 of a medium-size cucumber. I diced it finely rather than shredding it.)
1 Tbsp finely chopped fresh parsley
1 Tbsp finely chopped fresh mint. (I used dried mint.)
1 clove garlic, minced
1/4 Tsp salt
1/4 Tsp ground cumin.

B. Directions
Stir ingredients in a bowl, cover, and chill for 1 to 4 hours before serving.

Friday, October 16, 2015

Original Word of Mouth Restaurant in Sarasota - Very Nice

There are two Word of Mouth restaurants in Sarasota - the original Word of Mouth ( in the Gulf Gate area, and Word of Mouth Downtown ( They are separately owned, and both have good reputations. They are breakfast and lunch restaurants with similar menus.

The other day, I joined six friends for lunch at the Gulf Gate Word of Mouth. We all enjoyed our meals. I had a delicious grilled cheese sandwich with tomato and bacon on sourdough bread. Usually, restaurant tomatoes are so-so. The flavor of the tomato in my sandwich was terrific! 

One friend had a catch-of-the-day sandwich with Basa fish. Another had an albacore tuna sandwich, a third had a quiche. All were very tasty.

The service was excellent.

I would happily return.

Monday, October 5, 2015

Snapper's Sea Grill - St. Pete Beach - Very Nice

On a recent visit to St. Pete Beach, my wife and I searched the Internet for a special restaurant. We were attracted to Snapper's Sea Grill ( because of the very large number of great reviews on Trip Advisor, Yelp, and Zomato. There was one particular menu item that caught our attention - the Risotto Oceana.

Consequently, we went to Snapper's and ordered the risotto. It was terrific. It was a lobster risotto with pan-seared diver scallops and jumbo shrimp, finished with a lemon-basil oil, diced roma tomatoes, and fried leek garnish. The lobster part of the risotto was a sauce that did not have identifiable pieces of lobster in it.

It came with a nice salad. They also gave each of us at no charge a small slice of delicious key lime pie.

The cost of each risotto, with salad, and the free pie was $26.95 (although the on-line menu shows $24.95).

My wife had a glass of Danzante Pinot Grigio and I had Block Nine Pinot Noir, which was very nice.

Our server was both pleasant and professional.

Italian Chicken in a Skillet

This chicken recipe is nice and easy to prepare. It takes a total of 30 minutes to prepare and cook. I found the recipe at one of my frequent sources, ( I suspect it's more Italian-American than authentic Italian.


- 2 teaspoons olive oil
- 1 lb boneless chicken breast cut into bite-size pieces
- 1 & 1/2 cups chopped onion
- 1 & 1/2 cups chopped green pepper
- 1 15-ounce can chicken broth
- 1 15-ounce can diced tomatoes (I used a fresh tomato)
- 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon oregano
- 1/4 teaspoon pepper
- 2 cups small shell pasta, shells, macaroni, etc.


1. In large skillet, brown chicken in oil

2. Add onion, peppers; and cook for 5 minutes 

3. Add broth, tomatoes, and spices

4. Cook 2 minutes

5. Add pasta, reduce heat and simmer, covered, for 10 minutes, or until pasta is done.

Saturday, October 3, 2015

Castile Restaurant, St. Pete Beach - Excellent

The Castile Restaurant ( at the Hotel Zamora in St. Pete Beach offers very nice dining experiences. My wife and I enjoyed one dinner, two breakfasts, and two desserts there during our stay at the Hotel Zamora.

For the dinner and the first dessert, we were joined by wonderful friends from Tampa, who endured heavy rains and drawbridge delays to join us and make our evening.

We started the evening with a cocktail at the Castile's Rooftop 360 bar, which offers views of both the Gulf of Mexico and the Intracoastal Waterway. We sat facing the Gulf, and had hoped to enjoy the sunset. However, it was fairly cloudy, so we only saw a partial sunset.

(The bar is closed when it rains.)

We then went to the restaurant itself, which is two floors below.

We found a nice Groupon deal for dinner. It included an appetizer and an entree. The restaurant calls its appetizers "tapas." However, the servings are much larger than traditional tapas.

My wife's delicious appetizer was Heirloom Tomatoes and Burrata with fig balsamic redux, candied orange zest, and grilled sourdough baguette. (Burrata is a semisoft Italian cheese made with mozzarella and cream.)

My fantastic appetizer was Mussels Zamora with sambuca, fennel, blood orange, heirloom tomatoes, fresh herbs, and grilled baguette.

My wife and I both had the same wonderful entrée - Seared Diver Scallops with creamed corn casserole, candied pancetta, smoked tomatoes, and jalapeño prosecco cream.

We also had dessert, wine, and coffee, which were not included with the Groupon deal.

My wife's tasty dessert was Flan Cheesecake - cheesecake in the shape of flan, with candied orange caramel, guava gastrique, and mint oil. She enjoyed it so much, we had to return for a repeat the next evening after dinner at another restaurant.

My incredible dessert was Guava Empanadas filled with Fuji apples and grapples, accompanied by a banana mole pistacchio gelato. 

I also had a Jamaican coffee with Tia Maria, rum, and whipped cream.

For her first breakfast, my wife had fried eggs, Chicharron bacon, and boniato sofrito hash browns. (Boniato is a type of sweet potato whose color is white. Sofrito in Spanish cuisine is a mixture of garlic, onion, paprika, peppers, and tomatoes.)

For breakfast the next day, she had steel cut oat meal.

My first breakfast was the Castile Omelette, with smoked chicharrons, Mahon cheddar, guanciale pepper, heirloom tomatoes, caramelized onions, avocado, and boniato sofrito hash browns. It was wonderful, but too large for me to finish.

The second day, I had scrambled eggs with chorizo mixed in, and the boniato sofrito hash.

The Castile morning coffee was nice and strong.

The service at the restaurant was excellent.

The restaurant has both indoor and outdoor dining, with tables facing the Intracoastal Waterway.

Coincidentally, the Sarasota Herald Tribune published an interview with the restaurant's executive chef, Alex Rodriguez, shortly before we chose to stay at the hotel and dine at the restaurant. The interview is at

Hotel Zamora, St. Pete Beach - Very Nice

The Hotel Zamora ( in St. Pete Beach combines spacious, comfortable rooms, and a warm atmosphere with beautiful views, excellent service, and a very nice restaurant. Some rooms have nice views of the Intracoastal Waterway, and others of the Gulf of Mexico. In addition, the hotel has a rooftop bar with views of both bodies of water.

One View from Our Room

We enjoyed a pleasant, short stay there, and were fortunate in finding an excellent Groupon offer for the room and another for the Castile Restaurant in the hotel. (I will describe the restaurant in a separate posting.)

Looking Toward the Intracoastal Side

The service at the hotel was excellent. I was particularly impressed by Takesha at the registration desk. 

Our room was a Waterview King Junior Suite with a king size bed and a sleeper sofa. We had a small balcony with two chairs and a table. It was a handicap-accessible room, which we required.

There were a couple of negative points:
1. The awning over the arrival area leaked water, which was a problem because it was raining when we arrived. This creates a negative impression at the start of a stay.
2. The only available parking is valet parking, for which the fee is $18 per day
3.There is also a mandatory daily resort fee of $15 per day.
4. The free Wifi is unencrypted, so it's unsafe, and should be avoided.

Friday, October 2, 2015

Sauteed Sauerkraut with Apples and Raisins - a Nice Side for Bratwurst - Revised

I decided to serve a sauerkraut side dish with the Publix bratwurst I was going to prepare for dinner last night. I couldn't find a recipe that was quite what I wanted, so I started with one I found on the Internet, and changed it to meet my preferences. I was very happy with the results, and found it very easy to prepare. It provides two very generous servings.

At the suggestion of a friend, I added two tablespoons of brown sugar the second time I made this recipe. It significantly improved the taste.

(You can find the recipe that was my starting point at:


- 2 tablespoons of olive oil
- 1 apple cut into bite-size chunks (I used a honeycrisp.)
- 1/2 a sweet onion, sliced
- 2 cups of sauerkraut, drained. (I used Silver Floss Sauerkraut from the refrigerated section of Publix. It is on sale through next Wednesday, October 7.)
- 1 teaspoon of caraway seeds
- 1/3 cup raisins
- 2 tablespoons brown sugar
- 1/2 cup apple cider


1. Heat olive oil over high heat in a large frying pan.

2. Add the apples and onion, and cook for 5-8 minutes until they soften and brown.

3. Add the sauerkraut, raisins, brown sugar, and caraway seeds; and cook for one minute. Do not cook longer or you may overcook the sauerkraut.

4. Add the apple cider.

Publix Fresh Bratwurst - Delicious!

The topic of my weekly lesson with my German tutor this week was German food and dining. During the discussion, she mentioned that she and her husband, who is an accomplished German chef, consider Publix fresh bratwurst to be the best in the Sarasota area. They even prefer it to the bratwurst of Geiers Sausage Kitchen, which she and her husband prefer for most German food. She added that it was Publix regular fresh bratwurst, not the beer brats,

Consequently, I decided we had to give it a try - just so that I could properly study German culture and not because of my craze for sausage of all kinds :)

We had it for dinner last night and it was fantastic! I had it on excellent Publix rolls and topped it with Inglehoffer Stone Ground Mustard. I cooked it in a stovetop skillet, following the simple Publix instructions on the package.

The side dish I served was a combination of sauerkraut, apples, and raisins, whose recipe I will post separately.

This morning, I mixed the leftover sausage with scrambled eggs. That was wonderful as well.

Dankeschön liebe Tutorin,

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Tasty & Easy Chicken Tenderloins - Strange Name

This chicken tenderloins recipe from is tasty and really simple, albeit with a strange name - "Heroin Chicken Tenders (One Taste and You're Addicted)". ( You're likely to have all the ingredients you need except the chicken tenders. 

The original recipe below serves 4. I cut it in half because I was only making dinner for two of us.


- 2 lbs chicken tenders
- 1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
- 2 tablespoons dried parsley
- 1 tablespoon dried oregano
- 1 tablespoon paprika
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon pepper
- 1/2 cup butter


1. Preheat oven to 350

2. Combine dry ingredients, including Parmesan cheese.

3. Line a shallow pan with foil

4. Melt butter in a shallow dish (that's long enough for dipping the tenders)

5. Dip each piece in butter; then roll in the seasoning mix, and place in the pan with the foil.

6. Bake for 20 - 30 minutes, or until chicken is done. (25 minutes in our Breville toaster oven was perfect.)

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Antoine's Restaurant, Sarasota - Very Nice Flavors of France and Belgium

The other night, my wife and I enjoyed a delightful dinner at Antoine's (, a restaurant which offers delicious French cuisine and terrific mussels. The owners, Olivier Georges and his wife Angela, were originally recruited from Belgium to work at Brasserie Belge, which we loved. The owner of Brasserie Belge (Belgian Brasserie) decided to close the brasserie and return to Belgium, but Olivier and Angela loved it here and decided to open their own restaurant. They first opened it on Fruitville, and then moved to the current location, in the small shopping center across from Ed Smith Stadium.

My wife and I went for a special they were offering - a three-course dinner for two, plus a bottle of wine, plus amuse-bouche for $69. All of the food was delicious, and the wine was decent.

The amuse-bouche was Gougeres - two small pastries made with dough and Swiss cheese.

My wife's appetizer was broccoli bisque, and mine was Mussels Marinières (Moules Marinières). I love mussels, and these were terrific. Antoine's serves seven types of mussels, and on Monday nights, they offer an all-you-can-eat mussels special for $22.

My wife and I had the same main dish - a pork roulade au jus stuffed with spinach and apples. The pork was served with a mix of vegetables perfectly cooked - asparagus, broccoli, cauliflower, and potatoes.

For dessert, we both had the Belgian chocolate mousse. It was fantastic.

After dinner, we both enjoyed a cup of very nice espresso.

The butter served with the bread was an elegant creation carved by Olivier.

The bottle of wine offered with the special was Patriarche Pinot Noir or Chardonnay. Both are from the Pays d'Oc area of France. It was decent, and I was not expecting more for the price.

Olivier is the host and server, and Angela is the chef. She makes everything from scratch. Olivier has a warm and welcoming personality. He is very attentive.

For those who like special beers, they offer 12 beers, which I believe are all Belgian.

Olivier and Angela created the decor themselves. It has resulted in a very cozy atmosphere.

They are currently only open for dinner 6 days per week, and closed on Sunday. Olivier said they might open for lunch during the winter season.

Monday, August 10, 2015

Delicious Fig, Prosciutto, Goat Cheese, Arugula & Spinach Salad

This delicious and easy salad is a variant of one posted on at Searching the Internet will find you others. Some use different cheese - like Parmesan or mozzarella. Others add ingredients like rosemary.

Below is my version of the one at It served three of us.


- 8 Black Mission figs slice vertically and with the stem cut off
- about 4 ounces of mixed arugula and spinach (The original recipe had only arugula.)
- 4 slices of prosciutto cut into small pieces
- several ounces of soft goat cheese (or whatever type cheese you might enjoy with the main ingredients, or no cheese at all)
- high quality Extra Virgin Olive Oil (EVOO)
- 2 tablespoons + 1 & 1/2 teaspoons of balsamic vinegar (I used raspberry.)
- 1 tablespoon honey
- sea salt
- freshly ground pepper


Put the balsamic vinegar in a small bowl.

Add a pinch of salt and a few grinds of pepper. Stir to dissolve them.

Stir in the honey.

Spread the arugula and spinach on a serving platter. Drizzle the greens with the EVOO, and season with salt and pepper.

Decoratively arrange the greens, figs and prosciutto on the platter.

Sprinkle the goat cheese over the items on the platter.

Drizzle everything with the balsamic-honey dressing.

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Katy Rose Oilery, Lakewood Ranch

I love special olive oils and balsamic vinegars for salads. The place where I normally purchase them is Katy Rose Olive Oils ( on Lakewood Ranch Main St. They have a wonderful variety of superb olive oils and balsamic vinegars, as well as a couple of other oils, some hard-to-find pastas, and some interesting wines.

I recently purchased a terrific Greek Mycenaean olive oil, a wonderful raspberry balsamic, and a fantastic 19-year aged balsamic from Modena, the home of great balsamics.

The folks at Katy Rose said that the Mycenaean olive oil comes from the Greek property of a Lakewood Ranch resident.

You can taste all of their balsamics and olive oils. 

While I initially balked at paying their prices, I discovered there's no comparison between the products they sell and the bottled versions I've purchased from other stores.

I do not use Katy Rose olive oils for cooking. Instead, I use the less expensive Pompeian Extra Virgin Olive Oils. (Despite their Italian name, the small print shows they come from mixed destinations - Tunisia, Morocco, Spain, and Chile.)

I recommend giving Katy Rose a try

For anyone interested in etymology, the origin of the word "vinegar" is Old French, and means "sour wine."


Great Balsamic-Honey Sauce / Syrup for Pork Dishes

I've found a wonderful balsamic vinegar - honey sauce / syrup that is perfect for pork dishes. I discovered this sauce in a fig recipe at It is super easy to make. I used it on pork chops made with a recipe that I frequently use to cook moist, tasty pork chops (


1 tablespoon unsalted butter
3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar (I used raspberry balsamic)
3 tablespoons honey
Flaky sea salt, to taste


Melt the butter in a small saucepan, and add the balsamic vinegar, honey, and a hefty pinch of sea salt. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer, and cook about 5 minutes, or until slightly thickened.

Roasted Figs with Goat Cheese & Balsamic-Honey Sauce

Since fresh figs are currently in season, I looked for a delicious-sounding fig appetizer/side dish. I found this easy winner at ( Not only was it easy and tasty, but I used the extra balsamic sauce on pork loin chops that I had prepared as the main course.

Since the recipe on the web serves 6-8 and there were only two of us, I used half the number of figs, but left the ingredients in the sauce recipe unchanged. The smaller number of figs was perfect for the two of us.

The reason I did not change the sauce recipe is that I thought the reduced amount of ingredients would not work well in even a very small saucepan. I then used the extra sauce on the pork loin chops. That sauce was so tasty, I will make the sauce just for the pork chops in the future.

As the recipe suggested, I used mission figs. I purchased them at Publix, which has a buy-one-get-one-free sale on several types of figs this week.

Below is the recipe with the reduced number of figs:


6 Black Mission figs, halved vertically
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar (I used raspberry balsamic)
3 tablespoons honey
2 - 3 ounces of soft goat cheese
Flaky sea salt, to taste


Preheat the oven to 400ºF

While the oven preheats, melt the butter in a small saucepan, and add the balsamic vinegar, honey, and a hefty pinch of sea salt. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer, and cook about 5 minutes, or until slightly thickened.

Place the figs cut-side up in a baking dish. Top each fig half with 1/2 teaspoon to a full teaspoon of goat cheese. Drizzle the balsamic vinegar syrup over the figs.

Roast the figs in the oven for 10 to 15 minutes, until they are very soft. (It took 15 minutes in our Breville toaster oven.)

Arrange on a platter and sprinkle with flaky salt.

Thank you!

Friday, July 17, 2015

The Seafood Shack - A Pleasant Meal

Recently, my wife and I enjoyed a late lunch at the Seafood Shack ( in Cortez (, a historic fishing village at the north end of Sarasota Bay at the eastern foot of the bridge by which Cortez Rd. crosses over to Anna Maria Island.

Our meal was tasty, but not exceptional. Our entree servings were so large that we had enough left over for dinner.

We had an inside table with a nice view of the water. There are also outside tables.

We both had the same main dish - shrimp and grits, for $18 each. The ingredients were smoked gulf shrimp, white cheddar stone-ground grits, bacon, andouille sausage, peppers, onions, celery, thyme, and butter, topped with shaved parmesan. It was satisfying, but nothing to rave about.

I also had a cup of New England Clam Chowder for $5. It had clams, potatoes, carrots, onion, bacon, and thyme. Like the shrimp and grits, it was nice, but not terrific.

We both ordered the same specialty cocktail - the Hurricane, with light rum, Sugar Island Spiced Rum, orange juice, pineapple juice, cranberry juice, with a splash of grenadine, and a dark rum floater for $6. It was delicious, and the serving size was generous.

Our server, Denice, was terrific, and had a great sense of humor.

We were amused as we watched a couple of crows aggressively grabbing packets of sugar off a couple of the outside tables.

The bottom line is that we were happy with our meal, but would probably try another place the next time we're in the area.

Saturday, July 11, 2015

Database About Recipes Used

I find it very useful to maintain a database about the recipes I've used. It helps me to quickly identify recipes for a specific purpose and to keep track of which dishes I've served to guests at our house. I can sort the list of recipes in many ways. 

An example of how I use the database would be to create a menu for a Tuscan dinner for guests. I can quickly identify Tuscan dishes for each course and determine if I have served those dishes to the guests who are coming. 

The database has the following fields in the order listed below:
- English name of the dish - I normally write the name so the main ingredient is first; e.g., "salmon, grilled" instead of "grilled salmon." With that approach, like dishes are together when sorted.
- Foreign name of the dish, if it's a foreign dish
- Type of dish - appetizer, entree, side, soup, dessert
- Taste rating, abbreviated - Ex(excellent), VG (very good), OK, bad. I usually only remake excellent dishes
- Difficulty - very easy, easy, moderate, difficult
- Country (of Origin)
- Comment - For example, Lots of cutting; requires pan scrubbing. Most of the time there is no comment.
- Source (of recipe) -  For example, Beautiful Tuscany, Silver Spoon
- Served to - names of people to whom I've served. If it's just my wife and me, I enter "us"

An example of a typical entry is:
Pan-Fried Sausage & Mushrooms, Tegamata di Salsiccia, Entree Ex, Easy, Italy , Beautiful Tuscany, Us

I normally keep the database sorted first by the type of dish, then by the English name of the dish. 

Roasted Asparagus and Tomatoes - The easy sides continue

This evening, I searched for a recipe that combined tomatoes and asparagus. I found this simple, tasty one at ( 

I made a couple of adjustments to accommodate our needs. I used a whole tomato diced instead of cherry tomatoes, and I reduced the servings to two by adjusting the amount of asparagus. I also reduced the cooking time because the asparagus were thin. I prepared it in our toaster oven.


1/2 lb of asparagus, trimmed
1 tomato, diced
1 or 2 cloves of garlic, diced
2 tablespoons of olive oil
salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste


1. Preheat oven to 400

2. Put asparagus and garlic in a bowl, and drizzle olive oil over them. Toss to make sure they're coated, then sprinkle salt and pepper to taste.

3. Place asparagus on a baking sheet in a single layer, with the garlic.

4. Place tomato on top of asparagus.

5. Roast for 17  to 25 minutes until asparagus is tender but firm. The thinner the asparagus, the less roasting time. Our thin spears were ready in 17 minutes.

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Roasted Carrots, Zucchini, and Bell Peppers - Another Easy Side

This delicious side is easy to make and easy to modify by changing the spices and/or the vegetable mixture. The spice mixture is my selection, but I found the method for cooking the vegetables at This version serves two.


1 medium zucchini cut in half, then cut into strips about 1/2" wide
1/2 lb baby carrots (If you use regular carrots, cut them into strips like the zucchini strips)
1 bell pepper cut into strips
1/2 tsp of each of the following:
- allspice
- basil
- lemon pepper
- onion powder
- rosemary
- salt
- thyme
2+ tablespoons olive oil


1. Preheat oven to 425

2. Cover a baking sheet with parchment paper and coat with a thin layer of olive oil

3. Mix the spices in a small bowl

4. Put vegetables into a bowl and drizzle the olive oil over them. Toss the vegetables a bit to make sure they're coated with olive oil.

5. Sprinkle the spices over the vegetables and toss them again. Alternatively, you could sprinkle the spices on the vegetables after placing them onto the baking sheet.

6. Put the vegetables on the baking sheet and bake for about 20 minutes, or until they are browned at the edges. Turn the vegetables over about halfway through.

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Really Tasty & Easy Blackened Salmon Fillets

I never tire of trying different salmon recipes. I found this fast, easy, and delicious blackened salmon recipe on All ( The recipe is very highly rated, with nearly 600 mostly positive reviews.

 Most cooks likely already have all the ingredients except the salmon.

The version below is for 2 servings. I've changed the directions a bit because I found the original instructions slightly confusing with respect to the buttering and spicing. I've also added some instructions. You might want to check the original recipe and reviews.


1 tablespoon ground paprika
1 & 1/2 teaspoons ground cayenne pepper
1 & 1/2 teaspoons onion powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground white pepper
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/8 teaspoon thyme
1/8 teaspoon dried basil
1/8 teaspoon dried oregano
2 salmon fillets with skin & bones removed. (If the skin is left on, the spices will not stick and their tastes and that of the butter will not be infused into the salmon. Also, let the salmon sit out for at least 15 minutes before basting with butter.)
1/4 cup salted butter, melted


1. In a small bowl, mix all of the spices.

2. Brush one side of the salmon with 1/2 the melted butter, and sprinkle on the spices.

3. In a heavy skillet, over high heat, place the salmon with butter and spiced side down. Coat the side facing up with the remaining butter and spices. Cook for 2 to 5 minutes until the bottom side is blackened.

4. Turn the salmon and cook until the bottom is blackened and easily flaked with a fork. (I cooked each side for 4 minutes. The salmon I used was of medium thickness. Thicker fillets might require up to 7 minutes.)

Friday, June 26, 2015

Tilapia with Old Bay - Delicious and Super Easy

Since both tilapia and Old Bay seasoning are on sale at Publix this week and I enjoy both, I looked for a dish that combined the two. I found this winner on ( It's really easy and it tastes terrific. The recipe's author states it can be used with tilapia or cod or haddock.

During the many years we lived in Maryland, we loved steamed crabs with Old Bay seasoning, a traditional Maryland dish. The taste of this dish reminds us a bit of the steamed crabs. It might be a nice alternative for a diner with a shellfish allergy.

I originally used the amount of Old Bay suggested in the recipe, but when I tasted the finished product, I decided to double the amount of Old Bay by sprinkling more on my tilapia. That made it perfect for my taste. (The recipe's author does suggest adjusting the seasoning to one's tastes.)

I love tilapia not only for its taste, but because it works well with so many different spice combinations.


- Three 5-oz fillets of tilapia or cod or haddock. (The author recommends for 4-oz fillets - essentially the same amount of fish, but different number of servings.)
- 2 tablespoons butter, melted
- 1/2 teaspoon Old Bay seasoning (or to taste - I used 1 teaspoon)
- 1/2 teaspoon garlic salt (or to taste - I used 3/4 teaspoon)


Heat oven to 375 degrees

Grease a 9" x 13" baking dish (I did it by coating the bottom with olive oil.)

Place the fillets in the baking dish and coat with melted butter.

Season with Old Bay and garlic salt (I mixed the two first) If desired, add additional butter, Old Bay, and/or garlic salt.

Bake for 30-40 minutes, or until fish flakes easily with a fork. (38 minutes worked perfectly for our oven.)

Monday, June 22, 2015

Stir-Fried Zucchini with Corn, Onion, & Sweet Bell Pepper - Delicious & Easy Side

In searching for another zucchini with corn recipe, I found this easy winner at ( This is one time that I made no changes. However, it's the type of recipe one could easily try with a variety of different spices.

It serves 4 to 6.


- 1 medium onion, chopped
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 medium red bell pepper, cut into 1/2 inch squares
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1/4 teaspoon crushed hot red pepper flakes
- 3 medium zucchini, cut into 1/2 inch dice or thinly sliced
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 & 1/2 cups corn kernels (fresh, vacuum-packed niblets or thawed frozen) - I used Libby's canned sweet corn kernels
- 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice or lemon juice. I used lemon juice, but I think I would have enjoyed it better with lime juice.


1. In a large skillet, cook the onion in the olive oil over moderate heat until softened
2. Add the garlic and bell pepper, stirring until the pepper begins to softer - 2 to 3 minutes
3. Add the cumin and hot pepper, and cook, stirring, for 1 minute
4. Add the zucchini and season with the salt. Cook stirring occasionally until the zucchini is tender but still firm - 3 to 5 minutes.
5. Add the corn and cook, stirring frequently until hot - about 2 minutes
6. Sprinkle the lemon or lime juice, and serve hot or at room temperature.

Hyde Park Prime Steakhouse - Excellent Savor Sarasota Dinner

On the basis of our daughter's recommendation, we had a wonderful dinner with her at Hyde Park Prime Steakhouse to celebrate Father's Day. A bonus was that the restaurant was offering a Savor Sarasota $29 dinner menu (which it will continue to offer through June 30).

The restaurant (, which is located in downtown Sarasota, has an upscale atmosphere, with tables nicely space and acoustics which allow easy conversation. Our service was outstanding.

My wife's first course was a generous-size and tasty Caesar salad. Our daughter and I had the lobster bisque, which was fantastic!!!!!

We all had the same main course, the 6 oz. petite filet mignon with Bearnaise sauce, and roasted garlic-whipped potatoes topped with crispy onion straws. The steak was superb in every respect, and the potatoes and onions were delicious.

For dessert, two of us had the New York-style cheesecake, and one had the flourless chocolate torte. All three were wonderful.

The wine we shared was an outstanding 2011 Trefethen Estate Cabernet Sauvignon from the Oak District of Napa Valley for $76.

The Hyde Park Savor Sarasota menu can be viewed at

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Chianti Ristorante - Savor Sarasota Dinner

On two occasions, my wife and I have had pleasant meals with friends at Chianti Ristorante in Sarasota.

The first time, in June 2015, is described in my earlier posting below.

The second time was earlier this week when we went for the Tuesday night lobster special for $19.95, which includes lobster and a choice of clam chowder or garden salad. My wife chose the salad and I chose the chowder. We loved the lobster and the chowder was terrific. The lobster shell was cut in a way that made it very easy to pull out the lobster meat. We also enjoyed tasty desserts - tiramisu for my wife and Zabaione for me.

Early this week, my wife and I enjoyed a Savor Sarasota dinner at Chianti Ristorante in Sarasota ( with friends. The $29 dinner price included a generous glass of either Chianti or Pinot Grigio wine.

My wife's first course was a tasty Caesar Salad and mine was an equally tasty Calamari Fritti.

We both had the same second course - Pappardelle Pasta with Sea Scallops and Prawns. The pappardelle noodles were perfectly cooked al dente. The seafood was delicious, but her serving was skimpy - with a total of 5 pieces. Mine was fine.

For dessert, we both had the Josie's Housemade Bred (sic) Pudding, which was very tasty. 

My wife had the Pinot Grigio and I had the Chianti. Both were nice.

The restaurant was crowded, at least partially because of the great Tuesday lobster dinner special for $19.95 - includes Maine lobster, bread, choice of clam chowder or salad, sauteed fresh vegetables, and potatoes. Reservations are necessary. Our friends have had the lobster dinner there and enjoyed it. We intend to try it.

Many of the customers appeared to be regulars. The service was friendly and enjoyable. The noise was a bit on the high side.

While the restaurant name includes "Chianti," which is in Tuscany, not much of the food menu is Tuscan. Pappardelle noodles are from Tuscany, but other pasta dishes are not. Tuscans are not as much into noodles as southern Italians. In fact, Tuscans are known as "bean eaters" (mangiafagioli). 

The restaurant menu does list another Tuscan dish -  "Bistecca Fiorentina" (Florentine Steak), but it describes the steak as being served with a spinach and gorgonzola-mushroom sauce. The real thing is served without sauce. The real thing is also typically at least a pound and a half.

The wine list has lots of Italian wines, including a number from Tuscany.

Seasons 52 at University Town Center - Excellent

During the past year my wife and I have enjoyed four wonderful meals at Seasons 52 Restaurant in the University Town Center near Lakewood Ranch. (Some dishes I mention in this article may not be available because the restaurant changes its menu with the seasons. The current menu is available on the Seasons 52 web site:

Last night, my wife and I had another terrific meal there, in part thanks to a gift card from terrific friends. 

My wife had the grilled rack of lamb ($27), which she'd had on two previous occasions. On one of those occasions, it was cooked to perfection. On the second, it was overcooked. This time, it was back to perfection. As an appetizer, she had the roasted tomato caprese with basil pesto for $9. She loved it.

My appetizer was a cup of the Porcini Mushroom Bisque with sour cream for $5. It was fantastic.

My main course was the Southern Style Shrimp & Grits with shrimp, chorizo, bacon, and stone ground cheddar grits for $19.50. I enjoyed every bite.

I had an excellent side of Roasted Basciani Farms Mushrooms with spinach stuffing, panko crust, and parmesan for $5.80. It was delicious.

Her dessert was a mini mocha macchiato mousse with chocolate cake, caramel sauce, and whipped cream for $3. It was very tasty.

Our wine was a 2012 Mauritson Sonoma Dry Creek Valley Zinfandel for $48. It was excellent. (I noticed that there wine prices, like many restaurants, are about three times the retail store price.

Our server was Irina, a terrific professional, who had served us on another occasion. She was perfectly attentive.

To celebrate a birthday in the summer of 2015, all seven members of our family - three generations - enjoyed our meals. Three of us, including me, had the shrimp and grits, which were terrific. My wife had the oak-grilled rack of lamb, which she had loved before. This time, they were overcooked, albeit still moist.

We shared the fig and bacon flatbread appetizer. It was terrific.

The first wine I had was the French Jolie Saison Gamay, for $44. I enjoyed it. For laughs, I also tried a glass of the Macedonian "Macedon" red wine. It was drinkable, but I would not buy it again. 

Our server, Michael H., did an excellent job.

On a previous occasion, we shared a couple of delicious appetizers:
- Shrimp Scampi Skillet - shrimp, roasted plum tomatoes, parsley, garlic butter, bruschetta for $9.95. It was very nice.
- Sonoma Goat Cheese Ravioli with tomato broth, roasted garlic, and basil for $8.75. It was fantastic!

On two occasions, I had a cup of the Asparagus Soup with Lemon Chantilly Cream for $4.95. It was terrific!

On the first occasion, my wife's main course was Caramelized Grilled Sea Scallops with creamy lemon risotto, English peas, and roasted asparagus for $23.50. It was delicious.

This time, she had Oak-Grilled Rack of Lamb with spring vegetables, Yukon Gold mashed potatoes, and shallot jus for $26.95. It was fantastic - perfectly cooked and very tender.

My entrée in March was Lemon and Herb-Roasted Whole Branzino, a Mediterranean fish, with Meyer lemon, thyme, broccolini, and crushed roasted potatoes for $27.50. I loved it! (I don't remember seeing Branzino on a U.S. restaurant menu before this.) 

My entrée this week was Wild Alaskan Copper River Salmon with sweet corn risotto, toybox tomatoes, and snap peas for $27.95.

On each occasion, we had tasty small dessert cups such as Moccha Macchiato, Belgian Chocolate Smores with Marshmallow, Key Lime Pie, and Canmoli for $2.95

The wine I chose this time was a nice Ravenswood 2012 Sonoma County, Dry CreekValley,Teldeschi Vineyard Zinfandel $67. It is 80% Zinfandel, 12% Carignane, and 8% Petite Sirah. (The 2010 retails for about $25 at Norman's.)

Ravenswood founder Joel Peterson is a terrific winemaker ( who is known as the Godfather of Zinfandel. The winery produces a number of different types, including single vineyard versions like Teldeschi, which is owned by the Teldeschi family (

I have enjoyed all the Ravenswood wines I've had, even including the inexpensive Vintners Blend which can be found for as low as $7.99., and had an excellent visit to the winery in 2011.

The wine we had in March was an enjoyable 2013 Spanish Monte Oton Campo de Borha Garnacha for $34.

Both of our servers - Edgar in March and Irina this week - were wonderful.